Month: October 2014

Penang pleasure boat trip warning

As recounted to me by a friend this morning. We are very grateful she survived uninjured.

Boat departs Penang yesterday for an evening pleasure cruise in the waters near the island. A while later the engine developed problems and the steering failed. The boat was just drifting.  And the captain and crew were totally unprepared and had no idea what to do.  There was no communication equipment, no backup plan, apparently no lifeboats or any other alternatives, they did not distribute life jackets or give any useful information or help to passengers. A couple of passengers could not swim.

They drifted and almost ran aground, but somehow, as they were close to shore, they could contact someone with a mobile phone to come and tow them with a dinghy.

The dinghy towed them to the marina, and for some reason the captain started the engine, put it on full throttle, and having no steering, then lost control and rammed a luxury vessel at high-speed, damaging both sides of that vessel, as it then hit a pylon on the other side.  Meanwhile, the engine on full throttle exploded in a cloud of fumes – fortunately not injuring anyone with flying metal.  The passengers managed to get off safely at the marina, finally.

I may not have the details exactly right, and I don’t know which boat or company it was.  Trip Advisor had even given good reviews of this particular cruise. If you really want to take a boat cruise you might want to ask some elementary safety questions first.  And find out where the life jackets are stowed.  I would also take or wear nothing valuable, so that it could be abandoned if I needed to swim to shore.  So keep the shore in sight, or know which direction it is.

A six day road trip around Malaysia – 6/6

This is day six of a six-day road trip, following Day 1 , Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

I have done this part of the trip, from the north of the east coast to Penang, twice already by car, and also by bus.  Here is a blog on the car trip in the opposite direction.  So, the plan was to make an early start, and make a few stops on the way to make it an easy and interesting drive.

The hotel breakfast voucher said breakfast was from 7.30 in the restaurant and we had vacated the room, packed the car and were standing outside the restaurant at 7.30.  And we were alone.  The restaurant was empty, with the lights off. Reception was closed and the door locked. After looking around the hotel we found one employee, who found another employee, who told us they could give us something at the pool bar. No other guests were around, but judging from the car park, only two or three other guests had stayed overnight.

hotel pool

hotel pool

I had hoped for a halfway decent breakfast, similar to the previous hotel’s, for we had a long day ahead of us.  What we got was pretty appalling.  Kaya toast – that’s coconut jam on toast and coffee, and a choice of noodles or rice.  Some oranges were on display, so we had one each.

kaya toast

kaya toast

noodles or rice

noodles or rice

We drove the one minute to the local beach – not directly accessible from the hotel.

the nearby beach

the nearby beach

the nearby beach - Pantai Bukit Kluang

the nearby beach – Pantai Bukit Kluang

And then we got underway.  Traffic wasn’t heavy, but they are only two lane roads, and some local drivers just crawl along at a speed that is not viable for long distance travel.  And there are limited chances to overtake safely.

heading north west towards Penang

heading north west towards Penang

Once into the mountains, though, traffic thinned, and there were more overtaking lanes than I remembered, so we could make reasonable progress.

a couple of rivers to cross

a couple of rivers to cross

kk

We are following Route 4

I like to stop at this rock by the river – it is nice, but marred by huge amounts of litter.

information on the rock

information on the rock

a nice spot to stop for a break

a nice spot to stop for a break

We came across logging lorries, and saw them coming in the opposite direction too, thus wondering if they take west coast logs to an east coast mill, and east coast logs to a west coast mill.  Overtaking lanes were sufficient to enable us to overtake.

up into the mountains

up into the mountains

We stopped at the summit for break.  And after that it was downhill. Literally, not figuratively.

crossing the lake after the summit

crossing the lake after the summit

crossing the lake

crossing the lake

a tank on display

a tank on display

sign

sign of elephant

heading west

heading west

heading west and down towards the coast

heading west and down towards the coast

heading west and down towards the coast

heading west and down towards the coast

We had made reasonable time, and could go to the canopy walk near Kulim and still get across Penang Bridge before rush hour.  So we turned off towards the walk.

after the turnoff to the canopy walk - palm oil plantations en route

after the turnoff to the canopy walk – palm oil plantations en route

On a weekday it is very quiet.  You can drive up the road to the right and park closer than the first car park you come to.  So we did the canopy walk.  When in the sun it was very hot.

at the canopy walk

at the canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

river below

river below

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

canopy walk

This is perhaps the third or fourth time I have been here, but the first time in about two years.  The place has deteriorated and needs some simple maintenance.  Just a little work, and it would be good again.

canopy walk

canopy walk

After the walk we went for a swim / paddle in the stream.  There was a lot of water this time, and it was quite rapid. It was very cool, and lovely after being in the hot sun.

we swam after in the nearby stream

we swam after in the nearby stream

Then we just headed back to Penang.

crossing Penang Bridge

crossing Penang Bridge

We reached home at about 4.30PM.  We had left the hotel at 8.30AM, and stopped for petrol, stopped at the rock, at the mountain summit, at the canopy walk, and to fill the tank once back in Penang – probably 1 1/2 hours in total, making the driving time about 5 1/2 hours. Mr Googlemaps said 5′ 21″, so this time was quite accurate.

Day 1 , Day 2, Day 3, Day 4,  Day 5, Day Six.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in October

A short update on what is happening in the garden this month:

At the beginning of the month there was very heavy rain and subsequent flooding, followed by terrible haze.  Most of my papaya trees and some of my Bougainvillea were badly affected.  They are still not looking healthy three weeks later.  I hope they will survive, but I don’t know.  Many other plants showed no signs of damage.

As I said above, the papaya trees are now unhealthy.  Here is a photo from last month and one today of the same tree.

 

papaya

papaya last month

2014-10-25 08.09.42 (Copy)

Having lost a lot of fronds, it is less healthy than before. The smaller one on the left also unhealthy.

Otherwise there is not much change from last month.  October is supposed to be a rainy month, and it has rained a lot. Almost every day, or evening, but usually for a maximum of an hour or two.  And it has for the most part been pleasantly cool, too.

My water collection - this is enough to water the garden for four days.  There is copper in every container to keep mosquitoes away.

My water collection of rainwater from the roof – this is enough to water the garden for four days. There is copper in every container to keep mosquitoes away.

The passion fruit vines shed some leaves every day, and I used to compost them in a container, but I have recently found it is better just to lay them in direct sun for a day, and then they turn brown and can be directly put on the garden as mulch.  Very easy.

drying passionfruit leaves in the sun

drying passionfruit leaves in the sun

The tomato plants have died – killed by mealy bugs and the fact they don’t like the climate much.

 

tomato plants finally died

tomato plants finally died

however, another tomato plant has come up in a pot where I sewed mock orange seeds

however, another tomato plant has come up in a pot where I sewed mock orange seeds

The blue pea flower plants are as usual – the older ones dying down and newer ones growing and flowering.

blue pea flower

blue pea flower

Passion fruit vines are yielding one or two ripe passion fruit per day.

ripening passion fruit

ripening passion fruit

The tiny seedlings I planted a few months ago have grown to around 1 metre high.  Vines last a few seasons, so the plan is for these to replace the older ones in a year or two.  These younger ones can grow using the older ones for support. I might soon sow some more seeds as the growing season will soon be upon us.

And there are many green passion fruit growing.

so many green passion fruit

so many green passion fruit

I picked two pumpkins this week – the plants  are not currently growing any more full size ones, but the pumpkin vines are growing, including some new ones.

pumpkin this week

pumpkin this week

Sometimes the garden is full of bees, but at present there are not so many flowers, so not so many bees around.  But there is a bee in the photo below – in the centre of the flower.

young pumpkin vine

young pumpkin vine

tiny pumpkin growing - most will not grow to full size

tiny pumpkin growing – most will not grow to full size

The Cana lilies are flowering sporadically, as usual.

cana lily

Cana lily

And the plumbago are happy – they like rain.

plumbago

plumbago

Mock orange bushes also like rain, so they are almost all happy.  I have repotted two or three to larger pots, and a  couple of seeds germinated into little plants, which I potted.

repotted mock orange

repotted mock orange

tiny mock oranges recently germinated

tiny mock oranges recently germinated

I have also discovered that the mock orange bushes that are in the sun, or the parts of them in the sun, will produce ripened seeds.  The others in the shade produce seeds, but they don’t ripen. I have sewed many seeds, but my experience is that they tend to germinate around Christmas and after, so nothing has happened mostly.

ripe mock orange seeds

ripe mock orange seeds

another variety of ripe mock orange seeds

another variety of ripe mock orange seeds

However, two plants became sick.  Both were only 4″ high or so, and turned brown – with many of the leaves falling off.  This is a first for me.  They were in the sun – but mock orange generally grow faster in the sun and like it. One of them looks like it will recover as the top part of the plant is green with green leaves, but the other looks like it won’t survive. For me this is a mystery.  I have so many mock orange, and this is the first time to have such a problem.

very sick little mock orange

very sick little mock orange

The lime trees continue to survive, flower and even get tiny fruit growing.  Few grow into full size limes.

lime tree

lime tree

The Roselle are happy, and we’ve grown some more from seed.  We collect flowers every morning and Mrs Tropical Expat makes syrup and jam from them.

roselle flowers

Roselle flowers

roselle flower

Roselle flower

roselle flowers

Roselle flowers

The hibiscus plants are growing and flowering a bit.

hibiscus flowers

hibiscus flowers

And the Bougainvillea seem to have recovered from the haze damage and are happy again.

bougainvillea recovered

Bougainvillea recovered

I wonder if the rainy season will end soon, and the weather will heat up again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AES – killer cameras cash collection compromised – 2014 update

OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE

I noticed this article in the paper last week:

https://my.news.yahoo.com/rm700-million-spent-automated-traffic-enforcement-system-now-225928686.html

The gist of the article is:
-RM700million was spent for 831 AES cameras
-To date, only 14 AES cameras were fixed at 14 locations
-1,492,084 AES summonses issued since 23.9.2012
-1,298,015 summonses have not been paid so far

—————————————————————————————————————–

I don’t blog about politics in Malaysia.

But now the federal government is introducing speed and traffic light cameras. This affects me directly, as it makes driving more dangerous for me. As I result I am kind of following the news on it, but rather than commenting, I will just give links after the headlines or brief extracts on online articles. It’s quite an interesting saga, so far.

  • Firstly, the cameras were bought by the government at about ten times the market price:

“831 AES Cameras: RM200k More For Each Camera Due To Training, Says Govt”
http://www.malaysiandigest.com/news/36-local2/175431-831-aes-cameras-rm200000-more-for-each-camera-because-of-training-says-government.html

“Explain why speed cameras cost more than in the US, minister told”   http://www.freemalaysiakini2.com/?p=56434

  • Secondly, people don’t want them, but have had no say in the matter. Is vandalising the cameras the only way they can get their say?

“Third AES camera vandalised” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216390

“Four AES cameras vandalised in Perak” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216514

  • Thirdly, perhaps they want to expand the court system by involving more of the population in court cases.

“The Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court was crowded yesterday with more than 1,400 motorists who were issued AES summonses ordered to be present in court…” http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216093

  • Fourth: perhaps the Road Transport Department is acting illegally issuing summonses for AES “offenders”, anyway.

“Summonses issued under the Automated Enforcement System (AES) are invalid and Road Transport Department (RTD) officers do not have the power to issue summonses, or even charge the alleged offenders in court, PAS says.” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216368

  • Fifth: Penang is controlled by an oppostion coalition, and its Chief Minister, Mr Lim, says Penang won’t be installing AES cameras here.

Lim: No AES in Penang yet – http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?sec=nation&file=/2012/10/17/nation/12182240

  • Sixth: It appears you can put any number plates on your car anyway, so even if a camera catches you for something, it doesn’t matter, if you have done this.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216097

Gurney Plaza Starbucks new WiFi policy

In Starbucks, Gurney Plaza before you could simply connect to their WiFi with any number of devices.  Sometimes the speed was just fine, often it was slow, and sometimes almost impossible to use.

Anyway, I found out today they have a new procedure.  On your receipt is a WiFi code which enables you to connect one device for up to two hours.  If you log off one device you can use the code for another device.

So, it now takes even longer to get connected, as first you turn on the WiFi on your device, then connect to Starbucks, then open a web browser, wait for 20 seconds while it counts down, and then put in the code and wait again.  For me it took about one more minute than before.  But the network seemed faster, as possibly there were fewer users.

I am usually there less than two hours, so this works out fine for me, except for the longer connecting time.

But there is a problem.

To pay for your Starbucks coffee you can use the Starbucks app on your mobile.  So you need an Internet connection for the app to connect with the cash register to pay.  But you don’t get the code for the Internet until you receive the printed receipt. And you won’t get the receipt until you have paid.  But you can’t pay as the Starbucks app needs the Internet connection. Which you won’t get until you have paid. etc.

Unless, of course, this app works on a specific port, which is the only port enabled without putting in the WiFi code. I am going to have to test this.

A six day road trip around Malaysia – 5/6

This is day five of a six-day road trip, following Day 1 , Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

Up early again - the room faces east

Up early again – the room faces east

20141007 (2) (Copy)

20141007 (13) (Copy)

a morning swim

a morning swim

Not such a bad breakfast. Noodles, baked beans, chicken sausages, omelettes, watermelon, coffee etc.

breakfast

breakfast

noodles

noodles

omelette

omelette

nice view

nice view

Yes, safety first

Yes, safety first

The plan was to continue up east coast to Bukit Keluang Beach Resort. After leaving Cherating we hit urban sprawl.  Every traffic light was red, and traffic grew and grew. We tried to escape by going inland, but actually wanted to see the coast, so tried to return to it.  Nothing worked, and we ended up going through the country. Eventually we decided to use the motorway, and managed to find it. The booths weren’t manned, and it was free.

motorway entrance

motorway entrance

The motorway was quite empty, and most drivers very fast. After the motorway we headed north, but couldn’t find any turnoff to the coast.

heading north

heading north

a stop - where they overcharged us for fruit

a stop – where they overcharged us for fruit

At last we found a road to our right, heading east.

hoping to find the coast at the end of this road

hoping to find the coast at the end of this road

we found the coast!

we found the coast!

another nice beach

another nice beach

but blighted with rubbish

but blighted with rubbish

Once we’d found the coast we kept to the closest road to it, and headed north.

further up the coast

further up the coast

too late to swim now - we just want to get to the hotel

too late to swim now – we just want to get to the hotel

we find some cows

we find some cows

another nice spot with no one around

another nice spot with no one around

Next stop, the hotel.

we find the hotel

we find the hotel

 In future I would go straight through or past Kuantan and up the fast road to Cherating, and then  I would  use the motorway to Kuala Terengganu.  And go into the city, then head up the coast road. 

hotel

hotel

hotel room

hotel room

other rooms

other rooms

hotel room

hotel room

hotel room

hotel room

fiarly typical bathroom

fairly typical bathroom

The hotel was almost empty, being after the holiday, so for dinner we drove to Kuala Besut, which was about 10 minutes north. I parked at the waterfront.

at Kuala Besut

at Kuala Besut – I’d been here before

We had chicken, fish, vegetables and rice. Delicious.

chicken

chicken

delicious fish

delicious fish

Day 1 , Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day Six