Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Beautiful Washing Machine by express

On top of these long and highly powered river boats called 'express boats' in Bintulu, goods are stacked after all available space inside are taken up. On this morning's forwarding list are bags of rice, boxes , pvc pipes, food items in various packings and small engines that are done for repairs at Bintulu town . And not forgetting the beautiful washing machine.
This express boat is bound to Sebauh ,a half an hour journey upstream. It will invariably make pit stops along the journey to disembark passengers or goods bound for less than the full journey but all at locations along the Kemena River which snakes its way into the interior of Bintulu. The farthest these boats will go upstream is the town of Tubau, a 4 hours journey.
There are a main means of communication for people who live along the Kemena River for years now. But today their numbers are much reduced due to the fact that more of the river settlements ( comprising of longhouses of the Ibans and kampungs of the Malays) are reachable by road from Bintulu town.
These express boats are berthed at the pontoon reserved for them while waiting their turn to take in passengers and goods. The boat driver's cockpit is right at the front. It is so small that it can only fit in the driver.
A side view of the boat showing its tiny door and a dummy clock on the left of the door indicating departure time . To the right of the door a notice says " 30 penumpang" meaning 30 passengers only.

Satay for Breakfast

Early in the morning the Melanau women at Kampung Jepak, some 15 minutes drive from my farm are already selling satay.  Today I dropped by at one of the roadside stalls to buy some satay sticks while on my way to fetch my worker there around 7.00 am.    At today's price, RM 1 will fetch you 4 sticks of juicy, hot and soft slices of grilled chicken meat as shown above.  There is the gravy of crushed peanuts mainly to go with it. However it is customary to eat satay with  steamed glutinous rice wrapped in narrow fragrant pandan leaves. Once prepared in this manner, the rice is called ' kelopez' in the local Bintulu Melanau dialect.  Four pieces of these kelopez wrappings cost RM 1. With a cup of tea in hand, I thought how synonymous is satay to Malaysia. Just like Kentucky fried chicken to America. Well, here's to satay, kelopez and tea...Good morning to everybody...and enjoy life's little moments.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wild Orchid at Eco-farm,Bintulu

I was clearing the jungle at my eco-farm this morning. At one location on top of the hill, my eyes were caught by the brilliant yellow flowers of this wild ground orchid. There are thousands of wild orchids in Sarawak and this particular one must be one of the thousands. I am yet to find out the name of this particular species. Anywhere I have dug out and moved three of them to a new location to as a starter for my collection of wild orchids of Sarawak at my eco-farm.

The above is a CU view of the brilliant yellow flowers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bird's nest fern ( asplenium nidus) on my chalet steps

It is raining this morning in Bintulu.  I couldn't go outside to do any gardening.  Therefore I decided to be an ' armchair  horticulturalist'.
I am always fascinated by ferns and am thinking seriously now to establish a collection of ferns at one of the vegetation islands at my farm. Anyway, about the bird's nest fern I have one growing extremely healhty just at the steps at the back of my chalet as shown above.
Notice the sporangia ( containing spores ) on the underside of the frond. Appearing like dark brown to black lines, they are kept dry after every shower of rain. Ferns do not produce flowers and thus belong to a unique group of plants. Normally botanists identify plants whether trees or shrubs from their flowers or inflorescences. Spores are very light and easily airborne and thus able to colonise new habitats.

In the case of the bird's nest fern at my chalet, dead leaves from the eugenia tree I planted above it, collect within the middle of the 'nest'.  Overtime more dead leaves are collected and compacted and they slowly rot. Other dead insects like ants,flies' lizards etc get accumulated into the rotting organic mass.  I am always looking forward to new pale green fronds that emerge from the decaying leaves.  Rain water is soaked up by this mass and stored until the next shower.
The above shows how you can have a beautiful display of the bird's nest fern. However, the best conditions for growing them are in moist and shady areas, which are easily present in Bintulu's tropical climate.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trumpet tree ( Tabebuia rosea/alba) seeds in Bintulu

In my earlier postings, I mentioned of the trumpet trees ( Tabebuia) flowering in Bintulu. Often times this tree is called the pink tecoma or Poui tree. Well, today I came across the first signs of the tree bearing fruits. The fruits resemble bean-like long capsules.

At one tree I noticed this fully ripened seed pod split open with some spaces empty due to the seeds being blown away or just dropped off.
I placed the seed pod on my car's bonet to have a cu view. The seeds are wrapped in an extra light , white thin feathery filament to make them easily airborne.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Scrambling Sailor in Bintulu

I went to town yesterday and dropped by at my brother's place where I took this picture.
This is a fine example of the beauty of the drunken sailor ( Quisqualis indica ) I understand that it got stuck with this name because its flowers appear white in the beginning and then gradually reddens as it ages. It is a busy scrambler, weaving a complete screen as in this case the fence and the room upstairs. I mean thanks to the drunken sailor who is ever willing to shield my head against the hot afternoon sun while I enjoy my cup of tea. It is a perfect way to show off your drunkeness, I mean your passion with the drunken sailor. For a small or tiny space like above, the use of the drunken sailor is extremely effective because as a strong climber it is almost supportive of itself. Hah..contrary to its reputation.
The above is a cu of the drunken sailor's flowers. The flowers are scented and have long calyx tube which could be mistaken for a flower stalk. Likes the full sun and easily propagated by cuttings. It belongs to the family of combretaceae. It is native to South East Asia and as such is sometimes referred to as The Rangoon Creeper ( Rangoon is a city in Myanmar or previously Burma)

Pink Frangipani ( Plumeria rubra)

Having been away in Kuching for about a month for the Hari Raya holidays , I am always excited to see what's new at my garden in Bintulu. I'll try to post the many surprises I had this week in the next few postings. Today's focus is on the pink frangipani ( Plumeria rubra) . This is from a tree about 2 meters high and I love the pink colours and the flushed orange in the center. It is very scented. My best pix of the pink frangipani so far.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Storm and rain at the farm

The two shots below are taken after a lapse of about half an hour.  When I was about to leave my eco-farm to send my worker home, I saw this gathering storm from the south moving rapidly towards my farm,which is on the right of the picture.
Half an hour later when I returned to the farm,  the clouds have scattered the rains on the highway and also my farm.
If we are to follow the textbook, November till February is normally the season for heavy rains in Bintulu and likewise through out Sarawak.  However for many years now this common wisdom has gone haywire due to drastic global climatic changes. We in Bintulu are no exception. Compared to Kuching however I notice that the rains here occur mainly at night whilst in Kuching it start to rain daily normally in late afternoon, say around 3-4pm daily onwards.  For my civil contracting experience  I find that as a contractor it's better to work in Bintulu because chances are you'll have more full days sunny than compared to Kuching where you have may to pack home early in the afternoon to avoid working in the rain especialy involving external works.