Friday, 27 September 2013

Giant trees

One of the well-worn paths at the Bukit Mertajam Hill in Cherok Tokun lies beside the stream. As you walk up the terraced path before entering the forest, this huge tree looms to the right. It cannot be missed at all as it is really big with an impressive set of buttress roots. You may think that this could be the biggest tree at the BM Hill but actually, the hill is still largely unexplored and there may well be some other surprises inside.

Earlier this week, I got a message from Long Kin to ask whether I wanted to see an even bigger tree at the BM Hill. Seemed that he himself was shown this tree not so long ago by some other friends and he wanted to share this discovery with me. Okay, I told him, let's go!

So on Wednesday, we met at the foothills and went walking up the same terraced path, passing the big tree by the stream. I paused to take a few photographs just in case I needed them for comparison later. You can see the size of this tree from the two pictures below.

About five minutes into our walk, Long Kin took us to a detour to the right of the main track. It's off the beaten track. Not many people had been here, I observed. There weren't many obvious signs of gravel wear along the track. Much of the way was rather narrow and steep, and at two or three places we were required to climb over fallen tree trunks, but that was all. No dramatic danger around. And best of all, no leeches. Along the way, there were also some interesting flora:

And soon enough, our destination loomed into full view. We had reached a small clearing in the forest where, for the first time in my life, I saw an absolutely immense set of buttress roots. If I had thought that the tree by the stream was big, this one was h-u-g-e. Yes, huge. You've got to see it for yourself to appreciate how big such trees could grow when they are not disturbed by human development.

The above picture was taken from one angle only. I had to pick my way gingerly round the roots before I could get this second picture snapped from a different perspective.

It is impossible to say how old the tree is. My guess is at least four or five hundred years old - but possibly even older because it would be very hard to put an age on this healthy, living tree - as it is located in a little known, uninhabited area of the hill, away from human beings with only animals and insects as its companions. Undisturbed, it had grown to this immense size. Seeing how awesome nature works when given time, I wouldn't be surprised if one day, someone else would uncover some other even bigger trees around here.

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