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Killary Fjord

Killary Harbour (Irish: An Caoláire Rua) is a fjord that is located in Western Ireland. This 16km-long flooded valley acts as a natural border between the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region) counties of Galway to the south, and Mayo to the north. Connacht’s highest mountain, Mweelrea (elevation : 814m) rises imposingly on the northern side of Killary Harbour, whereas the mountain ranges of the Twelve Bens and the Maumturks are located further to the south. Read more
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Silfra Fissure

Silfra Fissure is known to scuba divers the world over for the incredible visibility of its glacial meltwater. The fissure, like Nesgjá in the north of Iceland, is located on the tectonic plate boundary of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Silfra is also a site that can be accessed throughout the year, as the temperature of the water does not fluctuate by much and remains between 2 to 4 °C. During winter, snow-cover in Iceland is usually quite heavy, and hiking paths are closed off Read more
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Caldera Blanca

Timanfaya National Park (Spanish: Parque nacional de Timanfaya) imposes strict regulations on visitors and does not allow them to wander around freely through the lava fields. This is done in order to reduce potential erosion from footfall to the vulnerable volcanic terrain. There is however, another protected area that surrounds Timanfaya National Park, which functions as a buffer zone of sorts, that is called Los Volcanes Natural Park (Spanish: Parque natural de Los Volcanes). Read more
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Diving Lanzarote

Volcanic oceanic islands emerge from the bottom of the ocean floor and grow until they break the surface of the water. Most often than not, only a small part of the volcanic structure is above sea level, and the vast majority of it remains submerged. This means that there are countless geological structures that are open to exploration to scuba divers--that is as long as they remain within recreational scuba depth limits. The UNESCO Global Geopark of Lanzarote has steep Read more
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Volcanoes of Timanfaya

Lanzarote is an oceanic volcanic island of the Canary Islands archipelago, and is located only 125 kilometres off the coast of Africa. Despite this, the Canary Islands are an autonomous community of Spain, and along with the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde, make up the region known as Macaronesia. Lanzarote stands out from the the other Canary Islands, however, as the combination of its arid, semi-desert landscape, the predominating passat winds Read more
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Lugnaquilla

Lugnaquilla is located in the Wicklow Mountains, and is the highest mountain in Ireland outside of County Kerry. Standing 925 metres-high with a prominence of 849 metres, Lugnaquilla qualifies as a furth and is the 63rd highest mountain (with a prominence of at least 600m) in the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, sitting just one place ahead of Galtymore. Lugnaquilla is also known as the 'Lug', but despite the name being the same as one of the most prominent gods in Irish Read more
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Pisang Waterfall

The hike to Pisang waterfall is a quick and easy excursion that is not too far from the centre of Kuala Lumpur. The hike follows the Pisang river and as a result, has almost no elevation gain. This makes it perfect for beginner hikers or just for those who are looking for an easy weekend getaway. Its accessibility does unfortunately mean that the number of people that are likely to be encountered will be higher than that of more remote waterfalls, and of course, with more people Read more
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Kinabalu via Timpohon Day 2 - Low's Peak

No matter how early one goes to bed, one can never get enough sleep in Laban Rata (elevation : 3272m). 'Supper', which is a simple and light meal of bread, rice or noodles, is served at 02:00, and the hike to the summit starts in darkness not too long after. I joined a long procession of hikers that were armed with headlamps and bundled in jackets, that made their way up the trail, all of them eager to make the 1.5 kilometres to 'Sayat Sayat Hut' (elevation : 3668m) before Read more
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Kinabalu via Timpohon Day 1 - To Laban Rata

We made our way to Timpohon Gate (elevation : 1866m) with perfect weather that morning, and sat in the shuttle van satiated after a heavy breakfast from Balsam Cafe. With both a packed lunch and our climbing permits in hand, we went to the counter to sign-in before we set off down the trail. By then, it was 09:10. The very wide 'trail' was more of a stairwell through the jungle than an actual trail. It began with a short descent to the tiny Carson Waterfall, before beginning a Read more
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Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu (elevation : 4095m) is the highest mountain in Malaysia (both by prominence as well as sheer elevation), and is also the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Based on topographic prominence, Mount Kinabalu also happens to be the 20th highest mountain in the world, but only the third highest mountain in Southeast Asia behind Hkakabo Razi (elevation : 5881m) in Myanmar, and Puncak Jaya (elevation : 4884m), also known as Carstensz Read more
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GBB (CUS Connection) - Day 5

The Bongok Hill plateau where we had spent the previous night turned out to not be the summit of the hill. The actual summit lay more than a kilometre further up the trail, which took us another half an hour to climb up to. A ridge that made its way westward led to the summit, and as we were following it, I felt a sharp piercing sensation on my forearm. As I looked down, a large insect that looked like an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) flew away. Just under a decade ago Read more
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GBB (CUS Connection) - Day 4

The early part of the day's trail was confusing at best. The water-point from 'Kem Sarsi' was a small stream that could be reached with a five minute downhill walk via at least four left turnings just after the campsite. The trail that continued on from there was through a convoluted mixture of turns that went down the same path, but the 'combination' was left, left, right, then left, instead. We packed up and left camp late again that day, and made our way along the sometimes Read more
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GBB (CUS Connection) - Day 3

We packed up camp in a dense soupy mist that morning as siamang gibbons (Symphalangus syndactylus) howled and hooted off to the south. The others played music once again as they took their sweet time to get ready. All we could do was wait in exasperation as their music once again drowned out the tranquil sounds of the jungle. We finally set off a few hours later at 10:20, and by then the howls of the gibbons had already moved to the west of us. I was grateful to finally Read more
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GBB (CUS Connection) - Day 2

We finally began the day's hike after an agonising wait for the rest of the group, who spent the morning dilly-dallying as if they had all the time in the world. We left at 10:15, more than two hours later than had been planned, and made our way down to the river that flanked the 'Rata Air' campsite. The riverside was quite scenic in the daylight, and the sunlight glinted off the pools of water that were partially barricaded by large fallen logs. The trickling of water as it flowed over Read more
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GBB (CUS Connection) - Day 1

The day began with an arduous five-hour long journey from Kuala Betis in the back of a 4WD vehicle. The destination was a small village called Dakoh that was located within the Temiar settlement known as Pos Balar. The journey first took us deep inside palm oil estates along deeply rutted mud roads, and then into overgrown areas of fern and bamboo. Low-lying vines and branches arched over the road and occasionally created tunnels of vegetation that the vehicle Read more
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GBB (CUS Connection)

The hike to Mount Gerah (elevation : 2103m), the 13th or 17th highest mountain in Malaysia (based on prominence or sheer elevation respectively), almost always covers its sibling-peaks as well: Mount Bilah (elevation : 2077m) and Mount Bieh (elevation : 2073m); and is always referred to as 'GBB'. While the GBB hike normally begins and ends at the Temiar settlement of Pos Kemar just south of Temengor Lake, our plan was to begin from the south of the GBB range at Pos Read more
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Titiwangsa Range

The Titiwangsa Range forms the spine of Peninsular Malaysia and divides it naturally into the east and west coastal regions. The main section of the range runs along the border that separates the state of Perak in the west and Kelantan in the east. As you make your way up north along the state border, you will eventually come across two protected areas: Stong State Park on the east, and Royal Belum State Park on the west (and just south of the national border). The range has Read more
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ACT Day 15 - Kagbeni to Jomsom

We left Kagbeni (elevation : 2800m) at 08:00, which was the latest recommended time to avoid the blistering Kali Gandaki wind that was bound to build up later that day. All we really had to do before we left the guesthouse was to repack and freshen up, as we decided to skip breakfast and instead have a much larger meal for lunch later on in Jomsom (elevation : 2720m). The water pressure the night before had also been so low that the upper floors of the guesthouse had Read more
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ACT Day 14 - Ranipauwa to Kagbeni

We left Ranipauwa (elevation : 3700m) at 08:30, shortly after we finished our honey pancakes and tibetan bread with jam. The mist had lifted slightly by then, but despite all the posters that were scattered around the town advertising the Yartung festival that was supposed to have begun that morning, the town was still sleepy and there was really not much going on. From the start, the town had felt too touristy and a little too large for my liking: the roads were wide yet still Read more
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ACT Day 13 - Thorong La Pass

We started hiking at 06:45, almost an hour later than we had originally planned. There had been rats in the walls of our room the night before, and they had been scratching and scampering around the entire night. My earplugs would normally render me impervious to distracting sounds like those made by the rats, but the thin wooden walls of the room seemed to nullify the efficacy of the earplugs and instead amplified each and every single sound those rats made. In hindsight Read more
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ACT Day 12 - Yak Kharka to High Camp

The morning mist was interspersed with drizzle yet again, but by then we knew that it would lift if we just waited. When the views gradually opened up after our breakfast--which was tibetan bread and jam once again--they revealed the two towering mountains of Annapurna III (elevation : 7555m) and Gangapurna (elevation : 7454m) way down the valley to the south. The plan was to head all the way to High Camp (elevation : 4925m) that day as it would then mean that the Read more
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ACT Day 11 - Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka

The mountains finally revealed themselves as the sun rose that morning. As soon as I glanced out the window and saw the snow-covered peaks that surrounded Tilicho Base Camp (elevation : 4150m), I knew that I had to head up to the ridge above once again. My Salomon X-Ultra 3 GTX shoes were low-cut and were light enough for a trail run, so I quickly put them on and grabbed my camera before heading out to the trail head. It was still early and the morning chill lingered in Read more
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ACT Day 10 - Tilicho Lake

The mist that was interspersed with bouts of drizzle permeated the morning air. We had a lot of time to play around with that day and so decided to wait until the drizzle ceased before beginning the hike to Tilicho Lake (elevation : 4920m). As such, we leisurely ate breakfast, which was jam and pancake that had been deep fried for some reason. We also ordered tibetan bread to take-away for lunch later on. By the time we set foot on the trail that began just behind our guesthouse Read more
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ACT Day 09 - Khangsar to Tilicho Base Camp

Since the mist had yet to lift that morning and we had a relatively short hike ahead of us, we started the day languidly with a late breakfast of omelette with onion and tibetan bread. Whilst we were eating breakfast, the mist lifted and as it did incredibly dramatic views of Pisang Peak / Jong Ri (elevation : 6091m) to the east began to be revealed. The clouds that hugged the mountains seemed fickle however, and would first waft away to reveal the summits before sinking down Read more
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ACT Day 08 - Ngawal to Khangsar

I woke up around 02:00 that morning to try and capture a shot of the Milky Way, but the heavy mist foiled my plans once again. All that could be seen were bats that flitted around overhead as they chased moths that had been drawn by the lights of the guesthouse. It was still misty when I stepped back out of the room and into the courtyard five hours later, and almost everything was obscured in a white-out. We had breakfast, which was apple pancake and tibetan bread Read more
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ACT Day 07 - Route to Kang La

The southern views of the Annapurna Range from Himalaya Hotel were supposed to have been perfect. Scorpio would have been clearly visible, as would have Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.. that is, if not for the perpetual mist that shrouded everything from view each and every time the sun set. I got out of bed twice that night just to check whether the Milky Way was visible, but every single attempt that night and for the rest of the trip would turn out to be to no avail. So that morning, Read more
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ACT Day 06 - Dhikur Pokhari to Ngawal

The weather was excellent that morning, and the gateway to heaven, 'Swarga Dwari Danda', could clearly be seen. We watched the sun slowly rise over it before the strong rays drowned out all but the largest of the gateway's features. To the south, Annapurna II (elevation : 7939m) could occasionally be seen each time the clouds parted, and the sight of the unnamed 'black pyramid' in front of us, its sides so sheer that they could barely hold the snow, made me look forward to Read more
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ACT Day 05 - Thanchok to Dhikur Pokhari

The mist that had shrouded the views the day before had lifted and had left the skies bright and clear that morning. Low clouds still lingered over the lower slopes however, and the added contrast brought out the silhouettes of pine trees (Pinus sp.) way off in the distance. We peered at the distant trees from out of the windows as we ate a pancake with honey for breakfast. Before we climbed back onto the road and left Thanchok (elevation : 2660m), we cut up some tibetan Read more
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ACT Day 04 - Danakyu to Thanchok

The hamlet of Danakyu (elevation : 2250m) was completely blanketed in mist that morning, so much so that we could barely see the building that was across the road from us. So once again, we had our breakfast of pancake and honey with tibetan bread to take-away, whilst waiting for the mist to clear. The clouds still hugged the hills by the time we set off, but at least we could see down the road. After a kilometre, we came upon a path that dropped down the slopes on the right Read more
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ACT Day 03 - Tal to Danakyu

It was drizzling incessantly that morning, so we attempted to wait it out by taking our time over breakfast, with some Tibetan bread with honey. By 09:00, the rain had yet to let up, and we knew that we could not really wait any longer. We began by walking up the 'alley' that was basically the entire hamlet of Tal (elevation : 1700m) and noticed then that most of the guesthouses that flanked us advertised attached bathrooms, which was quite a luxury in this region. The mist Read more
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ACT Day 02 - Srichaur to Tal

The day was overcast, and not only were the mountain views of Himlung (elevation : 7126m) and Manaslu (elevation : 8163m, the 8th highest mountain in the world), completely obscured, but so were the cliffs that lay just in front of Srichaur (elevation : 1100m). The intermittent drizzle also made everything grey and bleak, but the mist that came with it left everything quite enchanting and reminded me of the Western Arthurs in Australia. We had made a deal with the lodge Read more
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ACT Day 01 - Ngadi to Srichaur

Rupesh, the owner of the homestay, had been such a delightful host the previous day that we decided to purchase breakfast from him that morning instead of eating our own. We ended up chatting with him for quite a while, whilst eating our breakfast of tibetan bread with honey, and so began the first day of our trek a little later than we had originally planned. Rupesh had told us about a mandir up on the hill nearby the local school, and had then proceeded to walk with us to Read more
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Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit is a classic trek that used to be considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Nepal. The circuit goes through incredibly varied terrain; taking you first through paddy fields and dense forests, before passing steep cliffs and gorgeous mountainscapes as it traces the Marsyangdi valley ever upwards. The trek can last for between one to three weeks and can cover between 150 to 300 kilometres depending on where one begins and ends the trek, as well as Read more
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ABC Day 10 - Chomrong to Nayapul

My pace was slow as I left Chomrong (elevation : 2170m) that morning down the zig-zagging stairwell. I had begun to feel the first aches of the trip, as the rapid 2000 metres descent the day before had proved to be a bit of an ordeal for my knees. It was a gorgeous morning however--the skies were perfectly clear, the light of the early morning was still soft, and it was neither too hot nor too cold. Birds were twittering whilst flitting from tree to tree, and the magnificent mountain Read more
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ABC Day 09 - Annapurna Base Camp

I awoke with a start in the pitch darkness of the empty dorm room to the sound of the alarm on my Suunto Spartan Ultra. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings, which was unusual, and to recall why exactly I had set the alarm that early. The watch had told me when exactly sunrise was and I had given myself just enough time based on my pace the day before, but had not, for some reason, had the foresight to factor in more time for all the snow. In my pre-dawn grogginess, Read more
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ABC Day 08 - Machapuchare Base Camp

I took my sweet time that morning, as the views that greeted me overlooked the magnificent valley. The cliffs that ran down the sides of the mighty mountains were still shrouded in the dark tapestry of the mountain's shadow, but as I watched, that tapestry was once again pulled away by the light from the rising sun. Once I had my fill, I made my way up the stairwell past the final lodge and down into the valley. The sheer ridges that surrounded me on either side were fairly Read more
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ABC Day 07 - Bamboo to Deurali

I left Bamboo (elevation : 2310m) a little later than usual since it was going to be a short day, and climbed up past the other lodges and over a stream to the boulder-lined path. The trail crossed several rivers, and passed a waterfall that was festooned with prayer flags. I was then thrown back into the forest, and found myself surrounded by little brown birds that were flitting from bamboo shoot to bamboo shoot. They were twittering away, but at times their sounds could only Read more
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ABC Day 06 - Chomrong to Bamboo

That morning, I awoke to some marvelous views of Annapurna South (elevation : 7219m) and Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441m). The soft morning light cast crepuscular rays skimming over the mountains to the east, before they lit up Annapurna South in their golden glow. The mountains seemed so incredibly close, so much so that I felt that all I had to do to touch them was to just reach out my hand. The valley to the north that led up to the Annapurna Sanctuary could also Read more
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ABC Day 05 - Banthanti to Chomrong

The trail just after Banthanti (elevation : 2210m) dropped steeply down the hill in very wide steps. It was just before 08:00 and the early morning light was still flattering, and we would catch the mountain views in a soft glow each and every time we would happen upon a clearing in the dense foliage. The descent down the slopes towards Bhurundi Khola went on for 600 metres or so, yet our descent took about 30 minutes as it was slowed down dramatically by all the foot traffic Read more
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ABC Day 04 - Poon Hill

The pre-dawn darkness made it necessary to pack in the dim lights of our headlamps. We hurriedly threw together the essentials for our daypacks, and divided the contents of the first aid kit amongst us to lighten the load. We had planned to start walking an hour before sunrise (my Suunto Spartan Ultra had stated that sunrise was at 06:15), but before we did, we made our way outside the wooden lodge to heat up some potable water in the Jetboil for some much-needed Read more
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ABC Day 03 - Ulleri to Ghorepani

We had met up with Brandon's group (and children) the evening before, and had all set off from Ulleri (elevation : 1960m) together that morning, just shortly after 08:00. The day had had a slow start as we had spent a fair amount of time marveling at the wonderful valley views of Annapurna South (elevation : 7219m) and Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441m) that lay to the north-east, way before we had even left the lodge. We began the hike up the stairwell towards Banthanti Read more
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ABC Day 02 - Nayapul to Ulleri

I woke up fairly fresh, after having recovered from a short bout of fever from the night before--a quick and 'gentle' reminder of the importance of good hygiene. After a quick discussion, we had decided that it might be better to just hire a taxi for the 2-hour journey to Nayapul, as my stomach was still feeling a little unsettled and a stomach-churning bus ride might not have been the best idea. The price of the tiny 800cc Suzuki taxi also did not seem too exorbitant, but that Read more
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ABC Day 01 – Pokhara

After the 6 hour- and 200 kilometre-long near-death experience on the Prithvi Highway from Kathmandu to Pokhara the day before, I was very glad to still be able to walk around the roads of Pokhara. We had managed to secure a few empty seats in a friend's private coach before it had left Kathmandu, but doing so meant that we had to endure the crazy traffic that swerved in and out in order to overtake each other, with countless near-misses, on the curvy serpentine roads Read more
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Annapurna Base Camp & Poon Hill

Annapurna (Sanskrit, Nepali, Newar: अन्नपूर्णा) is the name of a massif in the Himalayas that is known for its highest mountain--Annapurna I (elevation : 8091m), the 10th highest mountain in the world and one of the 14 8000ers. Although Annapurna I was the first 8000er to be summited way back in 1950, it also, as of 2012, has the greatest fatality rate, with a ratio of 34 deaths for every 100 safe returns (followed by K2 (elevation : 8611m) and Nanga Parbat (elevation : 8126m) Read more
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Jebak Puyuh Caves

The Jebak Puyuh (Malay: Quail Trap) Cave Complex is something of a hidden gem. The largest caves here may not be as big as those found in the Senyum Cave Complex, but they do take a bit more effort to get to and are thus left relatively untouched. Bear in mind that you will not find signs, well-trodden pathways, and metal stairwells that will help you gain access to the caves, and you will often-times have to push through overgrown jungle trails to get there. All this makes Read more
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Cave Fauna

The Senyum Cave Complex is surrounded by an ecosystem that supports the greatest diversity of living organisms on Earth--the rainforest. These rainforests are lowland dipterocarp forests, which are just one type of many, and alone can have up to 2000 different species of plants and trees. There is one species that can be found next to the trail on the north-eastern sector of the Senyum cave complex, that (literally) stands out from all the others. This tree, which is actually not Read more
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Senyum Caves

Senyum Caves (Malay: Gua Senyum) are a network of large chambers and caves that lie scattered around the periphery of a fairly large limestone complex. The complex is one of two, the other being the Jebak Puyuh cave complex, that lie within the northwestern limits of the Jengka Forest Reserve. The two complexes are surrounded by palm oil plantations and have a swath of lowland forest separating them. Sadly, the forest reserve is slowly getting chipped away over time Read more
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Chiling Waterfall

Chiling Fish Sanctuary was established by the Selangor Fisheries Department in 2005 in order to create a protected area for several species of carps (family Cyprinidae), including the Malayan mahseer (Tor tambroides), known as 'Ikan Kelah' in Malay, and the near-threatened Copper mahseer (Neolissochilus hexagonolepis), or 'Ikan Tengas'. Both these fish fetch very high market prices (the 'Empurau' for instance, is priced at RM2000 per kilogram!) and as such are suffering Read more
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Langkawi's Giants

Langkawi is occasionally referred to as 'Malaysia's Legendary Island' due to the many legends that surround its sights. The legends that visitors to the island are most likely to encounter are Mahsuri's seven-generation curse and the fairies of Telaga Tujuh waterfall. There are far more, however, one of which is the legend of Langkawi's ancient geological formations. Legend has it that the mountains of Langkawi used to be giants eons ago. Two of these giants, Mat Chinchang Read more
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Komodo Island

The volcanic island of Komodo (along with Padar, Rinca and an archipelago of smaller islands) is a part of Komodo National Park, an area that was founded in 1980 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The national park was formed to protect, and is an eponym of, its most famous denizen--the mighty Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the world's largest and most dangerous lizard. The islands are located in one of the most arid regions in Indonesia and their Read more
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