Monday, May 27, 2013

Natural selection...

Bad news comes in pairs.. 

I went to the backyard to check on the Yellow Vented Bul Bul chicks.
One of them was missing.
The last time I saw them both was this morning.
In a short span of time, the hatchlings were growing at a rapid rate.
It took merely days for feathers to grow on their body..

The chicks calling out for its parents..

This was the last shot of them together
I have been warned.. 

When I posted the photos of the chicks and its parents feeding it on Facebook, some friends had warned about natural predators like crows and such.

In the real world term, its natural selection.
That's why animals give birth and lay as many eggs as possible so that their hatchlings could survive.
As humans, we mourn the loss of our child and it could be hard to swallow.
For the bird, I guess its tough luck, better chance the next cycle.
I really doubt it that I would witness another nesting in our backyard, nevertheless, capturing the pictures of the egg till it hatched and eventually the chicks growing up to this point, was a real excitement.

Last of the Bul Bul chick.. 
The odds are stacking..

It's kinda funny that the adult Bul Buls were not guarding its young.
There all sorts of predatory creatures in our neighbourhood from the Brahminy kite to crows and other slithery critters.
I suspect that the crow or myna might have some part in the abduction and killing of the young chick.
Way I see it, the surviving hatchling has a 40% chance of survival in the next few days if nothing gets to it.
I really hope to see this young Bul Bul grow and fly away from its nest.. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Basic Bikepacking Workshop

In keeping a promise...

A novice cyclist once asked: "Hey Sam, you should organise a workshop for us beginners. Teach us how to patch a punctured tube and maintain our bikes.."
I took the cue, gauged the interest, established an on-line community first through Google Groups, which is now defunct which paved way for the Malaysian Foldies Forums.
And on the first outing, I managed to rope-in Schwalbe Malaysia to co-host a workshop called: "Basic Bicycle Recovery" at Desa Park City.

Fourth series in a row

In keeping with my promise, I proposed to conduct the Bikepacking For Beginners workshop, catering to a crowd of between 30-40 people.
I ran this with the event's co-host Mr Edmund Foo of Atmosphere Outfitters who agreed to have it at his premise for the second time. (We did Basic Folding Bicycle Touring last year).
To get things going, I also roped in Mr Yong from Quicksports, a loyal supporter of the MF group who specialises in the sale of Garmin Bicycling GPS.
Yong had set up a table to display his ware as well as participate in the 30-minute talk I conducted for the crowd.

A participant registering for the workshop

The crowd checking out Yong's goods

The crowd during the talk

Introducing Yong from Quicksports

Edmund with his special tee-shirts
A family affair

I managed to get some help from my wife Michelle who generously contributed an overhead projector for my PowerPoint presentation.
She also manned the registration table where door gifts were handed out courtesy of Le Run Industries. 
We expected at least 30 people, half the number had turned up.
Nevertheless, the show must go on! 
So, I presented my talk and ended it by thanking the participants and co-hosts for turning up.

Giving back

Hosting the talks was my way of contributing to the public apart from my opinions through my blog and Folding Bike Column on
By teaching people on how to do things, it is my hope that someday, they too would be able to spread the awareness.
Our good deeds in reflected through good examples and if done right, the interest could be sustainable.
That said, I hope to continue giving back to the community through my series of talks conducted at no cost to the participants...

Friday, May 24, 2013

A surprise visitor at our backyard..

Our little jungle

I went to my backyard to check on a family of cats.
Apparently, the dogs had sniffed out some kittens on the pandan leaves.
To my surprise, I found a bird's nest on the Bougainvilla tree which was planted by Michelle, my wife.
Upon closer inspection, I found two eggs inside it.

The bird's eggs...
There was a little commotion when I checked out the content of the nest.
In the distance, there was a Yellow Vented Bul Bul. 
I guessed that it was the mother that flew off after I opened the backdoor.. 

The female Bul Bul incubating her eggs
A game of patience... 

I've never captured a female bird nursing her chicks before.
And this was a great opportunity to do so.
The nest was almost at eye-level and since it was just a few feet behind my toilet on the ground floor, I thought it would be good to set up a hide and observe the Bul Bul.
I made some reference with a book by D&K on birds. 
Seems that it takes about 10 days for the eggs to hatch. And another 15 days for the chicks to grow its feathers..

The day finally came: Our Bul Bul's chicks
A new arrival..

So, there I was, preparing to go to work on Tuesday after a long break.
I noticed that the pair of Bul Buls were not around. 
And when I checked their nest, two chicks had just hatched.
Probably a few hours earlier.
I was very excited to see the featherless chicks that were huddled together.
Then, in the days to come, I set up a hide in my toiled and peeked out to get a good view of the chicks in their nest.
Each time they felt the bougainvilla tree vibrate, one of the feistier chicks would extend its neck out.
Then, the mother came with food.
This was repeated every 10 or 15 minutes.

The mother feeding its young

A new beginning: the proud momma and her chick
Eating machines...

It seems that the young Bul Buls are eating non-stop.

They have a voracious appetite with the parents working around the clock in search of food
I don't think this is an issue as the neighbourhood has an abundant supply of insects and larvaes.
It would be very interesting to observe the Bul Bul chicks in the days to come.. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pangkor - Part 3

Half way through

The descend to Teluk Dalam was an experience that one would never forget.
It was a pure adrenaline rush as we maneuver the bikes around bends at speeds up to 60km/h.
This is also the time where you depend entirely on your brakes to function.
As for me, the Ashima PCB brakes held up very well, significantly slowing down the fast descent down to Teluk Dalam.
Patric, who is the more experienced guy in riding around Pangkor, said the best course is the harder one from town to Sungai Pinang Kecil.

Michelle riding her Dahon Jetstream P8
From Teluk Dalam, the ride was much more smoother.
We chilled out near the Berjaya Resort and took a breather before proceeding further into the trail which led us to the Pangkor Forest Reserve.
Basically, this is a secluded part in the Northern tip of the island.
We found a small retreat there and its caretaker actually came to tell us that the place is closed facility meant only for paid customers.
We told them that we were just passing by as curiosity seekers.
After a brief conversation, we continued riding towards the island's airfield.

At the Northern tip of the island..
Patric, chatting up with the caretaker
Teluk Nipah and Pasir Bogak...

We continued towards Teluk Nipah, which seems to the most populated part in the island.
This place is no different than most of the seafront holiday areas in the country, which is pretty dirty and polluted.
The next stop is Pasir Bogak where we decided to find a place and hydrate ourselves.
So, we chilled out at a stall and at the same time, refilled our water bottles.
From Pasir Bogak, its just another 2km to the Pangkor town.

The Dutch Fort

There is a ruin in the island which became a tourist attraction.
Its a Dutch Fortress and the only thing left standing were some bricks stacked together.
We snapped some photos and as I was hanging around, a couple who overtook us earlier on their rented motorcycle were taking photos of Patric's Beixo bike.
They struck a conversation with us and told us that they were from Penang.
We continued to a rock where the image of a Lion was carved onto it.
Little is known about this carving that was made in the late 1700s.

Beixo awareness time
Back in Pangkor town...
We're done!

By 11:30am, the sun was out in its full glory.
Its also the hottest time of the year and we decided to head back to town.
Patric suggested a visit to a seafood processing factory which is a short distance away from the town's ferry terminal.
We hung out at this place and purchased some of their products before jumping back onto the ferry for the ride back to Marina Island.

The anchovy fleet

A scene at the Pangkor jetty

Ladies at work, sorting out dried anchovies
A good trip...

We packed up and went to Sitiawan for lunch.
By mid-day, there weren't much choices. But we found a decent makan place in town that offers steamed garoupa head.
That was the bonus part and we've had a fantastic lunch.
After the ride, we've also worked out a good appetite.

Arrival at the Marina Island Ferry terminal
Lunch in Sitiawan
We've had a short trip and a great time under the awesome company of Patric and his son.
I see a lot of potential to develop cycling tourism in Pangkor and I bet that in the months to come, we would do at least two more follow-up rides there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pangkor - Part 2


With the humidity in the air, I could barely sleep.
The heat caused my nose to drip and man, it was a night of suffering.
Nevertheless, we weathered the night and woke up at 5am in the morning.
That was my queue to hit the toilet and bathroom.
The bikes were already rigged up and as daybreak approaches, I got a glimpse of the Marina Island development.
This is a township on its own, self-sufficient.
But I guess its kinda in the slump as there were no big developments in the area.
Lumut, as it seems, is not ready to grow, but I think in the years to come, this will be the place.
Patric suggested a boat ride from the Marina's ferry terminal which is about 1km away from his shophouse.
After locking up the place, we set out to the ferry terminal.

A view of the Marina area from Patric's property
Membership fees required..

To use the Marina ferry services, one must be a member of the Marina Club. That is the pre-requisite requirement.
Its a yearly RM10 fee and a return fare to Pangkor (about 10-mins boat ride) is RM10.
For bikes, there is no need to pack it up as a flat rate of RM3 is charged per journey.
And just when we thought we were early, the ferry was already filling up.
We took the 07:15 ride to Pangkor.
The cabin was filled with tourists and it took about 10 minutes for the boat to reach the island's main ferry terminal.

Registering as a member and getting the ferry tickets

Loading up the bikes on the boat
Pangkor, re-visited...

The last time I was in Pangkor was 25 years ago.
Man, that is a long, long time.
I don't have any reasons to go there except for cycling my folding bike around the island.
Prior to this, I have been day-dreaming a lot about cycling in Pangkor.
Now, its a reality.
We got off the ferry and headed straight to town for breakfast.
Patric knew just the right place for makan.
We took some pictures at the island's fire station and the sight of a Hornbill perched on a tree was a welcoming sight!

At the fire station

The Hornbill
Well, basically, I can't connect the Pangkor in present day to the place I visited in the past.
As a Boy Scout, I used to camp at one of the beach area.
This place was dirty and well, is still as dirty as ever.
My main interest was the cycling route in the island.
Patric had suggested a harder route via Sg Pinang Besar to Teluk Dalam.

Hills that kills..

Michelle and I have been out of action for at least two months.
We are really unfit and didn't want to over exert ourselves in this ride.
Although its a simple 28km ride, there were enough slopes with 10% gradient and more to slow down any experienced riders.
I must say that towards the 5th km, we struggled a bit to get to the top of the hill before descending down to Teluk Dalam.

Rolling out to Sg Pinang Besar

These signs are all over the island

The steep hill after Sg Pinang Kecil proved to be a tough climb
When you are literally leaning forward to push your bike up a hill, there is no shame in doing it slowly.
We rode with our backpacks and if this was some touring ride, I guess we will be pushing even harder.
Michelle said she had some issues with her brakes. I've just had them tuned and the brake pads replaced.
But the fast descend proved to be a real test on the bikes and its brakes.
My Ashima disk brakes held up very well as the Garmin EDGE800 bicycle GPS had recorded the top speed at 62.9km/h.
The elevation gain in this area was 333metres with a maximum elevation of 130metres.
So, that said, the Northern side of the island is hilly.
Most cyclists would head Southwest towards Pasir Bogak and Teluk Nipah.
After descending to Teluk Dalam, we took a break in the area to enjoy the scenery..

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pangkor - Part 1

Another mark on the map..

I've been thinking a lot about cycling in Pangkor island.
This is basically an inhabited island off the coast of Perak where the nearest port of embarkation is Lumut.
That said, riding there has been on my mind for a long time.
And like the Taiping trip, it won't happen if I never made an effort.

A chance of a lifetime

So, there I was, spending the days off after working my ass to the ground during the general election.
The stress load was high, with both ends of the candle burning.
And I need to get back to cycling as my level of fitness had deteriorated.
Michelle, my wife, had suggested a simple ride in Kapar near Klang, Selangor.
That, of course, did not materialise.
With the time off coming to an end, I decided to head North.
One of the options was to ride from Taiping to Kuala Sepetang.
I did this before and it was a simple affair.
My cycling kaki Patric Yee had invited me to stay at his property in the Marina Island near Lumut.
He said that we can bunk-in there and shoot straight to Pangkor.
I thought that this would be great as Lumut is about four hours drive from Subang Jaya.

The plan

We were to set out on Friday evening, head straight to Lumut via the Klang - Teluk Intan coastal road. This saves us a bit of time.
Patric and his son would meet us in Lumut.
We packed the bikes and gear early and fed the dogs before hitting the road.
By spending a night in Lumut, we would be able to make the most out of our time on Pangkor.

Locking up after we fed the dogs
Traffic was light as we made our way towards Kuala Selangor via the LATAR highway.
We drove past Sekinchan, Sg Besar, Sabak Bernam and had dinner at Hutan Melintang.
I remembered that there were a few good eating places in this town.
We found a shop along the way and had claypot catfish and curried crabs. 
The fare was pretty decent.

Curried crabs

Food for thought
Enduring the journey...

After a good fill, we drove towards Teluk Intan.
Right after Hutan Melintang, the road became narrower and darker.
I was very cautious as we headed towards the bridge linking Teluk Intan to Sitiawan.
Many years ago, this was my stomping ground.
I fished a lot in Sg Dedap.
It took us about four hours to reach Lumut town.
Patric had sent me a GPS coordinate to reach his shophouse via what'sapp.
After keying-in the numbers, I was able to find the location.
We set up the sleeping area and caught up with some conversation.
At the same time, the man revealed his shaft-driven folding bike from Beixo, a Dutch company.
The bike is selling for RM3.5K and only one working sample is available in the Klang Valley.

Marking our territory

A decent place to bunk-in for the night

Patric (R) sharing his thoughts on the Beixo with Michelle (L)
We went out to the mamak stall for a round of tea where I took advantage of the time and outing to get some drinking water.
Later at the shophouse, I set up the bikes and made sure that its able to perform for the round-island ride in Pangkor..

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Return to Sin Poh Farm...

Catching up with an old friend...

I received a call from Ah Pan, an old friend of mine.
He has been living in a farm for the past eight years and its really doing him some good.
Prior to that, he stayed in a shophouse near Taman Dato Harun in Bandar Sunway.
After the motorcycle repair shop he ran and wound up, this guy had moved out to Karak and worked for Farmer Wong, a mutual friend of ours.

Ah Pan and his pooch Bob
 Honoring my word.. 

I gave my buddy a call and set a journey to visit him at Sin Poh farm in Karak, Pahang.
This is one of the few vegetable farms in the country to be awarded the Good Agricultural Practise certification by the Department of Agriculture.
I view this as a huge success for its owner Farmer Wong who worked for three years to achieve his goal.
Now, there aren't many sincere and honest men out there, Wong and Ah Pan are the exception.
And being accepted as their friend was truly an honour.
Back in the real world, I deal with scumbags, ass-kissing corporate people who are 100% fake.
This makes my stomach turn.
Meeting with a bunch of friends who appreciate your company and respects you for what you are, that is truly a feeling money can't buy.
I caught up with Ah Pan over some tea in Karak town
He told me that he is interested in a plot of land near Farmer Wong's place.
And in a world that is uncertain, there is hope for an old-timer like Ah Pan.
I told him that I will help in any way I can to market his Farm stay to the world...

The Fish farmer.. 

Feeding his commodity..
In the past year, Ah Pan has been busy rearing freshwater food fish.
His main commodity are the Tilapia (tilapia mossambica) and the grass carp.
This pellet-fed fishes can fetch as much as RM12 per kg and there has been some interested parties in the harvest.
If he keeps it up, the haul will be ready by the end of this year.
We are looking at some good money for the Farmer to roll.
Living in the farm, Ah Pan had been diligently feeding the fishes and the results can be seen..

Some good old fashioned fishing..

The Climbing Perch
The Sin Poh experience would not be complete without a fishing trip at the pond.
I've done some good fishing here and with Farmer Wong's awesome ponds, choices are aplenty.
They were aiming for Tilapias and the haul would be divided among the farm workers as their meals.
Nothing is wasted here.
While Ah Pan, a fishing guide himself and champion angler - did most of the work, landing a good catch, I struggled a bit.
My tackle was not suitable for the pond. The line was simply too thick. But I persevered and landed a small Tiliapia.
Then, my luck changed.
Slowly, but surely, I began landing some ikan Puyu or the Climbing Perch.
This primitive air-breathing fish is nothing but amazing.
I used to catch them at a decommissioned waste treatment pond near lake Titiwangsa in my late teens.
Now, what's interesting was the fact that I kept on landing this little fellas with fish pellets as bait.
Slowly as time dissolves into the late hours of the evening, I had at least 10 climbing perches.

Our humble haul..

Catch of the day: A snakehead landed with my telescopic rod
A last-minute surprise..

I hooked up a piece of fish pellet on the hook and casted it into the water.
While waiting for a bite, the guys were doing really well, filling up a basket with fish.
Then, I notice my line going out.
"Ah, another puyu!," I thought out loud.
The line became taut and when I set the hook, I felt a heavy tug.
This was not a perch. 
My cheap-assed Shakespeare telescopic rod began to bend as I let the drag on my ultralight reel do the job of keeping the fish on the end of the hook.
Now, this rod and reel combo doesn't seem ideal for such a situation, but it surely held up to the brute force of the fish that was on the other end of the line.
Farmer Wong said it was a snakehead.
Slowly, I let the small Shakespeare Dimension 10-ballbearing reel do its job, and reeled in a table-sized Snakehead. 
I estimate this fine table fish at 1.2kgs and it was my defining moment.
Despite a slow start, I managed to land a predator with my travel rod and reel set.
This inspired me to look at "Cyclofishing" in my future outings.
After packing up the gear, we brought the haul back to the farmhouse where it would be divided among the farm workers.
I parted ways with Farmer Wong and Ah Pan and assured them that I would be back for more visits.
Later, I took the rest of the climbing perch to my in-law's place where they were released into a pond.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Brahminy Kite

A chance encounter...

There is a pair of kites hovering over our neighbourhood.
Today, while driving back to my house, I saw a lone Bird of Prey with a piece of twig on its mouth.
It was flying so low, its unbelievable.
Later, I took my camera out to the fence, separating a patch of wooded area and the ELITE Highway.
The Kite's natural habitat, high above Bukit Lanchong was destroyed by some developer.
Removal of land from the hill had caused a mudslide some months back.
Even the monkeys that resides there are no longer seen around.
The Kite's nest

The pair, high above our neighbourhood..
Flying low and fast..

While I was walking to the site where I had first spotted the bird, I saw one raptor flying low and fast.
I tracked it with my camera and fired a few shots.
With a burst and servo AF focusing, I managed to cap off a few decent shots.
I followed the Kite and saw another raptor beside it.
Together, they were soaring high above the skies and I kept watch for at least an hour before calling it a day.


If the Raptors are indeed nesting in my neighbourhood, there is a good chance of capturing more decent shots of the Brahminy Kite in action.
I can certainly look forward to this during my week-long leave from work..

The Zebra Dove

Merbuk Balam

The Zebra Dove is quite an interesting bird to watch.
In the mornings, I can see them foraging for food on the ground.
A couple of days ago, I've had some decent luck capturing them on camera.
One was found in front of my neighbour's home.