Sunday, April 17, 2011

Inul talks politics...meow..meow...meow....

The BIG event in Sarawak yesterday ( 16 April) was the Sarawak's 10th state elections results announcement. The ruling party ( Barisan Nasional) was declared the victor after garnering 55 seats out of 71 contested ( two-thirds majority). That means the Prime Minister of Malaysia has Sarawak tucked nicely in his pocket as FD ( fixed deposit) state!! ( Oh , yes we cats do understand politics...humans got plenty of tips from our animal kingdom about the rat race , survival of the fittest and inhuman or animal behaviour in man .....meow, meow, meow.. POLITICS AND POSTERS Inul gets to see much show of election posters along the journey. There is this HUGE STRUCTURE OF A PYRAMID OF POSTERS seen along the Pan-Borneo Highway at the rest area outside the town of Betong ( pix above). The pyramid was erected by the ruling party. Inul still wonders however what politicians have done to the Pan-Borneo Highway? Example: The worst stretch that Inul find is from Bintulu to Tatau ( est. 50 km) ---Inul cries and screams when travelling on this stretch because the road there is very bumpy, uneven, and dangerous because of too many potholes, bad patch-up work etc. Oh, Inul hates the Bintulu to Tatau road...Will the politicians care to listen please ? Secondly...Inul has been travelling the Pan- Borneo Highway for about four years now and after a bit of research found out that for about 50 years the highway has not changed a little ...It is still a two-lane single carriageway after such a long , loooooong time!... meow, meow, meow... What??? after 50 years this is what Sarawak gets?? In contrast, in West Malaysia, the highways are 6- lanes dual carriage ways...Judging by the conditions of roads alone Inul concludes that Sarawak is 150 years behind schedule from Semenanjung ( West Malaysia). Oh ,noo....meow...meow....meow....... o oo politicians in Sarawak don't be too need to catch-up A LOT guys!!!!You need to work for the people not for your pockets!!!! ( Cats know that too) ....Try the roads first. The journey.... The day after the election night, fospa decided to get back on the road again . So we left at 8.50 am in fine weather and arrived Kuching at 7.30 pm in heavy rain. The heavy rains however occurred during the last lap of the journey 1.e. after the town of Sri Aman which is a three hours journey to Kuching. First pit stop was Selangau ( inset) , then Sibu ( below) where fospa was keen to grab the morning papers to know the detail results of the election. But thanks to fospa, he chose a cool and shady place for us to relax while they were having some coffee at the food court. We had our share of food served in the car. Being a Sunday and the day after the election results were announced, Sibu coffee shops were flooded with customers naturally to talk and analyse the results ..the coffee-talk way.

Fospa thought this poster as most outstanding for its originality. According to fospa, the use of metal scaffolding for rural advertising is new. To the best of fospa knowledge the candidate is an engineer who owns a scaffolding company (besides undertaking civil and mechanical works) at many of the industrial outfits in Bintulu. That would probably explain how he can afford the use of BS scaffolding( British Standard) which is the only allowable standard of scaffolding used in the major oil and gas installations in Bintulu to a remote place like Ulu Krian. Ali ak Biju is an Iban and his posters use the Iban language to relay his message . Ali Biju's poster reads : "Aram Berubah - Together we Change, " Angkat semua - Rise up, "Tan ke reta pesaka kita "- Fight for our ancestral heritage. Ali won the contest on an opposition ticket ( PKR) after defeating the BN incumbent.

Mama Daisy and me ( back facing camera) - sharing the front seats.

The heavy rains slowed down the journey from Sri Aman to Kuching. What would normally take two and a half hours instead took us three hours.

All's well that ends well.....meow...meow...meow....

Note: On this 25th journey back Kuching, cumulative distance achieved = 29,400 km.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mama Daisy and Inul's 25th trip to Bintulu

"Ok, airconditioning is fine" exclaimed Mama Daisy at the start of the journey.

It has been slightly more than a month since we stayed in Kuching.
On Sunday (27th Feb) we made our 25th trip to Bintulu.
We left our home around 8.45 am.
The sky was blue and clear when we left Kuching.
On this trip fospa decided to make few pit stops viz Serian, Betong and Sibu only.
Throughout the whole journey we experienced very little rain. Almost negligible. On this trip most of the driving was done by fospa. Fosma generally would attend to Inul and Mama . See, who says travelling is not fun.

Paddy farmers doing it the conventional way. Harvesting paddy in Sarawak is typically by hard labour, mostly women folks (:

The most memorable thing to see during this journey was the vast expanse of golden paddy fields that dotted the Sarawak country side from Sri Aman to Bintulu.
Sarawak is a net importer of rice despite its small population and vast land mass. "Apparently for many a thousand reasons Sarawak is unable to feed its own people with rice" quipped Mama. " Ministers after Ministers have been unable to improve on the rice production of Sarawak.

" AHH, we have Ministers but they keep on changing portfolios and priorities. Thus overtime nothing important gets done by them or should I say THEM" sighed Mama.
(Inset, CU of a ripe paddy stalk)

Oh what a picture. Is this for real?
Inter-cropping of hill paddy with oil palm was a pleasant surprise to see.
Being a panicky girl as I am, Mama would always come to my rescue. " Inul, we are on a big journey here. Don't be nervous or cry. No, no you're a big girl now!" Soon after about an hour or so Inul settled down and Mama continued with her beauty sleep as she always does on long journey like this.
Above: Inul (back facing camera) rests comfortably on Mama's new blanket.
Often times along the journey, Mama showered her kindness to Inul by letting Inul share her special blanket. Inul too gets her chance to rest on Mama's blanket of a thousand dreams. Many times in fact. Ya , Mama you're a darling. MUUAAAAAHHHH!!!MEEoooooowwww.

"Fospa get ready the change", reminded Mama.
When we were about to leave the Sibu Main Market multi-storey car park, Mama became curious and decided to have a front view of the transaction. For an hour of parking we were charged RM1.05. At 4.30 pm we drove on to Bintulu. The journey from Sibu was a direct one. No pit stop. We arrived at our farm in Bintulu at 7.30 pm in darkness.
HOORay we are back in BinTulu or was it " BEEN TO THE LOOO"!?@#!!

Note: The total cumulative distance achieved on this 25th trip to Bintulu = 28,800 km.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hop in! It's gonna be 28,200 km for the record

Mama Daisy and Inul ready to go.

On Friday 21st January we left our farm in Bintulu to proceed with our journey back to Kuching. We left the farm at 8.30 am in fine weather which was unexpected due to prevailing rainy monsoon season we're in these days. For that reason fospa had decided to skip Sibu town. Instead we took the bypass through Durin to escape any floods in Sibu town just in case. We have been staying in Bintulu over an extended time that is more than three months. Everyone seemed eager to go to Kuching after such a long lapse. Mama Daisy threw one last look at the farm ( see inset) and when everyone was on board off we go in fine spirits..

Looking up Mama reported " Inul, it's gonna be a sunny day. The journey should be fine. Ok, fospa rev up the engine ". "Ok, ok, k k k here we go!" fospa replied lovingly.
Scenes and stories along the way >>>

Oil palm integration by native farmers within existing multi-cropping system.

Typical countryside scenery between Bintulu to Sibu are the many smallholdings of oil palm trees that crop up on both sides of the highway. These smallholdings enable the native farmers to earn a decent living due to sustained and gradually increasing prices. About four years ago the FFB ( Fresh Fruit Bunches) prices of oil palm was RM 240 per ton. That was the price when fospa started to plant oil palm in our eco-farm . Today it hovers in the region of RM750 per ton for the lowest grade i.e. Grade C and above RM 800 per ton for Grade A. In the local practice by peasant Ibans and Malay cultivators, oil palm cultivation are well integrated into the existing farm landscape thereby making them more sustainable instead of the monoculture practised by the big plantation groups which are destructive on the original jungle landscape. In fact big plantation cultivation are prime destroyers of biodiversity in Sarawak - something Mama Daisy grumbles about every time she passes by the vast expanse of single cropping undertaken by big plantation companies in Sarawak . As at today there are slightly more than one million acres of forest land being taken by plantation groups in Sarawak. Can you imagine the amount of wildlife and tropical diversity that were in there disappearing in smoke? "Unbelievable is too kind a word!" Mama quipped. These big bodies scramble every available forest land from the government. But then Mama said we are not in politics...... we are pets, not pawns...but Inul we do have two votes don't we?

Mama Daisy loves her new blanket of a thousand dreams. Mama's habit haven't changed a bit. On long travels like this she takes the opportunity to sleep. Oh, how I envy her. On the other hand I find it difficult to have a nap . Fospa and fosma have noticed by now I even seldom eat even at pit stops. But not to worry fospa, this little girl gonna be fine.

Two pit stops - Sebangkoi and Sri Aman

Written in Malay the sign translates as 'Sebangkoi Recreational Park'. Besides being a picnic area for the people of Sarikei, this country park also serves as a convenient rest area for motorists travelling the Pan- Borneo Highway. More pictures of flora and fauna at Sebangkoi below:

Dragon fly at the pond of water lilies.

A huge liana or climber hugs tightly at a jungle tree at the park.

The last pit stop was at a canteen situated next to the junction before reaching Sri Aman. The white buildings on the left of the road leading to Sri Aman town are the complexes housing the police personnel's and department. In Sarawak most buildings belonging to the police department are painted in white and blue colours.

We left Sri Aman around 3.30 pm and it took us three hours to reach Kuching from there. Thus we arrived at Sarawak's capital city just before nightfall. Total time for the journey was within our normal record of 10 hours. There was no rain on this journey.

Note: Total cumulative distance achieved on trip 24th trip back Kuching = 28,200 km

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friends droppin' by at the farm

" Tupai" or the squirrel

The Bulbul - or 'Kepulau' in local Melanau dialect.

My blanket of a thousand dreams

Hooray! At long last I have my own very blanket. Fosma took about a month to quilt a 'thousand dreams' blanket just for me. She did this at our home in Laman Kambatik, Bintulu. The size is more than ample for my little body. Thanks fosma for being so thoughtful. Love and kisses from Daisy.