I woke up this morning to find the koi in our fish pond in an unusually frisky mood. They were thrashing around, chasing each other and jumping out of the water.
An hour later the previously clear pond was covered in a bubbly scum.
Seemingly this is normal reproduction behaviour for koi. The males become aggressive and chase the females around the pond, bashing into the females to force them to release their eggs. Once released, the males spray the eggs with their sperm, hence the mess in our pond.
If all the eggs hatch into koi-lets we’re going to need a bigger pond!
Road traffic signs in Malaysia generally follow the international standards used in Europe, but there are a few which have been tailored for local conditions. This one is my favourite:
It informs users of this busy urban dual carriageway that bullock carts, trishaws, pedal-powered food carts and bicycles are not permitted.
The chances of seeing a bullock cart these days are rare. I recall seeing some in Malacca about 25 years ago. They were used to ferry tourists around the padang. They’ve gone now. This may be the only bullock cart left in Malacca:
Trishaws have all but disappeared too as a means of transport. There are a few in the main tourist area of Melaka for selfie purposes. This working trishaw was spotted in Penang a few years back:
Food carts are still around but they too are under threat as urban councils tighten up on hygiene laws and parking spaces. I snapped this photo in Muar some time ago (probably would cost a lot more than RM 3 today):
It’s a shame to see these icons of traditional culture disappearing from modern Malaysia, to be replaced by sanitised shopping malls, food trucks and Uber cars. All that’s left is the road sign as a reminder of what has been lost.
To my knowledge there are only two surviving bucketline tin dredges in Malaysia. One is the Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge near Batu Gajah which I wrote about on this blog a few years ago. The other is located near Dengkil in Selangor.
I have seen the Dengkil dredge many times from a distance since it is visible from the main road when driving to the airport. Today I tried to see it from up close.
Thanks to Google Maps it was easy to find the best way to approach the dredge which is surrounded by lakes created by the dredge’s excavations. A gravel road takes you part of the way. This road is busy with rubbish trucks as one of the lakes is being used as a landfill.
I parked the car next to a lake and walked the rest of the way, a distance of about 1 km each way. The path is not too overgrown and I did not see any ‘no trespassing’ signs. There was a barrier blocking the way to cars but again no ‘keep out’ signs.
Finally I managed to get near the dredge which is an enormous piece of engineering. According to Liz Price’s excellent blog, this is the Sri Banting Dredge, built in Malaysia in 1974 (much newer than the colonial-era Tanjung Tualang dredge) and weighs 4,800 tonnes.
It was not possible to go on board as it was moored a few metres off-shore and there was no gangplank. Anyway it is private property. There were a couple of vigilant watchdogs on the dredge to deter trespassers.
No doubt this dredge is earmarked for sale at some stage. Many of the other tin dredges in Malaysia were sold off to foreign buyers such as this one which was towed to Bangka Island in Indonesia in 1987.
If no buyer can be found it would probably be sold for scrap and that will be the end of Selangor’s tin mining heritage. At least the Tanjung Tualang dredge is being preserved as a museum by the Perak State Government and should be open to the public, long overdue, at the end of this year.
I visited a dragon fruit farm today near Sepang, not far from Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport. The farm is called Multi Rich Pitaya, ‘pitaya’ being another name for dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit’s scientific name is hylocereus derived from the Greek word hyle (meaning woody), the Latin word cereus (meaning waxen). Woody and waxen doesn’t sound particularly appetizing but it probably refers to its cactus-like stems rather than the fruit.
The fruit is thought to have originated in Central America and was introduced into Vietnam by French missionaries in the 19th century.Cultivation has since spread to all corners of the tropical world and some Mediterranean climates like Turkey and Israel, though Vietnam is still the world’s leading exporter.
Types of Dragon Fruit
There are three varieties of dragon fruits grown in Malaysia:
Red skin with red flesh.
Red skin with white flesh.
Yellow skin with grey/white flesh
All varieties have edible black seeds, like kiwi seeds but softer.
The yellow sort is not common in Peninsular Malaysia, though it is grown in Sabah. The white flesh variety is still probably the most common but the red flesh sort are more sought after (and more expensive) as they taste better. The white flesh variety can often be rather bland and disappointing.
Multi Rich Pitaya only grows the red variety.
Uses of Red Dragon Fruit
Best consumed raw, preferably chilled, either by itself or as part of a fruit salad.
Mixes well with plain yogurt to produce a fantastically coloured dessert.
Can also be made into juice, smoothies or sorbets.
They are easy to peel. The skin is inedible but can be processed to make food colouring.
Reputed Health Benefits
High fibre content aids digestion and reduces body fat
Rich source of vitamin B, C, calcium and phosphorus
Helps control blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes sufferers
Boosts immune system
Improves skin conditions
Rich in lycopene, thought to help prevent cancer
Helps prevent gout and arthritis
Low in calories
If even only half of these claims are true it would seem foolish not to eat it!
Dragon Fruit Flowers
The flowers bloom briefly, for one night only. They are large and attractive flowers with a sweet tropical fragrance when in bloom. Unopened flower buds can be cooked like vegetables. Dried flowers can be processed to make tea.
Multi Rich Pitaya Farm
This farm welcomes visitors. You can wander round the farm and buy some fresh dragon fruit in their basic shop. The ones you can buy here have been allowed to ripen fully on the vine and taste much sweeter than those you find in the supermarket.
They also sell dragon fruit enzyme drink which is a delicious and healthy tonic.
Multi Rich has a family of caged monkeys.The large male monkey doesn’t look happy in that small cage and it would be better if they were released or rehoused somewhere more suitable.
If you want to visit you can find the contact details and GPS co-ordinates on this photo.
At Paya Indah Wetlands near Kuala Lumpur there is a family of porcupines who live in the same compound as a family of giant tortoises. In the heat of the midday sun they snuggle up next to each other in this shady shelter.
With their armour-plated shells, tortoises are one of the few animal species that are immune to spiky porcupine quills.
Unlike this poor boa constrictor in Brazil which foolishly tried to take on a porcupine with painful consequences: