Thursday, January 27, 2011

PD-Malacca 1st Visit 23-26 Jan2011

It was a hot, sunny afternoon and nothing would be better than a hike up to the Tanjung Tuan lighthouse.

Mummy, termites!

Fai spotted a tree branched filled with busy termites as I prodded a nearby rotting log looking for the little critters without much success.

Fai was at his usual creative self. He made protective headgear and a violin out of twigs.

Shibani and Ean found that towering ferns made a good hideout.

Although there are steps leading up to the lighthouse, the kids preferred trekking up the grassy hillslope.

Rattan grows in abundance along the trail to Pulau Intan.
This trail leads from the lighthouse down a steep hill to a secluded beach.

After the steep trek downhill we were greeted by a pristine beach all to ourselves. The waters of Tanjung Tuan was carpeted with sea-grass. Schools of silvery fish fries could be seen among the swaying grass.

A fruiting pandanus tree by the beach.

Trekking back up to the lighthouse was no easy task. so we took our time and admired the beautiful landscape such as this Strangling Fig tree.

As we made our way down the hill, JY asked where tar came from.
I love was a wonderful opportunity to discuss fractional distillation of crude oil and boiling points of its components and how fuel having the lowest boiling point would be the first to evaporate and tar the last. It is astonishing the questions that are asked at unexpected moments and I am glad I was there to answer them.

Pengkalan Balak was our first stopover as we made our way from PD to Malacca. This place was discover by PohPoh and KongKong as they went in search for a place for lunch a few months back.
Pengkalan Balak boasts a lovely stretch of beach that was remarkably clean. A fisherman on a sampan was seen throwing crab nets into the sea.

Lots of chalets line the beach. The malay food served was delicious.

The Jetty.

A failed government project - after the jetty was built and millions of $$ spent, it was found that the seabed was too shallow for ships to dock.

So now, the jetty is run by Holiday Inn and turned into a karaoke joint. A buggy transported us from the entrance to the tip of the jetty. It was a rather long ride, the jetty could have been at least 600m long.

The view at the jetty was beautiful and overlooks Melaka Island - another failed project. We had the whole viewing deck to ourselves and the kids had a good time running around, hiding behind pillars and feeding Todak fish that could swim against the strong currents. When we threw pieces of bread into the sea, the bread was carried away by the currents in seconds.

I was disappointed with the trip to the new Planetarium and totally dismissed my few hours spent there. However I was in for a surprise. Somehow that trip got Fai thinking......
A few days after we visited the Melaka Planetarium, Fai came to me with a question
"What did earth look like when it was 100 years old?"
I told him I had to search thought the net for the answer and typed out his question on YouTube . There was a documentary by National Geographic on the birth of our planet and that seemed to answer his question.
After listening intently to the documentary, Fai asked "Where did all the water on earth come from?" Again, National Geographic came to the rescue. There were two hypothesis and he said he believed the theory of water on earth originating from a comet that crashed into earth.
Next question " Where did life come from?"
While I was sifting through the many videos, skipping those that were too religious and deciding which one was suitable for him, Fai was called away by Han who needed help invading an enemy's, that ended our question time.

Malacca River cruise(left), A-Farmosa(right)
Yesterday, at the playground, I had a discussion with Fai on the Malacca trip. I briefly told him why Malacca was an important trading hub about 500years ago and about the Portugese who conquered Malacca. I asked him if he remembered visting the Cheng Ho museum when he was 4years old. He said he did and asked "Why didn't the Chinese help when the Portugese was invading Malacca?"
I couldn't answer that and I am still surfing the net searching for the answer.
Maybe another trip to Malacca will unveil the answer.

Gula Melaka in Malacca is not to be missed. Gula Melaka drizzled onto ice kacang is must-have.

Malacca, we will be back soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Janda Baik 13-14 Jan2011

By the time we left the elephant sanctuary in Kuala Gandah, it was about 4pm and pondered where to head next.
We needed a place to spend the night...should we go to Genting Highlands? Why not ...... but when we saw 'Janda Baik' on the signboard at the t-junction, we decided to give it a try instead.

The entrance into Kampung Janda Baik was festooned with banners of chalets and resorts that lay ahead. We were spoilt for choice.

Shy was the navigator, she let her insticts be her guide and led us to a quaint little resort with chalets by a stream. JY loved the small chalet. She was bursting with delight!

After a dip in the stream, we went in search for our dinner. We stopped at the first stall that we came across. We were pleasantly surprised by the delicious Malay food that was served.

Han having a quiet moment.

The morning air in Janda Baik was refreshing and cool. The mountains that surrounded us were shrouded with mist. Perfect for a relaxing getaway.

After a lovely nasi lemak breakfast, we explored Janda Baik.
Bamboo huts by the stream. RM80/night

Before heading home, we stopped at a coniferous forest reserve.

Fai spotted a plant with butterfly eggs and a caterpillar

JY climbing over a tree trunk.

Termites having a feast.

The reserve was neglected and in a sorry state. They were picnic tables covered in vines.
Ensure you have mosquito repellent at hand and be wary of leeches.
You have been warned!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zoo Negara Educational Programme - World of Amphibians 17Jan2011

We participated in the Zoo Negara's Young Biologist programme with a few families from CLiC (a cooperative learning centre based in USJ/Kota Kemuning)
The programme is headed by Edwina (pictured above). She intends to raise the bar in the quality of the education unit.
I didn't to interfere to much into how the programme was to be conducted as I felt that a teacher should have free reign into how best to deliver a lesson. I only expressed my interest in having a hands-on and with lots of interaction with the animals.
Edwina and her team had an uphill task to cater to kids aged between 3 to 15 years old.
Looking for green paddy frogs and tadpoles in the pond by the entrance. I had never noticed this pond before.

Ean taking a close look.

Green paddy frog
A tiny frog captured by Fai
We headed for the amphibian section which was cordoned off for our group. There were samples of frogspawn for us to look at

There is one which had developed hind legs.

Frog identification activity
Match the picture of the frog to the frog in the aquarium. Write down its name or the number(if you can't write or read) that is pasted on each aquarium.
JY found it too easy
Han filled his worksheet with scribbles
Fai wrote out the name for the first frog then came running to me and said " It would take me half a day to finish writing out all the names for all the frogs!!"
"I don't want to do this!"
I told him that Edwina said that it was all right to just write out the number instead of the frog's name" Fai went on to finish his worksheet in record time and got down to doing what he wanted to do all along - his sketch
Fai's sketch
Check out the frogspawn, tadpoles and frog's tongue.

Checking out the frogs.

Craft activity
Edwina had cut out frog shapes to stick onto ice-cream sticks.
Ean loved this activity. He kept tearing off the frog's limbs and running back to Edwina to stick them back on.
Sam's favourite part of the programme. She made a bear instead of a frog.
She also drew manga all over her worksheet :)
Boys looking at the curator misting the frog's enclosure.
Instructions for tadpole care.
We were given some frogspawn to look after.
I handed it to WL with instructions to put them infront of her laptop daily at 11am to let the rest of the group view the development of the eggs via Skype for an hour.
WL sent me a message later that day " The lives of the frogs are hanging by a thread..." There is always a little drama with WL around

We wandered around the zoo after the 2hour programme and I managed to catch a footage of giraffes walking. You see, they walk in a peculiar fashion...2 left legs forward...2 right legs forward.....2 left legs forward....repeat....

I find it fascinating

There were lots of painted storks perched on a tree by the giraffes.

Look out for their droppings. Fai went around collecting their feathers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary, Pahang 13Jan2011

It has been raining daily here in Malaysia and the rivers are swollen and spilling their banks. Our usual picnic spot was inaccessible.
The kids wanted to find out the depth of the flooded water and went in search of a tree branch. They found one without much difficulty and dipped it into the water with outstretched arms. It was about 1 foot deep by the pavement.
The elephant bathing activity was cancelled out of safety.
Elephant skull and bones on display at the Information Centre
Registration for the elephant ride, feeding and bathing activity is done here. There is a cap of 150 visitors a day. The activities are free but a form requesting for donations was handed to us.
We arrived at about 12noon and waited for the activities to begin at 2pm.
Banana tree stumps being loaded onto a lorry.
The calves made loud, growling sounds that reminded us of a T-Rex when they saw the banana stumps.
Ean and Shibani found the gravel on the ground very interesting.
The crowd.
The elephants were showered to wash of the mud on its body and a brief commentary on the sanctuary and its elephants was made.
We were encouraged to feed peanuts to the calves.
Fai was fascinated with how similar the elephant's trunk was to a vacuum cleaner and finished the packet of ground nuts in minutes. Feeding time
A pile of papaya, watermelon and cucumber was free for the taking. There was plenty, so the kids could feed the elephants till their heart's content.
The mahout was very patient with our overzealousness and would just give us a gesture to get us to wait for the elephant to chew before handing it another piece. The elephant chewed on the watermelon the longest.
Their hands were covered with saliva by the end of the feeding session.
Fai had the best spot - on the elephants head.
Han chose to sit behind the Mahout because the elephants body had shorter hair compared to its head. Midway he sat with his legs up.
JY said it was uncomfortable sitting on the elephants backbone and felt like she was falling off as she swayed left and right.
This cat had 5 pairs of hands giving it a good back, shoulder and head rub. Purrrrrrr!