Saturday, December 25, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

I attended a Malay wedding function today held at my close relative's place. The bride is my cousin's daughter. In the picture above her uncle Haji Alwi is seen performing the " Tepung Tawar" ceremony as a way of blessing the newly-wed couple.

This signboard has been erected quite recently and the name speaks it all. "Pantai" is beach in Malay. "Temasya" connotes fun-time, recreational activity and a gathering of happy people. And all this happens at Bintulu's closest public beach from the town center which is near Tanjung Batu area.

The 'Pantai Temasya' or Temasya beach at low tide.
In the far distant background is the thriving Bintulu Port area which is roughly 20 kilometers away from Tanjung Batu. The beach is very conveniently located as it is only about 3 kilometers from Bintulu town. It is ideal for many beach activities like picnicking, photography, jogging, social gatherings, outing with children to play at the children's playground there and many more relaxing activities. There is more than ample car parking spaces and the place is provided with eating and drinking stalls, toilets and shower rooms to cater for local as well as out-of -town visitors. Overall cleanliness and maintenance of the park is satisfactory and entrance to the place is free.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

A row of fishing boats are seen berthed at the wharf adjacent the Bintulu Waterfront in the late afternoon sun. These boats do deep-water fishing off the coasts of Bintulu.
An interesting addition to the planting list of landscape plants at the Bintulu Waterfront is the Plumeria rubra bearing yellow flowers. The plumeria or frangipani ( "Bunga Kemboja" in Malay) can sport other colours like pink, red, white or combinations of these colours besides the bright yellow ones. Flowers of the frangipani are very fragrant.
The White Costus is a free-flowering shrub that grows well in the jungles of Bintulu as well as in home gardens. Loves the full sun or partial sun. Close-up of the terminal head of the inflorescence reveals a small army of tiny black ants devouring the nectar . The Costus speciosus ( White Costus) belongs to the Ginger family ( Zingiberaceae).

For more images and stories of Bintulu go here
for " Down the memory lane" pictures of Bintulu , click here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I have crossed the river !

Professor H.L. Siow ( Dean, School of Graduate Studies) with potential Masters and Doctorate students during a workshop at AEU learning centre in Kuching.

It has been about two months since I submitted my last assignment under the Asia e- university online distant learning programme. With that, the course work for the Doctorate in Business Administration programme officially ended in October. I have just crossed the river. But more challenges are ahead. I am among the first batch of doctorate students with the AEU in this particular learning mode. A bit of qualification is called for here. Even though it is an online course, we do attend face-to-face tutorials, seminars and workshops. With the results of the last subject just out ( Research Methodology 2) I'm glad that I have completed the coursework of 10 subjects with good standing. For the next two years, my time will be organised in preparing the research proposal, undertaking data collection ( surveys, interviews, questionaires, etc.,) data analysis and writing the dissertation. Finally, towards the end of 2012, I'll have to submit the dissertation for examination, oral presentation ( viva voce) and hopefully to graduate by 2013. Soon after completing the course work which was organised by the School of Management, I'm now registered with the School of Graduate Studies for the purpose of doing my thesis. The Dean of School of Graduate studies is Professor H.L. Siow ( see picture inset). In the picture Prof. Siow introduced a speaker at the online colloquium broadcasted from Kuala Lumpur which I got to watch on my computer in Bintulu recently.
Mama Daisy - has been with us since 2003. Sometimes she demands attention and all learning must come to a standstill. She is a great therapist.

When I decided to join the doctoral programme last year I knew that it would entail a lot of travelling to Kuching where the Sarawak's learning center is situated. My preference was to travel by road from Bintulu , a journey that would normally take 10 hours. In view of the fact that travelling would be part of the package I decided to create a blog that would makes sense of the long journeys especially when I can't bear the idea of leaving the cats in Bintulu over many weeks. The idea was to have their travels documented and be recognised as the most travelled cats in Malaysia.

Both of them are now having a full two months rest in Bintulu. Come January next year they would be on the road again. I am therefore looking forward to more travel and meeting people in 2011. In passing, I could well remember the lyrics of a song my Peace Corps teacher taught me in the 1960's and I'm happy to write down the lyrics below for rememberance of Mr. Alfred Johnson, a black Peace Corps volunteer from US who built up a world of confidence in my fragile frame when I was too young to know.

" When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, Walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone"

(Original wordings written by Rogers and Hammerstein)
I have a dream. It is to have a doctorate after my name.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Challenge my dracaena !

Vegetation island no.1 at Kambatik Botanic Garden, Bintulu.

I have a find. It was there a few years ago but I did not what to show it off because I was still trying to find more information on it. Yes, I have checked many books and googled for any similar image but to no avail. I therefore decided to finally post it in this blog today before the year is gone and just have a go with it. Well, can never tell this could be a find of the century!!

The plant that I found intriguing is a dracaena species which I can't find any name for many years now ( see inset). The leaves are spirally arranged and formed a distinct collar around the stem. It is a single- stemmed treelet which grows as an understorey plant in my vegetation island no.1 at my eco-farm in Bintulu. Dracaenas are classified under the Agave family ( Agavaceae) and I'm sure I'm correct in placing this find under the dracaena genera.

The dracaena treelets

Note the environment that manages to preserve the dracaena. The thick vegetative matter, humus, plenty of shade from canopy trees, and tropical humid climate all does their magic to sustain the dracaena until I stumbled upon it. The lateral or horizontal leaves arranged in multiple tier formation resemble very much like an umbrella or parasol and a multi-tiered one at that. This formation has strong ornamental effect. The plant specimen here shows that the plant can grow into a treelet. I have not noticed any flowers yet.

Fish eye view - note the semi-woody erect stem

I consider the presence of this rare dracaena as a gift of the land to me. It is therefore a very unique botanical specimen in my kambatik botanic garden thus far. All this attest to the wisdom of preserving the vegetation islands around the eco-farm when I opened up the jungles before for the cultivation of oil palm trees.

For want of a better name I would therefore propose to call this plant ' Dracaena kambatik ' in honour of the kambatik eco-farm and the kambatik botanic garden where it was found. If any soul out there in cyber space can show me another image of the above plant and referenced its name, I am prepared to retract this posting and the proposed name. Well, guys surprise me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

This tiny snake caught me unaware as it fell of a branch and dropped right in front of my foot . It happened when I was walking below the tree branches at my garden in Bintulu.

For more classic images of Bintulu please go here

Part of a five kilometer stretch of the newly completed Bintulu waterfront that runs along the river as well as the sea coast. This record length makes it the longest waterfront in Sarawak. A unique feature of the waterfront is the use of 'Belian' timber ( Eusideroxylon zwageri ) flooring boards and railings. Easily the most versatile, long-lasting, anti-rot and hardest timber species of Sarawak, the belian does it all. Roofing singles, construction beams, decorative doors, joists, walls, fences, lamp posts, pepper vines posts, jetties, board walks, warrior shields, garden furniture, handicraft items etc., can be made from this very popular tropical hard wood.

See my other posts on the multiple uses of belian here .

A sunset ride home for this fishing trawler as it passes the mouth of Kemena River notorious for its sand bars. Almost all catches from fishing trips off Bintulu coasts land on jetties along the Kemena River. Bintulu's coastal location makes it a perfect place for fresh fishes and other deep-water catches . Bintulu is for fresh fishes!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grand old trees of Bintulu town

An ad placed in the Bintulu Centenary souvenir programme book showing the pagoda within the public park in 1961.

CU of the pagoda shed with the Yellow flame tree in the far background

The Yellow Flame tree

A visit to Bintulu will make a newcomer surprised at the greenery here. The 23 kilometer ride from the new airport to Bintulu town is filled with trees and forests on both sides of the highway. Once in town any visitor will doubtless notice the tree- lined roads that are everywhere. However there are only two trees that are of historical importance in this fast changing town. The first is the Yellow Flame tree and next is the Mango tree.

I am one of those fortunate guys in town who literally grew with these two grand old trees of Bintulu town. In the 1950's right on till the 1960's I was a small boy in this tiny fishing village that grew into a tiny town in the 1970's. Despite the expansion of the Bintulu town and ultimately the destruction of the old townscapes, only two trees in town stood the test of time. The Yellow flame tree ( Peltophorum pterocarpum) as shown at the inset was where the Bintulu kids gather to play the swing and see-saws. I cherish those moments spent at the public park where the tree was planted. In an advertisement placed at the Bintulu Centenary souvenir programme in 1961 is seen a picture of the park with the popular rest area in the shape of a pagoda used as an ad. The Yellow flame tree is vaguely seen at the background of the pagoda. The most memorable thing I could remember of the pagoda shed was the mosaic tiles on its floor which represented a novelty in architectural finishing back then. The public park is today re-modelled into the only town fountain space and working.
While in Bintulu visitors should try and take a picture next to this yellow flame tree . It is the best living relic of Bintulu remnant of the 1950's and 1960's.

The Mango tree

In another blog I have written a fair bit about this particular mango tree ( Mangifera indica) and can be read here .
Today I could see that the tree is bearing tiny fruits ( see inset) . Well I'm glad the tree is very much alive and kicking. I do feel delighted too with the fact that despite a hive of construction activities around the area currently especially the project involving the installation of sewerage main lines along the old airport runway no machines have come close to it thus far. I dread the day when the local authority will permit the contractor to bulldoze the tree into historical oblivion. I literally grew with this tree as to the best of my knowledge the mango tree was there when we lived at the government quarters a few yards away from it in the very early 1960's. This tree speaks volume of changes in the Bintulu town landscape. There are no government quarters now around the tree and many other facilities that was around this government quarters area are gone like the old football field, the narrow road from town to Tanjung Batu, the town dispensary, prison and police barracks. These remains mere memories of days gone by. But not so the mango tree. It is still there!
It is my fervent hope that the local authority will spare every effort to retain these two grand old trees of Bintulu as heritage trees for posterity and tourism. We may not have old wooden shophouses in Bintulu town any more but we do have two grand old trees.

Long shot view of the Mango tree as seen today.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Be there right time and moment in colours

Behold the trees are aflame. This row of Flame of the Forest trees ( Delonix regia) caught me ready with a camera on a visit to Singapore. Often you have to be prepared in the old days of colour photos with a camera loaded with colour films to be lucky. Now you can capture even better and striking images with a nokia handphone or a sony digital camera at much reduced prices, handy convenience and no developing costs. Still I consider lucky to have been born during the B&W era, grew in colour films and now re-born in digital times. But all these technology will be in vain if you aren't there the right time and moment.

The moment of truth. You just got to be here to immortalise the intense beauty of this flowering Angsana tree ( Pterocarpus indicus). This picture was taken in Bintulu . Beneath the tree the fragrance of the flowers strikes me eager for more. But alas the blooms last for a day or two. So if you happen to pass this tree while in full bloom let life take the back seat and go underneath the tree to sensualise the moment of truth.

On a trip to Singapore a very long time ago I was impressed at this tree called the Tecoma pentaphylla which was better known as Tabebuia alba in later years. Its white blooms engulfed the whole tree. Sometimes it's the blooms that remind us of the specialty of a particular place.

Old photographs are nostalgic and memories are made of these. Be finger-clicking good and live life with few regrets. If only you have to enjoy art for art's sake please do. You really need to be passionate about art to be passionate about life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

Late afternoon ferry boat arrives at the Kmpung Jepak jetty near Swee Joo supermarket after crossing the Kemena River from the 'tambang' wharf opposite. See more pictures and stories about Bintulu here.

Grafitti seen on the half-wall of an overhead bridge at Bintulu town.
Pinkish orange to red flushes of the Eugenia oleina tree at my Kambatik Botanic Garden.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

Jepak silhouette - a very early morning glimpse of the Jepak Hill with the iconic telco tower. Half-way up the tower is found a nest built by the white-bellied sea eagle. For more stories and images of Bintulu please click here

Daisy on the roof - Daisy finds it comfortable and lovable putting up in Bintulu. Catch up with her and Inul in their travels throughout Sarawak here.

Very rarely seen flowers of the Angel's trumpet ( Randia macrantha) blossoming at my Kambatik Botanic Garden.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

Recently completed Bintulu Waterfront holds record as the longest waterfront development project in Sarawak. It stretches from the mouth of the Kemena River and edges up to the the river side area of the Bintulu town.

A red hibiscus hybrid planted on the central road median along Jalan Temasya, Tanjung Batu, Bintulu.

Currently the one and only tallest and biggest beach condominium in Bintulu situated along Jalan Temasya, Tanjung Batu , Bintulu.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Images of Bintulu Today

Monsoon clouds over Kampung Jepak, Bintulu. Since early November the end of year seasonal rains have arrived Bintulu and will continue till February as usual? Maybe.

Daisy loves to swallow grass. Cowards we are not! said Daisy.

Colourful pink flushes of the Ceylon Ironwoood tree (Mesua ferrea ) at the Kambatik Botanic Garden, Bintulu.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Impressionistic monsoon

Title: Monsoon is back.

Early this Sunday morning I went about taking photograph of the light pink flushes of the Ceylon ironwood tree ( Mesua ferrea) (see inset at left) . It was fine weather throughout the morning and I had a field day taking more pictures of plants that abounded in the farm. Since our arrival here less than a week ago I have found that the weather in Bintulu is mostly rainy during the day time. This is not common because when compared to Kuching, Bintulu mainly experiences rain at night whereas in Kuching it rains mainly during late afternoons, say from 3-4 p.m. almost daily. By afternoon time it dawned upon me that the weather pattern isn't unusual after all. It's the return of the seasonal winds and rains. I was fortunate to have my Sony Cyber-shot camera handy and with a little bit of imagination I tried to capture an impressionistic rendition of the monsoon rains as it arrived by the farm today . I think the picture on top is a beautiful rendition of the monsoon in digital medium.
Leaves of the oil palm and mango trees blown wet by the sudden gusts of wind . The terminal spike of tiny red pagoda flowers swayed vigorously as seen at the bottom left side of the pix above. In the background the skies download tons of rain.

Despite the gathering force of the winds and heavy rains hitting on the rooftop, I decided to take more shots of the monsoon outside as it drenched the light ochre flushes of the mango leaves. Within less than half an hour the stream that meanders by the verandah was in spate. To my mind the monsoon season is here and as speculated would last till February next year until of course the global warming phenomena worldwide alters significantly this annual climatic schedule. Any significant differences from previous years will be experienced as the months go by. And knowing how the weather has been playing havoc throughout the world recently I'm ready for any surprises this year for Sarawak. For whatever it is, I always welcome the monsoon rains because it brings so much renewed rhythm and variety in the lives of wildlife and plants at our eco-farm in Bintulu.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ingenieers Just Wanna Have Fun

This traffic junction serves road users from three directions - Bintangor, Sibu and the Pan- Borneo Highway. It is eerily quiet for most part of the day and night.

The planner has too much time at hand and enthusiastically ends up making a very complicated design with traffic lights, traffic islands, safety markers, line drawings etc. when a simple roundabout could have served the purpose better with minimum cost and maintenance.

Danger seems to lurk at every corner.
This traffic junction gets Daisy and Inul's "Hav Paws Will Travell Award" for the " MOST INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED TRAFFIC PLANNING IN SARAWAK''.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daisy comes to Saratok town

Daisy joy riding around Saratok town.

On Monday ( 25th Oct), we were back on the road again. Daisy and Inul joined us for the 11 hours-long journey. As usual Daisy made the trip into a sleeping marathon. Inul was a bit panicky for the first hour of the journey but soon got calmed down by Daisy's continual grooming and assurance. At one point when Daisy could't stand Inul's cries she screamed at her and when Inul knew of her Mama's anger, she remained quiet for the rest of the journey. On this journey Inul preferred to stay at the back seat ( see inset). We left Kuching at 8.30 am and arrived Bintulu

at 7.00 pm. Throughout the journey the skies were cloudy and not a single drop of rain fell on us. Towards the middle of the journey we decided to check out the small town of Saratok, a seven kilometer diversion from the main Pan Borneo Highway. Daisy had lots of photo taking sessions while driving around town albeit sitting on the dashboard ( see top picture)

Sitting on the dashboard and having a clear view of the road, Daisy was perplexed to see the line drawings on the road surface as we came nearer to Sibu. "Fospa, which way shall we go? " she asked. With a right turn to Sibu or left to Bintangor? Bintangor is the new name for a town of little prospects. It is for this reason that many enterprising men from Bintangor made it big in Bintulu. " Who would like to work in a town of animals?" asked Daisy. The Sarawak state administration changed the name 'Binatang' town to " Bintangor" a couple of years ago for a good reason. In the local Malay dialect 'Binatang' means animal while " Bintangor" refers to a local tree which people claim to have properties for the cure of aids. Now imagine if you are to tell the next soul that you are a ' Binatang' man or woman originally. "Ok, you don't have to tell me you're wild lady! I'm as wild as can be', meowed Daisy.

A typical street scene in Sibu.

Recently the Foochow Chinese in this town had an emotional debate on the need to change the name of Sibu town to another name yet to be decided. The main reason was that the word " Sibu " when pronounced in Chinese means 'the witch', thus bearing ill luck. Why now? Long before the Chinese migrated to Sibu from China in the early 1900's, the Ibans and other natives have always called the place as 'Sibau' after a local fruit prevalent in the locality. When the British colonized Malaya and Sarawak, they prefered to pronounce and write local names to accomodate their linguistic idosyncracies. Recall 'Pulau Pinang' was pronounced 'Penang' due to the clumsy British tongue. Closer at home, there's a place in Bintulu called 'Sebezau' prounced beautifully in the local Bintulu Melanau dialect but got written on the maps and official letters as " Sebiew" or " Sibiyu" following the English pronounciation and have remained ever since . I think you can cook more examples of other place names, just add on the list. So how should Daisy be called? DAZY? DIZZY? "Can't even try, I'm no Britsh" meowed Daisy.