Translate this page

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Arowanas Aquaculture Farms in Bukit Merah.

Bukit Merah located near Taiping, long known as a place where you can find the famous Golden Dragon (Golden Arowana) lurking in its natural lake has sprouted quite a few commercial breeding farms for Arowanas.

I had the pleasure of visiting a few of the farms with a close friend who has taken the risk to make some investment in it and I was amaze how vibrant the trade of commercially bred Arowanas is.

Thousands of ringgits changes hand literally on a weekly basis, as an investment it has proven to be quite lucrative for my friend. The Arowanas he had invested in and put under the care of one of the farms has bred, producing 34 baby arowanas.The gentlemen agreements would allow the farm operator to keep half the total produce, leaving 17 for my friend. Now this 17 baby arowanas can either be sold back to the farm owner (at about RM400 each) or retained and kept to adult size in the farm to further increase the value of the investment along with all the associated risk of course.

A good adult size Golden Arowana about 18 inches or more would cost about RM4000 each at current prices, takers I am told will be plenty with demand outstripping supply.

The modus operandi of this farms works through a unique system of risk and profit sharing and most of the time, these agreements are make on nothing more than a handshake.

The expertise shown by the breeders would put to shame anyone who had say that the commercial breeding of Arowanas is difficult if not downright impossible.

During my visit, I chance upon a rare occurence, a "Siamese Twin" was produced. Unfortunately, it is not expected to survive for long.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A mystery it remains.

Sometime in 1976 I was visiting a friend after school and we came upon a family moving house close to where he stays. There was rubbish strewn all over right in front of the house and people were busy moving furniture and what not out of the house. Things in the house which the shifting tenant did not want anymore were put aside, ready to be scrapped.

From where I was standing, I notice an object that looks like a toy made from metal amongst old tattered newspaper and it attracted my attention. I went nearer and saw it was not broken or anything, maybe only a little bit dirty with grime and dust.

Without hesitations I ask the lady standing nearby which I assume is the owner, whether I can have it and she acknowledge just by nodding her head and it was mine since then. That took place 30 years ago.

I still remember what she looks like, she was a fat woman of Thai ancestry with high cheek bones and bad teeth.

So, what is it really?

On close examination, the technology used to make it appears not to be recent, there are too many imperfections that current day technology, meaning the last 50 years or so, would have taken care of. The main figurine and rolling wheels, looks like it has been sand casted from brass. The iron rod put in place to hold the rolling wheels appears to be hammered in at both ends most probably when it was red hot. The inconsistent surface of the iron rod mushroomed ends is an obvious indication of the technique adopted. There are also indications that some repair work was done since being made as I can see small silvery patches of a different material on some parts of the figurine's body.

Is it an ancient toy that has seen happier times?

Was it used as a symbol for some religious ceremony in times gone by?

Without a doubt, I am sure it has many interesting stories to tell if only it can speak.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Shuntak Association of Taiping

A water color painting of the association's main premise by a young member.

The Shuntak (Shunde) Association of Taiping founded in 1896 was originally formed by my countryman to aid new immigrants from the Shuntak province of China coming into Malaya for the first time to settle in. My paternal and maternal grandparents came from the Shuntak province, a prefecture of Dongguan in China.
Ancestral tablets of past and current association members.

I was recently invited to join the association as a committee member.

The ceremonial drum and gong that was used for lion dance in the past.

Through time, the association's function has evolved as circumstances had changed and the original functions of the association no longer serves its purpose. Current members of the association are 2nd or 3rd generation settlers and regard themselves as Malaysian and are well embedded in the country.

The association has not received any guest from the home province for a very long time and has no plans in place to do that anymore. It currently serves as an institution for periodic social gatherings of fellow clansman and their family.
The association's altar for the gods to offer devine intervention when needed.

It is a non profit organisation and is financially self sufficient with funds generated from rental of association premises and membership subscription and is managed by a group of voluntary committe members like myself.

A momento from Dr.Sun Yat San in appreciation of the association's contribution towards his war efforts in China.

Imperial citations from the Emperor for scholastic ability and appointments to high governmental position awarded to two clansman during the Ching Dynasty.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Making "Roti Canai".

Had a chance to try out preparing roti canai this Chinese New Year at my sister's home, she had a food caterer in this year to actually cook it in house.
It was an interesting experience, the flipping over and over of the dough to make it into a thin layer making it fluffy while being cooked on the hot plate, is not as easy as it seems.
Even with assistance and advise from the chef, I still manage to somehow create holes on the dough while flipping it.
The wife was luckier.
I think I should stick to my day job.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The cure all plant.

In my garden, there is a cure all plant locally known as Pegaga or Centella Asiatica if you want to get academic.
This plant is indegenous to the warmer climates, grows rampantly in the right environment and has a strong root system, getting rid of it from your 5 star lawn is a challenge.

If it is grown for the asthetic appeal, it is best done in pots to contain it from spreading like wild fire.

Traditionally, it is consumed fresh or crush into a juice. It can also be consumed in its crush and dried form, it seems efficacy in both forms are the same.
In my humble opinion, both forms will not make it into the top 1000 culinary delights known to mankind.
It taste exactly how you would imagine it would taste like, imagine crush spinach juice or better still, the green algae saturated water from my 1 month old unclean aquarium. The commercial juice version popularly available in most coffee shops in Ipoh sweeten with sugar and most probably supplemented with green color dye and diluted is not the real thing.

The cure all properties, reputedly is good for loss of memory to herpes zoster, what ever that is. Of course, no cure all plant is considered good if it doesn't claim it can cure cancer too.
Speaking as a full fledge meat eater, anyone who can stomach the ordeal of drinking this stuff, deserves to be cure of all illnesses and absolved from all past sins.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Wag Tail Platy

I have been maintaining aquariums for quite a long time and through the years I find the easiest fish to keep is no other than the Red Wag Tail Platy (Xiphophorus Maculatus).

It originates from Central America and they are extremely well suited to the local Malaysian weather.

Playful, active, hardy and easy to take care of. The ideal fish to keep for beginners and for people who are busy and can only spare limited time to pursue fish keeping as a hobby.

I started with 2 pairs, after about 3 years occasionally separating the babies from the adults to prevent the adults eating their own, the population now is in the hundreds.

Feeding is easy, alternating between flake or pellet fish food and freeze dried tubifex worms.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

National Service in Kem Etnobotani, Gua Musang.

After 11 years of formal schooling and now waiting for her exam results prior deciding on her next step, my daugther Yan Yee was eagerly waiting to be called up for national service. It did not take long, after about a month after her final exam, her name was found listed and her assigned base camp is at the Etnobotany gardens in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

I am glad she was finally called up, she told me it would have been dissapointing if she was not. Only 80% of the qualified candidates are actually called up this year. The training will last from late December to mid March and it will be her first time to be that far away from home for such a long duration.

As a father, I was worried whether she could survive the tough environment and challenges she is going to encounter soon as all this while, she was leading a sheltered life shielded from the harsh realities of life in society. But at the same time, I know deep down there will come a time in her life where she will need to and must learn, that there is no running back to papa or mummy everytime she come across an obstacle but to face it and cross that bridge by herself, there is no better way I can think of to start being independent than being in a supervised camp performing her national service.

On her 3rd week at Kem Ethnobotani, parents were invited to be there for a formal family day visit. From Taiping we drove 240 km to reach Gua Musang, passing through part of Cameron Highlands via Simpang Pulai. It was quite a scenic drive throughout with a number of bends and corners encountered along the way which make it that little bit more exciting, the journey lasted for about 3 hours.

(National Service Personnels assembled for the commandant's review)

(March Pass)

(Obstacle course demonstration)

(Yan Yee with her friends)

(The Family)
(Private Yan Yee resting her tired legs)
On the drive home, I was rather please she had adapted reasonably well with camp life and I have no doubts what so ever that she will do well and survive it. Our baby girl has grown and became more mature in the last 3 weeks, the time for us to let go gradually and be less protective has begun as she enters her next phase towards adulthood.