Friday, February 29, 2008

Vietnamese Rosewood Furniture

If you appreciate wood, you will certainly love to see these pictures of unique and rare Vietnamese Rosewood furniture. My Vietnamese friend brought me to see a house built mainly of the expensive Rosewood. This house belongs to "some body" who could be a retired senior military officer because he showed me several old photos of himself with some top military personnel. I did'nt border to ask more about his background because I was more interested in his collection of Rosewood furniture. The first picture shows a sofa set of 4 chairs and 1 table made from the roots of the tree. In the second picture we can see many wooden furniture, but the subject of interest is the big bed made of solid Rosewood. The third picture shows a long dinning table which is also made from a single piece of soild Rosewood. According to my friend,these furniture would not only worth a lot of money but they are also status symbols of a rich and influential people. Before I left I did ask the owner what would be the value of the house with all the furniture. He whispered to me that it would worth at least half a million US dollar.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was Saigon before South Vietnam was reunited with the north in 1975. I have many Vietnamese friends who would say it was liberated in 1975 after decades of war. In the 60s before the war directly affected South Vietnam, Saigon was one of the biggest and most modern cities in South East Asia, surpassing Singapore and may be even Hong Kong. Its colonial masters, especially the French, left behind many good infrastructures and unique buildings. You will notice that the major roads in HCMC are all very broad and straight, scenes reminiscent of the boulevard in Paris. The war had not damaged the infrasctructures and buildings in HCMC, but it did delay its progress and development for at least 20 years. Generally HCMC is a cheap and safe place for tourists. It is a heaven for food lovers, for shopping of fashion and handbags made of silk, handicrafts made of lacquer,silk and buffalo horn. There are also plenty of antiques although most are not genuine. I had several experiences of buying the so called top name branded antique wrist watches and pens...but it is total disappointment each time I brought them back for the expert to check. On one occassion my friend and I each bought more than 20 pieces of these watches. When later at the hotel room we found out that some were mulfunctioning, we went back to the small shop where we bought them only to find the shop had closed. We were thinking perhaps we had bought almost all the watches in his possession that he just had to close shop before the next batch of "antique" watches arrive. Before I forget, I must mention that HCMC is the Motorcycle Capital of the world. There are hundreds of thousands of motorcycles crisscrossing the streets and lanes of this bustling city of 8 million people.

Quy Nhon, Central Vietnam

Lets leave Borneo temporarily for a break to have a nice holiday in Quy Nhon, Central Vietnam. I have been to south Vietnam 7 times, the first in 1994. Places that I have visited include Ho Chi Minh City(HCMC), Cantho, Dong Nai, Mythoi and Quy Nhon. From KL the MAS-Vietnam Air joint flight to HCMC takes only one an a half hour. Quy Nhon is a seaside town in Central Vietnam. It is an hour flight from HCMC. Surprisingly at Quy Nhon, they still use the military airport there. So when there is an exercise by the air force, commercial aeroplanes have to delay take-off or touch down. Quy Nhon town is facing the sea and behind it are several mountain ranges. The first 3 pictures above show the streets in the town. The 4th picture is the beach right infront of the town and the 5th picture shows a section of the town. The rest of the pictures were taken at the Life Resort which was operated by an Austrian. Two things you must do in Quy Nhon are (1) sampling the Vietnamese food, especially the seafood (2) experience the traditional Vietnamese massage. Food and massage are both very cheap here. And remember you must change enough US dollars, especially those in smaller denominations to spend there. Malaysian Ringgit is not accepted and credit cards are rarely used. Vietnamese Dong is very small....1 RM is approximately 4,000 Dong and 1USD is about 15,000 Dong. You will be a millionaire many times over once you landed in Vietnam!

Snake meat

Are you already getting fed up of reading my post on meat and seeing pictures of blood? I know it is cruel and disgusting, but it is life here in Borneo.Well, I promise this is the last post on meat until I have better ones to share with you. A few months back I visited Kapit which is 3 hours by boat from Sibu with another photographer friend. It has been many years since my last visit to this up river town which is very interesting. At a local market I discovered this piece of meat, (pictured above) gauging from the skin I already guessed it was snake meat. I confirmed it with the hawker there and what he told me was indeed most shocking. It was a 32-foot long python! Imagine how long it is at 32 feet...and imagine it was a man-eating python. If I am not wrong, a live 25-foot long python would fetch a hefty price of several hundred thousands US dollars. So imagine again how much you would gain from this 32-foot long python if you manage to catch it alive. Human are always greedy and have unsatisfiable demand for all kinds of food....including the meat of this python. Have you ever tried snake meat?

Wild boar meat

Decades ago wild boar roamed freely in the jungles, even in the rubber gardens in most rural areas in Sarawak. In those days the wild boar population was estimated in the millions. A report in the 80s stated that the natives of Sarawak killed an estimated one million wild boar annually. With uncontrolled hunting, large scale logging and land development activities in most rural areas of Sarawak, now the population of wild boar has dwindled to an alarming low figure. It is an offense now to sell wild boar meat openly in the market. The above pictures taken in Kapit in the early 80s and 90s show wild boar meat was still commonly transported from the longhouses for sales in towns like Kapit, Song, kanowit and Sibu.

From midnight till dawn

These photos of KL city with the famous Petronas Twin Tower and KL Tower were taken without a tripod. I was not prepared because I did'nt know that there was a secret access to the roof top of this 30-storey hotel building. I was staying on the 26th floor, could'nt fall sleep so I walked up to the top floor with my camera slightly after mid night when the first picture was taken. I went back to the room at 2 am only to find myself up on the roof top again at 5 am to take more pictures. Unfortuantely the sunrise was not spectacular that day. The second picture was taken around 5.30 am and the third one approximately an hour later.

The missing nest

I accidentally came across this nest with 2 eggs two months ago while on a solo photo hunting trip in a secondary jungle. The mother bird flew away when I approached the nest. I carefully took a few photos of the nest and left the place undisturbed. I planned to come back in a week's time to check if the eggs had hatched. OMG, when I returned, I found the whole nest had disappeared. It could not be that I missed the exact location of the nest as I had marked the place with a tiny green thread and also had taken several pictures of the surrounding areas for me to refer to when I return. Still puzzled, surely the mother did'nt relocate the eggs together with the nest. What do you think? where has it gone? Do you think a huge hungry python had swallowed the whole thing?

For sport's sake

Look like something very tragic has happened...people simply collapsing on the road. Certainly not the case. It was sports day for some secondary schools two weeks ago and these champion athletes are "dying" for the sake of their schools and also for the sports. The fighting spirit of these athletes must be emulated by all of us. In life there is no guarantee of success. We must do our best to achieve our planned targets. The volunteered services by members of the Red Crescent Society must also be highly commended. They are very efficient and professional.

My recent attempts at macro photography

To me macro photography is even more challenging than other form of photography. You must have great amount of patience, perseverance and strong determination to succeed. I am still new to this and I need a lot of practices to take better macro pictures. My love and appreciation for nature and wildlife will certainly helps a lot towards taking a lot of macro pictures of these tiny creatures. I plan to travel to most of the national parks in Sarawak this year to fulfil my photography passion.

Mum's greatest love

This dog which belongs to a relative of mine in Bintulu gave birth to 3 puppies a few months ago.He gave away 2 of the puppies to neighbours across the road. The mother dog was angry to find her siblings missing. She suspected that they had been stolen. So the next day she went up the small hill behind the house to build a den. After the new home was ready, the mother dog moved her puppy there by carrying it with her mouth. These actions of the mother dog really moved my relative so he went up the hill to plead for her return to stay in her orginal hut near the house. The mother dog obliged, but she remained suspicious. From that day onwards whenever strangers visited my relative's house, the mother dog would carry her puppy to hide it in the den. It is a true story...and when I visited my relative, I took this picture of the mother dog carrying her puppy to the den.

The colourful peoples of Sabah

The peoples of Sabah are as diverse and colourful as Sarawak. The main enthic group is the Kadazan, while in Sarawak it is the Iban.