What a Weekend!

On Sunday 3 December there were two major events in Aric’s family. His maternal uncle, David, who lives in Singapore, had come to Malaysia to celebrate his 80th birthday. He had invited the family for a birthday lunch. And the youngest daughter of Aric’s paternal uncle no 6 was going to get married and we were invited for the wedding dinner on Sunday evening. How to survive two sumptuous meals on one day?

The weekend started on Saturday evening with a pre-wedding party in Cheras where Aric’s uncle lives. Buffet style. It was a pleasant evening. As usual, I was the only Kwai Loh in the group, but by now I know most of the family members.

The birthday lunch took place in the Tropicana Garden Mall. Four tables. Sumptuous is an apt description of the lunch. Look at the menu, ten (!) dishes .

To survive, I decided to take only minuscule portions of the various dishes. And I also refused to have any alcohol, telling that I don’t drink before 6 pm, which actually is generally true πŸ˜‰ . In the food collage only the Longevity Birthday Peach Bun is missing.

There was karaoke singing. Aric is a good singer, but rarely sings nowadays. I recorded his song, but he doesn’t allow me to share it here. Pity, click here for the original song, it was a popular 1959 movie, The Kingdom and the Beauty.

Of course there was a birthday cake and the singing of Happy Birthday To You.

David in the center with various combinations of family, relatives and friends.

And the usual group photo.

Then finally the cake was cut. A very nice birthday celebration

We came home and had a few hours to rest and recover before we went out again to the Hee Lai Ton Ballroom & Restaurant in Puchong. The wedding dinner took place in a big hall on the first floor, twenty tables.

Left the parents of the bride, right the entrance of the couple.

The food was delicious. but again I took only very small portions. And as it was after 6 pm, I had a few glasses of wine. This time I took picture of the dishes, not of what I put on my plate.

It was a pleasant , traditional gathering with a lot of Yam Seng toasting.

Here we are posing with bride and groom. One of the traditions is that the groom has to uncork a bottle of sparkling wine. A modern element was that here both bride and groom uncorked a bottle πŸ˜‰

After filling the glasses they call the close relatives to the stage for a toast. That is basically the end of the dinner.

It was the end of a busy food-filled Sunday. But not yet the end of the weekend. David and his family had come from Singapore to Malaysia for the birthday celebration, but were also eager to have a look at our new penthouse. So we invited them for a get together on Monday evening. We had prepared drinks and snack food and they brought even more. It resulted in an animated party with a lot of wine πŸ˜‰

A group photo at the end of the evening. The next few days we were recovering.

What a Weekend !

Taiping, November 2023

At first i considered calling this post Eat Eat Eat, because during this trip I had three sumptuous dinners with friends. But I also did more than eating, so I kept the title neutral. There were two reasons why I came back to Taiping so soon after my October visit. My friend LIew Suet Fun had [published a new book and I wanted to attend the book launch on 25 November. And Sharen, another friend, born in Taiping but mostly living in Switzerland, had asked me to join her to Taiping and be her “guide” .

I boarded the ETS not in KL Sentral this time, but in Sg Buloh. First the feeder bus to the Mutiara MRT station, then the MRT to Sg Buloh. For me a much better option. The MRT has now a special section for ladies only. In the ETS I always choose coach C, because the canteen is there πŸ˜‰

I am very fortunate to have friends in Taiping who are willing to provide transport. Tung Lay Chun and Kar Seng usually pick me up from the station and bring me to my hotel. But first we had lunch, they know many nice eateries. This time they took me to the SSL Traders hotel in Kamunting, where the restaurant had a very affordable lunch promotion.

I had booked my usual room 201 in Furama, dropped my luggage there and went out again to visit my friend Goh Keat Soon. During my October visit, we had been looking for old heritage buildings, but shortly after he was admitted in hospital with a heart problem, now discharged and recovering. I decided to walk to his house. When you click on the map you can see the many pictures I took during my walk (no need to sign up or login)

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A few old buildings. The left bungalow, built in 1932 is in good condition and still inhabited. I had visited the interior during my August 2020 visit. The right house, in traditional Malay style, looks abandoned and will probably continue to decay . Taiping has many of these houses, and actually they are for me a big part of Taiping’s charm.

It was nice to meet Goh and his wife

On my way back I followed the Raintree Walk. As I took a wrong turn, the total walk was almost 5 k.

During my October visit I had invited Lay Chun and her “food gang” for a dinner and I did the same thing now. They picked me up from Furama and drove to the 83 restaurant in Pokok Assam. We where with 9 pax, ordered 7 dishes and the bill was RM 235.90 (about 46 Euro). Amazingly cheap

And the food was delicious. I forgot to take a photo of one of the dishes πŸ˜‰

That was a well-spent first day of my visit. The next morning I was planning to have breakfast with my friend Foo, Chee Cheong Fun at the Circus Ground food court, near my hotel, but he warned me that the shop was temporarily closed. He suggested the Wan Li Xiang coffee shop, even closer to my hotel, where they also served CCF. We met there and the CCF was also quite good.

I told him about the book launch in the New Club at 10:30 am and he offered to drive me there. We share an interest in Taiping heritage, it was he who had drawn my attention to the 1932 bungalow shown above. On our way we passed the isolated tomb stones on the slopes of the ….. hill. There are actually three, the third one looks like being partially excavated. I have tried to find out who are buried here and when, but until now in vain.

We had still time enough to have a look at the Pillars, the only remains of what was once the Residency. Right a old photo of the Residency. After Ipoh became the capital, the building was used for other purposes (survey department?, public works department?) and apparently it was destroyed by fire, but when? Another mystery.

The book published by Liew Suet Fun has as title Musings from the Nest .For a number of years she and her husband Peter leased the Nest bungalow on Maxwell Hill from the Methodist Church. They transformed the bungalow in colonial style and made it a heaven on earth. I visited the Nest for the first time in 2017, with Aric and my Ipoh friend Hong, report here. The subtitle of her book “why can’t we stay here forever” applies to me, so I came back in 2018 three times, in April, July and December. I would have liked to continue, but in 2019 Suet Fun closed the Nest, because she was writing a book, then came COVID and a disastrous storm , destroying big parts of the access road to Maxwell Hill. Finally the Methodist Church, for reasons unknown to me, claimed back the Nest.

Peter started the book launch with a short introduction, after which Suet Fun explained how they became managers of the bungalow. She read a few passages from the book, followed by a Q&A session.

Of course the book was for sale (RM 60) and you could have it signed by the author. It was a nice event, for me especially interesting because I met people I had not seen for a long time. In the right picture Sharen talks to Safina and Grahame, who I last met in October 2020, before the Covid pandemic disrupted our lives.

After the event many people stayed for lunch and some chit-chat. One gentleman, Dr Ng approached me and told me that we have a mutual friend, George Tan, who had mentioned me several times. He introduced another friend to me, Dr Neoh and I asked him if he was a birder. I explained that for many years I had maintained a website Birding in Malaysia and that he was mentioned on that site as not only a birder but also a bird painter. He presented me with a calendar containing images of his paintings.

Of course a photo had to be taken. From left to right Dr Neoh , Dr Ng and Dr Stuivenberg πŸ˜‰ .Malaysia and especially Taiping is a small world πŸ˜‰

We ended this very agreeable event with a cendol at the famous Ansari Cendol.

I had suggested to Sharen, as her “tourist guide”, that we could go in the afternoon to Matang, visit the museum there, continue to Kuala Sepetang (charcoal kilns, mangrove forest) and finally have dinner in the Lemon Tree restaurant. The dinner plan was accepted, actually Mei, one of her Taiping friends, was going to invite us and host the dinner. For the afternoon she had her own plans, so I was “free” and had a lazy afternoon ;-). Later Sharen WhatsApped me : Pick up between 7 to 7:10pm. A lady by the name of Elaine & Teng Khoe..Please watch out for a red Honda Civic. Another example of the small world Taiping is, as I had met them already a few times earlier πŸ˜‰

The dinner at the Lemon Tree restaurant was even more elaborate, with a total of nine dishes for 7 adults and 2 kids. From right, anti-clockwise Elaine, Teng Khoe, Mei, me, Sharen, Mei’s son David, one of the kids and David’s wife.

Delicious food, but of course way too much. Quite a lot was brought home tapau, Malaysian slang for take-away ;-).

Nice dinner, nice company. Of course I was not hungry the next morning. I had a simple roti canai in the same restaurant where I had CCF the day before.

I had suggested to Sharen to do the EV Heritage trip. This is an electric bus trip, taking 1 hour and 20 minutes, following a route along Taiping heritage locations, with an explanation by a guide. Starting from the zoo, three trips daily.

We walked from Furama to the Zoo, where we bought tickets. RM 20 for adults, RM 10 for Malaysian senior citizens. Quite expensive, but until 31 December you get a discount of 30 %.

No online/advance booking possible, only walk-in. As it was a Sunday morning, with many Zoo visitors, I was a bit worried that the tickets might be sold out. But it turned out that we were the only passengers, a worrying sign for the future of this EV heritage project πŸ™ .

A nice surprise when we were waiting for the bus. A lady approached me and asked , do you remember me? It was puan Jamilah who I had met in March 2019, when she was working at the Galleria. She had heard (Taiping is a small world) that I was planning to do the EV heritage trip and decided to join. In the bus we met our guide Fendy

Here is the route followed by the bus, Click on the map to see the many pictures I took during the trip. During the trip Fendy commented on the various interesting locations we passed. There were three stops where we could walk around a bit

The bus is comfortable and can accommodate about twenty passengers. Our first stop was at the Raintree Walk, a pedestrian walk at the Taiping Lake Gardens. A few fallen rain trees have become tourist attractions and of course we had our pictures taken πŸ˜‰

The next stop was at the clocktower, now the Taiping tourist office, where I had a short, pleasant meeting with puan Kamariah. In the pictures Sharen and I in front of the clocktower and with Kamariah and Jamilah inside the tourist office.

The third stop was at the Municipal Gallery, where we stayed a bit longer. Left a picture of Fendy, Sharen and Jamilah in front of the numerous rewards and certificates obtained by the Taiping Municipal council. In the right photo we are standing in front of the Telegraph museum next door.

The gallery building is still almost empty, but outside there are a few interesting heritage items, related to the railway history of Taiping.

What to say about the trip? It was certainly enjoyable, the explanations by Fendy were useful, and the company of Jamilah pleasant. But in the long term I think the project may fail unless some changes are made. Here are a few suggestions.

  • The starting point should not be the Zoo but the Galleria.
  • Online booking should be made possible.
  • Passing the heritage locations is going too fast. Instead of stopping at three locations it would be more useful to let the bus halt for a short while at many more locations, so the guide can explain a bit , while the passengers can take pictures (not leaving the bus)
  • It is a bit too expensive.

Sharen had her own programme for the afternoon, one of her relatives picked us up from the Zoo and dropped me at my hotel. I decided to have lunch at Prima and then walk a bit around town on my own.

Here are the former British government buildings, a beautiful creation by Francis Caulfield, completed in 1897, now housing the Larut, Matang & Selama district office. A real gem of Victorian architecture

Recently a few huge murals have been created in Taiping. During my visit in October I had taken pictures of two of them. Here is another one, on the walls of the Kwantung association, showing people playing golf.

As it threatened to rain, I cut short my walk and returned to my hotel via the Lake Gardens

That evening my third sumptuous dinner, offered to Sharen and me in the Soon Lee restaurant by the group of people I had invited two days earlier. The same happened during my October stay in Taiping, I hosted a dinner and two days later there was in return a dinner where I was not allowed to pay. It is a quid pro quo aspect of Chinese culture. Delicious food

The next morning I walked to Lian Thong for my roti goyang, half-boiled eggs on toast. Goyang in Malay means shaking. One of my favourite coffee shops, also a very attractive building.

Our train was leaving at 1:40 pm, so I had time to walk around town. First I walked to the ruins of the Perak Railway building, where I had discovered during my October visit that you still could sneak in despite the solid fencing. Nothing had changed. Same at the Rest House next door, you can just walk in and out. The authorities must be aware of this, why don’t they take action?

I continued to the market, where I got a pleasant surprise. They had started rebuilding. It looks like it will not be a renovation but a replica, but at least something is happening. Will it be completed by August 2024, as promised by the minister?

Walking back to Furama I got a call from Yeap that he and his wife were meeting Halim, if I had time to join them. Of course I wanted to see Halim, who has been diagnosed with a serious illness, but still is full of energy. We have become quite close friends.

Yeap had offered to pick me up from Furama and drop me at the station. On our way, he showed me the remains of what was once one of the movie theatres of Taiping: the Mandarin Cinema. A huge building, abandoned since many years, but at least properly fenced off . A new discovery for me πŸ˜‰

Then it was time to take the train back home. A nice trip with Sharen, although it was obvious that she didn’t need a guide for Taiping πŸ˜‰

Dutch General Election 2023

On 22 November there will be a general election in the Netherlands for the Tweede Kamer (the House of Representatives) after the PM and his cabinet resigned in July due to disagreement about migration policy. Lots of information can be found here.

I don’t live in the Netherlands , but I am still registered as a “voter abroad“. I receive the voting forms by regular mail and email. Left is the voting form, as you see we have a crazy number (25!) of political parties. Right the list of candidates for one of the parties. To vote you mark the party of your choice, and in the lower part the number of the candidate of your choice.

Voting is anonymous, this is how it works for postal voting. By regular mail I received several weeks ago two envelopes, one white, one orange. The voting form goes into the white envelope, which then is sealed. You sign a consent form, make a photocopy of your passport and put them together with the white envelope in the orange outer envelope. You can send this envelope by regular mail to the Hague, where the polling center for voters abroad is located. But I prefer the option to deliver the document myself at the embassy.

The consular section of the Dutch embassy is located on the 12th floor of the modern Naza tower. I traveled by public transport (MRT and LRT) to KLCC, from where I walked the last part. Lot of construction going on in that region. Nice modern sculptures, the right one is in front of the Naza tower

Normal procedure is to make an appointment with the embassy, where you get a date and a timeslot. But in this case there is no need, as I only wanted to hand over the envelope. The security asked, is it for voting, and when I confirmed, gave me an access card for the elevator. I was in and out in ten minutes πŸ˜‰ Left the envelope as I had prepared it at home, right the moment that I hand it over to the smiling embassy guy.

I walked back through the KLCC park,

Construction of the huge (but fake) Christmas tree was already in progress. But inside KLCC it was still Deepavali mood. Beautiful decorations.

I decided to have a coffee and a snack at my favourite (but very expensive) Kinokuniya coffee shop. Then it was time to go back home. Same way, from KLCC I took the LRT to Pasar Seni, where I changed to the MRT to Damansara Mutiara. I was lucky, the feeder bus to Damansara Perdana was already waiting. Mission accomplished.

I will write an appendix to this post when the results of the election are out. in about one week time. Then I will also reveal which party I voted for πŸ˜‰

Sundaland

One year ago I wrote a post about the Paleomap Project. At the end of that post I included a link to the Story of the Malay Peninsula. Here it is again. The clip is less than 3 minutes and worth watching.

I ended my post with: Notice how during the Ice Ages the sea-level was so low that the islands of the Malay archipelago were connected. This was called Sundaland. Topic for another post.

Here is my post about Sundaland.

What is actually an Ice Age?

Probably most people will first think about the funny Ice Age movies, but hopefully many will also know that there has actually been a period in Earth’s history, where the climate was cold and a large part of the Earth (North America, Europe) was covered with ice. That was about 21 thousand years ago and it is commonly called the Ice Age. Here is a Paleomap of Earth during that time.

Notice that the map doesn’t say Ice Age, but Last Glacial Maximum ! I got interested, Googled a lot and wrote a separate post Ice Ages. Here is a summary.

  • In the 4.5 billion years of its existence, Earth has been mostly (~85%) a Greenhouse, no icecaps, icesheets, glaciers. But there have also been at least five major periods that Earth was an Icehouse, partially covered with ice. These Icehouse periods are called Ice Ages. At this time Earth is in the Late Cenozoic Ice Age, which started 34 million years ago.
  • In an Ice Age there is always permanent ice, but the amount fluctuates. There are periods that the ice advances, they are called glacials. And there are periods that the ice retracts, called interglacials.
  • The last glacial was about 21.000 years ago and is often called the (Last) Ice Age. At the moment we are living in an interglacial, icecaps, icesheets, glaciers are retracting. But Earth is still an Icehouse.

There have been numerous glacials and interglacials in those 34 million years. Here the global temperatures for the latest are shown. Notice that the timescale is from right to left, so the last glacial (“the Ice Age”) is the rightmost snowflake. And there is an obvious regularity with a period of roughly 100.000 year. If you want to know more about the theory, read the Milankovitch Cycles article in Wikipedia.

In this blog we are especially interested in sea levels. During a glacial a lot of water is frozen in icecaps, icesheets and glaciers, so the sea level drops, and during an interglacial ice melts and the sea level rises. Here are the sea levels during the last 400.000 years. In the original graph time goes from left to right, I have flipped it to make comparison with the temperature graph easier. Notice the similarity between temperature and sea level. During interglacials sea levels were about the same as nowadays, but during glacials they were up to 120 meter lower.

I will now concentrate on the last 150 thousand years, Here is a more detailed temperature graph. Starting from the left, we see the end of the Penultimate Glacial at about 135 thousand year ago. It was a very cold one. Then, relatively quite fast, temperatures are rising, until they reach a maximum at 125 thousands year ago in the Eemian Interglacial. Warmer than nowadays, sea level 6-9 meter higher (!) than today. After this maximum, slowly and irregularly , temperatures are dropping, until a new glacial maximum is reached, about 21 thousand years ago. After this the temperature rises again and we reach the Holocene interglacial in which we are living nowadays.

This time period is very interesting for homo sapiens. Indicated are two waves of migration out of Africa. And about 74.000 year ago the Toba volcano on Sumatra erupted, one of the largest eruptions in Earth’s history. Present day Lake Toba is occupying the caldera of this eruption. There is a theory that this eruption almost caused the extinction of homo sapiens, but this Toba catastrophe theory is something for a separate blog.

We zoom in one more time and look at the sea level. It was 120 m below present during the last glacial maximum, then rising more or less gradually until it reached present levels around 6000 years ago. Around 12-14 thousand years ago, there was an interruption with a cold period (Younger Dryas). Also notice the steep increase around 14 thousand years ago, caused my melting icesheets , about 5 cm per year !

A sea level rise of 120 meter is enormous. Here is a Google Earth screenshot of South East Asia. The color of the sea indicates how deep it is, light blue is shallow, dark blue deep. When you open Google Earth on your computer and move your cursor over the screen, the depth is indicated. I have done that for three locations, and found 50, 30 and 40 meter.

When the sea level drops 120 m, the whole light blue region would become land!

Here is how the region would look like, 21 thousand year ago. Sundaland! A continental shelf, exposed when the sea level is low. If there had been public transport in those days, you could have traveled overland between Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia en Vietnam! And in the far future, during the next glacial, that will be possible again πŸ˜‰ .

Here is a video, where you can follow Sundaland from the last Ice Age until present. Only 44 seconds, worth watching. Created by Dhani Irwanto, more about him later.

There are more regions on Earth where something similar has happened. In the lower right part of the video, you can see part of the Sahul shelf. During the last Ice Age Australia and New Guinea were connected.

And in Europe during the last Ice Age, England, Ireland and mainland Europe were connected. The continental shelf is called Doggerland. Around 6500 year ago England became an island (again).

One more example. During the last Ice Age Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka were connected. In this Google Earth image I have roughly marked the contour line (isobath) of 120 m below sea level. Some land is now submerged but not a continent as some Tamil nationalists still believe. See my blog Kumari Kandam & Lemuria.

Sundaland is a huge landmass (~ 1.8 million km2), now partially submerged. but large during the time that homo sapiens migrated out of Africa. Here are some of these Early Human Migration routes.

1in 2012 Aric and I took part in the Genographic Project , we sent samples of our DNA and got it analysed. It resulted in this map with the routes followed by our (maternal) ancestors. Read my blog My Ancestors for more details.

As you see there are migration routes to South East Asia and Sundaland. Could it be that during this last glacial there was a civilisation in Sundaland, later destroyed by the rising sea levels? Could that have been the lost continent, Plato’s Atlantis? Or the Garden of Eden?

In the last few decades, three books have been published advocating exactly that. In 1999 Stephen Oppenheimer published Eden in the East. According to him it was Sundaland where the first human civilisation started. After Sundaland became flooded (Noah’s flood!), the population dispersed and fertilized the cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and India. A few years later, in 2005, Arysio Santos published Atlantis, the lost continent finally found. Santos was convinced that Sundaland was the Garden of Eden and Plato’s Atlantis. Quite recently, in 2019, Dhani Irwanto published Sundaland: Tracing The Cradle of Civilizations. Same approach. All these books are still for sale at Amazon.

It’s a fascinating topic, and there is no doubt that Sundaland existed. But Atlantis, the Garden of Eden, the Cradle of Civilisation? Here is some information about the authors.

  • Stephen Oppenheimer (1947-) is a British paediatrician and geneticist. After 1997 he started a new career as a researcher and popular-science writer on human prehistory.
  • Arysio Santos (1937-2005) was a Brazilian nuclear engineer, but “his true hobby in life was researching arcane subjects such as Symbolism, Alchemy, the Holy Grail, Comparative Mythology and Religion” (quote from his own website)
  • Dhani Irwanto (1962 -) is an Indonesian hydro civil engineer. Founder of Indonesia Hydro Consult in 2010 and its director until now. Became interested in Sundaland and has written books about it.

The authors have in common they have no formal training in the subject matter. They were captivated by the subject and delved into all aspects of it, climatology, geology, linguistics, anthropology etc. Their approach, especially Irwanto’s, tries to be scientific. But it is still Fringe Science, outside the mainstream discipline.

I was considering to buy Irwanto’s book, but then I discovered a video Tracing the Cradle of Civilisations in Sundaland, about a lecture he gave in the Philippines in 2017 at an Asean Advanced Archaeology Symposium. Brilliant presentation, worth watching (28 minutes).

But he is really going too far in his enthusiasm. Here is a screenshot from the video. Everything, all over the world , originated in Sundaland. So I may not buy the book.

Ice Ages

What is an Ice Age? And how many Ice Ages have there been on Earth? I came across these questions, while writing a blog post about Sundaland. During the Ice Ages the sea level was much (~ 120 meter) lower than at present and the islands of the Malay archipelago were connected to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. This landmass was called Sundaland. In my blog Sundaland (still under construction) I write in more detail about it.

If what follows is too detailed for you, just jump to the summary

During the 4.5 billion years that Earth existed, Its climate has fluctuated between Greenhouse and Icehouse. During a Greenhouse there were no glaciers, no icecaps (South Pole), no Ice sheets (Greenland) no permanent sea ice (North Pole). Earth was mostly a greenhouse , about 85 % of the time. Temperature was (a lot) higher than at present. Sea levels higher, sometimes 300-400 meter. Lots of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Tropical rain forests on the South Pole πŸ˜‰

But there also have been Icehouses, often called Ice Ages, where glaciers, icecaps and ice sheets were permanently present. Scientists have identified 5 of them. Here they are marked on the 4.5 billion year timescale that Earth existed.

The Hadean, Archean and Proterozoic are the first three “aeons” of Earth’s geological history. We are now living in the last aeon , the Phanerozoic, which started ~ 542 million years ago, the name is too long to be named in the image. Before I “zoom in” on this last aeon, a few comments, related to blogs I wrote in the past.

  • Only a few million years after the formation of Earth, in the Hadean, our Moon was “born” as a result of a collision of Earth with another planet. Where does the Moon come from? .
  • The oldest fossils date back to the Archaean, 3.4 billion years ago, when Earth was still young. Therefore many think that life comes easily and must be ubiquitous in the universe. I am sceptical, see my blog The Drake Equation.
  • It took a long time before those simple cells evolved and developed a nucleus that contained the DNA, about 2,2 billion year ago in the Proterozoic. And it took even longer for multicellular organisms to develop, about 600 million year ago, at the end of the Proterozoic. See my blog The Tree of Life.

The Proterozoic had two Ice Ages. The Huronian actually consists of several separate Ice Ages and lasted about 300 million years The Cryogenian also has two separate Ice Ages, together lasting about 85 million years. The Cryogenian was severe, there may have been periods that Earth was completely covered with ice, a so-called Snowball Earth.

.Keep in mind that Earth looked very different in those days because of plate tectonics and continental drift. See my blog The Paleomap Project. Here is one of Scotese’s maps: Earth during the Cryogenian Ice Age.

Now let’s zoom in on the Phanerozoic, from 542 million year ago until present. The ‘official’ start of this aeon is 538.8 million year ago. This beginning was chosen because around that time a sudden , explosive diversication of life forms started, the Cambrian explosion. Multicellular organisms evolved into a multitude of species. Here is an artist impression.

The Phanerozoic had three major Ice Ages, the Andean-Saharan, 440 million years ago, lasting 40 million years, the Karoo , 300 million years ago, lasting 100 million years and the current one, the Late Cenozoic Ice Age , which started 34 million years ago and is still ongoing.

Here is a (complicated) graph of the global temperature during the Phanerozoic. Complicated because the timeline has been split in five parts, zooming in.

The first part (in red) covers from 542 Million years (Ma) until 66 Ma. The temperature data are less reliable, but you can see the Andean-Saharan (440), the Karoo (300) and an unnamed one (~180). Next comes the green part, timeline enlarged about 10 times, from 66 Ma until ~ 5 Ma. Around 66 million years ago a huge asteroid collided with Earth, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs and giving mammals the opportunity to develop. Earth was a hothouse then with a maximum temperature around 55 million years ago (PETM). After that maximum, global temperature started to decrease. Around 34 million years ago, Antarctica got an icecap and Earth became officially an Icehouse, the Antarctic Glaciation . The next zoom in (again x10, in black) shows how the cooling of Earth continued. Around circa 2.58 million years ago the Pleistocene started, ice “everywhere”, also in the Arctic region.

The next part, in blue, shows in more detail the last one million years of Earth. It’s clearly an Icehouse but there are periods which are colder (glacials) alternating with warmer ones (interglacials). If you would be able to watch Earth during this one million years, you would see the icecaps and ice sheets advancing during glacials and retreating during interglacials. The last of these “warmer” interglacials was the Eemian (130-115 thousand year ago. Followed by the last glacial (26-20 thousand years ago). It is this last glacial that is often, called the Ice Age.

At present Earth is in an interglacial, as can be seen in the last part of the graph (also in blue). This interglacial started around 12 thousand years ago and is predicted to continue for many thousands of years. These predictions are based on the theory of Milankovitch cycles, a bit to complicated to explain here. It may last 50 thousand years, or even longer because of human interference (climate change!). After the interglacial, a new glacial will start, because Earth is still an Ice House.

Summary:

  • Earth is an Ice House already for 34 million years. An Ice House (also known as Ice Age) consists of many glacial (colder) and interglacial (warmer) periods, each lasting thousands of years.
  • The last glacial period occurred 26-20 thousand years ago and is often called the ICE AGE.
  • At the moment Earth is in an interglacial and that will last for many thousands of years, possibly even longer because of human interference.

Of course there is a lot of information available these days about future climate developments. Not always reliable !

Here is a very dishonest one, A New ICE AGE Is Coming: Prepare To Freeze By 2050! A lot of factually correct information, leading to a ridiculous ending. Click on the link to watch the video, AYOR!. His advice: Pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to avoid the impending next Ice Age (~ 2050!).

Here is a much more interesting one, New Evidence We Are Entering An Ice Age Termination Event Glacials have been ended numerous times by termination events. We are in an interglacial now, but it looks different this time. Could this be the start of a Hot House. We just don’t know.

Taiping, October 2023

This time the main reason for my Taiping visit was to watch the Nine Emperor Gods procession, but there was (much) more. In April the iconic market buildings were demolished and last month the equally iconic Rest House was partially destroyed by fire. And of course there were friends to meet and Taiping food to enjoy. So I booked 3 nights in my usual Furama hotel and on 20 October took the ETS, arriving in Taiping around 1 pm. A comfortable way of traveling.

My friend Lay Chun picked me up from the station and first we had lunch in Prima, chicken rice.

She is a very active member of the Shun Tak Association, one of the many Clan associations in Malaysia. Left the Ancestral Home in Jalan Kota, now rented out to a restaurant. Right the Shun Tak gallery in Jalan Pasar, recently opened, More information about the history of the Shun Tak association can be found in this blog, written by Wong Tuck Ee, the secretary of the association.

The gallery is on the first floor and open by appointment only. Lay Chun had arranged a visit. Here you see the interior of the gallery Panels about the history decorate the walls. The spacious gallery can also be used for meetings of the association.

We met Miss Leong , the clerk, and walked around. Right a mahjong table. In the past members often came to the clan house to play mahjong.

The deity in the middle is Kwan Gong, the Chinese warrior god. Right the Ancestral Tablets.

It was an interesting visit, I signed the guestbook and gave a small donation after which I was allowed to ring the bell three times. It would be good to promote the gallery as a Taiping tourist attraction. I am thinking about writing a separate blog about the clan associations of Taiping.

After the visit Lay Chun dropped me at Furama. I have stayed in this hotel numerous times, almost always in this room πŸ˜‰ . Feels a bit like home.

Lay Chun and her friends organise regular dinner meetings, in the past I attended a few of them. This time I told her that I would like to be the host for such a dinner party. That was accepted, Goh, a member of the “gang”, who lives next door to Furama, picked me up from my hotel, we drove to Matang, the Lemon Tree restaurant, where we met the other members and had a delicious dinner.

Me in the middle, next to me Yong (left) and Goh (right). We were 12 pax, had 9 dishes (pork, chicken, fish, duck, veggies etc) and the bill was RM 330. Unbelievable, so cheap.

The next morning I had breakfast with my friend Yeap in an Indian restaurant. I had dosai and asked a waiter to take a picture of us, but something went wrong. Nice breakfast place.

A few months ago a Facebook contact had told me about a remote Hindu temple, the Sri Ayyanar Temple, north of Kamunting. When I asked Yeap if he knew this temple, he said, sure, it is not far from my oil palm farm, I can bring you there. After our breakfast we drove there, the signage is no problem, but the road is untarred and the location is really in the middle of plantations.

The beautiful temple comes as a big surprise. Colorful, dominated by a giant statue of Ayyanar, a Tamil deity.

He is accompanied by horse riders, also huge statues. And there can be no doubt about it, the horses are stallions, not mares πŸ˜‰

A few more pictures. Servants are supporting the temple.

Left Dakshinamurti an aspect of Lord Shiva as a teacher. Right the inner sanctum of the temple. Everything beautifully maintained.

Really an unexpected discovery. When I asked my Taiping friends, many of them were not aware of this gem, less than 15 km away of the town center.

Back in town, I walked around a bit. Next year Taiping will celebrate its 150th anniversary, many activities are planned. I had a look at two recent murals, one commemorating the Treaty of Pangkor (1874). the other one showing dulang washing (the panning of tin ore). They are huge, but I am not impressed. The Amelia Earhart one has more artistic value, but unfortunately, the pilot never landed at Tekah areodrome.

Lunch with Yeap and Halim in Yut Sun. The “new” branch, we first tried the original one, but there the Rajah Muda of Perak had just arrived with his entourage, we expected long waiting times. No Hainanese Chicken Chop for me this time, a simple egg and veggie on bread was enough.

In the afternoon I met my friend Goh, the photographer. He had published on Facebook pictures of old buildings, colonial bungalows but also simple staff quarters. I was interested. We drove around in Asam Kumbang, He took the photos many years ago and was not sure if the buildings still existed. This is what we found. Desolation.

Cleared land, the house must have been demolished not so long ago, One house still standing.

Later, back home, I opened Google Earth on my laptop and selected the “historical imagery” option. Left the situation in 2016, right in 2022. We were too late πŸ˜‰ I have marked the locations “cleared land” and “house”. It was drizzling which added to the melancholic atmosphere.

We passed the Kempe Club, now closed. In 2019 I visited the club and was warmly welcomed by the seniors who gathered there to play mahjong.

In another part of Asam Kumbang we found a few monumental bungalows. Still standing, but for how long?

Also some simple quarters, a few still inhabited, others empty or already demolished.

We also passed the remains of the Tekah airport. Right a photo of the control tower and arrival hall when the aerodrome was still in operation.

I found the above picture in the Taiping Mall, where Goh and I had a coffee and cake.

After a short rest in my hotel, I had another dinner with a number of “gang” members, again in Prima. I had Bak Kut Teh this time. From left to right Lay Chun, Kar Seng, Dr Poh and his wife Rosalind.

Back in my hotel the reception told me that a procession for the 9 Emperor Gods would pass close to Furama. Although a bit tired, I went out to the Jalan Tupai where soon the procession arrived.

A few people had metal poles pierced through their cheeks. Look how the poles are decorated with led lights. Traditional customs combined with modern technology.

Really a day full of variety.

The next morning my plan was to have my usual Chee Cheong Fan for breakfast, but when I arrived at the Circus ground, it was sold out already. Instead I had Char Kway Teoh, another favorite of mine. Not bad.

Next I walked to 81, Jalan Kota, where I met my friend Bok Kin. Her husband is a descendant of Ng Boo Bee and the Ng family has a tradition of placing an offering table in front of what was originally Boo Bee’s townhouse. When the Nine Emperor Gods procession passes, the participants stop for a while at the table. A good location to take pictures.

Left the house altar and right the offering table. Waiting for the procession to arrive.

In 2019 I had watched the procession at the same location, I wrote a report The Nine Gods Emperor Festival about it. In the following years there was no procession because of the COVID pandemic This year it took place again, I had the impression that it was less elaborate and exotic than the last time. But still fascinating,

Here is a collage of some video clips I took this time, Watch also the more spectacular video I took in 2019.

Here is a photo collection of the devotees who pierced their cheeks or had hooks in their back.

After the procession was finished, we went for lunch, again to Prima, for the third time during this visit! I had fish ball noodles with pork intestines.

My first destination after lunch was the Rest House. Built in 1894 , one of the “Firsts” of Bander Warisan (Heritage Town) Taiping. Now left to rot. It has been fenced off but there is an obvious opening in the fence, for many years already. I am sure the authorities must be aware of this gap, that could easily be closed. Do they leave it open on purpose? Of course I walked in.

Left the opening as seen from the street. Right after entering, through the opening you can see part of KEVII. The yard is partly overgrown, but a clear path proves that people (squatters or drug addicts?) have been using it and maybe still do.

The part of the Rest House that has been destroyed by fire, a few weeks ago.

I could still walk in. And in an undamaged room there were clear signs that homeless people were still using it. As there is no electricity in the building, they may have to use a candle at night. Could that be the cause of the fire, just an accident?

Two pictures from the outside. The right picture is ironic, I took it on purpose.

Next to the Rest House, on Jalan Stesen, are two historical heritage buildings, one of them is the former Perak Railway Building (1885) . Ruined beyond repair, in my opinion, see my blog Taiping Bandar Warisan . After much of the interior had been demolished and/or stolen a few years ago, MPT (the Taiping town council) constructed a solid fence around the complex, to avoid further destruction.

Really solid, I thought, no way to sneak in. So I was shocked to discover that there actually still is an entrance, a jalan tikus (literally a rat road). You can see it clearly when you enlarge the above photo.

With some hesitation I entered. For sure, this complex was used by drug addicts, in the past I have encountered one. They probably still use it, I didn’t want a confrontation. As you can see, it is a regular makeshift wooden door.

I only stayed inside a few minutes, took a photo of the courtyard and didn’t examine the rooms. The courtyard is overgrown, with a clear path, more people must know about this. Leaving, I politely closed the door.

Final destination for the afternoon, the Pasar (1884/85). Two buildings, with Siang Malam in the middle. A few years ago closed for renovation. February this year, Siang Malam was under reconstruction. The exterior has now been completed, the interior is still empty. I heard on the grapevine that the former stall holders, temporarily relocated near the dobi line, like it there and may not be interested to return.

In February the Pasar buildings were still standing, but in recent months first the wooden parts have been removed and later also the metal structure. Taiping people were getting worried, but a minister assured that medio next year, when Taiping celebrates its 150th anniversary, the market would be restored in all its glory. There is some doubt if that is possible, and also if it will be renovation, or a modern reconstruction.

Here are two pictures, which I managed to take, not easy because here the fencing is very solid. Left the location of the veggie, beef/mutton and chicken market.. Completely clean. The right photo shows the location of the fish, fruit and pork market. To my surprise I noticed that a concrete foundation has been laid there. According to the grapevine again, the pasar is being rebuilt/reconstructed in Kelantan at the moment. Later it will be transported to Taiping. Can that be true? Why is there not more transparency from the authorities?

That evening I was invited by the same group of friends for another dinner, this time at Soon Lee restaurant, very close to my Furama hotel. Because I had hosted the dinner in Matang, this time I was not allowed to pay anything. Such a pleasant group of friends!

Another busy day. The next morning I woke up early because I had not yet visited the Lake Gardens and I was going to meet my friend Neal there. The Lake Gardens are beautiful, any time of the day.

Nice weather, I walked the Raintree Walk and met Neal there. We chatted about Taiping, its Heritage and the new Electrical Heritage bus

I invited him and his wife for breakfast at Lian Thong. Eggs on Toast (Roti Goyang) is a favourite of mine. Funny story: after we had ordered our breakfast, a lady customer came to our table and told us that she had ordered Roti Goyang, but could not finish it. Was I willing to take it? Of course I did, we cancelled our own order, and I had a free breakfast. I really love Taiping πŸ˜‰ .

Walking back to my hotel, I stopped at the clock tower, the location of the Taiping tourist office. It is managed by the Taiping Tourist Association, who don’t have sufficient funds for repairs, maintenance and promotion. In my opinion a tourist office should be managed and funded by MPT itself.

They have leaflets and maps, but there could be more. Also, in my opinion the Heritage Bus should start from here, not from the Zoo.

I wanted to meet Puan Kamaria of TTA, but she was not in. Instead I chatted with Asraf, a volunteer of TTA, very interested in heritage. But only for a short while, because I had to hurry back to my hotel and check out.

Lay Chun and Kar Seng picked me up from my hotel and, after lunch together dropped me at the station.

A very busy, rewarding visit, I needed a few days to recover πŸ˜‰

Bach… In Other Hands

A few weeks ago I saw on Facebook(!) an announcement of a piano recital at the Malaysian Institute of Arts (MIA) with the intriguing title Bach.. in Other Hands.

The MIA was unknown to me and I had never heard about Massimo Folliero, the pianist who was giving the recital. But I love Bach’s music and in this recital it would be Bach in Other Hands, transcriptions of Bach’s music. I know that transcriptions of his works have been made by other composers, not least by himself. Ten years ago I wrote a post about Bach’s Goldberg Variations and in 2017 one about the Chaconne . Both contain links to transcriptions. But the transcriptions in this recital, except the Busoni one of the Chaconne were new to me.

So I contacted MIA, chatted with Mr Neo, the head of the Music Department, and booked a seat for the recital. Donation RM 80. The City campus of MIA is located next to Dang Wangi LRT station. I live not far from Mutiara Damansara MRT, so I used public transport, changing trains in Pasar Seni, it took me less than 45 minutes. I arrived early, so I could choose a front seat with a good view.

And here is Massimo Folliero. Lots of information about him can be found here .

In preparation for the concert, I had assigned myself some homework, listening to the original versions and comparing them with the transcription. Nowadays almost all (classical) music can be found on YouTube. For each composition I have selected an original and a transcription, just click on the picture to watch the YouTube.

1 Siciliano BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach / Wilhelm Kempff.

The slow movement from Bach’s Flute sonata in E-Flat Major, played by Francely Zurita. The transcription is beautifully played by a very young Evgeny Kissin. Here the transcription, played by Wilhelm Kempff himself in 1955. Compare the two versions! A nice, “easy” start of the recital.

2 Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV 543 Johann Sebastian Bach / Franz Liszt

Between1842 and 1850 Franz Liszt transcribed six of Bach’s Preludes and Fugues (BWV 543-548) from solo organ to solo piano. Not familiar with Bach’s organ works (except of course the famous Toccata and Fugue BWV 565), it took me some time to appreciate this BWV 543. Left the original, played by Christoph Bull , right the transcription played by Violetta Khachikyan. My favorite, clear and transparent.

3 5 Organ Preludes 1st book Johann Sebastian Bach / Ferruccio Busoni

In 1898 Busoni published 10 Chorale Preludes, BV B 27, transcriptions of various Chorale Preludes by Bach. A Choral Prelude is a (short) introduction for a hymn , sung by the congregation during a church service . Folliero played 5 of them, here is a very popular one, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645. Left Willem van Twillert on organ, right Jan Lisiecki on piano.

Interval

During the interval, I walked around a bit and had a look at the art gallery. At first I thought that the table with glasses and bottles was for us to have a drink, but no, it was a work of art. Note the tiny fish in the bottles and glasses ;-).

4 Sheep May Safely Graze” (BWV 208 No. 9) Johann Sebastian Bach / Egon Petri

The second half of the recital started with another “easy” piece. BWV 208 is known as the Hunting Cantata. written by Bach for vocalists and instrumentalists. The aria, sung here by Ellen McAteer, is for a soprano, two recorders and continuo. The transcription by Egon Petri is played by Benjamin Hochman. Beautiful music, but in this case for me the original wins.

Prelude and Fugue in B minor BWV 548 Johann Sebastian Bach / Franz Liszt

When I studied the recital program on Facebook , it said that after the interval another Prelude and Fugue, BWV 548 would be played. Considered by many as one of Bach’s masterworks for organ. It took me quite some time to get familiar with the complicated, intricate structure of this “two-movement symphony for organ“. Played on organ by Sebastian Heindl. Fascinating to see this young man playing, watch his pedaling. The Liszt transcription is played admirably by Alicia Juan. Transparent and clear.

5 Prelude and Fugue in B minor BWV 544 Johann Sebastian Bach / Franz Liszt

When Folliero started playing it came as a bit of a shock, the musique was not familiar to me. I had a look at the program leaflet, he was playing BWV 544! After the concert I asked him why and he told me that 548 in the Facebook announcement was actually a mistake, it was always the plan to play 544. So, after I came back home, I had some more homework to do and listen to recordings of BWV 544. An “easier” work, compared with 548. Elske te Twillert plays the original on organ and Nenad Radic plays the transcription.

6 Chaconne BWV 1004 Johann Sebastian Bach / Ferruccio Busoni

The recital ended with the Busoni transcription of the famous Chaconne , the final part of Bach’s Partita in D minor for solo violin. As mentioned above, I have written a blog post about the Chaconne and its many transcriptions. Of course there are many recordings available, I have chosen here an old one (1971), as a homage to Jascha Heifetz. And there are also numerous recordings of the Busoni transcription, I have chosen the recording by HΓ©lΓ¨ne Grimaud.

It was a beautiful finale of an interesting concert. The pianist joined the audience after the recital and was willing to have his picture taken. With the students, some of whom he had been teaching in the days before the concert. And with a few seniors πŸ˜‰

I took a few short recordings of the recital, but the acoustics of the hall are not good enough to share them here. On YouTube I found a video of Folliero , playing in Bangalore. Just to give you an impression.

Life on Europa & Enceladus?

It is generally assumed that you need liquid water for life to develop. The planet Mars is now dry and arid, but had lots of water in its far past.. The Perseverance rover (see my blog) is at the moment collecting samples of Martian soil, hoping to find fossil remains of (microbial) life, until now without results. Disappointing for those who are convinced that “simple” life must be ubiquitous in the universe.

When you have been following my blog, you will know that I am not really surprised. Personally I think that (simple) life will NOT develop easily, even in a suitable environment. See my recent post about the Drake Equation.

Are there other places in our solar system with (abundant) liquid water? Yes, there are, here are two, Europa and Enceladus. Europa is a moon of Jupiter and Enceladus a moon of Saturn. Europa is large with a diameter of 3122 km, only slightly smaller then Earth’s Moon (3475 km). Enceladus is much smaller, with a diameter of 504 km. In this image you see the relative sizes of Earth, Moon and Enceladus,

Here are the two moons, Europa left and Enceladus right.. Both moons are covered with a thick crust of water ice. This ice surface has a temperature of about -200 degree Celsius. But underneath this crust both moons have oceans of liquid water!

We think that the interior of the two moons look like this. Europa has a metallic core (iron and nickel),a rocky mantle and a (salty) ocean with an estimated depth of 60-150 km.. A thick ice crust ( 15-25 km) covers the ocean. The model shows the layers to scale.

Enceladus has a rocky core with radius of ~ 180 km , covered by a 30 km deep ocean. and a 20 km thick crust. The ice crust is thinner at the south pole.

How is it possible that these moons have liquid water under their ice crust? Where does the energy come from, the Sun is far way. The answer is: because of the tidal forces exerted by the giants Jupiter and Saturn on their moons.

Newton’s gravitation between two objects depends on the distance between them. For example the gravitational force exerted by the Moon on Earth is stronger on the side facing the Moon than on the other side. This difference is responsible for the tides. The tidal friction will slow down the rotation of Earth , so the length of a day will increase a little bit, about 1,8 millisecond per century. In the far past when the moon was born, the day length may have been about 4 hours only!, For the moon the story is similar: tidal friction has slowed it down, even a lot more, the Moon shows always the same face to Earth, it is “tidally locked”. Actually all the major moons in the Solar System are tidally locked to their planet.

Even tidally locked moons still can undergo tidal flexing, if the orbit is elliptical, a kind of kneading. Model calculations for Europa and Enceladus indicate that this .can generate enough energy to keep the oceans liquid. More (technical) details here.

So both moons have liquid water and a source of energy , two of the essential ingredients for life as we know it. The third ingredient (chemicals like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus) should be available in the rocky core.

The information about the two moons comes basically from two successful space missions. The Galileo spacecraft arrived at Jupiter in 1995 and stayed in orbit until 2003. It’s main mission was to study the planet, but it managed to have numerous flybys’ of Europa. The Cassini entered Saturn’s orbit in 2004 and stayed there until 2017.

The Cassini mission was very successful, click here for an overview. One of the most spectacular discoveries was that Enceladus is an active moon. There are geysers in the south polar region of the moon! This picture was taken by Cassini in February 2010.

The geysers consist of water vapor and ice particles. The explanation is that water seeps from the ocean floor into the rocky core where it is heated. The heated water rises and erupts though fissures in the icy crust.. It is a bit similar to the hydrothermal vents in Earth’s oceans.

There are indications that Europa also has this kind of geyser activity, although less intense Here is a recent (2021) NASA report, Are Water Plumes Spraying from Europa?

In the search for extraterrestrial life these two moons have top priority. Many proposals for missions to Europa have been formulated and later discarded, here is a list. At the moment the Europa Clipper is being prepared for a launch in October 2024. It will arrive at Jupiter in April 2030. Here is an artist’s concept, of Clipper, Europa and Jupiter. The solar panels of Clipper span 30 meter!

The artist impression might suggest that the Clipper will orbit Europa, but that is not the case, it will orbit Jupiter in an elliptical orbit and make 44 flybys of Europa. It will study Europa’s icy crust, find confirmation for the ocean underneath and try to make flybys through the geysers (if they exist).

A proposed follow-up mission is the Europa Lander. It would land on Europa, collect some material from the icy crust and search for biomarkers, signs of life. Here is another artist impression. Notice the geyser at the horizon πŸ˜‰ .

Probably the Europa Lander mission will be cancelled. Why? Because Enceladus offers better options than Europa. The main difference is that Enceladus is continuously spewing water and ice crystals, whereas the geysers of Europa are sporadic and still have to be confirmed.

The reason that there is so much interest in the geysers is obvious. To find out if there is life in these oceans, we have to drill through a 15-25 km thick ice crust first. Actually there are studies how to do that, they read like science fiction. Here is the final report (pdf file, 70 pages, 2019) about the Europa Tunnelbot. The basic idea is that this tunnelbot would melt itself down through the ice crust of 20 km in 3 years time, to reach the ocean. Here is a artist impression from the report, I have rotated it 90 degrees, to fit better in this post. Left is the icy surface of Europa, the inset shows three “repeaters” because even when the bot reaches the ocean it still must transmit date to the lander.

Science fiction and I think it will never happen, because the geysers on Enceladus and possibly on Europa may already give information about life in the oceans below the crust!

After Cassini observed the geysers on Enceladus, the scientific program was adapted and the spacecraft went a few times through the plumes. It found water, ice crystals and organic compounds!

So that will be the program for the next decades, explore Enceladus and find out whether the geysers will have convincing biomarkers.. .

Of course it will take time to design Enceladus missions. Here is one, the Enceladus Orbilander. Approved as a so-called Flagship Mission. Still in the design phase. possible launch in the late 2030s Arriving at Enceladus in the early 2050s.

First it will fly numerous times through the geysers, collect material and analyse it. Then it will land at the South polar region.

This is the South polar region of Enceladus. The “tiger stripes” are fissures in the ice crust where geysers erupt.

And here is an artist impression of the Orbilander on the surface of Enceladus.

Until now life has only be found on Earth. Discovery of (primitive) life elsewhere in our solar system would be dramatic, because in that case we would know that (intelligent) life is ubiquitous in the universe.

At the moment Perseverance is collecting soil samples on Mars which will be brought back to Earth by the Mars Sample Return Mission around 2033. At about the same time Clipper will explore Europa. So we will have to wait for 10 years and for results from Enceladus about 30 years.

Seremban, September 2023

As far as I remember, I have never visited Seremban as a separate destination, it was always part of a trip. In Linggi adventure, 15-7-2008 my friend Liz Price and I ended our trip in Seremban, where we spent only a few hours before returning home. And in 2019, during a Trip down South, Aric and I visited the Centipede temple in the suburbs of Seremban.

Looking for heritage information about Seremban I found online this map, where the heritage points of interest are marked. There is quite a lot to see.

So we decided to visit Seremban on a 2D1N trip, similar to what we did recently in Melaka, starting on Friday, coming back Saturday.

One week before this trip, my laptop crashed. Aric did his best to repair it, but could not, it might be the motherboard. We brought it to the ASUS service center, where they said that it would take a few days to check what was wrong. Friday afternoon they messaged that they had replaced the motherboard, but that they needed more time to test the system. As I was worried about possible data loss, I was not in the best of moods when we left for Seremban.

Aric had booked a room in the Seremban Inn, in the center of the old town. A basic room, not even supplying a water cooker. Good that I had brough a bottle of whisky for my pre-dinner drink πŸ˜‰

We had a seafood dinner in the Seremban Seafood Village. Delicious Seremban Baked Crab and Rice Wine Prawns. With Mouse Tail Noodles, Young Long Beans and Tea the bill was RM 203, a bit expensive, but really worth it,

We had heard about the Luna Lights Wonderland, held in Seremban until 24 September and decided to have a look. Supposed to be the biggest “light festival” in Malaysia. it was located in the Malaysia Park and very popular, it was not easy to find a parking place for our car. And even at 10 pm we still had to queue to get tickets.

Almost one million of led lights have been used to decorate the park. Here is a collection of photos.

There are different themes, fish, animals, space travel.

And romance πŸ˜‰

A large part of the park is covered with lights, it took us almost two hours to explore everything.

The photos do not show that the lighting is dynamic, the colours are changing all the time. So I also took numerous videos. Here is a compilation, made with the iMovie app of my iPhone..

The next morning we went for breakfast to the Warung Bambam, which had positive reviews. Quite far from old Seremban, actually more in Rasah. Rural surroundings, we were surprised that it was very popular, we even had to queue a bit.

It was a pleasant surprise for me to find on the menu Roti Goyang with Kaya, which I had tasted for the first time in Kota Bharu. Of course we had to order it.

After breakfast we drove back to the old town to start our heritage walk. First we stopped at the Railway Station, constructed between 1904 and 1910, with its nice clocktower.

Next the Seremban Lake Gardens. A miniature copy of the Taiping Lake Gardens. I could not find information about its history. Not sure if it was in the past a tin mining lake, because the center of tin mining was Rasah.

We walked around a bit, not too long because it was a hot day. To me, the shape of the lake doesn’t look like the result of tin mining.

Next we drove to what is called the White House of Seremban, the former State Secretariat, a design of famous architect Arthur Benison Hubback (1912)

It housed later the Public Library and it now abandoned but still in good shape. Opposite the attractive building there is a nice fountain.

That it is in good shape can not be said of the District office and Surveying department, almost next to it. Also built in 1912 and the design looks almost identical to the State Secretariat, but I didn’t find any mention of Hubback being the architect.

It’s clearly in decay.

Although in 2006 the building got an official plaque that it was National Heritage! Reminds me of Taiping. Malaysia Boleh.

We continued to the Church of the Visitation, a Catholic church in the center of the old town with an interesting history. The building dates from 1934, but the parish is much older, 1848, long before Captain Murray started as the first British Resident in 1875.

We had now visited POI 1, 5, 8, 9 and 12 from the heritage poster (see above). many more to go. But the ASUS center messaged us that my laptop would be ready around 3 pm! And it was a very hot day. So we decided to cut our visit short, have lunch and then drive back.

For lunch we went to the Lee Koon restaurant, with a reputation for its fish ball noodles. Nice food and a very friendly staff.

On our way back home, we got an update from ASUS that it would be more like 4 pm, they had to do more testing on my laptop after replacing the motherboard. We passed the time at a nearby McDonalds , went to the ASUS center at 4 pm, they were still testing and it was only at 5:30 pm that we could collect my laptop.

It was a relief that basically everything worked, no data loss.

It was a bit of a funny trip, here is a GE screenshot with the places we visited

I have to go again another time πŸ˜‰

Revisiting Melaka, August 2023

The last time that Aric and I have been on a touristic overnight trip, was in 2020. The Covid Lockdown started in Malaysia on 18 March 2020, but there were still limited options to travel. In July we made a trip to the Cameron Highlands and in August we visited Taiping.

In 2022 traveling became possible again, but Aric was busy with his laundry shop and could not take leave easily. Last week we finally managed to make a short 2D1N trip to Melaka. We have visited Melaka often, the last time was with our Chinese friend Dong Dong, in January 2020, before the pandemic started. So it was time to go again.

We left home on Friday 25 August at 5 pm, got caught on our way in a huge traffic jam and arrived in Melaka at 9 pm only. Not a very auspicious start πŸ˜‰ . We had booked a room in the Cheng Ho Residence and that was a very good decision, as the hotel was located in the center of the old town.

After dropping our luggage, we went out again to explore the Jonker Walk, the popular weekend market of Melaka. Not crowded, more pleasant than I expected.

Looking for a place to eat, we first had a snack,; Baked fried cuttlefish. Not everybody will like it, it’s an acquired taste πŸ˜‰

The tomb of Hang Kasturi is located along the Jonker street. He is one of the famous five Malay warriors, who lived in the 15th century and served the Sultan of Melaka. See below for the tomb of Hang Tuah, the most famous of them.

The entrance of the Jonker Walk, with the big stage, where often karaoke singing is performed.

There were still many hawker stalls open, although it was already past 10 pm. Aric selected a variety of dishes, stingray, scallops, oyster omelet and fried rice cake.

After our dinner we walked back, the pasar was starting to close. We passed the well-known Geographer bar (right picture), where I have enjoyed a beer several times in the past.

Melaka has a huge number of trishaws, their bright colors are almost painful to the eyes πŸ˜‰

River views from the bridge, in both directions, also an orgy of colors.

Before going back to our hotel, we had a dessert of “smelly tofu“, another acquired taste.

The restaurant where we wanted to have our breakfast the next morning was on walking distance from our hotel. On our way we passed the Kampung Kling Mosque. As I had visited Melaka so often, I had numerous photos of all the heritage buildings, so I was lazy and hardly took pictures this time.

We had our breakfast in the Pin Pin Hiong Restaurant with oyster mee sua and a prawn omelet. Nice food, friendly service.

The mural art tsunami has not yet reached Melaka, as far as I have noticed this time. Here is a nice one, quite unusual.

After our breakfast we walked back to the town center with the church and the Stadthuys.

Of course I had also my picture taken with a Dutch windmill and a not very Dutch cow. The other picture shows the Chung Wah restaurant, famous for its Hainanese Chicken Rice. We have queued there often, but now we have discovered an even better place, see below.

The Heeren House looks very attractive and has always been on my list of Melaka hotels to try out , but it seems that it is now mainly a restaurant, with negative reviews about the hotel.

Back to our hotel, where we checked out. We stayed on the second floor and our windows opened to the air well. The interiors of the Baba House and the Puri hotel, where we have stayed before, is more interesting, but the location of Cheng Ho is perfect.

Arc had brought his drone and we decided to visit Bukit Cina to take drone videos and pictures, Before we climbed up the hill we had a look at the cenotaph, a memorial for the Japanese occupation. The other picture shows the Hang Li Poh well (the King’s well), with an intriguing history.

A few details of the Sam Po Kong Temple at the foot of Bukit Cina. The right picture shows a statue of admiral Cheng Ho who visited Melaka many times in the 15th century.

Finally we climbed up to Bukit Cina. A Chinese cemetery, very quiet during our visit, maybe because it was the month of the Hungry Ghosts ;-). On the top of the hill a monumental, symbolic grave is well kept

Many other graves are in disrepair. It adds to the atmosphere of the cemetery.

While Aric was “droning”, I enjoyed an (alcohol-free) Heineken beer.

Here is a drone picture of the old town center, with the Christ Church and the Stadthuys..

And this is the old town, surrounded by modern buildings.

Before driving back home we visited the Makam Hang Tuah, in Tanjung Kling, about 10 km west of Melaka town.

Located inside a nice Muslim cemetery and well kept.

A giant grave. The signboards around the tomb tell the story of Hang Tuah .

On our way back home we had no real traffic jam. Hopefully many similar trips will follow, preferably a bit longer and better not during weekends.