Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Firefighters in the making - 21 Apr 2012

Located in Precinct 7, the Putrajaya Firestation is also the headquarters of the Fire and Rescue Department.

We have a chance to see the inside of a firestation, and to experience the making of a firefighter. 

Hose bundle typically stored in rows for quick selection, consisting of 15 or more metres each and 30 metres for hose reel. Two trainees in action practising to carry the heavy hose bundle and a little fire-fighter in the making rolling up the hose....

Mr Firefighter explaining the functions of the pump control at the rear. Pump controls the flow of water from the water tanks on the truck and from street hydrants and open source like pond or drain. 

These fire trucks are not equipped to reach to the very tall buildings (like more than 5-storey), which will need special apparatus like turntable ladder or high level access platform to allow access of firefighters at height.

Rescue tools like saws used to crush or cut metal, vehicle extrication equipment and a winch or wire cable in front of the fire truck.

The first aid compartment completes with stretcher, fire blankets and other equipment.

Little firefighters ready to shoot.......... Do you know it takes up to 3 firefighters to hold on to the hose when the water pressure is 12 bars.

Jin tried the fireman suit and he felt like an astronaut. Indeed it's not a glamorous job donning a heavy multiple layered suit with helmet, oxygen mask and tank and still able to be agile in movement to rescue and carry people to safety.

We were told that firemen must be ready to go in the fire engine within 90 seconds from the time the alarm rings. But it took Jin more than 15 minutes to don some of the protective equipment! 

Boys having a great time with the fire-fighting motorcycles. These bikes are useful during emergency like traffic jam!

Ladder work, an essential skill for a firefighter.

Firefighters in the cockpit ready to go..... A fire engine normally has 6 crew in the cockpit including the driver.

Our first outing with MHsN friends

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Kampung Kacang Putih - 6 April 2012

Posting by Xian Jin

My family and I went to a famous village that sells kacang putih in Buntong, Ipoh. Kacang putih is one of Malaysians' favourite snacks. We spoke to Gopinath, the 4th generation kacang putih vendor of CTS Enterprise.

CTS stands for Cmasami Tangavelu Subrumaniam. These are the names of Gopinath forefathers. The business started more than 80 years ago but they operated from the shop about 10 years ago. Before that, Gopinath family was peddling kacang putih on foot and by bicycles.

Their village used to be called Teluk Kurin B. Now it is known as Kampung Kacang Putih because of the successful stories of all the kacang putih vendors in this area. There are 40-50 families in the kacang putih trade in this village.

Kacang putih consists of different types of Indian savouries such as murukku, pakkoda, sivel, aulu, omma poddi, kadalai and legumes such as dhall, chick pea, peanuts as well as tapioca chips. 

Gopinath great grandfather was a pioneer in the kacang putih trade. He started with just one product which was the well-known murukku and now his family sells more than 30 types of kacang putih.

Look at the gorgeous savouries! 

We also saw the home-based factory. Every kacang putih vendor in this village has their own secret recipe to make the savouries. The main ingredients to make kacang putih are beans, starch and salt. It was amazing that they have only 4 staff. To make so many types of kacang putih sounds like they need many staff to me.

It was indeed a "food-ful" visit......

Monday, 9 April 2012

Spilling the Beans in Ipoh - 6 Apr 2012

Ipoh's familiar specialty - Nga Choy Kai or the Taugeh (Bean Sprouts) Chicken.

What else to accompany the poached chicken than the fresh, fat and crunchy Ipoh famous bean sprouts!! The bean sprouts are served blanched, with a dash of sesame oil, white pepper and soy sauce.

Ipoh is a well-known food haven in Malaysia, and most will agree that Ipoh's bean sprout is the best in Malaysia. The premium-grade bean sprouts come from the Buntong New Village, which is also my husband's hometown.

Growing bean sprout requires only water and more importantly, watering techniques. Madam Toon told us that there were at least 8 operators in Buntong. They were all family-owned businesses, and the three Toon brothers have been growing bean sprouts for more than 70 years. 

Bean sprouts are grown from black mung beans imported from Myanmar. The beans need to be watered every 4 hours throughout the day for 5 days, no shortcut, otherwise they will be not be fat and juicy. At the end of the first day, the beans will start to germinate.

On the 6th day, they are ready for sale to the local markets, restaurants and hawkers. Those on top are long and skinny, therefore considered low grade and fed to animals or fish, and those at the sides are sold to noodle shops. The best bean sprouts are those grown in the inner middle of the plastic drums. They are purchased by chicken rice and kuey teow sellers. 

The bean sprouts are sold all over Ipoh and other towns in Perak. It's not practical to sell to cities far away because the water will dry out due to the long journey and the costs are too high.

The open secret to Ipoh's bean sprouts is the underground water from the limestone hills surrounding the Kinta valley.

The bean sprouts cannot be exposed to sunlight and must always be under shade. Circular mosquito nets are placed on top of the beans and covered by gunny sacks.

Each plastic drum produces about 80 kg of bean sprouts. We checked with a chicken rice seller in Ipoh, he sells about 20 kg/day of bean sprouts on normal days, and up to 40 kgs/day during weekends and holidays.

In Buntong, the underground water sources near rock formations have found to be the best for growing bean sprouts. The rock formations were left behind from the mining activities in the area, now curiously home to pigeons, spotted also three lovely black-naped oriole birds (right).

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