Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

After having shot my first dragontail in Gopeng, I hadn’t gone back to revisit till this year.

As Singapore’s weather, climate and general degradation of natural habitat takes it toll, there have been nothing but a few yellows floating listlessly amongst the grass.

check out the neat earring

check out the neat earring

Finding less and less subjects over here and noticing that even some of the common butterflies like the Peacock Pansy have recently become very scarce, it’s been very hard to get myself out of the house to hunt for butterflies.

Tongeia potanini glycon (Dark Cupid)

Tongeia potanini glycon (Dark Cupid)

Deciding that we needed to go on a butterfly trip so very soon after our Taiwan butterfly holiday, we decided to make it a short one to Gopeng.

Rhinopalpa polynice helionice - The Wizard

Rhinopalpa polynice helionice – The Wizard (I was so happy to photograph a pristine specimen of this butterfly I was beside myself!)

We put up at My Gopeng Resort, a very homely resort with an operations manager Sean/Shawn who enjoys picking up a microphone and crooning to his guests and chalets with air-conditioning.  Imagine that.

Rhinopalpa polynice helionice - The Wizard (topside)

Rhinopalpa polynice helionice – The Wizard (topside) – The Wizard has such fantastic angled wings

However, we had no need for air-conditioning the entire trip.  It was that cold at night (a kind of wet or damp cold with strong winds) and during the day of course, we were never in the room.

Papilio helenus - Red Helen

Papilio helenus – Red Helen – The Red Helen unbecomingly puddles in a drain

An interesting feature about this resort is that it is literally surrounded by durian trees.  There are rambutan trees and mango trees around (yum), but durians are its special feature.

Pachliopta aristolochiae - Common Rose

Pachliopta aristolochiae – Common Rose

Quite literally throughout the day, even at night, you can hear the tub thumping’ of jolly durians destroying short shrubbery everywhere.

In Singapore, when a durian drops, at least 4 or 5 bootied uncles will jump off their cheap plastic chairs and start circling the trees like Westies on the hunt, all eyeing each other with a secret wish that the other would tire and go home.

When one Singaporean uncle finds it the rest will congratulate him … with a secret wish that he’d now be satisfied with his one durian… and go home.  But that hardly happens at durian season in Singapore.

Odontoptilum angulatum angulatum - Chestnut Angle

Odontoptilum angulatum angulatum – Chestnut Angle

Over at My Gopeng Resort, everybody tries not to walk under the durian trees.  No, I wish durians had eyes as the Chinese saying goes, but there were accidents in the area.  There was one particularly horrifying one where a seven month old baby had been hit by a durian while in her mother’s arms and died from the impact.

So yes, durians are so common in Gopeng, you can find an entire mound of them in varying stages of rot because they lie where they fall and then they accumulate in a heap as more of the durians fall throughout the day without bootied Singaporean uncles to fight over them.

Ok. Enough about the durians.

Neptis harita harita - Chocolate Sailor

Neptis harita harita – Chocolate Sailor

While we were at Gopeng, we visited three places: Gua Tempurong the park, Gua Tempurong behind the mountains and Bah Wah, a small community of Orang Asli just outside my Gopeng resort.  Look for the sign that says “Welcome to Bah Wah”.

Libythea-myrrha-hecura-(Clubbeak)

Libythea-myrrha-hecura-(Clubbeak) – This butterfly was so skittish in Taiwan we could not get a photo of it.  It was also skittish in Gopeng but at least it stood still enough for us to get a proper shot.

I wouldn’t say activity was at its peak.  It is monsoon after all.  But we did manage to photograph pristine specimens of what we had photographed before and a few firsts.

Hypolycaena erylus teatus - Common Tit

Hypolycaena erylus teatus – Common Tit

If you’re intending to go to Gopeng anytime soon, Bah Wah is a good place to explore.  There are many trails leading to different areas of the forest with some of them ending at different parts of the river.  But do take note that is is the monsoon season and it almost always rained in the afternoon without fail.

Hypolimnas bolina bolina

Hypolimnas bolina bolina

Hasora taminatus malayana

Hasora taminatus malayana – My first White Banded Awl

I have to say shooting the Awls were one of the highlights of the trip.  I’ve never managed to photograph any of these in Singapore.

Burara-gomata-lalita-(The-Pale-Green-Awlet)

Burara-gomata-lalita-(The-Pale-Green-Awlet)

Athyma reta moorei - Malay Staff Sergeant

Athyma reta moorei – Malay Staff Sergeant

I had the chance to do a video with a very friendly Malay Yeoman (Cirrochroa emalea emalea) who decided to make me its best friend forever for about 15 minutes:


Till my next butterfly post, bootied Singaporean uncles, keep hunting for those elusive Singapore durians!

For all durian lovers out there, you might have heard of Musang King, Mao Shan Wang, Red Prawn, etc.  But how many of you have ever tasted the original, unadulterated original species of durian?

Durian Asli shape

Durian Asli shape

Fondly called Ye Shan Liu Lian (Wild Mountain Durian) or Durian Asli, this prickly original is large, long and the spikes are long, sharp and twisted.

check out the long spines of the durian asli

Check out the long spines of the durian asli

This durian, unlike the Musang Kings you can just wince and pay for if they’re scarce, is harder to find than you can imagine.  On top of that, finding a good Durian Asli is even harder.  Hence you can imagine why farmers started to clone out the original into hybrids.

The one at the bottom of the pic is durian asli.  look at the size difference

The one at the bottom of the pic is durian asli.  Look at the size difference

Nevertheless, like most of the excellent and exotic things in life, these durians are an acquired taste.  Not a very reeky durian (as in you wouldn’t pick up too much of a smell from it), if you put your nose up close to the flesh, you’ll be able to pick out, oddly enough, the smell of blue cheese!

The flesh of the durian asli

The flesh of the durian asli

This alone might put off some people already.  But they won’t know what they’re missing!

This durian tastes nothing like I’ve ever tasted.  On the first bite (the flesh is chewy but not too dry or too watery), there is a light sweetness.  This is quickly followed by a short note of bitterness and then the most interesting of all, an aftertaste of… Bailey’s!  Well, not exactly Bailey’s, but definitely tasted like a shot of sweet liquor on the palate.

A whole basket of durian... it weighs as much as 40kg when only quarter full so imagine how heavy it is when filled to the brim

A whole basket of durian… it weighs as much as 40kg when only quarter full so imagine how heavy it is when filled to the brim

This is the most intriguing part about its taste.  After the shot of liquor there was nothing left on the palate or in the throat but a clean clean taste.  It was very odd as most durians would leave me feeling very full or dry and needing to drink water.

Not normally someone who would eat all of the seeds of a durian (I normally preferred to try different durians and invest my quota accordingly), I ate everything.  All of the seeds.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  It was like being in Charlie’s Chocolate Factory trying out some weird candy.

Mr Cleong Leong

Mr Cleong Leong and an anticipating customer standing nearby.  Yes he sells coconuts too!

If you would very much like to try this durian or any other durian in Gopeng that you can fathom, you can approach Cleong Leong (his facebook page is here (https://www.facebook.com/leong.chin.56?ref=ts&fref=ts) … no he won’t let me take a proper photo cos he’s camera shy so you’ll either have to figure it out from the side profile above or go by the front of My Gopeng Resort and look for a very tall tan strapping man with spiky hair, a chopper and a homegrown goatee standing by a very humble looking stall with white chairs and umbrellas all around.

He’ll fill you in on the different types of durian, how to differentiate them and I love it when he says “If you don’t like a durian here, you have to chuck it and get another!  It’s the rule!”

P.S. Durian season is currently going on now in Gopeng from December until around February.  There may be other seasons during the year but it’s best you check before you go there and find out there are no durians! *gasp*  Now I’ll just poison you with more photos of delicious durians that are not Durian Asli!

Not durian asli... but this particular durian has a very flat shell.

Not durian asli… but this particular durian has a very flat shell.

durian6

Not durian asli... interesting shape though

Not durian asli… interesting shape though

Not durian asli but this is another one of my favourites

Not durian asli but this is another one of my favourites

Not Durian Asli... but this is nice and bitter

Not Durian Asli… but this is nice and bitter