Thursday, May 24, 2007


The Advanced Placement Environmental Science class needed a female chaperone for their all day field trip on Tuesday so I signed up. It was a lot of fun and we covered a lot of ground in seven hours. We actually made 10 different stops including a granite quarry to see the effects of dynamiting the hillside and three different places along Penang River to collect water samples. We also hiked to the waterfall behind Malaysia's oldest water treatment plant built in 1804. Climbing the 'benches' (hills) at the landfill was not the most pleasant experience of the day but touring through a 7 bathroom, 5 bedroom, 2 kitchen showhome built on reclaimed land was definitely cool!

The best part of the day was walking the wharves between the Chinese clan houses built over the water on Malacca Straits. Here's a little history behind the clan houses: the British brought in Chinese people to build roads, etc and put them in houses on stilts over the water. When more people from China arrived, they would live with others from their same family or district thus the term 'clan' houses. As their numbers grew, so did the houses, all attached to one another, further and further out on the water. Today, most of the people in these houses are fishermen and dock their boats right next to their homes. While there used to be about 50 clan houses in Penang, there are only 5 or 6 of them left.
We gained access to this water fall behind treatment plant with special permission.
The first site to collect and test water - not too bad so far.
The second site in Georgetown - water is getting high in nitrates.
The third site, about 1/2 mile from the Malacca Straits, where the water was murky black, stinky and thick with garbage.
The view east from the top of the landfill - squatters were living on the top in small shanties built of material from the landfill.

The Chinese clan houses - some of them even had air conditioning.

1 comment:

pondering something said...

Interesting trip - what a good way to learn about your new home.