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A Day in the Life: A Senior Guide in Malaysia’s Wilderness

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Knowing Selvum

P. Nagalingam, who is better known as Selvum to his friends and clients, has been working with Diethelm Travel Malaysia for 15 years but his expertise goes even further back when we first trianed as a guide in 1988. Here he shares what it’s like to be a senior guide touring the wildly beautiful forests, national parks and hiking trails in Malaysia – from what he does to prepare before trek and which routes he finds most interesting.

 

Can you tell us about working with Diethelm Travel Malaysia?

Working with Diethelm Travel Malaysia has been very interesting. I regularly experience new adventures as a tour guide. As a senior guide, I‘ve been given the opportunity to lead our guides’ department and scouting trips in search of new tour products. I’m very happy working with my colleagues at Diethelm Travel Malaysia, too.

 

Which field are you most interested in as a guide?

I love the cultural tours such as the overnight visits to native villages and longhouses. Discovering the local cultures and customs in Sarawak is an endless learning experience because I find out something new every visit. Plus, the friendliness of the natives in these remote villages is simply the best.

 

Why did you want to become a travel guide?

I had never dreamed of becoming a travel guide when I was younger. However, one of my closest friends was a tour guide, and when I accompanied him to a remote native longhouse, I was completely captivated. I thought that guiding would be the best way for me to showcase my country, its fascinating people and culture to the outside world.

 

What interests you most about Malaysia Borneo National Parks?

There are so many things about Malaysia Borneo National Parks that interest me. However, I am most interested in its dense rainforest and diverse flora and fauna.

 

What do you prepare when taking a guest into the forest?

To prepare myself for a forest trek, I am always cautious and equip myself with a proper first-aid kit, raincoat, trekking shoes, lightweight clothing, pocket knife and sun hat. I make sure to recommend a packing list to my clients, too. To keep my clients safe and prepared for their upcoming trip, I also tell them what they can expect to see and experience in the forest, the dos and don’ts whilst in the forest, and how to be respectful to the surrounding nature during their tour.

 

Where is your favourite off-the-beaten-track place in Malaysia?

The remote Batang Ai Wild Orang Utan Forest is my favourite place so far because of the dense rainforest and the beautiful orangutans. I also love the crystal clear mountain streams and cascading waterfalls, although they are a challenge to hike to and see.

 

What route around Malaysia is your personal favourite?

Going to Lemanak River or Batang Ai Lake because I enjoy staying with the local ethnic groups. In fact, I consider longhouses to be my second home.

 

What route around Bako National Park is your personal favourite?

Out of the many trails in Bako, my favourite routes are the Paku Trail, Ulu Assam Trail and Lintang Trail. There are many opportunities along these trials to see a wide variety of wildlife vegetation, which always astonishes visitors.

 

Which national park is your favourite and why?

Since it is nearest to the city and has many varieties of vegetation in one small area, Bako National Park is my all-time favourite.

 

What kind of basic knowledge must you have for taking guests into the national parks or trekking?

First and foremost, one must know the forest area very well. Besides that, one must have at least a basic knowledge of flora and fauna, rules for visiting a national park, and the knowledge of basic first aid and jungle safety precautions.

 

Have you ever encountered wild animals up close?

In my many years of experience, I’ve encountered wild animals countless times. However, the most interesting animals are the wild orangutans in the Batang Ai primary jungle. Their fur and behaviour are totally different from the captive orangutans.

 

What are the tourist activities your guests are most interested in and where do they like to visit?

Tourists are more interested in hands-on activities nowadays, so experiences like visiting native longhouse villages and participating in cycling tours, which provide profound cultural experiences but also a dash of adventure, really interest them.

 

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Want to trek with him? Just let us know here.

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