A Time to Celebrate Volunteerism

I wrote an article for the July 2017 issue of the Pencinta Alam, the national newsletter of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) on the recent Volunteer Appreciation Day, organised by the Selangor Branch of MNS. The article is published on pages 2 and 3 of the newsletter. Hope you like it. ūüôā

PA July 2017 p.2PA July 2017 p.3

Here is the text for the article in full:

A Time to Celebrate Volunteerism

Article by Khor Hui Min

From 20th to 21th May 2017, I attended the Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Branch’s Volunteer Appreciation Day at Ulu Tupai, Taiping. We stayed at the Ulu Tupai Waterfall Homestay for a night. It was a quaint little cluster of traditional wooden village houses on stilts located right next to a large and pristine waterfall. As a non-profit organisation, and a membership-driven organisation, this is one of the ways MNS (Selangor Branch) shows its appreciation to volunteers annually. For this, I would like to express my appreciation for their effort and thoughtfulness, especially the organising committee.

We spent the afternoon chilling out at the waterfall and getting to know the representatives from the different special interest groups. In the evening, after dinner, we went to the Night Safari at the Taiping Zoo and seemed to have walked for a few hours, following the guide on foot. The last time I visited Taiping Zoo was many years ago, but I always remembered the animals to be beautiful and well fed. Their coats were glossy and they came when our guide called out to them. They were healthy and well taken care of.

After we came back from the zoo, a group of enthusiastic nocturnal members went herping with Steven Wong, the coordinator of the Selangor Branch Herp Group till after midnight.

The next morning, a hike to a waterfall was arranged, and a sizeable group went. Since our chalet was already situated next to a huge waterfall and cascades, I decided to remain there to dunk myself in the waterfall and snap photos of insects.

I have forgotten the year I first stepped into an MNS meeting, but it was a Selangor Branch AGM at Rimbu Ilmu in University Malaya, and Khairul Anuar was elected Chairman of Selangor Branch that year. I attended at the invitation of Saras Kumar, the then Marine SIG coordinator. Since then, I have been an MNS member and volunteer. The first time I picked up a brush to try my hand at facepainting was at Tioman Island Fest 2006. It has been over 10 years. Through the years, my volunteer roles have changed. Faces have changed in the ranks of the volunteers and among the staff of MNS headquarters. However, the spirit of volunteerism and concern for the environment remains ever strong.

MNS events are programmes and outings I look forward to, because it is not only an opportunity to go into the outdoors, but also a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, while spreading awareness about the importance of the environment among the visitors to the event. I am proud to say that many of my friends are volunteers of MNS, and sometimes I feel that this group of long-term volunteers are like a family of like-minded individuals brought together and bound by the love of nature.

I hope MNS will grow and flourish with the changing times, and still be the oldest and biggest Malaysian-grown environmental NGO many years from now.


 

To see the whole newsletter, click here.

To find out more about the Malaysian Nature Society, click here.

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Ulu Tupai Waterfalls

I went to the Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Branch’s Volunteer Appreciation Day at Ulu Tupai, Taiping last weekend, 20-21 May 2017.¬†We stayed at the Ulu Tupai Waterfall Homestay for a night. It was a quaint little cluster of traditional wooden village houses on stilts located right next to a large and pristine waterfall.

I spent the time dunking myself in the waterfall, and chasing after dragonflies and butterflies with my camera. I took only macro shots on this trip.

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Close-up shot of a torch ginger bloom in the early morning

I decided to let my phone die and went off the grid. No phone. No Internet. It was the best way to chill out, de-stress and relax, while catching up with old friends and making new ones.

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Wildflower seeds, ready to flutter away on the breeze

It was awesome to just dunk myself in the freezing cold water at the waterfall for 2 days. A bit of yoga practice was a welcome treat. I also did grounding meditation to¬†align my energies with the earth’s energies. I like it because I am close to nature, and it helps¬†to¬†give a¬†calming, refreshed and peaceful effect.

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Seeds of plants next to the waterfall

We went to the Night Safari at the Taiping Zoo for the first time and seemed to have walked for a few hours, following the guide on foot. The last time I visited Taiping Zoo was many years ago, but I always remembered the animals to be beautiful and well fed. Their coats were glossy and they came when our guide called out to them. They were healthy and well taken care of.

While others went for a late night herping hike after returning from the zoo, I decided to catch up on my sleep, right next to the window. I drifted off lulled by the therapeutic sound of the waterfall. Luckily, I did not go herping, because people came back with five or six leech bites. :-O

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My favourite shot of a large metallic green dragonfly. It took me quite some time to actually snap some photos of it in focus and in the frame!

Ulu Tupai Waterfall Homestay is accessible only via 4WD, because of the condition of the roads. Perhaps because of the difficult accessibility, the waterfalls remains pristine and unpolluted.

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Red beauty finally posed for me, after I sat down on the rocks for some time

The flow of water is not too strong, making it ideal for visitors to dip in the shallow pools. Beautiful rocks frame the waterfall, making it an attractive place for photography. All in all, a visit to the waterfalls is a pleasant experience.

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Dark blue dragonfly on the rocks

I spent hours taking photos of dragonflies, butterflies and water striders (pond skaters). When I arrived at the rocks, the dragonflies and butterflies all sped off. I had to sit down and wait for them to get used to me. I wanted to become another piece of the landscape. Then, after a while, the dragonflies started to come closer, and finally landed in front of me.

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A brown and a red butterfly landed in front of me for a few seconds, and I only managed to take four shots before they flew off.
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Taking a photo of this water strider was not easy, especially when I did not have a tripod.

The water striders a.k.a. pond skaters were not easy either. When I inched closer, they would move faster. Back and forth, like clockwork. Their speed increased with my increase in proximity.

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Tiny little butterfly on my left arm

On the other hand, a tiny little brown butterfly perched on my arm for a long time. It would not leave even when I prodded it gently with a finger. So, I just left it there and snapped photos of it from time to time, holding the camera in my right hand and steadying the lens on my left upper arm.

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Seed pod in the shape of a flower, fallen from a tree beside the waterfalls

I was glad I joined the VAD trip to Ulu Tupai. It was an awesome experience in a beautiful place, and I¬†test out the theory that I did not have to do EVERYTHING and be busy all the time in order to be happy (first brought up by Low last year). It was true. Just relaxing surrounded by nature, taking photos, swimming in the natural waterfall pool, enjoying chit-chat with fellow volunteers in nature made my weekend a fantastic getaway from the city. ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧