Friday, May 14, 2010

Unschooling Taiping & Kuala Sepetang Road Trip 6 May 2010

Thursday morning
We drove to Kuala Sepetang which took approx 30minutes from Flemington hotel. I used Jalan Kota and headed straight following Simpang sign. There is one Kuala Sepetang sign further down that assured me that is the right path. It's easy - just drive straight from Jalan Kota till you reach Kuala Sepetang. I called Mr Chuah before the trip to make an appointment to visit his charcoal factory. It's so kind of him to take just the three of us !

old parking meter at Jalan Kota, Taiping.

 The scenery to Kuala Sepetang is so breathtaking. We passed by lots of "Mee Udang Banjir " (flooded prawn noodle! ) foodstalls along the road. It's a famous dish in Kuala Sepetang but we didn't try it. :)  Turn left when you see Mr Chuah 's factory signboard. We parked beside the road next to the factory. Mr Chuah greeted us with a smiley face. He first showed us some charcoals - black, shiny and beautiful. From there on, he enthusiastically explained the story of charcoal. :) In the morning, the workers cut and debark trees in the mangrove forest, which located behind the factory itself.

When the tides come in, boats with stack of logs ply its way back by this river(photo) to the factory. The men carries the logs, each weighs approx 25kg into the factory for baking.

 Mr Adnan debarks logs that have not been debarked at the forest. He gets 17cent for a log he debarks.

The igloo-like Kiln is handmade, with brick and mud only, by a young man. There is no prior drawing plans before he build it . Each kiln costs about RM16 thousand that lasts for 15years. The first baking, with 220 deg C, last for 8 to 10 days. This process is for removing moisture from the wood. The steam from the wood moisture bellowed out from both side of the kiln's venting holes. It felt wet when we put our hand near the vent. The wood smell is pungent.  From the smell of the heat, the supervisor is able to know when to move on to the next process.

The temperature is further brought down to 83 deg C by enclosing the entrance of the kiln with yellow clay and the woods are further baked for another 12 to 14 days. The venting holes are blocked with bricks, and no air is able to go through. After the second baking, the charcoals sre left to cool down inside the kiln for another 8 more days.

After the 8 days cooling period, the worker breaks the entrance and charcoals are carried out for final packing. During our visit, we happened to see the final process. Mr Chuah told us to go inside the kiln for a free sauna. The moment En walked in to the kiln, she turned and ran out. I walked in with Hui in my arms, while she protested, sensing the heat. It was hot inside! The old worker lady (photo) was collecting stones which the charcoals stand on under the intense heat !  We went on to see the charcoal packing. The workers chose the good ones and chop it into smaller pieces for packing. Shortly after, a van full of visitors came. Mr Chuah bid farewell to us and tell us to get a charcoal cooked corn and charcoal souvenir from his brother.
En's collected these from the floor and stored with a plastic bag she saved from falling into the river.


Jack Ng said...

interesting how they dug a canal to bring in the bakau timber for processing. de-barking one only for 17cents, tough job, i say.

Jack Ng said...
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