May 5, 2015

Sapi Island, Malaysia

Sapi Island or Sapi Pulau (Cow Island) as it is called in Malaysian language is a popular and attractive beach activities oriented island. Its almost white sand in the beach and crystal clear jade colored water stunned me. We went there on a Tuesday morning and found the beach teeming with tourists and locals, the population of beach lovers can be overwhelming on a Sunday I thought! It took us a cool 20 minutes speed boat ride to get us to the island from the mainland, city of Kota Kinabalu. The blues around was so pleasing, I was on a clicking spree.

We, from Tourism Malaysia were on a beach BBQ picnic package to the island. A very simple, small yet funfilled package I must say. It is a day trip excursion, where the visitors can be in the island for few hours doing some of the activities and a sumptuous BBQ lunch is included in the deal. An umbrella with table and chairs are provided to your group. Most tourists seemed to be availing this deal there. The entire area is shaded. Relaxing and watching others in bold beach stunts can be an activity by itself.

For the beach activities there are several kinds of packages with combinations of different activities.Other than the fun activities there is a cute souvenir shop, a small cafĂ© and snacks shop, a komodo dragon garden (if you are lucky one of those might come visiting you, don’t panic, they are harmless. Don’t try to pet them because they can be aggressive while defending themselves.) And yes there monkeys too, fond of visiting the tourists from the interiors of the island.

Camping is possible in the island, though you need prior official permission for it. During the low tide you can walk across to the neighboring Pulao Gaya (Island Gaya). I intend to do this if I ever get back there in future. The food that came with the package was too good and in more than sufficient quantity.


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May 3, 2015

My Orangutan Encounter

The rainforest of Borneo, Malaysia is home to Orangutans. Orangutans are large gentle creatures and you will be surprised to know 98% of their DNA matches with us humans. (Probably the other 2% is that of violent streak which is present in humans!!! You can read more about them here.) Poachers target these gentle animals, often killing the mother to catch the baby orangutans and later sell them as pets. The rainforest areas too have been declining due to ever increasing demand for timber. Net result the orangutans are facing extinction within next 10 years.

At ShangriLa, where we stayed for 3 days, I witnessed the daily interaction of an orangutan with his caretaker. The Rasa Ria Resort of ShangriLa has been working for rehabilitation of these orangutans. They bring in orphaned, injured orangutans. These precious creatures are looked after well, made fit to face tough jungle life and are then released to where they originally belonged.

There was a video show for all visitors showing the various stages of the orangutan’s recovery. It was interesting to see how from the day of their arrival they are taken care. Trained vets treat their injuries if any and diet plan made meticulously. Finally when the orangutans are completely okay they are let off to jungles. After a short nature walk we were taken to the feeding area of the orangutan. The resort has 2 of them. We heard the caretaker calling out to the orangutan. Moments passed, we were straining ourselves and looking around among the branches to spot it. It took a while for the orangutan to come!

 Ssshhh… all went hush hush, lest we disturb him. He came swinging in the branches. I was seeing one at such a close distance for the first time. Got a good position among the crowd, I managed to take a short video of it. Hope you will enjoy seeing him.



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Our World Tuesday

May 2, 2015

Faces of India - 211


 A sadhu outside a temple in Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu. As I zoomed into his face his eyes seemed so sorrowful that I didn't have the heart to continue focusing on him. I can't understand how people end up in this state. Is it really in a quest for peace of mind?

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here.

May 1, 2015

Washington Apples

Received with thanks from WashingtonApples.com a box with 6 varieties of apples! The apples arrived in an impressive packing in a sturdy box. It was like an explosion of sweet smell as soon as I opened the box. The 6 varieties lay neatly arranged waiting to be bitten, chewed and relished.

Apples have been always a part of my family’s diet, but I never gave notice to the varieties! Whichever looked good on the shelf was picked up. The green apple, Granny Smith, which is not available throughout the year, is hunted and brought to table during its season. Rest of the varieties often went unnoticed. This was therefore a learning experience for the whole family.

The first to come under knife was Cameo. Red colored, more fleshy, less juicy, pleasant taste. I took care to remember the taste just to compare with the next.
The Cripps Pink has a sweet tart taste, firm and crunchy flesh.  
Gala was used for the dessert and it did enhance the flavor and taste of the dessert.  
Granny Smith because of its tangy taste has a special place in our hearts.  
Honeycrisp, I now understand why it has been named so, it has a crisp and juicy inner flesh. I think I had this for the first time.
Finally the most commonly available Red Delicious. This one can be seen more frequently on my table. The classic heart shaped apple with a mild and sweet taste of its own.

Have you included apples compulsorily in your diet? I am sure you would have! Every apple has a distinct taste and flavor of its own. The fruit is so rich with food value that doctors fear it as a potential danger to their job! How many varieties have you had?

Thanks to entrepreneurial growers today markets have several varieties lined up for sale. High tech breeders are continuously experimenting to create new strains for every taste, tangy or sweet!

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Apr 30, 2015

Fort Cornwallis, Penang

Fort Cornwallis is located very close to the hotel we stayed so didn’t wish to give it a miss. The Fort isn’t anything spectacular but if history and historical objects and equipment interest you then this fort is definitely worth the visit. It is the oldest fort of Penang existing from 1786. It was constructed for defensive purpose against pirates, Kedah forces and even the French during the Napoleonic Wars.

The fort stands on the site where Captain Francis Light first set foot in 1786. Penang was then a virtually-uninhabited island. He took possession of the island from the Sultan of Kedah and established a free port to lure trade from Britain’s Dutch rivals. The ticket checker at the entrance was dressed in 17th century clothing. I think it is interesting and I like it when places of historic interest are spruced up along with people manning the place. A bronze statue of Captain Francis Light stands tall near Fort Cornwallis’ main entrance, making it an ideal spot for tourists to pose for pictures.

Today the fort is used to display some historical stories and events. It is a cute little place reminding you of British colonial days. I am impressed by the arrangements inside. A tiny fort yet maintained and presented so well. I wish some of the abandoned forts of India are spruced up in the same manner.

Things that can interest you if you are keen in exploring the place: The lighthouse, which is unique in its construction. Panoramic view from the tower is worth the climb to its top. Mini museum there displays several lighthouse artifacts like communication equipments and giant bulbs. These were used before GPS and satellite controlled gadgetry made them obsolete.

 A place purely for history buffs.
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:30
DailyLocation: Lebuh Light
Tel: +602 61 0262


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SkyWatch Friday