A Tale To Tell & Remember

I'm very much inspired by the words of Thomas L. Friedman in his book "The World Is Flat" which renders about the influence of bloggers in this new age. I want to keep the highest integrity and honesty in posting my words to the world. This blog act as a testimony to my alacrity of sharing information with the borderless world. Hope we can share a high regards of veracity and chivalry with this blog because that's why it is here. So help me God!

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Angling at the Kuala Koh National Park, Gua Musang

Teddy on a boat at the Kuala Koh National Park, Kelantan
Last Saturday (9th February 2013), I took up the opportunity to went back to Gua Musang, Kelantan and planned a trip for an angling activity with my Kelantanese cousins at the Kuala Koh National Park. Our trip from the Gua Musang town took us almost an hour (around 60 KM) to Kuala Koh National Park by driving. The road we took was via Felda Ciku 3 and Felda Sg. Aring, Gua Musang. The journey was pretty rugged as we have to use the Felda road and I was having a hard time to maneuver my Perdana V6 when we had no option but to go through the winding road. The road was paved but was damaged from being used by the heavy lorry transporting palm oil fruit.

For the trip I brought my close cousins Faiz, Taufik and Miyu who are from the town of Gua Musang. This was my second trip to the Kuala Koh National Park after my first encounter with it when I attended one course in 2011. Ever since, I've been meaning to come back to this place as this is also the first place where my good friend Abang Farid introduce me to the angling activity (during the course). I didn't managed to get anything back then. It was my first try out okay! :p

Lovely view
We arrived at the Kuala Koh National Park Wildlife office around 7.00 pm which was quite late considering that the Renjer office closed at 7.00 pm. However there is still one Renjer that was on duty and he is more than happy to receive and process our application to enter the park and also completes in registering our angling license which last for a month (RM10 for each fishing rod and fishing net is prohibited). Later we spoke with one young boatman to bring us to a strategic spot for angling. It was a high season and taking into account of the long Chinese New Year holidays, the visitors are packed swarming the Kuala Koh National Park alongside the riverbank. The boatman suggested for us to habour at the Pulau Udang area (small island by the river bed) a strategic place for angling and yet to be occupied. We took his suggestion and paid him RM100 for the two way trip.

Me patiently waiting for the fish to take up bait by the river bank

The boat ride was real fun and the day was still sunny when we took the boat to Pulau Udang. Along the way, through our observation along the river bank was full of visitors that came with the same intention of angling. Most of the fish that are caught here are the types of Masheer (Kelah), Lampam Sungai, Arowana (Kelisa) and many more (there are some shrimps too - udang galah). We arrived at our spot around 7.30 pm and asked the boatman to come and pick us up around 12.00 noon the following day.

After settling in, we camped out and I prepared the temporary tent while my cousins start to assemble the fishing rods. We used the bait of palm fruits which are the favorites of the Kelah type. I was pretty confident that we can bring back something to remember. As far as I'm concern, angling is an activity which requires you to be really patient and passionate. Its not so much of catching the fish but to treasure and enjoy the surrounding mother nature and how lovely such a place can be especially during the night. Trust me, it worth every penny of it. You might learn one or two things about yourself. 

I have to admit it, angling perhaps is one of the activity that I missed doing it with my late father. I wasn't been blessed with such kind bonding experience with my father around Mother Nature. My bonding experience with him was only the time when we make kites together for my school project. I'll tell you all later about it. It's that moment while waiting for the fish to take up the bait, and you have that kind of a long opportunity for a conversation with your dad/ angling pal (we had that conversation among cousins that night, mostly about girls, hehe). It's the activity that a father and sons should do more often. Perhaps in the future, I might have such an opportunity with my future father in law or maybe with my own kids. Who knows, because God is wondrous, miracle do happens and I'm blessed. :-) I keep my fingers cross. 

Around 11.00 pm after we finished having supper, Faiz rod was disturbed by a movements. All of a sudden the rod was flying towards the river bed. We didn't have any slight chance of chasing and grabs it. I believe the bait was taken by a big Kelah because Faiz was using the shrimps bait (that he scurry under the small rocks nearby) and most of a big fish loves to take such bait. Nothing we can do about his rod except waiting for the daylight. I resort to sleep after that incident. While waiting for my eyes to shut I have a glimpse of the beautiful night at Kuala Koh National Park. It was really beautiful where the sky was clear dark blue and the stars were really shining. It was perfect! 

Cousins from back - Miyu, Taufik and Faiz

I woke up at 6.30 am finding Faiz was sleeping next to me. Miyu and Taufik were sleeping by the river bank still waiting for their rod to be snap by any fish. I don't know how they managed to doze of because the night was really cold. Thankfully it wasn't raining that night. I woke them up and asked them to go and have a bite because the day is still long. While waiting for them to go and eat breakfast, I waited by their fishing rod just staring at the river current. All of a sudden, the bells of Miyu rod vibrate incessantly and I knew it wasn't the current but something had taken the bait.

I grab the rod and called for Miyu, he was running like crazy and everyone was excited to see whether it will be our first catch of the day. Yes, indeed it was. Miyu pulled the strings and rolled the rod engine and managed to bring up a Masheer (Kelah) as bigger as my arms. We were really excited because it was my first ever experience of catching a Kelah. Miyu managed to unhook the fish and it lives to see another day. We put it in my icebox that was filled with water. The scales are shining red.

Masheer (Kelah) Fish that we caught

The morning went without any other incidents except Faiz that went down the river bed trying to look for his missing rod. It was lost for good alright. Then we resort of a short swim near the Pulau Udang. It was splendid but iced cold! At around 12.30 noon, while we were waiting for our boatman to arrive, my fishing rod caught something big. I tried to pulled it up and can feel that's something was pulling me in but couldn't managed to bring it closer. Miyu tried it for the second time but the rod snapped broken. He later asked me to hold the rod while he dives in to see whether the hook was caught between the dead logs in the river bed. It was a fish alright that took up my bait but maybe due to the harsh snap, it unhooked itself and taken off the bait with it. There you go, now we lost two good rods. But that's angling is and we are okay with it! :-)

Lovely view from our way back

The boatman arrived quite late due to many visitors coming up river. That's what he told us, but I know that's how boatman operates. Boatman never waits for the passenger  but the passenger shall wait for them. The oldest law of a boat transportation. We arrived at the Renjer office around 3.30 pm and we are so hungry (finished up our entire ration that morning). But still that evening many visitors still coming in waiting for the boat at the jetty. I took the long journey back to Gua Musang town and had our first meal of the day around 5.30 pm. It was really an enjoyable trip and I'm surely will be back for the angling activity at Kuala Koh National Park. This is Kuala Koh National Park, Gua Musang and I'm loving it!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Visiting Ngah Ibrahim's house, Matang, Perak

Having my quiet time at the famous Taiping lake - really beautiful
On my way back from Penang, I made a stop at the city of Taiping. Afzan's wife is from Taiping and I took his invitation to have a short visit and they promised to bring me for a sight seeing around the city. Honestly, I've never been to Taiping as I don't have any business venture into the area or known anyone, but the prospect of intimate visit of the place always played in the back of my mind. Accepting Afzan's invitation, with his guide, I made a couple of visit to a certain historical site around Taiping. Yes, I'm pretty historical about knowing a place and I am also a historical freak when learning about the uniqueness of one place and it's glory days. Yeah, we stopped by the famous Taiping lake. It was really a beautiful day and as usual with the awesome weather the place is gorgeous. After visiting a couple of unique site somewhere near the Maxwell hill's (Bukit Larut), Afzan brought me to the Ngah Ibrahim's house located a bit further down south near the Matang district area.

Former Ngah Ibrahim house
Ngah Ibrahim was the first local pioneer who get to be involved in the tin mining industry in Perak. This was before Chinese were brought in to works in the British mining center around Larut and also before the East India Company saw the potential of the Larut area for it's tin resources. I don't wish to tell the whole history of mining here, but merely sharing about the uniqueness of this house. The house was once used as a tin storage facility during Ngah Ibrahim time and of course his office and house. With the passing of time and turbulence period of colonization, it has also saw the Opium war (Larut war) between the warring clans of Ghee Hin and Hai San and also was used as an administration center by the British colonial government. 

Teddy in front of the house

The house also consist of lock up facility
During the Japanese colonization period, the house was also used as the Japanese administration center due to it's strategic location. There's a funny fact at the outset of the war, there's one Japanese pilot that choose to ram his Zero fighter aircraft at the front gate of Ngah Ibrahim's house. The current state of damage at the front wall due to the crash still visibly clear. I can imagine that the Matang district and Port Weld (Kuala Sepetang) was once the main gateway for natural resources and tin to be exported to Penang and also the whole world. One can only imagine how Ngah Ibrahim legacy was continued by the ones after him and his house remains vital in overseeing the passing of time even after his demise.

View of the house from the rear
Front gate of the house where the location of the Zero fighter aircraft crash site
Personally, I love classic architecture. Some of the site I visited such as the Suffolk house or many of the old colonial residence be it in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kulim or anywhere else is pure class. This house also seems to have that kind of it's own unique attraction. I wish one day I'm entitled and privileged to built such a beautiful house myself.

The house was once used as a British administration office

View from the back balcony

The house was also used as courthouse during the colonial era - the J.W.W. Birch murderer were tried here 
Left view of the Mausoleum
View from the back balcony - Ngah Ibrahim bath house

View from the front balcony

Former Ngah Ibrahim bath house

Remnants of once a  broad river transporting tin to the port Weld - adjacent to the Ngah Ibrahim house

What's left of the once wide river

Stairs which lead to the back fort and the riverside

Fort wall

World War 2 - Japanese obelisk brought back from Kroh

World War 2 - Japanese obelisk memorial

View from the rear

Fort wall with peeping holes - for protection and firing window

Friday, 1 February 2013

Green Turtles at Pantai Kerachut, Penang National Park

Firdaus and me in front of the Penang National Park office

1. Last Saturday (26th January 2013), I took the opportunity of the long holidays of Thaipusam to take my beloved nephew Firdaus for a visit to the Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang). The park is located at the north west of the Penang Island (Teluk Bahang) and our journey from the University Science Malaysia (USM) to the Penang National Park took us about 45 minutes of driving.

The walkaway leading to the trekking route to Kerachut
2. The uniqueness of the Penang National Park comes to the knowledge of mine when I first watched the Travel Channel show hosted by Samatha Brown about her visit to the sea turtles sanctuary at the Kerachut Beach. It was really a very good show. Ever since then I've been meaning to be there myself to have a closer look of the site as I never saw a real live turtles before in my whole life.

3. The weather was beautiful that day and those that travels along with me to the National Park is as you know my beloved nephew Firdaus, close relatives of mine Syafiq and my good friend Afzan who’s currently studying at the USM. It is such a coincidence that one of my close friends that went for the long month course in Ipoh with me last October is attached with the Wildlife Department and as soon as he heard that I was interested to visit the Penang National Park, he quickly contacted his associates at the centre. He managed to get me Renjer Safwan to accompany me and to lead the way to the Kerachut Beach.

4. We reached the main gate of the Penang National Park at about 2.00 pm. After finishing registering our name at the National Park office and bought drinking supplies, Renjer Safwan leads our short trekking heading to the Kerachut Beach. From my observation, most of the Penang National Park visitors are foreigners, mostly with their families trekking the reserve forest.

Firdaus and me

5. The trekking was quite light to me, but Syafiq was having a hard time catching up breath but Afzan was enjoying his own time and intimate moment with nature. Firdaus as usual was very jovial, jumping and running around daring us to catch him to be the first reaching the site. He also had that long kid conversation with Renjer Safwan. I love that kid so much, no doubt about that. :)

6. We stopped a couple of times along the track and periodically Renjer Safwan explains and tells us the story about some of the historical site during the old days when buffaloes were used by locals to haul timber from the hill top to the foot hills and leave a unique timber track of its own which was quite similar to a small drain. Most of the locals that reside around the areas are Acehnese that migrate from the Sumatra. I'm not surprised as P. Ramlee himself is an Acehnese descendant.
The trekking route

Firdaus and me at one of the resting site
Remnants of the old route used by the 1940 Acehnese loggers
Renjer Safwan showed us the old hill route carved out by the loggers with hand tools back in the 1940s

7. We reached Kerachut beach around 4.00 pm and the view was really magnificent and truly splendid coupled with the favourable weather conditions, Firdaus was truly happy and instantly he went to the river teeth looking for mud skippers. Renjer Safwan told us about the devastation of Kerachut beach after it was hit by the Tsunami in 2006 and I reckon most of the west coast near the Andaman Sea also experienced the same kind of damage.

Pantai Kerachut

Firdaus at the river teeth, Pantai Kerachut 

8. After we took some snapshots and have a quick rest at the Kerachut beach Wildlife post, Renjer Safwan brought us to the place we’ve been meaning to go, the sea turtles sanctuary. It was located about 200 meters from the Kerachut beach wildlife post and was manned by the Fisheries Department staff.

Firdaus at the scenic Pantai Kerachut

The fine smooth sands of Pantai Kerachut

9. I was really happy when we reached the sanctuary centre. I later was privileged to be briefed by the staff there on the point that the Fisheries Department has carried out steps for turtle conservation since 1990s. The main species of turtle that are conserved here are the Green Turtle (Penyu Agar/ Chelonia mydas) and the Olive Ridley Turtle (Penyu Lipas/ Lepidochelys olivacea).

10. There are three main beaches in Penang were managed and restored for turtle landing. This is to maintain the natural habitat for turtle to land and lay eggs. Kerachut beach, Teluk Kampi beach and Teluk Ketapang beach which are within the Penang National Park.

11. What really intrigues me was when the staff explains to me the uniqueness of the turtles here which differs from other turtles around Malaysia. The Green Turtles differs from the Leatherback Turtles that are often found in Terengganu. One of the traits is that Green turtle came back to the beach of Penang National Park to lay their eggs all year around and not on seasonal based like in the east coast.

Green baby turtles younglings

12. The staff later explains to me that Green turtles itself is a unique reptiles. It matured age for it to spawn is no less than 15 years minimum. To reach that matured age, it travels around the world and will only come back to the origins where it was once hatched when it want to lay its own eggs. Perhaps there’s a noble in that turtle trait that we should learnt and embedded in us as a human. Never forget your own origins wherever you go. I do tell that to Firdaus.

Me and Firdaus

13. We spent around one hour listening to the lecture. We were also told that not only turtles that usually swim the Penang National Park waters but also some dolphins. The centre also was frequented by scientist and researchers around the world.

Firdaus with the one year old green baby turtle

Green Baby turtle, so cute!
Firdaus and me at the gate of the turtles sanctuary center

14. After spending our quality time at the turtle’s sanctuary, it’s time for us to bid goodbye to the staff. Renjer Safwan arranged a boat for us to go for sightseeing around the Penang National Park bay. It was really a good boat ride as the boatman brought us to the unique site of rock formation and superb faunistic site along the coast. We were also shown the nest of the special Penang eagles that have a distinct white coloured on its chest. It lives in a huge nest and I was told that the eagles use it and reused the nest passing down to its generations. Talk about inheritance!

I love you kiddo!

That's us having fun on our way back 
Scenery from the boat

Scenery from the boat - the eagle nest

The rock formation along the coast - the rabbit

15. The boatman later brought us to the Monkey beach where most of the foreign tourist came to have a good swim. It was really beautiful with shallow water that is suitable for bathing and swimming. I was told that the site was once inhabited by Malay locals that migrated from Aceh (it was known as Kampung Aceh), however due to its remoteness it was later abandoned. But the site still has remnants of the old history with its Malay cemetery still stood by with the passing of time somewhere near the Monkey beach. On our way back to reach the Penang National Park office and its main jetty, I was brought to see the fish stakes developed and operated by the local Chinese businessman. Most of the fish reared here are grouper and sea bass.

The rock formation along the coast

The monkey beach

The monkey beach

Fish stakes belong to locals

16. We reached the main jetty around 6.00 pm and it was really a good visit. I learnt something from the visit especially our tour of the turtle’s sanctuary. I believed Firdaus also learned the same thing as I am. Penang truly is beautiful and it holds so many treasures that are waiting just to be explored. I love it so much, and it became much more meaningful when you explored it with your loved one and in my case with Firdaus. 
We had fun! 

Faces of Tun Teddy

Faces of Tun Teddy