The Passing of A Giant – RIP Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015)

March 23, 2015 at 11:14 am | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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While the majority of Singaporeans were soundly sleeping on our beds, our Former Prime Minister and widely acknowledged as the Founding Father of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, passed away on the bed at the Singapore General Hospital at 3.18am local time. Hospitalised since February 5th this year for severe pneumonia, Mr Lee had missed the Lunar New Year celebration with his family. News of his hospitalization was only made public much later, about 17 days later. Since then the Prime Minister Office has been keeping the public informed and updated of Mr Lee’s condition. Though we read that his condition was critical and deteriorating at times, many Singaporeans were still praying and hoping for his recovery so that he can celebrate with us at our 50th National Day this coming August. So it still came as a shock for many of us when we woke up to the news of his passing this morning.

To Mr Lee Kuan Yew, rest in peace Sir, thank you for what you have done for Singapore.

‘I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There’s nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.’ – Lee Kuan Yew

LKY
Mr Lee’s wax figure at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong, where Itchyfingers visited few years back

A Different Garden

March 6, 2015 at 11:58 am | Posted in itchy backside | 1 Comment
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On our first morning at Kota Kinabalu National Park, we visited the Botanical Garden. Apart from the RM15 entrance fee (for foreigners 18 years and above) at the Park HQ, there is an extra RM3 for visiting the Botanical Garden…

signs
Path leading to the ticketing booth. Was surprised to see so many other trails accessible from the way to the Garden

Itchyfingers were even more surprised to find that their Botanical Garden seemed to be amongst nature…more like a forest botanic garden, which is not too manicured.

path
But the paths were well maintained and easy to walk

There were many orchids, with only some labelled. According to the sign, there are 102 endemic species of orchids in Kinabalu Park! Wow!

bulbophyllum-lobbii
Bulbophyllum lobbii. The distribution range is between 800 – 1,800 metres in altitude

bulbophyllum-lobbii2
Close up of Bulbophyllum lobbii. Orchid flowers are differentiated from those of other flowering plants by having one petal modified to form an elongated lip, or labellum

coelogyne-hirtella
Coelogyne hirtella

coelogyne-hirtella3
A high percentage of orchids are epiphytes, using other plants for support. But they do not obtain nourishment directly from the host, unlike parasitic plants. The “bulbs” at the base of the leaves of some species are the orchid’s storehouse of nutrients, thus orchid plants do not require soil to grow

orchid
Tiny unknown orchid species

rhododendron
Rhododendron crassifolium. Best developed in cool and moist condition, they are most common on the mountain from 1,200 to 3,000 metres. There are about 900 species worldwide and Borneo is the second richest island in South-east Asia to have about 50 species described

Ficus-tarennifolia
This Ficus tarennifolia is endemic to Kinabalu Park, with a distribution range of 500-3,000 metres

pink-maiden2
This is a common tree found in the Garden, the Pink Maiden (Medinilla speciosa)

pink2
Bright pink inflorescence that on one can miss!

Pink-Maiden
These turned into pink fruits

pink
Young fruits are pink in color and turn into dark blue when ripe. These are edible with sweet taste

flower
Forgot the name of this, but these were in abundance in the Kinabalu Park too

angel
Looked like a pair of Angel’s Wings! :D

symmetry
Symmetry….

dots
Did someone dot the rim of this leaf with water droplet? :D

plant
Lovely!

mushroom
Mushrooms! Always happy to find them!

Quite small for a Botanical Garden, but if you look carefully, you would still be able to discover some gems here. Pity there weren’t any pitcher plants around. A nice warm up for the day and we might come back to explore the other trails around the Garden if we have some time later.

Also see related posts:
> So Near Yet So Far
Goodbye Mandai Orchid Garden

So Near Yet So Far

February 25, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Note from Itchyfingers
Dear Readers, so sorry to have gone missing for such a long time and kept you waiting! We have been extremely tied up with our little handicraft business, but we promise to try to update the blog as often as possible!

Sabah is part of Malaysia. But unlike Peninsular Malaysia, where we folks from Singapore can easily visit by driving in via the Causeway, you will definitely need to take a plane to go to this easternmost state of Malaysia – one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. It is quite near to fly from Singapore (about 2.5 hours), and Sabah is definitely one of the to-go places for Itchyfingers. It is so near, yet it took us so long before we finally visited…

When you talk about visiting Sabah, most people would think of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Borneo. And if you talk about visiting Sabah to Singaporeans, most would think that you are going to climb Mount Kinabalu, otherwise they would wonder what is there to do and see….Well, climbing Mount Kinabalu is also one of our to-do things, but this time, we were thinking more about checking out the flora and fauna, especially the Rafflesia and the many Pitcher Plants found only in Borneo.

From the airport, we drove to our accommodation at Mesilau. As one of the main purposes to visit Sabah was to see pitcher plants, Tisu Boy planned our stay at the Mesilau Nature Resort, approximately 2,000m above sea level on the East Ridge of Mount Kinabalu in Kinabalu National Park. Mesilau is home to the only population of Nepenthes rajah accessible to regular visitors. It is the largest pitcher plant which can grow up to 41 cm high and 20 cm wide! (Look at our masthead! Hahah…)

After checking-in, we were told to drive to Crocker Range Resort, park our car and then carry our own luggage and walk up our resort. We were puzzled why the reception had to kinda emphasize the walking up bit…After parking our car, we saw this…

Witti Range Lodge
Wow! So nice!

But too bad, this was the Witti Range Lodge, not our room….Only now we realised they named the rooms by the different mountain range…

crocker-range
For our more budget rated room at Crocker Range, we had to walk up this slope, all the way to the end to our Room No. 9!!!!

walk
Imagine lugging our backpacks and daypacks to walk up…and Tisu Boy had his big camera bag to carry too! My hands were full and couldn’t take a photo. This was taken later after we settled down in the room and came out for a walk around the resort…

rm
At the end of the path laid our little resort….

entrance
There was this path into the forest and a DO NOT ENTER sign. We wondered where would this lead us to. Only after reading the guidebook and later confirming with the staff that we realised this was the path to see the Nepenthes rajah! (Did Itchyfingers find the pitcher plant? Find out from the next few posts!)

A regular visitor at the resort was this little fellow…

shrew
A shrew…He was seen rummaging the thrash bags lying around…

mushroom
Lotsa cute mushrooms along the path

flower
Flowers too…

We also kept seeing a little thrush-like bird hoping around, but the roof of the pathway covered most of the light so it was not easy to identify or photograph it.

Bornean Whistling Thrush
But luckily we had a great view of this Bornean Whistling Thrush the next day at another car park…

juvenile
We even saw the juvenile…

mountain
Just a walk outside our resort or at the car park near the restaurant, we could catch a glimpse of the majestic Mount Kinabalu Range….

mt-kinabalu
Look so near, yet so far!

mt-kinabalu1
At times, it would be covered by clouds…

mt
But I have no idea which angle would allow us to see the summit…

While taking photos, we were told by a couple that they just saw some red-coloured monkeys…Could it be the Maroon Langur? Excited, we rushed to the area they were pointing to but did not see any monkeys. We waited and kept a lookout and then we spotted some movement on a faraway tree…Then, we saw something reddish….But they were mostly too far and blocked by leaves!!!

We tracked and followed their movement to the back of another resort. My goodness! So cute!

langur
Maroon Langur, also known as maroon leaf monkey, or red leaf monkey (Presbytis rubicund) is found on the island of Borneo and the nearby smaller Karimata island

maroon-langur
Like their name suggests, these monkeys feed mainly on leaves and fruits. Not too sure what was this orange fruit they were munching…

fruit
This must be the highlight of our morning! :D

They stayed a while eating before retreating into the deeper woods…But Itchyfingers were happy!

We were heading back to our room to prepare our stuff for the afternoon when we heard some jumping around on a small tree. To our delight, there were some more langurs hanging around here!

langur-fruit
They were so much closer as they were on this low tree, feasting on the fruits. But we were constantly blocked by the roof of the covered walkway! Only managed to snap a few shots before they disappeared again… :(

passion-fruit
This time, we recognized the fruit they were eating was Passion Fruits! Could even smell it as they munched! Hahah….

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