24 November 2015

Dog Walks and Wildlife Malaysian Style

One of the reasons we chose to live where we do in Ipoh was the fact that we had access to a large communal park.  The running track around our development is about 1km long and there is a further 2-3 kilometres in the other related developments run by the same company.  If we play our cards right we can do a 6km walk which is more than enough in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.  The children can also bring their bikes along if they want and it is easy on the pushchair.  Not quite as fun as walking on the beach or yomping through the woods as we love to do elsewhere (sadly  it is not safe to take the dogs into the jungle here)  but it is, for here, the most practical place to walk the dogs and there are even sections where they are allowed to be off lead. 

Our local area is very managed
but absolutely beautiful.
Ipoh Limestone Hills
Amongst stunning limestone hills
The area, known as ‘Sunway City’, is billed as living in a nature park but that is a tad optimistic.  The houses are cramped in their plots and built to a limited number of specifications so it looks like we live in 1980s London commuterville (if you are not familiar with the UK think Little Whingeing in Harry Potter) but it is set in the most fantastic limestone landscape and our walks are one of the most pleasurable aspects of life here.  The area may not be a nature park but it backs on to wild hills, is very green and we are next to a large lake and as a result the whole area is teeming with life.  On my runs I can see up to 10 different types of exotic animal in one 30 minute outing not to mention the beautiful plants.

We run into animals at the most unexpected times
Some a little ordinary.
Urban Monitor Lizard - Malaysia
And some that little bit special.  This monitor lizard was
searching for a way into a neighbour's garden.
Urban Monitor Lizard - Malaysia
Until the dogs startled him and he ran away.  Monitors run in a funny
way because of their leg design (funny hips) but they are fast.
On a walk with the dogs and children we tend to see a little less wildlife, partly because of the time of day and partly because they make a little more noise.  The children particularly enjoy feeding the fish and we have a wide variety of ornamental carp and some truly huge catfish to cater to.  The dogs like the lake and river too as it means they can go for a swim which cools them down on a long walk and help to ease Bessie’s arthritis. My favourite animal sightings are:

Turtle Malaysia
The lakes and water are full of turtles and terrapins.
  • Mr Crane: The crane is an idiot.  He is often on the river bank during my run, he gets spooked as he sees me jog up but then moves only 100m down the road and gets spooked again.  He gives me such a poisonous look he is hilarious.
  • The other birds:  I must try to get a Bird ID book.  We have a particularly vibrant yellow bird and a vibrant blue bird that flit about all over the place.  I think they are some type of kingfisher.  They move so fast and so unpredictably that I have never been able to get a photograph but they are so colourful.  We have a few other birds resident in our garden and they delight in teasing Kismet. 
  • The squirrel: he actually lives in the garden next to ours (the house is empty)  and comes to visit from time to time.  He is incredibly brave and thinks nothing of coming to visit when the dogs our out.  He is fast enough to escape them with ease but seems to love playing tag.
  • The terrapins:  they are quite hard to spot , they are very shy and often bob down under the surface almost as soon as you do see them.  If you know what you are looking for, however, you see the heads breach the surface as the terrapins just hang quietly in the water.
  • The fish:  these give us and all the other residents endless pleasure.  They seem to know when people are coming as they congregate looking for food.  The larger ones swim in the deep water and are quite bold – they will often come very close to the dogs and tickle their feet as they swim – the result is quite comic!
The fish always come to say hello - they are everyone's pets.
Some are really striking, all are protected - no fishing allowed.
  • The frogs: the frogs are shy and only really come out at night.  They are very striking to look at and I love to hear the noise they make.
  • The monitor lizards:  there are loads of these amazing creatures hiding away.  They are quite bold and one of the reasons we took Kismet (our adopted stray) home was that we were worried that this tiny kitten who was sheltering in a drain would become a tasty snack for one of the larger lizards.  The biggest one we have seen was longer than I am tall and looked extremely powerful.  We often see them swimming along in the lake or river and sometimes even walking along the path.  They avoid humans but are not at all bothered by any of the other animals.  Some of the smaller ones come onto the roads, the other day I nearly ran over a juvenile who had decided to sunbathe in the middle of the road.  He ran away very quickly and hid in a neighbour’s garden, much to the chagrin of her dog who was inside the house.  
the surrounding hills are full of caves which are home to bats
and swifts (the nests are still collected).  The trees are home to monkeys.
  • The monkeys: A whole troop of monkeys live in the trees on the bank of the river opposite our house.  We can sit and enjoy lunch in the garden while watching them play.  They are not the only troop by any stretch of the imagination – there are at least four distinct groups that we see on a regular basis and, of course, far more living on the hillsides around the area.  They are very cheeky and I am pleased that we have animals of our own to keep them out of the garden.  Master EE saw one on the roof outside his bedroom window a few weeks ago and it was searching for a way in.  He called the dogs up and the animal scarpered.  They do get into some houses though, a neighbour had a cake stolen when she, unwisely, left a window open but went into another room and a second neighbour had some break in while she was away on holiday.  The house was a tip.  All that aside they are amazing to watch, they get up to all sorts of acrobatic feats and interact in the most charming way. 

Monkeys Malaysia
I could watch the monkeys for hours.
This is one of the dominant males.
Monkeys Malaysia
A mother and her baby (young enough to still have blue eyes)

There are, of course animals that I do not relish meeting including the snakes (we had one in thegarden a few weeks ago and I was very pleased when the dogs chased it away) and the ticks.  We seem to be going through a particularly bad tick season at the moment – I always remove them when I feel them and I do a thorough skin check on a regular basis as well as treating the dogs with anti-tick preparations.  They seem to get a foothold (or should that be mouthhold) despite all these efforts and the other night I removed more than 26 of the blasted things.

The communal gardens are full of fruit-trees, many of our neighbours
collect the fruit (we don't as we are not long term residents so feel it
might be a little rude).
In the grand scheme of things they are minor irritations, however, and I think that, of all our experiences in the peninsula, I will miss these walks more than any other.

Click on the picture for more posts about Malaysia

Ersatz Expat

Posted as part of the Eco Gites de Lenault Animal Tales Link up



  1. Oh my goodness, I can't imagine what it must be like to have monkey's come in and destroy your house while you're away. How awful. You have such a rich array of animals to observe, which must be loads of fun. I want to know more about your bright birds too.

    1. It really does sound like the stuff of nightmares and probably completely uninsured as well. I just can't contemplate how long that took to clean up.

  2. It must be fascinating living where you do. I'd be constantly on the lookout for the next creature and if I saw anything like a monitor lizard that would be me hooked for the day! It's nice that the fish are protected, but a shame you can't let the dogs off in the forest (understandably).

    When we lived in South Africa we stayed on the River Kromme and the wildlife there was what I call proper wild too. Snakes, monkeys, spiders (big ones). dassies and the birds were stunning (I tried not to think about the wildlife in the river as it wasn't far from the sea.


    1. Walks along the River Kromme sound wonderful (with the exception of spiders). We are back in the UK for Christmas soon and their wildlife now seems very exotic to us. We are looking forward to seeing Badgers, Deer and Foxes.

    2. Hope you have a fab time in the UK over Christmas and get to see some sort of wildlife whilst there.


  3. What an amazing variety of animals you get to see. I have just googled bird's nest soup and I NEVER realised they were made from REAL nests and were so prized. That is both amazing and weird and a perfect story for #AnimalTales!

    1. Thanks - I have never really got a taste for bird's nest soup. There are entire barns in the countryside built to entice the swifts in as 'artificial caves' for easy harvesting. The stuff from the real caves carries a premium though.

  4. what a fantastic place to live and to be able to let the dog off leash in parts is great, on our walks we often see camels and in south Africa we encountered a fair few monkeys that Bob would love to go and chase, making our 30 min walk turn into a couple of hours while we waited for him to come back

    1. I love camels! I am guessing you have dromedaries. They are beautiful but most of the ones I have met are bad tempered. I must admit to having a real soft spot for bactrians as they seem to be slightly more even tempered and lovely to ride. Luckily the monkeys here are too quick for the dogs and just run away to stymie them. I would not like to treat a monkey bite.