Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Ramblings: Of Conservation and Business

As I was browsing through my previous postings and updating them, I came across the link on letter to the Editor. The letter dated October 19, 2009, was written to highlight on the potential threats to the eco-sensitive of Pulau Payar Marine Park. Reading the letter again, I can't help but to ponder that this letter was mostly written by Mandy did produce positive result in the end.  

The mainstream newspaper did not publish the letter. Thankfully, MalaysiaKini and EcoMalaysia.org did.

Before the link will be removed forever, here's the contents of the letter (is quite a lengthy one):

Pulau Payar Marine Park has come a long way since it was first declared as a Fisheries Prohibited Area in 1985 and later gazetted as a marine park in 1994. Since then the tiny island of Pulau Payar, which measures a mere 1.75 km in length and 0.5 km at its widest point, has seen a lot of development, changing its face on the eastern seafront and making it a popular destination for reef-related recreational activities such as snorkelling and scuba-diving.

A small island located 19 nautical miles south of Pulau Langkawi, Pulau Payar, once a hidden treasure trove of marine fauna and flora known mainly to the local community of scuba divers, is now on the list of places to visit for many visitors to this region, both locals and foreigners. 

This is to be expected considering the Pulau Payar Marine Park is rather well-known for its rich marine life in terms of diversity of coral reefs and fishes over small areas throughout the group of four islands - Pulau Payar, Pulau Kaca, Pulau Lembu and Pulau Segantang - that make up the entire marine park.

In the 1980s, a small Marine Park Museum, a small jetty and limited accommodation was built to house one Fisheries Department Ranger on Pulau Payar. In the 1990s, along with its marine park status, the floating platform with underwater observatory and shower facilities came into existence and was moored off the beach at Pulau Payar. A few years later, several chalets were built by the Kedah state government but the project was discontinued due to constraints of water and electricity supply. 

Instead, expansion works were then carried out on the small museum converting it into the existing Marine Park Centre; public washrooms were rebuilt to cater to the influx of large numbers of visitors, the jetty was extended and more boardwalks were put in place in the name of tourism. 

Until today, Pulau Payar Marine Park remains the only pristine coral reef environment along the West Coast of Malaysia. A study conducted in 2006 by Yusri Yusuf of Universiti Sains Malaysia found that a comparison of total species of coral reef with other islands of Malaysia has shown that Pulau Payar has the highest species count.

Coral reefs have been facing environmental stress with increasing water temperatures since the El Nino phenomenon in 1997-1998 and will now be stressed further with rising temperatures due to climate change. Increasing water temperatures interrupt the metabolic activities of the zooxanthellae that live among the corals leaving the corals bleached white. 

Coral bleaching can also be caused by exposure to chemicals, sedimentations and excess nutrients such as ammonia and nitrate from plant fertilisers and household products entering the reef ecosystem. All these possible causes will arise from operating a resort on Pulau Payar.

As of today, the chalet project has been revived and construction works commenced two months ago. As such, in addition to environmental stress, there will be increasing stress from human impacts. 

For how long can the Pulau Payar Marine Park hold its status with all the threats man continuously throws at its coral reefs and its fragile marine ecosystem?

The issue of concern is that to maintain the pristine beauty of the marine heritage of Pulau Payar, development should be at a minimum and accommodation should not be allowed for obvious reasons. 

With this happening, primary threats to the coral reefs have been put in place with increasing nutrient run-off from human activities, sediment run-off from land/forest clearing for development and increasing sanitary and waste disposal problems, which would all be contradicting to the conservation of a marine park, no matter how ‘eco’ this resort claims to be.

The Pulau Payar Marine Park is one of the most frequently visited marine parks in Malaysia. With mass tourism and the daily operations of a resort on the island, fresh water intrusion will affect salinity levels at the sea and increase sedimentation load on the corals. Shampoo, detergent and lotions also contain chemicals that are harmful to marine life.

How would sedimentation, low salinity level and nutrient run-off affect the corals?

Freshwater adds salinity stress, causing a low salinity level and increasing sedimentation load. Similarly, when existing ground cover is disturbed, large quantities of fine soil particles are carried by rainwater into the ocean. These particles decrease visibility in the waters and the sediment blocks out light, thus reducing the growth of coral. At high rates of sedimentation, all corals will eventually be buried by sediments and killed.

Nutrient run-off from human activities into the reef system also encourages the growth of algae, which competes with corals for living space and light. Added nutrients could favour algal blooms, thereby retarding the growth and recovery of corals, even stopping their recovery, and finally causing death.

Once the corals die, fish and other marine species will eventually die, too.

Is there any mandate for a reef check survey to be carried out now before construction work continues further and the resort starts operation? And will this ‘eco-resort’ be environmentally responsible enough to engage an independent party to conduct regular quarterly reef check surveys to ensure the ecosystem has not deteriorated further? Will its operations be discontinued should there be signs of irreparable damage to the corals? Would it be too late by then to reverse these damages?

In many countries throughout the world, when an area is designated as a nature reserve or a marine park, great efforts are endeavoured to maintain it in its natural state as much as possible so that the public or visitors may enjoy the true value and heritage of the park in its original, undisturbed environment.

In Malaysia, however, it seems that an area that is designated as such would often become the target of more development, making it more urbanised rather than to conserve nature in its natural heritage. The Pulau Payar Marine Park is one such example. The irony is that marine parks were created as a means to protect an area of sea (or lake) to sustain its reef resources and to preserve its marine ecosystem, which is often a very sensitive environment. 

It would be recommended to issue a stop-work order immediately and move the resort out from Pulau Payar. At the same time, the authorities should look into restricting visitor numbers in a move to conserve and protect this marine ecosystem.

Looking at the bigger picture, the state government and local development authorities should also check themselves on the amount of development allowed on both Pulau Payar and Pulau Langkawi. It may seem lucrative to keep building more resorts, malls and theme parks to bring in the tourist ringgit. But how sustainable can this be for the islands?

Let us not forget that even with its duty-free status, Langkawi cannot compete with other cities like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong for ‘shopping tourism’. In the first place, tourists do not come from far to visit Langkawi for shopping. Instead, they are here for the nature that can be found here. 

In this respect, the Kedah state government and local development authorities should look into spending on conserving nature and protecting our forests to boost eco-tourism rather than focusing on clearing more land and forests for many more buildings and development projects. 

We are concerned islanders and we do not want to be in a mourning over the loss of the jewel of Langkawi in the near future. We are here protecting the rice bowl of the islanders.

Back then, I do remember how we were responded when we seek support from the MNS Langkawi. And below is the reply from the former MNS Langkawi Chairman back in 2009 (known as "junglewalla" the famous naturalist and proclaimed conservationist of Langkawi):

Note: Mr XX is someone that the name will not be revealed here
*From:* junglewalla <junglewalla@gmail.com>
> *To:* mnslangkawi@yahoogroups.com
> *Sent:* Thu, September 3, 2009 2:25:46 PM
> *Subject:* [mnslangkawi] Re: Pulau Payar Eco Dive Resort
>
>
> Hi Guys,
> I have spoken to Mr.XX on the phone yesterday and he informed me 
> this. Before being awarded the project the state goverment wanted the 
> best practice in place and made an inspection visit of his resort in 
> the east coast before the final desision was made.Some measures he has 
> in place are:
>
> 1. The grey water and black water sewage system at the resort complies 
> with international and national standards. All Treated water will be 
> used on the plant of the resort and not discharged into the ocean.
> 2.There will be a combustion generator(?) to power the resort but in 
> addition it has solar panels to light up the guest rooms at night.
> 3.All gabbage produce at the resort will be transported back to the 
> mainland or island.
>
> Mr. XX  has invited mns members to make an effort to visit to the 
> resort at P. Payar for a site inspection.May i suggest to our members 
> that we make a visit as soon as possible so as to satisfy any doubts 
> that we may have. This will also give us the opportunity to spot any 
> bad practices at the site and advice him early. This will allow for 
> the problem to be nib at the bud early. I am sure Mr. XX 
> understands that being environmentally friendly can be good for business.
>
> I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the group for the 
> passion and love you have shown for the island's environment. Keep it 
> comming.
>
> We must not only be seen to be a watch dog for the environment but 
> must be prepared to engage with stakeholders and goverment bodies. 
> While being critical we must also provide solutions. We must ensure 
> before any public action (newspaper,t. v., boycott etc) is taken on 
> errant individuals or companies that we must have throughly 
> investigated the matter and that we are proven right. This is to avoid 
> any legal liabilities upon us.
>
> Bear this also in mind..... that very so often we must stop and look 
> into the mirror and ask ourself this question .... What can I as an 
> individual do for the environment? .... Is the detergent that I am 
> using at home environmentally friendly or not and does it end up in 
> the ocean too?...or... .Am I still using styrofoam to pack my makan or 
> using the tiffen at the back of my car?....
> Anybody want to go into the environmentally friendly product business?
> Small deeds add up.
>
> Love & Peace
>
> Junglewalla
>

In the end, that's the end from junglewalla. No followups, no site visit nor efforts to help provide any solutions, nothing.  And yes sir, they did their own research before writing the letter. So, I wonder on the wonders of this conservationist. And now I have learnt that when conservation works and business interest comes together = zero conservation.
 
Though the deed may be small but thank you very much to Mandy, Malaysiakini and EcoMalaysia.org.

And if you are wondering why I am bringing up the past, I wonder myself too. I am NOT a conservationist. I am simply doing this dirty job of highlighting some of the issues online while mostly others prefer to rah-rah the issues over a teh-tarik at the mamak stall.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

My Ramblings: I Ain't Perfect

Who says green practices is an easy task? Anyone dares to argue this?

It was an easy start for me and then there were other challenges that came along. In a way, it is not easy at all. Thankfully, when I was little I grew up observing my Mum reusing those plastic bags obtained from her weekend groceries shopping. She cleaned those extra plastic bags, allowed them to dry and folded them once they were dried. When the folded plastic bags became a few bundles, she took the bundles to the wet market and happily gave them away to her favorite vegetable, fish or chicken stall owners. Not only plastic bags which Mum collected but as well as bunches of colorful raffia strings. Such little act of thoughtfulness always bring smiles to the stall owners and of course, when they are happy, Mum gets some discounts from her purchase. A little thought goes a long way.

Those were the days when the jargon "3Rs" is unknown and the word "RECYCLE" yet to exist. And yet the community has been practicing "REUSE" even before this word is emphasized now. Mum has demonstrated the concept of REUSE to me in a practical way. I see the benefits of what Mum has done (apart from the small discounts) and I am now copying her deeds but in a different way. Instead of taking those plastic bags and cleaning them (I hate cleaning!), I only keep the clean ones and use up the rests for storing waste. Because of that, I became a hoarder of plastic bags and to stop this habit, I now say "No" to new plastic bags when I buy stuffs. 
Recyclable items

So the subject is only on plastic bags and what about polystyrene a.k.a Styrofoam? Styrofoam is equally as bad as plastic bags that choked our environment and our marine wildlife! One of the nature guides here argued with me that polystyrene can be recycled. Malaysia does not have facilities that collect or accept polystyrene for recycling. But what about those polystyrene food containers? They will be oily and dirty after use. And who will bother to wash those after use? It is not easy and expensive to recycle polystyrene stained by food waste. Therefore, these polystyrene food containers are not suitable to be recycled. 

Polystyrene food containers used as serving plates at a hawker center

I so wanted to spread the words around to my friends especially of saying "No" to new plastic bags and styrofoam. It is not easy. I must walk the talk and can only spread the words around by practicing silently.

So what are my challenges?

I have been labelled as a freak by some of my friends on occasions when I freaked out at eating places serving food on styrofoam. They would give me a strange stare as if they were saying, "What's the big deal...?" or they would tell me "Don't be such a fuss!".

I cannot recall exactly which year that I started reducing the usage of polystyrene to pack my food. Very likely when I came to Langkawi years ago working with an outdoor education company. All of us (the staff and participants) were required to carry food containers all the time. If you lose your container, go look for banana leaves. I then discovered more about the dark side of consuming food on polystyrene and then it is a "fullstop" to it. Should I happen to use polystyrene, there's a way to reuse food styrofoam (picture below):
Polystyrene a.k.a. Styrofoam converted to my mouse pad. Effective la!

I may be a freak and often seen going around pasar malam (night market) with my little food containers and used plastic bags. Then again, I do get caught in situations when I didn't have these things with me to pack food. Or sometimes I did bring my food containers but  not enough to pack more yummy food. And this will be the moment when I would go "Aaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!"

There were lots of  "Aaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!" when I first started practicing bringing own plastic bags and food containers because I always forgot to take them along with me. And so at the pasar malam, I will be staring at the food and at the same time making decisions to pack them or not. For many times I ended up not having to eat what I was craving for because of styrofoam. Lessons learned and now I do remember.

There were occasions when I ran out of used plastic bags and guiltily, I will "sneaked" stuffs in new plastic bags. I will end up performing self consolation ritual by telling myself, "Is ok...considering I have not used new plastic bags for the past few days/weeks...??"

And then what about when I go traveling? That's the most difficult one. Very often my "Things to Pack" excludes used plastic bags and food container (they do take up some valuable spaces in my backpack). And then I will be caught in the same situation of "Aaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!" The least I can do is by being selective in which stall I will buy from and to make sacrifices. Yet, I do ended up being guilty of taking new plastic bags. Looks like I have to bring my own "Bungkus-Kit" when I go traveling now.

My bungkus kit consists of cloth bag, food container and overused plastic bags

The biggest guilt of all will be when I got caught in the above situations by my friends. Imagine having to be seen by my friends when I packed stuffs with new plastic bags and that's even worse than being called a freak! And the remarks I got? Well, stuff 'em with excuses then! But then again, when I packed stuffs with my used plastic bags, I do get mistaken too. Shall I put a label on the used plastic bag, "I am so overused for more than twenty times!"?

And saying "No" to new plastic bags at supermarkets can be tricky as well. Reason? On some days, I do need those large and medium sized supermarket plastic bags to store garbage and stuffs. Well... at least I don't have to spend extra cash buying new garbage bags. And garbage bags are plastic bags too. Gimme a break... on some days I rejected new plastic bags, ok!

Lastly, I have another title given by a friend - "Hoarder". Because we often thought of reusing something later, we tend to keep stuffs to be used later. Then stuffs keep building up and taking up the storage space in the house. How do I ensure that I am not overly a hoarder? I use my neighbor as a benchmark... hee hee... My neighbor is the greatest hoarder I have ever met. 


Seriously, I ain't perfect! I am only doing my best within my capacity in helping to green the island. And I am not a green person either. I am part of the society contributing to carbon footprint and burning fossil fuel. As much as I can, I will pick a day once a week or fortnightly as a car free day. Yet, I ain't perfect because I have to use electricity to work on computers to blog, to facebook, to snack on my favorite potato Chipster chips, to chill my favorite Vitagen drink (plastic there!) and listening to my radio! It is only on the day I die that I stop contributing to carbon footprint and then I may become perfect green person six feet under?

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Spidey Snail

It was on that evening on the road by the edge of a rainforest, I was trying my luck to look for the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi) to photograph. Somehow, something caught my attention. It was just a small whitish leaf-like about two centimeters suspending in the air and it was moving a little. Oh well... just a leaf, probably. Or maybe it could be a spider??? Let's check it out.

As I got closer, I was very amazed to see this.

  
Click on for a closer look.

This is not the best shot... but can you see the strand of mucus?

What I was seeing for my first time was this snail climbing downwards by using its own mucus which looks like a thread made by a spider. As I was attempting to take a closer shot of this delicate creature, it somehow landed on my camera lens. And the strand of mucus stopped at about less than 1 meter above the ground. Gee... I think I "did" it again...sorry snail for ruining your journey. Anyway, I gave it a free ride down by placing it on the ground. I hope it is happy on that spot.

Hey JK of SiputKuning Journal, this post is specially for you! Also require your expertise to tell us more about this wonderful snail. Cheers, mate!


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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where's My "Real Rain"?

We are now in the month of September. And yes, it is still the raining season. Supposedly. And yet, where is the real rain??? 

What is the "real rain" to me? A "real rain" in Langkawi to me means a minimum of three days of non-stop rain. It will start with a heavy downpour and then slow down to drizzle for awhile and then heavy downpour again. This cycle will go on till night and then the next day and the next day... and another day till the rain stops completely. With such rainfall for such duration, there will be flash floods on some areas. This is normal for the island every year.

Looking back a year ago, especially towards the end of August 2011, Langkawi has five days of continuous rain. Yes, it was non-stop! The glorious rain also turned Temurun into glorious waterfall. I was there last year during the five days rain and check out these pictures below.





A year later and twelve days after 25th August 2011, I was at Temurun Waterfall. Click below for more...

Such mild rain was not enough to create a full blast for this waterfall

August this year was hot and humid. There was a big rain with strong wind on August 24th 2012 and it lasted for one day only. And then the weather turned hot again the next day until August 27th afternoon when the heavy rain came. But it was only for that evening. The next day, the rain came in the morning until late afternoon. And then hot hot hot!! I recorded a temperature of 34deg Celsius on September 3rd 2012.

While out at sea on the boat, a sudden change from a calm cloudy morning to rainy afternoon on September 5th and 6th 2012!! I took the opportunity to capture the moments of stunning storm clouds.

It was kind of non-stop and it was a bit generous by giving short breaks in between. Two days of rain... and only two days!! Two days of mild rain and the rain clouds disappeared rapidly. And so it was back to normal clear blue skies with some white clouds today... boring..

Here I am pondering if the global climate change has anything to do such weather patterns. I am anticipating for the "real rain" for a normal rainy season. 

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

A rather late and quiet morning on a secluded road which lies in the heart of the island's lowland rainforest. I know I was a bit late because the surrounding of the forest was so still and silent. It was hot and sunny as well. 

My aim is to catch a glimpse of any migratory flycatchers.

Started to show himself was a cute little Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma) hovering over the flowers of Senduduk plant (Melastoma malabathricum).


As if the Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker was the appetizer for this hour of birdwatching, the second appetizer dish came in was a flock of Pin-Striped Tit Babblers (Macronus gularis)  babbling away. They were very generous this time to allow me to observe their streaks on their lower throats and breasts.


A few meters ahead, a long black body descended smoothly on some branches of a tree. A handsome Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) was trying hard to hide itself but I spotted it first. A few steps after, a male Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja). The late and quiet morning seems to get a bit more exciting.


On the middle of the road, something familiar was walking with its bum swaying left and right. When it stops, the tail goes up and down. A   Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus)! It has been aeon since I last saw this wagging birdie. It seems to be leading me. And then it joined two other Forest Wagtails ahead. Indeed is a pleasure to be greeted by a Forest Wagtail.

Reaching the dead end and turning around was the Greater Racquet-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) waiting for me. Red-Eyed Bulbuls (Pycnonotus brunneus) joined in the fun as well. 

A familiar soft tune came in. Aha! A Tickell's Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) .. I only saw the female. Though my aim was to look for migratory flycatchers but this local one is satisfying too.

To finish off with the dessert...please click below
     
Suddenly, a high pitch whistling call pierced through the rainforest and I definitely recognised that call. I mimic that call and waited. Less than a minute later, I saw something dashed very quickly like the speed of a lightning into a clump of leaves. I waited for any signs of movement. One minute, two minutes and up to five minutes past. Still no signs of any movement. I mimic the call again. Seconds later, he came out and perched on a liana!! Yeahh!

The moment I have been waiting for!

And then I remembered having to decide which camera to take with me before I left home. Darn! Why didn't I take my Canon Powershot SX1IS?  Having no other choices, I have to use my Canon Powershot S100 with only 5x optical zoom to capture this bird. He perched there for a good ten minutes. Just when I thought I have learned my previous lesson of not bringing my camera, here's another Aaarrrrgggghhhh!   psst.. to TC, now I recall your advise and should have listened to my instinct... Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

Here is this elusive bird:

I was attempting to take the picture of this kingfisher through my pair of binoculars but it was so difficult to keep my hands steady. By then I was lying on the middle of the road while attempting to do so. My attention got diverted by some noise and I saw a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) gliding above me. And something dashed very quickly and when I looked at the liana, the Banded Kingfisher has flown away.


A very good ten minutes and I was all alone by myself indulging this moment. Oh! I couldn't ask for more. Although I didn't catch any glimpse of a migratory flycatcher but seeing a Banded Kingfisher certainly made my day!


For that one hour on that stretch of road, I have my nine-course meal for brunch:
1. Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
2. Pin-Striped Tit Babblers (Macronus gularis)
3. Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja)
4. Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus)
5. Greater Racquet-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
6. Red-Eyed Bulbuls (Pycnonotus brunneus)
7. Tickell's Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)
8. Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella)
9. Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

Heading towards my car, that same call came from within the forest and as if it was saying "See you again" ...

Yes Banded, we shall meet again real soon ... "Burp!"

Reference:
1. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson

Link:
About Senduduk plant

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Waiting For The Month of Peacefulness To Return

An island of serenity from July 21st till August 18th 2012 and only during the day.

People often asks me, "When is the best time to visit Langkawi"?

My immediate answer would be, "Never come to Langkawi in the month of December unless you have a bunch of kids on school holidays". 

If you are not particular in searching for food during the day, the best time to visit the island would be the fasting month or Ramadhan period, provided it does not fall in the month of December.

 Click on to pick a nature spot during that time...

Pick a nature spot. From the swampy mangroves to the Bat Caves of Kilim. From the giant slide of Seven Wells waterfall to the rocky Temurun Waterfall. And even to the gentle stream of Lubuk Semilang, one can find peacefulness and reap the best out of what nature got to offer.

My group of friends were here last month after following my advise. We practically had the whole place to ourselves on most of the nature spots we visited.

From Tasik Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden Island) on Pulau Dayang Bunting:

 We had the whole pool to ourselves!

Caught napping! The staff from the Park Ranger office took the opportunity to snooze when we were there at noon. Park rangers were hired by LADA (Langkawi Development Authority) as part of their plan in Langkawi's blue print. But these park rangers are not the qualified park rangers from the Forestry Department

Can you spot them?

To my favorite waterfall, Temurun Waterfall:


 
To the locals favourite picnic spot, Lubuk Semilang (Book Village):


Ramadhan period is a detox time for those who were practicing it and as well for the nature! Lesser visitors means lesser rubbish brought into the nature spots. Lesser feeding to the macaques would also mean lesser rubbish scattered all over the place. I bet Mother Nature and her dwellers can breathe much easier without all those crowds. But sadly, there were those who secretly lugged food packages into Lubuk Semilang area. They took the opportunity to eat or smoke in such area where they will not be seen or caught eating during the day. They left their trails of rubbish behind when they left the scene.

Rubbish on the rock!

One month seems long for some and really short for Mother Nature. A month has gone and humans start to "colonize" the area again. Please don't misunderstood me. I am not against humans visiting such lovely nature spots. Overcrowded places often have rubbish left behind and the impact made by some ignorant people. They have the will to bring in food which can be heavy and yet too lazy to bring out the leftovers when the weight is much lesser.
The local crowd returned after a month

I have to wait for another year for such serenity.

My advise to discerning visitors, Ramadhan period is the best time to visit Langkawi. Pack some snacks with you and I trust you on how you handle your rubbish. Just remember, leave your snacks and even your soft drinks in your car or boat when you know of places with the Long Tailed-macaques. Their Boss is often watching YOU and your food!


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Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Ramblings

Into the rainforest I explored today ... just to fill my lungs with fresh air and needed some boost for my dying brain cells. I realised that it has been some time since my last post on this blog. Busy is the word, lazy is the reason and unmotivated is the ultimate truth. By getting out there and being out here in search of getting some sort of inspiration for the next blog post.

My ramblings today while walking through my imaginary world of Pandora.



Beware... by clicking "...Read full post...", it will lead you to more of my ramblings.

The start of the climb was normal and I needed to slow down even before the twenty minutes crept in. Abnormal. My legs muscles surely needed some form of physiotherapy because I busted my left knee - again. But this time, the pain on my left knee now is different - felt like the ligament needed the extra stretch... and it stretch slightly over the limit.

"EEEkkkWWAAKKK"... and then "whoosh-whoosh"...that certainly has woken up one plug of my senses. OMG... the "Mountain Banshee" !! (from the movie Avatar)...

They were alarmed by my presence even though they were high up on the canopy. Always vigilant against their number one public enemies, the hunters and poachers. Three Great hornbills flying over and hopping from one tree to another. People who came with me previously wanted to see them and the hornbills were invisible. But today, when I am alone, they revealed.... The Great Hornbills (Buceros bicornis), they always put a smile on my weary face.

One step after another as I climbed...
  
At times I wonder why am I continuing to post on this blog. What do I get out of writing and posting them? Nope...I ain't getting paid for writing all these with my own time. Will the locals here care if the whole Langkawi has no more wildlife and just the human monkeys running around? Will the locals here fight and defend the last tree standing on the island if it will be chopped down for someone's villa? You probably agree with me, no? Why am I still spending time on this? Should I stop wasting my time? hmm... Na... not yet. Since I have started this and I have unfinished business. But I will crawl till I drop... or until someone delivers a bullet into me..
 Though we had picked up a couple of bullet shells months ago and yet three more appeared. Illegal hunters and poachers up on their sleeves again
Looking at these forest termites at work, they seemed to be aimless... chew, chew chew...bite bite bite aimlessly. Yet they have a direction after that. What about me? Where am I heading to? Where's my direction? I am now back at my life's crossroad.
An army of forest termites eating hard

Aimless I am... at times... I am not focusing where I am going when the road ahead seems blur and there are hidden opportunities until I stumbled upon them and oppss...too late..   I accidentally stepped on land snails. Not my fault...they were under the leaf litters and well camouflaged!

One of the three land snails I accidentally "penyet" (flatten)...very sorry!

 
Amazingly, this "penyet" land snail was still alive and crawling
 I managed to spot one without having to "penyet" it. What a lovely gastropod!

I must be busy like those forest termites, productive and really must start on what I should be doing - working on my personal website. It has been overdue for one year now. Juggling between this blog and that website in which I yet to start, how I wish a single day can be more than 24hours! Feeling so burnout and doing nothing is really doing something! 

Musing while fixing my eyes on these trees... I pondered upon the several failed attempts to look for a place which I can call "My Home Sweet Home". A nice decent house or apartment is becoming less affordable for a below-average wage earner like me. The influx of these foreigners/expats buying properties in Malaysia and the speculation has turned the prices shooting sky high! Thanks to our government for failing to protect the welfare of its own people. In a way, if you are not a millionaire - you can kiss "a nice decent home" goodbye! Yes, yes...this happens globally, I know. Should I convert to Muslim and this will not help me to purchase a land with a title for Bumi either. So much for 1Malaysia! Boo! 
... I might as well become a tree and live amongst them..

My long lost friend! ... In fact, I have been yearning to see this old friend on this walk and walla... there you are.. "ye still digging and rolling the old shit?"
The strongest insect in the world - The Dung Beetle

A "slave" rolling and pushing the shit hard... but for a dung beetle, that is it's way of life and it loves every minute of this shitty job

While photographing the dung beetle at work and inhaling the fresh stinking dung, a new friend came along. It seemed to be walking aimlessly but in fact, it was charging aimlessly. Scorpions can deliver nasty stings when provoked. 
A scorpion in "fish eye" effect

Humans can be nasty and I have met many species alike in my years of working in various industries. They, including myself, have an innate character of being a bully. The unsecured ones will display their bullying character loudly and while the placid ones are able to make a choice to be a bully or not. I am learning to be like a Scorpion...ready to strike when bullied or provoked...  I am still in my process of sharpening my skills to stand my ground and articulate my emotions at the right moment. But sometimes, I failed. And when I succeeded,  some people are sour grapes...and blood-suckers..
...like a leech here
My true friends have advised me to be thankful...and I ought to feel blessed. Probably because they felt I am blessed to be able to walk into a rainforest, amongst the giant trees and surrounded by singing cicadas while they are on their desk during weekdays from 9-5 answering phone calls and watching the time clicking slowly. But hey, I work on all weekends.
  Indeed is a blessing to be part of Pandora forest

In the end, you will say that I am writing talking rubbish... and yes, as I have put all these "rubbish" I have collected in a bag. And speaking of rubbish... I recently observed the annual general meeting of the Malaysian Nature Society Langkawi chapter (election for the next committee) and it was the worst AGM I ever attended. Dirty and full of rubbish... buying votes and rounding up his cronies... I will not be part of MNS Langkawi for now. And it doesn't really matter to this newly elected committee if there is one or two members less from the group. There are always alternatives to promote conservation and not only MNS Langkawi. I prefer to work with those who are real activists rather than those sitting on a position for name sake... or just wanting the face to be on newspaper or TV, a celebrity wannabe.
 This bag of rubbish is out of the rainforest and it is in a place where it belongs - The Bin

Ta for wasting time reading this ...  you are my friend indeed :)

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