Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Taking a break from editing one of the last few episodes. A few weeks ago, I was in Tawau to shoot the episode I'm editing now. I thought I'll stop for awhile as my neck is killing me and all the marking in and out's are getting to me.

In the early production planning, I knew I had to go to Tawau to shoot this episode, however, time really flies by and before I knew it, I haven't even booked my ticket. Plus Fadli had a pretty tight schedule so after discussing it, we booked ourself a flight to Tawau right away for a 3 days shoot. Right after we booked out flight, Fadli was told he was to leave for South Africa on the second day we'll be in Tawau, so he had to return earlier than me.

Anyway, once we go to Tawau, the weather wasn't that great either. When ever I brought out my camera, it started drizzling. I kid you not, when I kept my camera, it was bright and sunny. It was as if Tawau wanted to keep its secrets from me.

on the Semporna Jetty
A picture of me at the Semporna jetty just before we left to see the seaweed farms. It was raining and dark even though it was only 10AM when we got there.

We took a boat out to see the seaweed farms. It was interesting. The water was really shallow and clear. These farmers are mostly Bajau's. They build houses on stilts right in the middle of the sea... although the water under their houses isn't very deep. Each house has about half an acre to more than an acre of seaweed growing on long strings that they float with plastic bottles.

Bajau family
This is the family we visited. Notice the boy who is squatting, he just finished giving himself a haircut. I took a peek in the back of their house. There was a DVD player and TV where they karaoke. I didn't see a toilet around, I think the genset was next to their toilet.

bottom of a floating house
The bottom of their house... their sewage system also. Food for the little fishes!

So, what can you do with seaweed? Well, besides eating it and making it into jelly, the company that we were shooting makes it into Carrageenans. It's the plant equivalent of gelatin so for the muslim world, it's Halal. It has various applications in the food industry, mostly as a food stabilizer. For example, if you ever look at those orange juices with pulp in it that we buy in packets from the supermarket... you'll notice that the pulp floats nicely in the juice. That's cause the carrageenan is holding the pulp together. If it wasn't for the carrageenan, the pulp would have floated to the top and all the orange coloured stuff would have floated to the bottom.

different types of seaweed
This the seaweed that they harvest. The farmers usually dry the seaweed first before selling it. According to the person I interviewed, one family makes about RM4,000 every 3 months for their harvest. Not bad.

cultivated seaweed of Semporna
Looks gross doesn't it? It feels very rubbery. They actually eat it raw like a salad too. The family we visited actually cut it up for us and served it with mixed with pepper, chilli, and garlic. It's mostly tasteless except for the slight taste of the sea (slightly salty). However, if you wash it of more, it's totally tasteless. When you chew it, it's got a crunchy texture.

Pulau Bum Bum seaweed jetty
After spending some time there, I needed to take a piss and I didn't want to use their outhouse. I looked around and saw on the main island, Pulau Bum Bum that there was actually a brick building with a jetty. I asked them what was that, they said it was a community hall. I thought to myself... "hrmm, government building, must be a toilet there!" So I said, okay let's go over there so I can get some shots of the jetty also.

After a 5 minutes boat ride to the jetty, I speed walked all the way to the building and to my dismay, the gate was locked and there was no one in sight. In fact, it wasn't a community hall at all, it was a rest house. I decided I'll just hold it in instead until we got back to Semporna's main jetty.

The water got really shallow because of the low tide on the way back. At one point, it looked like one of us almost had to jump out of the boat to lighten the load. It looks like as if I could almost touch the bottom with my hand. I was wearing shorts and plastic clogs but I didn't wanted my leg to get sticky after that.

On the way back, the sky cleared and it was all bright. On hindsight, it was a good thing it wasn't hot on the way there. It was cloudy. Even then, we got a little sunburned. If was bright and sunny, we would have been totally sun burned.


When we finally reached back at the Semporna jetty, the skies were clear again. Because of the low tide, we could see that kids had actually walked a mile out from the beach in knee high water to fish. I took the picture above from the Semporna jetty. The island in the foreground is Pulau Bum Bum. In the back, that hill looks like the profile of someone's mouth who is shouting as it is lying down facing up.


xmocha said...

i enjoyed reading this post..

luxen said...

this episode will be on 30 september at 11:30PM.