Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wildlife Park of Bintulu in 1989

View of the Wildlife Park ( Taman Hidupan Liar) seen in 1989.
Works on the construction of the Wildlife Park or Taman Hidupan Liar in Malay started in 1989 and the park was officially opened to the general public on the 2nd of August,1991.
Picture shows my family members and their cousin, with our car driven right to the top of the hill where later the wordings  "Taman Hidupan Liar" were planted using cover plants approximately where  the car is parked.
View of the park  taken on 9th of March,2015.  
Today, the park is re-named as "Taman Tumbina".
It was the first and only park of its kind in Sarawak when it was opened in 1991.  Today, the park is called "Taman Tumbina" but when it was first started and opened it was known as Taman Hidupan Liar or Wildlife Park.  It was one of my pet projects while in the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA).  This project brought me places to Singapore and West Malaysia to see similar projects and learn from them.  In the park (as shown in the layout plan below) there were many botanical as well as zoological attractions.  One of the big attractions was the flamingo pond.  Follow this link to know more in-depth story of my role in bringing the flamingoes to Bintulu  here .  In the top picture, the Bintulu coastline is seen in the background.  It is evident that that were no condominiums or high-rise buildings in Bintulu in the 1980's along its coasts.  The condominiums were a thing of the 1990's in Bintulu.  

( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog ' Images of Bintulu Before and Now' and the link is here.

Birding in Bintulu 2013 - 2015

 Black-winged Kite (Elanus caerulueus) , sighted 2014

Dark-sided Flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica), sighted 2014
 Large-tailed Nightjar , sighted 2013
Black Hornbill, sighted 2015
One of the many things that Bintulu can offer is nature.  In fact, nature tourism is one of the pillars of tourism for Sarawak and is capsulated in the acronymn CAN (Culture, Adventure, Tourism).  Bintulu as part of Sarawak also puts emphasis on nature tourism though at a secondary or low priority level, since Bintulu is promoted as an industrial city by the local development authority (BDA).  This does not mean that attempts to bring back nature to urban living or environment is forgotten.  I tried my own ways to bring this at my Kambatik Park.  Thus from 2013 to 2015 I was effectively photographing and blogging on the birds at the park.  There are of course other birding sites in Bintulu like Bakun dam, Similajau National Park, Tanjung Batu beach areas besides the Kambatik Park.  For a list of birds which got into my camera frame in and around Bintulu between 2013 to 2015 follow the link here and here

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Landscaping of SMDS administrative area

Overall view of SMDS Administrative area (foreground with green roof).  In the background at left are the storage tanks of BCOT ( Bintulu Crude Oil Terminal) and on the right of the picture at the top is partly seen the MLNG Sdn Bhd Office Complex (white buildings) and the LNG plant complex towards right of the picture.  Date taken 22 Dec'14
The Shell SMDS plant located at Bintulu is the first of its kind in the world to convert natural gas into synthetic oil products.  The products include high quality middle distillates such gasoil (diesel) and kerosene, as well as naptha, paraffins and wax.  To undertake this project in Bintulu, a joint-venture company was incorporated in 1989 with the equity structure as follow :- Shell Gas BV (60%), Mitsubishi Corporation (20%), Petronas (10%) and Sarawak State Government (10%).
In 1992 I was involved with the landscaping of the administrative area of the SMDS plant (see inset).  This job was one of the major landscaping works done by my company, Exxoplus Corporation Sdn Bhd. when it started operations in Bintulu in 1992.  I was fortunate to have met Mr. H W Van der Woerdt who was the Construction Manager for the SMDS plant in Bintulu then.  Pleased with my landscaping design proposal he later gave my company the job of actual planting the proposed design, besides just the design consultancy.  This job kept me busy for the first few months since I started the company.  Later in 1993, I did more landscaping jobs for the SMDS company especially in their housing area at Taman Matahari, Kidurong township.  Below are some views of the administrative area taken on 30th July,1992 while on a site visit to the area.

View of SMDS Administrative Area, taken on 30th July. 1992.
View of the landscaping works around the Administrative area, taken on 22nd December,2014

View of the proposed landscaping area, taken on 30.7.1992
The buildings in green roofing belongs to SMDS, while the buildings in red in the background belongs to MLNG Sdn Bhd.
View of the planting, according to design proposal.
Image taken on 22 December,2014.
View of entrance to SMDS plant and office site.  The SMDS car parking area is at right.
Photo taken on 28 July'92 while on site visit to the proposed area for landscaping.

View of entrance to SMDS office and plant site  today, 28 January,2015.
( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog 'Images of Bintulu Before and Now' and the link is here.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We were once kids

This afternoon I saw these joyful kids playing at an open space by the village of Kampung Jepak, just across the Bintulu town.  where my worker lives. I took a moment to take a picture of them. I was thinking of the nostalgic days when I was a kid like them spending endless hours playing with my brothers or sisters and friends. What did I do after school hours when I was like them say at the age of 4- 12 years old?
Under the category of 'Helping Out Parents' I did the following:
1) Collect firewood from a nearby sawmill that was located on the opposite side of the river. It required me and my brothers to paddle a small boat . A frightening experience when the boat was loaded and had to navigate the waves from passing ships . Never did our boat collide or sank. Thanks to the Almighty.
2) Sell cakes & ice cream which entailed me to walk for miles around the village or town . Over the years became knowledgeable about Who's Who in the village or town, especially those with spending power.
3) Water plants,sweep garden floor and help burn garden debris - almost on daily basis.That could be how I was indoctrinated into gardening. Green fingers are created young. Did Confucius say that??
4) Shopping for emergency supplies- cigarettes, sugar, milk, flour, fruits, etc
5) AOB - carry out miscellaneous errands like collect clothes from working bachelors who contracted out their laundry washing to my mother. Then send back the clothes cleaned and ironed .
'Just Having Fun ' Category list of activities:
1) Swimming in the river
2) Fishing by the stream or river
3) Bicycling around town or village
4) Play football or badminton and other traditional games e.g. kite flying and marbles,
5) Play hide and seek
6) Shoot birds and mud skippers using catapult
7) Play see-saw and swing at the only public park in town
Reflecting on my childhood days I think I had my share of the fun days as well as the 'hard' days.
More of the former than the latter. I guess -Kids just wanna have fun.
( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog ' my Kambatik World' and the link is here. )

About Bintulu Port

Yesterday I took a 25 km drive north of Bintulu town to the bustling industrial heartland of Kidurong, a satellite town of Bintulu. At the very end of the Kidurong highway was this unique building. It's not that the Titanichas landed on Bintulu's shores. Rather it an ultra-modern building belonging to the Bintulu Port Authority, a Federal agency under the Minister of Transport that was set up about 30 years ago to develop the port infrastructures at Kidurong for the export of liquified natural gas. Thus it took a slow momentum to fully develop Kidurong into one of the most successful petro-chemical zone in Malaysia it is today. Within Sarawak soil there's nothing to beat it. Bintulu Port has been a major player in the gradual build-up of the immediate industrial heartland and also the outlying far reaches of Bintulu's rural hinterland.

Bintulu is naturally endowed with vast exploitable forests, minerals, deep sea, beaches and rivers. From these resources a very robust, diversified and profitable economic superstructure has been developed over the last 30 years that transformed it from a sleepy hollow to an industrial showpiece presently. Being a Bintuluian, I am witness to its evolution and at different times a participant to its progress, physical or otherwise. To me 30 years is just like yesterday when there was not even a road link from Bintulu town to Kidurong. But many more things can happen here because Bintulu seems never to sleep from the long slumber it was subjected to before the opening up of Kidurong.

Kidurong Heavy Industrial zone, showing LNG complex -biggest in the world in a single location.
Outside the gazetted Bintulu Port area is a rim of heavy industrial undertakings. From the foreground to the back of the picture is the largest installation of liquified natural gas(LNG) in one locality in the world which is constituted of three huge LNG plants and 6 storage tanks,maze of pipelines and process buildings and tall flares that can be seen from as far as 30 kilometers at night. The inset below shows 6 huge tanks that store the LNG temporarily before they are piped to waiting LNG ships that berth at the Bintulu Port's three LNG jetties. Bintulu Port grew rich due to income from the LNG export terminals where it provides berthing, stevedoring and towage facilities to the many LNG ships. Don't be surprised that the jetty terminals can load two LNG ships per day with each loading taking an average of 12 hours. This being the current trend. Since is operation, the LNG cargoes form close to 60% of the total tonnage handled yearly.
But Bintulu Port is more than LNG export terminals. With the further utilisation of oil and gas resources Bintulu became the centre of crude oil storage and exporting point, the off shore gas that has been processed by Sarawak SHELL are piped to other industrial users. Principally among them are the Asean Bintulu Fertiliser Plant ( that use it to manufacture urea, granular fertiliser etc.,) Sarawak SHELL MDS( Middle Distillate Synthesis) Plant - that process the gas synthetically to manufature downstream products like paraffin wax, diesel fuel, kerosene, aviation fuel etc., using gas-to-liquid(GTL) technology, Petronas Gas Berhad ( that process and bottle the gas for domestic and industrial consumption as burning fuel) and many other smaller refining facilites that uses the natural gas for heating ( e.g. oil palm boilers for the production of cooking oil) and Sarawak Electricity Corporation ( that uses the gas for generating electricity by gas turbines) .
The three LNG jetties that are owned by the Bintulu Port, providing berthing and towage facilities to LNG ships before leaving the port to Taiwan, Tokyo and Korea.
To me there's no stopping the role that Bintulu Port will play in the future growth and development of Bintulu. Besides the petro-chemical industries Bintulu Port also handle bulk cargo and containerisation. The list of bulk cargoes it handles are : crude oil, crude palm oil, plywood, timber mouldings, sawn timber, veneer, medium density fibreboards, raw silica sand for export and a whole list of consumer goods both for export and import. The internationalisation of trade it promotes has currently made Bintulu into a well-known destination for cruise ships that bring visitors from far away destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong and many more other places in future.
The future of Bintulu Port lies very much in the forward thinking of its major shareholders as well as its other stake holders to stimulate and step up the further utilisation and operational infrastructures it can offer.

(Note : The above story is a re-posting from my blog 'my Kambatik World' and the link is here. )

Batik years in retrospective

Two women washing, April'85

Paddling upriver, April'85
Three doves, circa '86
 In my mature years, I  did considerable work in batik.  During the years 1985-1986 I did many batik paintings with culture, native girls and music as the subject matter.  All of these batik pieces shown here were done in Bintulu.  These were done during my free time during normal days and weekends.  It was  a means to earn additional income since batik pieces were greatly demanded due to its Malaysian or local identity and there were no other artist doing batik in Bintulu at that time.  Later in 2002 my creative urges in batik were channeled into nature study especially plant life. These creative urges were associated with my contracting business since 1992 especially those works involved in the landscaping of Bintulu.  I did little work on buildings or architectural subjects.   Two paintings in particular are of interest.  One is done in 1990 showing the Plaza hotel.  This painting was sold to the hotel and given as a gift to the Chief Minister of Sarawak when doing the official opening of the hotel. Another painting was based on a picture from a Venezuelan friend of her hacienda.  Doing batik was a  money making hobby for me because almost all the batiks I produced were sold.
Kelabit girl with flute,uly'86
Kelabit lass, circa '86
Ethnic by design, circa '86
Kelabit dancer and boys on sapeh, circa'86
Feeding hornbill, circa '86
Kelabit girls, circa'86
White water lilies, may'02
Bintulu Plaza Hotel, July'1990
Lily pond, October'02
Nature study, June'02
Plant study, May'02
Traveller's palm,September'02
Venezuelan hacienda - a study, June'02
( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog 'Being MY (3rd. Ed.) and the link is here.

Once upon a painting

Spray of Flowers
Watercolour on paper, 71cm x 95 cm, 18 April 1974.
Artist collection
My mother
The early 70's was one of those  peak points in my life.  Having just graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Pulau Pinang, I came back home to Bintulu as a young man full of ideals and energy to perform what was expected of a graduate.  But not too soon because I had to undergo an additional  year of professional study for a teaching diploma from the University of Malaya. In between studies and a term break I went back to Bintulu and in April'74  did a watercolour painting of a spray of flowers.  These flowers were actually made by my mother from different plastic straws strapped on a long wire.  She would combine many different colours of straw and their weight on the long wire made them bend gracefully like real flowers.  Her artistry attracted me to do the painting in imperial size paper (see above).
By next year the painting would be 40 years old and I am glad I have kept the painting in my collection for posterity.
My mother, in watercolour, done much later (6.5.2011)
It will remind me of my mother as gifted woman not only in sewing our clothes, decorating the house, cooking meals, but also in her shower of love and kindness in upbringing her 13 children.
I consider the mid 70's as my mature years as an artist.  To see more water colour and mixed media painting during this period, please go to my blog here...>>>

( Note: This is a re-posting from my blog Being MY (3rd. Ed.) and the link is here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Flamingoes flight to Bintulu

Greater Flamingoes ( Phoenicophocus ruber)
Have you ever imagined a flock of flamingoes from Tanzania landing on a remote wildlife park in Borneo? It was one of the happiest moments in my life when I saw them droppin' by next to my office at the Bintulu wildlife park in 1991. ( Inset:Me and Flamingo having a moment of play). After months of careful planning and preparations and with the experienced services of an importer/exporter of wildlife from Kuala Lumpur, we were able to complete one very satisfying challenge of a life time - to introduce the first ever flock of Greater Flamingoes ( Phoenicophocus ruber) to Bintulu. To my knowledge no other persons or parks on this huge island of Borneo ever kept such birds before. As part of my very diversified list of duties while working with the Bintulu Deveopment Authority (BDA) in the 1980's - 1990's, I was made in charge of the setting up of a wildlife park for the growing township of Bintulu.
Above: George and my wife with the flamingoes at the background in Singapore Zoological Garden.
The idea of bringing flamingoes to Bintulu grew out of a visit to the Singapore Zoological Gardens with Arthur George Alphonso, where I saw these big, elegant and sturdy birds in captive care there. Thirteen pairs of the birds landed in Bintulu on 9th July, 1991, from which only 23 birds were accepted as in fine condition for payment purposes. Each pair cost RM 5,500 back then. Trust me, to fly these birds from Tanzania in Africa many pit stops were made. The formula one route taken were Tanzania - Dubai - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Bintulu. Remember that they fly with proper"passports" in the form of health certificates, certificates of origin, export/import permits and permits from the veterinary department and the national parks and wildlife departments. It was a taxing excercise but much worth the effort.
A moat and viewing platform to watch the flamingoes at Bintulu Wildlife Park.

Looking back, I say bringing in the flamingoes from Tanzania to Bintulu has been one very memorable chapter etched in my life of adventures.

( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog - My Sarawak (2nd Ed.) and the link is here.)

From footballer to President of Bintulu Football Association (BIFA)

BGSS team, wearing dark stripe jersey in 1965 at BDC Padang, Bintulu.
I am at the center front row as captain of the BGSS team (Bintulu Government Secondary School)
In the year 1965, a footballer I became.  Football has been my favourite game since primary school in the early 60's.  When I continued my schooling at BGSS or Bintulu Government Secondary School I became the captain  of its junior soccer team. In 1965 while at Form Two B, our soccer team won the final match  in the Junior Soccer Championship held to promote the game of football among the primary schools and BGSS, the only secondary school then at Bintulu.( see top picture)  My interest in football grew with the times and I continued with the game while I was a teacher in 1975 - 1977.  It was in the early 90's that I became the President of the the Bintulu Football Association (BIFA) which was affiliated with the Sarawak State Football Association. A major achievement while heading BIFA  was when the full BIFA Under 21 team was selected to represent Sarawak to compete  in Kuala Lumpur.  In October 1992, I was the organising chairman of the Sarawak State level "Sarawak Cup" held at the Bintulu Civic Centre.  The BIFA senior team won the prestigious championship title.  It was one of my proudest moments as a footballer and the President of Bintulu Football Association. 
News cutting dated 25 October,1992 (Borneo Post)
To be a President of a football club is basically a volunteer job. There's no salary to the post.   For the five years I headed the Bintulu football association I was assisted by very cooperative and hard working officials, members, coaches, referees, and team managers.  The Bintulu public especially the business sector was very responsive to our fund raising activities.  At the time when I decided to handover the Presidency to new blood, I left the association with a healthy balance of about RM 50,000 in its banking account.  I thought that was the best thing I could do to the association which  courted me to become its president in order to revive it just months before it was about to be de-registered by the Registrar of Societies.   Well, that is all history now.  During my time, Bintulu footballers were a much respected lot, and I felt great to be its President.  I guess it was those secondary school days as a footballer that made me love the game and the passion to lead Bintulu football to state and national level in later chapters of my life. 
Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.
1979 - group photo with teachers and invited players . I am sixth at the back row standing.
Picture taken at the SMK Bintulu football field.

(Note: This is the 1st of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog - My Sarawak (2nd Ed.) and the link is here. )

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the year 1975, a teacher I became.

With students at School Sports Day,  Bintulu Government Secondary School (BGSS) , 1976.
With Rebecca Bana, Head Girl
In the year 1975, a teacher I became.  It was my first posting and lucky me I was sent to my hometown, Bintulu.  As a graduate teacher I taught there for two years after which I was sent to Pulau Pinang to take up a course on educational broadcasting.  The two years spent at BGSS were wonderful years spent with young adults since the school was the only one that enrolled Form 4 and Form 5 students from around the Bintulu area.  I taught History and Bahasa Malaysia subjects.  In 1975,  the teacher composition was a diverse mix of nationalities (see picture below) - Chinese, Malay, British, Indian, Iban and Melanau.  As a young man and teacher, my time was very much occupied with extra-mural activities.  I was involved in the Music and Singing Club and was appointed as Teacher-in-charge of the School Library.  I trained the students in children's drama, playing the guitar and supervised them during work parties.  During school sports day all teachers were kept busy with the organisation of the sporting events because as a tradition the school would invite the town population to watch their children participate in the various field events.  In 1976, I was a proud owner of a Yamaha trail bike, the first ever to be seen on Bintulu roads and used it to go to school, picnics and scrambling along Bintulu beaches.  Even though the time spent teaching was brief, it was filled with rich memories, happiness and the rare chance to help students in many aspects of their  personal growth and educational up bringing.

Happy Malaysia Day, Sarawak.

(Note: This is the 4th of my post on what it is meant to be a Malaysian as part of my writing contribution to Malaysia Day which will  to be celebrated on the 16th of September.)

Morning Session teachers in a group photograph.  Father Harry, the headmaster is seated fifth from right( front row).  I am second from right (back row).  Photo taken in 1975.
Group photo with the school librarians.  I am at center (front row) as
Teacher -in-charge of School Library, 1976.
( Note: The above story is a re-posting from my blog - My Sarawak (2nd Ed.) and the link is here. )