Touted as the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia is a rare species of plant found mainly in Gunung Gading National Park Lundu and now also found in Kampung Temurang, Kampung Belimbing and Kampung Begu Padawan in Sarawak. The beauty being Padawan is only a mere 20 minutes drive from the city centre and Kuching International airport, therefore making it very accessible and giving many more people the opportunity to see the flower bloom.
Due to the parasitic nature of the plant, it is difficult to predict when one will be found; often it is by chance we see such blooms or buds in this area. There are no leaves or stems or other reliable means to check on the plant as the flowers, developed from the bud for about nine months then open. The opening usually last only for a few days then it will decay and rot away. In the meantime, be prepared for the pungent smell it emits when it is opened! Scientists believe that the smell is to attract insects to act as pollinators for the flower when opened but due to the difficulty of finding the plant, studies are still being carried out.
Discovery of the Rafflesia actually began way back in 1800s and the name was derived from Sir Stamford Raffles who was then leader of an expedition in Asia. Today, this plant is classified as a protected species in Sarawak and areas where they are found are all considered protected areas too. The best way to know for sure if you can see a Rafflesia is to call the national park office or Padawan council office as they will have information of any flower blooming. So you just have to come at the right time to see these magnificent flowers bloom as they are certainly something you have never seen before!
While the Rafflesia may not be blooming in Gading or Temurang, Belimbing or Begu there are still many other things to do while in Padawan, like visiting the pitcher plant garden where over hundred species of such plants are carefully placed to attain their natural beauty and extravagance. Some are quite large while others are miniature but equally menacing to insects and other bugs. The Orang Utan Sanctuary at Semenggoh is another place to visit in Padawan as it gives tourists the best opportunity to see these wonderful animals in their natural surroundings, without the cages. Feeding times, twice a day, are the best times for a visit. Do check out the feeding times with the Council. If you happen to be the more adventurous ones then kayaking or a homestay experience with the locals could be interesting. Padawan is the venue for many eco-friendly tourism escapades, which undoubtedly will make your trip a memorable one. Padawan – the tourism corridor for Kuching City.
Kampung Temurang, Kampung Belimbing and Kampung Begu in Padawan are the new sites for the world’s largest flower bloom