Meeting the world’s biggest flower … the rafflesia

Although I had this plant in my Borneo bucket- list, I knew there was no guarantee I’d see one.

In Sarawak I could have seen one but I had a booking to go to Bako National Park and the flower was already on day three (jt only lasts 3 or 4 days) when I saw the Forestry announcement about the bloom. I also heard it was a two-hour hike to get to that flower, so in the heat I was sort of relieved I couldn’t go.

These flowers are not something you can grow in your garden, unless your garden is a tropical rainforest in Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand, or the Philippines, or here on Borneo. It also needs to be near the Tetra Stigma vine which, as a parasitic plant, it attaches it’s self to. I didn’t know all this, I just knew I’d seen photos of it, and heard Sir David Attenborough talk in awe of it in his Borneo adventures. And, let’s face it, this is an awe inspiring island.

So it was in Sabah, on a day trip to Kinabalu National Park and Poring Hot Springs that our guide said a flower was able to be seen in Poring. I immediately sais yes and while the others were in the pools, I went on private trip, through a local tribes orchard, past durian, star fruit, ginger, and more of my favourite fruits to arrive at a crudely formed pathdown a bank to the fenced-in, protected plant.

As this one was in local tribal lands it meant the fee went directly to them, not the tour company, which of course is one of the ways to be an eco-traveller: leave as much money as possible in the communities you visit.

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