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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do giant cats roam Sydney's west?

Australian news services are reporting on September 19 & 20, 2008, that New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees says rumors that a leopard (see blobcat image above) roaming bushland on Sydney’s outskirts cannot be dismissed, because the safety of children could be at risk.

Rees said a western Sydney woman had written to him with a database of around 600 people who have supposedly sighted a big cat in Sydney’s outer suburbs.

The new premier seems to be convinced something is out there and the mysterious animals may warrant investigation.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily an urban myth,” Rees told reporters in Penrith on September 19. “There are too many people reporting sightings.”

He said the state government investigated the issue with the National Parks and Wildlife Service three years ago, but the new sightings may prompt a further probe.

It is a turnaround for New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees (above left), who as water minister in August 2008 said the “black panther is an urban myth”.

“Of particular concern is if there are little kids out there and there actually is one of these things,” Mr Rees said yesterday.

“It is easy for all of us to dismiss these things … but if we’re actually wrong then there is an altogether different set of scenarios.”

Sighting of big cats - dubbed either the Penrith Panther or Lithgow Panther - have been part of local folklore in Sydney’s west and the Blue Mountains for decades.

Rumors persist the big cats escaped from private zoos or a circus in the area years ago, and even the local NRL club is called the Penrith Panthers. (Readers of Cryptomundo are familiar with this “circus escape” folklore being a frequent mythical explanation for cryptid cats sightings from other parts of the world.)

While many people believe it is some type of exotic cat, possibly a panther, cougar or leopard, myth busters say they are nothing but large feral cats with thick winter coats.

The cats are said to roam from Penrith to the Hawkesbury region in Sydney’s northwest along the Nepean River and across the Blue Mountain to Lithgow.

Cryptid seekers say the big cats have been able to survive by roaming the three large national parks - Kanangra-Boyd, Blue Mountains and Wollemi - which connect across the mountains.

“I know I don’t do policy on the run, but I think it’s three years since Minister Campbell had a look at this; I think it’s probably time to do it again,” he said.

.. from cryptomundo

Monday, September 22, 2008

Malaysia's 'worst in the world' taxis tarnish image

The ads promoting "Malaysia: Truly Asia" aim to welcome visitors with a warm smile to a prosperous and modern nation, so the taxi fleet branded "the worst in the world" can come as a bit of a shock.

Even the locals are not spared the shabby service of unkempt and hostile drivers behind the wheels of decrepit vehicles who refuse to use the meter, overcharge and pick-and-choose which destinations they will travel to.

At the popular KLCC mall under Kuala Lumpur's iconic Petronas Twin Towers is a typical scene, as a gang of cabbies negotiate with a young Norwegian couple just metres from a signboard warning against "taxi touts".

"Flat rate, flat rate, no metre," one driver insists as the tourists try to find a cab to take them to their hotel, less than two kilometres (1.2 miles) away.

Anxious to escape the baking heat, they agree to pay 25 ringgit (7.22 dollars) for a trip that would have cost less than three ringgit on the meter.

"Is it expensive? We don't know, we thought it is normal here," said the woman as they piled in with their shopping bags.

More frequent visitors, however, are vocal in their criticism and say that aggressive and unprofessional drivers are tarnishing the nation's image as a squeaky clean and hospitable destination.

"I first visited Malaysia in 2006 and I was impressed by everything I saw except for the worst taxi service I have endured," said Kabir Dali, an Indian tourist waiting in vain for a metered taxi at another mall.

"I paid a whopping 260 ringgit (A$93) from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to town and was later told that was twice the proper amount."

Complaints about taxis are common in many countries, but in Malaysia it has escalated to an outpouring of frustration, on blog sites and in letters to newspapers.

In a survey by the local magazine The Expat, some 200 foreigners from 30 countries rated Malaysia the worst among 23 countries in terms of taxi quality, courtesy, availability and expertise.

The respondents lashed the fleet as "a source of national shame" and "a serious threat to tourists -- rude bullies and extortionists".

Salvation is in sight though, as a number of smaller, up-scale operators enter the market to provide a more expensive but quality taxi service for frustrated visitors and locals.

The uniformed drivers, behind the wheels of smart new multi-purpose vehicles and sedans, switch on the meter as a matter of course and do not refuse destinations -- surprising and delighting commuters in the capital.

Abdul Razak, operations manager for Dubai-based Citicab which launched here in January, said that even in poorer nations such as Thailand and Indonesia, taxis are smarter and the drivers far more courteous.

"I would say it is the worst in this region, undoubtedly. I have travelled to all countries in this region and our company operates taxis in many parts of the world. The situation here is the worst I have seen," he told AFP.

"The vehicles are in shabby condition, the driver will take you if he likes your face -- that is, if he agrees with where you want to go for the price he insists on."

The government has called on taxi firms to lift their standards, but various campaigns have achieved little, and many blame the lack of enforcement on rampant corruption in the police and bureaucracy.

"It is difficult for the roads and traffic department to take stern action," said a security officer at one city mall as he watched the touts swoop.

"Taxi operators and the company which hold the licences are all linked to some politician or another," he said. "Drivers here are ruthless because they are unchecked by authorities who are almost non-existent."

John Koldowski, from the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said that "less than desirable" taxi drivers have an outsize impact on a nation's image.

"The first contact a tourist gets with locals is often during airport transits to hotels and it creates a very, very strong first impression, either be good or bad," he said.

"Authorities certainly need to do their jobs and act upon any complaints strongly, quickly and visibly."

.. from smh

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The rock art that redraws Australian history

HIDDEN in rugged ranges in north-west Arnhem Land, a spectacular treasure-trove of Aboriginal rock art is set to rewrite the history of Australia.

In a find that has stunned archaeologists and anthropologists, a vast wall of about 1500 paintings chronicles the history of Aboriginal contact with outsiders, from Macassan prows and European sailing ships to 19th-century steamships and a World War II battleship.

Alongside exquisite rock art more than 15,000 years old are paintings that capture some of the 19th and 20th centuries' most important technological innovations - a biplane, bicycle, car and rifle - as well as portraits of church ministers, sea captains and traders.

This indigenous version of a history book rivals anything similar in the world and holds the key to Australia's ancient and modern history, according to scientists who have just returned from an expedition to the Djulirri rock shelter in the Wellington Range. The Griffith University archaeologist Professor Paul Tacon, one of five scientists who travelled to Djulirri, said it was of international significance, unprecedented in artistic and technical merit and telling a new story of contact between Aboriginal people and the world.

Contrary to the popular view that indigenous Australians were isolated on their island continent, waves of other seafaring visitors arrived long before British settlement. For hundreds of years there may have been an export economy in northern Australia driven by the Chinese appetite for trepang, or sea cucumber.

While it has long been known that Macassans traded with Aboriginal people, the accepted date for this was in the early 18th century. The team of scientists believes it may have begun centuries earlier.

"This rock art dismantles the popular identity of Australia being a nation first visited by the British," said Dr Alistair Paterson, of the University of Western Australia, also on the expedition. "It goes against the idea of the Bicentennial and convicts."

The first rock art expert known to have seen the shelter was George Chaloupka in the 1970s. But the exact location was lost until a doctoral student at the Australian National University, Daryl Guse, relocated it by working with a local Aboriginal elder, Ronald Lamilami.

Apart from conducting the first full recording of the Djulirri art, the team of researchers discovered thousands of other rock paintings previously unknown to science.

Their trip was the first part of a three-year national program to uncover the archaeology of first contact with Aboriginal people around Australia. But the researchers fear that, without urgent government support, the Arnhem Land sites could be severely damaged. Tourism is rapidly expanding in the Wellington Range, says a Griffith University archaeologist, Dr Sally May, and one of the most important rock art sites, known as Malarrak, is being severely degraded by visitors.

Mining companies are also sweeping into the area. The range is a prime site for uranium and other exploration. Mr Lamilami wants an indigenous ranger program established to ensure the sites are properly managed.

.. from smh.com.au

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Midvalley Saturday

lunch @ Kim Ross..

Then some Mooncake shopping for the coming Mid-Autumn festival
(next Sunday)

I bought Green tea lotus paste & Chocolate..
I had no idea what I was doing

Check out that awesome package design.
secretly, that's the main reason I bought some, if they were in the standard clear plastic, I would have walked on by.

The Mooncakes came in bags with this cute design on either side.

.. a random shot of little bags made from zippers..
.. aah so wacky

Jalan Alor
(a couple of pics from)

mango crushed ice.. the coldest drink on the planet?
.. quite possibly :)

Finely misted water, wafting over over now more comfortable diners

Odd Search