I really didn’t know what to expect on the first day at Tasek Merimbun. It felt like I miraculously walked through a doorway blindfolded, with no injuries. We started the day off with talks by Professor Ulmar Grafe (Brunei Nature Society) and Tuan Samhan bin Nyawa (Brunei Natural History of the Brunei Museums Department), who shared their experiences of research in Tasek Merimbun. It was mentioned that deforestation is the biggest threat to Brunei’s rainforest and not climate change, which I didn’t expect because of the way the media has presented climate change over the years. We also saw photographs of animals taken by photo traps set up by Professor Ulmar in the forest and I surprised to see a slow lorris on the screen. My knowledge surrounding Brunei’s rainforest was limited to its flora, so I had no idea that sun bears and slow lorris are actually endemic to our rainforest (let alone any other animals I’ve heard for the first time that morning). Geography was one of my favourite subjects in school so I thoroughly enjoyed learning about how Tasek Merimbun was formed and what it holds.
After lunch, we took a stroll along the lake and visited the museum and butterfly garden within Tasek Merimbun, led by Jazie. We also visited Balai Purun where Alai Imbun was performed last year. During this session, we were able to familiarise ourselves with the area and visualised ideas that we want in our films. Walking around the lake was very relaxing so at first I didn’t think too much about the film until halfway through the drive back home. We ended the day with a discussion with Jo, Firdaus and Ysabelle who are known for their environmental activism. Through the discussion the guest speakers talked about how they got started with Activism and the challenges they faced. One particular advice that stood out for me in this discussion was to put yourself out there and be firm with having different set of values when working in initiatives like this or just wanting to make a difference.
Overall, the first day at Tasek Merimbun was very insightful and has allowed me to see things in perspective. Growing up, I always knew the existence of Tasek Merimbun (having been there once when I was 6) but have always shrug it off as “another Tasek Lama in Tutong”. After joining Play Naturally, I take back what I said because I realised that the area is more than just a nice looking lake. It’s a hotpoint for biodiversity in the region as well as a place with cultural significance for the Dusun people. I'm looking forward to what the next three months has in store for us.