Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Into the sunset

The sun broke through the clouds as I was about to board a flight from my east coast hometown of Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu revealing this glorious scene.

The scene, I suppose, also serves as visual metaphor for the Fokker 50 aircraft which is flying into the sunset as it is being replaced by the ATR72-500 turbo prop aircraft after about 20 years of service in Malaysia Airlines' domestic air services particularly in Sabah and Sarawak.

Whenever I look at a Fokker 50, I reminded about how one crashed into a squatter colony near the old Tawau airport in Sept 1995.  It is something that I hope never to write about again.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Under threat

I've always believed that any appendage to a wild animal is almost certainly a death sentence to it, as in an elephant and its tusks, a rhino and its horn or a deer and its antlers.

When I took the picture of this rhino hornbill at the Lok Kawi zoo, I recalled what a friend told me. Apparently some people believe that the eye catching horn on this bird has "medicinal" properties.

It is supposed to be a cure all for everything from asthma to stomach ailments. With such a perverse belief, it will be no wonder if this creature could eventually face the same predicament as its four-legged namesake. Wildlife experts reckon there are no more than 50 Sumatran rhinos left in the wilds of Borneo.  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Crop revival

On a recent trip to Sabah's northernmost town of Kudat, I followed my nose to a row of old wooden shops where I spotted these two gentleman packing a sack of dried cocunut flesh that I assumed would eventually be used to extract its oil.

Coconut has been the agriculture mainstay of Kudat district for decades with thousands of hectares planted with the crop. But like in many other parts of the state, coconut groves are giving way to oil palm plantations. After all, palm oil is now one of Sabah's main economic mainstays.

But coconut may be making a comeback thanks to the advent of virgin coconut oil. More about here. So perhaps these gentlemen will still be packing more dried flesh of coconuts for years to come.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My workhorse

Five years ago, I jumped on the four-wheel-drive pick up truck band wagon when I bought a Ford Ranger. It has become something of a Swiss Army knife for my family and I.

Like the famous Swiss switchblade knife which is also a fork, nail clipper, compass, spoon, fork and the list goes on, our truck has been very much a multi purpose tool.

For daily use it is a school bus for my three kids and taken me to some remote locations in Sabah for my work. It has also been used to transport everything from bags of cement, stones and sand, bricks, wooden planks, tiles when my house was being renovated. 

And then there are the occasional holiday excursions for the family. With this truck we have been back to my hometown of Sandakan, Kudat, Sipitang, Ranau-Kundasang and lots more places.

We have also used it to shift furniture and much of our belongings when we moved house as well as stuff for my missus' shop. And it done all this in return for regular maintenance and the occasional tyre replacement.

Like a Swiss Army knife, our Ford Ranger will be part of the family for many years to come.  

I wonder if I can now claim some sort of endorsement fee from the nice folks at Ford Malaysia?


And oh yes, I'm back ... again.

Accessible internet

Connecting to the internet via wireless access or wife in public places has always been a hassle or an expensive affair.
The usual places the service were available were cafes - think Starbucks or Coffee Bean. So for the price of a capucinno or frapucinno or a brew of today's blend, you could use a laptop to surf the 'net to your heart's content.
Not so long ago however, I spotted this banner outside a coffeeshop in downtown Kota Kinabalu. Ahh, so now internet acceess is available with a cup of kopi-o at a fraction of a cost of a capucinno. Hopefully, other coffee shops will jump on the free wife bandwagon and internet acceess will be more readily available.