Wednesday, November 28, 2007

9pm Treetop Walk

I expected solitude but after walking about a hundred metres beside the fence and through the dark jungle path, I was surprised by the brightly lit Ranger Station manned by a Malay Ranger. A little guy was waiting for me at the toilet floor. I was on all fours looking at this critter, the Ranger checked momentarily but stopped at the entrance....
This is a big cricket (the arowana would choke on this one), wingless and 4-5cm long excluding the antennae which is only slightly shorter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just the two of us ....

.... three is a crowd.
Bulbophyllum subumbellatum from Borneo and Peninsula Malaysia.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fall in love

Autumn in upstate New York soothes the soul. Benign weather, intense foliage colours, apple picking, the aroma of cinnamon doughnut lingering in the cool air and halloween for kids from three to a hundred and three....its a spa treatment every busy people should try. The fall foliage is short lived, no more than 2 weeks after which it gets decidedly grey and even depressing - casual tourists would be lucky to get the timing right.

We trekked a little at Taughannock Falls, a taller and much less touristed waterfall than its famous cousin, Niagara, and went back to the car for our next stop. I took up the tourist brochure to see where we should go next, its cover boldy proclaimed - "Fall in love".....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The king .... and the kong

Auyong's abode - part2
A lesser known fact of "Orchid King" is that on some nights, he became the spiritual medium of the monkey god. He would go into a trance as the god posses his body - during which believers would request for small favours or have the future told.

....the deity in the altar looks more like a chimp, but who am I to critique ....

Friday, November 16, 2007


Auyong's abode - part 1
These rat-tail orchids (Paraphalenopsis) line the nursery/home of the "Orchid King" Auyong Nang Yip (probably made famous in the West by Eric Hansen's book "Orchid Fever" although already famous in local circles)in Kuching, Sarawak. The place is 1 acre but has 50-60 thousand plants - by his estimation in Borneo Post dated July 2007. Actually,he has another nursery out of town, but we were rushing so we gave it a miss.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gastrochilus (obliquus ?)

Jostling to be pollinated - the ultimate goal of every flower.
Vegetatively its quite similar to Phalenopsis - its bloom is very long lived. This specimen from Thailand.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Colugo in the night

A few nights back, I saw a group of very small noisy nocturnal squirrels around Seletar Reservoir area so I decided to check it out today after work. This time round, I could only hear the frogs and insects, no signs of the squirrels. Nevertheless I pointed the lens at the treetops, searching cluelessly for a target. A couple of motor-bikers stopped beside me along the quiet dead end road and finding this stranger with his camera gear pointing upwards, looked into the same general direction. I was beginning to feel rather silly, when their noisy engines stirred up a furry ball on a branch 15 to 20 metres above them. One of them shouted excitedly - and following his direction, I saw this wobbly thing that I thought was a slow loris. Then, it stuck out its head and the large eyes glowed bright red in the light beam and I realised what it really was.

After explaining to them it was a flying animal but not a bat, they seemed satisfied enough to leave me alone with the beast. The recently purchased $100 torch came in handy for this and I manage to get some blurry shots but it disturbed it so much that it decided to take flight. It was a heart stopping and eerie 5 seconds - like a big brown kite about 40-50cm in wingspan, it glided, in slow motion, silently onto a tree and proceeded upwards in small leaps and was soon lost in the darkness. For people who do not know of such an animal, an experience like this on a moonlit night could easily make them weak in the knees.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Garden by the Bay

More on this massive project

channelnewsasia link

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A fallen log

Recycling - that's nature's way. But this bracket fungus occur abundantly on living trees too - I wonder if its doing any damage. Bracket fungus is rather long-lived, the colourful bands on the fruiting bodies are actually growth rings.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Saving China's plants

Here's a story that touches me, the spirit of the guy I mean, but take out the tissue, its a weepie....

See the Worldwatch Site

There will be more to add to the casualty list where the "functionally extinct" Chinese River Dolphin is firmly anchored. The three gorges dam which will symbolise and propel China's new wealth will at the same time impoverish its ecological heritage.

Some months back I was collecting plants at a site where a dam will be built in 2010.... I hope my plants will have a happier ending....

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Leader of the pack

A leader who stand out from the crowd or stand out for the crowd ?
Sarracenia purpurea
This is a North American bog plant that eats bug fallen into its clever contraption, a smooth walled jug filled with digestive juice. Not sure if it will go dormant in the tropics ....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Singapore buys Tropiflora

Herald Tribune link

Some background:
Tropiflora is a collectors' nursery specialising in bromeliads.
"Gardens by the Bay" will be situated where the future casino complex will be.

Some people will recall that Singapore made a similar conquest buying over stuff from a bromeliad nursery based in Pacifica (1 hour drive from San Francisco) in 1994. The result is Lady McNeice Bromeliad House in the Singapore Botanical Garden. A couple of friends were doing some temp-time work then and they painted a sad picture. People who visited the place then and now would have reached a similar conculsion. An internet source counted that of the 200 species of air plants acquired, only 20 survived a few years later. Many species that grew well in temperate SF did not do well here and would not flower. We are talking history here. Of course Tropiflora is based in a more tropical Florida east coast - still it does not mean they do not have temperate stuff from S. America.

This resembles a technology transfer situation at my workplace - "copy-smart" or "copy-exact" ? Local top dogs seem to think that transfer wholesale and paying full price for it will replicate success, actually .....I am digressing again.

So well, I will be looking forward to the opening of the Garden, like they say "see it before its gone !"

Friday, November 2, 2007

Baby tarts

....these baby tarts, each the size of one half your last finger nail, roll out of the great mass production machine that is mother nature. Man named it Hoya nabawanensis - after a locality in Sabah.

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