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Witnessing the World’s Largest Flower: The Rafflesia

Situated in Malaysia, The Cameron Highlands is one of the country’s most extensive hill stations. It is home to plenty of vegetation, fresh as well as cool air, and the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia arnoldii. To witness the Rafflesia fully bloomed is a very rare event. This unisexual flower opens up after 9 months and only lives for 5-7 days.

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This flower is one of the 28 species that belongs to the genus Rafflesia, which is now becoming endangered. It is a huge five-petaled flower that can weigh up to 10kg! Interestingly, this parasitic flower has no leaves, stems, and roots. To obtain nutrients and water, the Rafflesia attaches itself to a host plant called Tetrastigma.

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The flower is notorious for its bad smell that aims to attract flies for pollination purposes.

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While we happened to be visiting the Cameron Highlands, we were informed there might we a possibility to see a fully bloomed Rafflesia. We trekked for a few hours in the beautiful rainforest, before came upon some buds of the Rafflesia.

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This bud was likely to bloom very soon.

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Eventually, we were lucky enough to spot a fully bloomed Rafflesia! The flower was indeed huge! The redish brown petals of the Rafflesia were peppered with white freckles.

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The trek through the rainforest was definitely a worthwhile adventure. We got the rare opportunity to not only see the fully bloomed Rafflesia, but also its earlier and later stages. We got a sense of the complete cycle from the buds to the bloomed flower and eventually to the dying Rafflesia.

To Braid or Not to Braid?

Traveling isn’t only about visiting the most wonderful sites in the world or meeting new people, it is also about trying new things for yourself. The story I am about to tell you today, begins in Jerusalem, Israel. About 3 months into our one-year World Trip, I met this very nice Canadian girl, who convinced me of the value and convenience of having braided hair while traveling. Not having to style your hair everyday because it would already be neat and tidy sounded very pleasing to me. I had made up my mind, and at the first opportunity I would braid my hair.

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About 5 months later, while I was in Thailand, the opportunity arose. I spent the next 2 hours, sitting at Khao san road, a famous tourist street in central Bangkok, getting my hair braided. I was extremely excited, since this was the first time in my life I would be getting braids.

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In Indonesia in particular, for some reason the locals really loved my braids. I was very surprised by all the compliments.

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Believe it or not, I kept the braids for almost 2 months! When our World Trip ended in Malaysia, I decided it was time to take out the braids. Over the weeks, the braids had gotten pretty tangled and I hate to admit it but my hair had become very dry too. The nightmare was about to begin. I remember sitting in my room in Kuala Lumpur trying very hard to undo my braids. But, it was a disaster, my hair was so tangled at the back. I really did not want to cut my hair short, so despite my frustration, I was determined to untangle those ugly knots. It took the whole day with Jason’s help to finally untangle my hair.

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The next day, I headed to the hairdresser inside the Petronas Twin Towers, and got a nice haircut. I felt refreshed. What did I learn? As much as braids can be convenient during traveling, the price you have to pay afterwards is just so high.

A Slice of Paradise: Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands

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The Perhentian Islands near Malaysia’s northeast coast are a slice of heavenly paradise. These are photos of long beach on Perhentian Kecil, the smaller of the two Perhentian islands. Long beach was mostly popular among the backpacking crowd due to the cheap accommodations and nightlife. The sand was soft, and the water was turquoise blue with excellent visibility. The water was perfect for swimming.

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This is the bungalow we rented during our stay at the beach. Although the accommodations were not luxurious, the location was excellent. We were literally on the beach. During our stay here, we encountered this monitor lizard that occasionally would crawl under our bungalow. As of now, Long beach at Perhentian Kecil has been our favorite beach in Malaysia.

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Chivalry in Old Age

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We were dining at a restaurant in Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo, Malaysia, when I noticed this lovely couple. A few moments before I took the picture, the elderly man had opened
a soda can for his wife. It was such an adorable and cute act of chivalry. What a gentleman! And of course, what a lucky lady!

Seeing Wild Orangutans in Borneo, Malaysia!

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Watching wild orangutans swinging and eating in the rainforest was an incredible experience. With no bars between us and the orangutans and having heard stories of them attacking some visitors in the past, I felt a bit anxious. However despite the fear, I was more excited to see these incredible animals. It was lovely to see them roaming around so freely and happily. I particularly loved seeing the baby orangutan with its mother. It was so cute!