Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Finally met up with one of the top odonatologists of Malaysia, the dragonflyman, Ian Choong, himself.  

It was a short meeting but getting to meet an odonatologist and talk about dragonfly species and behaviour and our quest for dragonflies is something I don't get to do everyday.  And I have been looking forward to meeting Ian for quite a long time, so I really enjoyed the hour chatting with him.

Also, I was on a mission.

Last year, I'd met up with Robin Ngiam, the odonatologist from Singapore, and Wei Ling, and we went exploring.  There were several species that are not found in Singapore but can be found here and Robin had a list of species which he'd like to look at.  So we had great day out dragonfly hunting.  Anyway, during their short holiday here, two specimens were collected.  And since then, these specimens have sat in a container in my freezer.  

Yes, like a dragonfly morgue of some sort.

Finally, these specimens have been handed to Ian so that he can take a really good look at them and determine its correct species.

I had a great sigh of relief when Ian checked both specimens and they were still in good condition. 


Perhaps we'll have another species to add to the checklist for Langkawi..... or maybe even two?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

C O M P O S T I N G..... continued.....

I'm still keeping an eye on that pot of Japanese Bamboo......

Simply because it fascinates me!

Here's a photo taken in early June when I first noticed the new sprout that had emerged from the soil.
It caught my attention as this new sprout was so much thicker compared to the other existing stems.

 How tall did it grow?
Five months later, this giant new sprout is now almost touching the roof, has finally decided its reached a dizzying enough height and has started sprouting leaves.

 Anyway, that gave me the idea to pick a few leaves from various stems for comparison.
The smallest leaf on the left was plucked from a much older stem that's several years old.  
After I'd started composting, the stems grew thicker and so did the leaves.
The largest leaf on the right is from a stem that's at least a year old now.

There are more new sprouts emerging in the pot.....

It's difficult to understand why people are still not composting their vegetable scraps?
It's nourishing the plants in your garden and helps reduce the amount of trash that goes to the landfill.

Take a look at my neighbour's neglected Japanese Bamboo plants.....

 See the difference?

I hope you will start composting today!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


I have been composting almost all of my vegetable scraps for quite a few years now.  
And have been even more diligent with it since adding more potted plants to my expanding patio garden.

Apart from the really lush Bird's Nest Ferns and Crinum Lilies, one of the other plants that have shown amazing growth spurts is this Japanese Bamboo or Dracaena surculosa punctulata

Looking at the leafy plant in the above picture, if you follow the line of the support pole to the top, you can vaguely see the bamboo-like cane that's shot right up to the roof.  

I've been wondering..... how much taller is this going to grow to?

And recently, I've also noticed a few new spears sprouting out from the soil.  
Am curious if those will be as tall?
I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Meantime, the task of composting all the vegetable scraps continue in earnest.  
After all, it's a great way to reduce the amount of trash you chuck out into the bins and it doesn't take much effort at all.

The only thing you need to do is put aside all the vegetable scraps when you are preparing meals.  And I mean garlic skins, onion skins, carrot peels, broccoli stems, vegetable stems..... the list is endless!
Even better, save these vegetable scraps for making vegetable broth before you chuck them into the compost!

These plants are certainly loving all the food they're getting!
Happy gardening.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Kilim Mangrove Jetty

So much for going to all that trouble to paint the yellow line of demarkation so that vehicles are not parked at the "drop off" zone in the hope that it will ease congestion in the parking area at the Kilim Mangrove Jetty.  The regular taxi drivers who frequently bring their passengers here have continued to double park their vehicles along the perimeter of the yellow line and double parking behind other cars as well.

This practice has caused even more congestion on busy days, making the already limited space even smaller, and leaving just a narrow strip for cars to manoeuvre when trying to get out from the parking area.

Another example of smart thinking by some people. 
Obviously, there is a blatant disregard for road and traffic rules and regulations in this paradise island of Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah.  And, as long as there is no enforcement and no consequences for breaking rules, they will continue to be broken.  

Isn't that human nature?

Paradise, right?

Monday, 1 October 2012

An Early Riser

I have spent countless number of hours sitting by the pond during the mid to late morning and on several afternoons just watching these damselflies.  Nothing ever happens.  All they do is stay very still on their perch and some of them don't even budge until you get really, really close.  And only then would they flitter away to perch somewhere else and that's it.  

Nothing else happens!

So I'd started thinking perhaps these damselflies preferred their solitude?

It's great in a way because you can get in plenty of photos and these damselflies have such amazing bright colours and are really pretty to look at!  But, isn't the natural instinct always for the survival of the species?   Why aren't these damselflies doing anything?  What is their cycle or pattern of behaviour?

And then, one morning, I finally got to the pond early enough, as the sun was coming up behind the hills, and there they were.  There were a few pairs of these Ceriagrion cerinorubellum damselflies in wheel and in tandem.  



Friday, 17 August 2012

A Rodent

A rodent? 
As in a rat or a mouse?
What is so great about a rodent anyway?
Perhaps that is what you would ask.....

In the past, I have seen a rodent or two scrambling away on a mangrove tree, though it is a once in a blue moon affair, and all I would get is a fleeting glimpse of the tiny creature.  So, finally, after all these years of kayaking in the mangroves, a few hours each day, several days a week, most weeks of the year, I have finally gotten a photo of a rodent in the mangroves. 
And I am so totally elated.

I don't think this little quivering rodent expected any humans to come kayaking by in the mangrove forest in the rain and be interested in taking its photos.  Was it too surprised to scramble away or was it trying to stay as still as possible hoping that we would not spot him?  Or was it the rain and the high tide that made it decide to stay still in this safest spot it could find?

Indeed, I have the high tide and the rain to thank for these pics.  And even though there weren't any spotting of mangrove vipers or monitor lizards at all on this rainy day, catching sight of this rodent had made my day!
The mangrove forest will always be a magical place. To me.

When it rains, the limestone hills in the area get all misty, adding to the scenery and magical feel of the whole place.

Although getting drenched is not everyone's cup of tea, kayaking in the rain can be an entirely different experience to be savoured.  Personally, I love the sight of all these raindrops falling onto a sea of water.  Quite mesmerizing.....

And regardless whether it is a hot, sunny day with clear blue skies or a rainy day, the Kilim mangroves will always be one of my favourite places on earth. 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Calathea ornata or Pin-stripe Calathea

Another addition to my 'patio' garden is this Calathea ornata or Pin-stripe Calathea that I'd recently brought back from my Dad's garden in Penang. 

According to Wikipedia, this plant is native to Central and South America.

This is still a very young plant and the largest of the leaves measure just 7 cm in length.  It is growing out of a yoghurt tub but am sure I will need to plant it in a proper pot soon.  Anyway, it seems to have adapted quite well so far, after enduring a 3 hour ride on the ferry from Penang in my backpack.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Those Ants.....

Caught sight of these little ants this afternoon. 

They were just passing through..... carrying their little treasures, including food and larvae, and hurrying across on the wall towards their destination... their next new home. 
Wherever that is! 

Busy little ants!
They were definitely moving house!

What I see, what these ants are telling me..... is a sign that the big rains are coming within the next two, three or four days...

I may be wrong, but I do think it is quite likely quite right.

Anyone else with another theory?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Feeding Of Wildlife

Feeding, feeding, feeding.

Feeding of the eagles, macaques and monitor lizards in the 'wild'.  Endless feeding!  All these activities are carried out by some irresponsible tour operators and tour guides to increase the opportunities for better photo capture of these creatures and to ensure they will be there for viewing, to cater to demands of some sometimes ignorant and oblivious tourists in Langkawi. 

And it is wrong!  Very, very wrong indeed.

Not only does it create a dependency on humans by the animals but it changes the behaviour of these animals as well, in particular, the feeding behaviour.

Would this be the fault of the tourists or are the tour operators at fault?  A bit of both, probably but more so for the tour operators!  Shame on them!  They should be creating the awareness among their guests on their tours about not feeding rather than allowing it.

No, I do not have photos to show what is happening and by who.....  And, yes, I am still feeding the fishes at the fish farm, which I often refer to as the 'fish zoo', to ensure there will not be any mistreatment by the fish farm boys of the fishes that live within those net enclosures, especially of the stingrays and the eels.

Anyway, the reason I am bringing this up now is because I have had an interesting conversation with a Middle Eastern tourist about the feeding of the Long-tailed Macaques.  This happened while I was with my guests at the Bat Cave in the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park just several days ago. 

As usual, there was a troop of Long-tailed Macaques sitting on the mangrove trees and along the walk path that winds through the cave.  This troop of monkeys are used to being fed by people.  They hang out here on a regular basis, often just sitting around waiting to be fed and waiting to prey on unsuspecting tourists who had stepped off the boats holding bags of potato chips and soft drinks.  On this afternoon, several were prowling about and by the looks of things, not to mention the amount of rubbish strewn about, these monkeys have had a field day taking and getting food from tourists and have been having a feast!

This happens all the time, particularly during the busy seasons when there are certain local Malaysian tourists, certain Asian tourists and Arab tourists visiting these tourist hot spots.  These are groups of people who seem to think they know better about what they are doing and are always keen to feed the animals so that they can take a few photos, get in a few laughs watching the antics of the animals as they eat and when the monkeys chase each other or fight among themselves to get at the food.  This same group of tourists also do not think twice when they mindlessly chuck rubbish everywhere wherever they go.  And it doesn't help that the boat drivers who ferry these tourists are completely mute when it comes to informing these tourists about park regulations. 

Where are those LADA appointed Park Rangers?  This is one of the areas where their presence could at least make a bit of difference to the environment but they are nowhere to be seen!

Anyway, I was standing there with my guests, under one of the huts outside the cave, while I explained to them about these Long-tailed Macaques - the general behaviour, the do's and don'ts, et cetera - as we watched a troop of monkeys and a few of the babies sitting and playing on the branches nearby, just over a metre away from us. 

It had started raining again and all the other tourists who were on the walk path just a few minutes earlier had all scrambled back into the cave for cover and back to their boats. 

Good riddance, in a way!  And we now have the whole place to ourselves!

Out of the blue, this Middle Eastern couple started walking briskly towards us, stopped next to me, and the guy started asking me questions.  Here's how the conversation went, word for word, exactly as I remembered it:

Tourist:  Is this the harmful monkey?

Me:  Huh?  What do you mean?

Tourist:  The harmful monkey, you know.  They tried to bite us.

Me:  What were you doing that the monkey tried to bite you?

Tourist:  I was feeding it.

Me:  Why did you feed the monkey?  It's because you were feeding the monkey that it tried to bite you because the monkey wanted the food you were holding in your hand.

Tourist:  So what can I do?

Me:  Don't feed the monkeys!  See?  (Pointing at my guests)  We are standing here looking at the monkeys, we are not feeding the monkeys, we are not holding any food and they don't bite us!

Tourist:  So if I don't feed them, they will not bite us?

Me:  Of course, if you are not holding food in your hand and don't try to feed them, they won't bite you.  So don't feed the monkeys!

Tourist:  Oh......  Thank you.

And the couple scrambled back towards the cave..... in the rain. 

Should I laugh?  Or cry?

One of my guests who had been listening intently to the conversation then asked me, "Did they actually walk out here in the rain just to ask you that?"

So I did have a laugh after all!  And my guests too.  We all did!

Anyway, I hope that tourist had learned his lesson.  Perhaps he will even share his story with his family and friends and hopefully a few more people might stop feeding these animals?

It's a big fat chance that would happen at all.  I know.  But I can hope, can't I? 

There is always that element of hope...........  even if just a flicker...............

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Jasminum sambac

After months of tlc, the jasmine plant, Jasminum sambac,  has finally decided to show its first blooms!
It's been over a week since it started flowering and there are still several new blooms each day! 
I have been taking the time to smell these flowers each morning.
Totally love it!

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Little Beauties In A Neglected Park

The Lagenda Park is actually quite a nice place for a walk or a jog or to just enjoy a few hours of nature. 

Lots of trees, particularly the spectacular raintrees, lots of birds and squirrels and dragonflies, lots of lotus plants, and lots more!  And there's even a little stretch of beach out there that's actually quite clean.  It may come as a surprise to you but this beach is actually cleaned up in the morning!  These are some of the reasons why I think this place is great!

But the park seems to be in such a state of neglect that it is quite SHOCKING!!!  In truth, the flora and fauna at the park is thriving quite well but the man-made structures are deteriorating.

This park was officially opened in 1996.  As this is one of the 'landmarks' on the tourist map, it is quite unbelievable that it would be left like this!  Some of the gazebos, a few structures, and mostly the light fixtures and toilet facilities are broken and in disrepair.  There are broken water wheels and bits of rubbish floating in some of the ponds, filled with what looks like murky, stagnant water!  What kind of an impression does it give of the park management or of the relevant authorities?

Such a shame!

I have visited this park on many occasions over the years.  For a morning run through the park, for a walk just to enjoy the outdoors on a beautiful day, for nature photography, for 'wildlife' watch and to observe dragonflies. 

Year after year, the state of the park keeps going down, down, down, downhill.

It is not that the park is abandoned.  The park grounds is not exactly small.  Granted, the layout and features of the park requires a lot of manpower for its upkeep.  There are security guards patrolling the area regularly on their motorbikes, more so towards the evening to ensure there isn't anyone loitering around after 7pm.  And then there is the landscaping crew at work most of the time.

I have often observed the handful of staff, probably contracted "landscaping crew", rake fallen leaves and rubbish on the grounds and pack them into rubbish bags. 

Sometimes, they would just be weeding . 

A lot of weeding.....

And sometimes, other staff would be cutting grass and the grass cuttings packed into rubbish bags as well.  Such that there is always this huge pile of bulging rubbish bags amassing outside the side entrance.  Then, from time to time, there'd be open burning in their attempt to get rid of all these rubbish.

When I see the park abuzz with all those activities, I can't help thinking that perhaps the maintenance budget is insufficient and valuable resources are being channelled to the wrong areas.  Those leaves are going to fall every day, throughout the day and night.  Each time there is a breeze rustling through the trees, more leaves will fall.  And each time it rains.....

But fallen leaves are all part of the natural surroundings.  If the leaf litter get to decompose on the ground, the process would be recycling nutrients back into the earth.  These leaves are not rubbish!  Whenever there are local visitors to the park, especially picnickers, there would be rubbish strewn everywhere!  Plastic bags and cups, styrofoam packs and cups and other non-biodegradable stuff.  Those are the real rubbish!

Imagine the amount of time and effort put into raking those leaves each day, every day!  It must seem like such a pointless, Herculean task to the people carrying out these jobs!  And I am also thinking, they must be spending thousands of ringgits purchasing all those rubbish bags and raking those leaves!  When will they even think about trying to reduce the use of these plastic bags?  What if these grass cuttings and leaves are mulched?  And composting is practiced?  What if they spend the money on maintaining the facilities instead? 

It seems that over time, more and more and bigger landmarks keep popping up in the Langkawi landscape - Marble Square, Book Village, Eagle Square, Infinity Bridge and the upcoming, massive Tower of Langkawi.  The amount spent on building these 'monuments' are astounding!  The trouble is that a few years down the line, these very same people who approved and lauded these project will then lament on the exorbitant cost of maintaining these structures and leave it to rot. 

But these same key people would have also gotten some money in their pockets by then so why would they care?

The estimated cost for building the 135-metre Tower of Langkawi is a whopping RM10 million.  At the very least!  What all these landmarks are is more concrete structures to destroy and mar the natural beauty of Langkawi. 

If there isn't going to be a budget for ongoing maintenance and upkeep in the long term, why spend the money to build it in the first place?

Will there be an end to this?

Just imagine if a fraction of that money is channelled towards the upkeep for these parks, instead of building another white elephant!  What a huge, huge difference it would make to these places!

I see the beauty of Lagenda Park in nature's little gems........

And in just a few hours, you would be feeling sated with the positive energies of nature!

These are the jewels of Langkawi.
Will these nature's gems be conserved and protected?

Why build more concrete structures that would just end up being eyesores?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Snakes Again..... In The Mangroves!

Had a kayak trip in the mangroves again today and spotted the mangrove viper, Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus, which really is nothing much to shout about as these vipers are spotted quite regularly.  Didn't manage to get a great pic, but..... here it is anyway.

The second snake I spotted was of much more interest to me as this is the first time I have come across a tiny snake such as this!  Here in the mangroves, I mean.

I would estimate this little snake to be between 25 cm to 30 cm in length and it was not quite as thick as my little finger.  Also, it did not have any markings on it. 

Judging from the shape of its head.....  quite certainly a pit viper, I would think?

Anyway, I did get quite close to this snake to get this pic even though I know that vipers are venomous and can be dangerous but simply because it was such a tiny snake.

Probably a juvenile mangrove viper?

One of the uniformly brown colour variety?

Could anyone help confirm the id?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Kitty Is Looking Great!

Well..... he is certainly good looking!

And looking good!


Monday, 16 April 2012

The Katydid

Had a visit from this insect some weeks ago. 

I had first spotted it on my kitchen window as I was going out. 
And, as usual, I grabbed my camera and took a few shots before I headed out.

It's always great when these insects are perched on glass windows as I can get a view of its abdomen from the underside too!

Anyway, I had forgotten all about these photos till this morning.
A quick check in my insect chart and book confirm that it is a Katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae).

These are extracts from the Encyclopedia Brittanica website at

Katydid, any of numerous predominantly nocturnal insects related to crickets and grasshoppers and noted for their loud mating calls.  Katydids have large hind legs and are distinguished by their extremely long, threadlike antennae and the thick, upwardly curved ovipositor (egg-laying structure) of the females. Often large and green, many katydids have long wings, but some common species are nearly wingless.

-  They live on trees, bushes, or grasses, often matching the appearance of their surroundings. Many species resemble leaves. Owing to such adaptations and their lack of daytime activity, relatively little is known of this group of insects, despite their ubiquity, abundance, and variety.

This Katydid is a very attractive-looking insect. 
Checking further on the internet, I guess this would be one of the species of Angular Wing Katydids.

Learning never stops!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

At The Waterfalls

Two months since my last entry in this blog.
Two busy months for everything to do with work... and play!
And, two beautiful months for everything else but dragonflies.

The last time I went to any pond with the intention of observing dragonflies was two months ago.  It was a disappointing visit.  There had been more development around the ponds, more disturbance in the surrounding areas, more siltation and hardly any dragonflies.  I was down-hearted...... what hopes do we have for nature and the conservation of biodiversity in Langkawi?

Anyway, during this time, I have also had a short visit to Sabah.  Though I did not devote any time specifically for hunting dragonflies, I was greeted by a few common dragonfly species here and there to brighten up my days and overall, it was a truly great trip.

It was also great because it renewed my faith that there are some authorities in Malaysia who know what they are doing when it comes to nature and conservation and that all is not quite lost.  Not just yet.  It is really unfortunate that I just can't say the same about certain authorities in Langkawi.

While in Sabah, I had the chance to visit a beautiful waterfall.  There are more than two waterfalls in this area, actually.  The first is very easily accessible by the public via a short walk along a nice jungle trail. 

This Kipungit Waterfall is only a few meters in height with a small pool naturally surrounded by large rocks.

There is no ugly man-made cement embankment along the Kipungit stream and only these rocks to naturally contain the clear water in the pool and to channel the flow of water within truly natural jungle surroundings.

To get to the next waterfall is another 90 minute walk on a beautiful uphill trail.  There is nothing along the path going up towards the Langanan Waterfall but the beautiful jungle trail to lead you.  No ugly broken cement steps and no ugly blue pipes for sore eyes.  Here's looking back down the trail.....

And you could hear gurgling water at most places along the upper reaches of the trail with the sounds of crashing water to motivate you along.

So there is plenty of time to become fully absorbed with the rainforest surroundings and become one with nature along the entire walk.... until you get the first peek of the waterfalls as you climb up the last slope. 

And then, all you can think of is, "Wow!"

No ugly man-made structures here apart from a brightly coloured signboard to name the waterfall. 

The surroundings of the waterfall is breathtaking!

The water flows along on its own natural path strewn with large rocks.

And again, no sign of any ugly man-made cement embankments to disrupt the flow of water down the rocky stream and only lots of foliage growing between the rocks along the edge of the pools. 

You get a great feeling just standing there, feeling the spray of water mists on your face and listening to roaring water of the cascading falls!

The Sabah Parks have got the right mind to ensure that these waterfalls are left untouched as much as possible to conserve it in its naturally scenic surroundings and the area remain pristine in their efforts to protect and conserve the natural heritage within the national parks and forest reserves in Sabah.

Hurrah to Sabah Parks!