28 September, 2009

At the mouth of Likau River

For many years I have not chased tiny crabs seeking refuge in their dugout homes. Or cross the South China Sea from the mouth of Kemena River at Bintulu town to the mouth of the Likau River riding 3 meters high waves on speedboats using twin-powered 200 horsepower outboard engines. The sea breeze at Likau River on 23th September,2009 gently washed my face of the wonderful memories I spent at the mouth of the river in the eighties when I frequent the place very regularly to check progress on the development of the park facilities. In those days there was no road access to the park and in developing the facilities the only means of transportation for materials, equipments and manpower to the site was by sea using barges pulled by tugboats and small sea -worthy crafts like speedboats and long boats. Twenty years fast forward, I could see much changes at the park from the initial works we did earlier on.
The Mouth of the Likau River

To enter the Likau River, you need to be able to negotiate well this river mouth with rocky outcrops. There are many instances when boats hit the shallow rocky bottom and thereby capsized or sunk. This river mouth is also the main entry and exit point of salt water crocodiles that habitually make the Likau River their favourite home.

I saw one tiny crab and chased it to its hideout. The beach at the mouth of the Likau River is combed with thousands of these crab hideouts.

The sign is a constant reminder to give due respect to those ancient and living creatures. Who dares swim!!!
Above, an older signage and below is one recently installed using Sarawak's hardest timber material called the "Belian" wood.

The Suspension Bridge

A suspension bridge links the Park's Administrative-cum- Visitors complex to the entrance of the Similajau National Park at the right of the picture. Below the bridge flows the Likau River - looking calm but infested with man-eating crocodiles.

Above are examples of day shelters to protect visitors against rain and sun.

The canteen constructed in the eighties is still in good condition and running.

A Tree of Power- the Tongkat Ali

On a recent trip to Sungai Likau which sits at the entrance of the Similajau National Park in Bintulu, I was pleased to see the efforts of the Park's authorities in replanting the "Tongkat Ali" tree ( Eurycoma longifolia) around the Administrative -cum -Visitors complex area. The tree is native to Malaysia. In the inset (left) is a picture of the tallest "Tongkat Ali " tree I saw at the complex area. In the Malay language, " Tongkat " means ' a walking stick' and "Ali" is a common male gender name among the Malays. The tree has a singular long root that when pulled resembles a long stick.
I was introduced to the tree way back in 1986 when I was involved in the landscaping of the Bintulu Golf Course where they grew naturally in large quantities on the original site of the golf course at Tanjong Batu. The "Tongkat Ali" tree is endemic to Bintulu especially along Tanjong Batu Beach to the Similajau River, a coastal belt of about 20 miles long. In the 1980's it was a kept secret among practitioners and hobbyists of traditional medicine about the aphrodisiac properties of the Tongkat Ali tree. The easiest way to enjoy its potent force is to drink the water from the boiled roots, after slicing them into small pieces. The boiled water taste very bitter. However it is generally believed that the bitter the taste the stronger its power. I used to drink it to prepare and build my stamina for cross country races, jungle trekking adventures, strenuous 18-hole golf games etc., where enduring stamina is needed. For example , take a 500 ml bottle of boiled pure Tongkat Ali while doing the 1st nine hole and don't be surprised when you see yourself like running to finish the 18th hole and then spiritedly to continue with the next nine!!!. Later on, I took to drink it on daily basis for many years, probably for about a duration of 20 years to help me maintain my general body welfare. I dare say that it has worked wonders for me. Thus if people are not familiar about the tree and scared to drink its roots, well don't worry it will not do you any harm. Rather the Tongkat Ali is good for one's overall health and instant prowess because it has the potent power of a steroid and an aphrodisiac.

Ripe fruits turned red and very ripe ones blackened.

A Tongkat Ali shrub in flowers.

Tongkat Ali trees planted in rows behind the Park's Administrative-cum-Visitors complex. The roots are boiled and drank to get its potent power.

27 September, 2009

Satok Sunday Market

Fresh Roselle fruits ( Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Smoked Anchovies

Orchids, Orchids, Orchids.

Credits: N93i
Date taken: 28-9-09
Location: Satok Sunday Market, Kuching City.

Kuching Regional Bus Terminal

Regional Bus terminal at Mile 4, Kuching- Serian Road

I am Big and Accommodating - join me on a relaxing journey, so the sign says.

Yesterday I visited the regional bus terminal to send my son back to Bintulu after spending the Hari Raya in Kuching. The terminal located at Mile 4 , Kuching -Serian Road, is the regional bus central for all buses operating from as far as Indonesia ( Pontianak), Brunei and Sabah ( Kota Kinabalu). Now there are buses that carry passengers on an express service from Pontianak to Kota Kinabalu, thus passing three national boundaries. These express buses make it appoint to alight and embark passengers at the terminal. For my son's Kuching - Bintulu trip the ongoing fare is RM 60 ( Ringgit Malaysia) for most buses.

25 September, 2009

Kuching Waterfront at Dusk

Date taken: 25 Sept'09

24 September, 2009

We cut the 19,200 km ribbon

Today(24 Sept.) we left Bintulu around 9.00 am to head for Kuching. Fospa had prepared us some excellent food( barbecued sting ray) last night to make us happy. On this 16th trip back Kuching, we were accompanied by our fosis and her friend from Kuala Lumpur who joined us for the Hari Raya celebrations in Bintulu. As usual I used to cry and scream for the first 20 minutes of the journey, then with constant and fond words of comfort from fospa I began to get hold on to my nerves. Mama was in her queenly best. She has taken the habit of taking long naps throughout the journey and I slowly begin to learn adopt her most sensible behaviour.
On this trip we made our first pit stop at Sibu which is a 3 hours drive from Bintulu. Below are some interesting pics of Sibu. From Sibu to Sri Aman, fosis took over the steering wheel to give fospa much needed rest. The second pit stop was at the junction of Sri Aman where fospa ordered a glass of thick black iced coffee drink. From Sri Aman fospa drove the car right till Kuching. We arrived Kuching around 7.30 pm safe and sound.

Fosis at the steering wheel.

Mama having long naps and me getting to like the habit, too. Remember me Inul?

Up ahead is our van which fospa decided to transfer to Kuching . The van was driven by our fosbrada accompanied by fosma. The dark green forest alongside the highway are oil palm plantations that are a common sight around Bintulu and Betong.
Sights of Sibu

Where you can see poultry sold in style.

Lanterns over the streets to welcome the moon cake festival.
Note: Cumulative Distance Travelled = 19,200 km
achieved on this 16th trip back Kuching(24-9-09)
For more stories about our attempt to create a Malaysian record for the most travelled cats in Malaysia, please check it out here at Hav Paws Will Travell

Coconut Grove at Tanjung Batu Beach

23 September, 2009

Changing Make-Up and Aerobic Roots

While in Bintulu I took the opportunity today to visit the Sungai Likau, a favourite spot of mine to watch the ecology of a mangrove swamp forest. The Sungai Likau is a small river that delineates the entrance to the Similajau National Park at Bintulu. I was impressed to see the Trail Map details carved into the 'belian' planks. The belian is the hardest wood in Sarawak.
For today's photo taking using my N93i camera phone, I concentrated on the trees, roots and water elements. I'll have more pictures of the mangrove forest in later posts.

My kind of tree. It is called " Selunsor Merah" ( Tristania beccari) and has a peculiar habit of discarding its dark brown bark and thereby exposes a new beautiful layer of red make-up. I would just like to call this tree- the Make-Up Tree !

The aerial roots of this mangrove tree species hangs above the water mark for just a moment before the high tide catches up.

This red-coded trail provides a very educational trekking through undisturbed jungle teeming with wildlife and world of tropical coastal peat swamp forestry.

Notice the planks, posts and handrails of this boardwalk squeezing its way through the mangrove swamp. It's all constructed from Sarawak's hardest timber species, the "Belian" ( Eusideroxylon zwageri ) . Belian timber will not rot in water and lasts one's lifetime( 60 - 100 years).

Ferns at Eco-Farm

Midin ( Stenochlaena palustris )

Bird's Nest Fern ( Asplenium nidus)

20 September, 2009

Ferns at Eco-Farm

Resam ( Dicranopteris linearis)

Nodding Clubmoss ( Lycopodium cernuum)

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in Bintulu

Today marks a special day for Muslim people in Bintulu ( and elsewhere around the world) when they congregate at the Masjid Assaykirrin to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. I was part of the crowd that gathered here early to perform the special Aidil Fitri prayers followed by a sermon. Prayer time started at around 8.00 am Malaysian time. What was special today was the large number on non-Bintulu residents comprising of foreign workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh to partake in the congregation. There are easily about 20,000 or more foreign Indonesian and Bangladesh workers in Bintulu who are employed as contract workers in the oil palm plantations, plywood factories, construction sites and domestic households and service outlets like restaurants, petrol kiosks etc.,In Malaysia the government allocates two days of public holidays in celebration of the Aidil Fitri festivity.

17 September, 2009

Fun at the Farm

It's been a very,very busy week. The last post has been a week ago. Fospa has been kept busy with a never ending "To Do List". While fospa finishes outstanding works in preparation for the Hari Raya celebration, I was busy too. I explored the environment around the chalet ( see inset). Fospa said, " Inul, we're gonna hav some fun painting this new extension which will serve as our eco-farm's office." The new extension work provides for 3 additional rooms which become my temporary playground before they receive a concrete floor. I noticed the writings on the wall. Fospa has scribbled his initials "MY" just for the fun of it.

There was flooding again to the stream that meanders around the south-west side of our chalet. The heavenly water has filled up all our 7 large 200 litres storage tanks and would be able to carry us through over the Hari Raya holidays. There is no piped water at our farm. We survive here using rain water for washing, bathing, cleaning, while the water from the stream is occasionally pumped to water the plants at the farm's nursery. Fospa often takes his bath at the 'abah' or garden verandah/patio with the forest as background. He says," Inul, in Kuching we can't enjoy this luxury. Here we have the whole forest for our bathroom!"
At the 'abah', we get our due share of water distilled from the heavens.

The stream overflows quickly after a heavy 30 minutes of tropical torrential rain.

Finally, I saw this moth at our chalet's door. I like the dripping white tail wings and the fine antennae of this dark brown moth. Moths are common visitors to our farm. For more stories from me, please fly in our special blog : Hav Paws Will Travell.

11 September, 2009

A Fruitful Morning Walk (11/9)

With a "parang" ( machete) in my right hand and wearing a comfortable safety shoe, I went for a morning walk at my eco-farm. I met a few outstanding performers and one new achiever. The latest achiever is a species of the "tipus" ( see inset ). Outstanding performers are the " Jering " tree and the " Cempedak" tree, both delivering this year's tons of seasonal pleasure and thrilling moments. For international visitors to my blog here's today Malay word mystique - "Buah" means Fruit.

Buah Jering or the Jering Fruit

Buah Cempedak or the Cempedak Fruit

...........Sawit or the Oil Palm Fruit ( Fill in the Blank)
Of course, it's much better to learn Malay if you say the word 'Buah' and consume it at the same time!! Have a fruitful day.
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