Thursday, July 29, 2010

C. sp 'Belitung 2' West Belitung

I confirmed during this field trip that I am lacking in 'hunting' sense. I would had just walked past this stream without giving a second thought that there could be cryptocoryne found inside it.
It was my explorer friend who pointed out that there were likely cryptocoryne underneath the overhanging plants along the banks. To me, the dark patches seemed to be be just dead leaves or shadows?!?!?!?
In order to verify, someone need to enter into the water to check. Being a "city boy", I told my explorer friend that I did not want to deal with wet clothing (expecially underwear!) for the rest of the day. I do not mind bashing in the jungle and forest, but wading in water was just not my cup of tea! :-P
God will help those who helped themselves. My friend was rewarded with confirmation that cryptocoryne could be found after wading in neck high waters. The leaves all had distinct markings on them, both on the top and undersides.
I found this on one of the leaves!
The side of the banks were muddy as could be seen below and the pH of the water was low.
I managed to scoop out some beautiful residents of the stream for a photograph taking session.
What species could the specimens found belong to? C. bangkaensis? My explorer friend told me that some Japanese web site also published that C. cf. zukalii could be found on Belitung Island too?

Monday, July 26, 2010

C. sp 'Belitung 1', West Belitung

Since we already played merry go round on the plane from Jakarta to Belitung in the morning, we wasted no time to look for a hotel to deposit our belongings to commence with our hunt. It was a nice hotel with large room and attached toilet.

We had fresh lo mai kai (a.k.a. steamed glutinous rice with chicken) and lime juice for lunch in a Chinese owned coffee shop.
We searched along the western side of Belitung on our first day. After a few streams, we located our first cryptocoryne of the day.
The habitat is a muddy stream with low pH.
From the Internet, cryptocoryne species which could be found on Belitung included C. fusca and C. bangkaensis. Were these specimens either one of the two stated above? We were not able to locate any flower to confirm their identity accurately. My friend thought that the specimens with just their leaves reminded him of C. xpurpurea.What do you think?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Belitung overview

Below are some bird eye view photographs of Belitung taken from the plane. As can be seen, Belitung still have large forested areas around.
Below are photographs of various hills on Belitung. 
Sadly, there are large areas of forest cleared for tin mining too.
Our worse enemy was the rain clouds.
We went to Belitung at the wrong timing, all 3 days spent there were rainy days. The locals told us it had been raining for days already.
Many cryptocoryne habitats were flooded. There were some which my explorer friend dared to enter to search for cryptocorynes, not being afraid of whatever bacteria, leeches, etc lurking in the flooded streams and river.
However, there were also other flooded streams which we confirmed with the locals that cryptocorynes could be found but we were not able to enter as the water level had raised by more than a man's height with fast flowing current. A snake was seen swimming in this river too, the risk was just too high to undertake.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jakarta to Belitung flight, buy one get one free!

I went for a 3D3N free and easy cryptocoryne hunting trip to Pulau Belitung with my explorer friend over the last weekend. This was my first visit to this island but not for my explorer friend. He had visited this island 20 over years ago when he was involved in butterfly research back then.
We took a Thursday night flight from Singapore to Jakarta, stayed over on the benches outside Jakarta's domestic airport, and took the Friday early morning flight to Belitung (Tanjung Pandan Airport). Our dinner was a A&W fast food meal each that night. 
The original flight details were as follows:
Flight No: SJ50
Departure: 0620 from Jakarta
Arrival: 0710 to Tanjung Pandan
The actual flight details were as follows instead:
Flight 1:
Flight No: SJ50
Departure: 0620 from Jakarta
Arrival: 0800 to Jakarta
We obtained a really good deal of "buy 1 get 1 free" from Sriwijaya Air for our flight to Belitung. As the plane was touching down during our 1st flight, it suddenly increased altitude again and made a turn back to Jakarta, stating that there was a problem with the braking system which prevented the plane from landing at Tanjung Pandan airport which had a short runway. Luckily I took some photographs of the invocation card details from Lion Air (our flight from Singapore to Jakarta) which kept me occupied during the journey back to Jakarta.
At 0920hrs, we finally managed to board another plane of an older model, possibly more than 30 years old according to my friend, which nevertheless successfully landed at Belitung at 1015hrs.
Cryptocorynes on Belitung, here I come!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Another dream, cryptocoryne dream

I was tired and fell asleep. When I woke up, I found myself in the forest again, walking down a valley to a stream.
I was searching again, for another dream cryptocoryne.
There were many aroids around, some possibly lagenandra (?), but no cryptocorynes.
I reached the upper stream portion where the water became shallower but clearer.
Again, before I could start to search for the spathes, these horrific images appeared.
I woke up in cold sweat. The images below, ever so vivid, are still very clear in my mind....