Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fishy business

Meet Ahmad Jais Inil. He wants to capitalise on Sabah's reputation as a seafood paradise.

Those sitting in Sabah coffee shops would have likely experienced 'mobile vendors' hawking everything from pirated DVD movies to Brietling, Omega andRolex watches to sunglasses to wallets and belts.

Ahmad was taking the same business approach but his wares were dried scallops, sotong (cuttlefish) and sea cucumber. I bumped into him as he was replenishing his stocks at a coffeeshop near my office where he was packing some dried scallops that he would sell at about RM30 per kilogramme.

An electrician by profession, Jamil has laid wires and cables in office complexes in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. But he gave it up to get to started in the seafood business.

So much for capitalising on a good thing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Learning young

Like thousands of other Malaysian children, these boys were on a one week school break.
Unlike most of their counterparts however, their holidays were helping their parents to market the produce from their kebun or orchard to operators of these roadside fruit stalls somewhere between the northern Sabah towns of Kota Belud and Kota Marudu.
In this case, their wheel barrow was loaded with tarap, a fruit similar to jackfruit. For the children's efforts, the fruit stall operators will pay between RM1 and RM2 each and turn around and sell them for double that amount.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Going strong

On a recent trip to Sook in the heart of Sabah, I spotted this house on a hill top. What caught my eye was its bamboo walls. I went to ask villagers at nearby house with its conventional wooden walls and was told that the occupant of the bamboo abode was a farmer in his 60's.

Such houses were once common particularly among the ethnic Kadazandusuns and Muruts who now prefer to fashion their homes from wood or for the more affluent, bricks and concrete.

Now that Sabah is facing a cement shortage and bamboo still plentiful, perhaps going back to this traditional building material may make sense, in some instances.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Getting lucky

Hey hey! I checked out my blog and looked at the site meter and saw that the total visits since I installed it was 888 (For the uninitiated eight is considered a lucky number and I guess three of them would mean thrice the luck?!

And the visitor made the lucky number was Jack .

Thanks for all the support guys.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Going fishing

With the flags of Sabah and Malaysia flying high, this trawler was literally sailing into the sunset from the northern town of Kudat to one of the most fertile fishing grounds, an area where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea.
After taking this picture, I had a sumptious tiger prawn dinner with the owner of 10 fishing trawlers which was among the more than 100 such vessels in Kudat.
Acknowledging that the amount of fish his vessels were landing was on the decline (in some cases, just handful of fish in one trip), the owner said his vessels like others in Kudat operate in two shifts.
In other words, fishing is being carried out 24-7, meaning the fish have no chance to reproduce before they are caught. So the fertile fishing grounds will not be fertile soon.
The fishing vessel owner told me he and his counterparts know what their methods were unsustainable but no one was willing to take the first step to kick off a change.
And then we went back to devouring our prawns sauteed in a spicy butter sauce garnished with curry leaves.
I wondered whether my children would be able to enjoy such a spread of sea food in the future.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Muddy slips

First time visitors are often taken aback by the sheer number of four-wheel-drive vehicles in Sabah. It seems that every other vehicle in this state has some off-road capability.
From the demure Suzuki and Perodua Kembara vehicles to the full scale Toyota Land Cruisers and Range Rovers as well as Hilux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu DMax, these vehicles indeed have a prominant presence on Sabah roads.
A reason for this is that though most Sabah towns are linked by proper roads, routes to numerous villages are still nothing more earthern tracks that transform into a muddy patches after a short spell of rain.
Such was the condition of the road leading to Kampung Kouvosian near the interior Keningau district when driver of this van tried to negotiate a wooden bridge with vehicle slipping off the simple structure.
Dozens of villagers lent a hand and together with the pulling power of a Ford Ranger, they managed to pull the van out of its predicament.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Misplaced patriotism?

I was driving behind a seafood restaurant when I spotted this Jalur Gemilang (Malaysia's national flag) flapping away as it was attached to a post near the exhaust fans at eatery's kitchen.
I have no doubt about the well meaning intentions of the person who placed the flag there but is that an appropriate place?
Somehow I do not think so. But it's even worse to see mini versions of the flag that used to adorn vehicles being strewn about on the roads days after we celebrate our nation's independence.
Surely our patriotism doesn't just die off after every August 31?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Am I an addict?

I had find out if I hooked to that fix. I did the test and found out that I was 70% addicted to blogging.
Is that bad? I'm not sure but I do know that though I'm not prolific, I do think about upcoming entries in this blog.
That begs the question; why do I blog? Hmmmm....
I'll come up with a list soon. Keep watching this space ....

Friday, August 3, 2007

An example of globalisation.

On a recent trip to the east coast district of Semporna, I met this gentleman who was patiently waiting for customers as he used a bench at the walkway of the Dragon Inn hotel and restaurant to display his wares comprising largely cultured pearl necklaces and bracelets.
After taking his picture, we chatted and he introduced himself as Arshad and he cheerfully acknowledged that his wares were brought in from "sebelah" (the other side, i.e southern Philippines).
Arshad will probably tell gullible tourists that the pearls orginated from Sabah. Already cheaper handicrafts from the Philippines, Indonesia and even Thailand make up the bulk of goods at souvenir shops in Kota Kinabalu and other tourist hotspots in Sabah.
Part of the problem is that Sabahan craftsmen are contented to continue to produce the things they know such beadware, woven baskets and traditional fabric like the Bajau dastar.
Then again maybe the situation is not that bad as tourists will likely find a mini replica of Big Ben in London with a 'Made in China' sticker on it.
So much for globalisation.