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A Love Letter to Malaysian Borneo. Or, can this travel writer be green? ($us4.99 from all ebook sellers.) NOTE: this booklet is an entrant in the 2015 Malaysian tourism Awards.

Dubai (October 2015)
Oman (October 2015)
Northland, New Zealand (Jan 2016)

RECENT TRAVELS so upcoming blogs:
Sarawak, Malaysia (August 2015) Rainforest World Music Festival
Fiji - boutique cruise (May 2015)
Melbourne (February 2015)
Tasmania (February 2015)
Florida (June/ July 2015
Georgia (July 2015)
California (July 2015)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Evolution, Darwin, Wallace and Malaysia

November 11, 2015


A LoveLetter to Malaysian BorneoLooking at some of the TV programmes I have recorded while travelling recently I see one looks at a British explorer and biologist, Alfred Wallace who discovered evolution in Malaysia. I look forward to watching it as I wrote really briefly about him in my book (pub April 2015) see below.

Extract from A love Letter to Malaysian Borneo: or, can this travel writer be green?

Somewhere, in a museum, newspaper, or conversation, I also learnt about something called the ‘Sarawak Law’ which I’d not previously heard of. Alfred Russel Wallace was a British naturalist and biologist known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection. He believed this natural selection was very clear in Sarawak Borneo and his paper on the subject was published with some of Darwin’s writings in 1858 – leading Darwin to later publish his own ideas a year later in the Origin of Species.

In his book, The Malay Archipelago, 1869, Wallace also wrote: ‘The Rajah held Sarawak solely by the goodwill of the inhabitants. Rajah Brooke was a great, a wise, and a good ruler – a true and faithful friend – admired for his talents, respected for his honesty and courage, and loved for his generosity, his kindness of disposition and his tenderness of heart.’ Quite a recommendation and as I said earlier, a film about the White Rajah will be most interesting and I’ll be watching out for it.”

Note: this book has been entered in the Malaysian Tourism Awards 2015 which will be announced on 21st November.

Why no posts kiwitravelwriter?

October 24, 2015

Sorry I’ve not been posting for last month. I fractured my right wrist nearly 4 weeks ago (right is my dominant arm) so finding one finger left hand writing difficult and slow. 

Also finding it hard to take photos which is a pain as I’m travelling in Oman and UAE right now. Still have few and will post after the cast is off on 10th November!  Unfortunately they just are not as good as I expect of myself!

In the meantime go back and check some old posts and pictures you haven’t seen … I’ve published some 1200 posts as I recall.


Leaving New Zealand with my silver fern on my cast – supporting our big love … the ALL BLACKS rugby team which we love win or loose. (All our sports team wear the silver fern – a native tree fern)

Birds in Florida, USA

September 29, 2015

Oysters & scallops in Crystal River, Florida

September 24, 2015

Scallops from Crystal River (tiny compared to NZ ones!)




tasty meal … I forget its name but it’s a local favourite

Not an easy job – cleaning oyster trays before the next season!


websized IMG_1346


Mermaids are alive and well in Florida!

September 22, 2015

Weeki Wachee Springs is a very, very small ‘city’ with a population of 4. It’s also a Florida state park and ‘the world’s only city of live mermaids’ who perform in the Underwater Theatre which was built into the limestone of the spring in 1947.

Waiting for the mermaids

Waiting for the mermaids

When the curtains parted, the sun shone into the turquoise spring, and schools of small fish and turtles swam into view. Then, from some deeper part of the spring a mermaid swam up to the glass in a mermaid tail. Waving and smiling, she swam the entire width of the glass without appearing to need to breathe. However, at some 6 metres deep, the free-divers have air hoses to get their oxygen. I was amazed at how they used the hoses, which just float in the water in between them breathing from them, and I was anxious they would find them and get to breath.

While I was a little dubious about visiting this attraction I found it fascinating about how it was done. I’m not a diver so this is not something I would ever try to do – especially when I find out they have to down a long pipe to get into the pool: I’d panic!

These are natural spring, some 50 metres deep, which feed the Weeki Wachee River, which pumps huge quantities of fresh water into the Gulf of Mexico daily. The state’s goal is to keep the spring and the river healthy, and I heard someone say ‘ it’s debatable how much the show helps environmental efforts’.

Mermaids are said to be aquatic creatures with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish – appearing in the myths worldwide. Sightings of them are now thought to have been sirenia (a biological order comprising dugongs and manatees) and the sightings by sailors were really encounters with these aquatic mammals. Although Christopher Columbus reported seeing mermaids while exploring the Caribbean so I may be wrong!

Mermaids of course have been a popular subject of art and literature in recent centuries – for instance Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairy tale The Little Mermaid where a young mermaid falls in love with a human prince whom she saves from drowning when his ship was wrecked.  A world-famous statue, based on Andersen’s fairy tale, has been in Copenhagen, Denmark for over 100 years.

As well as watching the mermaid show, we also went on a short trip on the river with its extremely clear water. I believe canoes can be hired too.


many of the workers are volunteers such as these two

many of the workers are volunteers – such as these two

web use IMG_0785 mermaids (1)

Kate Sheppard: suffrage hero or that bloody woman?

September 19, 2015
Annual celebrations in Christchurch 19th Sept

Christchurch in particular is proud that local woman, Kate Sheppard, was the leader and figurehead of the suffrage movement that resulted in a petition that ensured all New Zealand woman were able to vote from 1893.

New Zealand is the first country in the world to give women the vote: married, single, migrant, indigenous, poor, rich, with or without land, working or not – all women were able to vote with the passing of the 1893 Electoral Bill.

Notice we kiwi did not use the word ‘suffragettes’ as we’d the vote some twenty years before that term was coined!

Born to Scottish parents, Kate came to New Zealand in 1868 with her widowed mother, and New Zealand honours her by having her image on our ten-dollar note.

Every Suffrage Day, 19th September, a few women gather at the Christchurch memorial panel to pay tribute to all those wonderful women by placing white camellias and purple balloons on this inner city sculpture. Note this is at the corner of Worcester Boulevard & Cambridge Terrace – although with post-quake (2010/11) plans it may be moved.

A punk rock musical about her struggles with the Prime Minister (Seddon) has recently been performed at the Christchurch Festival .. called That Bloody Woman, it had good reviews so I look forward to seeing it soon – apparently some were initially ‘shocked at the opening scenes’ when her sexual behaviour was exposed but ‘this quickly abated as the story developed’ I was told.


Pedestrian crossing signal in Wellington NZ.  Began a temporary installation but now here to stay

The memorial was unveiled in 1993, the 100th anniversary of this historic event. It has six women on it with Kate Sheppard holding the petition in a wheelbarrow which is how the petition was delivered to the steps of Parliament in Wellington. The side panels show women in typical everyday (1893) settings – gathering shellfish, teaching, factory sewing, farming, caring for families and nursing. These are flanked by bronze panels telling the New Zealand suffrage story.

Here are more pictures about one of our favourite kiwi women.


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Three cheers to ‘that bloody woman’ I say!

Kuching Wetlands National Park

September 1, 2015

Only 15 km from Kuching (and 5 km from the Damai Beach Resort (where I have stayed three times while at the magical, annual Rainforest World Music Festival) is the Kuching Wetlands National Park (2002) in the estuarine reaches of two rivers.

It’s also where I have twice planted mangrove trees as part of the “Greening of the Festival” which Sarawak Tourism does with all the festivals it hosts, helping  offset the carbon I’ve spent getting to Malaysian Borneo.

getting down and dirty while planting young mangrove

getting down and dirty while planting young mangrove

The park is a mostly saline mangrove system of many waterways and tidal creeks connecting the two major rivers that form the boundaries of the park.

An important spawning and nursery ground for fish and prawn species and it also has a wide diversity of wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaque monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, estuarine crocodiles and a range of bird life, including kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles and shore birds, including the rare lesser adjutant stork. In 2005 Malaysia designated the park as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance.

Lessor Adjutant Stork (Parit Jawa)

Lessor Adjutant Stork (Parit Jawa)

To explore this park you need to travel on the river and a number of tour operators offer coastal and river cruises in and around the park.

To read more about eco-tourism in Malaysian Borneo see my small book (A love letter to Malaysian Borneo or, can this travel writer be green) which has been entered in the Malaysian Tourism 2015 Awards.



Proboscis monkey: more endangered than orangutans!  I hope one day people will see  one in the trees I've planted

Proboscis monkey: more endangered than orangutans! I hope one day people will see one in the trees I’ve planted


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