Archive | February, 2012

Little Cynda

28 Feb

For a the past 6 months there has been a bit of baby fever flare up in our home, so when our friends Wade and Theresa brought home little Cynda we were ecstatic to get over there and get our baby fix.  Here are a few from our lovely, rainy morning with Cynda.

Textures of the Town

23 Feb

It is always my favorite part of any trip when you are able to break away from the inevitable tourist traps and spend some time down a back alley, or in this case taking a short walk through a fishing village, face to face with the textures of the town.

Asian Kids on Rock: Judas Priest

21 Feb

Today we we are taking it down to Metal Town! We posed the question to “E” class, what does the lyric “you don’t have to be old to be wise”, as sung by Rob Halford of Judas Priest, mean to you? Let it be noted that this “E” class is made up of a handful of ten year olds who are in the “awkward stage” of learning English.  Here are some of our favorite answers.

You old and you don’t need to be very wise. you just be “so so” wise.
-Sally

One is, I don’t know that mean? But I think that word just said you doesn’t be old can be wise. You can at you wise. You need to catch the time. Don’t work everyday. Need to go out.
– Bruce

I think is the young people can be wise, and the young people many you can do things. The old people maybe they are not wise, or they may never read a book.
– Sharon

you don’t have to be old to be wise?
1. you are wise, is not old.
2. you aren’t old, is the wise.
3. you are wise.
4. you aren’t old.
5. you want be wise, don’t be old.

– Sam

Asian Kids on Rock: The Grateful Dead

20 Feb

For a new project with our students we decided to start introducing them to lyrics from  various genres of music and have them write down their interpretation of what the artist is trying to express.  In theory this exercise is for the students to practice their writing and critical thinking, but mainly we do it for the laugh.  The result of the first class has been hilarious and insightful.  Here is “P” class on the classic Scarlet Begonias by The Grateful Dead.

“Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right “

You seldom see a light in your life, mabey you have no idea what it is or why it here. Just think positive. Anything can be a grace.     -Anita

It’s mean, in a while you have a good idea in a strangest place but you think that’s right, because you’re pay attention on that thing, you won’t care about it is a good place or wrong place.     -Betty

I think it means once apon a time you get a good idea but it was strange. Other people didn’t like it. But you think it is right.     – Ryan

I think this sentance has magic. You don’t what things is there. maybe there is beautiful. Maybe there is scary. But if you want to see that. You need to go inside. If you want to do. Just do it!     – Linda

I think it our chistans spite, I think in the badly world, you need light.                            Or if you in the restroom you need the light.     – David

We are going to keep the kids ROCKIN ON so leave your song request or dedication on your comment and we’ll have the kids write a personal shout out for you.

A Room With A View: Mabul

19 Feb

Mabul Sipadan SMART Divers Resort in Borneo, Malaysia was the best dive resort we have ever stayed in. My only complaint was that they didn’t allow cannon balls off the balconies. I guess you really can’t have it all.

Welcome to the Jungle: A trip up the Kinabatangan River

18 Feb


Arriving in Sandakan, a small city in Eastern Sabah, Borneo, we did what most do and headed straight for the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. In Borneo, the allure of seeing these endangered primates in their natural habitat is too much to pass up and Sandakan is one of the top spots to do so. With two scheduled feedings daily visitors are guaranteed to have amble time to observe the highly intelligent creatures.

The close proximity of the feeding platforms provides onlookers a chance to ooh and awe at the remarkable characteristics of their cousin apes. Their wide range of facial expressions and dexterity in their almost eerily human-like hands alone, stand as evidence why they are, in fact, not so distant relatives after all.

The ease of access, proximity and regular daily feedings indeed make Sepilok ideal for most people. Those well thought out conveniences, however, led to one major problem for us the two of us… HUMANS.

When we heard of the chance to see this amazing species and many more in the wild, virgin rainforest, we signed right up.  After a two hour drive from Sandakan, followed by a 45 minute boat trip up the Kinabatangan River we arrived at Kampung Bilit, our camp for the night. Our guide from the local village, Lim, stood smiling with an out stretched hand and in a loveable Malay accent said, “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Walking the long wooden dock to the camp we watched a two foot long, blue-tongued monitor lizard slowly crawl off into the dense thicket of trees. Above the entrance to the camp a Crested Serpent Eagle sat perched, waiting for his next meal to slither by.

Before getting back into the boat to search the river and its many tributaries we questioned our guide about the rich variety of species native to the area and how many we could actually hope to see. “Proboscis Monkey we see no problem. Macaques, of course can see too many. Birds of so many kinds. Kingfishers, Hornbills.  We just look, ok?  Crocodiles. Yes, I think. Maybe we go at night. Pygmy Elephants need to be  very lucky to see it. Snakes, Leeches, Scorpions all watch out for. Ok?”

While we hoped to avoid several of these inhabitants, we were excited to spot a crocodile albeit a bit uncomfortable with idea of doing at night. Honestly, we were so stoked to see the monkeys that we didn’t really hope for much else.

Almost immediately, our guide spotted a huge Orangutan just outside the jungle camp. Lim referred to the solitary male as  “our local resident”. Not far down the river we saw the first of several dozen groups of Long Tail Macaques. This particular family group was occupying the better part of an entire fig tree for their daily grooming session.

The area is know for its great variety of birdlife and draws serious birders from around the globe. While Chinese Egrets aren’t exactly a rare find, they are still impressive in their size and grace.

Most of the boat trip was spent viewing the ever so unique Proboscis Monkeys. Borneo is the only place in the world where they can be found and on the Kinabatangan we found loads of them. The single alpha male is easy to spot. Just look for the longest nose and biggest belly. While the females, have a smaller more upturned nose. These rather large, endangered primates are excellent swimmers and use their distinct noses as a sort of snorkel.

Nearing the end of our tour and the onset of dusk, we were satisfied with our sightings but still hoped for a crocodile when our driver suddenly sped towards an abrupt movement in the water ahead. We got there just in time to see two Borneon Pygmy Elephants climb out of the river and trample a path off into the rainforest. Aware of our great luck, yet wishing our sighting had been a bit longer, we turned in time to see a large male enter the river.

A full unobstructed view of this highly endangered, purely wild, magnificent creature swimming the width of the river just before our eyes was an unforgettable moment. The beauty of dusk cast yet another sense of awe over us, as we headed back up the tributary, ending our “so lucky to see” river tour.

During dinner, a very odd looking Bearded Pig walked right up to the camp. Luckily for the pig, most of the local villagers are Muslim. Instead of this unusual looking swine being treated as an easy meal, one of the staff called out “Maggie” and tossed some scraps her way.

The night cruise was a bit unsettling at first, knowing that in the darkness there was still  an endless amount of critters, crawlers, creatures, and crocs. Once on the river, the break in the trees opened to a sky littered with stars. The moon light with the slow hum of the nocturnal chorus actually turned out to be quite calming. We spotted a few Buffy Fish Owls and a pair of Blue Eared Kingfishers but no glowing red eyes of a crocodile.

Early the next morning, the river was a stunningly peaceful setting to view the wide variety of bird species. Storm storks, Broad Bills, Oriental Darters, Rhino-horn Bills, and fishing Hawk Eagles capped off our Kinabatangan sightings.

Just before leaving the jungle, we noticed a sign posted: tree seedlings for sale. Planting it seemed only a tiny contribution in the ongoing fight against deforestation. It still felt good though, physically putting in one more fruit bearing tree to help sustain the host of endangered species living there. After all, we plan to return one day for the crocodiles that eluded us and hope to again be appropriately greeted with a “Welcome to the Jungle”.

Lugan Lantern Festival

8 Feb

For most of the day I thought I was going to photograph the YianShuei Firework festival in Taiwan. For those of you who don’t know what this is, its an annual festival where participants jump up and down in front of a massive wall of fireworks and bottle rockets that are being aimed and blasted right at them.  You can imagine my surprise when we arrived at Lugan Lantern Festival and no one was dressed in make-shift body armor and motorcycle helmets.  There were however, lots of children and families looking at the handcrafted paper lanterns and a MASSIVE CROWD.  Not quite what I had expected, but still an interesting night.

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