Sunday, 1 June 2014

The beauty of the Nandaka Vihara

When my wife and I decided to visit the Nandaka Vihara at the foothills of the Bukit Mertajam hill in Cherok Tokun this morning, I thought it was just going to be a routine visit since we have come here countless times before. While she'd be in the meditation hall to listen to the monks, I would normally wander off to enjoy a bit of the greenery and scenery.

Which was precisely what I did. The first few minutes of my walk were rather uneventful until I decided to make a detour and go down some granite steps to a sun deck. But before I could reach it, suddenly I noticed a big spider web that loomed to my right.

Right smack in the centre of the web was this huge spider: a huge, predatory spider that was waiting for a victim to be caught in its trap. I've seen such spiders before but they were quite a distance from me. This one, though, was at my eye level and I could have touched it easily if I had wanted to. It was that close to me. But caution stopped me from doing so. No, I wasn't going to risk getting bitten by this monster of a spider. From tip to tip, it probably measured around five inches. Its body alone measured about one and a half inches.

So I just stood there and took quite a lot of pictures on my camera. Chances such as this do not happen often and this was the best chance I could get. The only problem was that I could only photograph this beast from the bottom and thus, missed the sight of it from the top. Nevertheless, it afforded me a great view of the spider's abdomen, especially where the legs connected to it. Here is one of them:

Bottom view of the Nephila pilipes

The Nephila pilipes is a species of the golden orb-web spider. It is quite commonly found in the primary and secondary forests of Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, and Papua New Guinea. Females are large and grow to a body size of one-and-a-half to two inches (30 to 50 millimetres) with an overall length of up to eight inches (about 20 centimetres), with males considerably smaller. It is one of the biggest spiders in the world.

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