Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crown of Thorns (COT)

After the cleanup dive in Redang in 2010 for the annual Project Aware which is more focused on removing the Crown of Thorns, I began to read more about it.

One, Crown of Thorns also known as COTs appears naturally as part of an ecosystem balances the whole life cycle. Their diet consists of coral polyps.

Two, the known cause of the COT population explosion is never known exactly. Some attributes it to global warming, over harvesting of Triton seashells or maybe agriculture chemical leaching into the sea providing an alternative food source.

Three, COTs are not sea urchins and not black as what I believed earlier.

Four, chemicals from the sunblock that we usually use contains paraben that is harmful for marine life. Get a sunblock made from organic ingredients for sea activities.One that I found out is called Badger and is available in Singapore. Another place to get Badger products is from an organic shop in Centerpoint, Bandar Utama but they only stock certain products from Badger and not sunscreen.

Five, if you get stabbed by one of the sharp spines of COTs, your hand will swell like an elephant for days and it will hurt badly!

Six, when removing COTs from the corals, lightly pull them out slowly and not forcefully. Remove them bit by bit. Breaking the COTs will cause them to spawn in defense and it will release it eggs thus, creating even more COTs!

Seven, to spot a COT is to look out for white patches of dead corals. Why these white spots? Well those are the places that the COT have already fed on. So they are somewhere nearby.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Just came back from a nine day trip in Taiwan. Backpacking style, travelling around with taxis, buses, trains and even the scooter. Staying in various homestays and bed & breakfast places. Instead of describing the day to day events, I would prefer to talk about highlights about travelling in Taiwan where we focused more on North and Central Taiwan.

Qing Jing
Home-stay at Qing Jing with European style buildings and theme. Everything here is just so pretty with mountainous terrain. At night, you can look out through the balcony and see many stars lighting up the sky.

The homestay that we stay at was called Euro Country where it is run by a team of husband, wife and Blackie! :)

Warm Tones of the Furniture


The place is decorated with many types of flowers, shrubs and natural greenery. A great place for photography shoots as Qing Jing is full of colour but lacking in terms of interesting activities.

Beautiful Daisies

Scooter Ride Around Sun Moon Lake
Another highlight of the trip is the scooter ride around Sun Moon Lake is a great way to explore the area. Enjoy the breeze and view plus you get to get a better feel of the place rather than sitting in the comfort of a car. Fresh air and feel the breeze. There are some temples dotting the route around the lake that you can visit and different views of the lake.

Full Tank for the Ride

There is even a pagoda to visit but due to lack of time, we skipped it as it was getting dark. The photos taken here of the lake does not do justice to the place. It was a pleasant ride as there were not too many cars and in some places the road goes up and down.

Sunrise at Sun Moon Lake
Rising up early at 5am to watch the sunrise at 6am. The scenery is beautiful as if you are looking at a painting. The backdrops of mountains cascading behind forms a serene atmosphere with the mist adding a touch of mystery to the whole surrounding.

Yehliu Geopark
Enjoyed going to Yehliu Geopark where you can see nature's beauty at its best. The view is simply breathtaking as it is located next to the sea with waves crashing onto the rocks. The limestone rocks are eroded by rain, wind and salt water to form unique shaped rocks.

Works of Art by Nature

Just by the Sea

Wonders of Nature


You can have fun by trying to identify the rocks as they have names for some of the more famous formations. It's a wonder how nature can create these creative works of art. The area is very breezy as it faces the

Jiufen is a nice little quaint town with strong Japanese influence in their buildings, architecture and history. There are many narrow lanes connecting to these little shops and one may even get a little lost if you wander off in one of the many other small lanes supplementing the main walkways.


Shops and restaurants dot both sides of the walkways. The narrower lanes have people's homes. At night, you can even sit down at one of the tea house balconies to sip tea relaxing while watching the scenery of the sea and terraces of shops and buildings.

About Cafe

Taiwanese people are very friendly and we had the chance to be the first to patronize this little coffee place called About Cafe even when it is not even open yet! At first we noticed that view was so beautiful at the balcony overlooking the view of the sea but realised that the place was not open yet but the owner was really nice to invite us and even served us excellent coffee for free. Do look out for it when you are in Jiufen, for the coffee, ambiance and hospitality :)

That is the summary of what I personally enjoyed in Taiwan.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


It's funny how humans are never satisfied with what they have. Even if they have so much more than a lot of people, yet there are complaints of having this and not having that.

Have to remind one self about how fortunate we are to wake up to see the day, enjoy the wonders of what is around us and to be in great company of family and friends. To be able to bask in the sun, enjoy the simple pleasures of simple and yet delicious food, to be able to listen to great music and to see with our own eyes what beauty nature has to offer. Life's gems at its best. Gratitude.