Archive for April, 2014


April.27. 2014

Take a piece of wood and bury it in the backyard – in termite infested soil, under the hot equatorial sun, completely at the mercy of tropical rainstorms, and leave it there for 35 years.

Then after 35 years, excavate it.

And this is what it looks like.


Nothing special, just an old ugly rotting piece of wood, covered with dirt and scum.

Now cut it in two, with a good saw (preferably one of those obsolete German Eye-brand saws that you can only find in old dusty hardware stores in Sarawak).

And this is what you see.


Beneath all that dirt, all that scum – pure pristine wood.

If you held it close, you could still smell the fresh fragrance of the wood.

Simply amazing.

That is what I discovered on a recent trip back to Malaysia. I had to build a flower stand, (make that two) and for material, I simply went about rescuing all the random pieces of wood my mother had left in the backyard.

And that was when I discovered how amazing this wood is.

35 years directly exposed to the elements, under the hot baking sun, soaked in rainwater, in termite infested soil, and still remaining as pure and as fragrant as the day it was cut down in the jungle and hewn into boards.

What kind of wood is this?

So incorruptible that it can withstand all that punishing?

They call it belian, some call it ironwood.



You can see that I didn’t make a very clean cut in the wood, Carl Schlieper saw notwithstanding. The wood is so hard it took me quite a while to cut through it and despite my attempts to make a straight cut, it insisted on making its own crooked path.