A product of
West Aspiration Sdn Bhd
A Nature Tour on Pulau Tuba
By Kamila Delart
Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by secret hidden places. I loved the adventure. The mystery. The magic. And until today, not much has changed. So when I hear about a discovery tour on Tuba Island, a secluded isle barely touched by tourism, the news immediately strike a chord with me.
Only a few days later, I find myself on a longboat departing from the Marble Jetty. The trip takes only about fifteen minutes. And yet, there seems to be a gap of twenty, thirty years between the two islands. The few tiny roads lead through rubber plantations, besides paddy fields with grazing buffalos, and along a river covered by thousands of wild hyacinth. There are a few Malay villages, and a secluded settlement with simple shacks built of driftwood, rising on stilts from the sea to provide a shelter to Thai fishermen. But most of the island is still uninhabited, overgrown with a dense jungle.
We seem to be following a path. Although… I wonder whether the few broken grass stalks are truly a proof of a man walking this way prior to us. It could easily be just the trail of some wild animal. Mistrustful, the Mimosa plant pulls back underneath the touch of my feet, defensively closing her leaves. There is the crazy laugh of a hornbill circling above our heads. And a weird sound that seems to be coming from a deep cavern in the massive limestone cliff on the horizon. Far too high for us to even attempt to solve the mystery. Gentle invaders to the wilderness, we walk lightly, respectful of the omnipresent boundaries. And yet hoping to get at least a glimpse of the secrets hidden behind the green foliage.
The path gets steeper and steeper. Carefully planning every step, we look for stones that will give our feet some support, hold fast onto a railing made of sailor ropes bound around tree trunks. Gasping for breath, we finally reach the top and… The rather strenuous climb and muscle ache are instantly forgotten. Passing through a gate carved by nature in a giant rock formation, we see a cave below us. And a ladder leading all the way down…
Rundle by rundle, we submerge into the semi-darkness below until we reach the very bottom. It takes a minute for our eyes to adjust to the twilight. - And much longer for us to find our voices. The beauty around is incredible. Illuminated by the rays of sunlight sparingly entering through the skylight, the walls resemble an abstract painting of some famous artist: Grey and snow white, emerald green and royal blue, blending into each other, creating amazing patterns! Through the middle of the cave, from the very ceiling to the ground grow the roots of a primordial tree. Like a magical string, they seem to connect the world above and below. The light and darkness. The future and the past.
Deep from the part of the cave that is immersed in pitch-black darkness comes a squeaking sound, bouncing off the rocky walls, returning multiplied by hundreds of echoes. And then there is motion, coming closer and closer… We grow stiff for a moment, not daring to move. Until the mysterious creatures emerge in the light. Bats. The heralds of night. Frantically flapping with their wings. Reminding us that it is time to leave….
The hike back seems much shorter. It’s easier to walk downhill. But quite frankly, having worked up an appetite, we pick up the pace, rushing to get to the van. The lunch is served in a cabana directly on the beach. A few colourful boats rest in the sand, waiting to be taken for a fishing trip along the mangroves. A few ducks curiously walk in our direction, and we enjoy the shade and the idyllic view while waiting for our lunch to arrive. With an array of traditional home-made Malay dishes placed on a rotating platform in the middle of the table, we sample the delicious baked fish, spicy chicken, shrimps and steamed vegetable, while drinking chilled water infused with Pandan leaves. A wonderful siesta!
Invigorated, we set out to continue our adventure trip, planning to explore the Geopark. Having previously experienced amazing cruises throughout the Langkawi Archipelago, I’m looking forward to a leisurely time on the sea without expecting jaw-dropping moments. And I’m proven wrong! Coming from a different direction than most of the large cruises, we get to admire scenery I never saw before. And seated in a rustic wooden boat that returned from his daily fishing trip only a few hours ago, the overall feel is different. ‘Down-to-earth’, authentic…
But what I like the most is the sensation of being part of the spectacular surroundings! Stretching out my hand, I feel the water. And with the boat being so tiny, rather than admiring the breathtaking limestone formations from afar, we manage to get so close, the prehistoric rocks are literally at arm’s length! And then comes the highlight! The boat waves its way around the rocks and brings us into a cave. Awestruck, we lift our heads, admiring the stalactites hanging downward like icicles, with some of them joining the stalagmites that grow from the bottom, building majestic pillars. It is like being in a cathedral built for the gods of nature…
Before a longboat takes us back to Langkawi, we stop in one of the local homes. Surrounded by rubber trees, we watch the father making a precise incision into the bark, letting the milky sap trickle into a small container, hoping to collect enough to provide for his family. The caring mother concerned about us being thirsty after such a long trip, gives each of us a freshly harvested coconut. I savor the sweet juice, feel the sun on my skin, while watching the simple and yet meaningful work of the man, I cannot help but wonder how much more one needs to experience a state of complete happiness…
This expedition on Tuba Island has been made by a Tuba Tours organisator who does not offer such tours anymore. If you go by yourself, it will not be easy to find all these places described here. You could ask at DEV's Adventure Tours or at Jungle Walla or any other tour guide on Langkawi you might know, if they can show you the Tuba Island.