Part 7 of 8. Trip to Maliau Basin, Sabah’s Lost World – Day 6
Maliau Rim Observation Tower
Day 6, 5am in the morning, when I was in deep sleep, someone shake me to wake me up. I thought it was Mr. T, who has been bugging me to join him to look for Banteng in early morning, so I just say, “No lah… don’t want!” Then I hear the voice of Mr. J, “are you sure you don’t want to see sunrise at observation tower?” Why not? This is an extra programme which was not in our itinerary. I don’t feel sleepy anymore.
Quickly everyone dresses up and head to Maliau Rim Observation Tower which is only 3 KM away from our hostel (24 KM from the security gate). This 4-storey wooden observation tower is 18.6M (61 Feet) tall and offers a 360 degree panoramic view of Maliau Basin rim. The surrounding area of this tower is clear so no tall tree blocking our view.
We are up there waiting at 5:35am and it is still dark. When the magic moment approaches, the forest is gradually lighted and we find that we are surrounded by sea of misty forest and mountains! The sunrise casts its warm golden light through layer of rising mist, and then the green forest emerges. As dawn passes, various birds start their morning orchestra. We hear or see Barbet, Great Argus Pheasant, Minivet, Swiftlet and Malkoha. Some birds perch on the trees quite far away, so it is advisable to bring a binocular for bird watching.
Below is a 1.5-minute video of Maliau Basin sunrise:
Click Here to see bigger video.
You Choose: “Monkey or Gold?”
Looking at this magnificent scenery that is rare nowadays, I feel sad how human greed destroys the beautiful creation of God. Some people just can’t sleep if they can’t cut these trees. Thanks to the Sabah government, the buffer zone of Maliau Basin Conservation Area is being logged now.
Maliau Basin is a coastal river delta 9.15 million years ago, where plant decayed and accumulated in peat swamp. After long period of compression, this carbon layer forms coal seams between mud and sandstone layers. An estimated 200 million tons of coal deposit is discovered in Maliau Basin. On top of the coal reserve is a huge area of pristine forest with the most valuable commercial timbers. Inevitably Maliau makes many politicians mouth-watering.
In 1992, an EIA (Environment Impact Analysis) report stated that conservation and coal mining are incompatible in Maliau Basin, so either you mine the coal to destroy the place, or you do nothing to leave everything intact. In 1997, Sabah government upgraded Maliau Basin to First Class Protected Forest Reserve, which means NO logging and mining are allowed. In 1999, Maliau was further gazetted as a cultural heritage site under the state Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Enactment. All these show our determination to protect Maliau Basin.
In year 2000, Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik asked Sabahans, “What do you want: Monkeys or Gold?” and said, “There is no reason for the Sabah government to prevent the prospecting of coal in the Maliau Basin.” Well, giving Federal 95% of our oil royalty doesn’t make Sabah rich, so why giving them our coal? Of course Sabah decides to keep the monkeys. Guess what? 10 years later West Malaysia wants to relocate some of our orang-utan to KL. Now they know our monkeys are as worthy as gold too. The response of Sabahans is a middle finger to them. Ok, orang-utan is an ape and not a monkey, but now you see my point right.
Therefore, Federal fails to get our black gold and monkeys. Sabahans don’t want to surrender Maliau Basin, but none of us believes that the evil federal government will give up. When Sabah Electricity proposes to build a coal power plant in east coast (so near to Maliau), everyone smells something fishy. We suspect the coal power plant is just a conspiracy for creating excuse to mine the coal in Maliau Basin in future. I’m not sure if this is true but I would say this is a credible doubt. Let’s hope Maliau Basin will be listed and protected as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site soon, so someone can stop daydreaming.
Since we talk about Maliau Rim, probably you are interested to know how Maliau Basin was formed. I copied the info below from the Internet. But to be frank, I don’t know what the heck it talks about.
How was Maliau Basin formed?
By early Middle Miocene, between 14 and 15 million years ago, the eastern part of Sabah was subjected to NW-SE compression as tectonic plate interaction continued in this region. Active volcanism in eastern Sabah during this time was probably related to this tectonic force. The compression resulted in the gentle folding of the older Neogene and concentric shape of the smaller basins, with the faults acting as their boundaries. At this time, most of eastern Sabah was still under the sea, mostly very shallow waters.
The concentric-shaped basins were subsequently filled by younger Neogene sediments continuously until about 9 million years ago when the basins was uplifted above sea level due to continued compression in eastern Sabah. The compression resulted in the gentle folding of the sedimentary layers and at the same time accentuated the concentric shape of the basins, through the reactivation of old faults.
The intrusion of Mt. Kinabalu in West Sabah occurred during this time. As a result of the crustal shortening of the region due to the continued tectonic plate collision in this region, the whole of Sabah, including the shallow coastal area we see today, was fully uplifted above sea level by the end of Miocene time, about 5 million years ago. The Maliau Basin and the surrounding areas were probably uplifted to its present height with a slight tilt to the South-east. Following the uplift, the Maliau Basin and surrounding areas were subjected to intense weathering and erosion that continued up to this day.
Get it? Don’t ask me okay. My geography sucks. I only know in Murut language, Maliau has three meaning, (1) Land of the Giant Staircase, (2) Milky or Murky (river) and (3) Bowl / Basin.
Return to Kota Kinabalu
We return to the hostel to pack our stuffs. Before we leave Maliau Basin, we collect our certificate at the Administration Office of Maliau Basin Studies Centre (MBSC). Yes, anyone who reaches Maliau Falls is eligible to get a certificate. The number is still in 3 digits (my number is 500 something). If it is a serial number, that means less than 1,000 people have seen Maliau Falls? Wow, such a big deal. Perhaps I should include this certificate in my resume or CV, together with my blood donation and Mt. Kinabalu certificates, to impress my interviewers. We also take a peek at the Nature Gallery in MBSC. The gallery presents a lot of interesting photographs and information about Maliau Basin. It will be open soon. My camera is out of battery so I didn’t take any photo.
We use the Tambunan road to go back to Kota Kinabalu. It is really misty and the visibility is poor. Our car always stuck behind the slow-moving trucks. On the way, we drop by a famous roadside stall that sells wild boar meat. I didn’t buy any wild boar meat. Yesterday I just admire the wild boar, then I put it on dinner plate today? It is kind of weird so I didn’t buy any. I am not really fond of wild boar meat because its smell is stronger than pork. Someone say this is because most wild boars they hunt are those that eat oil palm fruits in plantation. The wild boar from “real jungle” tastes a lot better.
At last I arrive home at 6:30PM and conclude my trip to Maliau Basin officially. I still have one last blog that contains useful info for those who plan to go to Maliau Basin.
Photos taken in Maliau Basin, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo
All Articles of Maliau Basin Trip:
Part 1. Introduction to Maliau Basin
Part 2. Day 1 in Maliau Basin
Part 3. Day 2 in Maliau. Trekking to the 1st camp
Part 4. Day 3 in Maliau. Maliau Waterfall
Part 5. Day 4 in Maliau. Entering the garden of pitcher plant
Part 6. Day 5 in Maliau. Skybridge & Night Safari
Part 7. Day 6 in Maliau. Leaving Maliau
Part 8. Conclusion & Notes