Taiping & the Charcoal Factory

Earlier this week I went for a team building trip with a group of at least almost 200 people in 7 bus. Our destination was a little town call Taiping, in Perak. It's about 60 minutes away from Ipoh, Taiping is famous for its lake garden. It's in fact the country first lake garden. The town started off as a mining town during Long Jaafar's time. Apart from the having the first lake garden, Taiping has many first like the first rail way station at Port Weld, now known as Kuala Sepetang.

Took this when the bus was entering the town.

Anyway lets go back to my story before I side track even more and behind writing about history instead.

The shady trees along the lake garden.

This scene gives me a serene and tranquil feel.

Flemington Hotel, this is where we stayed. This is the newest and biggest hotel in Taiping

Our first stop in Taiping was a Charcoal Factory located at Matang about 5KM from Kuala Sepetang town and 14km away from Taiping Town. This is where we get a little insight on how charcoal is made.

Charlie & the Charcoal Factory.

Upon reaching, we were greeted by an post war area factory building and a strong smell of charcoal in the air. There were no grand welcome unlike most of the official visit I've made previously .

Anyway, Charcoal production began deep inside the mangrove forest where trees that are at least 30 years of age will be harvested, turn into logs and subsequently transported to the factory with a boat when the tide is high.

This little boat is use to transport all the logs from the mangrove forest.

Logs that are transported back to the factory are properly arrange in one area to keep the place organised and safe.

Workers will then clean the logs by removing the bark with a long shover like tool.

The bark can also be remove by using a special wooden hammer.

After removing the bark, the logs are then carefully arrange in an igloo like oven known as Kiln. The logs have to be arrange so that the heat in the igloo can spread evenly. The logs will be heated for the next 30 days in the Kiln to produce high grade charcoal.

For the first 10 days, there will be a small opening for air to flow in the Kiln. There will be lots of steam coming out from the top of the Kiln. After the first 10 days, the fire opening will be completely seal off and the logs will be left inside heating for the next 12 days or so after which the cooling off period will take over. The cooling off period will usually take 8 days and the seal will then be open.

By now, the logs that were arrange in Kiln would have already turn into charcoal due to the intense heat in the Kiln.

During the entire process, there will be lots of smokes and steams coming out from the top of the Kiln. To experience Charcoal Factory operator or worker both the smokes and steam will actually function as a indication as to the condition of the logs inside the igloo like Kiln.

This is how the igloo like Kiln look like.

The Kiln is handmade with brick and mud only. there are no drawing plans or cements involved in the whole process. It is said to cost at least RM25K to get one Kiln build by the master.

The charcoal are then removed from the Kiln and re size before its manually packed into a pack of 5kg and transported to its buyer.

A worker manually packed the charcoal.

Stacks of Charcoal in 5Kg pack.

Every single process in a charcoal factory is manually done by human power. Charcoal production is a long process and involved lots of man power or as the Chinese would say it, it takes a lot of sweat for workers to earn a living. After this visit, I'm beginning to appreciate my job even more.


Remember i was saying about the steam that comes out of the Kiln during the heating process? Well the steam are actually being collected by placing a long aluminium pipe at the top of the Kiln. Steam will be collected in the pipe and allow to cool down as it flows along the long pipe. The water are then collected on the other end of the pipe.

The factory owner regard the steam collected as miracle water which is said to be good for the skin as it has the ability to make one's skin silky smooth. It can also heal any injury on the skin such as cut or burn mark. According to the owner, a Japanese Cosmetic firm has recently engage his factory for a research to be conducted to prove that the steam water can actually be use in cosmetic product. If successfully, this miracle water will most probably be known at SK3.

What even it is, the owner is hoping for the best as if the result is positive, the owner will able to generate extra income and also make Malaysia famous in the cosmetic industry.


Extreme Power said...

Nice one on taiping.

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