Rotterdam & Dordrecht

When my friend Inez and I decided to make a day trip to an interesting town in the Netherlands, the original plan was to visit Dordrecht. Then other friends told me about a nice way to travel from Rotterdam to Dordrecht, by Waterbus ! Public transport by boat. Twice an hour between Rotterdam and Dordrecht.

Waterbus

So we changed our plan a bit and combined Dordrecht and Rotterdam. That is actually too much for one day, both historical Dordrecht and modernistic Rotterdam deserve more time. So in this report only some impressions…:-)

We arrived at the impressive Central Station of Rotterdam, finished last year. Not easy to take good pictures. Next to it the skyscraper complex of the Delftse Poort. We took the metro to the iconic Markthal, a combination of  residences with a shopping center. The interior is spectacular, but unfortunately we were too early, as it opens on Sunday at noon only. Nearby are the famous Cube houses of Dutch architect Blom, built already in 1977. From there we walked to the Erasmus bridge, passing on our way many other interesting buildings. The picture of the Erasmus bridge shows at the other side of the river the fascinating building of De Rotterdam by architect Rem Koolhaas.

As an Amsterdam guy I am supposed to be negative about arch-rival Rotterdam, but honestly, I was impressed and will come again.

The boat ride was fun, although the weather was not very favorable. Big container ships and other boats on the river, several ship docks, this is the heart of maritime Holland. Several stops between Rotterdam and Dordrecht, you can take your bicycle with you. It took about one hour to reach Dordrecht and the Waterbus took us right to the old historical center.

Dordrecht

Here is a video clip of the Waterbus

It was almost lunchtime when we arrived in Dordrecht, so first we walked around to find a place to have food and a drink. It had started to drizzle, we could not use one of the many cafe terrace, but had to go inside. I had an Uitsmijter and a glass of karnemelk, both delicious. An Uitsmijter is a very Dutch lunch dish, here is a recipe . Karnemelk is a kind of buttermilk and also very Dutch..:-)

Lunch

 

For Dordrecht the same holds as for Rotterdam, you could spend days, exploring the many gems in this historical town. Also here a few impressions only

We were lucky, the Town Hall is still used by the council, but on the first Sunday of a month it is open to the public for a couple of hours…:-). Interesting architecture, mixture of Renaissance and Neoclassic style, many restorations.

At the end of our walk we visited the Museum of Dordrecht. There was an interesting exhibition of the Haagse School and one with paintings by Breitner, one of my favourite painters. We spent quite a long time there

What could be a better way to end this pleasant day than with a Lente Bok beer…:-)? Especially when it carries my name…:-)

Lunch

Lentebok

 

 

Homage to the Vondelpark

When I moved to Amsterdam in 1961, as a 17 year old freshman, I had lodgings near to the Vondelpark. Later, after I became a teacher, I have been living again close to this park, which can be considered the “Central Park” of Amsterdam..:-) Time for a homage.

Vondelpark

The Vondelpark was built in four phases between 1864 and 1878. Below is the situation around 1882. Notice that Amsterdam was still a small town, mainly contained within the “Singelgracht”. Where I would live ~100 years later, was still farmland. Note that the map has been rotated slightly and that the park (lower right) has a separate detailed map at the left

Kaart

Being back in Amsterdam at the moment, I decided to visit the Vondelpark and take lots of pictures. It was beautiful spring weather. I started at the western entrance. Here I am looking back to this entrance. You can see clearly that the park is below the street level

West entrance

There are a few cafes in the park and on a sunny day many people will come here to enjoy a drink. Others will just relax in the grass, or even take a sunbath..:-). The sycamore avenue (Platanenlaan) was originally designed as a race course. For horse riding, in the beginning bicycles were not allowed in the park. Now it is the other way around..:-)

People walking their dog, joggers, roller skaters, bicyclists, sunbathers. Or just resting in the grass, enjoying another type of grass…LOL. At some places the smell of marijuana is so strong, that you almost can get high, just walking around.

Vondelpark

Vondelpark Vondelpark

Gradually I walked/biked eastwards in the park. On the south side of the park, a affluent neighborhood developed, so the park entrances from that side became more posh and elaborate..:-)  The rose garden was a later addition (1936). By the way, this rose garden is one of the most popular (and dangerous!) gay cruising areas of Amsterdam…:-)

There are three more cafe’s in the park. In the Groot Melkhuis opened in 1874, you could drink fresh milk. Now it is a popular self-service cafe-restaurant with a playground for the kids.Here you can read what Tripadvisor says about it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Blauwe Theehuis is another popular venue. It was built in Modernist style in 1937, after an earlier tea house had been destroyed by fire. The Vondelpark Pavillion is a beautiful building, designed in Italian Renaissance style and built in 1878. Along the north side of the park, the Vondelstraat houses beautiful villas for the happy few..:-). Two churches can also be found here. The Vondelkerk was designed in neogothic style by famous architect Cuypers (Rijksmuseum, Central Station)

Originally the park was named the “Nieuwe Park” but later renamed Vondelpark after Holland’s most famous poet Joost van den Vondel. A statue of the poet was placed in the park in 1867. The bandstand was built in 1873. Several more sculptures can be found in the park and about each of them a story could be told. I will mention only the Mama Baranka sculpture, which was placed here in memory of Kerwin Duinmeyer, a 15 year old Antillean boy, who was killed by skinheads in 1983 because of his skin color.

It was difficult to stop taking pictures on this sunny day in spring…:-) Nice cherry blossom, Egyptian geese with their chicks, a hot dog vendor, and everywhere people relaxing.

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

In the eastern section of the park, it is crossed by a bridge, the Vondelbrug. After the park was created, north and south of the park new neighborhoods came into being. Divided by the Vondelpark! Here is the situation in 1905.

Vondel bridge

City planners wanted of course a connection road “through” the park, connecting the two streets, indicated with a blue line. But for many years the association managing the park, resisted and it was only in 1947 that the connecting bridge was opened.

Passing under the bridge we reach the eastern end of the park, with the main entrance, near the Leidseplein.

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

Much more can be told about the Vondelpark. Here is an interesting video (13 minutes, in Dutch) about the history of Amsterdam’s most famous park

Kemensah Krazy 12-4-2015

A few months ago Aric asked me if I was interested to join him and a few of his friends on a hike, called Kemensah Krazy.

website

They were thinking about the Kemensah Kinda Krazy, 15 km, “ideal for those who want to have a feel of what the jungle is all about without going to extremes

Could I go the distance…:-)  Hm, I was pretty sure I could, with my almost daily morning exercise in Bukit Kiara. So I registered for the 15 km hike. Checking more carefully what to expect, I found on the website this profile of the 15 km hike. It made me slightly nervous…:-)  Distance no problem, but up and down all the time, total ascent (and descent) 850 meter

profile

The start was at 9 am, but we had to be there at 7:30 am to collect the race card and a BIB number, which you have to fix on your shirt. The race card will be punched at the various checkpoints and the BIB number contains a tag that will record your start and finish  time. Here is my BIB  number. With my nickname Kwai Loh..:-)

BIB

The whole event was organised very well. Free shuttle buses took us from the car park to the start. There breakfast was provided and you could leave a bag with a fresh set of clothes at a counter. For our hike there were six checkpoints, with free water and fruits.

For the 15 km hike there were about 200 participants, just after the start there was a big crowd, slowly moving forward. The organisers had done their best to create an attractive circuit. Sometimes wide logging roads, but also narrow jungle trails and a few steep slopes. Those slopes formed real bottlenecks, at one place we had to wait for about 45 minutes, in the hot sun. We had decided to walk at our own pace, Aric and his friends were faster than me, and often I walked alone, which I did not mind at all…:-)

It was a tough hike, much more strenuous that I had expected. There were a few moments that I thought about giving up. Actually there were quite a few participants who did, halfway. And almost everybody was huffing and puffing. I may have been the oldest participant and one Indian couple asked about my age. When I said I was almost 71, they replied: Wow, we are half your age. That you can do it, gives us strength to continue.  Really nice to hear.

The last (very steep!) part of the hike could be skipped without missing a checkpoint. Aric was waiting for me around there, to tell me that…:-) Sweet. But I decided to struggle on.

And I made it !!

When I shared the finish picture with my siblings in Holland, my youngest brother commented : “Everybody else went home already?”  LOL. But his next comment was that he complimented me…:-). Actually it was true that I was one of the last finishers…:-)  It took me more than 6 hours to hike this 15 km.

Here is the official result. A few participants finished after me. Aric (Cheah Yoke Seng) finished late too , but that was because he had been waiting for me! Later he told me that he and his two friends also had moments where they considered giving up!

results

Here are my certificate and my medal.

Certificate

Medal

And here is a Google Earth map of the circuit. There were three loops, green, red and finally blue. The red one was quite strenuous. Will I (we) do it again. No lah.  But it was a good experience

Map

And of course I had to show off with my well-earned T-shirt. Here in IKEA. You may note that my tummy is still there…:-(

Showing off

Family gathering

When I am back in the Netherlands, we always try to organise a family gathering. This time on 18 April, one day after my 71st birthday. First we met in the family house at the Conradstraat, where we grew up and where my youngest brother and his family are now living.

Conradstraat

Conradstraat

It was a beautiful day, so we decided to take a walk through our hometown and see how much had changed..:-). Here are the six Stuivers, as we call ourselves. A stuiver was the popular name for a 5 cent coin, before the Euro was introduced.

The Stuivers

With the perfect weather, our native village (now a town) looked very attractive with quite a few historical buildings still standing and well-conserved. For Dutch readers of this blog, our Reformed Church is the Gereformeerde Kerk, the other one is the Hervormde Kerk. In English they are both “Reformed” and it would take many pages to explain the difference..:-)

Of course also a lot of renovation has been going on. The modern town hall (2003) has an eye-catching architecture. Next to the railway station a bike storage facility has been constructed in the form of a green apple :-).There is modern sculpture and some of the new residences look quite special

We had booked for our dinner in Casa Havana, a buffet restaurant inside  Avifauna This bird park was opened in 1950(!) as the first dedicated bird park in the world. We have been here regularly in our youth, but for me if was the first time in many decades to revisit the park. Before our dinner we had a stroll through the park. Of course birds in cages, like the hornbills and the flamingoes, but many also roaming free. Very nice, we should have come earlier, as the dinner was waiting for us…:-)

The buffet restaurant turned out to be a popular, crowded and quite noisy venue. A table had been reserved for us and we had a very friendly waitress. Starting wih a welcome cocktail, free flow of wine and beer, a large variety of food, even port with the cheese! Value for money.

“Shall I take a picture of your group”, the motherly waitress asked me. Here is the result

The family

The problem with buffet restaurants is that my stomach is not big enough..:-( Here is what I managed to consume (hm, actually there was such a variety of starters that I had two plates).

dinner

After the dinner we walked back to our cars. Spring is a few weeks late this year, so many trees still were barren. It gave the pollard willows (knotwilgen) an almost magical appearance

IMG_5925

IMG_5927

Before going home, we had a farewell drink in the family house. A very nice and satisfactory reunion!

In the Conradstraat

Copycatting, copycatting, copycatting

In my last journal I wrote that I had made a long hike in Bukit Kiara with a group of hikers. I joined their Whatsapp group and they know about my interest in waterfalls. Last week a message was posted in this Whatsapp group with a link to  Paradise Malaysia Waterfalls . Of course I was interested and I opened the link. Surprise!   Hey, it is about me!  Here is the opening page (click to enlarge).

Waterfalls

The website belongs to the Big Blue Taxi Services and this article has been added to the site in August last year, by ‘bigblue’.

But I have never had any contact with this company, I have never used a Blue Taxi in KL and when I read this: Avoid Blue taxis in KL at ALL cost! , I never will in future, LOL. So, how is it possible that I appear on this site?

Time for some investigative  Google search… :-) As I suspected copycatting, I did a search for “Dutch enthusiast Jan Stuivenberg” and got this:

Google

Bingo! Big Blue Taxi Services is there, but top of the list is a STAR article “Our Best Waterfalls” dating back to 2009. And yes, that rings a bell…:-)

In 2009 my friend Joe Yap was very active with her Waterfall Survivors group, drawing attention from a STAR reporter, Louisa Lim, resulting in an article about the activities of the WS group titled  Fighting for the Falls .Joe told her about me, that I was her “sifu”,  I got an email from Louisa and in the same STAR issue a second article was published: Our Best Waterfalls

STAR

When you compare the two texts you will see that they are identical, except for one small, but telling detail: in the Big Blue article  the word five  is omitted, and the title mentions Top 8 Must Visit Waterfalls” . And indeed, in the Big Blue article 3 more waterfalls have been added.

There are more differences. In the Big Blue article the description of the waterfalls is much more elaborate than in the original STAR article.

For example, about the Jerangkang Falls in Pahang.

Here is the STAR description. Not my words, by the way, they were written by the STAR reporter …:-)

Jerangkang STAR

And here is Big Blue (click to enlarge)

Jerangkang Big Blue

The first paragraph is identical. The rest of the text is mine! Copied from the Jerangkang page  in my Waterfalls in Malaysia website. Double copycatting..:-). Ok, the pictures are different.

Did Big Blue do all this? No, it is more complicated.

In the Google search there is another hit, the website Holidays in Malaysia . In May 2010, almost five years ago, and six months after the STAR article, a certain Kenny published an article Best Waterfalls In Malaysia on this website. He added one more waterfall to “my” five…:-). The Geruntum fall in Perak. The rest of the text is identical with the STAR article, but he adds a few pictures. Here is Jerangkang again, including a picture

Jeraqngkang Holidays in Malaysia

And the Geruntum fall links to a separate page: Splashing Time At The Ulu Geruntum Waterfall , published by Kenny in July 2010. Fair enough, for this article he mentions  the STAR as source. It did not take me long to find out that he had copied the content, lock, stock and barrel from Having a splashing time , written for the STAR in 2009 by my waterfall and birding friend Chan Ah Lak !

Do you still follow me…:-)? Because we are not yet there…:-).

The Google Search has another, more recent hit: My Travel Journey September 2012  This is a blog, written by “John” . Here is the opening page

My Travel Journey

And here is the part about Jerangkang on his site. The first two paragraphs are from the STAR article, the purple part has been copied from my Waterfalls of Malaysia site.

Jerangkang My TRavel Journey

For this waterfall no pictures have been copied, which makes the sentence: “These pictures cover the falls until step 15, so there is still work to be done…!” rather meaningless.

For other waterfalls he copies the pictures too, actually just linking to the pictures on my website (which is considered impolite in Cyberspace!) Here is a part of Lata Kinjang, first as shown on my site

Kinjang_WoM

And here is the same part of Lata Kinjang on John’s site. When I check the source code of the page, I see that the whole page has been extracted (using MsOffice Word?)  from my site, even including the table structure, leading to misalignment of the lats picture…:-)

Kinjang-My Travel Journey

In this blog two more waterfalls are added, bringing the total to 8. Why the Bukit Larut (Perak) fall  and the Giam Klimau fall (Sarawak!) are selected from my site, is unclear to me. They are not that special.

Far enough, at the end of the page, he writes: For more info can go to http://www.waterfallsofmalaysia.com/index.php……….  But of course it is still copycatting.

Now we are almost there, finally…:-) When I compare this My Travel Journey version with the Big Blue one, I find only minor differences. Big Blue does not link to my Waterfalls of Malaysia pictures. They have edited (and improved) the layout of the page and made some textual changes. At the end they mention the Waterfalls of Malaysia site, and also that they used My Travel Journey as their source.

But it still is copycatting, copycatting and copycatting…:-) My Waterfalls of Malaysia site has a contact option and the least they could have done, is to contact me and ask my permission.

Final copycatting reconstruction:

STAR article (2009)  > Holidays in Malaysia (2010) > My Travel Journey (2012 > Big Blue Taxi Services (2014)

And one last remark. On all these sites I am introduced as the  “Dutch enthusiast Jan Stuivenberg, who has paid a visit to more than 110 of the nation’s 130 waterfalls

What utterly nonsense about “the nation’s 130 waterfalls“, LOL. When the STAR reporter wrote her article, there were 130 waterfalls described on the Waterfalls of Malaysia site! When you visit the site now, you will see that the present count is 183. And there are hundreds, maybe even thousands more in Malaysia.

Journal 21-3-2015

How time flies. It is almost months ago that I published my last Journal! Before I start forgetting what I did, I better write an update ..:-)

In February we visited our friends Pat and Roger in Melbourne. We enjoyed very much their hospitality and visited interesting places. During our 12-days trip I took more than 800 pictures and I am still struggling to write a trip report. Here are a few, just to get an impression.

On 19 February the Chinese Year of the Goat started. Last year on the first day of CNY, I visited Houses of Worship in KL with my friend Joe Yap. This year we decided to explore Putrajaya. There is a lot of interesting architecture in this government capital of Malaysia, resulting again in many pictures. Full report here, in this journal a few highlights of our visit. I find the older buildings rather megalomaniac, but many modern ones are beautiful and stylish. Like these ministry buildings.

Putrajaya

Making a trip with Joe on the first day of CNY might become a nice tradition. Like having CNY lunch with my friend George, this time on the 2nd day. But of course I also went to Parit Baru, Aric’s hometown to to celebrate CNY with my adopted family…:-). After first visiting a “new” waterfall with Siang Hui and Nick. Another tradition, they celebrate CNY in Teluk Intan, not far from Parit Baru, and the last three years we have visited new waterfalls in Perak on the 3rd day of CNY: Lata Naga Air (2012),  Ulu Licin  (2013) and Upper Damak (14). This time our target was two waterfalls in the Klah river, near Sungkai. A beautiful trail and nice waterfalls. Detailed report later…:-)

My friend Rani joined this waterfall trip and came with me to Parit Baru for the CNY party of Aric’s family. Quite a crowd. There was food and fireworks. Here is the official picture. One Indian, one Malay, one Kwai Loh and many Chinese. There was a penalty if you were not wearing red and I was upset that my orange shirt was not red enough…:-)

CNY Parit Baru

Two weeks later I was back at Sg Klah, this time with Edwin, Janine, Paul and Fahmy. During my first visit we thought that we had found the second fall, Lata Tujuh, but comparing my picture with the one on the Internet, that was not the case. Looking at the Google Earth map, we had an idea about the possible location of this Tujuh fall, so I went back. True, we found another fall on that location, but again, not Lata Tujuh. However, it was a very pleasant trip with nice company. Looking for a suitable place for lunch, we found a nice shop, Nasi Bamboo Sg Klah. Will sure come again!

Of course I still walk regularly in Bukit Kiara. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Recently I joined a group of hikers for a long hike, from TTDI until Desa Park City! A fun group, we had a birthday party, with cake, under the highway..:-)

I became a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara. We are worried about the plans of JLN to turn the park into a “recreational arboretum”. Here is a letter, written to the STAR by Pola Singh and me. Will it have any effect?

Upgrade of Bukit Kiara - Keep us in the Loop, Metro Star 18 March 2015

For another article Pola asked me if he could use some of my flora pictures. Of course no problem, so I selected a few. Here is the beauty of Kiara..:-)

We have started a cleaning and renovation exercise in our condo. Throwing away a lot of stuff. Like my old specs and my outdated computer and programming books. Bought a new bookcase for my books. The storeroom looks much better now. More to come…:-)

Close Encounters

The Close Encounter concept has been introduced by ufologists, people who believe in ufo’s and aliens. You will not be surprised that I don’t, although, to be honest, the Spielberg movies  E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, belong to my absolute favourites….:-)

Close Encounters

The close encounters in this blog post are different and more prosaic . Not between humans and aliens, but between spacecraft and “celestial bodies”. In the past  fifty years hundreds of close encounters have taken place, with spacecraft flying by, orbiting or even landing on planets, moons, comets and asteroids in  in our solar system. If you are interested in the whole list (314! and counting), surf to NASA’s National Space Science Data Center and select “Planetary Science”.

In this year there will be two memorable and exciting close encounters.

DAWN

Next week ( 6 March), the Dawn spacecraft will enter orbit around the asteroid Ceres. Here is an artist impression of Dawn and its travel to Ceres, starting already in 2007

Dawn

The asteroid belt is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is, with its diameter of  950 km, the largest of the asteroids. When it was discovered in 1801, it was considered a planet for some time. As you see, on its way to Ceres, Dawn has first explored Vesta, the second-largest asteroid (diameter 525 km). Here is a composite image of Vesta taken by Dawn. Note the three craters, nicknamed the “snowman” and the “bump” at the south pole, a mountain twice as high as Mount Everest…:-)

Vesta

Dawn left Vesta in September 2012 and is now closing in on Ceres. Here is a picture taken by Dawn ten days ago, on 19 February. Note the two bright spots. The scientists have no clear idea yet what they are, and of course they are getting excited…:-)

Ceres

Ceres is the final destination of Dawn. The coming months it will explore the surface of Ceres  from various distances and finally settle down in a stable orbit (July 2015). You can follow Dawn on the Dawn Blog

NEW HORIZONS

On 19 January 2006 the New Horizons spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral. Destination: Pluto, at that time still the ninth planet of our solar system. But not for long, because later that year Pluto was degraded to the status of dwarf planet, together with Ceres. The left picture shows the trajectory of New Horizons, with its actual position on 28 February, the right picture gives an artist impression of the spacecraft closing in on Pluto and its moon Charon.

New Horizons trajectory

New Horizons and Pluto

After passing Jupiter in 2007, the spacecraft has gone into hibernation for considerable times, to save energy. Every now and then waking up to let Earth know that it was still alive…:-). Last year in December, it became fully awake again.

As you see, Pluto is an outsider, with its very elliptical orbit. We know consider it a member of the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft will fly by on 14 July this year and come as close as ~ 10.000 km! How will Pluto look like? Here is an artist impression of Pluto’s surface, its moon Charon and the Sun. Yes, that is our Sun, not much more than a bright star. Communication with New Horizons takes more than 4 hours, one way.

Pluto

If the spacecraft keeps functioning, we will know a lot more about Pluto after the fly by. Exciting!

New Horizons will not go into orbit, just fly by. With the little fuel left, it will try to visit a few more members of the Kuiper Belt, and then leave our solar system, like the two Voyagers before. But that is a topic for another post.

ROSETTA

One more memorable event in 2015. I have reported a few times already about Rosetta, now in orbit around the comet 67P. This comet will reach its perihelion (closest to the Sun) in August this year. Already part of the comet is evaporating (forming the famous “comet tail”). Rosetta is still exploring the comet from various distances. The left picture, taken from far, shows the evaporation. The right picture is a close-up from the surface, taken from a distance of 8.9 km only!

67P

close up

The location of the Philae lander is still not accurately known. The scientists are hoping that soon this lander will get enough sunlight (it is probably in the shade of a rock wall) and will wake up again. Let’s keep our fingers crossed..:-)

 

Anwar & Saiful

On 10-2-2015  the Federal Court of Malaysia upheld the ruling by the Court of Appeal  that  Anwar Ibrahim was guilty of sodomising his aide Saiful Bukhari in 2008, and sentenced him to five years’ jail. Article 377B of the Malaysian Penal Code was applied.

Anwar

Saiful

The last few days I have received concerned questions from family and friends, if it was still safe for gay people to live in Malaysia. My answer is: don’t worry, this was a political process, a successful attempt by the powers that be, to eliminate the charismatic opposition leader.

Why then was I so shocked and depressed the last few days? Pity with Anwar? Not really, he has behaved as a typical alpha male, like Bill Clinton, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Chua Soi Lek, just to name a few. But I am worried about the future of Malaysia, my 2nd home.

In this blog I will give some background information, as I have noticed that there is a  lot of misunderstanding.

Let me start with the “infamous” article 377 of the Malaysian Penal Code. And not only of  the Malaysian one! It occurred in 42 (!) of the former British colonies. An archaic law, repealed by now in some of the more civilised ones.

Here are the relevant parts of article 377:

377A:  Any person who has sexual connection with another person by the introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth of the other person is said to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature.

377B: Whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and shall also be liable to whipping.

377C: Whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature on another person without the consent, or against the will, of the other person, or by putting the other person in fear of death or hurt to the person or any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than twenty years, and shall also be liable to whipping.

I like to draw your attention to two points

  1. The definition in 377A mentions “another person”, NOT “another man” . So it covers anal/oral sex in heterosexual relationships as well.
  2. ONLY the man who puts his penis in the mouth or anus of “another person” commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature and will be punished. The other person goes free.

An archaic law. Here are results from a recent American sexual behaviour survey

Sexual Behaviour

Just an example: In the age group 30-39, an astonishing 59% of the women gave a man a blowjob. And mind you, although the woman is active, it is the man who is committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature. Sodomy? In the same age group, 22% of the women were sodomised!  The percentages for homosexual oral and anal sex are 6% and 3 %  “only”

Would the results for Malaysians be very different? If the law would be applied, the prisons would be flooded…:-) Actually the law is not applied often. According to the Human Rights Watch organisation, article 377 has been applied only 7 times since 1938! In recent memory, only two convictions, both concerning Anwar. By the way, note that in this article it is also mistakenly assumed that 377 is about LGBT!

Back to Anwar and Saiful. In 2008 Saiful started to work for Anwar as an aide. On 28 June 2008 he makes a police report alleging Anwar had sodomised him at a condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on 26 June 26 2008. Here is a timeline  published by the New Straits Times.A short resume: Anwar denies, claims that semen found in Saiful’s anus has been put there to incriminate him. In 2012 the High Court acquits and discharges him of sodomising Saiful. The prosecution appeals and in 2014 the court of Appeal sentences Anwar to 5 years. The Federal Court has upheld this verdict.

Here are the two main actors for the prosecution, the Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail and the Public Prosecutor Mohammad Shafee. Shafee may well become the next AG. Both men are long time adversaries of Anwar.

gani

Shafee

Time to give my own opinion!  Did Anwar and Saiful have sex?

Personally I am convinced they did. And I am sure it was consensual. I even would not be surprised if Saiful had started making avances. Does that mean Anwar and Saiful are gay? Anwar is a good husband and a grandfather. But he likes men too, so he is bisexual. About Saiful I am less sure. Apparently he is married now, but what does that mean.:-)? I understand that he has been fascinated by VIP’s. And from this wedding picture he has reached his goal…:-) Here the MB of Kedah is paying his respect. That is Mukhriz, by the way, the son of Mahathir. Another adversary of Anwar…:-). Coincidence?

Mukhriz & Saiful

Here is my reconstruction of the period before Saiful reported to the police on 28-6-2008. Bold by me

  1. Some time after Saiful started to work for Anwar, they get intimate. From a IPU reportMohd Saiful lodged a police report claiming that not only had Anwar sodomized him on the afternoon of Thursday 26 June 2008, but that he had been sexually assaulted some eight or nine times against his will by Anwar over the previous two months. Eight or nine times against his will! When it is remarked how a 61-year with a history of back pain can do that to a 23-year old, this part of the report is no longer mentioned. So the charge becomes 377B and not 377C
  2. On 24-6-2008 Saiful visits Najib. About a scholarship, but the topic of his “relationship” with Anwar is also discussed. Can that be true? He may also have met police officers. Why?
  3. On 26-6-2008 his last encounter with Anwar. He buys KY Jelly! From a Bernama report: Mohd Saiful, in his evidence, had spoken of his previous encounters he had had with Anwar, the unpleasant sensation of pain and the reason for bringing the KY Jelly lubricant.
  4. The next two days  Saiful doesn’t pass motion, and doesn’t rinse himself, “to keep the evidence intact”. Why wait two days?
  5. He then lodges the police report on 28-6 and next visits three hospitals to get his anus examined. Report by the Borneo Post

Looks like Anwar has been framed, don’t you think so?

I am not the only one thinking like that. Here is an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Caught in political sex trap, quoting Wikileaks info:

The cable that deals with Dr Anwar’s sodomy case, dated November 2008 and released exclusively to The Sun-Herald by WikiLeaks, states: ”The Australians said that Singapore’s intelligences services and [Singaporean elder statesman] Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted’.”

The document states the Singaporeans told ONA they made this assessment on the basis of ”technical intelligence”, which is likely to relate to intercepted communications.

The ONA is also recorded as saying that Dr Anwar’s political enemies engineered the circumstances from which the sodomy charges arose.

”ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, ‘it was a set-up job and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway’,” the cable states.

Of course the publicity after Saiful lodged his report was enormous. Confronting the press he was accompanied by his “Uncle Pet”. Here he is, two pictures, one with Saiful’s lawyer, the other one giving an interview to Malaysiakini.

uncle pet

uncle_pet

Here is the interview. Uncle Pet discusses Saiful’s visit to the several hospitals and voices his indignation about an article by RPK in Malaysia Today , suggesting that Saiful might have been sodomised by uncle Pet himself.

Although that was a preposterous comment by RPK, it is also clear that uncle Pet was not good for Saiful’s credibility, so not surprisingly he has “disappeared” and is never mentioned in the court proceedings.

The main argument for the Federal court to uphold Anwar’s sentence was that they considered Saiful a credible witness. Credible in his account of what happened between Anwar and him on 26-6-2008. That may be true. But if my reconstruction above is correct, it should not necessarily have come to a court case. Consensual “unnatural” sex between two adults. Illegal, true, but hundred thousands of Malaysian couples do the same. Why only select and punish Anwar?

Shafee acknowledges that it has been a (legal) conspiracy.  It was sodomy, he argues, and all legal means are allowed to punish the culprit. Well, he will have a huge job to punish all (straight and gay) sodomites, when he will become the AG.

Shame on him. It was a political conspiracy. Selective persecution. Aimed exclusively at Anwar. I feel sorry for Malaysia.

Japan invades Malaya 1941/42

On 8 December 1941, just after midnight, Japan invades Malaya, one hour before the attack on Pearl Harbour. Less than eight weeks later, on 31 January 1942, the British Indian army has to retreat across the causeway to Singapore. A fascinating chronology of the invasion can be found here

One of the most decisive battles between the Japanese and British Indian army in the Malaya campaign has been fought near Kampar, the Battle of Kampar. The Japanese army advanced along the trunk road nr 1 and the British army had built fortified positions on the Bujang Melaka hill ridges near Kampar, overlooking the trunk road. My friends Chadel and Keong explored one of these ridges a couple of years ago and Chadel asked me recently if I was interested to go again and explore more. I was….:-)

We decided to follow the retreat of the British Indian Army from Kuala Kangsar until Serendah. In the three maps below (click to enlarge), the old trunk road nr 1 is highlighted in black. Red circles indicate points of interest. In what follows, I will comment on these “red spots”

tripmaptotaal

 The Sungei Perak bridges

On 19 and 20 December, heavy fighting took place on the Grik-Kuala Kangsar road near Lenggong. Japanese troops used the Cenderoh lake and the Perak river to float down in rafts, in the night bypassing Kuala Kangsar. It would be a disaster if they would take the two bridges (road and railway) across the Perak river, therefore the commander of all troops west of the Perak River, ordered on 21-12 an immediate withdrawal across the Perak river. This withdrawal was complete on 23-12 and the two bridges were demolished.

Here is where our recce started. We drove along the highway to Kuala Kangsar, where we had lunch in the Yat Lai shop, boasting on the best halal pow of Malaysia..:-) It was crowded and we shared a table with Ali, a friendly Malay gentleman, 83 years old. Of course I asked him if he had memories of the Japanese invasion. Not really anything  memorable, of course he was still a young boy, living in ‘remote’ Sauk.

The two bridges are still there, repaired of course, the impressive  Iskandar bridge still in use. The scenic Victoria railway bridge has been replaced by a new railway bridge parallel to it.

Intermezzo 1

Following the nr 1 trunk road to Ipoh, we passed Sungai Siput. It was here, 16 June 1948, that at the Phin Soon and Elphin plantations three European managers were killed by communists, leading to the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960). A few years ago I had looked for these plantations and found them, but no sign of a memorial. So it was a surprise to notice a signboard now at the entrance of the Phin Soon estate. Followed by disappointment when the security guard told us that a visit of the memorial was only possible with permission of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association in KL. After some sweet talk we could meet the estate manager, who was cooperative and willing to bring us to the memorial shed, but he didn’t have the key, so we could not enter. We will have to come back here.

Chemor

The British plan was to delay the advance of the Japanese army in order to give the troops in Kampar time to fortify their defensive positions. Chemor was one of the locations where the Japanese would be lured into an ambush. My military background is non-existent so I do not really understand the details of the ambush, except that it failed completely. The text pages below are from “Escape from Singapore” The limestone crop, mentioned in the text, has now been partly destroyed by the Lafarge Cement factory…:-)

The Kuala Dipang bridge

Our last stop for the day was at the Kuala Dipang bridge, near the confluence of the Dipang and the Kampar river, a few km north of Kampar. The present bridge over the Kampar river is a new one, but on a picture stumps in the water, remains of the old bridge, were still visible. On 28 and 29 December 1941 heavy fighting took place here. The bridge was demolished, delaying the advance of the Japanese army.

We found the new bridge over the Kampar river, but did not see any stumps. A friendly local angler explained that those stumps had been removed already quite some time ago, but that some bits and pieces could still be found in the field next to the river. And indeed, we found some old remnants, nothing spectacular, but still interesting

We stayed overnight in Kampar. The Rumah Rehat (Resthouse) was fully booked, but hotel Fully Well (what’s in a name, lol) was a good alternative. We had dinner with claypot chicken rice, one of the best I ever have tasted.

Kampar must have been a small village during the war, a few streets, between the slopes of the Bujang Melaka and the numerous tin mining ponds. With a famous school, the Anglo-Chinese school, which became the headquarters of the Japanese army during the occupation. Now the town has expanded a lot, many tin mining ponds have been filled in and become residential areas and the location of the TAR college.

The Battle of Kampar

Just before Kampar the British Indian army had built fortified positions on three ridges overlooking the trunk road, Thompson’s ridge, Green Ridge and Cemetery Ridge. It is here that from 30-12-1941 until 2-1-1942 the battle of Kampar was fought. Chye Kooi Loong, a Kampar teacher and local historian has written a monumental book about it. We would have loved to meet him, but he passed away last year April. The book is also available online (in pdf format)

When Chadel and Keong explored the Green Ridge a few years ago,  there was still a signboard. It had disappeared now, so we had to find our own way. Not easy, no trail, swarms of mosquitoes. We found a few trenches, got lost a bit, found our way back. According to Chadel there should be more remnants, but we could not find them. On our way down we followed the stream between Green Ridge and Thompson’s ridge, with even a nice waterfall…:-) A pity that the authorities apparently are not interested to preserve this part of Malaysian history..:-(

After lunch in Kampar we relaxed at the Batu Berangkai Fall. A big pool, nice cascades. When I went back to the car to get my swimming gear, I managed to lock myself out… Fortunately Chadel turned out to be an experienced car thief, breaking into his own car!

The resistance of the British Indian army was so fierce and the Japanese losses so considerable that after four days of fighting the Japanese commander seriously considered to retreat and fall back to Ipoh. But at that same time, the British Army became aware that Japanese troops had landed at Teluk Intan. They were worried that these troops would cut off the main supply route from the south, and decided to pull back, to the surprise (and relief) of the Japanese! Would history have been different if the Japanese had retreated earlier…:-)?

The British Indian army retreated along the trunk road to Trolak and Slim River, where on 7-1-1942 the Battle of Slim River took place. We followed them, 73 years later…:-)

The Trolak Bridge

We had seen a picture of the Trolak bridge, a few km before Slim River, fallen undamaged in the hand of the Japs. After studying the maps we found it. The trunk road 1, as it was in 1942, is not everywhere identical with the present one! After the war this road has been “straightened” in several places. Look at the map. The original nr 1 road is in black, the straightened parts are in red. Near Trolak it is only a small stretch, but from Slim River to Tanjung Malim it is a completely new road. Actually the first toll road in Malaysia! My friends still remember that you had to pay 50 cents toll, until later the highway (green color) was constructed.

In Slim River the Rumah Rehat had rooms available. I always like to stay in these Resthouses, originally built for traveling civil servants. Sometimes quite basic, but often in a nice location. We had to pay RM 10 more, because we were not civil servants..:-). Slim River was a small kampung in 1942, now it has grown into a village, no problem to get food.

 The Battle of Slim River

The two Slim River bridges are far apart, not easy to defend. The map below gives the defensive positions. Main line of defense was at Trolak, where railway and road run very close. See map. It became a disaster. The Trolak force cold not stop the Japanese army, and through miscommunication, the troops near the Slim River bridges were not aware that the Japanese were approaching, resulting in such a chaos that the two bridges fell undamaged in Japanese hands! Here are the two bridges, the railway bridge has been made double track, the road bridge could well be unchanged since the war. You can read more about this debacle in Britain’s Greatest Defeat

The old nr 1 road from Slim River to Tanjung Malim (now the A121) still evokes a feeling of the past. Very winding and quiet. Could the enemy be waiting around the corner?  Here is a short video

Intermezzo 2

On our way back home, we made a detour to Batang Kali, to find another location related to the Malayan Emergency.  On 24 December 1948, six months after the killing of the three planters in Sungai Siput,  twenty four unarmed villagers were killed by British troops in what now is known as the Batang Kali Massacre. The British government has always denied responsibility for this war crime. There are plans for a memorial, I know the location of the plantation where it happened, but we could not find anything, it looks like the plantation doesn’t exist anymore. Here too we have to come back another time

The Battle of Serendah

After the debacle of Slim River, the British commanders decided to give up Selangor (including Kuala Lumpur!)and Negri Sembilan and fall back to Johore for a final attempt to stop the Japanese approach to Singapore. Trying to delay the advance of the Japanese army, a Gurkha detachment fought a battle with the Japanese at Serendah, 10-1-1942. The frightened population had sought refuge on the Chinese cemetery, looking down on the village.The Gurkhas lost the battle and destroyed the Serendah bridge, but the Japanese were quick to repair it and the following day they entered Kuala Lumpur.

After lunch in Ulu Yam (famous for its loh mee), we had a look at the bridge and drove to the top of the cemetery, with a view of Serendah and the tin mining ponds. So peaceful now!

A fascinating trip. We are thinking about another one to Johore. The battle of Muar and Gemas, the massacre of Parit Sulong and of course the fall of SIngapore.

Meet your great-(~10 million times)-grandmother

In my blog The Tree of Life, published a few months ago, I wrote about the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of all placental mammals, that it was a shrew-like animal, living about 65 million year ago. Terrestrial, with insects and fruits as food.

Our maternal ancestor

Yesterday Yale University has published an interesting update. Our ancestor most probably was not terrestrial, but lived in trees. More a squirrel than a shrew. This conclusion was drawn, based on a study of fossil ankle bones of Purgatorius as our LCA was named.

purgatorius