Atop the southern end of Bintang Range, about 20 kilometres from the north-western shoreline of Peninsular Malaysia, is Larut Hills. It is a 6,878-hectare forest reserve spanning lowland, hill dipterocarp, oak-laurel and montane forests, whose citizenry include rare plants, enchanting fauna and the human residents of Maxwell’s Hill, a hill station conjured out of the wilderness by the British in the 19th century.
The forest-clad mountains, inhabited by ancient fern trees, delicate mosses, giant palms and hidden waterfalls host, on their periphery, rambling timber bungalows, a steep road of 72 hairpin bends and old footpaths drenched in mist and cloud. Here is the home of the enigmatic agile gibbon, helmeted hornbill, clouded leopard, the world’s largest moth, the atlas, and one of the world’s loudest insects, the empress cicada, to name a few. It is a space of curious, ethereal wonderment, a counterpoint to the world beyond that beats to the rhythm of high-speed communication and nature-by-design.
In this book about the land and her people, we are offered a view of wildness and the physical and spiritual gifts that they impart to us. It is also a meditation on the power of a landscape and how such a place remains our geography of hope on an Earth beleaguered by the values and choices we have come to live by.