Monday, September 29, 2008

Last minute shopping at Satok

Today ( 29th Sept'08) is the second last day to do shopping for the Hari Raya on account that the Hari Raya will fall on the 1st of October throughout Malaysia, giving a full 30 days of fasting this year. At Satok tents are being put up to enable the customers do last minute shopping . Tomorrow will be the last day for shopping, come rain or shine.

Kuching Sunday Flower Market

Upon arrival in Kuching on the evening of Saturday the 27th of September, I wasted no time in visiting the Kuching Sunday market at Satok the following day. This time around I was fascinated by a corner of the market which displayed a big collection of the familiar perennial we call ' Coleus'. Of all the towns and cities in Sarawak I find that Kuching has the best sampling of all the various species and cultivars of this perennial loved most for its multi-coloured foliage and its potential as a decorative potted plant.
A closer look at the coleus. It is generally a low shrub with stems that are four angled and serrated leaves. Its variegated leaves are a head stopper.

Macy Grey's incredible saga continues

"We are back on the road again" shouted Macy Grey. She and her mama Daisy, brother Einstein and little sister Inul are travelling on their 9th trip back to Kuching on the 27th of September. Here's Macy taking a pose on the back of a ram stone sculpture at the Sibu Park situated at the center of Sibu town. The journey back started at Bintulu around 9.30 am and they arrived Sibu at 12.30 pm. The whole journey to Kuching took 9 hours. To see more happenings during their journey find out here. They have now covered a total travelling distance of 10,800 km. Not bad for a Malaysian record . Come this October they will be celebrating the Hari Raya together with their foster parents in Kuching.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Colourful bantings

Colourful bantings are up at to welcome the 'Hari Raya Aidilfitri'. These bantings are sponsored by the Farley Supermarket at Medan Jaya, Bintulu. We are now 22 days in the month of Ramadan and the end of the month long fasting will be marked by the Hari Raya festival, normally celeberated for about a week in Sarawak. This year my plan is to spend the fasting month  in Bintulu and to celeberate the Hari Raya in Kuching. God willing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Intermediate Harvests

The above picture shows this month's major mainteneance works to the oil palm trees here. The first fruits are removed together with the leaf bases to encourage better and bigger fruits in future fruiting. However, following the concept of an eco-farm with biodiversity values, other harvests are possible, which I call intermediate harvest as described below.

While maintenace works at our eco-farm continues as scheduled, we are happy with the prospect of intermediate harvests. At the lower left hand corner of the picture above the leafy vegetable called 'cekur manis'( Sauropus androgynus(L.) Merr.) eaten for its young leaves, have been harvested many times already.This hardy shrub plant will stay as long as the oil palm leaves do not over top them. On the upper right hand corner is seen an 'iron wood tree' ( Mesua ferrea) that has been gradually trenched for many months already and ready to be moved out because it is already big and in competition with the oil palm tree's growth. However the iron wood tree can be rebagged and nursed further to be sold as an instant tree ( estimated price RM100/no). Earlier in the month, all the oil palm trees at our farm have their first line of leaf bases and first fruits removed to encourage better and bigger sizes for the next or later batches of fruits. Hopefully we can start selling the fresh fruit bunches by year's end.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Big boats, small boats

I always like fish. I eat it raw, smoked, fried, curried, souped, salted, pickled,barbequed and many other ways I cannot recall off hand. That's why the sight of fishing boats excites me . The above picture is taken at the Bintulu waterfront area next to the Pasar Utama where these boats are parked temporarily for landing and refreshing supplies purposes or shelter from rough seas. The smaller crafts go to sea between 10 - 70 kilometers offshore. The bigger ones carry out their trawlling activities some 50-200 kilometers off shore Bintulu.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yellow Bamboo clump uprooted

The thunderstorm, lightning ,strong winds and heavy rain that we experienced last night at our eco-farm have had one casualty.  The yellow bamboo clump was uprooted.  This afternoon we started to cut the bamboo stems and clear the debris. The rains which started from 1.00 am stopped at 7.00 am.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Unique Corporate Building

This building belongs to the Bintulu Port Authority. It is the tallest building within the vicinty of the Kidurong Industrial area. The Bintulu Port is the main import/export gateway of Bintulu and the central region of Sarawak. This corporate building is situated some 25 kilometers from Bintulu town proper. Being a port authority the building resembles that of a ship.

Long and scenic Tanjung Batu Coastal road

This is the view of the Tanjung Batu Coastal road as one drives out of Bintulu town. This week the eugenia trees ( Eugenia polyantha) ( seen at the left of this picture) has started to bloom extensively throughout Bintulu . This flowering season may continue for about another week or so. After that the trees will start to bear small black berry-like fruits much sought after by the local birds. It is through these seeds that these trees are propagated and the germination rate is excellent, meaning almost 99%. The central median is planted with the majestic royal palm ( Roystonea regia) interspersed with colourful bougainvillea varieties.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pasar Utama Bintulu

The two cone-like structures by the banks of the Kemena River is the Bintulu Pasar Utama. This twin complex harbours a wet as well as dry market and eating stalls under two roofs. The architecture is inspired by the local Melanau hat called the 'terendak'. This view is taken from across the river i.e. from the ferry boat jetty.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ferry Boat Arrives

This afternoon I had a closer look at the ferry boat disembarking passengers at the Kampung Jepak ferry boat jetty, in front of the Sim Swee Joo supermarket. Time: 5.30 pm

The main means of crossing the Kemena River for these motorbikers is this small ferry boat. The people of Kampung Jepak rely on this mode of communication to shorten their travelling time to Bintulu town, which is on the opposite side of this river bank. This is a late afternoon crowd . The other way to reach the town is through a 20 kilometer road that runs in a roundabout way further upriver from the Kampung Jepak village using a bridge crossing. While the roundabout way covers a half an hour journey, this ferry trip takes only ten minutes. In times of increasing fuel costs this mode of crossing the river is a lot better than driving the long circuitous road to town.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Holy Month of Ramadan

View of open praying area at the Masjid Assyakiriin, Bintulu. The crowd turnout was excellent as adherents take the opportunity to perform the Friday prayers on this holy month of Ramadan.

Springtime in Bintulu

Close by to the Masjid Assyakiriin where I performed the congregational Friday prayers today, was this splendid flowering of the Tabebuiea alba above ( alba to mean white) and Tabebuiea rosea ( meaning, rose) below.
These trees are located at the Medan Jaya open space area and appears that they are flowering late this year.
Previosly this tree was called ' tecoma' short of Tecoma pentaphylla. But now it is accepted among horticulturalist to designate the new name as Tabebuiea rosea or alba, depending on the colour of the flowers. While in Japan, residents take a break or holiday to picnic and be merry under flowering cherry blossoms, people in Bintulu don't seem to notice its 'springtime'. This is a medium tree and is used extensively in Bintulu's  landscaping of highways, parks, open spaces and residential roads. Best propagated using seeds. They withstand rough handling during transplanting. Tabeuiea trees are grown mainly for its large, bunchy and showy flowers. In the above pictures the flowers develop while the leaves are still on the tree. However occassionally you can find the tree becoming deciduous with flowers even when the branches are bare.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Put Your Leg on My Shoulder

A sisterly love. A brotherly care. Einstein joins Inul company in sleep..waiting for Big Sister (Macy Grey) to return home tonight. More stories of these loveable cats born at the farm can be glimpsed here.

Oil Palm cultural practice

The oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis) at our eco-farm have been fruiting for about four months ago. However as is the cultural practice, it is advisable to remove the initial fruits to encorage more even and better( bigger) fruits later.  This week this exercise in abolishing the first batch of fruits has been completed. To do this the first ring of leaf bases (that hold the fruits) have been chiselled out as seen in the above picture. This is done once in the life of the palm tree. Note: Age of oil palm trees in our farm now is 20 months after planting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crossing the Kemena River

In a relatively short 10 minutes crossing by a ferry boat the people of Kampung Jepak make their daily return trips through this jetty to do shopping or work at Bintulu town at the opposite side of the river. No charges are levied ,compliments from the goverment.
Time taken: 7.30 am, the sun rising in the east.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Enter the Scorpion!

Surprise!Surprise! Caught this black scorpion entering the front door this morning. Follow this link to watch more menacing postures of this kungfu scorpion.

Bintulu Sketches starts today

I have decided to undertake my second solo art exhibition next year. I have not decided over the actual show date but it should not be later than 14th October. This morning I began my practice run. The above watercolour sketch I did in half an hour . One of the implications of this decision is that I will have the oportunity to start posting in my drawing blog created sometime ago. Here goes another challenge I put to myself besides the current one which I do on a daily basis. Well, it comes to creativity it is a challenge I crave and brave for.

Shopping for Breaking of Fast menu

Today ( 6/9) is the sixth day of fasting for the Muslim community at Bintulu. Went to the Bintulu Esplanade to shop for some food for breaking fast. My style now is to choose a special menu each day. Today's breaking fast menu : roti kebab ( in the tradition of Arabia), barbequed fish, Penang laksa.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dutch Tuber in Bintulu

This morning I harvested two varieties of tapioca leaves at the farm. One has short broader leaves and the other narrow and slightly longer leaves. Tapioca comes from the family of Euphorbiaceae and its botanical name is Manihot esculenta crantz. Locally tapioca is called 'ubi kayu' or 'ubi Belanda'. In Malay 'Belanda' means Dutch. Now that explains well the story that the early Europeans were responsible for introducing the tapioca plant to this part of the world from where it originated i.e. Tropical America. Over time the tapioca became a common plant grown in many tropical areas of the world.

The young leaves can be eaten raw as salad or prepared with coconut milk as vegetables. These leaves can easily be bought at any local jungle produce markets in Sarawak called 'tamu'. The leaves contain protein, carotine and Vitamin C and is good for our eyes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Macy Grey hits 10,200 km record

Macy Grey is now 11 months old and have achieved a travelling record of 10,200 km. Her travelloque is blogged here.

Macy Grey posing as the mountain leopard above, and below having a bite at the grass to help her digestive system. Normally cats do that in order to vomit out the furs that are swallowed in when they lick their body or groom themselves.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yellow Bamboo Culm

I have found that freshly cut yellow bamboo culms are excellent display containers. They grow abundantly at my eco-farm. Therefore from today I'll try to compose some floral displays highlighting the unique appeal of the golden yellow bamboo . Go here to see a sampling.

A Fruiting Manila Palm

I noticed the feathery fronds of this manila palm tree in Kuching last week. Manila palms were once the craze of landscapers especially in the mid 1980's when the government of Malaysia was on its greening campaign to beautify the roads and open spaces throughout the country's urban areas. It was a premier choice because of its size i.e. small to medium and attractive fruits. They were extensively planted on road medians,traffic islands, roundabouts, house garden and residential roads. Easily propagated from seeds and thrives well in Malaysia because from where it originated that is the Phillipines, the climate is almost similar.

The fruit when ripe shows a glossy red colour. Once the seeds are dried and sowed, it would normally take less than a month to germinate. I do have a couple of these palms at my garden and they do grow fast once established. I am always attracted to its twisted feather-like leaves and their appealing fruits. In Bintulu these fruits are sometimes chewed with betel leaves by older ladies and men as replacement for areca nuts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bintulu Esplanade turns food fair

On the first day of Ramadan ( 1 /9 )  I went to Bintulu Esplanade to check out the large varieties of food, drinks, cakes etc to bring home for breaking of fast. Above is the late afternoon crowd .
These foodstalls are an annual phenomena in Malaysia where the fasting month of Ramadan  is observed  and the breaking of fast calls for a good quenching of iced drinks, fruits ( especially dates from Arabic countries) and local culinary delights. Now I find a good intermingling of races of various faiths at the food fair and this augurs well for Malaysia.

We are just kids

Kids do wanna have fun. These two youngsters came from a village close to our farm.They are the children of my worker who has been working with us for about five years now. He had these cute little kids since under our employment. The girl is five years old and next year will attend her first year of schooling. At the farm they met our four cats. What do the cats think of them? Check the kids and cats story in a special blog , just for cats.