Monday, November 26, 2007


More picturesque photographs of the 'treasure throve'. .............................................

We are sure most visitors who find their way to the Shangrila only 16 kilometers outside Kuala Lumpur will be excited and happy. We are glad that we made our way to FRIM.

Thank you to all that assisted. We record our special thanks to Dr Abdul Rasip Ab Ghani and members of his staff. Anak Arshad Architect being consultant for Frim's new project at Perlis i.e 'Cadangan Peningkatan Kemudahan Pelancongan Pusat Rekreasi dan Pendidikan Alam Flora Kebun Jati Perlis Indera Kayangan' had an excellent insight of FRIM's approach and direction.

a.We were paractising our catwalking on the narrow one foot path high above ground level and near the trees' canopies.

b.Hugh timber trunk. Strong ropes are latched to this 'Surian Batu' ( Chukrasia tabularis) which formed the hanging canopy walk. Another top quality hard wood chosen as achor is 'Merbau'

c.This clump of bamboo 'Dendrocalamus giganteus' originally grows in Mynnmar. The highest it has grown to, measured 36 meter high. This accordingly is found at Peradiniya Sri Langka. We are told it belongs to the family of 'graminae' ( grass)

This giant at Frim is a sight to behold by itself. Imagine if some people were to find this species on the eve of Aidilfitri.

d.Another view of the city in the distance from atop the Canopy Walkway. Don't forget to bring along your binoculars when you come here. That I regreted. Then again we never expected to see and be confronted by what transpired. Even KLCC could be seen clearly.

e. Perhaps the 'top hit' of our visit was to discover a river, its tributaries and estuary in the sky. We saw clump of trees growing straight in one part of FRIM's forest reserve.
We sat down. We looked up into the sky. Lo and behold. We saw what is registered in the two photos above. The 'Kapur' tree canopies provide spaces in between their formations and the movements as the branches sway with the wind is nature's magic. See it alive. No photos can do justice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


An Observation Tower within a tree provides a scenic view of the Institute's ground while displaying a clump of straight parallel growing tall trees around it.

Strong ropes strung from tree to tree high above the undergrowth constitute the Canopy Walkway. We were assured that the 'bridge in the sky' is checked and maintained every week to assure safety.

This is a view of the tree tops seen from above as you catwalk along the Canopy Walkway.Yes you are advised to put your steps forward one by one, moving like a light footed model less a rough momentum would shake the bridge while allowing 10-15 foot space between walkers.


We have been in the city umpteen times but never ventured outside its territorial borders for a much longer period than half a day. Except for Sungai Buluh for its flower and plant nurseries, Kuala Selangor for the ‘klip-klip’ sanctuary or Ulu Langat for the last vestige of Malay kampong community nearest the city and of course Putrajaya, our outings had been confined to the Golden Triangle and the likes of IKEA, KLCC, SUNWAY etc.

It came as a complete surprise but certainly rewarding and exciting to the point of impinging our childhood adventure days when we visited FRIM at Kepong Selangor for the first time. Had it not been for a meeting at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia on a particular Tuesday morning in conjunction with FRIM itself, perhaps we would not have discovered the treasure behind its close doors. Literally the Institute’s gate is never closed but strangely not many acknowledged the richness and attractions within the compound of the 1528 hectares site of regenerated and secondary forest holding hundreds of plant species. Its nearness to Kuala Lumpur city centre is an asset yet a paradox because it is most unexpected. Imagine Cameron Highland being that proximity to the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur.

Being at FRIM Kepong is like being in Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs in 1946 or earlier when the virgin forest still surrounded the city excepting for pockets of tin mining zones. You can imagine how much has changed since just looking at Selayang, Sungai Buluh, Batu Caves and Gombak. That is one exciting aspect for just being there. Of course there are more to be discovered.

We woke up in the early morning at the chirping of birds just outside the glass windows of the Institute’s Guest House. Upon prior arrangement you may book to stay at the six-room Guest House. Breakfast and other meals are available at the Cafeteria on the site. There is also a quaint Malay Tea House where you can sip herbal tea while recovering from walking the various nature trails. Provision for a large group to camp on site or stay in dormitories is available on arrangement. The Institute’s Museum and Library can also be on your visit list. We would recommend that you are on site quite early in the morning to reap full benefits.

FRIM’s par excellence would of course be its Canopy Walkway. The members of our team that came to visit obviously had no inclination of what they would get there. They had not expected a rigorous climb and walk up the steps to the highest point where the Canopy Walkway was built. In all you would have to allow for two hours to get and to return to base. By their attires they were ready for a Board Meeting much less climb hill. Still all persisted and reached the top rewarded by a panoramic view of the forest and all its inhabitants if you care to observe. The Canopy Walkway had existed since 1992. The Walkway system spans 200 meters and 30 meters above ground level, higher than most tall trees in the area. No descriptions will do justice to the beauty and panorama you will view as you catwalk along the narrow path of the Canopy Walkway. The pictures attached will hopefully spurt you to rush straight away to this magical abode with your loved one and the kids.

For the young ones cool mountain streams, camping sites and nature’s richness and wide open space await them. The Forest Research Institute Malaysia at Kepong Selangor set up for research and scientific study of flora and fauna has awaited visitors ever since. Yet we come to discover its existence and the treasures within only five days ago.

Will you take the steps to move towards this Shangrila? Don't wait too long.

Shamsul our FRIM guide was the exceptional man dressed for the hike and adventure into the rainforest. The two ladies assisted. Shamsul's two young sons however helped to make brave and determined men out of some of the group members.

FRIM's recreation area and picnic ground for the family with a waterfall nearby is worth visiting rather than spending hours at the shopping malls in the city. You will certainly get fresh air.

A discovery within the ground. It would make a decorative item alright.

(More pictures following .............)

Friday, November 23, 2007


It was extraordinary that two words became the center-point at the recently concluded UMNO General Assembly held at Kuala Lumpur. They are colloquial and I have yet to leaf through the dictionary to see if they appear in it. Not many in the assembly would appreciate their intrinsic meaning.

Dato Najib Abdul Razak in his opening remark chose one word to describe the presiding Acting Chairman of the august assembly. Aptly or otherwise he chose the term ‘kelolo’ descriptive of a person’s character. It drew a raucous applause from the floor albeit I would like to believe that only a small majority realized its meaning and implication.

Then it was the turn of the President to deliver his speech. Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also the Prime Minister of Malaysia chose to add another word best describing the character of the Acting Chairman who in the past assemblies had been the spokesman of Kedah and whose witty, humorous innuendoes and speeches always added spice and yet kept the assembly awake. The President adding another dimension to what his deputy had said earlier remarked that
“….. our Acting Chairman is not only ‘kelolo’ but also ‘loglaq’ ”,
a more deafening agreement from the floor orchestrated. Both the President and his deputy had highlighted their opening remarks though briefly on the Presiding Chairman who since the first day of the Assembly had added humor or sarcasm as one would choose to apprehend, yet drawing applause and laughter.

I would like to consider heavily on the terminologies used and define their appropriateness especially at such an assembly and whether decorum and righteousness go alongside the earlier speeches and sideline remarks, especially when feminism, sex and human anatomy came to the fore.

Not that there should be a hue and cry over it all but it puts us on the alert at being appropriate or humorous where necessary and appreciative of other people’s feelings and backgrounds when we presides, be it a meeting of any size. It would be a catastrophe if such a leveling earmarked a Yang Di Pertua or the Speaker of Parliament.

How do you define the two words? It would be interesting to know your insight. The Malaysian newspapers took both words to mean ‘buffoon’. I would take the first to mean ‘mischievous’ or ‘playful’ and the latter to mean ‘ crude’, ’ill-mannered’ or ‘uncouth’. Again it falls back on the background and nature of your upbringing where such terms are in vogue. I remember and expect a grandmother in Kedah or even Penang to reprimand her grandson for being ‘kelolo’ or ‘loglaq’ for showing an impish and imperfect mannerism. Such reference would perhaps extend only to the juvenile stage surely not much later. I may be wrong to say that the two words are known and familiar to the northern states. With much interchange and relocation many more would have understood what they meant.

Monday, November 5, 2007


I am wondering how Malaysia will be in 2020. It is just 12 years only from now . Already there are claims and statements that the whole peninsular and the territories in Sabah and Sarawak will be so developed as envisaged by the master plan. With all the corridors of South, North, East and expectantly East Malaysia connected and hundred billions of RM allocated, the agricultural , commercial, educational and technical sectors will see a stupendous growth equalled only by the giant investment that has been promised.

While overjoyed by such concern and forward planning, we are taken aback by the number of foreign and illegal workers in the country. The burning questions that we should be asking are many. Among them: Are Malaysian unable to perform tasks by their own? Why are there millions of Indonesians, Indians, Bangla, Burmese, Thai etc craving for works in the country? Why do our homes need foreign maids? Have we become proud or contented people that we let others do the work for us? What has happened to all the electrical gadgets in the home that are supposed to make works lighter? Only maids can use them now?

I remember back in the late 1950's when I had just returned home after studying in Britain. Families and friends asked: "Who keep the shops running? Who drive the buses and trains? Who clean the roads and collect the garbage? Who manage the schools etc?" Malayans then would not believe that 'Mat Salleh' do all the works themselves. It was unbelievable that Englishmen had to do menial works etc. The belief was that English or Europeans were managers and bosses only. How could they stoop so low? It was impossible to think then that the British had to do all the works themselves just like other people in the world. Only much later the Africans, West Indies, Chinese from British Colonies flocked into Britain and started to be employed and later formed their own businesses.

Probably some people may think of Malaysian being in that position or predicament now. That's why we have foreigners rushing in taking all the jobs in the agricultural, service, manufacturing and domestic sectors. Employers dismiss locals who seek jobs giving all sorts of excuses. Where will our unemployed Malaysian go?

Not to worry. Our saviour is on the way. The 9MP and the various corridors that come with it will alleviate bumiputras and other citizens to world developed status. Come 2020 the whole peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak will take a new image in physical development transforming our cities and kampongs to greater heights. As an example Penang with its inner city development on what is currently a horse racing track will maybe surpassed Dubai's phenomenal growth.

Malaysian will truly be the happiest people on earth Why not? We will have double tracks Kereta Api Tanah Melayu ( if the name stays), Three or four lanes highway and controlled entry into the cities. KL is reported to be discussing the issue now. Many other 'kecanggihan' will come our way. Do you know that the arm forces too are already changing their long used rifles for carbines manufactured in USA. Of course they need them because together with progress comes 'trouble'. 'Up Periscopes" will billow out from the French submarines that guarded our shores. The Russian 'Sukoi' fighters scouting our air space will have a good air view of all things happening.

Bits of news here and there taken with grains of salts enlightened you but surely it is expecting aplenty within 12 short years. Look what we have achieved in the last half century? Miracles? Herculean strength and power much needed for the shorter span? Still we will see.

I GUESS after a despondent or enlightened outlook whatever way you see it, I would prefer to begin November coinciding with the UMNO annual convention by highlighting scenes and treasures discovered in our own backyards right now but frightened at the thought that all that may disappear very soon.

Sadly we miss out or perhaps move around with our eyes shut never realising the beauty and treasures that abound. Probably we have our sights focus on other scenarios or our definition of beauty or things beautiful are clouded by other extremities or guidelines. Perhaps foreign scenes or extraordinaries prioritised our concepts of beauty and grandeur and familiarity breeds contempt.

As I moved around in the countrysides lately I could not help discovering the hidden heritage and simple splendors that exist to marvel and appreciate. Sadly with modernity, extremity of climate change and transient movement of people existing scenarios may change and in the next moment disappear without trace. States or institutions with strong heritage footholds and trusts may hold back disappearances and help preserve our heritage.

Penang a neighboring state to Kedah has rightly started on a massive reclamation of its heritage buildings, investing millions of Ringgit and achieving UNESCO recognition along the way. Kedah went into the "Geo Park" business giving priority to rocks and fossils of Langkawi

Other states and institutions straying behind may lose out and have nothing to be proud of except discovering money and time spent for developments fall short of energy and ending with various 'white elephants'. These are not hard to discover.

Be that as it may these are my discoveries during travelings during the early weeks of November 2007 and recently . I am sure you too have invariably come across hidden beauties but unknowingly dismissed them nonchalantly aside. More traveling will bring to the fore greater treasures.

Picture No 1. A Retreat

This Malay 'palace' ( It would have been one many decades ago to the eyes of the kampong folks of the area) in the district of Baling remained vacant and abandon by the owner who has moved to better surroundings. The open veranda or 'anjung' with an extension to the main house is characteristic of the Malay home. Observe the ornate design at the frontage and sides. The concrete stair-case has five steps leading to the veranda typical of Malay homes. We will never find stair-cases with even numbers. The concrete footings supporting timber pillars would also have characteristic design of their own. The rich wood obviously of good quality being in a district famous of quality timber assured its lasting and endurance. The yellow plastic letter box is a give-a -away clue that it has recently been vacated.

Picture No 2. The Original Rest House

While traveling on the back roads of Perlis from Kangar to Alor Star via Bongor Kudong we passed through some scenic landscapes; roads fringed with banana palms and mango trees. We stopped a while to marvel at this extraordinary beauty. This would be the true and natural rest house. The lucky padi-planter and his family would definitely have their siestas here while having time to offer his noon and evening prayers too. When the padi ripen he could stand sentinel from here guaranteeing peace of mind. The plot of land has been made ready for the planting of rice and imagine the color and hue surrounding when the padi ripen and the golden field stretches to the horizon.

Picture No. 3 Figuratively Strange but Real

We observed this at a distance realizing its unique formation when we were at Cameron Highland recently. When I zoomed in I captured this photograph of a figure replicating a man or a human being at prayer or meditating with arms outstretched and the head looking ahead. The greenery and the thick jungle of the Cameron Highlands can do wonders. While enhancing its natural beauty and promoting domestic tourism, supplementing the country with abundant vegetables, flowers, strawberries and tea leaves , it can be a hazard for trackers who lost their way amongst the foliage. The cool mountain atmosphere of the highlands hopefully remain intact even many years later. The figure as captured then may not be there anymore as creepers and other foliage may have designed it into something else. Many historical artifacts and buildings can be claimed by the ravages of nature and disappeared out of sight.Their very discovery later become proud moments for archaeologists, museum and antiquity personnel.

Picture No. 4 Almost gone and Pure Coincident if You Come Across One

We came across this dead tree trunk with several holes punctured into its side at a FRIM ( Forest Research Institute Malaysia) teak plantation KM 28 Jalan Padang Besar Perlis. Who or what would have made symmetrical holes like that? The lone tree trunk stood out amongst the teak trees at this large FRIM centre. As if an answer to the visitation of several colorful birds to my backyard several months ago, I came to find out their ingenuity and perseverance. Yes I was overjoyed when the chirping of several birds turned out to be a four some woodpeckers playing on the coconut trunk at the back of the house and near the riverside.

It must be many years ago when I last saw a woodpecker. No doubt 'Woody the Woodpecker' in the cartoon strips and film once introduced us to its playful nature. But to see their craftsmanship and realise their resourcefulness in getting their food, caring for their young ones and protecting them among the tree trunk is a discovery indeed. Woodpeckers are almost extinct and my seeing them and discovering their artwork is indeed fortunate.

Many aspects of our nature, beauty and treasures will slowly disappear unless we take measures to preserve and care. So let's do what is possible to guarantee that 2020 will continue to enjoy and share current heritage alongside its eventual growth and development less what we have enjoyed and admired will not be a source of joy and fulfilment to the new generation.

Picture No. 5 One of the four woodpeckers that one fine day came visiting and landed on the coconut trunk at the back of the house. Do you know some of the characteristics of this bird? Click and see