Thursday, July 24, 2014

Licuala species (fan palm) - July 2014


Went exploring this morning (such a hot day! 33 degrees Celsius in the jungle and 45C under the sun!) and found several kinds of palms in this swampy area but I was only interested in the licualas, my favourite! There were so many of them but I believe they are all of the same species though am not sure which. Came upon only one with mature fruits.


The pea-sized fruits (orange-red/brown) have a sweet and juicy mesocarp (husk/pulp surrounding the hard shell which protects the kernel). This suggests that seed dispersal is probably by birds and small mammals (and me!) :-)


The inflorescence pictured above had its growth obstructed by some dried leaves and twigs. It would otherwise grow straight up.


Those found growing in the denser parts of the jungle with little light had very long petioles. Since they're stemless, this would be the only way for them to grow "lanky" to reach for light.


Licualas have palmate leaves and are often called fan palms. This one has very tiny thorns on the lower part of the petiole and is stemless.


Others in more open areas were very bushy with short petioles; some were very dense, such as the one in photo below. I had to separate the mass of leaves and petioles to expose the inflorescence to be photographed!


If anyone knows which species this is, drop a line in the comments section, thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MASwings Viking Air DHC6 Series 400 Twin Otter

Maswings DHC6-400_Kinabatangan

MASwings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, has finally replaced all of its museum pieces (DHC6 Series 300) with brand new DHC6-400 planes. The 400 seats the same number of people (19) but is much newer and more modern, powered by a newer engine model and featuring a new cockpit outfitted with modern technology.

Maswings DHC6-400_cockpit

While the older ancient planes only had oscillating fans to keep the cabin cool as well as very hard seats and an interior that felt more like a country bus, these new planes now feature a modern cabin with comfortable seats and yes, gasper vents and LED lights (see photo below). :-)

Maswings DHC6-400_gaspervents_led

Did you know that the Twin Otter has a respectable range of around 1500km or more? It also has a service ceiling of around 7500m and a cruise speed of about 280km/h.

I noticed that MASwings christened their new planes with names of rivers such as Padas and Kinabatangan (the plane in this album, which brought me from Miri to Lawas and back) - both are rivers in Sabah.

Maswings DHC6-400_interior

I have flown on the twin otter with Maswings a number of times now but this was my first in the 400. It was not unsual to see daily goods and sundries packed under the seats in the past as the planes often were the only means to quickly bring in perishable items from the larger cities to the interiors of Sarawak. On this flight and the return, saw no such thing and the cabin remained clean and comfortable.

Maswings DHC6-400_interior_empty

The older planes were notorious for getting into accidents (a few fatal ones). Hope the new planes will have a clean record for as long as they remain in service.

For more info, check out this news article:

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