Sunday, September 28, 2008

Malaysia's No. 1

The hat has Tun No.1 painted on it. The tie has 3 state emblems of Sarawak and name tag reads:No. 1, Malaysia (red). Tun Datuk Patinggi Lau Siew Hung (white)

He calls himself Malaysia's No. 1, Tun Datuk Patinggi Lau Siew Hung. Nobody has ever bestowed upon him those awards except his parents named him Lau Siew Hung.This strange and funny man is from Sarikei Division of Sarawak. Apparently every body in this small town at the lower Rajang knows him because he has been an evergreen figure for many decades.Politicians come and go, but No. 1 stays. I spotted No. 1 last Saturday afternoon near the Sarikei bus station while he was crossing the road. He was aware of me taking his photos and that didn't bother him a single bit. Look at how cool he was...he could most probably be a popular movie star if he was in Hong Kong.I heard many years ago that Mr. Lau was a loyal supporter of Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) and he was a good friend of Tan Sri Datuk Lau Hieng Ding who was MP for Sarikei and former Malaysia's Minister of Science and Technology.One day the Minister exaggeratedly praised Mr. Lau for being very good and capable and told him:" You are No. 1" That's how he got the title, so it was rumoured.I have no idea how he got the Tun and Datuk Patinggi titles. Hope that this post would not land him in trouble with the royal families or the government.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Swiftlet Ranching

I have just created a new blog solely dedicated to swiftlet ranching or farming. I am getting very excited now as after two years of monitoring, I have finally decided to venture into this business in a bigger way. Currently our group has 5 bird houses in Sibu, Sarikei and Pulau Burit. Negotiations on two new ones are in the final stages. Please check out my first posting at The above bird houses do not belong to our group. They are put up here to let you have a clearer picture of how a bird house would look like.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Breastfeeding-best for mothers and best for babies

It is a rare sight now to come across mothers breastfeed their young ones,even in the rural areas of Sarawak. I chanced upon this young mother breastfeeding her little boy in Marudi last month. Marudi is a small town up in the Baram River,about 3 hours by express passenger boat from Miri.I would say breastfeeding is till popular in modern society, just that it is not done openly in public places like 20-30 years ago when we could see it in crowded public places like bus and boat terminals and even markets.Young and would-be parents are still instilled with the knowledge by their elders,doctors and nurses and of course our health and medical literature that breastfeeding is the best for both the mothers and the babies. You surely will see posters advocating breastfeeding on the walls of the hospitals and clinics. When I browsed through Wikipedia for breastfeeding, it only talks about all the benefits. Are there really no undesireable effects? It is undeniable that natural milk from a healthy mother is the best food for an infant or a young child. But apart from the health and nutrition aspects,I understand some young mothers refuse to breastfeed their newborns because of the following reasons:

(1) Fear of getting extended nipples. And because of this, the husbands would love them less and may even make excuses of having affairs with someone who has smaller nipples.

(2) Fear of the nipples changing colours from pinkish to brownish or black.

(3)Fear of pain.

The second and third reason could be justified, but the problems could also be easily solved. Aren't there a lot of beauty cream which could restore them to original or near original colours? (Someone who had just bought the Nipple Refresher last week, do you know what is the name of the cream?)And for fear of pain, well, don't you already receive a lot of sucking before getting pregnant? If not then you have to do a lot of practise, of course ask your hubby to do it for you.If you have the insecure feeling of whether your hubby will love you less or even leave you for someone with smaller nipples, let him go.Wouldn't all nipples get bigger one day whether it is the baby or the hubby sucking them? If you want to maintain a perfect figure for as long as you can, the best is not to get married or get marry but not get pregnant. I hope I make sense here and I have not offended any body,especially the ladies. To end this post I would like to enlighten you on the following facts that you may not already know. (1) Alternatives to breastfeeding were rare prior to the 12th century.Cows and goats milk were first used in the 15th century. (2) Commercial infant formulas were introduced in the market in the 19th century, but only gained popularity after WWII. (3) WHO recommends 2 years of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life (4) 12 breastfeeding sessions every 24 hours is common for newborn babies.(5) Expressing breast milk is obtaining breast milk manually my massaging or using a breast pump.(6) Feeding two children, such as twins, at the same time is called Tandem breastfeeding(7) Pain in the nipple or breast is mainly due to incorrect breastfeeding techniques. Correct positioning and technique for latching on can prevent nipple soreness and allow the baby to obtain enough milk.(8) Mothers can lose weight by breastfeeding their babies because fat accumulated during pregnancy is used to produce milk.(9)Breastfeeding soon after giving birth increases the mother's oxytocin levels, making her uterus contract more quickly and reducing bleeding. (10)Hormones release during breastfeeding strengthen the maternal bond between the mother and the child. (11) Research showed that women who were breastfed in infancy may have a lower risk of getting breast cancer then those who were not breastfed.(12) Babies who are breastfed are generally more intelligent and have greater immune health.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Insights into logging activities

Aerial view from a Hornbill Skyway helicopter of the tropical virgin forests in Balui, Belaga.

Another aerial view of the forests in Balui. At left is a logging road and a bridge crossing a stream .

A huge logging camp cum log pond belonging to Shin Yang in Bakun area.

A welder reparing a container which is very useful in logging camps especially to store spare parts and tyres.

A store room with expensive spare parts. A logging camp well stocked with spare parts can always ensure smooth operation and produce more logs.
Logging camps are always located in the remote areas deep in the interior. Powerful generators are essential to provide electricity to light up the camp and to power the tools at the workshop.The camps are also well stocked with drums and drums of engine oil.

Almost all the machinery is run on diesel. Rectangular and round diesel tanks are placed in strategic locations to ease operations.The round tank (below) is also called the skid tank which can be pulled to different places.

This tank is placed at the road side so that logging trucks and other vechicles can fill up without returning to the base camp.

A new logging truck like this can cost up to more than half a million ringgit. The preferred brands are Mercedes and Volvo, trusted for their safety, durability and ability to transport more volume of logs.

A fully loaded barge with heavy logging machinery such as bulldozer,excavator,shovel,dump truck,pick-up etc ready to be towed to a new camp.

Nowadays it is common that logging roads are a few hundred kilometers in distance. In some central and west African countries the roads can be more than 1,000 kilometers. The picture above was taken in Wasior, Irian Jaya. This is considered a good logging road.

Dump truck like this is used to transport supplies from the camps to the logging areas and also to move gravel and earth for the road construction and maintenance.

Pick-up and powerful 4-WD vehicles rule the logging roads.Normally only the camp manager,supervisor and mechanic are authorized to drive these vehicles.

Excavator is used to build and maintain the road. In the recent decade, it is also modified to extract and pull logs especially in the lowland and swamp forests.

This is the shovel used to load and unload logs onto the logging trucks and also to stack logs in piles after being sorted and graded.Very often it also serves as a lift to move or remove heavy machinery parts and building materials.

A bulldozer has dual function of opening up roads and also to tow logs to the main roadsides once the trees are fell and trimmed.

The motor grader is used to maintain the road. If the road is muddy after several days of downpour, the top layer of mud is quickly removed to make the road safer.

A chainsaw operator cutting a huge tree. It is a dangerous job. He usually has to run for safety when the tree starts falling for fear of being hit by falling branches.

Freshly cut logs are being towed away to the roadside in Mujong area in Balleh, Kapit.

A logging truck transporting logs to a riverside log pond in Balleh River, above Kapit.

A fully laden truck crossing a bridge in the Murum area of upper Belaga, leaving a long trail of dust after decending from the hills.

Shovel stacking up Keruing logs in the Indonesian island of Jamaja in the South China Sea.

Aerial view of a large log pond in Tubau, Bintulu.

Keruing and Meranti logs in neat piles after being inspected and graded by buyers. They lie there waiting for shipment by barge.

Early morning at a log pond above Belaga.

In the upper Rajang River in Sarawak, the floaters are tied into rafts and towed down river to sawmills and plywood mills or to an anchorage point near the sea for export. Sinkers are usually transported by barges and small vessels.

A long raft of Meranti logs which has been debarked. This photo was taken in Barito River near Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Indonesia.

This 70 foot (width) , 270 foot (length) and 16 foot (draft) barge can carry about 4,500 m3 of logs and can ferry the logs to as far as Thai and Vietnamese ports. Bigger barge of 80'x 300'x20' can carry up to more than 8,000m3 of logs and capable to sail between Sarawak or the Solomon Islands or Papua New Guinea and south China ports.

Discharging logs from a barge at one of the sawmills near Sibu.

This pile of very nice logs(above) taken 120KM outside Tawau in east Sabah is of the Selangan Batu species.It is a very durable timber used mainly in the construction industry and also as railway sleepers.The photo below was taken at Sarawak Moulding Factory which belongs to one of Sarawak's logging giants,WTK. The background is the skyline of Sibu Town.

I believe many of you have not seen logging activities in real life. Here is a brief pictorial presentation of logging activities in the tropical rainforests in Sarawak,Sabah,kalimantan Indonesia,Jemaja Island, and Irian Jaya, Indonesia. These photos were taken during my assignments to the timber camps and sawmills between 1984-2004.Hope it is an eye-opener for those who have never landed on a timber camp.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An afternoon at the Ramadan Bazaar

This afternoon I spent almost 4 hours at 3 Ramadan stalls at the Town Square. The previous years I only walked through the stalls and snapped away randomly. This year I decide to stay put with a few stalls and wait for the right moments to shoot more interersting and dramatic photos.A total of 310 photos were taken and here are some to share with you all.I do not know the people at the stalls but all of them are very friendly and cooperative.They even offered me chair to sit and satay to eat.Thank you very much my Muslim brothers and sisters.