Malaysia and Vietnam Trip 2017 : Fraser Hill (1)

Fraser Hill is a famous birding location in a hilly areas between Pahang and Serawak. The small town was used to be a mining outpost in collonial era, but now it has been converted into a recreational zone for Malaysian who get tired by city life. Its vast forest, cold temperature and some colonial era-bungalow make it looks like Kaliurang in Yogyakarta, but with less people and more birds.

We arrived Fraser Hill late in the morning, but it seems like the birds were still quite active this time. Jens has booked a garden view room at Shahzan Inn at the eastern side of Clock Tower, which is one of the most expensive hotel here. We got a free upgrade for deluxe room since there were not many people at the time (in fact, we could be the only guess here). The hotel was good and cozy, and our room was quite large and overlooked the golf field and some patch of jungle out there.

The Clocktower of Fraser Hill

Jens’ initial plan was to stay here for 4 days and then we moved to The Gap for three days. The Gap itself is located about 8 km away from Fraser Hill, with different kind of birds on the lower altitude. It seemed like we were really lack of research for this trip, as we found out that the hotel there has been closed permanently many years ago.

I told Jens about Stephen’s Place (formerly Buena Vista) at Telekom Loop which could be a nice place to spend the extra 3 days, and he agreed to do so. This place is so famous for nature lover and birders, as it was situated right on the most productive track of the hill. The owner ifself, Stephen Hogg is a wildlife photographer and some kind of moth collector, and he designed his garden to attract birds as much as possible. I sent an email to Stephen about the possibility to stay there during the next 3 days but so far there were no response.

So just like any crazy birders out there, we started to looking for birds righr after we put down our bag in the room. We stay at the balcony for about an hour and spotted some Pacific Swallow and Barn Swallow hawking over the golf course. A small flock of Long-tailed Sibia were seen on the Pine tree next to the parking lot–I never know that they are that big! It took me a while to notice the black-nest swiflet apart from the flock of Glossy Swiflet, which lack of white color on the belly. A pair of Large-billed Crow were seen flying over the golf course.

View from our room

After resting for half an hour we decided to take some look to the trail. We asked for a map in the lobby and the lady there told us to get a guide (which off course we wouldnt do). However we met Mr Durai, the local birdwatcher and a certified guide who has a small kiosk in Shahzan Inn. Mr Durai is so famous for giving tips on how to find most of the birds here (and all of them works very well!). I felt bad to get all of this information without using his service.. so to everyone who read this post, I recomend you to have at least one day guided tour with mr Durai!Both the receptionist and mr Durai told us to go to Hemmant Trail, which is not very long and perfect for easy birding. On the way there, we saw so many Streaked Spiderhunter and Black-throated Sunbird feeding on flowers in front yf Shahzan Inn and around the clock tower. They seems to be the most common bird here and can be seen everywhere.

Black-throated Sunbird

Streaked Spiderhunter

When we arrived at the entrance of Hemmant’s Trail, we were surprised to see it closed. There is a yellow policeman I line that blocked the trail, and we were not sure if we could go in or not. Off course we could easily walk in under that “police line”, but we afraid it was against the law. At the end we decided to play safe and stay on the asphalt road for the rest of the day before we figured out what’s happen.

Just a couple hundred meters from the Mosque we found our first flock. The first bird that we saw was Mountain Fulvetta, eating some berries on the bushes. Soon enough, a huge number of birds including Ashy Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Little Pied Flycatcher, Grey-chinned Minivet and Chestnut-capped Laughingtrush showed up again and again. The flock didnt last long though, as it suddenly become dead quiet again! We didn’t see more birds until we arrived at the golf course, where we found an Oriental Magpie Robin and our only Mountain Tailorbird for the trip.

Informative Boardsign. Indonesia should have these in every national park

Poor frog. Id?

We decided to go back to the hotel for a lunch, since we didnt see anything anyway. On the way back we met with Mr Durai again and have some nice chit-chat,  just before we spotted a flock of Sultan Tit who stayed up on the higher canopy–it was such a beautiful bird! We also spotted 3 Oriental Magpie Robins and a Gray Wagtail foraging close to the playground close to the hotel. Just before the hotel, we saw a Brown Shrike perching nicely on the powerline adjacent to the golf course.

Oriental Magpie Robin

After a good lunch at Strawberry Cafe, we talked to Mr Durai about those yellow line on almost every entry in the trail. He said that the trail is in maintenance since there were some fallen trees, but we should not find any trouble getting in there. He recommended us to go to Mager Trail at the afternoon to find some more bird, but we decided to take a rest a little bit before we went birding again.


Malaysia-Vietnam Trip 2017: Kuala Lumpur

So in the beginning of this year, I got invited by my friend Jens from Denmark to a birding trip in Malaysia and Vietnam. Some of you may have know who he is: a facebook friend who suddenly become my best buddy in birding. He is the one who invited me to a birding trip to his country 4 years ago, and that was also the last time we met each other.

Some months ago, he suddenly told me that he need a buddy for a birding trip aboard–an offer that I cant resist. We actually planned to go to Cambodia, but we found out that independent birders would not be accepted there. Since the guided tour seems to be too expensive for two, we decided to change the plan and go to this two country instead. This will be Jens’ second time in both country, while for me that it will be the first. We narrowed down the trip to four main sites: Fraser Hill, Taman Negara, Cat Tien National Park and Da Lat mountain area. Those sites are quiet famous for its birdlife, and we are hoping to find some endemics there.

So, to make things short I would start this story straight from the Kuala Lumpur Internatonal Airport. I was using AirAsia from Yogyakarta to KLIA2, which took about 2 hours. There, I took KL Transit to KLIA1 to meet Jens. As soon as I step off the plane, I spotted my first bird: House Crows, which were perching on the lamp posts. There were also some Barn Swallow and Glossy Swiflet flying over the airports. On the 5 minutes trav with the train, I saw more birds in airport area such as Common Myna and Cattle Egret. I was surprised to see the Milky Stork on some grassy waterhole next to the airport building.

Arrived at KLIA2

Station at KLIA2

It took me a while to find Jens in KLIA1. We ordered a taxi to Hotel Geo in Chinatown, when we have booked a room for a night. We used airport taxi which is a little bit expensive, but Jens said it is OK since he is too tired to use bus or train. It took us almost 2 hour to get in the town, and we didnt see many birds apart that Myna and Egret due to rain.When we arrived in the hotel lobby, I heard an Asian Koel singing but I couldnt find where it was.

From the hotel room, we could see a bunch of House Crow were roosting on the top of some building adjacent to the hotel, getting ready to sleep. As soon as its getting darker a group of swift were seen flying into the top of an old building. I was able to pick up some House Swift on it, but the others should be Glossy Swiflet.

House Crow’s roosting site

At the night, I just realized that Malaysia has different electricity outlet than the one we have in Indonesia. I was thinking about it but didn’t really do a proper research. I tried to find some adapter at a market across the road, but couldnt find any. Since it was already late, the are no shop open, so I borrowed an adapter from the hotel. I kinda afraid I couldn’t charge my gadget tomorrow since we planned to go early to Fraser Hill.

Morning at Chinatown

Next morning, I ordered a Grab Car to Fraser Hill. For you who didnt know, Grab Car is an Uber-like app company native to Malaysia and also operates in Indonesia. They used a fixed fare per kilometer (unlike Uber ) and we could see how much will it cost before we order a driver. The apps said it costs 126 MYR from our hotel to Fraser Hill, which is very low compared to regular taxi, but we decided that we should give more to the driver since it was a long way to go (and the extra money goes straight to the poor driver, instead of their company). The driver was very kind and he drove quiet fast. At the end Jens gave him 200 MYR since it was worth for the service.

There are not so many birds to see on the trip. Some Javan Myna was seen in front of the hotel when we were going to meet the drive. On the city border we saw all the common bird and some flock of Asian Glossy Starling. Some small pigeon were seen perching on the tree-top but we weren’t sure what they are. Eurasian tree sparrow were seen on a small suburb area outside of Kuala Lumpur. I finally spotted an Asian Koel on the highway, and there were some White-throated Kingfisher too perching on the lamppost. On the hilly road to the gap I spotted a lot Crested Serpent Eagle perching very close to the road, but the car couldnt stop for me to take its picture.

It took almost 2 hour for us to get into Fraser Hill, but it was so comfortable with our good driver. I would write more about our first impression of Fraser Hill at the next post.

List of Birds seen (bold for lifer):

1. House Crow

2. Glossy Swiflet

3. Common Myna

4. Milky Stork

5. Cattle Egret

6. House Swift

7. Javan Myna

8. Asian Glossy Starling

9. Eurasian Tree Sparrow

10. Asian Koel

11. White-throated Kingfisher

12. Crested Serpent Eagle

Lawan Korupsi Dengan Gerakan Nasional Non Tunai

Baru-baru ini dunia dikejutkan oleh keputusan Narendra Modi yang melarang peredaran uang 500 dan 1000 rupee di negaranya. Perdana Menteri India ini mengeluarkan kebijakan secara mendadak untuk membasi praktek Black Money yang menjamur. Tanpa diduga, peraturan ini menyebabkan efek samping signifikan yang bisa mengubah wajah ekonomi India untuk selamanya.

Uang 500 dan 1000 rupee merupakan pecahan mata uang yang paling banyak beredar di India, hampir mencapai 80% dari seluruh uang di negara. Peraturan dari Narendra Modi memaksa seluruh warga negara untuk menukarkan pecahan lama tersebut dengan uang baru di bank dan kantor pos, sekaligus melaporkan sumber pendapatan uang tersebut. Hal ini memang efektif untuk menghukum para pengemplang pajak, namun sirkulasi uang yang tersendat membuat dua pecahan kecil ini menjadi langka. Bisnis-bisnis kecil pun kesulitan karena tidak memiliki uang kembalian untuk pelanggan, memaksa mereka untuk mencari cara lain yang jauh lebih mudah. Baca lebih lanjut

Maksimalkan Kemampuan Gadget dengan Tips dan Trik di

Di masa modern ini, persaingan antar manusia menjadi semakin ketat. Kita dituntut untuk menjadi lebih cepat, lebih efisien, dan lebih pintar di berbagai bidang untuk tetap bertahan di dunia ini; termasuk dalam penggunaan teknologi. Dengan penggunaan yang tepat, teknologi pun bisa menjadi sebuah “jalan tikus” untuk menuju puncak kejayaan.

Ketika merintis sebuah toko online, saya dipaksa untuk menjadi orang yang efisien. Keterbatasan modal membuat saya harus pintar dalam memaksimalkan segala hal yang saya memiliki, lalu mengubahnya menjadi profit yang maksimal. Singkatnya, saya selalu berusaha mendapatkan keuntungan terbesar dari modal yang kecil. Tentu saja ini bukan hal mudah, namun tetap harus saya lakukan untuk tetap bertahan di derasnya arus dunia modern.

Tanpa terasa, kebiasaan saya dalam mengelola toko berpengaruh pada kebiasaan di kehidupan sehari-hari, termasuk saat menggunakan gadget. Berbagai cara saya lakukan untuk mengoptimalkan kemampuan berbagai gadget yang saya miliki, tanpa harus mengeluarkan banyak dana. Saya ingin mengeksplor kemampuan maksimal dari semua gadget tersebut, mengubahnya menjadi lebih cepat dan powerfull, sehingga bisa mendukung kehidupan saya yang serba sibuk. Baca lebih lanjut

The Law of Nature’s Uncertainity

It is not easy to work with nature, as one’s expectation rarely happens in real life. There are just too many mistery with it that our primitive brain cant predict up until now. We still cant find away to predict when an earthquake will gonna happen, where the next aurora will show up, or where does that f**** birds go when we brought an important client to see them.

I was scanning the paddyfield from the car when we spotted a bare, conspicious tree in the middle of it. It is the favorite perching spot of a Javan Kingfisher that I have been watching since the first time I came to Yogyakarta. Usually he (as i assumed it as male) will just stay there for the whole morning, sitting quietly with beak pointed down, ready to dive and catch every unfortunate small invertebrates below. However, today it wasnt there–and so does 2 other kingfishers in the area that we tried to find before. It wouldnt be a problem only if I didnt brought an important client with me, a birder and tourism scholar from Malaysia who promised to bring more friend if I managed to show him some good bird today.

With a very carefull word selection, I said to him that maybe we have a better chance to find the kingfisher in the next stop. I also explained that this is the best place to find the kingfisher and I know it very well since I live here. I know it is not a good way to say “this bird used to be here, i saw it last week” to a client, but after 30 minutes of wandering aimlessly in the paddyfield, at least I need to say something.

Luckily, he understand the problem. “I know, just like people said. Its always there, but when you brought me along it suddenly disappear!” he said with a huge smile, a very important OK sign for me to continue the trip. Baca lebih lanjut

A Short Story From The Tree of Life

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I was on the second floor of Biology Lab in my university, when some strange crowd took away my attention. There, right across the lab’s corridor, stands a big fig tree with some flying shadows jumping around on its branch, screaming various calls and songs that will attract any nearby birder’s curiosity. I recognized them as a bunch of Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) and Yellow-vented Bulbul (P. goaivier), two common urban birds frequently seen in this area. However, it was unusual that they gathered in a big number in a single tree like this.. so I expected something bigger in it.

As I took a closer look using my camera, I saw this little, squishy red ball squezzed between the bulbul’s pointy bill. It is the fig, the magic fruit that teases the desire of every hungry bird in the world. As my eyes got wider, I saw the very similar little balls hanging off on almost every branches of the tree, filling it with the cherry red dots among the bright green leaves. So my suspicion was true.. It was the time again, when the lab’s courtyard suddenly became a paradise for every birds and birdwatchers. The “Tree of Life” has released its magic to the world!

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