Luagan Lalak Forest Recreation Park

Luagan Lalak Forest Recreation Park

Brunei
Mysterious and impressive, Luagan Lalak is a tranquil habitat for a collection of fauna and flora, as well as a photographer's muse.

The dark water swamp, located in the Labi Hills Forest Park, beckons tourists and nature lovers to stop and admire its landscape and what lies below the still water, dotted with wisps of swaying seaweed.

If you've never been to Luagan Lalak, driving before sunrise is a good start. The cool morning air, the tranquility of the place and the ability to have it all at your disposal is an experience worth striving for. At 6 a.m. in early August, the sun has not yet risen and the sky is a royal blue that becomes lighter as time passes. Using the light from your phone, you can go down the steps to the beginning of the path leading to a substantial gazebo with wooden benches. Halfway along the path, the path splits into two paths, both ending in the belly of gazebos. It is a network of paths that were once made of wood and weathered boards, but have now been replaced by a solid concrete structure, similar to a wooden bridge. At this hour it is quiet and peaceful, except for the calls of wild birds and the occasional splash of fish jumping into the water. In 15 minutes the sky will clear so much that all types of structures on Luagan Lalak will open.

The park is part of the Labi Hills Forest Reserve, an unspoiled and protected area of ​​nature, plants and animals. At the center of this park is Luagan Lalak, an alluvial freshwater swamp filled with rainwater. "Luagan" means "non-flowing body of water" in Malay. The water provides a breeding ground for the striped snakehead fish, a species prized and eaten by locals because they believe it is beneficial for wound healing, skin and joint health, and has anti-inflammatory effects. These waters, however, are not safe for swimming or boating, and there are ample signs warning of this, as their calm surface sometimes hides one or two saltwater crocodiles, moving secretly in search of food in these organism-rich waters.


You can walk along the shores surrounding the lake and, if you're lucky, you might see some of the land mammals that are usually shy and elusive but have been spotted in this park. This lush, unspoilt forest is known to be home to the Sunda pangolin, red langur or red leaf monkey, colugo or flying lemur and Horsfield's tarsier. Bird watchers often descend on this lake to observe and photograph the endemic and migratory birds that stop here. This is a quiet world of birds where you can see such beautiful species as Black and Yellow Broadbill, Black and Red Broadbill, Green Broadbill, Yellow-tailed Flower Beetle, Pomegranate Pitta, Argus Pheasant, Thunder Stork, Bornean Bristlebill, Trogons, Hornbill, Slaty Woodpecker, Tufted Fire Owl, Red-billed Malkokha, Common Kingfisher, Buffy Fish Owl and others. On a nice sunny day, the gazebos provide much-needed respite from the heat, and it would be nice to park there in the late afternoon when it's cooler, have some snacks and drinks, watch the birds flutter, and just enjoy the peaceful scene while you wait for the sun to set.


Photographers will find Luagan Lalak an intriguing landscape with many moods. In the early morning before sunrise, a thick fog rolls into the center of the lake, giving it an ethereal, otherworldly aesthetic. During the drier months, the water recedes sharply to reveal islands of lepironia sedge, or puruna as they are called here, a prolific reed with many uses, and the place looks more like a field of pools of water than a lake. During the rainy season, water fills the swamp and covers all the vegetation, creating a dark lake so calm that it reflects everything above the water. Visiting at different times of the year will present different landscapes. In the dark of night, the park has another winning side. Since it is located a good distance from populated areas, the wide open space above the lake and lack of light is an advantage for stargazing. Between March and September, the core of the Milky Way is visible in the night sky, tempting stargazers with magnificent views of the constellations and fantastic opportunities for star photography.

Recent park updates include 72 new signs throughout the area, some providing helpful instructions to help visitors navigate and use the park, and others containing information to educate visitors about the park's wildlife and vegetation. These new signs are part of the Forestry Department's goal to ensure that a visit to Luagan Lalak is not only entertaining, but also educational, and promotes understanding of the flora and fauna that are part of the local rainforest ecosystem.


As you walk along the paths, pay attention to the ground signs. If you're interested in some of the vegetation and life forms you'll encounter on the lakeside hiking trails, these helpful ground signs with common and scientific names will help you identify them, along with some general information. One can learn about ferns, termites and various local plants such as tongkat ali, rengas, kulimpapa and simpur, the national flower of Brunei.


There are 15 signs attached to the handrails of the paths, which provide interesting information about commonly found animals and birds in the area: regions where they are commonly found, their diet, habitat, characteristics, features, skills and sounds they make to communicate. It can be learned that the red leaf monkey in Brunei is also known as chikok, its diet consists of fruits, seeds, leaves and flowers, and that they spend most of their time in the canopy of dipterocarp trees; and flying lemurs do not actually fly, but glide with the help of their patagium (the membrane between the limbs) for a distance of up to 200 meters between trees. Bird signs even list the specific sounds birds make so you can listen to their calls and try to identify their species. There is certainly a lot to be learned from walking around the lake.


As with all protected areas, the use of these areas must be accompanied by responsibility - a mentality that is vital to the conservation of the environment and the inhabitants of this park. Some important signs are in place to remind visitors of simple ways they can help. Garbage, particularly single-use plastic, when thrown away indiscriminately, not only destroys the natural beauty of the park, but also harms the animals and makes it difficult for authorities to maintain the park.


Beyond Luagan Lalak, you can travel further to south along the Labi road to the Teraja or Mendaram Iban longhouses for an exciting cultural experience, or hike to the waterfalls in the area and explore the natural wonders of the Belait countryside.

Source: bruneitourism

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