Borneo flower, one metre across.
Faith and I spent three years in Borneo, a fabulous country. Fabulous
people too, the locals very beautiful, and on special occasions,
wearing wondrous traditional dress.
Lots of tropical rain forest, but modern cities too. Kuching down to the west, where statues of cats wave at you from traffic roundabouts.
Then past Brunei and Labuan to Kota Kinabalu on the north-east coast.
This city swings, but is so spread out that we bought ourselves a
motorcycle to get around the industrial areas to find the engineering
shops we needed to repair the boat’s alternators, starter motor,
fridge heat exchanger, service the injectors, plus shopping for food.
Faith rides too, so when I wasn’t using the bike, she was off to the
supermarkets, the book stores and vege and fruit market. Riding the
bike was a lot of fun.
Then we heard about the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia Arnoldi. Up to one metre across and weighing as much as ten kilograms.
This parasitic plant grows on vines in the rain forest. And boy, you must know that the rain forest is an impenetrable jungle. Most of the
plant lives inside the vine with only the flower being visible.
The flower was discovered in 1818 by a guide working for Dr Joseph
Arnold, a member of Sir Thomas Raffles’ expedition into the interior
of the island. They named the flower after themselves, forgetting the
guide who found it in the first place.
And I suppose ‘discovered’ is a misnomer as the indigenous tribes must have known about the flower for generations.
A nature reserve on the lower slopes of Mount Kinabalu offers viewing tours. However, a blooming flower is rare. It takes up to nine months to bud and then blooms for no more than three days. Both male and female flowers have to be open simultaneously for pollination to occur.
The nature conservation officials employ teams to search the forest for flowers in bloom. Often they are found in places impossible for
tourists to reach. Before taking the long expedition, Faith and the
crews of two other yachts phoned the reserve to find out whether
there were any flowers to be seen. They were in luck. One had been
spotted the previous day and only just started to bloom.
I am in disgrace because I was immersed in a massive rewrite that
required nearly a thousand hours of my time, so I opted out.
But the next day, Faith and the others set off by bus. Ha, ha, at the
nature park, the terrain was so difficult, steep, muddy and slippery,
that the guide advised her not to go because she would never
negotiate the obstacles.
The others went though and the photograph is what they brought back for us.
Hope you like it.
Pierre & Faith