Monday, December 12, 2016

Thekkady Kanthari and Polycotyledon seedling

I love collecting chilli varieties from places that I go to. For me these chillies represent the food and spice culture of the region. On one of the trips to India, I managed to get my hands on this bird's eye chilli from a village in Thekkady, Kerala, India. The bird's eye chilli or Kanthari as they call it, comes in many size forms. I was told that the smaller the fruit, and the more intense the heat, the better the Kanthari is.

The bird's eye chilli collected from Thekkady.
So this Thekkady Kanthari (I like to call it Thekkady Tiny Atomic Kanthari) that I picked up from the local is a tiny, thin fleshed but explosively hot type. They also dry it and use as a dried spice. Whilst the fruit is a juicy berry when ripe on the tree, they can dry out if are left on the tree since the fruit walls are thin. I found that when it was grown here, the fruits will eventually dry on the plant, if the weather is good and no birds get to them. The fruits are at most 1.5cm long, but usually shorter, thus looking very much like a rice grain, only larger. Perhaps that is why we call those chilli - cili padi (rice grain chilli). This Capsicum frutescens variety is small-fruited, but boy do they pack a lot of heat, for one is enough to make a bowl of tom-yam soup spicy hot!

The little fruits are plentiful and will dry on the tree if left alone.
Thekkady Kanthari from the balcony - the longest is only 1.5cm long.

On this batch seeds sown, I managed to get a polycotyledon seedling. Polycotyledon in Capsicum are controlled by three non-allelic genes, that is why you seldom see them expressed. In tomatoes, the polycotyledon trait is associated with abnormal flower parts and inflorescence, and hence poor fruit production. This is apparently is the same for chillies. However, one grower in The Hot Pepper forum had polycotyledon chilli that produced more yield than normal ones. So I am keeping this seedling to see how fruit set and yield are affected by this trait.

The odd quadruple cotyledon seedling.
The first leaves are also twisted to one side.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cili Api Centil - Local Bird's Eye Chilli

Most of the bird's eye cili (Capsicum frutescens) you get in the supermarket in Malaysia are from Thailand, the dark green, slim and rather long ones. Whilst they are hot, the heat isn't that intense and is considered to be on the lowest rung for bird's eye chilli varieties. There is another variety that is also common locally, and spicier than the Thai version - this is the Cili api Centil. It is also marketed as Cili padi Kampung.

The fruit of Centil is usually 1 - 1.5 inches long, but can go up to 1.8 inches long and they are about 0.5 inches wide at the base and tapers to a point. This gives the chilli a pyramidal bullet-shaped appearance. The unripe fruit are a light, shiny green and matures to a slightly darker green before turning brownish (red plus green) and then to a bright red colour when fully ripened. They are supposedly a productive variety but susceptible to leaf curl disease caused by viruses.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Some things are pretty in pink - Pink Crinums

I saw these lovely pink Crinums at Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. they were planted in the park on areas that are wet (like edges of streams and ponds). Crinums as a genus have fruits that are adapted for water dispersal and many species can stand being inundated with water for some time. Too bad we don't see many of these being planted here, probably more suited to cooler climes.

The pink flowers are sweetly fragrant.
Pretty in pink - they were grown in spots where the ground was moist and somewhat muddy.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ampang is alive with the Nine Emperor Gods Festival

The festival is here, and with the invitation of the Nine Emperor Gods, the Nan Tian Gong Temple at Ampang is bustling with devotees and curious visitors. For the attraction here is not only the devoted, but also people looking for strange, new and hippest things around in the market.

This year, let me introduce two 'hot' vegetarian food items found at the Ampang Nine Emperor Gods temple fair to you:
  1. Pokeball ice-cream: With all the fuss about Pokemon Go, it isn't surprising that there were at least two stalls selling Pokeball ice-cream. Basically ice-cream in a Pokemon ball, with a cute little Pokemon inside, hehe.
  2. Mushroom buns: These shiitake mushroom lookalikes are actually buns with a cream of mushroom and cabbage filling. Priced at RM4 each, they are surprisingly delicious albeit a little pricey.

So if you are free over the weekend, do drop by and get ready to be hit by the Pokemon craze, try a mushroom or two (perhaps you will grow big or maybe small) and be swamped by the usual swarm of people, smoke and sounds of the festival this year.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016

The Nine Emperor Gods festival has begun at Ampang Nine Emperor Gods Temple with the raising of the lantern pole just now. Tonight they will go out to 'invite' the Emperor Gods from a 'secret' location before the lanterns are lit.

Testing the lanterns on the lantern pole.

The edict and invitation that informs the gods that the temple will host the festival

Rushing to put the joss-sticks in at the lantern pole altar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 is drawing near

I know, I know, it is that time of the year again... The funny turtle buns, eating stinky tofu, buying tooth-decaying candy from the stalls that are synonymous with the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, which will run from 1st Oct to 9th Oct 2016. In terms of blogging, this year I will do a slight change in the way I blog this festival.

In this blog, I will post the usual events and daily happenings of the festival that I visit, whilst in Photo.Culture.Travelogue, the content will be more of a photo-blog. So to kick off the year's countdown, let me show you snippets of photos that I have posted as countdown for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016.

For more info on the happenings and schedule of the famous Ampang Nine Emperor Gods Festival, click on to Cheryl Hoffmann's site on Nine Emperor Gods Festival where she has meticulously listed down the daily events for Ampang Nan Tian Gong Nine Emperor Gods Temple. Don't forget also to take a look at her stunning and emotionally touching photos of this festival.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 1 More Day

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 2 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 3 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 4 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 5 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 6 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 7 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 8 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 9 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 10 More Days

Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2016 Countdown - 11 More Days

Or you can click on this link Nine Emperor Gods Festival Countdown 2016 to view all of the post in the countdown series in the Photo.Culture.Travelogue blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Adenium Taipei's Rose, a three-layered dark red bloom with black picotee petals.

Salam Aidilfitri to all Muslim friends and happy holidays to all. Weather has been crazy over here but Adeniums are loving the heat and blooming well.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Coming soon... Royal Floria 2016

Royal Floria 2016 is coming up, running from 27th May to 4th June 2016 with the theme “Magical World of FLORIA”, and featuring the Chrysanthemum as the theme flower. We went to see how a friend was setting up the exhibit and had a chance to see how they set things up.
Chrysanthemums - theme flower for this year's Floria
Main walkway with 'kites'
Quirky garden themes on one of the exhibit
Painting the Gingerbread House
Adding touches to the display inside the Floral Pavilion
Lights and twilight.

This year, the Magic of the Night returns to the site of Floria (ie no longer at Marina Putrajaya), which will make it easier for people to see it. The dancers were busy practicing their moves for the event in the evening.
Magic of the Night at Floria... Yippy
Istana Budaya dancers getting their moves right for Magic of the Night.

We manage to see work done on the Candy Courtyard, which is one of the large exhibits in Floria. The work done on the display is amazing.
View of the Candy Courtyard.
Love the train covered in Chrysanthemums.
Pink elephant at the Candy Courtyard

Another new thing for this year's Floria is the bonsai exhibition and competition by the Malaysian Bonsai and Suiseki Society. Many lovely specimens of bonsai will be on display at the Malaysia-China Friendship Pavillion.
Bonsai exhibition and competition
It ain't heavy, it is a bonsai...
Lovely bonsai are on display

So make a date to go to Royal Floria this school holiday season. There are many things for every member of the family. 
Jom.... Penang state pavilion being set up.
Working hard to get the flowers in inside the Floral Pavilion.
Sunset over the bridge at Floria... but work still in progress
More work in progress...
And even more work in progress to bring you Royal Floria 2016...


Monday, February 29, 2016

Feed you Desert Roses

The current weather in Klang Valley since mid February has been hot days and possible showers in the evenings. This hot and dry during the day and the then cooler nights are ideal time to feed your Adeniums or more commonly known as Desert Roses. If they are actively growing, AND the potting media is free draining, make sure they have moisture all day long and your Adeniums will grow like mad.
Adenium Thong Yod. The blooms are actually pretty large when they are well-fed and happily blooming

A good feed of fertiliser now and then will guarantee strong blooms, especially when they are actively growing and the air isn't too damp to bring about fungal diseases. Mine has been blooming like mad, though keeping up with the watering has been tough, since the potting mix that I use are too porous and doesn't hold water. Having a good run of flowers from my Adenium Thong Yod, Raspberry Freeze, Vietnam Love, Rose Beauty, Princess Fragrance, Sup Somboon, and even my friend's Black Swan II on loan for grafting.
Raspberry Freeze - love the almost fluorescent colour.
Black Swan II - thanks MK for the loan. Working on making it more beautiful, hehe.

So time to feed your Adeniums if you haven't done so.... they will surely reward you with pretty blooms.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2016

This was my first time seeing the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta as I missed the inaugural year it was held due to other commitments, So deciding to make full use of the day, I choose to go at 7am in the morning. Parking was not an issue as there were many areas that were designated parking lots, and all within comfortable walking distance to the venue which is Padang Polo.

When I arrived, the balloonist were in the midst of inflating the balloons. It is amazing to watch this process of transformation; from a crumpled, indistinguishable bundle of fabric and lines they blossomed into love balloons, some with interesting shape such as an alien rocket, ice-cream, three wise monkeys and an oversized zebra head! Entrance to the grounds is FREE but tethered rides and cold-inflation balloon envelope walk-in are ticketed but are very reasonably priced (click here for pricing).
Firing up the ice-cream balloon.
Alain Bard firing up his Alien Rocket Special Shape Balloon.
Errr.... I think there are aliens looking at us.
Mr Z must be feeling all hot inside
Mr. Z the oversized zebra head.
The middle one is the three wise monkey balloon, which was very popular with visitors.

The balloons were then deflated at around 9.30pm due to the weather, and I spend some time browsing the stalls and looking at the various items for sale around the show grounds. Only the tethered rides balloons were still up and looking great with Penang Hill as the backdrop. Alas, the tethered rides were sold out whilst I was busy taking photos of the inflation process, so I made up my mind I will come back for the Night Glow show.

The evening started with the balloons being re-inflated whislt we waited for the VVIPS to arrive for the official opening of the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2016. After some stage performances, the long awaited night glow really swept visitors breath away, with the balloons putting on the burners that illuminated the balloons beautifully. This was definitely something worth waiting for. To cap it all, there was a fireworks display at the end of the Night Glow show.

On the back row from left to right the special shape balloons are: the Montgolfier replica balloon, Mr Z the oversized zebra head, Alien Rocket, Orange, Three Wise Monkey (only partly visible) and Ice cream.

So for those who missed it on the first day, there is still tomorrow (10th February). My advice is to wither go early, watch them inflate and be exposed to how they do it, and then enjoy the other activities on site, or go lin the evening and stay for the night glow. If possible, do both, and get the best out of this well-organized event. It is worth your time to catch it.

Kudos to the organizer AKA Balloon, the Penang state government and all involved, for this is a very well put together event and I think everyone in Penang should not miss.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happy Year of The Monkey

Happy Year of the Fire Monkey to all who celebrate the Lunar New Year and happy holidays to my Malaysian friends. Will be off posting for a while as there are many events and festivals in my hometown for the Lunar New Year festival and will take a while to sort it all through.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Happy New Year 2016 to all my friends. One more year.... hopefully this year would be a better year ahead for all of us. Thanks to Johnny and friends who invited us for a party at a rootop unit in town, as the fireworks display from KLCC was amazing seen up close.

I will reorganize the blog content this year, and probably make drop menus to separate them into gardening, events/festivals and photography. So bear with me whilst the blog gets reorganized, posting will be slower.