Janda Baik: Beauty and the beast

Article by Teresa Yeo, Video by Fung Lee Jean

So there we were one morning, squelching in litter strewn across the mountain slopes, holding our breaths and trying not to choke from the stench of the filth. There were heaps of rubbish along the roads in Janda Baik.

Bottles, bottles everywhere, plastic bags, old newspapers and even soiled diapers. We saw solid waste in plastic bags piling up. If not collected and left there for a week, the whole area would stink, and maggots would be seen all over the place, causing hygiene and health problems.

 Rubbish produces methane which is one cause of foul smells. When rain water percolates through the litter, it gets broken down, a liquid escapes and contaminates surface and groundwater. A lot of the rubbish especially plastic, takes tens or hundreds of years to break down.

Just that very morning, we had woken up early and sauntered to the front of the Cherengin Hills Convention & Spa Resort to listen to the birds chirp; the slightly misty sky had foretold of another beautiful day.

The air was mildly cool and damp and the smell of wet leaves left a pleasant feeling. The myriad of colours and fragrance, the bird of paradise flower was a sight to behold. It is really a charming flower in full bloom. Some call it the crane flower with its leathery leaves like those of the banana tree (to which it is related). It rests on a rigid stalk and is composed of orange and blue petals.

Just like Beauty and the Beast, a dark twist in the tale of forbidden love between the beautiful Belle and the feared forest Beast, the beauty of Janda Baik is juxtaposed with the filth on the hillside.

Waste collection and disposal is starting to be a serious problem in Janda Baik and if not nipped in the bud, would soon add to the statistics of waste mismanaged sites.

Are the inhabitants and visitors of Janda Baik so indifferent and irresponsible about matters of community hygiene and health that they simply throw rubbish with nary a care for the public well-being?