Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batu Arang Welcome Community

I stumbled across the place more or less by chance. Having been to see the Batu Arang chimneys in 2006, I'd since read about a church and wanted to see it. So when I was back in Batu Arang with some friends, I decided to look for the church. Firstly we went to St. Michaels Chapel in the town,
and were told there is no other church, just the community hall up on the hill. I realised this was the place I was looking for, as I remember reading about sunsets from the site. However it seems the various blogs and internet sites were wrong, as it wasn't a church at all.

The Welcome Community is now an after-care home for HIV patients run by a Catholic group, the Catholic Welfare Services. The history of the building is interesting. It was built around 80 years ago (1920s) by the British, for use as an army mess for the garrison. Then it was occupied by the Japanese. After the Japanese left it went back to the Brits until they left. It was then run by missionaries, and in recent years was converted to a home for drug addicts and HIV patients etc.

The place was taken over by the Welcome Community in April 2008, and is bright, clean and airy. Doctors attend the residents, and foreign volunteers come from overseas to work for short periods. The beds were donated from the Assunta hospital in PJ. It has room for more than 40 inmates, although currently there are only around 37, aged between 20 and 60. They have been referred to the home from Sungai Buloh Hospital or the local prisons. However we visited on a rather unusual day, as the Muslim residents were being transferred to a new home specially set up for them. Uptil now the residents all lived in the one community, and although there are Catholic pictures on the walls, and a large crucifix on the top of the building, one room had been converted into a surau.

The people are well cared for, and many are better physically than when they arrived, due to good food, and a caring social community.

See more on Malay Mail and also Batu Arang (Star).
© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Orchid farm in Selangor

This orchard farm is on the Rawang to Batu Arang road (B27) in Selangor, not too far from the toll, and just west of the turn off to Bandar Country Homes.

It has a beautiful display of orchids which you can buy.

interesting tree

my purchase

See also Batu Arang (Star).

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Fishing with Tow Foo

A fishing first

Story and pictures by LIZ PRICE

MAYBE this article ought to be called “Fishing with Tow Foo at Tow Foo”. In case you are confused, let me explain. Tow Foo is the name of the sportsfishing centre in Kundang, Selangor, which got its name from the fact that the fish here are fed with tofu.

Now that the confusion is cleared up, let me explain that Tow Foo is the first of its kind in many ways — it is the first sportsfishing centre in Malaysia, the first lure-pond, the first catch-and-release pond, the first fly-fishing pond, the first tag-and-release pond, the first circle hook pond, the first barbless hook pond, and also the first fish recovery station.

This may sound like double Dutch to non-anglers like myself, but any ardent fisherman would know exactly what it all means. Basically Tow Foo is the first sportsfishing centre for sporting anglers managed by sporting anglers. It is owned and managed by Wong Sing Poh, and Aziz Daud is his weekend partner. It is located behind the Kundang Lake Golf Resort, which is about 3km from Tasik Biru. The site covers an area of eight hectares.

Its main claim to fame is that it is a catch-and-release pond. This means that you don’t go there in order to catch your supper. You catch the fish, then release it back into the pond. However you don’t always go away empty-handed, as you are allowed to buy up to 2kg of fish caught from the main pond, like the catfish, Tilapia, Pacu or Lampan. You are discouraged from taking home more, and prices are high. Any excess is RM5 per kilo, or in the case of the Tapah, RM130 per kilogramme! So as you can see, conservation is the order of the day.

Catch and release is a new concept in Malaysia. But it is necessary for survival — the survival of the fish, and ultimately survival of the angler, as it ensures he will be able to continue his hobby. Fish, like any other animal, don’t pop up overnight and take years to grow and reproduce. Many types of fish in the sea are being caught in such large quantities that their very survival is threatened. Here at Tow Foo the fish are able to breed and grow to decent sizes.

There are all kinds of fish here and Toman is one of them.

Anglers are encouraged to use a landing net, and as soon as they have oohed and aahed, or perhaps commiserated over their catch, they release it quickly and gently. Then they can talk about “the one that got away”. I wonder if fish have brains, and if once they have been caught, they have enough sense not to get caught again, or will they be tempted by the offer of free bait again and again? Incidentally no live bait is used here.

Dr Mah, one of the ardent regulars, is doing some research on fish, and has written some articles on the subject. One of these can be read at the centre. It is pinned to the wall, along with all the newspaper and magazine articles that have been written on Tow Foo since it opened in December 1999.

Tow Foo is a fish-breeding centre. Therefore the fish are well looked after. They are fed on tow foo and soya beans, and this produces healthy, fleshy fish, without that muddy taste often found in fish you eat in restaurants. This also keeps the ponds clean, as the fish are not fed smelly dead animals!

There are four sportsfishing ponds and one commercial style pond. The Main Pond is open for all types of acceptable sportsfishing techniques. Anglers normally use just one rod and reel here.

There are 15 species of fish in this pond and, as mentioned earlier, the free take-home limit is 2kg. The fishing fee is a mere RM15 per person, per rod with no time limit. This fee also allows you to use the Lure and Patin ponds.

In the Lure pond you lure your fish using barbless hooks, catch and release. No artificial or dead baits are allowed here.

There are various species in the pond: Toman, Haruan, Pacu, Tapah, Patin, Tilapia and more. Whereas in the Patin pond, you have to buy what you catch.

There is also a Big Fish Pond for the serious fishermen. But before you get ideas about catching a big one to feed the whole family, this is strictly a catch-and-release pond.

For those that want to get away from the other anglers, or are feeling misanthropic, a boat can be hired at RM10 for three hours. You can then paddle away to the furthest reaches of the pond and fish in solitary splendour. However I would imagine it is easy to doze off whilst enjoying the peace and quiet, admiring the surrounding green and watching the birds going about their daily business.

All this fishing can be hungry work, but fear not — there is a kitchen. On weekends, Aziz rustles up a tasty selection of rice or noodle dishes, as well as burgers and sandwiches. Just tell him what you want from the menu and, hey presto, an appetising dish appears before your very eyes. He will even cook the fish you have caught, but for a fee.

The whole place is kept very clean. There are rubbish bins to ensure that no garbage goes into the ponds. This is one place where you won’t get an old boot or a tin can on the end of your fishing line.

There are various amusing signs scattered around. A classic one reads: “Work is for people who don’t know how to fish”. Another one, which caught my eye, was for the “complaints department”. This tells you to walk to the nearest tree, wait five minutes and then tell the tree your problems. This is a free service, and I am sure it works.

The whole centre is geared up with conservation in mind, as well as the protection of the environment. And it works. People willingly use the rubbish bins; there are no plastic bags or styrofoam boxes lying around. And maybe the most important thing — the toilet is clean! I mention this as it is a pleasure to find a clean public loo in Malaysia!

Obviously there is no guarantee that the fish will bite. This is an occupational hazard fishing anywhere in the world. There is an estimated 15 tons of fish in the Main Pond. If the fish are slow, just sit back and relax, enjoy the scenery, chat with friends, have a drink.

As it was my first time to the Centre, I wanted to explore the whole area, so I went off to see the goat farm and bullfrog farm, but that is another story. Incidentally the frogs are farmed to supply restaurants, not to feed the fish.

The Tow Foo Sportsfishing Centre is 30km north of Kuala Lumpur, adjacent to the Kundang Lake Golf Resort about 3km from Tasik Biru and 1 km from Kundang New Village.
For enquiries call 019 2283489, 019 2668446 or visit their website at http://www.fishing.net.my/ and follow the link to the Kundang Sport Fishing Centre

Originally published in The Star on Saturday, August 17, 2002
More photos on Tow Foo fishing .

Goat farm and cows

Although this goat farm is not open to the public, I've visited a couple of times, and each time have been impressed by the place, which is near Kundang in Selangor. The farm was set up as a hobby but has turned into a thriving business for Mr Wong. As we approached, my first reaction was there were no goats, as there was no noise and no smell. But when we went upto the pens, the goats were indeed there. There can be up to 250 goats, and there are 3 types, from Australia.

handsome beard

smart guy

looking around
One goat really caught my eye, it was a male or billy goat, but he had the most ridiculous "hair do". The top of his head was covered with white, soft curls that really looked like a hair piece, and gave him the appeareance of a poodle. If only he could look in the mirror....................

look at my hair

so curly

another view of the curls
me again
a different type

nice horns

I've lost a horn

one horn

pregnant nanny


where's lunch?
what's going on?

getting a better view

pink ears

young 'uns

sun in my eyes

anything to eat?

kids and kids

kids looking at kids

The pens are clean, and the goats are fed with natural food such as tofu fibre and nepia or horse grass which grows alongside the ponds.

tofu fibre

preparing the feed

nepia or horse grass

the stirrer
fermenting grass
The goats are reared for their milk, and of course for breeding. The milk is pasteurised and bottled, and some is used to make toiletries such as soap, shampoo and creams.

processing the milk

bottled milk

Outside are some cows and bulls.

© Liz Price <br>
No reproduction without permission