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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Salvadori’s Pheasant (Lophura Inornata)

At first glance, it looks like a Malaysian red wild fowl? I almost ignore it, but look closer and you will see that it looks different it is actually a species of pheasant that is not supposed to be seen here. So what is this bird doing here?

I got no idea but here it is, the proof that there is at least one individual male Salvadori Pheasant roaming wild in the forest of Peninsular Malaysia.
I took this specimen’s photo at the Bukit Larut hill forest.
It is not supposed to be found here and is known to be endemic only to the mountain ranges on the Sumatran Island of Indonesia.
After talking to some friends who are more knowledgeable in birds, it is concluded that if this is not an introduced specimen than it would be the first native wild Malaysian Salvadori Pheasant photographed.
Literature available indicates this pheasant as vulnerable, declining and becoming increasingly fragmented owing to clearance of mid-altitude forests in Sumatra.

There seem to be no other documented wild sightings of this species of pheasants reported in Peninsular Malaysia. The pheasant’s Italian sounding name came from being named after a distinguished Italian ornithologist of the time, Tommaso Salvadori.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Directions to Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (SBS)

I have been often asked on how to get to SBS, the following descriptions I hope will be helpful to all in finding your way there. Happy Enligthenment.

SBS is a Buddhist’s sanctuary where people aspiring to become trained Buddhist monk, devote time and effort in this pursue. This is also the place for people who seeks a more deeper understanding of Theravada Buddhism.

"Kuti" suitable for housing one individual.

Set in a scenic and serene environment it is without a doubt an ideal location for such an activity.
The varied and interesting flora that can be seen here.

This is my second trip up here, the last was about 3 years ago and since then I notice additional Kutis (an abode of a Buddhist monk or novice) built and the infrastructure have improved tremendously with newly constructed concrete roads leading up to the sanctuary.
The management of the establishment is also devoted, consisting of mostly volunteers and by the perception one gathers as you tour the place also doing it professionally.

The"Sima" - main hall.

Walkpaths linking to the various facilities.

Upon reaching the foothills of SBS through a road crossing the cemetery, you will come upon a Chinese Temple on the right next to a river.

The Chinese Temple at the foothills.

This is the point where SBS guides will normally meet up with you in their 4 wheel drives, you can park your cars here.
I am not sure of the links between the temple and SBS but knowing the local Chinese practise of religious syncretisms, there should not be any conflict.

SBS is not as easily accessible as one would think although any reasonably healthy person can walk up the rather hilly terrain, it is designated private property but at the same time I see no reason for them turning away genuine visitors at their doorsteps.

Other facilities - dining areas, administration building, etc.

Open stage where talks are given.

Organic farm.

However, the recommended manner in which a visit can be organised is contacting them in advance and they will most probably be able to arrange 4 wheel drive transport to the sanctuary including english speaking guides which is surprisingly widely spoken here, all at no charge, although some monetary donation in due time would be appreciated I am sure.

I would strongly advise visitors to wear proper footwear suitable for a bit of walking and light sweat absorbing clothing for comfort. Clean amenities like rest areas, toilets, dining areas are available in most part of the sanctuary. If it rains, which in Taiping is like every other day, do not worry, as they have ample supplies of umbrellas tucked away for visitors and guest. You should bring your own food and drinking water if required. The saying of “take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints“ applies here.

And no, I have no great visions nor ambition of being a Buddhist monk who is a vegetarian, eats one meal a day and that does not yet include other practises that I have totally no calling for.
I have been informed recently after posting the subject above that Buddhist monks are not necessarily vegetarians. My limited understanding of Buddhism (religion) and intepretation of what I had read and perceived was apparently wrong all this while..