The Malaysian rivers and their tributaries were the main means of transportation and communication before the introduction of tarmac roads, railways and air transportation in the country.
The difficult terrain or geological and geographical aspects coupled with the fact that the country was still poorly developed, made Malaysian rivers, until the advent of the 20th century, the main communication and transportation means for social meetings and trade.
Blessed with an equatorial climate that brings plenty of rain all year long, the streams and small tributaries of water evolve into bigger rivers that cut across the country before flowing out into the sea.
From its sources in the highlands and mountain ranges, water flowed continuously especially during the wet monsoon seasons, bringing with them alluvial soils that enrich the lowlands where the practice of agriculture thrives.
And of course we will find that the streams and rivers teem with myriads of plants and vegetation, and great varieties of fishes and water creatures like reptiles, amphibians and insects that need water, like humans, to sustain their lives.
We can observe mammals, like otters, at the riverbanks, while birds that feed on fishes and crustaceans, like the kingfishers, sandpipers, hawks and eagles, can also be seen perching on the trees or scrounging on the grounds.
Fireflies almost always are found in the backwaters that have the trees and plants required for its sustenance.
Among the popular fishes found in the rivers of Malaysia that are made into favorite dishes include the patin, kelah, kerau, toman, jelawat and kelisa.
In the past, being the main method of transportation, river banks and estuaries were usually the main meeting points and place for markets and business trade. Fishing, agricultural produce and barter trade were the main business occupation of the village folks in the beginning.
Settlements then started and slowly expanded and grew from the river mouths and along the banks of rivers. They became villages and later developed into towns, cities and metropolitans.
While fruits, padi and other crops were planted in the interior (helped by irrigation from the river waters), the produce were sold and transported by way of the river, via rafts and boats, to markets some distance away from its original source.
Nowadays rivers are not just for going from one place to another, as in the old days, although there are still many parts in the undeveloped interiors of Malaysia that depend entirely on their use for transportation means.
Today they are not only sources for the generation of electricity in the country for domestic and commercial uses, but they also offer wide-ranging activities for nature lovers and adventurers.
This is especially so for tourists who come to see the tropical rain-forests and enjoy the experience in the variations of the tropical climate.
Activities that utilize the existence of rivers include:-
* fishing, and as a sport, fly fishing, use of nets, spears.
* Paddling, kayaking and river-rafting
* cruising tours
* swimming and picniking
* wildlife watch and observation
For wild-life and nature lovers and trekkers, the multi-diversity of flora and fauna along riverbanks make it very suitable places to venture around.
The mangrove forests, dipterocarps and palms, and the multitudes of fascinating and wonderful spread of tiny to big flowers and plants, all God's created beauties, are there for us to behold.
Enjoy the rivers of Malaysia.
It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that our rivers are not spoiled, polluted and dirtied, and that they remain in pristine states for all living things to enjoy.
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