Blog for 2010-07-7

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It's over???

Whooooooo!!!!! The end of the Maliau hike and I have to say that I am TIRED!We woke up this morning ready to leave Maliau Basin and even though that hike was one of the most difficult events of my life, I admit that it was a great deal of fun. In any case, back to KK!!!!

Oil Palm and Logging Plantation

We left Maliau at 8:20 am to visit the notorious Oil Palm Plantation that has ever been the silent enemy of the rain forest. Or is it? Before we left, Cam (who couldn't come along due to outside circumstances) advised us to be open minded and as unbiased as possible. As the cars pulled out of the pristine rainforest that is Maliau Basin, I wondered how we could possibly be unbiased when we have heard so many nefarious things about illegal logging. However, before we entered Maliau Basin, Cam did say that logging can be a sustainable part of forestry so it is possible to have a healthy objective view.

Two hours later, as we drew near the plantation, we saw miles and miles of palm oil palms. As we drew closer to the center, Zach (he, Dyna, Tam and I were in the same vehicle along with our awesome driver Riswan) noted the swimming pool and tennis courts (more about this later). There apparently was some initial confusion amongst our host because he expected Harvard students to appear a certain way and did not expect the diversity amongst the group. Anyways, we were escorted inside by well dressed attendants and had a quick afternoon tea before the lecture.

Sam and Nico

Joly

Mr. Joly Poyong
Joly is the General Manager of Timber productions for Sabah Softwood and despite he cheerful name, he is not a nice man. During his presentation, he highlighted the eco-friendly nature of his operation (cable yards, biological defenses against pathogens, ect.) and the caring attitude of the company towards their employees, hence the aforementioned pool and tennis courts. So we sat through a cheesy film about the caring nature of Sabah Softwood, who apparently supply the employees with cows on a special holiday and allow them to live in provided housing that even Mr. Joly professes he would be pleased with. We were all handed cool orange hats.
Smile Guys!
Any talk of oil palm was conspicuously absent from Mr. Joly's presentation- that is until Question time!

Question Time

Zach opened up the floor with his question about if the land use for recreation such as a swimming pool could have been put to better uses, such as expanding the pitifully small research plot. Mr.Joly replied saying that their order of priorities as a company is people first, followed by environment and then profit (mmmm hmm!). I asked about what percentage of the workers were local as opposed to foreign, which Kinari defined as Indonesian. Mr. Joly's answer was quite interesting in that he explained that the locals don't want to do the work but it is becoming expensive to import and legalize the workers. Many more questions were asked, but I think these two questions caused the greatest reaction and the most stir.

Planting

Beautiful, huh?

After a lovely lunch, we were escorted to a vast hillside in which all the trees were cleared. We watched the locals plant Acacia trees in 10 seconds flat and noted that all of them were wearing so much clothing for so hot a weather. We all proceeded to plant trees and realized the difficulty of this work for so little money. After a 10 minute lecture on how efficient the yard operations were, we all climbed into our cars and left that place.

Back to KK

After we retraced our tracks to Maliau Basin for a bathroom break, we proceeded to drive from 4 pm to 7 pm until we decided to have dinner in a local place. It was so much fun watching Frank and Zach, Doni and Kaz play a slapping game while watching ridiculously dramatic television. When we finally arrived at the hotel (around 10:30 pm), I was exhausted but some of us decided to stay up to watch the World Cup match between Spain and Germany (Germany lost). Wow, it was a really busy day but it was all worth it!