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Jungle flowers

I took some photos of flowers and plants during our trip to Gunung Stong, intending to identify them with their Latin names and all that, but it turns out my book "Plants for Tropical Landscapes" really only focuses on plants for gardens, so I'll just tell you what I managed to pick up about the plants.

There are a number of wild ginger varieties there (the Zingiberaceae family). This is the flower of one - it grows on the ground, and as you can see it captures water in its cupped petals

I was surprised that ginger plants actually grow long stems kind of like bamboo - I guess because I only ever see the root, I never thought about what happens above ground. These next two are ginger too - I think.

This is a palm that is particular to the Gunung Stong area

and this is a Pandanus of some kind, lots of them there
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Sunrise at Jelawang Waterfall, Kelantan

I went on a nice hiking trip last week, to Jelawang Falls (aka Stong Falls) in the Gunung Stong State Park (GSSP) in Kelantan . It’s said to be the highest waterfall in SE Asia (apprx. 300m). In any case, there is an amazing view from the top, and we got to see a wonderful sunrise on the second morning – here’s a short film I put together (length 1:20)

When I got back and was looking at the photos I noticed that for a while the sun seemed to be sitting in a cup made of light or something (can’t find a good way to describe it…)

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Worms & Vermicomposting

One thing I’ve definitely learnt so far is that a blog needs regular updating, and doing good posts takes time.

And I always want to do things in detail, so I put off doing posts because I’m missing some small factor.

Anyway, the full post is not complete, but here’s a film on how to prepare a vermicompost bin :-)

Just say ‘No’ to plastic bags

(politely though, a little courtesy never hurt anyone ;-))

Doing a bit of blogsurfing (‘blurfing’??) on Sunday I came across a post on Yinhao’s blog, who was apparently inspired by Nikkiko who asked people to “take a picture of yourself with, something to represent, not using plastic bags?” and then we get a link on her sidebar.

Well, thanks to my wife, I have been severely trained into not using plastic bags; actually I always tried to using them too much, but she would glare at me so much when I came back with even one bag, that I made even more effort :-)

We used to come back from the market with a bag for almost every stall we went to, and sometimes more. But we started to avoid them, and after about six months we had reduced the huge pile of plastic bags we had stored up and now have quite a good system in place. Cloth shopping bags (keep one in the car) and Tupperware for wet stuff.

Plastic bags are really useful, mainly because they are light, waterproof and durable. The problem is, these qualities also make them extremely polluting and damaging to the environment.

A plastic bag will take about 500 years to decompose – so, to get some perspective, if a Portuguese had left a plastic bag in Malacca when they first arrived in 1511 – it would have just decomposed by about now. In Singapore about 2.5 billion plastic shopping bags are used every year, so in Malaysia it must be more – imagine how many will be clogging up the land in 500 years if we carry on at this rate! And even if they are incinerated, what a waste of energy – using energy to burn something that took energy to make…

There are some arguments that paper bags consume more energy to make, transport, etc. (UK government report) but there’s a simple solution to that – reusable bags.
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From linear to circular

The concepts of linear and circular time fascinate me. The most well known is, I suppose, is the Abrahamic eschatological concept of the ‘end of times’: i.e. as in Armageddon, the Day of Judgement, etc. The belief that the world was created, had a beginning, and that it will one day come to an end.

This is linear – i.e. in a line. Linear time makes sense to me, until someone produces a time machine. Even considering the relativity of time, Einstein only proved that time can be relatively slower in one ‘frame’ compared to another – not that one can go back in time.

Another widespread concept; particularly in Hinduism (and by implication Buddhism, but not necessarily), and apparently in Maya cosmology too, is the concept of cyclical time, or ‘ages’. Again, expressed in terms of cosmology, it means that there was no beginning point, and will be no end point of the world. It will simply carry on changing.

The Big Bang theory lends some credence to this, given that the universe is constantly expanding, and will therefore in theory eventually contract back to the initial compressed point.

For me, one problem with the circular, at least using a diagram in the way I have, is that it implies that things go back to the way they were initially. Which is why I like the idea of a spiral better: the way I see it, things tend towards equilibrium, and thus many things seem to repeat themselves, but on every ‘pass’, they have changed from before.

The spiral is really just another line, with a beginning, and never repeating itself; but the advantage of the spiral is that it reminds us that the past can ‘catch up’ with us. Everything has a consequence; and we’re not advancing straight into a virgin future, untrammelled by the past; nor can we just carry on because everything is going to be wiped clean and we start over again…
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