Selangor Tin Dredge

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Guinea Fowl Farm – Semenyih, Selangor

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Guinea Fowl

Ever tried to eat Guinea Fowl? Guess what, they taste just like chicken, only better. More flavourful and more nutritious. At least, that’s what I’m told.

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Casey Teh, owner of Ostrich Wonderland and The Guinea Fowl Farm.

Yesterday I was invited by Mr. Caseh Teh, the owner of Ostrich Wonderland in Semenyih, Selangor, to revisit his farm and take a look at his guinea fowl and poultry business, which operates on the same site, under the official name of Mutiara Chicken.

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It was nice to see the ostriches again, who were looking contented and well looked after in their spacious enclosures.

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Chickaboo and friends sheltering from the hot sun.

Since my last visit in 2013 (read blog here), one of the ostriches has become a celebrity. She’s named Chickaboo, the runaway pet ostrich who became a YouTube sensation when filmed jogging down Kuala Lumpur’s Federal Highway after escaping from a moving vehicle. It must have been a scary experience for poor Chickaboo but she is now enjoying her film star status at Ostrich Wonderland.

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Newly hatched ostrich chicks, just a couple of days old. They cannot stand up yet.

While ostriches are popular as a tourist attraction, Mr. Teh says they are not so profitable to farm commercially and in particular they do not like Malaysia’s rainy weather, being originally more accustomed to the arid regions of Africa. For this reason, Mr. Teh has diversified into farming guinea fowl, various popular and exotic chicken breeds, goats and other animals.

He currently has around 5,000 guinea fowls. They are mostly of the grey, helmeted variety.  They are gentle and timid and you have to move slowly around them to avoid disturbing and agitating the whole flock.

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A confusion of keets.

Did you know?

The correct collective for a group of guinea fowl is a confusion which sounds rather silly but is quite apt given their skittish behaviour. The cute baby guinea fowl are called keets.

Guinea fowl originate from African tropical forests. They are hardy and disease resistant which makes them easy to raise. They are an active avian producing tender, nutritious meat which is more tasty than regular chicken. The meat contains more amino acids and less fat and cholesterol.

Mr. Teh told me that an ambassador from a West African country is a good customer of his for guinea fowl meat saying that the gamey flavour is more popular with Africans than white meat chicken.

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Silky Chickens – Used for soup.

Mutiara Chicken stocks a wide variety of free-range chickens including:

  • Kampung Chicken
  • San Huang Chicken
  • Mini Cochin Chicken
  • Curly Feather Chicken
  • Onagadori (Yokohama)
  • China Black Chicken
  • Wen Chang Chicken
  • Batik Chicken
  • Castrated Chicken – Ayam Sunat
  • White Silky Chicken
  • White Polish Chicken
  • Black Polish Chicken

The castrated chickens are said to be sought after for their flavour while the ingredients for Hainan Chicken and black chicken soup can be obtained here. All the birds are slaughtered onsite under hygienic conditions and frozen meat is on sale in the shop.

Ring Necked Pheasant can also be seen here as well as turkey (Ayam Belanda).  Ayam Belanda translates as Dutch chicken. Malaysians like to name animals after the Dutch  – the Malay word for proboscis monkey is Orang Belanda meaning Dutch Man!)

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Gaggles of geese and ducks wander around the farm, giving a very tranquil, pastoral atmosphere to the place.

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All the plants growing on the farm seem to have their purpose and uses. This clump of bamboo for example provides shade to the pony and chickens while dried bamboo leaves make comfortable bedding material for the hatchling enclosures.

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Mulberry Bush. The fruit is sharp and tasty, like a blackberry.

Mr. Teh used to grow organic vegetables but he found that they require too much attention to prevent insect attack and, once ripe, they have a short shelf life. So instead he has given over the space to grow mulberry bushes which bear edible fruit while the leaves are used to make healthy mulberry tea.

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Prize billy goat with his own collar. The farm has a thriving herd of goats producing fresh goats’ milk daily.
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The shop at Ostrich Wonderland sells decorative ostrich eggs, chicken eggs, meats from their various birds, essence of ostrich with ginseng and cordyceps, mulberry leaves for tea and mulberry seedlings.

Visitors are welcome to tour the farm as part of their Ostrich Wonderland admission. School excursions are also welcome by prior arrangement.

You can find details of location, opening hours and admission fee on my Malaysia Traveller website.

Selangor’s Steepest Bridge?

Bridge Linking Pulau Carey and Pulau IndahAn optical illusion, enhanced by a touch of zoom lens, makes this bridge linking Pulau Carey and Pulau Indah seem much steeper than it is in reality. The actual gradient is 4%, which is steep enough to require runaway truck ramps to be provided at both ends of the bridge.

The bridge is known as the Selat Lumut-SKVE Bridge and it crosses one of the mouths of the Klang River just outside Klang port.

This stretch of the South Klang Valley Expressway was opened on 1 October 2013.

Kampung Bukit Chandang, Batang Kali

Wooden Houses at Bukit Chandang

On the edge of the Selangor town of Batang Kali is a small village known as Bukit Chandang (previously called Kampung Baru Batang Kali). It is one of those artificial settlements created during the Malayan Emergency when scattered rural dwellers were rounded up and rehoused in a fenced and guarded village with the aim of preventing them from providing support to the Communist Terrorists. This area was a hotbed of bandit activity at the start of the Emergency and was the scene of the infamous Batang Kali ‘Massacre’ which I wrote about last year.

In 1950 there were over a 1,000 inhabitants here, almost exclusively Hokkien Chinese engaged in rubber tapping, tin mining or agriculture. Since the collapse of the tin industry, the population has dwindled to around 150 families (400 people) as younger folk have drifted away to find brighter opportunities in KL or elsewhere.

Some of the original houses still remain, made of wood with tin roofs. These houses can get pretty hot inside and some people have rigged up makeshift air-conditioning systems using garden sprinklers.

Rudimentary 'aircon' at Bukit Chandang

There are two temples at the highest point of the village, with open areas for hosting communal meals and stages for putting on cultural performances.

One of the temples at Bukit Chandang 

I walked up to the top of the hill where there is a large water tank and some communications masts.

Bukit Chandang, Batang Kali

There is not a great deal to say about this village which is probably why it seldom, if ever, gets blogged about.  I got the impression that this village does not see many foreign visitors.

Bukit Chandang

Kuala Selangor – Goats, Monkeys & Fireflies

Kuala Selangor Main Street

It’s always a good sign when a town has goats ambling through its main street. It suggests a slower pace of life and you get a feeling that the inhabitants are not troubled by work-life balance issues.

Not that the council that runs of Kuala Selangor has been idle. On the contrary they have quietly built up their town into a popular tourist attraction that draws in visitors in their hundreds from KL, just over an hour’s drive away.

Kuala Selangor during its heyday

Kuala Selangor was once a thriving trading port due to its location at the mouth of the River Selangor on which goods were transported to and from the interior. The town was, for a time, the state capital and was captured by the Dutch in the 1780s.  After the British took over, their attention shifted to Penang and KS slipped back into relative obscurity.

Today the town is famous for its fireflies, the nature park and the various attractions found on Bukit Melawati, the low hill that dominates the town centre. I have written about these attractions on my Malaysia-Traveller website.

In this post I am highlighting a few of the less well known sights.

View of the town centre

In the town centre is an old Post Office building which has not been as over-refurbished as many, and a Chinese temple built around an ancient tree of some spiritual significance.

Temple built in 1926Holy TreeTemple Entrance

The 1907 lighthouse has been nicely maintained.

Lighthouse at Kuala Selangor

Troops of silver leaf monkeys like to congregate near the lighthouse to beg (or snatch!) food from tourists. Oddly their babies are orange colour.

Silver Leaf Monkeys

Others prefer just to relax and enjoy the view.

Enjoying the view

On the other bank of the river is a brand new temple with an unusual cave-effect design.

Cave Temple?

At the nearby jetty are a number of seafood restaurants. This is a good place to buy locally made dried seafood products.

Dried seafood at Kuala Selangor jetty

The famous fireflies are located a few kilometres outside of town. There are two main spots – at Kampung Kuantan or the Firefly Resort Park. At these places boatmen paddle tourists past berembang mangrove trees on the river bank where fireflies put on their nightly flashing light show.

Photo on a power company billboard.

A couple of years ago some bright spark started indiscriminatingly bulldozing the mangrove trees along the river bank to clear the way for oil palms or other purposes, not realising (or not caring?) that this was depriving the endangered fireflies of their habitat. Fortunately enough fuss was made to halt the damage and prevent the fireflies from being wiped out completely in this area.

We don’t know how much longer goats will be allowed to graze in Kuala Selangor’s high street but let us hope that the town manages to retain its peaceful charm in its rush for development.

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