ForestExplorers ForestExplorers
Subscribe Free Updates
Name :
Email :
Only after the last tree has been cut down;
Only after the last fish has been caught;
Only after the last river has been poisoned;
Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten.
- Cree Indian Prophecy

Helplines for Nature & Environment


Articles & Tips
My Blog
My Gallery
Nature Cures
Online Games
Penang Hill
Selected trails
Spiders Photo
Survival Plants
Touching Stories
World of Scams

Write Abstract
Book Room
Accomodation Tips

Exploring Malaysia
Adventure at Sg Nenggiri
Baling Hills, Kedah
Belum State Park
Beris Dam, Kedah
Bkt Mertajam
Charm of Klang Gate
Deer & Langs Cave
Dirtiest National Park
Gunung Irau
In Search of Perak Man
Jewish Cemetery of Penang
Kelantan - Land of Full Moon
Kenong Rimba Park
Korbu Expedition
Kuala Koh
Lambir National Park
Maliau Basin
Nepenthes in Msia
Of Frogs and Toads
P. Jerejak - A Heritage Erased
Pasir Kumpal
Penang Hill
Pulau Bunting
Pantai Mas
Pg National Park 2004
Pg National Park I
Pg National Park II
Rafflesia Hunting
Rhu Perhentian Island
Sarawak - The Untamed
Sedim River, Kedah
Taman Negara Kuala Tahan
Tasik Kenyir
The Pinnacles
The Vastness of Pedu Lake
Tsunami In Penang

Exploring Thailand
Akha Hill House
Wat Pho - Day Vs Night
Exploring Satun
Erawan NP
Muang Sing Historical Park
Sanam Chandra Palace
Hell Fire Pass
Khao Banthad's Wildlife
Koh Samui
KhaoPu Khao Yai
Koh Lipe off Tarutao NP

My Collections
Old Penang Postcards
Old Msia Postcards
Video Collections
My Antiques
Play Hangman
Jewel Orchids

Taboo & Misteries
Speak Wtih Care
See to Believe
Hill Spirit
The Invisible
The Gripping Cold Hands
Danger Of Suffocation
Lady With The Jinx
The Dogs That Howl
Bkt. Laksamana - The Incident
Lost In The Circle

Buddha Sayings
Nature Quotes
Travel Tips Msia
Stock Photos 123RF
Free Course
Install Own Scripts
Gold Affiliate Program
Yin Yang Herbs
My First Webpage
Google Adwords
Auto Responder
Daily Auction
Bruno Manser
Focus M'sia 2
Chan Mari Chan
Weight Loss Guide

Uncensor Links
Malaysia Today
Malaysian Unplug

Training Links
Weight training
Dog training
Flyfish training
Meditation training
Memory training
Video Tutorial Madness

moon phase

Tides - Penang
Weather - Penang

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tarutao – Accidental Pilgrims

© by Pipit
Pier Talo Wow make famous by Survival
Talo Wow pier made famous by "Survival" filming

chestnut munia balancing on a leaf
The Prison's Port

......The hair on the back of my neck started to rise as I imagined what it must be like for the Thai “Papillons”. ....

I hadn’t been swimming in crystal clear seas for a long time, but the trip to Tarutao, Ko Lipe and Ko Adang was slightly more than I bargained for. There was of course the usual mouth-watering Thai food, warm clear water, brilliant coral, colourful fish, skimpy bikinis and exotic white sand beaches, but something of this trip was different. And it crept up so imperceptibly that I did not even realise it until much later – almost like a delayed déjà vu moment.

On one of our numerous landings in our rented boat, we stopped by Talo Wow ( or Tarawaw of “Survival” fame). After the usual sight seeing and photo shoots, Forest darted off on a dirt track, saying he had something more to show us. Sign boards along the way revealed what he was trying to show us in strip poker fashion. It was a prison camp for ordinary convicts. There was the prison governor’s house, a brick oven that served as solitary confinement for wayward prisoners, carpenter’s shop among others. Coupled with a previous beach that we landed on which served as a prison camp for political prisoners, it dawned on me that Tarutao was a prison island much like our own Jerejak. But unlike the camp for political prisoners of which nothing remained this one was unmistakably foreboding – swamps all around, map of the prison, the oven-like solitary confinement cell and short descriptions of prison life and conditions on sign boards. How wretched life must have been for the unfortunate prisoners! The hair on the back of my neck started to rise as I imagined what it must be like for the Thai “Papillons”. Similar images of the war prisoners working on the River Kwai railway filled my head. How could anyone live under such conditions? There was swamp all around – even walking must have been torture. There were also faint clues of uprisings and pirates – brutality and bestiality gone berserk.

We were all in a hurry. No time to spend poking around. No time to investigate the feelings of greed and lust, but perhaps also of desperation, betrayed love and crushed ideals that pervade these hallowed grounds. The baleful hooting of an owl in the distance mirrored the agony of the lost souls and spirits of the prisoners and their victims and the soft cooing of a pigeon waved us goodbye. I imagine these lonely spirits must be glad for the company of accidental pilgrims who came for such a short visit. On the way out, we surprised a kanchil which shot us a malignant look before spiriting off into the dank dark undergrowth. I felt cold and shivered inspite of the humid heat.

It was only later at the main ranger station at Tarutao that the better displays and explanations of the history of the island allowed me to piece everything together. Important political prisoners had been incarcerated here and they included members of royalty who had fought for reform. So too were ordinary criminals kept here and it was these prisoners who launched one of the bloodiest and fiercest episodes of piracy even seen around these waters – a tradition that echoes even today with occasional pirate attacks around Langkawi. It was a priviledge and an honour for me to have visited these historical grounds, even if only “by accident”.


Copyright © Since 2003   All rights reserved.
All photographs by Forest Ang unless mentioned.
No images or text may be used without written permission by author.

Terms of Use | Disclaimer