Paradise for a photojournalist
by Phyllis Chung Thau Yee firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on August 12, 2012, Sunday
NATURE photojournalist Nikolaj Ullman hails from Russia while his wife, Emoeke, a teacher by profession, is a native of Hungary.
The affable couple now work and reside in Nuremburg, Bavaria, Germany. They first landed on our shores some 20 years ago despite being told of the perils of visiting the Land of Head Hunters.
But they found the opposite to be true, and instantly fell in love with The Land of Hornbill on their very first trip, and have since been returning to Kuching — and Damai — every year.
thesundaypost caught up with the Ullmans at Damai recently and spoke with them on a wide variety of subjects — from exotic frogs to ATM machines.
“We love Damai. Santubong Mountain is full of fascinating flora and fauna. This is our 14th trip to Sarawak, and each time, we stay at Damai Beach Resort. The first time was in the 1990’s,” recalled Emoeke who speaks fluent Bahasa Malaysia.
She listed teh halia (ginger tea) and teh serai (lemongrass tea) as two of the top local beverages that should be branded and promoted to the world.
Nikolaj noted that Mt Santubong is very rich in wildlife and he had found a rare species of the Atlas Beetle right here in Damai.
“It’s worth investing in research of this species of insect as it is unique to this area. There are also lots of frog species, some of which I could not even identify,” he suggested.
“You’d never expect to encounter a diverse collection of flora and fauna in their natural habitat so close to civilisation. This place is truly blessed with Nature,” added Nikolaj whose wildlife photos have been published in news-papers and magazines such as the National Geographic.
Emoeke revealed they had seen more varieties of flora and fauna here than at Taman Negara.
“We open our door at Damai Beach Resort and a 10-minute walk is all it takes to encounter wildlife in Santubong. This is fantastic,” she enthused.
According to Nikolaj, it’s common to see snakes such as the normally elusive green vipers in Santubong. Although venomous, this species is not aggressive and will normally avoid confrontation.
A viper once slithered just two metres from Nikolaj, offering him a vantage point to shoot the reptile upclose.
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