Reunion

21-more-weird-animals-you-never-knew-existed-3

Hi guys…

It’s been a very long time since I wrote this blog. So sorry that I kind of abandoning this blog. It’s really hard to have leisure time when you have many important activities and responsibilities out there. But I still love writing… and I’m coming back in short time. And I will work my ass down here.

This is what I’m going to talk about next time. Do you have any idea what it is? Stay tune!^_^

Double-decker Bus History

Does people of your country still ride double-decker buses? In my country, Indonesia, I never witness this transportation anymore. It went extinct as financial crisis hit our country years ago, and as its popularity decreased. I used to ride it in abroad when I was still a child. I think most children will love to sit on the second floor of these buses… so did I. It’s such a wonderful feeling to watch the street from a higher place, to watch far-away views.

I miss them all so I tried to look more information about the history, kind of hoping that I would find news that the bus is still operating somewhere in Indonesia =p

1. The Definition

A double-decker  is a bus with two decks. The traditional bus was colored in bright red, though nowadays, they are varied in colors and styles.

It was discovered in London and has been struggling to survive for centuries in a competition against other faster and more effective transportation such as ordinary buses, trains, and taxis. Now, double-decker buses are still found in certain areas in London, U.S. as well as former British colonies and protectorates such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.

A modern double decker

A modern double decker

2. Strengths and Weaknesses

As well as things in general, a double-decker bus has also its own strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses they have are one of the reasons why it is difficult for them to survive in modern era.

Strengths:

  1. Efficient use of road space
  2. It can carry a lot more passengers
  3. Many tourists like to ride it in order to tour around a city or town, seeing more views from a higher area on its second level

Weaknesses:

  1. It’s unstable. Due to its excessive height, double deckers are not able to fit under overpasses and through narrow areas that other vehicles can.
  2. It can travel only on flat streets.
  3. Disabled people, especially the ones using wheel chairs, are not able to climb the stair to the second level.
  4. It walks slower than motorized transportations in general because of its height and weight.
Stair in a double decker, which is difficult to get passed by disabled people.

Stair in a double decker, which is difficult to get passed by disabled people.

A double decker under an overpass. Some accidents involved double decker buses noted that the buses failed to pass the overpasses as they hit the roof of the overpasses

A double decker under an overpass. Some accidents involved double decker buses noted that the buses failed to pass the overpasses as they hit the roof of the overpasses

The upper deck of a modern double decker bus is used by tourists to enjoy views of cities or towns they visit.

The upper deck of a modern double decker bus is used by tourists to enjoy views of cities or towns they visit.

3. The History

The first attempt to create a bus was conducted in France back in 1662, but it was fail. In 1829, the first commercial bus, called omnibus, was finally introduced in London. It was still horse-drawn since modern motors haven’t been found at the time. The first omnibuses were freed of charges, but soon enough, the passengers were charged to cover the maintenance costs, especially to feed the horses.

Some companies was soon interested to have a business on the public transportation. The London General Omnibus Co. (LGOC) was one of them and was the largest one. The LGOC then became the king of omnibuses business in London. It was the first omnibuses company to operate on timetables for commuters.

The first double-decker omnibus was introduced in 1847 in the U.K. by Adams & Co of Fairfield. It was also still drawn by horses (usually three horses). At first, the second level of the bus didn’t have a roof.  The sits on the top deck were designed lengthwise. The lower deck was covered with clerestory type of roof. The passengers sat at the lower deck was charged with more expenses, twice higher than the ones at the upper deck. The upper deck didn’t get popular in an instant. It was continuously advertised  on the sides of the bus. Ten years later the upper deck finally got more fans.

The first double decker omnibus by LGOC

The first double decker omnibus by LGOC

In 1852, a bigger double decker which can load up to 42 passengers was operated. It still used 3 horses to draw. The passengers can reach the second floor using stairs. A year later, the public transportation has started to be known outside the U.K, which is in France. As well as its northern neigbor, France released a horse-drawn omnibus. The second floor of the bus was also cheaper than the first floor, and sometimes it was freed of charges. However, in 1911, the omnibus was drawn following an overturned double-decker bus incident at place de l’Etoile. It’s not until 1966 that they tried to run the bus again.

Left, double-decker bus Schneider Brillié P2; Center, double decker horse-drawn omnibus

Left, double-decker bus Schneider Brillié P2; Center, double decker horse-drawn omnibus

Back to the birthplace of bus, London…

After LGOC operated the first motorized bus in 1908, fifteen years later, A.E.C. (Associated Equipment Company) released the first motorized double-decker bus which featured a full covered top deck, and called them NS-type. At the time, the full covered double-decker bus was considered rare and luxurious. The seats on the upper deck, which was previously made of wood, was finally replaced with more comfortable ones (close to what we use today), which featured padding, springs, webbing, and covers. Having more comfortable facilities to offer, the newly designed double-decker bus was finally able to gain more fans and compete with trams, which were also popular at the time. When new towns, which weren’t able to be reached easily using trams and trains, were growing rapidly, the NS-type double deckers’ popularity was rising. As motorized bus was continuously developing, the horse-carried omnibuses were no longer people’s favorite transportation. During World War I, on August 4, 1914, they stopped their operations. Yet, it was still wandering in the U.K.’s villages until 1932. Seemingly, the NS-type double deckers also couldn’t stay for a long time in top position. In 1937, it met its end as well.

the NS-type double decker bus, the first motorized one

the NS-type double decker bus, the first motorized one

Although, the NS-type has stopped operating, other double deckers were still operating. In 1941, a woman, Miss Phyllis Thompson, was entrusted to have a license to drive the huge vehicle for the first time. Later in 1949, another design of double decker, The Bristol Lodekka, was launched by Bristol Commercial Vehicles. It has a traditional half-cab design, but with a lower floor level and a lower overall height, decreasing the weight of the bus and making it easier to drive. The bus was able to go through undercovered bridges in the U.K. The bus was operating up until 1968.

The Bristol Lodekka double decker omnibus

The Bristol Lodekka double decker omnibus

Inside The Bristol Lodekka double decker omnibus

Inside The Bristol Lodekka double decker omnibus

14 years before it stopped operating, Routemaster Bus London was introduced. It was commercialized in 1956. It offered modern facilities, which most bus and some other motorized vehicles still didn’t have at the time, such as a front suspension, a power steering, an automatic transmission, and a hydrolic brake. The design gained more popularity in instant since it’s considered modern, more efficient than its competitors. London people recognized them with the double decker’s original color, bright red. Later, it became the icon of the U.K., and was one of the most favorite transportation to enjoy London’s view. Years later, the bus was widely-known around the world, and the design was used by many countries to create their own double deckers. So far, Routemaster bus has the longest operation term of all double deckers. Nevertheless, all the beginnings will meet their ends. That’s also what happened with Routemaster. The last Routemaster bus was officially pulled off on December 8, 2005. In recent time before it was off, the bus was functioned more for tourism and special events such as weddings.

A routemaster double decker bus

A routemaster double decker bus

The retired Routemaster buses have been changed into mobile holiday homes, campers, mobile theatres, catwalk fashion shows, as well as catering buses for film crews. Some others have been converted to cafes. The buses still attract tourists’ attention. One of them are even modified to be a triple-decker bus called the Knight Bus in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” movie. Unfortunately, many of them were also destroyed at demolition derbys or in “banger races”.

Routemaster bus cafe Shoreditch London

Routemaster bus cafe Shoreditch London

A retired routemaster double decker is used for a hospitality business

A retired routemaster double decker is used for a hospitality business

A retired routemaster double decker was modified to become a bus with three decks in one of Harry Potter's movie sequel, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

A retired routemaster double decker was modified to become a bus with three decks for one of Harry Potter’s movie sequels, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

However,on February 20, 2012, a newly developed double-decker bus produced by jointly Aston Martin and architects Foster + Partners was launched in London. The launching was in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics in the U.K. The first batch of production buses will enter into service in Spring 2013. The modern design of the bus still has retro touches inspired by the iconic London Routemaster. It is fully handicap accessible and uses the latest green technology such as solar panels. It is 15% more efficient in fuel rather than existing hybrid buses. Moreover, it is 40% more efficient than conventional diesel double deckers.

A new double decker bus designed by Aston Martin and architects Foster + Partners

A new double decker bus designed by Aston Martin and architects Foster + Partners

4. In Indonesia

Double deckers used to be found in several big cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Makassar, and Solo. I couldn’t find any information about when the trend of double deckers entered my country for the first time, but it was introduced in Solo back in 1983, thanks to Mrs. Tien Soeharto, the first lady of the second president of Indonesia, President Soeharto. One of Soeharto’s missions at the time was to develop Solo to become one of the most modern cities in Indonesia. Four years later, Solo had 30 double decker buses.

At the time, double deckers were one of the most important transportation in those big cities in Indonesia since the people didn’t have as many choices of public transportation as they have today. However, in 1998, there came the biggest economic crisis in Indonesia and chaotic political condition. The crisis gave a negative impact for the development of the huge bus. In short time, double deckers companies in Indonesia sold some of their units to reduce their loss. The companies couldn’t cover the cost for the maintenance. In Solo, the double-decker bus was reduced to 6 units only.

One of double deckers which ever operated in Jakarta, Indonesia

One of double deckers which ever operated in Jakarta, Indonesia

Nowadays, double-decker can only be found in Solo. A unit called “Werkudara” started operating on February 20, 2011. According to some reports, the number of passengers for this type of bus was not so many, and they are tourists who want to enjoy the view of Solo. However, as other double deckers, the bus have problems to transport tourists to some locations because of its height and body-shape. In order to solve the problem, Surakarta’s Head of the Transportation Department, Yosca Soedrajat Herman said in 2011, “For sure, double-decker bus will bring tourists to places as he wishes. However, when such limitations occur at that location, the bus must be parked outside.”

Some people complained about how slowness of the bus, but some others enjoy the slowness. A university student, Dian, admitted that sitting upstairs was relaxing. Others said that they liked to hear the rustle of leaves more clearly from the upper deck. In addition, children often asked their parents to grant their permissions to sit upstairs. Anton, a high school student in Solo, revealed that he liked to take a sit on the second floor of the double decker to refresh his mind while enjoying the views. Some people do still love the huge bus, and some of them, just like me, miss the sensation of sitting upstairs.

"Werkudara", the only remaining double decker in Indonesia, can be found in Solo and is used to transport tourists.

“Werkudara”, the only remaining double decker in Indonesia, can be found in Solo and is used to transport tourists.

Though it’s just one unit in Solo, I’m still happy to hear the news. I think it’s important for us to preserve this kind of transportation. It is indeed slower than general buses, but it can carry a lot more passengers and can help us to enjoy views from a higher place while touring a whole city or town. I still wish that someday I can ride it again… it was a wonderful childhood memory🙂

All About Rainbows and Similar Phenomenons

Rainbow

Rainbows are always so beautiful… at least, in my opinion. When I see them, I feel that all my negative feelings are gone. I think many of you feel the same.

So, rainbow lovers, let’s get to know this beautiful phenomenon even more😀

1. How can you see a rainbow?

In general, a rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon. It appears as a result of light reflection in water droplets in the atmosphere. Later, it creates a spectrum of light (usually ark-shaped) in the sky. Rainbows caused by sunlight are always in the opposite direction from the sun.

We can’t approach or touch them. We can only see them. If we decide to go to the direction we think is the location of the rainbow, then you won’t find it there. You will find out that the rainbow is still far away. Even if you see someone standing next to it, the person will tell you that he/she witnesses the rainbow far from there. In conclusion, a rainbow is not a physical object. People can’t see rainbows at any angle other than at the angle of 42 degrees from the opposite direction of the sun. You can get the best view when half of the sky is still dark with raining clouds, and when you are standing at an area with clear sky in the direction of the sun. In this situation, you can witness a luminous rainbow with darkened background.

2. Just how many colors are there?

In 1672, Sir Issac Newton mentioned five colors in a rainbow: red, yellow, green, blue (now is cyan), and violet. However, later, he added orange and indigo on the list. Thus, now we have seven colors in a rainbow.

But how is red seen at the top, while violet at the bottom part of the rainbow?  It’s because the spectrum of the light sent back to you from a drop at the top of the rainbow arrives in such that the red light (deviated by an angle of 42 degrees) strikes the eye while the violet light (deviated by 40 degrees) passes over your head. Thus, the top of the rainbow looks red. At the bottom of the bow, violet light arrives at your eye and red light is deviated toward the ground. Thus, the bottom part of the bow appears violet.

The spectrum color of a rainbow

The spectrum color of a rainbow

3. Variety of Rainbows

a. Classic Rainbow

It is the most common rainbow that people generally see. The ark-shaped rainbow extends from the ground to the other part of ground, or sometimes look vanishes in the sky.

A classic rainbow

A classic rainbow

b. Circular Rainbow

It’s actually jut a classic rainbow but it looks circular if we watch it from the air. Actually, the classic rainbows are all arcs of perfect circles, but it’s impossible for us to see it in complete circle as the ground is in the way. The center of a rainbow is where our shadows fall. If we are standing on the ground, our shadow is surely on the ground, so we just see a half of the arc. However, when we look at the rainbow from an airplane or a very high mountain, our shadows will fall above the ground level, so we may be able to watch the whole circle.

A circular rainbow

A circular rainbow

c. Secondary Rainbow / Twinned Rainbow

A primary rainbow which stands side by side with its twin is an extremely rare phenomenon. Up until now, scientists are still in debate how this happens, but there is a widely-known theory, which says that the rainbow appears due to a combination of various sizes of water drops and the air resistance. Because of air resistance, raindrops flatten as they fall. The heavier is the rain, the more likely is the flattening process. Due to different size of raindrops between two rain, a twinned rainbow may be produced.

Between the primary and secondary rainbow, there is an area which is darker than the surrounding sky. It’s called Alexander’s Band. The rainbow also has a unique characteristic. The secondary rainbow displays reversed order of colors.

A secondary rainbow

A secondary rainbow

d.  Red Rainbow

The rainbow appears during sunrise or sunset when the sky is dominated by red and orange lights. Raindrops then reflect and retract them. As a result, the red portion of the rainbow is greatly widened. According to an optics expert Les Cowley, the inside part of the rainbow is so much brighter red than the outside because “a rainbow is not just a set of colored rings, but rather a set of colored disks. They sky inside is bright because raindrops direct light there, too.” The rainbow is best seen when the sky above it is dark and cloudy.

A red rainbow

A red rainbow

e. Sundog/ Mock Sun/ Phantom Sun and Moondog

This phenomenon is actually not a rainbow, but it shares similar colors with a rainbow. It can be seen in a very cold area. If ice crystals are created as a result of the cold weather, diamond dust drifts in a low level of the atmosphere. The crystals act as prisms. They bend the sunlight, let it passes through them with minimum deflection of 22 degrees. If the crystals sink in the air and are vertically aligned, the sunlight is refracted horizontally. Thus, a sundog appears. The thicker the concentration of crystals in the atmosphere, the more it can be seen clearly and perfectly.

In general, a sundog has similar colors division with a rainbow. Red is on the inside and violet on the outside. Between them are the rest of spectrum. It’s mostly seen when the sun is low and in Antarctic, where freezing temperature and snow are common. When the sun rises higher, the rays passing through the crystals are skewed from the horizontal plane. The deviation angle is increased, so the sundog will move further from the sun, though it stays at the same level with the sun.

A similar phenomenon can also happen during night. Just change the word sun with moon, then you get a moondog.

A sundog

A sundog

A moondog

A moondog

f. Fogbow

A fogbow is rarely seen since it needs a very certain portion of substances to create it. Unlike the other rainbows, a fogbow isn’t made of raindrops. It’s created by certain portion of fog.

There is a certain condition needed to support the phenomenon. It needs 0.05 mm – 0.0020 inch of water droplets to cause a very thin fog. The sunlight must be able to pass through the fog, so people can see the phenomenon at the opposite direction of the sun.

Unlike regular rainbows, a fogbow’s color is paler. Sometimes, it’s just red in the outer edge and a bit bluish on the inner edge. In some cases, it just appears white. Its outer radius is a little bit lesser than that of regular rainbows. Because of its weak color, it’s also called as a white rainbow. It’s also sometimes called sea-dogs.

The phenomenon can appear in clouds, and can be seen especially through an airplane looking downwards. This kind of fogbow is known as a cloud bow. However, if it appears at night, it’s named a lunar fogbow.

A fogbow

A fogbow

A lunar fogbow

A lunar fogbow

g. Waterfall Rainbow

When a stream of mist is spread by a waterfall to the air in such degree so that it mixes continuously with the atmosphere, a waterfall rainbow can be formed. The appearance is not decided based on the weather or location.

There is a waterfall rainbow known as a spray bow. It especially appears during bright days. The saturation of wind and ocean waves can form mist and moisture, which supports a spray bow to show off.

A waterfall rainbow

A waterfall rainbow

A spray bow

A spray bow

h. Fire Rainbow / Circumhorizontal Arc

It looks like a reversed rainbow though it’s actually a halo. It needs certain condition to appear. The sun has to be very high in the sky, around the elevation of 58 up to 68 degrees. There should be cirrus clouds since they will act as prisms. They should be as high as 20,000 feet and contain plate-shaped ice crystals.

It can be witnessed quite often in United States though it’s quite seldom in northern part of Europe. The visibility depends on the location and the latitude of the observer. If you want to know how you can watch it, click here.

A circumhorizontal arc

A circumhorizontal arc

i. Unearthly Rainbow – Titan’s Rainbow

Is there any rainbow outside our planet? Yes, there is. Scientists found one in Titan, Saturn‘s largest moon. Titan is mostly dominated by methane liquids. In addition, its clouds are humid. There, methane is just like water in our planet. It has an ocean and lakes of methane and methane rain. In conclusion, the rainbow formed on this moon is a methane rainbow. “The ingredients you need for a rainbow are sunlight and raindrops. Titan has both,” says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley.

The rainbows on Titan is a bit different from the general ones on Earth. The spectrum is dominated by orange, influenced by Titan’s orange sky, though the colors order is still the same with the one on our planet.

However, the rainbows on this planet will be difficult to be observed. Rainbows need direct sunshine, but the gigantic satellite’s sky is very hazy. “Visible rainbows on Titan might be rare,” says Cowley. However, it is still possible to be seen using infra-red “night vision” goggles. Atmospheric scientist Bob West of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains: “Titan’s atmosphere is mostly clear at infrared wavelengths. That’s why the Cassini spacecraft uses an infrared camera to photograph Titan.”

A titan's rainbow

A titan’s rainbow

Easter Island – From A Green Land to a Barren Land… What Happened?

Easter Island

Easter Island

Easter Island has been a famous tourism destination for long time, especially because of its unique ancient statues. The island also still becomes the object of archeologists’ researches since it still has several mysteries, waiting to be solved.

Easter Island is a name given by Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch explorer. He found the island on April 5, 1722, exactly on Easter Sunday, when he was looking for David’s Island. He called it “Paasch-Eyland”, which means “Easter Island”.  It’s also called “Rapa Nui”, “Rapa”, and “Rapa Iti” by the Polynesians.

The subtropical maritime island is one of the remotest inhabited islands in the world with Pitcairn Island as its closest inhabited neighbour (2,075 km) to the west. Its nearest continent is America, at 3,512 km, and is now claimed by Chile as its island. It’s a triangular-shaped volcanic island.

When it was discovered back in 1722 by Europeans, it was a dry island with no trees over ten feet in height. It was in poor condition. At the time, 2,000 inhabitants lived in the area were thin and malnourished. There were also no other animals seen besides Polynesian rats. The natives also had very little numbers of boats. Another mystery is the statues they saw standing in some points of the island, gazing to the sea.

1. The Mysteries

So far, Easter Island still keeps some secrets of its past, especially about the statues, and its civilization extinction. However, some theories have been revealed and some have been considered as the best answers for both mysteries.

a. The Statues

The Moai Statues

The Moai Statues

887 whole-body statues, known as Moai or “Easter Island Heads”, are still gazing to the sea after about 5-8 centuries. The word “Moai” means “Image” in English. The statues are varied in height, weight, and location. They have no legs, and some of them are busts. The multiton behemoths’ average height is about 4 meters high, with the average width at the base about 1.6 meters. Made of tuff (a compressed volcanic ash), they weighed around 12.5 tonnes a piece.

Some theories about the Moai statues have surfaced for years. Here are some of the theories:

  1. Aliens came to the earth and planted the statues as signals for their fellows to come and rescue them.
  2. The statues were built by a great race of guilders who were stranded on Easter Island before they were rescued.
  3. The ancient natives carved the statues to worship their Gods or ancestors (either just a general worship or a plea to their Gods to rescue them from a catastrophic incident in the past). – This theory is the one widely-approved now.

There are still hundreds of incomplete Moai statues to carve. The experts are still not sure when exactly the natives began to stop carving the Moai statues. There is an indication that the project was stopped after chaos dominated the lives of the ancient natives. I’m going to talk more about the catastrophic incident and chaos soon.

There have been some debates on how to transport the massive statues to the place they stand right now. Here are some efforts to solve the mystery:

  1. Czech engineer Pavel Pavel tried to solve the mystery. He worked with Norwegian explorer-adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and a team of 17 helpers to propel an upright, 13-foot (4-meter), nine-ton Moai forward with twisting motions, keeping the statue fully upright at all times. That was in 1986. But Pavel’s team damaged the Moai’s base and had to stop.
  2. In 1987, U.S. archaeologist Charles Love and a team of 25 erected a 13-foot (4-meter), nine-ton model upright on a wooden sledge and moved it over log rollers, advancing it 148 feet (45 meters) in two minutes.
  3. Descendents of Polynesian settlers on the island believe that the statues move by themselves. “We know the truth,” said Suri Tuki, 25, a Polynesian tour guide. “The statues walked.”
  4. Archaeologists Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii and Carl Lipo of California State University Long Beach believed that 18 people could, with three strong ropes and a bit of practice, easily maneuver a 10-foot, 5-ton moai replica a few hundred yards. This newest theory was revealed in 2012.
The wood sledge theory on how to transport the Moai statues

The wood sledge theory on how to transport the Moai statues

The newest theory on how to transport the Maoi statues. The ancient local people were possibly transporting the Moai statues using ropes.

The newest theory on how to transport the Maoi statues. The ancient local people were possibly transporting the Moai statues using ropes.

b. The Ancient Civilization

Polynesian ancient natives or ancient Rapa Nui people came to inhabit the island back in 1200 A.D. When they came to the island at the time, Easter Island was a sub-tropical forest with so many tall Easter Island Palms, which could grow up over 50 feet. The likes of Paschalococos (The largest palm trees in the world), Alphitonia zizyphoides, and Elaeocarpus rarotongensis were also believed to grow in the forest. At least, there were six species of native land birds live around the island.

The civilization developed rapidly. The natives started to build a complex social structure with a centralized government and religious priests. Along with the rapid development of system, the number of population was also rapidly increasing. The people made a living by farming, fishing, and hunting. To build houses to stay and canoes to fish, they cut trees in the forests. The Easter islanders hunted porpoises for a steady diet. For a while, things went well for the society.

Between the year of 1250 A.D. until 1500 A.D., the Easter islanders started to build Moai statues. More woods were cut to create ropes or wooden sledges in order to move the statues  to locations the local people wanted them to be. Around this era, the number of woods started to decrease rapidly. The seeds from the trees, which fell to the ground, didn’t grow as new trees since Polynesian rats consumed them all. According to the experts, the rats weren’t the native animals of the island. They were brought in by the ancient Rapa Nui people once they arrived in the island. The population of the rats were steadily increasing. The islanders did consume them as well, but otherwise they didn’t have other predators. Hampering the trees in the forest to grow, the outnumbered rats also ate birds’ eggs. As a consequence, the number of birds in the island were also continuously decreasing.

Around 1400 A.D., the Easter island palms went extinct. Just like dominoes effects, afterward, the ancient Rapa Nui people couldn’t make other canoes to hunt fish in the sea. As a consequence, they couldn’t consume fish like porpoises anymore. Thus, they began to focus on hunting land birds, migratory birds, and mollusks. However, soon, the number of animals were severely reduced. Their crop fields were also not successful enough to harvest because of soil erosion. The strong wind may also become the factor though the people have tried to protect their plants by building a barricade of stones as a shield to the wind. Furthermore, drinking water supplies dried up when drought came. Before Europeans arrived in the island, the ancient natives’ lives started to turn into chaos. The catastrophic drought and starvation due to lack of food devastated the civilization system. They started to fight against each other for food, which turned into civil war. The frustrated society then gradually turned their lifestyle into cannibalism. After the Europeans came, there were just little signs of the ancient civilization in that island. There were also only small numbers of people still lived there.

After the European settled in the island, the Rapa Nui people were still not so lucky since the newcomers brought deadly diseases. By 1877, only 111 Rapa Nui people survived in the island.

In short, the civilization were extinct because of deforestation, drought, starvation, civil war, and illness. An American scientist and 1998’s Pulitzer prize winner, Jared Diamond said that the fall of the civilization is “the clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources” and “a worst-case scenario for what may lie ahead of us in our own future.”

Nowadays, Easter island has become a famous tourism destination. It’s also one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.

Easter Island is now dominated by grass, with just little trees left.

Easter Island is now dominated by grass, with just little trees left.

Can I imagine this look of an island as the ancient Easter Island when a subtropical forest dominates the island? :)

Can I imagine this look of an island as the ancient Easter Island when a subtropical forest dominates the island?🙂

Let’s Get to Know About the Hottest Chili on Earth

I don’t know how you feel about chili peppers, but for me, food is not complete without the spicy taste of chili peppers. The hotter the chili peppers, the more I feel enthusiastic to eat the food😀

As a big fan of chili, this time I will write down about some of the hottest chili peppers on earth and a little bit about the other kinds of the spicy fruits.

1. History

A chili pepper was originated in America and has been consumed as a part of diet menu since at least 7,500 B.C. It’s been domesticated in southwestern Ecuador since 6,000 years ago. In Central and South America,  it’s become one of the first self-pollinating crops ever cultivated. Christoper Columbus was one of the first Europeans to taste the fruit when he was in Caribbean.

In Asia, a chili pepper was introduced by Portuguese traders for the first time in Lisbon. At the time, Spanish ships were often at anchor in Lisbon from or on the way to America. The traders then took their time to promote it to Asian traders. Later, the trade routes of the fruit in Asia was dominated by Portuguese and Arab traders.

2. Varieties

All the varieties of chili peppers

All the varieties of chili peppers

The genus of chili peppers is Capsicum. The five domesticated varieties of the fruit are:

  1. Capsicum annuum >> It’s the most typical chili that we eat everyday. It has a moderate level of hot. The likes of bell peppers, wax, cayenne, jalapenos, and chiltepin belong to this group.

    Capsicum annuum

    Capsicum annuum

  2. Capsicum frutescens >> Some of the species have short lives and some of them are annual plants. It includes malagueta, tabasco, Thai peppers, piri piri, African birdseye chili, and Malawian Kambuzi.

    Capsicum Frutescens

    Capsicum Frutescens

  3. Capsicum pubescens >> It’s the only species of Capsicum which has hairy leaves and black seeds. This is also the rarest species of chili peppers. It’s famous for its ability to live in a cold temperature, colder than other areas which support the life of the other chili species, though it can’t stand frost weather. South American rocoto peppers are in this group.

    Capsicum pubescens

    Capsicum pubescens

  4. Capsicum baccatum >> It’s more widely consumed in South America like Peru, Bolivia, and Caribbean. It has a citrus and fruity flavor. The likes of Aji amarillo, peppadew, Bishop’s Crown, Brazilian Starfish, and Wild Baccatum.

    Capsicum baccatum

    Capsicum baccatum

  5. Capsicum chinense >> The “chinense” word came from the word “Chinese” as 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin. So, the Latin name means “Chinese pepper” in English. Just name all the hottest chili peppers on earth, they will belong to this species. Don’t worry, I will introduce you to these hottest fruits soon😀

    Capsicum chinense

    Capsicum chinense

3. The Hottest Chili Peppers on Earth

  1. Habanero
    It broke record once in 2,000 as the hottest chili on earth. The chili is extremely hot and is rated 100,000 – 350,000 SHU on the Scoville scale (the measurement of the pungency or spicy heat of chili peppers). The fruit can grow up to 2–6 centimetres (0.8–2.4 in) long. The Amazonas fruit belongs to Capsicum chinense. The oldest domestication was reported in 8,500 B.C. in Mexico. Aside from its use to give a strong taste for food, it’s also an important substance for some tequila or mezcal. The chili will be placed in the bottles for several days or weeks to make the drink more tasty and spicy.

    Habanero

    Habanero

  2. Naga Bhut Jolokia
    In 2007, the species was acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the hottest pepper in the world. It scales between 855,000 until 1,463,700 SHU on the Scoville scale , and is 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. However, it seems that global warming doesn’t exclude chili to experience the impact. In 2005, the spicy fruit which grew in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) in India was decreasing in the level of heat by over 50% as a result of global warming. Gwalior experienced drought at the time. In other areas in India, the heat was just rated in 329,100 SHU.
    Naga Bhut Jolokia is cultivated especially in India. It can also be found in Sri Lanka, in were it’s called “Nai Mirris” or” Cobra Chili” in English. The pepper is also known as Naga Jolokia, ghost pepper, ghost chile pepper, red naga chili, and ghost chile.

    Naga Bhut Jolokia

    Naga Bhut Jolokia

  3. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
    Let me introduce the king of all chili peppers, Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. The fruit is considered as the newest hottest chili pepper. It has hold the title since February 2012. According to Scoville scale, it sits on the top position of heat level, ranging between 1,500,000–2,000,000 SHU, and 240 times hotter than chilies belong to Clasicum annuum (general chili peppers). The people’s faces who eat this chili golf-ball-sized pepper from the central south coast of Trinidad may go red, sweaty, and felt a tremendous burning sensation in their mouths and throats.
    “You take a bite. It doesn’t seem so bad, and then it builds and it builds and it builds. So it is quite nasty,” Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute said about the fruit. According to him, a family could buy just two Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chili peppers to flavor their meals for a week.
    Jim Duffy, the person who was responsible to provide chili peppers’ seeds for the study, also admitted the extreme sensation people may feel if they consume the fruit, “People actually get a crack-like rush. I know the people who will eat the hottest stuff to get this rush, but they’ve got to go through the pain.”

    Trinidad Moruga Scorpiion

    Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

Feel hot yet? =p

See more what is on the list of Scoville scale by clicking here🙂

Red Rain Phenomenon – What, How, and Why?

Red Rain

July 25, 2001 – Kottayam and Iduki districts, in Kerala, India –

A stunning phenomenon blew the society’s mind as red rain poured down from the sky after a very loud thunderclap and flash attracted their attentions. The mysterious rain didn’t last for no more than a few minutes. However, a series of red rain was reported within ten days since the noted day. At the same time, leaves in the surrounding of the area looked “burnt”. In September, the red rain stopped.

1. The History

Red rain or blood rain phenomenon has been debated for centuries. The first red rain ever reported is in the 8th century B.C., as written down on Homer’s Iliad. It was believed that the rain was actual blood and a bad omen until the 17th century A.D. By that time, people tried to find natural reasons to provide answers for the phenomenon. In the 19th century, some new theories were discussed. Some said that the red rain is caused by red dust dissolved in the water, or influenced by certain micro-organisms.

2. Theories for Kerala’s Red Rain

There were some theories provided to explain the phenomenon in Kerala at the beginning, such as:

  • Dust Rain from Arabian Dessert
    Days before the red rain fell, a cloud of dust was detected in the atmosphere near to Kerala. It rouse a speculation that the red rain was caused by the dust. This theory has been excluded once scientists didn’t find desert sand as one of the particles in the rain.
  • Dust as a Result of Mayon Volcano Eruption in Philippine
    K.K. Sasidharan Pillai, a senior scientific assistant in the Indian Meteorological Department stated that the red rain might be caused by dust and acidic materials of Mayon Volcano, Philippine, which erupted in June and July, 2001. It could explain why the leaves around the red rain area looked like being “burnt”. He thought the Eastern or Equatorial jet stream was the one to be responsible to transport the materials to Kerala. However, the theory was also eliminated soon after volcanic particles couldn’t be found in the rain.
  • Exploding Materials from a Meteor
    At first, Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) stated a possibility that the red particles in the rain was coming from a meteor which exploded and dispersed about one ton of materials. However, the theory was later doubted since they had no idea how the debris of the meteor kept on falling down to the same location for a long time, unaffected by the wind.

Later, CESS found out that the particles which caused the unusual color of rain were more like spores. The sample of the particles were later sent to Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) for further investigation. The spores were apparently lichen-forming alga from the genus Trentepohlia. The spores could be found both from the rainwater and the trees at the area.  Thus, both CESS and TBGRI concluded that the explanation of the red rain could be found around the trees at the area.

The scientists decided to visit the location of the red rain on August 16, 2001. They found a stunning discovery. Almost all the plants and rocks were covered with Trentepohlia with a lot of quantity, which was possible to cause such a rain of spores. They reported that the heavy rains in Kerala weeks before the red rain could have caused the widespread growth of lichens. Later, the spores were upraised to the atmosphere by the evaporation process. The spores were then back to the ground as the rain came.

Trentepohlia (the spores, which caused the red rain) in trees

The scientists were not 100% sure about the theory, but they couldn’t find more satisfactory explanation about what could cause such phenomenon.

Other than the Kerala red rain, similar phenomenons were also ever reported in Europe many times, and the newest report was in November 15, 2012 to December 27, 2012, when the rain fell in Sri Lanka.

Bali’s Unique Offerings Traditions and the Meanings

Bali is famous for its unique culture and tradition. As an island located in Indonesia, Bali has become one of favorite tourism destinations. According to a survey conducted in 2000, about 92.29% Balinese people based their faiths in Hindu.  That’s make it unique since Hindu has the least followers in Indonesia. Most of Indonesian people base their faith in Islam. This situation was created once the Hindus came to the island as refugees after Islam surpassed Hinduism in Java in 16th century A.D. Java is the primary island in Indonesia.

Balinese Hinduism ritual in annual religious ceremony of “Nyepi”

As a society dominated with Hinduism, Balinese lifestyle, buildings, and tradition are basically also influenced with the culture of the oldest religion on earth. The people usually add some ornaments, carvings, even statues on their houses and buildings as a tradition.

A Traditional Balinese House

A Balinese Museum Architecture

Balinese people are generally religious. Many of them build temples in front of their houses, or spare a space in their front yard to pray and to set offerings. These people believe that their offerings can give them more luck in life, more prosperity, health, and can save them from any bad luck and danger. This time, I will focus on talking about the offerings tradition.

For Balinese Hindus, preparing offerings is an everyday-must-to-do tradition on their lists. The offerings may consist of coconut leaves, roses, jasmines, frangipanis, sometimes with some biscuits, dimes, rices, candies, and a few stalks of incenses. You will see the offerings if you cross over shops, hotels, offices, banks, houses, even in the middle of streets, beaches, and other areas. Every offering has a different meaning, depends on where the owner put it. If it’s placed in a shop, then the owner wishes for more visitors to come. If a mean of transportation has the offerings inside, it means the driver or the owner of the transportation wishes God to protect the driver and passengers. However, if an office, a hotel, or recreation area has it, it’s just a mean to protect them. The offerings can be found many more in religious ceremonies, which are usually in temples, beaches, and seas.

Balinese Offerings

A Balinese Offering On a Car

Since the offerings can also be found in pavements and in the middle of streets, you should be careful not to step on them, because there is a superstition that people who step on them will be met by “Leak”, a kind of Balinese version of demon, which are said to eat human’s organs. “Leak”, which means “Bad Witch” in English, eats dead bodies in cemeteries in the afternoon, while at night, they are said to appear as tigers, monkeys, pigs, even as human’s head with some parts of internal organs to hunt living human.

Balinese “Leak”

Okay, enough with the horror, let’s get back to the offerings stuff :p

The offerings are usually set on a mini version of a temple. The mini version of the temple (I’m sorry, I don’t know the name of this building >.<) is usually as high as a human figure and usually has a hole with a roof on top of it, or a small umbrella made of fabrics (usually the motif is black and white plaid), in order to protect the offerings from rain.

The mini temple is placed in the front yard of a building or a place, and the body part of it (the pillar) is usually covered up with a black-and-white plaid or yellow sarong. The black-and-white plaid motif symbolized dualism in life, such as good and evil, brightness and darkness, as well as men and women. Between black and white is grey, between afternoon and night is sunset, while there is gay between male and female :p The yellow sarong has another meaning. It aims to protect the secrecy and purity of the temple, and it’s also a protection from any bad intentions.

Mini Temple for Balinese Offerings Set

Because of its very religious society and its numbers of Hindus temples, Bali is called as the “Island of a Thousand Puras (Temples)”, or the “Island of the Gods”.

Dibya Puri Hotel in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia – A Precious Historical Place, Yet Abandoned

I live in Semarang since I was born. As a little child, I’ve started to love historical old buildings and museums. In my opinion, we can live today thanks to history. The past time has taught and inherited us many important and precious things. We, as the young generations, shouldn’t forget what our ancestors gave us. We are their grandchildren!

Yet, here what I see… Old buildings are ignored, abandoned, and destroyed. All the memories, either they are good or bad, are let go and forgotten. It’s tragic, especially for history lovers like me. Now, I will tell you the history of one of those historical buildings, Dibya Puri Hotel.

Dibya Puri Hotel

1. The History of Dibya Puri Hotel

There is this building called Dibya Puri Hotel, which was built in 1847, and used to be named Du Pavillon. It’s located at Bojong Street (now Pemuda Street), Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. At the first time, the hotel consisted of some buildings, which were connected to each other. It was a two-floor-villa, before it was changed to be an inn for an economic reason. During the era, it was the second hotel in Semarang ever built. The first one was Jansen Hotel, located at Heeren Sraat Street (now Let.Jend. Suprapto Street).

Built in Dutch colonialism era, the inn was designed with a classic style of Dutch architecture. Its saddle roofs are propped with huge pillars.

In 1883, the right and left wings of Du Pavillon were expanded. However, the main part of the building were still the same. On March 4, 1892, an agreement to share money for stockholders were signed. The decision was made to give more financial supports for the hotel construction. The hotel’s role and location became more significant once Tawang Railway Station was opened in 1913. At that time, there were railroads in front of the hotel. Now, the railroads are no longer seen since the train doesn’t operate at Bojong / Pemuda Street anymore.

Du Pavillon / Dibya Puri Hotel during its early time

In 1914, when “Pekan Raya Semarang” (Semarang Fair) was coming, the hotel was almost totally reconstructed. The wings area were renovated and two towers with pyramid roof were added in both sides of wings. The main building was also renovated. The Europe design was changed to be Indies style. The porch was widened, while glass panels and blinds were added to the windows. The huge pillars made of bricks were also replaced with the ones made of irons. The renovation was resulted in a better air and light circulation.

At the time, Du Pavillon was in its best period since it became the best hotel in Semarang. However, it was a bit destructed back in 1945, when there was a war between Semarang young armies and Japanese armies (Japanese armies came in 1942 and colonized Indonesian people for three years, defeating Dutch armies, who have inhabited Indonesia for three and a half centuries). The building witnessed a historical war, which was later called “Pertempuran Lima Hari di Semarang” (Five Days of War in Semarang). The war happened in October 1945. At the time, the hotel was used by Semarang young armies as defense headquarters. As a consequence, the building’s walls were damaged. However, the hotel lobby was also used for negotiation with the enemies. Therefore, the hotel has a great historical value.

The owner of Du Pavillon, N.V. Semandy, handed over the hotel management to the Indonesian government on December 9, 1957. At first, it was taken care by an estate company under the Department of Agriculture. The hotel then changed name to be “Dibya Puri”, which means a strong building. On December 28, 1960, the hotel management was handed over to the Department of Land Transportation, Post, Telecommunication, and Tourism. At the time, the government institution took care 18 old hotels, which was built during Dutch colonialism. Later, PT. Natour (National Hotel and Tourism Corporation ltd.) was the one to be responsible to take care the hotel. The institution is owned by Indonesian government.

In 1964, the hotel, in where Soekarno (the first president of Indonesia), and Megawati (the fifth president of Indonesia) ever stayed overnight, was again renovated. The porch was widened. A thick rectangle sectional wall was built in the middle and at the front of the main building. It’s higher than the main building. “Hotel Dibya Puri” is written on it. There used to be a banner, which said, “Mie jowo, Bir jowo, Nasi goreng jowo” (Javanese noodle, Javanese beer, Javanese fried rice). The food and drink were served at night in front of the hotel. A zigzag roof completed the look of the front area of the main building, under the rectangle sectional wall.

The west area of the hotel is never to be seen anymore since it was s0ld in 1987 and destroyed in 2002, but the east area is still maintained. In 1992, the hotel was officially one of 101 historical buildings which should be preserved. Soeharto, the second president of Indonesia, even ordered his officers to stay at Dibya Puri every time they have duties in Semarang.

2. The Last Days of Dibya Puri Hotel

Time forgets everything,” people say. So, that what happened to Dibya Puri as well. When new and modern hotels with more facilities to be offered were opened one by one in Semarang, the hotel started to face a difficult situation to survive. Financial problems came as a result of decreasing number of visitors. Furthermore, the old building needed extra renovation in some rooms as it became easily destructed time after time, as other old buildings’ typical problems.

At its last days, Dibya Puri has 49 rooms, which were feasible for rent. They were two family rooms, 6 Puri suite, 17 moderate rooms, 9 standard rooms, five AC economy rooms, and 10 non-AC economy rooms. The rest five rooms were above the restaurants and not in good condition for rent. Also, there were other chambers beside the rented rooms, which were no longer used because of their poor condition. Later, the ACs were not functioned anymore. Fans were used to replace the ACs.

The five rooms above the restaurants were closed by triplexes, looking dirty and neglected. However, when the triplexes are opened, we can actually see the restaurant from above. There used to be people dancing at the restaurant.

The illustration of Dibya Puri Restaurant in old days

Some meeting rooms could still be used. Puri Sari and Puri Asri could accommodate 60 people, while Puri Megah could accommodate more people.

At the beginning of 2000s, the hotel was in critical condition. The hotel management was not able to optimize the potential it has to develop. On March 19, 2001, PT. Natour joined PT. Hotel International Indonesia (HII) (Indonesian International Hotel), and became PT. Hotel Indonesia Natour (HIN).

There were actually some plans to develop the hotel at that time, but financial problems made it impossible. The hotel’s condition was going worse. In 2005, it was prepared to be sold. Some investors were attracted to buy, but somehow there’s no deal until today. Dibya Puri wasn’t able to continue its operation with stack of unresolved problems in its hand, so in May 2o08, the hotel stopped its operation.

Now, some parts of the roofs skew and collapse, while the backyard has been overgrown by weeds. If the building’s not maintained immediately, I’m afraid it will collapse. Will the building, which has precious historical value will be completely neglected and destroyed someday? Is it going to collapse that easily after all the outstanding history it has? So sad…😦 I wish a kind and rich person will buy the building and preserve it…

Some parts of Dibya Puri Hotel have skewed and collapsed

Were and Are Dragons Real?

This question actually has been in my mind since I was still a teenager. When I was still a child, I often read stories about dragons, most of them were evil. I can’t remember the titles of the stories I read, but some of them gave me insomnia for some nights. The dragons in my childhood killed and ate people, tricked them, and burnt cities.

When I was a teenager, I thought deeper… especially, when I heard about komodo, the biggest lizard, which is said to have a close relationship with dinosaurs. However, it’s also called nowadays dragon. I got interested in this animal. I started to imagine a flying komodo (komodo with wings😀 ). Then another show on TV talked a bit about dragon and showed some reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and komodos. It raised one more question in my mind, “Is it possible that they are the descendants of dragons?”

Is komodo the descendant of dragons?

I did some researches in internet, and found an interesting explanation about dragons by Dr. Peter J. Hogarth, an expert, who has conducted investigations and researches about dragons for 20 until 25 years. In an interview cited by Animal Planet, he provided explanations about dragons folktales, myths through the science point of view.

Answering a question about whether he thought dragons did exist or not, he stressed that there have been no real evidences to support the existence of dragons in past or present, considering no remains of the legendary creature have been found so far. Experts did found big animals fossils such as dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and some people perceived that these animals could be dragons, but there have been no evidences to support the idea.

Pterosaurus

The expert who said that he would be panic and ran if he saw dragons also explained his another difficulty to think that such an animal could exist on earth. Legends say that dragons breathe fire and fly, yet he didn’t have any ideas how the huge animal could get airborne since they are said to have a very big size, bigger than any flying animals ever lived. The possibility of flying is surely influenced by the size of animals, the size of their wings, as well as the shape of the leading edge of the wings.

However, Dr. Hogarth came with an interesting theory about how dragons may breathe fire. “That’s why we brought in the hydrogen factor,” he uttered. Hydrogen is a gas which supported the breathing fire idea. However, the theory still had a hole. How to set fire to the hydrogen? According to him, dragons “didn’t have a pilot light to fire up the main blast”.

In the past, dragons were said to breathe fire.

However, if dragons never existed in the past, why do we have so many folktales and legends about dragons? We do have a basic picture about dragons, which somehow similar in separated areas around the world. Dragons emergence were reported in Europe, New Zealand, areas around North Pole, northern side of Canada, and many parts of Asia, as we looked at the famous Chinese dragons. Marco Polo even noted in his records of his trips to China that the royal family kept dragons for ceremonies. The likes of Japan, Greece, and India also have legends about the mythical creature.

Chinese Dragon

European Dragon

New Zealand Dragon

Japanese Dragon

Indian Dragon with an elephant

Catholic and Christian people also can find some lines in Bible, which mentioned 34 references to alleged dragons in 10 books of King James version of Bible. The lines could be found in the Old Testament. The original Hebrew word for dragons is “tannin”. The word was translated into “Behemoth” and “Leviathan”.

Isaiah 27:1 declares:  “In that day the Lord, with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan, the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent (or tortuous serpent) and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”

Job 41 says:  “Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?  Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?”

Leviathan

Meanwhile, “Behemoth” is described in the Old Testament as a powerful, grass-eating animal whose “bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron” (Job 40:18).

An illustration of Behemoth (left) vs Leviathan (right)

While all the past references are still not convincing enough, how about in the present time? We do have the legend of Loch Ness monster in a lake in England. Can we call them as marine dragons if they really hide underwater? Maybe… Also, we still have komodos, though they don’t have wings😀

The illustration of Loch Ness monster

Presented with undeniably many reports of dragons sightings in the past and difficulties our experts face to find the real evidences and provides supports to the folktales with science logic, it seems that we still have more years to wonder whether they were and are real🙂

Dresses : Year by Year Designs

Most girls and women love dresses including me. Well, I’m not a modest person but I love art and fashion.  When I think about party people and their dresses, it appears in my mind that teenagers tend to wear different styles of dresses compared to their parents. Then, a grandmother will have another style. It’s not only because of their ages… I guess they are influenced by fashion styles in their eras. I got interested and looked for fashion styles history, then I found these pictures…

Bridal dresses :

Bridal fashion style from time to time

The following picture is a European fashion style history for centuries:

European fashion style for centuries (men and women)

Chinese fashion :

Chinese fashion style from time to time

I haven’t got a lot of information about my own country’s (Indonesia) dress history. However, I found these pictures:

This dress was worn around 1800s until the beginning of 1900s. It originally came from Java, the primary island in Indonesia and donned for informal occasions. The dress is a combination of Muslim culture, as you can see the turban on his head, and European fashion, as can be seen on the clothes.

Around the beginning until the mid of 1900s, Indonesian women wears a traditional clothes as seen in the photograph. This woman wore a Javanese traditional clothes called “Kebaya”. Meanwhile the man donned Western-style clothing. The variety of dress-styles in Indonesia is an indicator of local, Muslim, and Western influences on the country.

How is the history of dresses in your culture? Let’s share more here!