“Pursuit of the Golden Lily” is a new novel by R. Emery, inspired by her father's WWII POW diary. Initially documenting the author's journey to return the diary to Thailand where it was written, the Blog now follows her experiences as she self-publishes, launches the novel and reflects on topics woven into the narrative.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Jungles and Shamans

In Pursuit of the Golden Lily, Rose Jamieson finds herself traversing the mountainous jungles of Thailand and Malaysia accompanied by Terak, a very special Jahai shaman. Since our intention on this journey was to visit some of the places described in the novel, the rainforest was a high priority! The first one we encountered was at Khao Sok Lake National Park in Thailand. This ancient ecosystem has evolved over the past 300,000 million years.
Dotted around the lake are standing dead trees... stark reminders that where now there is water, once stood a majestic rainforest. When the river was dammed in 1980, thousands of hectares of forests were destroyed, not to mention all of the animals that found themselves scrambling for land. It is a controversial subject. On the positive side, the area was saved from destruction by logging and the area now contains Thailand's largest area of virgin forest. The color of the water is otherworldly!
The sheer size of everything in the rainforest is mind boggling! 
And then there is water.... everywhere... it's a rainforest!
In the Royal Belum National Park in Malaysia, we were able to visit a Jahai village and meet some of the indigenous people living therein. This man is laughing because I fell in the mud! It broke the ice (mud) so to speak, and we were able, for a moment, to move beyond the usual tourist visit. It was precious, and, in many ways he embodied for me the spirit of Terak.
Photo by Carol (Ruby) Rubin
The Jahai used to live exclusively in the rainforest, as they have done for 50,000 years. Now, the Malaysian government has resettlement programs, and a few villages hug the banks of Lake Temenggor in Perak. Some of the people still prefer the nomadic life of their ancestors and remain in the jungle. I was interested to learn that the village Shaman lived by himself, on a neighboring island. No one is allowed to visit unless they are unwell, or invited!
The children enjoyed feeding the ducks some of the biscuits the 'foreign' visitors brought! I wished we'd thought to bring some crayons.
The Jahai are members of the Orang Asli, indigenous (original) peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. One can only imagine the wealth of knowledge these gentle people possess about the flora and fauna of their ancestral homeland. They still use bamboo rafts... we didn't get to go on one, unlike Rose, in the novel!
We didn't spot a lot of wildlife in the forests, however, I felt eyes watching. Ruby managed to photograph this one macaque monkey in Malaysia. Very dignified.
Photo by Carol (Ruby) Rubin
Ancient rainforest ecosystems are mythical, magical and mysterious. The biodiversity enclosed within these places is unfathomable. I sincerely hope that humanity makes every effort to preserve these pristine environments. If you ever have a chance to visit one... take it! You will not be disappointed. 
One last photo - on our jungle trek at Khao Sok Lake in Thailand, we climbed to the top of a very high mountain... but only Ruby managed to ascend the final ten feet! What a view awaited her! Well done Ruby and thanks for the photo op!!


  1. Truly awe- inspiring! So proud of you, Rosie, for showing us all how to follow our dreams!!! xxo Daniela

  2. Truly awe- inspiring! So proud of you, Rosie, for showing us all how to follow our dreams!!! xxo Daniela