Sunday, 24 August 2008

Square Coins

Filipinos may have in their pockets their 10-sided 2-peso coins and their 5-sentimo coin with a hole in the middle. The Japanese and Papuans too have hole-in-centre 5-yen and 1-kina coins respectively, but we in British Borneo and Brunei used to have SQUARE 1-cent coins during British rule. Younger Borneans may not know that, so when I rediscovered some of these square coins in my drawer I decide to show them on this blog. People in British Malaya, that is Peninsular Malaysia to us now, shared the same currency with us at that time.

Photos: The "head" sides show King George VI and his daughter Queen Elizabeth II, the "tail" sides show the years of issue of the coins - 1945 and 1956

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Everybody (bar none) in Sabah has heard of Nunukan, which is the last town in Indonesia from which the tens of thousand of Indon workers pass through when they come to Sabah. But not many Sabahan or other Malaysian has ever been or want to go there and most only have the faintest idea of how this place looks like.
On my trip to Sulawesi in April this year I finally got a little glimpse of this Nunukan as I alighted on its quay from the express boat from Tawau, Sabah and had just enough time to rush up the waiting big ship KM Tidar that would take me to Sulawesi. However on my way back I flew into Nunukan airport in the evening and slept one night near the port and left Indonesia for Tawau in the morning. In this post are some of the few photos I took there.
Photo 1: From Tawau Port you take an express boat for the 1.5 hours ride to Nunukan

Photos 2 & 3: Nunukan Port - The big ship is the KM Tidar bound for Sulawesi, South Kalimantan and Java

Nunukan is the name of the island and the town which is situated on its northern side. It is also the name of the Regency (Kabupaten) A kabupaten I think, is an administrative unit somewhat like, but I guess one rank higher than "District" in Malaysia and is headed by a bupati (regent, "district officer"?). Kabupaten Nunukan is in the Province of East Kalimantan (Provinsi Kalimantan Timor or Kaltim for short). Photos 4, 5 & 6: On the return leg of the journey I took a plane (middle photo) fromTarakan to Nunukan. Top photo shows the old terminal in use then, bottom photo shows the brand new terminal beside it.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Green Whip Snake - Mistaken Identity

When I was young I always heard folks talked about the extremely poisonous "GREEN BAMBOO SNAKE". They were so afraid of this snake that all green coloured snakes they encountered were given a wide berth or where possible killed on sight (in fact this applied to all snakes!) and because they dreaded this creature so much that even the stick they killed the snake with was thrown away in case it was contaminated with the snake's venom! Even today this policy hasn’t changed much even though people have become more educated about snakes.

By virtue of its colour, the docile and quite harmless Green Vine (Whip) Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) was, and in many cases is still, thought to be highly poisonous and is called GREEN BAMBOO SNAKE by many ethnic Chinese. I just realized that this is a fallacy handed down from the time of our early migrant forefathers who, having newly set foot on Borneo, mistook this snake for the deadly Green Bamboo Viper Trimeresurus stejnegeri that was common in their native China.

Photo: A green whip snake having its photo taken.
Notice how close the snake is to the guy and how
brave S M Lo the photographer is!