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Inside a charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang

Inside a charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang
Sunlight filtering through the zinc roof of the sheds sheltering the charcoal kilns in Kuala Sepatang, Taiping, Perak. Mr. Chuah's charcoal factory in Matang (Kuala Sepetang) is located right in the middle of a spectacular mangrove forest. Kuala Sepetang is located in north Malaysia, near the old town of Taiping. He is the second generation in the family who own a charcoal factory since the 1930's. Mr. Chuah is a gifted story teller and it is hard not to listen to his passionate explanations of the charcoal production process. It all start with harvesting the mangrove trees. The trees need a certain size which is reached after 30 years. When an area is harvested, new trees are planted and that area is not touched then for 30 years. The trees are transported with the high tide into the factory. Trees can not be processed with the bark so workers clean the trees. Then the trees are transported to igloo like kilns were the baking process starts. These kilns are all handmade without any architecture drawing design. The master building simply builds them still "out of memory and experience". A kiln is used for around 15 years. Once the kiln is finished, the logs are brought inside and heated. The process is in fact very simple and complicated at the same time. It's all about the right temperature, so the process have to be monitored 24 hours a day. The complete process to convert to charcoal takes about 30 to 32 days. The bulk of his produce is exported to Japan.

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