Monday, November 26, 2007
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/woodpeckers.php.