I have many stories over my years of travels that I’ve never shared on this blog so I’m going back through them. This one comes to you from my trip to Malaysia in 2014.
Over there. See it?
I didn’t see it. I saw nothing. I knew nothing except that I was in the pitch black in Kubah National Park on the island of Borneo. A group of us were in Malaysia to see the country after a devastating year plagued with airline disasters. The itinerary was jam packed, as each town and city wanted to show us what they had to offer. But one thing was listed that I was unsure about, called “frogging.” I wasn’t fond of frogs and the term meant nothing to me. Would we be hunting them, (please not) eating them, or pretending to be them? I couldn’t be sure, especially after eating some odd dishes throughout Southeast Asia.
This is how I found myself in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by new friends and a guide with flashlights (or the flashlight setting on our phones) searching for frogs. I’d slathered myself in mosquito repellent and donned a headlamp as I followed the park ranger up the steep road. We’d walk and he’d stop out of nowhere, pointing out a pair of eyes reflecting in the glow of his flashlight. I wasn’t as good as spotting them, instead mistaking shiny leaves and other items as frogs.
After a few minutes, I started to get the hang of it. Our guide would call out to us and show us a frog he’s caught in his hands. Some of them were so small you could hardly see them, their legs squirming in between his fingers. We even saw a microhyla nepenthicola, the second smallest in the world. It was about the size of a tick and didn’t show up in my low lighting iPhone images. It was discovered in the same park in 2004 and was only confirmed as the second smallest in the world a few months before my visit.
While I didn’t get to see them, apparently the park is also full of stunning waterfalls, which is something I added to a future “to see” list. Towards the end of our night walk, we reached a boardwalk over a large pond. I heard the frogs before I saw them, but it wasn’t long before my light shone on the tiny creatures. I counted them quickly, one right after the other. I hadn’t been looking forward to this particular activity, but I couldn’t help but be amazed at the wildlife in the park. Even city girls can be impressed by nature every now and then.
The national park, and the island of Borneo as a whole, is unlike anywhere else in the world, home to hundreds of species of plants and animals not found elsewhere. Matang Wildlife Centre is also a part of the park, where I volunteered with rescued orangutans and other wildlife that had been either injured, abandoned or seized as illegal pets or from zoos. Movies have even been filmed here. There are 34 other national parks in the state of Sarawak, but it’s Kubah that is known for frogs and toads.
Go on a frog safari of your own by stopping by the Visitors Information Centre in Kubah National Park. They’ll provide you with information on maps for the best places and times to see frogs and other wildlife. The park has its own accommodation, which you should book in advance. Alternatively, you can stay in nearby Kuching.
The Travel Manuel also has a post on the frog safari in Kubah National Park that you should read. Their pictures are much better! Thanks to Tourism Malaysia for hosting me on this trip.