Saturday, September 26, 2009

C. ferruginea 'Balai Ringin'

Due to keeping to our tight schedule for the earlier 2 days 3 nights to cover the areas where we originally planned to go, we were left with 1 day to explore some new areas in Sarawak. We decided to try Pawadan area after breakfast, which again consisted of prata (with egg as filling this thing round) and kopi 'O' kosong ice.

We spent close to half a day around Padawan area carrying out quick searches in the streams and forests along the main road but could not located any cryptocorynes. There were no "easy-to-find" cryptocorynes around Padawan area. I took some photographs of the wild ginger plants with flowers in the forests as well as and some inhabitants (barb?, crab, half beak, loach?) of the various streams we searched.

By the time we exit Padawan at around Serian, it was after 2pm already and we had a choice to either 1) end our search and slowing make our way back to the hotel to pack up and then to the airport to catch our flight at 6.45pm or 2) try one more area but would have to rush like mad to catch our flight later. Which option do you guessed we chose?
To end the jinx of not being able to locate any cryptocorynes during the last day of our trip, we decided to sped towards the direction to Sri Aman. Around Kampong Kerait area, we stopped by a large river and debated whether to search around this area which was known to have C. ferruginea (do a search on the Internet and you should be able to find some information on this) or drive on further to Balai Ringin area instead. We decided to drive on and soon reached the forested area around Balai Ringin.

We bashed into the forest and found that the forest was quite dry. After searching for a while, we could not locate the C. ferruginea we were looking for and were about to give up and rush back to Kuching when my explorer friend finally spotted a few stalks of cryptocoryne growing out from the leaf litters. We searched further and found that the forest actually had many patches of cryptocorynes growing in dry condition (i.e. with no water nearby) among the leaf litters on the forest bed.

I found a depression in the ground with a little bit of stagnant water left and collected a small quantity back home (I had no time to test the pH there). The pH of the water was about 4. I always had the impression that C. ferruginea were found in areas with higher pH (i.e. near limestone areas) but this location proved otherwise. Perhaps during rainy season when the water level would be higher with water flooding and flowing through the forest, the pH level would be higher than that of such stagnant pool of water?
The forest bed consisted of dried mud.
The C. ferruginea found here were much smaller than those found in Bau area. We could not find any spathes and did not had the time to search for them anyway.
We just took a few photographs and hurried out of the forest to rush back to Kuching. It was close to 4pm already. We stopped by a roadside stall selling goreng pisang (goreng = fried, pisang = banana) and bought 5 slices of banana fritters, 3 slices of yam fritters and 3 slices of sweet potatoes fritters for a total of $2 ringgit only. Very cheap and delicious!
These were the scratches accumulated during this trip from bashing in the forests, which is another thing you would need to endure if you want to go for such trips.

We never expected Kuching to have such bad traffic jams. By the time we reached the airport after going back to the hotel to pack our belongings, it was 6pm already. If we had arrived 5 minutes later, the check-in counter would had closed and we would be left stranded in Kuching for another night. I only ate my dinner after I reached back to Singapore in a coffee shop beside my house.

By the time I finished washing my clothes, waist pouch, net, boots, etc it was about 11pm already. I still had to wash and pot the cryptocorynes I collected before I could get some rest to prepare for work tomorrow.

This marked the end of my 2nd field trip to Sarawak.

Friday, September 25, 2009

C. keei 'Jambusan'

Our last target of the day after locating C. ferruginea was C. keei around Jambusan area near to Bau too. This location was quite difficult to locate as we had to travel rather deep pass Jambusan to reach the Kampong (i.e. village) with a river therein where C. keei could be found.

Both submersed and emersed species could be found on the river bed.

The leaves were generally green on both the upper and under sides.

We were lucky to finally find our 2nd species with blooming spathes for this trip (the other was C. striolata which spathe looked very similar to this in my opinion except for the colour).

As usual, we cut the kettle to take photographs of the male and female flowers.

The pH of the water of this river was rather high between 8.0 to 8.5. The river bed consist of mainly sand.
After locating C. keei, we decided to call it a day and drove back to Kuching, passing some limestone hills on the way back.

We had a sumptuous dinner that night (which was our last night for the trip before returning to Singapore the next day) comprising fish fillet fried with black bean sauce, stir fried fern shoot, fried vegetable with egg and fried curry bamboo clams.

As can be seen from the below photograph, we were quite hungry and finished most of the food. The two vegetable dishes were the most delicious in my opinion, remember to try them if you ever go to Sarawak.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

C. ferruginea 'Bau'

It was already after noon by the time we decided to shift our focus from Lundu area to Bau area. We stopped by a roadside coffee shop and had 2 cups of ice milk tea each to quench our thirst before making our way to Bau. Below are some photographs of wild boars which were roaming around the coffee shop.

After searching for about 1/2 hour, we finally found the C. ferruginea right below a limestone hill at Bau in Sarawak. We passed by that area for a couple of times during our last trip but did not imagined that any cryptocoryne would be found there. Actually if I had done my homework more thoroughly, I would have found photographs of that area in websites of other cryptocoryne hunters which had visited there before.

You probably could see the limestone at the background in the photograph below. The cryptocorynes were growing along the edges of a pool of water under the limestone hill.

Both submersed and emersed specimens could be found there.
The leaves of the Cryptocoryne ferruginea there were quite wide and were green in colour both on the upper and under sides. The leaves also had dark green markings.

The pH of the water there was about 6.8 to 7.o, not as high as I thought for a pool of water directly under the limestone hill. The cryptocorynes were growing on soft muddy banks.

Below are photographs of some of the inhabitants of the water pool.