Week two in Malaysia started with a trip to Pulau Pangkor, an island a few hours drive from KL. Pangkor is a slightly down-at-heel tourist island; its proximity to KL now overshadowed by cheap flights to further afield islands such as Langkawi. The draw for us, however, was a seaweed farm, possibly the only one in peninsular Malaysia. One of the reasons we’re interested in halocarbon emissions in Malaysia is due to its interest in seaweed aquaculture; growing seaweed for food, chemical product and fuel. Most of the current farms are located over in Borneo, not the most convenient location for a lab in KL.
The farm in Pangkor was on a very small scale, a diversification project by a family that mainly deal in Ikan bilis (anchovies). They maintain a few short lines of Kappaphycus, some of which they dry themselves and sell in their shop (I made sure to buy a packet for future cooking!). The Universtity I’m working with here in KL are also experimenting with seaweed farming at this site, although when we visited all their seaweed had mysteriously disappeared (possible suspect: pesky rabbit fish). It took delicate negotiations with the farm owners but eventually we got permission to bring back some seaweed samples. We also took some air samples to look at emission levels where there are no natural seaweeds. One of the best bits was post-site relaxing on the terrace outside our hotel room prepping for work the next day and eating fried bananas and satay.
The rest of the week I spent in the lab running samples and setting up another analysis technique we hope to use. I did manage to get Sunday afternoon off to do some site seeing around KL, in between the thunderstorms!