Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kenting National Forest (墾丁國家公園)

After our Zorbing experience on Monday, we headed to the Kenting National Forest for a nature hike. Personally, I have to admit, I wasn't too excited about this.

My idea of an ideal trip to Kenting included lots of time sitting on the beach doing nothing, so anything resembling a hike sounded really unappealing to me. BUT it seemed that I was a lonely minority of beach-lovers on this trip, so to the forest we went!

Just as with the Zorbing experience, I was not disappointed.

Kenting National Forest is probably the most interesting and diverse national park I've ever been to. I highly recommend that anyone who is going down to Kenting for a trip to take an afternoon to check out this park.

Walking through the park is a leisurely experience with mostly paved paths and very few hills (I was very happy about this!). During our approximately 3-hour stroll through the forest, we encountered tons of little creatures and insects, the first of which was the biggest spider I have ever seen. This thing was HUGE! It was literally as big as Nick's hand. Needless to say, I took this picture of it from a safe distance!

We also saw a praying mantis - the only one I've ever seen in the wild before - and he was even holding a little fly captive in his hands, until we distracted him and it flew away!

Right next to the praying mantis, we saw a huge, iridescent fly! I was a bit grossed out by this thing, but it was cool none-the-less. This guy was as big as my thumb from tip to knuckle, no joke. Things sure are bigger in tropical rain forests! And, it was apparently mating season for caterpillars, because we saw lots of them engaged in what appeared to be caterpillar copulation!

Just like the hike we went on on Green Island, this 'hike' had lots of little lizards running around;

however, there was another creature scurrying around on the forest floor that I had never seen before: these little yellow crabs!

Everywhere we looked, we saw (or heard) little forest creatures: leaf bugs, locusts, birds.... the forest was bustling.

One of the more unique things about the Kenting national forest is that all of the trees and plants grew up around what was once a coral reef. Every where you look you can see big rocks that were the base for what must have been a huge coral reef.
It's pretty cool to walk around and be able to see visible signs that everything around you was once under water.

The forest had all kinds of trees that I had never seen before, including a huge population of crazy banyan trees with massive root systems - here is a picture of Nick walking through one of them:

Occasionally during our walk the path diverted from the forest and took us underground into some pretty cool cave systems. At some points the paths were fairly narrow, but they were well kept and easy to navigate.

A short way into the second cave, I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted a colony of bats sleeping on the ceiling. I instantly froze and started envisioning the freak-out I would have if we somehow disturbed the bats and they all started flying around our heads inside this small cave! (picture Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom)

Upon discovering the bats, we all froze and became very silent - in an attempt not to disturb their slumber!

We then took about 3-4 minutes to survey the situation, take pictures, and gather up the courage to walk past the bats. After watching them for a while I noticed that a lot of them were actually moving, stretching their wings and readjusting themselves. In hindsight, I can see they were just getting more comfortable with their sleeping position, but at the time I took it as a sure sign that they were about to attack!

After a long pause, and thanks to the bravery of our friend Neil, we finally did manage to get ourselves together and continue on our way exploring the cave without disturbing the bats!

About mid-way through our hike we came to a look-out point with a great aerial view of the forest below and the beach in the distance. One of the best things about this look-out point was that it was on top of a building (a rest area with a snack bar and toilets) and there was an elevator to the top! Hiking doesn't get much better than this!

It was a bit over cast and windy while we were up there, but the view was beautiful none-the-less.

A good time was had by all!

1 comment:

  1. Kenting is truly enchanting. I have been there many times.