A Kopitiam Supported Earth Hour Last Night

Yes, a kopitiam in Island Glades supported Earth Hour last night.
And I know this because I was having my dinner of chicken chop with Nic there last night and at the appointed time (they were a bit late, maybe late by 10 minutes or so), the coffeeshop owner and his helpers started bringing out candles.
The ‘si tau poh’ of Cheah’s Delights (the Western food outlet which we ordered cheap and delicious chicken chops from) said that the lights will be going off soon.
We were delighted!
As the flourescent lights went off, lit candles were passed out to tables with patrons. So Nic and I in fact enjoyed our ‘candlelight’ dinner!
When we drove home after a deeply satisfying dinner, I saw that the Petronas station near our area also switched off its lights.
Some cynics label Earth Hour (and the switching off lights for an hour) as a mere publicity stunt but I don’t think so. At least people get to ask why we need to do so and this starts conversations about the state of Mother Earth today. Better than putting them to sleep by talking about Kyoto Protocol.
Switching off the lights is something simple and do-able for many people. If we can start with this, I believe there’s hope for other green activities.

Prowling the Garden

While I have been missing from the blog, my other activities continue onwards.
One of them was the MNS Get Together which I attended two Saturdays ago at Botanical Garden. I’ve been an MNS member for 2 years now and though I am subscribed to the YahooGroup and am in the loop of information, I am frankly not a big birding fan. A lot of them are birding enthusiasts but not me. (I am a botany fan though.)

Colugo spotted at night in Penang's Botanical Garden
Colugo spotted at night in Penang's Botanical Garden

Just like Nic has his PHT (Penang Heritage Trust) membership, I have mine as a result of having a soft spot for animals and nature and conservation. So I think my membership dues will help MNS do its bit for the eagles, tigers, tapirs, owls,elephants, monitor lizards and the whole jungle fraternity!
Colugo with baby peeking out
Colugo with baby peeking out

But last Saturday really opened my eyes to what a bunch of nature fans the rest of the MNS members are. They were armed with binoculars and Nikon and Canon cameras. Not my compact type of camera. Those professional cameras complete with separate bazooka-like lenses.
Common tree frog having a nice swim
Common tree frog having a nice swim

After a rather yummy buffet dinner, we were all herded into groups of 10 to take on the night walk in the Botanical Garden. What’s special is this – you cannot go into the garden at night without special permission. That’s why so many MNS members turned up. Not for the dinner, splendid though it was.
dwarf toad
dwarf toad

We were there for the WALK.
Yes, a night walk! What a fascinating idea, right? That attracted me to the gathering in the first place.
Nic and I were in the first group and we strolled, not knowing what to look for. The rest were true nature lovers – they came with powerful torches to shine into the big leafy trees. Mrs Hum told me we were looking for the reflective shine of the eyes of creatures such as owls. She described seeing a pair of owls nesting in the garden.
Being the first-timers that we were (and the urban creatures that I am), we didn’t spot anything. The veteran members were the ones who spotted everything – from frogs in the drains and ponds to owl and colugos in the trees! And they go to extremes to take that snapshot of the animals.
But the night walk was so amazing because when the night’s quiet and there are no joggers in the garden, it’s special.
It’s special and fascinating when the garden is shrouded in darkness and finally I got to listen to tiny frogs making big noises, watch termites busily going somewhere on the cannonball tree and really look at the tadpoles in the pond. The night was not totally dark as my eyes grew accustomed to the night and I saw shapes of trees and saw a bright night sky above.
I was also in awe of the water system in the garden especially when we decided to walk up to the reservoir and Tajul regaled us with stories of the clever British who dug special underground ducts for irrigating the garden.
What a lovely way to spend a Saturday night!
By the way, the amazing animal photos are not taken by me. They are courtesy of Oo Choo Yee and Dr Khaw Chun Sien.
Oh yes, tomorrow is Car Free Day while on Saturday night you are supposed to join the movement to switch off your lights for an hour between 8.30pm to 9.30pm. While some critics call this hypocritical, I always think that any little support and contribution we do to raise awareness is better than none at all. Starting small is nothing be ashamed of, it’s doing NOTHING that kills us all. I know for some people that it is virtually impossible to NOT use their car for a whole day tomorrow but how about switching off your lights on Saturday? At least you can enjoy what darkness is all about.