Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On The Train, July 31, 2006

Farewell tea and dinner broke my daily routine today. As much as I wanted to fight it the food won hand down. I was weak looking at my favorites scattered all over the dining tables. Also I did not want to upset or insult my hosts. Breaking my diet vow aside, my day was pretty normal to certain extent.

As soon as I was in the main atrium the announcer came on air to say that the Seremban train was arriving and I rushed down to platform 6. The train was already there actually and the time was 2123. The train was full with either service workers after their late shift, college students going home, couples coming back from a date, office workers after extended office hours or people like me who was just going home after business dinner and one or two long distance weary business travelers. That means you get a normal crowds on the train and when I say normal you get to observe the daily occurrence of Malaysian life. Almost 99.9% of the people on the train have handphone as you could see a lot talking into one, texting or SMSing their friends and colleagues or you could hear all sort of ringing tones. Lively Malaysian and I was, as always, enjoying the scene. It was dark outside and an advantage for an observer as the window now became a big mirror for me to observe without being seen as too obvious. You make the environment works for you.

A Doa for Farid, July 29, 2006

As much as we want to admit or show it we drove back from BP with sadness. Seeing Farid unconscious with her support systems brought another perspective to our lives and I am wondering aloud why we want to postpone our visit further. Honestly, you may have not had the time but I pray to Allah this is not to be.

My family and I arrived around 11 am at BP hospital and I straight away called Abd Majid. He was actually 10 minutes away and we waited for him at the canteen. We ended waiting for quite a bit and not wanting to disturb him we waited for him to call and at the same time Ani Mat and her husband was on their way. We were on the road together but we were ahead by an hour. We decided to wait for them and at the same time I traced my network of friends in BP. Eventually one of them joined me at the hospital, thanks Jaru, and to make the network even more interesting one of my friends there actually is lecturing at the same Maktab where Farid is working and the one line story linked to become almost one complete narrative.

Farid historically has been having problem with coughing, flu and asthma, and has been going in and out of hospitals and clinics trying to find cure, to some extend the real course of her problem. Not to mention the amount of money the have spent. To this end I feel I have failed as a friend. A friend should know how a friend is doing and not when only at their worst. Her condition became critical after her office spring cleaning took place and she was in coma after her lung could not take all the pressure. The xray on her chest came back white. Not wanting for her to be awake and coughing the doctors decided to put her in a resting condition, sleeping, in the ICU. We were told her pulse stopped for awhile the night before but by the grace of Allah it came back which we hope a sign of more good news to come.

All her beloved husband and family could ask for is for all of us to recite doa for her. My friend told me her office mates have been having series of doa recitation, sembahyang hajat and the likes for sometimes now and in our own capacity I hope we can do the same.

So please do not wait

On The Train, Jul 27, 2006

I am on the 1916 train home as I do not wish to be late again. Furthermore my wife and Mar are not feeling well. I need to take them to the clinic. The train is packed as usual which makes me a bit angry at KTMB. The reason of the pack train is not so much of the increase in commuters but more due to the cancellation of the express train. I just do not know the basis of the cancellation. Economics, business strategy, or technical problem is everyone’s guess. You can see how unpleasant most people are and their faces give them away. Some try to make the best by talking to each other to out fox the unpleasantness and some just doze off, some in a standing position, into oblivion.

Right now the train is flowing at a good pace towards UKM and is still full. I guess it would only be almost empty when I disembark at Bangi.

On The Train, Jul 26, 2006

Due to the workshop that I had to attend I was late out of the office today. My stress level remains the same forcing me to thing a better way to manage it. Writing and reading have been therapeutic so far but I need to pick the right topic to read and write. Now I am having problem with both. Nothing seems to be flowing as far as my writing is concern and my readings have been patchy. Compounding the fact is my current inability to cutoff from work. I used to be very good at this but now I am not sure.

Tanjung Piai, Dec 21, 2001 (Friday)

I wrote this piece in 2001 when we visited Tg Piai for the first time and now I am planning another trip there to see if anything has changed

How do you feel to be at ‘the southernmost tip of mainland Asia continent’? Well! Honestly nothing. We are at the Tg Piai Resorts now and we are supposed to feel something special. I do not know about my family but I do not feel anything different. Although this is our first time here as well as the first time on the sea resorts it is just like any other places. The only different there is water below us.

We arrived around 1.30 pm at Tg Piai via a wedding in Pontian and expectation was high. As usual my children were expecting swimming pool and all, my wife non-committal and myself, just expecting that it would be a good place to relax a bit. So far I have discovered a bit of both.

The place?

I really have sympathy for Malay businessmen. The resort could be a swell place but the maintenance is appalling. Let me sum up;

• The lock in the bath room is missing
• There is no towel
• No complimentary tea and coffee
• No proper food facility
• No kettle to boil some water
• No hot water
• The seafood restaurant which suppose to be the other main selling point is not well organised and maintain
• Not a resort as resort supposed to be

With the official designated titled as the most southernmost tip of mainland Asia continent marketing is a bit wanting. They could have really banked on it but as far as I know unless I scan the Internet really hard I do not really know this place exist at all. The tourism brochures hardly focus on Tg Piai with that tag line.

However, when I woke up in the morning it was a bit different. I walked on the wooden platform with my camera in my hand and my son Baqir, and later Taherah, tagging along I observed a different perspective of the place. It boiled down to what you really want to do. To just relax, cool off or just do nothing this is not a bad place to be.

We were the only guests staying at the resort and that was good and bad at the same time. Of course good we have all the facilities, which were not much, to our selves and bad because there weren’t much activity. When we reached there I was thinking of staying for two nights but thought otherwise. So, before lunch we packed up, checked out and drove up towards Pontian as we did yesterday evening. We played tourist in Pontian and soon decided to head for home via JB.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On The Train, Jul 25, 2006

Life purposely is slowing down for me now as I need to be. Things have been put in perspective where work, education, health and family have their own rooms. A sad news on my friend being in ICU arrived today. She had just woke up from coma and now recuperating in Batu Pahat hospital. I know we have to visit her and we could not wait as we may not have a chance. I am not good at this kind of thing but for my friend I have to learn.

On The Train, July 24, 2006

Someone asked me when and where my next Cuti Cuti Malaysia 5 is. Well, I have few options but I am not sure whether there is going to be one already for 2006. Looking at my other action items for the rest of the year it looks unlikely. But as always you’ll never know as at the end of the year I have got to finish my leaves and opportunities could present it self. As I said in my last major posting I’d love to do the south again, albeit this time going ‘budget’. My initial plan is to drive early down to Segamat via Gemas for the sake of my wife and sleep for a night at Gunong Ledang. The next day we would drive across to Muar for the lovely asam pedas and proceed to Batu Pahat along the coast to stay a night there. BP is big enough town worth checking out for a night. Furthermore I have a lot of friends there. The third day we will drive down as far as Tg Piai just to look for any new development there. The same day we will back track to JB via Pontian Kecil, Pekan Nanas to JB to stay a night day. The next day we would be driving east to Mersing to stay another night or two and come back via Jemaluang, Kluang, Ayer Itam and the Plus highway.It would be another six days trip but only covering one state. Of course I have an option of going further to Rompin and come back via Muadzam Shah, Bahau, and Kuala Pilah. Or I could do the whole thing the other way round. As always stopping at several interesting places along the way is expected. How many days is that?

I am in the mood to write my daily commute on the train again. However, apart from one or two exception, the thing that I would be writing would remain the same. The first indication came when we were at approaching Serdang when the whole coach heard one Chinese man talking to his handphone so loud that I just could not resist laughing. Some people just couldn’t careless or simply oblivious of what they are doing.

On The Train, July 10, 2006

I have a slight headache today and I just boarded the 1846 train going home. My headache is compounded by the fact that Italy won the World Cup. Nothing personal and know it is not rational but somehow I was born with a gene that hate Italian football no matter what. The office crowd already on the train and a lot more trying to push their way in at KL Sentral worsen my headache.

The World Cup has ended, to some a bit earlier, but a lot of people are still talking about it. About Zidan’s red card, how boring was the final and how Italian supporters enjoying themselves. My personal assessment:Most teams were playing too defensive with 10 players behind the ball that made most game boring to watch. As a whole the standard of this world cup was the lowest.

On The Train, Jul 6, 2006

I was on holiday of sort from writing my usual On The Train piece. Partly because I seems to experience mental block when I was on board looking at the same characters everyday. To make it worse KTMB had been it‘s usual incompetent self. Also I am still writing my last Cuti Cuti Malaysia 4 travelogue

Ever since my last Dr appointment I have been going home a bit early than before. Early means I have to join the crowd and most of the time the train was packed like today. Of course KTMB make it worse by cancelling the express Seremban. Being early also meant that whenever we got to Kajang the coaches will be filled by noisy Indian school children going home to Bangi. I mean just like any children they just could not stop talking, louder that the sound of the train. Just imagine like sitting in a can with full of them ha ha ha

Being a world cup season you get more sleepy heads on the train now. Both on the morning and on the way homes I could see commuters, especially men, were taking their nap and in one occasion one almost had and accident because he almost drop on the floor sleeping. The guy was actually sitting just next to me in the next cluster. I knew a lot of people wanted to laugh but managed to refrain themselves. Honestly I was laughing hard inside. So the final would be boring Italy against old French. Oh you know, that I am jealous and a sore loser? LOL my world cup ended a week earlier with the lost of Brazil. But I love to see Zidane gets the big one for one last time.

On The Train, Jun 14, 2006

I was a zombie walking towards Bangi station and all because of the Brazil vs Crotia game early this morning. As predicted I slept all the way through to KL Sentral. However, before I went ‘under’ I saw the mother and daughter that I used to write about today just remained only the mother. I saw it yesterday so I thought it was just one special day. Today I guess confirmed that we would not be seeing the cute girl with her mother every morning anymore. Probably she grew up or her parents decided to get a maid or something.

I got down at KL Sentral today because I was going to our PJ office for training. Once at KL Sentral I had to do something with my zombieness and decided a cup of coffee would do it. While walking trying to decide one where to go I realized that I forgot so many things today and one of them was I forgot to put on my belt. Let’ blame Brazil for it. After much effort I decided the second level medan selera. My choice was actually for a reason that I did not know until I was paying for my coffee. Across me walking was my old colleague from my old work place. So we had breakfast together and got to catch up on each other. At that moment also I got to know about the bad new development on Bursa and SC. Pity for library profession and community in Malaysia. On the bright side however it would mean a bigger opportunity for us. While talking I kept looking at the monitor above in front of me that was showing the KTM intercity train schedule. Once again the travel bugs hit me and I knew then I have to do it sooner then later.

I boarded the Putra LRT at around 0800. It is always a different feeling riding on anything other then the KTM Komuter.

Monday, February 26, 2007

CUTI CUTI MALAYSIA 4: June 6, 2006 (Tuesday)

Tanah Merah – Jeli – Banding – Grik – KK – Bandar Seri Putra Bangi (Home Sweet Home)

As most morning now immediately after I got ready I went out first to start the Ranger. I took it out for a spin but only today I have ultra motives. Since I knew for sure nobody else care to have a Kelantanese breakfast I wanted to do just that at the Pasar. But I stopped at the Maybank first to meet my good friend Kawanku. I was still very early because when I got to the Pasar most of the meks were still opening the shop for the day. I observed but could not take any photos as I left mine at the chalet. Obviously most of the people there knew each other and the people that came for breakfast were also their regular customers. It was just like watching Cheers albeit in a different setting and environment. I enjoyed it very much actually. Life in a small town taking shaped where many years ago on my way home to Pasir Mas on a train I always wondered about when the train stopped at Tanah Merah. Of course It was a totally different life then still it was still different compared to other town in Malaysia. I had nasi dagang and Nescafe tarik at one of the warongs on the second level of the Pasar. Accompanied by the ‘noise’ around me I ate the real nasi dagang and sometimes was amused by the conversation happened around me. Chinese, Malays and even Indian would converse in Kelantanese slang.

It was just slightly after 0800 when I left the place and drove back to the chalet. Most were up already that prompted me to announce that we were checking out. With the trademark photos taken we checked out and drove out into town at around 0900. When I was at the Pasar I noticed one restaurant that I thought would be suitable for the rest I went there to let them to have a proper breakfast. You guess right, with all variety of selection in front of them most just went for the normal diet of roti canai.

We left the restaurant and drove towards Jeli on Federal route 4. I always love to start my long distance drive early in morning, the earlier the better. Although it was not that early when we were on the road it was still early in the morning by our standard. Early was a deception at this time of the year in Malaysia as by 0900 hours the heat was already unbearable to some of us. Cooler in the Ranger but I could feel the heat on the outside especially when I looked at the hood of the Ranger. One good thing about this journey and route was that we would be passing mountain area and it would be a bit cooler. Also, the journey was ultimately a journey home.

My wife kept mentioning a possible shopping place along the way and I knew just what the place was. It is another place, Bukit Bunga, a kampong rather then a town, next to the Thai border. I knew we were not going to get a good bargain as in Rantau Panjang but I stopped anyway when we got there. At least we can check out the place and satisfy few curiosities. I let them walked the length of the bazaar and sat myself under a young garden tree to wait and observe. It didn’t take them long to realize what I knew already and I could see them turning back halfway. We just bought small trinkets and some fruits before we continued our journey.

When we reached the foot of the mountain I floored the accelerator climbing fast maintaining the same speed as before. You should know by now I just loved climbing terrains with my Ranger. That is one of the reasons why we loved the Ranger. Tariq was long gone behind me by then. I left them behind as I knew there was no possible way for him to get lost on that route. I was happy pushing the Ranger climbing and taking corners at decent speed until we reached the peak of the road climb. I immediately noticed a small rest area with scenic viewing platform on my right. I looked at the view mirror to see if there were any cars directly following behind and when I saw none I jammed the break and turned right into the rest area. It was a wide open space enough for 100 cars to stop at once. So that Tareq would not missed us I parked the Ranger in the middle of a small field next to the road. Mar was sleeping so with my camera I disembarked and walked towards the viewing area. The place was not that proper but the view still breathtaking but not as good as the views in the Kinabalu. When the other car arrived at the rest area naturally a photos session took place. We were behind schedule already and left the area around 1230 to start our drive down towards Banding Island – another place where I wanted to stop. What a stop it was.

We crossed the bridge into Banding Island and I noticed the old army post had become some sort of jetty for tourism to go to the other part of the island or lake. I did not think much of it but I saw a big crowd waiting for the boats. Since I mentioned to Tareq that I wanted to stop at the Island it crossed my mind that he might thought that was the place and stop there. He was by then way back behind me again. I was right as we waited for them at the entrance of the Banding Island Resort we received a call that they were there. And that was not all Kak Cik who was on the other end of the line actually said that Mak Su, my sister who were teaching in Kulim, were there as well with her family. Surprise, surprise. I turned back and headed for the jetty.

My sister and her family, minus Ain who is allergic to leaches ha ha ha)) and Nabila who was coaxed to remain behind, were actually on a school camping trip to the other side of the Island. I felt jealous immediately when I heard that. If I had a few more days I would have joined them. All of us just stood there waiting with them. The first group of the school children already left in two boats so they were waiting for the boats to come back for them. We did not wait that long though as by then we were really behind schedule. I said behind schedule because I will be taking the holiday merry makers along a route that I myself have not taken before. So as a buffer I need to make certain schedule and at that time based on my mental calculation we were late already.

In the end we did stop at the Banding Island Resort rest area to have our lunch. My reason for stopping there was again nostalgic. The first time we were there having lunch and also enjoying the view was middle of October 2003. Mar was just few months old then and now she is already 4 years old. Of course it was already Zohor then but I decided to Jamak our prayers at Grik, a town that we never had really stop before. We left the place way past 1400 hours.

I drove into Grik town proper slowly looking left and right observing. My first impression it was a white washed concrete town with no soul and character. It really was a disappointment really. My sense was telling it was not worth stopping and only to stop to pray. My disappointment grew as I could not see any mosque, Grik main mosque, along the route. So I sped on towards Lenggong. The good condition of the Grik – KK highway persuaded me to allow the Schumacher in me to come out. I was happily speeding until I saw the sign that says Masjid Kg Lawin, I looked up at the rear view mirror and jammed the brake to enter the mosque. Of course we stopped there just to pray and rest a bit but Allah knows best and we got to fulfill our needs. The mosque was built next to a nice cool river and there was a nice step built to the river. An open invitation for the children and I did have any good reason to say no. In fact I joined them to cool off ha ha ha. The water was really nice and I was really tempted just to lay there under the water for a while. Instead I let the children enjoyed the water a little bit more and came out to pray. I was a bit tired and sleepy hence after I said my prayer I dozed off for a few minutes.

I had one more stop to make before Kuala Kangsar (KK) and I was really going to make it. I was not sure if we could but I called out to the children and the rest to get ready to leave. Refreshed and awake we left the Masjid towards Lenggong at around 1515. The Anthropology Museum is somewhere in Lenggong even though I did not know where it was the sign said Lenggong was about 20 kilometres from where we were. Again the road was good and I drove carefully knowing that I needed to be consistent with my speed so that in a worst case scenario we could get to the museum by 1600.

The sign board only lead me to as far as the main junction. I guess Malaysian do not have a clue as to the basic idea of what sign board suppose to do. It was the same in Ganu, Kelantan and Perak almost all the signs were meant for show and decoration, and NOT to show direction. I really did not have a clue when I got to the traffic light. Was I supposed to turn left, right or drive on? I gambled to drive straight on passing through housing estate that did not indicate that a new museum would be there in the vicinity. Again I gambled and drove a bit further up. We were lucky as not long after that there was a sign directing us to the right into a palm plantation. I was skeptical but felt I should trust the sign board as it was pretty decent and new. About 200 metres from the road on our left was the museum and you cannot miss it as it was the only new quite modern complex within a mixed of rubber and palm plantations.

The reason I wanted to stop there so much was three-fold. First I really wanted to learn about Malaysian anthropology, second to inculcate appreciation of museum to my children and third to also make them learn about Malaysian heritage and history. The Perak Man was the main attraction at the Museum. I was glad to see my children enthusiastically went through the exhibits especially at the Perak Man himself. Few questions were raised, good questions, which indicated their understanding of the subject matter. My wife could not stay inside too long as she was not comfortable. We explored the rest of the complex and stayed around at least one hour. As a whole the complex is still very new and a bit secluded. I guess they want to preserve the environment bringing some authenticity to the atmosphere. Also, they do not want to move the Perak Man away too much. Architecturally the complex is not that beautiful as it looks like your usual government training institute. Somehow indicating a rush job. But, in the end I could not avoid feeling that this place would not be having many visitors. What a pity if it was.

We drove towards KK slowly knowing that our holidays and endless journey would end that night. It was not a nice feeling anymore even when we reached KK. We stopped to have, what else, laksa KK at the usual place then went around window shopping at the bazaar. Just to delay the inevitable even more we wandered around KK walking in and out of several shops along the main street. After we got tired doing this we left KK around 1915. While in KK I already decided not to go to the office the next day as I could not delay sending the Ranger in for repair. This meant that I did not have to rush home. Having ridden the highway so many times already it became somewhat routine to me. The feeling in the Ranger was somber so much so everything seems to come to a standstill. It was raining a bit as we passed Ipoh so I drove slower then I used to. The plan was to stop at the Tapah R&R to pray and maybe to have dinner. I said maybe because we had eaten at KK but having children like mine you never know. It was still raining when we reached the rest area which gave me another reason to stay there a bit longer. We prayed and sat down for dinner at one of the food stalls. Again we took our own sweet time there talking; subconsciously all of us just did not want our holidays to end. Of course end it did and we were safely home around 1 am.

When I planned for this journey I planned it to be adventurous and left a lot of rooms for the unexpected as well as flexibility. The Ranger broke down was unexpected because one week before the journey I sent it for servicing. More often then not during the holidays I reacted to situations that we were in and improvised. Flexibility also meant I added few additional things within the itinerary. All in all I think everyone enjoyed the holiday and would want to do it again sometimes. Hey! We are going south next.

CUTI CUTI MALAYSIA 4: June 5, 2006 (Monday)

KB – Pasir Mas, Rantau Panjang, Tanah Merah

I already told everyone the night before that we should be checking out by 1000 if not we were not going to get to do much. The kids of course complaint aloud as they could not go for a swim anymore. Indeed we checked out at 1000 hours. We skipped breakfast at the resort and drove out to find something to eat along the way to KB. Before we head for KB I took them to see the actual PCB that most local would go to. There were a lot of eateries there, however unfortunately, the food on sale would not be palatable to most of the holiday makers from Puchong, Nilai and Bangi.

On the way to KB I finally just stopped at one nondescript eating place that I thought would have a variety suitable for all. It was close enough. Actually that was their first Kelantanese breakfast. I did not know the verdict and I did not ask.

After breakfast, confidently I took them into KB and gambled on the route not relying on the useless map anymore. My gamble did not pay off as we went in circle and got stuck in a morning KB traffic jam. In the end with ego in check I pulled over at a Shell petrol pump and asked. The first attendant that I asked gave me the same answer as the girl at the mamak shop yesterday. ‘Sayo ore baru sini abe. Cubo abe tanyo abe hok tu dio lamo doh sini.’ What? Almost everyone in service industry in KB is from out of town? That reminded me when I was in Qatar when all the people in the service industry were either from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Anyway the other guy indeed knew his way around. He advised me to turn around and head straight passing four traffic lights and then turn right into a round about, across the bridge and follow the sign to Tumpat. I did just that by going through another series of traffic jam.

The main attraction on the way to Pengkalan Kubu was of course the several Buddha monasteries along the way. Each would come complete with one huge statue of either sitting or reclining Buddha. Eventually we arrived at the Tax Free Shopping Zone around 1300 hours and finding space to park was a challenge. Lucky for us we just only had to circle the area once to get a spot. Driving a Ranger in this case was really an advantage as I could just squeezed it at a place where other car could not go. Everyone was ready to go shopping and to spend big there. However, the first shop we entered indicated to me it would not going to be so. The prices were unbelievable. Unbelievably way marked up price that is. I could not imagine something that cost RM10 could be RM20. One thing for sure, all the out towners shopping there that day were all got cheated. I told my family to just buy something that we really know had the right price. With that we actually left the place soon enough with only small things. We were really disappointed and I could not understand how inconsiderate the sellers there.

To ease the disappointment I detoured towards Pantai Seri Tujuh and Tumpat town on the way out. Pantai Seri Tujuh because it was a nice fishing village that became a resort tourist area. Tumpat because of my friend Esa who is a bank manager there. I just got to know that Esa was transferred there recently and he did not know that I was coming.Tumpat is a small coastal town with kampong like building surrounding it. I knew the feeling living in that kind of area just like what I felt when we lived in Rantau Pajnjang. Although I knew finding Maybank in that town would not be a problem I asked a boy for direction anyway.

I saw Esa straight away when I came into the bank and he was busy at his job. I tried not to disturb him but called out at him when he moved across. He was really surprised to see me standing there in front on him and asked me to come in. I told him I have my family in two cars waiting outside. Soon all of us were having lunch at Kedai Makan Nasi Padang. Could you believe that? In Tumpat? For a Johorean married to a Kelantanese Esa now is a full-fledged local. :)) complete with the slang. Actually he married to one our mate’s niece. Talk about all in the family. While having lunch of course we chatted about old times as well as catching up on stories of old friends.Time flies while you having a great time. As much as I wanted to stay longer to talk to Esa I had a tight schedule to meet. So around 1500 we parted company, he back to his office and the rest of us to continue our adventure.I had two options, first to go back towards KB and go to Rantau Panjang via Pasir Mas or second to bypass both to head straight to Rantau Panjang via Meranti. The incentive to go to Pasir Mas was nostalgic in nature. We used to live in Pasir Mas in the early 80’s and I would like to look at the changes. But due to time constraint I took the second option as I thought I could still detour to Pasir Mas on our way to Tanah Merah.

As soon as we reached at the Meranti, Rantau Panjang junction we swung left and hit the accelerator hard as I definitely would want to reach Rantau Panjang with still enough daylight to romp. I thought at first the route would take us through Repek but I was wrong I mistakenly took the other way. On hind side it was better as it was shorter. An hour after we left Tumpat we were at the outskirt of Rantau Panjang already and stopped at the immediate gas station to Jamak our prayers. Actually somebody wanted to pee and we found out that the gas station had a decent surau so we decided to pray there.Of course after 28 years Rantau Panajang was different. Not completely different but different to me nevertheless. The police station and the flat where we used to live were now no where in sight. Even the old rented house in town also was inconclusive to my sight. What left of Rantau Panjang for us was a place to shop for Thai’s goods and shop we did. Now, in Rantau Panjang you are getting the price that you suppose to get and there are still rooms for ‘tawar menawar’, bargaining. If you have been to Rantau Panjang bazaar then you know that as soon you walk under the canopy you would be either lost in the maze of shops without knowing where to come out or you would be happily handing out your not so endless RM to the mek Kelantans and Siams selling there. Do not fret if you found out you have already ran out cash you can have all the opportunity you need to replenish at all the banks strategically located nearby. They are doing their best to ensure you spend and go back cashless or in our term pokai. Luckily most of the shops do not accept plastic if not you could continue to indulge yourself. Well on the bright side your buying spree could be controlled as you are mostly limited to imitations. Since the World Cup was just around the corner you can get all possible jerseys of all your favourite teams. Comparatively, though, the other goods that women go crazy for, like Corningware, Corelle and the like, were a little bit pricy compared to Langkawi.

To be fair to Kelantan Tourism Board we played tourist as well as shoppers equally well when we toured the town and stopped at one restaurant for tea. One thing for sure, we had fun. Come to think of it now I knew I should have taken everyone to the river bank to see how close we were to Golok. Thailand. One missed opportunity – hei!, could be another good reason to go back there again soon.

After we had rejuvenated ourselves we tried to go back to shopping but only barely managed. Which was a good thing for me. So around 1830 we left Rantau Panjang via Rantau Panjang Pasir Mas main road. My intention was still to go to Tanah Merah via Pasir Mas. As we drove leaving Rantau Panjang behind us I kept trying to locate the old police station and failed. Even the old primary school was gone. Instead I reminisced the few months that I got to live there. The road to Pasir Mas was of course thousand times better then it was used to. I think I bored my children to death by saying this so many times. When we were almost approaching Repek we came to a junction pointing towards Tanah Merah. I knew that route is shorter but I was not sure how short as there wasn’t any indication to how far it was. At least I did not see any sign. I knew as well Pasir Mas was just few kilometers ahead. Looking at the time and since we have not booked any place to sleep for the night in Tanah Merah I decided there and then to forget about Pasir Mas and turned right towards Tanah Merah. The road was smooth with hardly any vehicles and was good for speeding. An open invitation for me to floor the accelerator.

We drove into Tanah Merah town at 1915. I alerted everyone in the Ranger to be on the lookout for any sign that says Chalet or Motels. We did not see any until we were really in town already and as on cue somebody needed to use the bathroom. I swung into Shell petrol station and while waiting I started to dig in into my laptop to find if I could get an address or phone number. After I failed to get any I got down and walked into the station to ask and I was informed there was one nearby.

I have seen the name Sri Chalet mentioned and written in one website before and I was expecting the worse. Actually the chalet was not too bad so I went to the reception to ask. Thanks to Allah and lucky us there were rooms, or chalet rather, for us. I picked the nearest to the car park which was basically next to the reception building. The price for the two chalets was RM150 that I had to pay cash. Since it was Maghrib already we immediately unloaded our things and got ready to go out for dinner. However, we could not get ready fast enough because there were eleven of us trying to use two small bathrooms. That was not all as the other contributor to us being late was when we discovered that one of the bathrooms was a home for at least two frogs. The resident frogs refused to go away completely and since some of us are ‘allergic’ (read scared) to frog rendered one bathroom to be useless most of the time. Another contributor is what I called as ‘I want to parade my shoppings’. As soon as everyone unpacked their luggage, you should know by now that every one carried one at least, they took out their shopping and tried them all. I mean the kind of shopping that we did you could imagine the time we took. Not only to parade them but, just like the AF thing, to accept comments and complaint as well.

While the rest were getting ready I went out to the reception to ask for a good place to have our dinner. I was recommended to go to the night hawker style eateries beside the main traffic light in town. That’s where we were at around 2045 and having fun testing all the food around us. No, let me correct myself the brave souls had fun testing most of the food there. It was just beyond my comprehension when some people who actually had to travel long distance and came to visit places they never had been before when dinner time came all they could ask was ‘nasi goreng cina’?

Funny thing is most of the major eating places there actually sell ‘nasi lemak’. I knew that Kelantanese like to eat nasi but nasi lemak at night and it was not one shop but most of them? I tried to ask what was the history behind it but nobody seems to know or care to answer. So I left it like that. After dinner we took a drive to explore the rest of Tanah Merah. Since I ran out of underwear already I stop at one of the major shopping complex there and bought me a box. I thought I was the only one interested in buying things. The whole bunch came out of the car to have a look and window shopped. I think someone actually bought something at Hari Hari ha ha ha. Our night in Tanah Merah ended at around 2300. Good as well as I wanted to start a bit early the next day.

Sleep came easy for me naturally and it was peaceful enough.

CUTI CUTI MALAYISA 4: June 4, 2006 (Sunday)

Kuala Terengganu - Kota Bharu

I was eager to go to the Ranger to try to warm the engine up when I woke up. It was the D day for our holiday. If it was still difficult to start like yesterday definitely I would have cut my holiday short and go home. I thought that was the outcome after I failed to get the engine running after few tries. In my last effort I jammed the switch and pumped the accelerator forcing the engine to fire up. I rammed hard and took it out for a spin. Since I need to gas it up I proceeded to the Petronas Station about 3 kilometres away. With the engine running normally I drove back to the hotel to announce to everyone that we were checking out. While I was out Tareq actually went out to buy breakfast. So with one thing out of the way we left the resort at around 1100 heading towards KB via route 84. The drive along the coast was not new to me but it was for the others so I slowed down a bit.

As we were passing Penarik my wife saw a Pasar Ikan by the road side on the right and we stopped to look and possibly buy something to BBQ that night. Well, the options were either we stop at Lata Tembakah Waterfall along the way to have a cook out or save the fish for the night. My wife decided on few Kembong and Cencaru while I went for a half of a big fish for my wife to curry. We were actually were chasing time at that point in time already but I still would want to take everyone along the coast to explore and experience it. My decision meant that I had to forego the Lata Tembakah Waterfall. I took them to explore Penarik until we reached the very end of the small ‘peninsular’ where we made our turn within a coconut plantation. There was this beautiful house that we stumbled into during our last trip there that both my wife and I admired. However, in my excitement I forgot to capture it so this time I stopped beside the road on the way out and asked Baqir to take a few shots of the house.

Back on the main road after Penarik I made a right turn to route 84 heading towards Kg Raja and eventually Jertih. This route was my first experience as well and I did not know what to expect. The road was mostly straight that was good for speeding but it being on the coast I was a bit easy on the pedal. We passed villages and places that we had till that day only new exist on the map and from our readings. We passed Kg Setiu Lama, Setiu Lama and Kg Raja. Surprisingly Kg Raja was not really a kampong but quite a decent town slightly bigger than Semenyih. We were really off schedule by the time we reached Kg Raja so I purposely missed Lata Tembakah. We reached Jertih closed to 1300 and I knew most were already hungry so I made plan to stop at Pasir Putih for lunch.

Just imagine our disappointment after cruising around Pasir Putih town when we could not find any good place to eat. In the end we had to proceed towards KB hoping to find a good place along the way to eat. We drove on passing Selising, Melor and into KB, still with no hope of finding a good place to eat. In the end when we were already in KB I saw a big mamak place on the left and straight away turned left and parked to eat. Save by mamak again :)))) The clock at the mamak’s place indicated a time of just few minutes after 1400.While eating I felt like someone or a group of people were watching us. It could be just me or indeed someone was watching us or at least watching and wondering where the hell we came from. We not being a local of course were so obvious. Also, I was trying to figure out where we were and to find our way out of KB to Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB). For once the map could not help me and I was not ashamed to say I was a bit lost there. The signage system in KB was not helping at all. Furthermore I did not know that the traffic in KB could be that bad. So before leaving the place I had to ask the cashier for direction. Sad to say she apparently was not a local as well and her colleagues also was not that helpful. So in the end it had to be the MacGyver in me to try to get us out of there. I followed my instinct and after passing through one traffic light before reaching another one I saw the PCB sign. As I said the signage system is horrendous in KB as when I approached another junction there wasn’t anymore PCB sign to direct us. After maneuverings through the traffic I saw the sign again. It was way out on the other side. I followed it right into a small secluded lane. I knew the road in Kelantan would be tight but it could not be that tight and small. Anyway my instinct was just to continue on where we eventually came out to a junction of what seems to be a main road. Still there was not any sign to indicate the direction to PCB. I turned left and after awhile we realized we were coming back to where we came from so we concurred it had to be the opposite direction. We were proven right when we saw the signage at the round about after we turned back. Once we were on the right track finding the place was not difficult. While passing and looking at the kampong on the way to PCB I got the impression that the place was a little bit under develop. I was right the atmosphere was not an atmosphere of a resort but more like a rented houses. We arrived at PCB Perdana Resort at around 1600, checked in and straight away unloaded our things. The chalets were big enough for all of us and it cost me RM 260 for the two of them. The lawn was also big and appropriate for our BBQ. I had planned to go to Pengkalan Kubor that evening but had to postpone it to the next day due to two reasons. Firstly it was way too late and a bit of rush and secondly the counter staff at the resort advised us not to because we had to battle the KB evening traffic to get there. Frankly I was really surprise to find KB traffic to be that heavy.

After I said my prayer I crashed for awhile and let the kids enjoyed the pool as well as the beach. Not only was I a bit tired I was also not in the mood to swim. Not after the jelly fish incident. At around 1830 we left for the town to just wonder around as I knew most shops would be closed at night in Kelantan. We parked not far away from the Pasar Khadhijah, the Central Market, and walked towards that area. There was a night bazaar taking shape on the road but we ignored it and walked straight towards Buloh Kubu Bazaar which was almost about to close. While passing the Pasar Khadijah my children kept saying to me loudly, ‘Abah, let’s buy some buah stor.’ And someone would add ‘sekilo dua cukupla.’ Well, it was a joke out of an incidence that happened there the first time we were in KB together. Upon reaching Buloh Kubu we stopped at the Kota Bharu Kasaoka to take few photographs. It was closing time at Buloh Kubu but there were still enough shops opened for us to browse through. I do not know what with the tudung with the ladies. I know it is important but the tudong buying spree was so unbelievable :)) (either my wife will smile reading this or I am not going to get to eat anything now). Since we did not have anything else to do we browsed the night bazaar from end to end. As expected mostly Thai goods and we left the place. KB as a whole is changing and developing would with several new buildings being built. Malls, offices and even private colleges despite what others going to say it is a good change that I saw. Hopefully not too fast because I feel it would kill the character of the town. One other good thing was that I did not see any rubbish dumping anymore. We set up the BBQ right in front in between our chalets. The place was sandy and convenient. Everyone was doing their own things and I decided to read while waiting for the food to be ready. Baqir and Tareq were handling the fish at the BBQ set while my wife was cooking her curry. In the middle of this a guard came over to advise us to BBQ a bit further from the chalets. I knew it was precautionary from fire hazard. So we moved the BBQ a bit further out. We had our night picnic on the balcony and the fish was magnificent.

I retired early that night and forgot to call my friends.

CUTI CUTI MALAYISA 4: June 3, 2006 (Saturday)

Kuala Terengganu

I would like to start our day a bit early and started to call the children room to ask them to get ready. Intan and Tareq were already outside by the pool waiting. As usual I went to the Ranger first to warm-up the engine. I was expecting to find the Ranger a bit hard to start just like yesterday but instead it got worse. Just like yesterday I needed several attempts to get it going but that morning I just let it ran on its own and soon the engine just fluttered and died on me. I tried to restart and by the sound I knew already I would not be successful so I waited for the kids to arrive for them to push to jumpstart. After one push I realized there wasn’t any contact at all and I knew then it would need something else. We discussed about it and few arm chair mechanics joined in trying to solve our problem. Just like in any breakdown these kinds of ‘mechanics’ would gather around the engine and started to have what they presumed as a good conversation. Of course the usual questions like, ‘Is it not the battery, right?’, ‘Have you tried looking at the fuse’, or ‘Let’s try to give it another push maybe the last one was not fast enough.’ I knew they meant well but before someone started on his own version of breakdown story we decided to find a jumping cable and Tareq drove out to search for one. Tareq came back alone and told us that a mechanic would soon follow suit with a cable. After a few minutes of waiting the mechanic showed up and started to diagnose the Ranger. I was not convinced but relented as long as he got to get the Ranger started. All the while I had been in contact with Azizi to get advice and I tried few things and convinced me it was not a battery problem or anything else but a wiring problem. We tried to jumpstart using another 4X4 owned by a good young, I presumed, engineer and still the Ranger failed to start. In the end the mechanic decided to get another big battery so off he went with Tareq. This time they were gone for longer time that prompted me to advice my family to go and wait in the room.

Still I was skeptic as I was very sure it was a different problem but eventually he managed to get the engine going. I prayed that Ranger would hold up for the reminder of out holiday so that I could send it back to Azizi for proper check-up. If you did not realize it by now Azizi is a good friend who happened to be a mechanic. So, he is sort of our personal mechanic. This time I rammed the engine a bit and let it ran longer. While doing that I actually was serious of cutting short of our holiday and to go home that day. In the end I decided to gamble a bit and make the best of the holiday and to continue as planned. I reasoned that there must be something good going to come out of this and stayed positive through out. So the next morning would be crucial.

I volunteered to send the battery back for the mechanic that was at a motor boat engine workshop in his kampong. At that workshop then I discovered where e the battery came from, a very old pickup truck. He refitted the battery to the truck. I got him to talk to reveal few things to understand him and the kampong better. The good thing that came out of that was he showing us, according to him, the best keropok place in Batu Rakit. It was not far and it was beside the main road to Penarik. I was interested to stop by not just because of the keropok but more for an opportunity for my children to see and learn about keropok making in real place. Of course it presented me with a good reason to record everything in stills. I encouraged my children to observe and ask questions. The mak ciks obviously used to people observing them at work played along with us.

I thought of taking everyone to the Merang jetty to find something to eat as well as doing a tourist thing but I missed the turn and sped ahead towards KT. Along the way, just before Balqis Poliklinik, we stopped at a place to have our lunch. The choice was perfect for everyone. Not only were the dishes good the selection was apt for everyone as well. I mean everyone almost ate like a mad hungry man that had not eaten for several days. I do not remember the name of the place but it was the biggest eating place in that area. With our stomach full we pushed towards KT. I purposely detoured the other way to KT as I wanted to check out the KT Airport for decent t-shirts. The last time I was there they had quite a few good designs. However, as I approached the airport area I found out it was under going a massive renovation and it was not convenient to stop considering the heat. We made a round and proceeded towards KT via Seberang Takir. Around 1230 we were at the edge of KT and just about get onto the bridge when I decided to detour into Pulau Duyong. It was my first time there as well so we drove around to explore the place. As expected in any small island, the houses were smack right next to one another with just enough room for one car to pass through. I knew there was a traditional boat making industry there but to my dismayed I missed it completely. I only saw where it was when we were already on the bridge going into KT.

Based on a TDC outdated KT town map we tried to find our way to the State Museum at Losong. The old map didn’t help at all, in the end out instinct got us to the main gate of the museum. Again I had personal objectives or motives of going to the museum. Top on the list was to instill sense of appreciation to history and learning, and museum in general to my children. Thanks goodness the displays were engaging enough for them. For the record Fatah actually ‘belanja’ us or paid for our entrance fees. We stayed almost three hours inside the museum as it was almost closing time when we came out. That and other indicators told me that I had achieved my objectives. I just hope other state museums would be like that or better.

The weather was really hot even for us Malaysian and it affected everyone. As I predicted Intan wanted to go to Pasar Payang again and that was where we headed from the museum. I took them through Jalan Losong and detoured to the Losong’s Keropok Lekor area. No body else seemed interested so I just bought two packs for us to eat. I passed one to the other car but when we opened the package I discovered my mistake. I bought two packages of uncooked Keropok Lekor. Well actually they were already boiled and good to eat but I knew the rest were not used to eating them that way. I ended up with both to eat on my own with Baqi’s help once awhile. I did not have anything else to buy at Pasar Payang but decided to pray there. We parked at the park near the waterfront and walked over. The kids decided to stay back and do their own things while waiting for Intan to shop. After I said my prayer I lingered a bit to see if I have missed anything. I met my children and their cousins at the Pasar Payang that was when I decided to walk back to the Ranger and to try to get some z’s as I was a bit tired and sleepy.

I think I was up after about ten or fifteen minutes of a good nap. By then all of my family members except for Intan and Tareq were sitting at the park enjoying Rambutans and talking. I needed caffeine (of coffee nature) shot but did not want to tell them that so I grabbed the opportunity presented by Mar when she asked to go to the restroom. There was a waterfront café near the restroom so we adjourned there and ordered our drinks. I called my wife and told her where we were and she eventually walked over to join us. The evening sun was shining over the water behind me that created a nice evening feeling. My thought was thinking that there must be a good shot somewhere. I walked over to the edge on the stonewalk by the sea to find good shots and decided on boats and a bicycle locked to the railing. On seeing us there Tareq and Intan joined us for a drink.

We left the area eventually and I knew just the place to go, Batu Burok’s KT Carnival 2006. We arrived at the carnival when it was about to get dark. As we were musafir we just continued to walk to check-out the place. I was expecting for less people to be there but instead it was as many as during the day. Nothing much to look at after walking the length of the carnival we ended with just maggi mee…LOL. That just to indicate that there was nothing special about the carnival just the usual cheap goods from the border and few indigenous products. A disappointment I would say. Finally after buying a bit of dinner we drove back. The boys were really pushing for us to go back to the hotel as England was playing a friendly in their last warm-up game before the final. In the end that was what we did and officially ended another day in KT

Friday, February 23, 2007

CUTI CUTI MALAYISA 4: June 2, 2006 (Friday)

Marang - KT - Sutera Beach Resort

I was worried of sleeping on the spring bed last night as it could spoil my entire holidays. Alhamdulillah I woke up fine in the morning. The only ‘problem’ was sleep kept being disrupted by Baqir and Fatah who wanted to use the bathroom. They were sleeping on the beach, initially in a tent, but later under the open sky. Obviously for safety reason I had to lock the door and I kept unlocking it for them at odd hours.. Why didn’t they just use the big ocean? Later they told me they were afraid of ‘kena tarik”. J).

Up early I came out of the chalet and stared out at the sea and one obvious thing that I saw was a big chunk of earth out at sea. Immediately I knew that the line of lights that I thought to be small fishing boats the night before was actually the Kapas Island. How could I have missed that? With the beach in front of me I could not resisted walking on the beach straight away. I tried to do end to end but only managed one third of it and returned to the chalet. Everyone except for Baqir, who was still sleeping happily on the sand, was up already. The water was calm with hardly any wave that prompted me to take a swim. Soon I was joined by Fatah and eventually others. Up on dry land my wife was already busy cooking breakfast. I thought I was going to Cendering to ‘tapau’ the famous Mak Ngah’s nasi dagang for some reasons I decided not to and relied on our ration of ‘maggi mees’ for breakfast. I let my family enjoyed the beach a little bit more until I announced that we were checking out at1030. They really were having fun so I let them have their own sweet time. My wife and her niece started to cook lunch for our picnic in KT. We planned to buy few more dishes to supplement what we had cook and have a picnic at Batu Burok beach, so we thought.

Slightly after 1030 we checked out and that was went I found out why the name of the resort is Angullia. The owner is Esa Angullia. As usual before we drove off we had our usual commemorative photo session. Just after we crossed the Marang bridge I turned right at the traffic light as planned. I just wanted to show my extended family the life around Marang’s jetty that could be picturesque if you know what to look for. As usual I took a few shots of the bridge, boats and water. There was a Friday market there and I stopped a while to check it out. It was the usual nothing extra ordinary that I was hoping to encounter. I was very sure my family would not like the taste of the local kueh so my wife settled for a ‘kilo’ of fruits. I drove out of Marang through the other end, again, for the benefit of my family. I saw the line of traffic first and I thought it was just a normal kampong’s accident watching activity. But the line persisted and I feared the worst as it would be really unbearable if the traffic jam was up until KT. My daughter was already complaining about the heat by then and even with the aircon running it was still uncomfortable. As we approached Rusila I knew straight away the reason for the traffic jam. It was Friday and on Friday they have a Pasar Jumaat on both side of the road that forced the traffic to stop or slow down passing it. As I was readied to speed through we received a notification from the other car behind us that somebody’s needed to pass motion badly so we stopped at the next Masjid. It was a long long wait ha ha, must be one nasty motion LOL.

The first itinerary in KT was to stop at Cendering to visit the batik making facility of Nor Arfa Batik. Of course it was not just about batik making that we were interested in J. I only bought a blouse for Mar as nothing else really fancied my eyes. Being Friday the other places were obviously closed to visit and we contented wit Nor Arfa Batik for the moment. We eventually drove into KT with some of the stomachs declaring to be fed immediately. I however did not want to rush it and drove slowly as we approached the town. We started to see the Karnival Terengganu 2006 banners as we neared the traffic light into Batu Burok. Big chunk of the Batu Burok area was closed for the carnival. I checked the time and it was 1230. We stopped to buy few more dishes at the nearby taman selera and proceeded towards the field across to have our picnic. It was so obvious we were the only one doing it. Again with limited choices of food and eating in picnic fashion we finished everything. I proved my point by now and whenever we had the opportunity then on we bought a supply of fish and ad a cook out where possible. Frankly speaking after lunch I did not have a clue as to what to do next. Acting like a true tour leader I just cruised around town and during this cruise that we discovered Kak Ton kedai rambut. Finally we drove back to the Batu Burok beach area to relax there. Just to past the time I bought two kites for Baqir, Kak Cik and Mar to play. The rest, trying to get away from the heat, rendezvous themselves inside the nearby A&W. We didn’t get to enjoy the place too long though as the Batu Burok pasar malam’s operators chased us out of the parking lot that happened to be their business area. I stopped at the Maybank first for Tareq and Intan to withdraw some cash before we had a field day at the Pasar Payang. I think I have been to Pasar Payang for so numerous times already but never once I felt bored or tired about it. If not the sales the people within the area are attraction enough for me to observe. Thinking about it now I should have taken few shots of the happenings. Being a school holidays of course there were several tour and chartered buses on the lay-by waiting. The rest of Malaysia knows that this kind of tour bus trip is called ‘rombongan Kak Kiah. So hundred of Kak Kiahs were shopping their hearts out there. One batik outlet was actually having happy selling anything day right from their pavement. That was how crowded the place was. Wondering around we found a t-shirt shop that we want and started our own buying spree. Our madness for t-shirts was part of our effort to have at least one each for every big cities or states that we have been to. We came out, out of there with at least two each. Around 1630 we left Pasar Payang for Sutera Beach resort and got there around 1720. Along the way I stopped to buy my favourite Batu Rakit’s keropok lekor. That meant another objective achieved. My main reason for staying at Sutera Beach resort was because I got a complementary 3 days 2 nights stay there. With the rest of the entourage I booked another two rooms and did not think much of it. When we checked in and subsequently got into our room we discovered it was not a bad resort. A bit hidden from the main road and with the road frontage looking like a deserted kampong it was really a nice surprise. When I saw the images of the place the first time I already form a view as I knew how those images could be spruced up to look like Hawaii. As I said it was a nice surprise it was not too bad at all. Again the beach was really inviting with the almost wave less ocean. Later the temptation became my agony. I was a bit tired and I didn’t plan to swim and was hoping to doze of a minute of two. But my children were already running out with their cousins in their swimming suits. Getting a bit worried letting them on their own I went out to check the pool and none of them were there. I knew instantly there were on the beach. with even Mar was in the slightly deeper water then she used to splashing happily. She was braver because the ocean was almost still. I took off my t-shirt and started to swim towards my sons. Halfway, I felt my left hand touched something that I thought what it would be so I immediately looked down on my left and confirmed it was a jelly fish. Immediately the stinging pain came and the area of my arm turned reddish. I immediately announced my predicament to my children and instinctively all of them followed me out of the water. I walked straight to the front desk looking for any form of medication. They have none for jelly fish and suggested a traditional treatment using vinegar and limestone. Duly the front desk called their F&B guy to prepare the concoction for me. Nevertheless he advised me, and it was my intention, to see a doctor and told me where to go. It was not that painful but still stinging as I applied the traditional concoction. I drove out with my wife trying to find the nearest clinic. The first two were either closed or the doctor was not in until later. We drove on a bit further and ended up with the young doctor at Balqis Clinic. Thank goodness the effect was only local and the good doctor prescribed me a cream and pain killers if the pain persisted. The incident actually almost spoilt the whole holiday for me and I thought that was the worst. On the way back from the clinic we stopped to buy some food as we decided to ‘tapau’ and eat inside. The rest of the planned activities for the night did not materialize. However, close to midnight I went out to the open air lounge to enjoy the music with my wife. Along saw us and joined us at the table. Just at normal night at Sutera Beach Resort.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

CUTI CUTI MALAYSIA 4 : June 1, 2006 (Thursday)

KL – Kuala Kemaman – Marang

As I entered my room after I have just finished my meeting my handphone buzzed. It was my wife informing me that they were already waiting on the road outside. I quickly tidied up my desk and walked down to meet them. I was told the other car was just leaving their house and I new immediately we were going to be late. The initial plan was to wait for them at Genting Sempah but when I got there, there was no parking space and decided instead to continue our journey and waited for them at the Petronas petrol station just before the Bentong tol plaza. We said our prayer there and refreshed ourselves over a cup of coffee. The wait was not that long and we eventually departed from there at1444. Still I was bullish of making the time as planned and hit the accelerator hard. While speeding I realized the temperature went up as I pressed the accelerator and came down as I maintained the speed to the standard speed limit. I knew then it must be a dirty radiator. Allah knows best so I maintained the normal speed. Indeed as planned we stopped at Gambang R&R to have a late lunch. For a school holidays the place is quite deserted I would have expected it to be at least buzzing with activities.

I gathered I could still made for Kuala Kemaman by 1730 but Allah had another plan for me. It was raining hard as we travelled towards Kuantan and we slowly cruised out of the highway at around 1700. By then the traffic along Kuantan Kemaman route was already heavy. We still made good time though and arrived at the Kuala Kemaman’s fish market at 1801. Part of the plan was to buy enough fish to BBQ that night in Marang.

Obviously there weren’t any good selection of fish left and we decided on a kilo each of Cencaru and Kembong. I was tempted to throw in that big ikan aya aka tongkol aka tuna as well but my good sense prevailed. We stayed awhile enjoying the place a bit. It was not new to us but certainly something new and interesting to my extended family. On the way out Baqir kept pestering me for satar and otak-otak so we stopped at one of our new favourite place on the way out to Chukai. As always we ate satar in a bundle. At the same time I went to buy ‘arang’ and few things for the BBQ at the nearby sundry shop.

Intan asked me how far was Kemaman to our destination I was non committal about it and I said ‘just follow behind’. We laughed as it was as much as reality and a joke as well. A reality because they were playing catch up with my driving all the while and a joke because they did not know the way. She asked further where our next stop was. I just blurted out Dungun. Nothing specific only I thought we should stop and pray there. Around 1904 we reached Dungun. There wasn’t any good place to stop so I decided just to press on as the earlier we get to Marang the better as I can sense everyone is stiffed sitting in the car already. As I knew the road to KT after Dungun would be good I pressed the accelerator harder. The Ranger performance after I changed the clutch plate was not the same anymore. Maybe I need to take it back to Azizi for tuning up. Nevertheless, turbo charged Ranger is a turbo charged Ranger and we charged overtaking at will towards Marang. About 10 kilometres to Marang I called the resorts to enquire where exactly the place was. It was two kilometers before Marang from Dungun. At around 2030 we reached Anguilla Beach Resorts safely.

It was not a bad resort. I had booked one Big Family Chalet and another family Chalet. The big family chalet had two beds in the main area that was separated by a board. The two beds could conformably sleep four persons. The chalet came with an attic that could squeeze in another four quite comfortably. The other advantage of the chalet was it was facing the beach and the beach was quite decent to sleep on. That was what my son and his cousin did eventually. After we arrived and settled down a bit I sort of toured the place, quite a big resort. We had a cook out on the beach and a simple dinner of rice and ikan baker was like the best food that we ever had. We sat on the beach for awhile until my wife decided to retire out of fatigued.

‘I continue to sit with my laptop enjoying the cool night breeze while typing this piece. The dark sky above me is glowing with thousand stars and with the sound of the wave hitting the shore makes me want to reminisce old times. I face the sea and could see a line of light over the horizon. My guess the lights must be from the small fishing boats. It is so comforting sitting there and looking out to the dark sea. I know I made the right choice staying here for a night. My sons and their cousin are having hot drinks at the resorts beach café nearby.’

Close to midnight I joined my sons and their cousin at the stall to have Nescafe tarik and retired as soon as I had finished my drink.

On The Train, May 29, 2006

I was expecting the train station to be less people this morning. I was a bit surprised it was not probably everyone was expecting the same and turned up a bit early. Everyone got a seat in fact our choice of favourite seats. The other day we were hypothesizing that there are more and more people taking the train now. Today the reality sunk on me when we got to Kajang. As early as the 0630 train from Bangi hardly anybody got a seat at when we arrived at Kajang. And that during the school holidays – I must have been sleeping all this while LOL.

It was the usual crowd composition on the train on the way home with a slight difference in terms of age group. Today the majority of the age group was around 20-23 years old. As expected you got to experience a different atmosphere. The lingo, style, and subject are totally different than I am used to daily. In a way it made the rain a bit livelier – of course if you could stand the constant ringing of different tunes of mobile phones.

I arrived at Bangi around 2120 and only one or two commuters left waiting for their rides home. Apart from them are the usual ‘teksi sapu’ waiting for clients. Apparently they make a good living making several short runs transporting people around the area. My wife was still far away and I had to wait a bit longer and as I was waiting the abang guard came to start his night shift at the station. As soon as he arrived he was welcome by his ‘children’ – about five cats and three kittens greeted him excitedly. I knew from past experience that he took care of them and the cats became a feature at the station. When he arrived the ‘teksi sapu’ men started to joke with him saying that ‘dangdut’ dah sampai. I did not know what it was they meant until the ‘abang guard’ switch on his night companion, his trusted old radio blaring out hidustani songs. I smiled and knew then what that dangdut was all about.

On The Train, May 26, 2006

As expected the train was packed with holiday makers and weekend trippers. It was raining as well making the situation a bit doggy. I could sense anxiety and expecting from most commuters. Some of the sitters were of course dozing off by the time we passed midvalley that includes my traveling partner sitting on my right. Depending how you look at it she could either be part of the support crew of dikir barat, berzikir or dancing while sitting and sleeping. She swayed so much once I thought she was going to drop head first onto my lap.

On The Train, May 23, 2006

Hhm ngeh! Another power failure today and this time between Sentul and Putra. I was a bit lucky though as I was outside of the office in the evening attending a meeting. Also, I had planned to stop at MidValley to send my films for processing. The proprietor of the Fotodata there knows me by now and knew my requirement already. I just needed to drop the films sign the form and took a walk before collecting the finish products after an hour. The photos came out good and so did Kak Cik’s. She begins to be quite a decent photographer now. Maybe I can be a bit more serious with her next time and tech her one or two about taking a good photograph.

An announcement came on the air after a about few minutes standing at the MidValley’s platform announcing that the train to Seremban would be at the station in 20 minutes. I guessed it was made for the sake of the commuters that had been waiting there longer than me. The 20 minutes came and gone but no train. Eventually another announcement was made to say it would be another 5 minutes. After 5 minutes still no train and the announcement was repeated for the third time. I got fed-up and walked back to the fence to get myself comfortable and didn’t other to consider anything until the train actually came after almost 45 minutes of waiting. Obviously the train was packed but luckily still not a sardine can.

On The Train (Lapse Time), May 22, 2006

I didn’t realize it has been more than two weeks since my last posting. I must have been lethargic or plain lazy to write. The truth is it was both lazy and at the same time I was distracted with a lot of things lately. My thesis that seems to be have no end, my son’s football team that I am coaching that had been in a closed tournament last week, my family and my truck that needed mending badly. Thankfully there has been a lot of good news for me. Among others Liverpool won the FA Cup after a thrilling match and our U15 football team that I coached retained our ‘championship’. The only bad spot had been the lost of Arsenal in the European Cup. Although I do not mind Barca won but still it would have been good for Arsenal to have won.

The past week the train service had one major disruption when a ‘lori hantu’ (loosely translated as ghost lorry) somehow managed to crash itself onto the power lines and the track to disrupt the service for a night. I was already at the top of the stairs when my office colleagues who were climbing up mentioned that I had to find another train to take me home. Today everything seems to be normal, normal I mean by KTMB’s standard.

On The Train (Books), May 8, 2006

I bought five books over the weekend and I am eager to read all of them at once. Call me crazy but that is exactly what my heart desire. The reason I bought that many books in one go was because I was given a RM200 book voucher. As always I ended up buying more than that. My wife and daughters grabbed few more for themselves so naturally I was paying more than RM200. But I was happy with it, in fact the only thing that I was not happy about was the boys who couldn’t care less about buying any books. Apart from the five new books I have just started reading ‘The World is Flat’ that I am reading on the train to work and at work. At home I am reading Bob Paisley’s biography – this is a must read for Liverpool fan and in between now and then at home a page or two of Tahir Shah’s The Caliph’s House. I may get crazier by starting to read Undercover Economist at the same time. Hei! Jamie Confidential is waiting eagerly on the wing.

The Monday train to work was surprisingly empty but packed on the way home. What bothered me was the train ride was really getting monotonous to me. Hardly any interesting observation these days, probably I was not being observant enough. A front page news about an elephant and its calf wondering out onto the East West Highway really caught me his morning. That was the second time this week we were told. Although the elephant did not bother anyone or anything but it is cause for concern as I was planning to take that route for our next holidays.

I pity the girl sitting in front of me she really looks bored. The man sitting next to her was straining his eyes reading because of the low lights on the train. Only five long light bulbs were trying to illuminate the whole coach. A woman next to him was happy in never never land. Now the man is reading aloud so much so disturbing the sleeping beauty next to him. Around me now I could hear a lot of sound – two ladies chit chatting loudly, handphones with all kind of songs and sound as well as the heavy sighting from a very bored people.

On The Train (Stuffy Train), May 5, 2006

The train was a solid sardine can when we departed Bandar Tasek Selatan and it was really stuffy. The air con was obviously not working or at least not working properly. I can see that everyone is not comfortable. It was so unbearable to one guy that he actually disembarked at Serdang. I had to endure the heat a little bit more as I knew it would be better when another big group of commuters would be alighting at Kajang.

On The Train (Sleeping Beauty), May 4, 2006

The train was a bit empty than the usual when I boarded at Bangi this morning so I sat my self within the central cluster that is strategic for sleepers. That was my intention as I slept late last night. But I did not straight away dozed off but instead continued reading ‘The World Is Flat’. At Bangi a father and his younger daughter came on board and sat right in front facing me. I continued reading and felt comfortable even until we were on the way to Serdang. Just before reaching Serdang I decided to force my self to sleep as I was afraid it would effect my day in the office. So into oblivion I went in a very short time. I was only awaken when we arrived at KL Sentral. I looked up and saw the little girl was staring straight at me while disembarking. Her looks actually was a look of disbelief. As if I had done something very strange. Then I realized I was probably making a lot of noise while asleep, I tend to do that when I am really tired. In fact not only her, a lady across me also was staring at me. I must have created a riot I thought and that would be funny indeed.

The 1902 train came about three minutes late at the station. I was a bit early than the usual as I have a football tournament meeting at home to attend to. The train also was a bit packed than the usual. However the composition of commuters remains the same.

On The Train (KM in Malaysia), May 3, 2006

I was already about five minutes standing at the platform waiting when an inaudible announcement came on air stating that there was a flood somewhere and the train service would be delayed. I was not sure which line though. Just this evening our consultants using the train station announcement analogy to described AV concept on intelligibility. At train station there would be constant announcement but most of them were not intelligent and commuters tend to just ignored them. I guess it was the same just now everyone seems to ignore the announcement. When the Seremban train came I heard someone remarked ‘Eh, Seremban lagi la.’ So I guessed the troubled line was the Sentul - P Klang line.

There were a lot of people today compared to the same time on other days. Again the majority of commuters were Malays followed by Indian and Chinese a distance second and third respectively.

There are two things that caught my attention today. The first one ws a posting made by Dave Snowden and the other by Naquib Chowdhury’s sixth-point plan to promote KM in Malaysia.

Dave talked about the ‘three big shifts in organizational theory the last 30-40 years that had shaken things in such a way that it is difficult to return.’ He further said ‘I don’t include things like the Learning Organisation or the Quality movement both of which had a big influence but did not change the structures.'

The three things are: Business Process Re-engineering, Outsourcing and the massive growth of the big consultancy firms (and their increasing focus on technology).

Now all three are based on an assumption that any KM professional knows to be wrong - namely the assumption that knowledge can be fully codified.

All three got their growth out of manufacturing (a closed system which can be largely codified) but then extended their range to cover services using a manufacturing modelMaybe, just maybe the world is finally waking up to the reality of using these manufacturing models and mechanical metaphors as the failures are starting to become visible. BPR is having a late revival in Six Sigma, but that’s rather like the extreme religious movements that arise towards the "end of days" so extreme that it points up the deficiencies of the belief system by taking the ideas (in this case measurement) to excess. Outsourcing is starting to creak at the seams and its growth is Government. Now given that Government adopts things as industrial best practice, just when industry realises they don’t really work as well as was claimed, isan additional sign of failure. The growth of small consultancies (our own open source movement for them) and the increasing cynicism around the claims of large consultancy firms who partner-consultant ratios will now only sustain an industrial rather than an apprentice one.

If so, when we look back in twenty years time, will everyone see these three as temporary blip, something that disrupted life unnecessarily but then (thanks to KM) we realised the error of our ways?’

Now, it is clear for Dave that any extreme use of methods or tools, including his, especially using manufacturing model, in KM is a flaw.

In another interesting development is Greame Burton’s comment in Inside knowledge on Naguib Chowdhury’s Six-point plan to promote KM in Malaysia. First of all, reading the piece, I am not sure whether the recommendations are personal views of Naguib or official views of either KM Association of Malaysia or MDec. The six main recommendations;
  • The importance of learning and sharing should be included in the academic curricula so that future corporate leaders – and their top staff – will have a mindset devoted to continuous knowledge sharing. The education system should also encourage creativity and ‘out of the box’ thinking;
  • The government must develop a master plan to drive KM activities, especially in the public sector. The government’s plans for encouraging an e-learning culture in the private and public sector should help boost the adoption of KM, if well implemented;
  • A platform has to be created whereby practitioners, researchers and corporate leaders can unite to share ideas and knowledge. KM Association Malaysia can play an active role in this context. Regular forums and sharing of best practice will help organisations to adjust their KM programs accordingly;
  • Cheaper, locally made KM tools could boost the adoption of KM in Malaysia, especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Many SMBs are reluctant to consider knowledge management on the grounds of cost. Local software companies could, perhaps, leverage the open source software community to develop cheaper content-management systems, for example;
  • The media can play an important role in building awareness of knowledge management and its role in improving productivity. A regular KM bulletin, for instance, would help greatly in achieving this. KM pioneers in Malaysia ought to take the lead and publicise their efforts and successes more widely;
  • Effective knowledge and cultural auditing are pre-requisites for any successful KM project and greater emphasis needs to be placed on developing the right tools and frameworks to achieve this. Measuring the performance of KM initiatives is also valuable in maintaining people’s motivation for knowledge sharing.

What being said are something that already been talked about that I agree would help further the development of KM Malaysia. Based on my experience though this need to be looked at holistically. I know there has been an endless debate on what KM is still some kind of common understanding for us in Malaysia is necessary. To me KM should be part of strategy rather then just a process to some of us. So what is KM strategy for Malaysia? Some of the tools and methodologies could be infuse, or some use embed, into our economy and we do not have to call them KM. The thing is we have some good things going already, probably what we need is a bit of realigning to move a step ahead and taking heed from Dave would be wise as well.

On The Train (Missing in Action), May 2, 2006

I think I have not posted anything for two weeks now. Normally if that is the case I must be traveling or outstation. In this case I was not but just merely offline most of the time. My main reason I was concentrating at something else and furthermore I had reached a situation where I was not motivated to observe anymore. So, I figured I took a rest on writing my daily experience instead rewriting my old travelogue.

Today however I felt I could not wait too long and started to write this piece. This morning I was late than usual and caught the 0646 train. Nothing interesting really happened but I realized I had missed something by taking the earlier train now. In the 0646 train there is this young mum with her, I guess, 3-4 year old daughter. They commute everyday to Bank Negara station from, I guess from their conversation, Nilai. Also, I deduced that the mum is working at Maybank and takes her young daughter to a nursery near her work place. I could say that I watched the young girl grew up on the train for three years since I took the train. Her development is interesting and I predicted she would be a very confident outspoken person one day. If one look from a narrow perspective one would instantly pity the mum but if you have gone through a life that I had you’ll know instantly that the mum is actually really educating her daughter. Not only she is cute but talkative as well.

It was raining when we were approaching Kajang on the way home. It had been this way for almost a week now.

On The Train (Flood), April 27, 2006

Apparently there was a flood between Bangi and Batang Benar so my train fortunately terminated at Bangi. Talking about flood we all know what happen for the last few days in Klang Valley. Flooding was not only news but a standard occurrence almost everyday. The news about flood now is about the degree of devastation rather than just news on flood. Because of the flood not many commuters on the train. When we arrived at Kajang the driver announced that the line was opened however we were made to wait at Kajang and eventually somewhere between UKM and Bangi due to the congested line.

On The Train. April 21, 2006

On the way to work this morning I slept all the way as I was tired. As usual my friends teased me,’ Ye la malam tadi kan malam Jumaat mestila kerja keras mesti la penat.’ I said to them, “MAYBE!’ LOL. But what bothered me was not so much of being tired but the lack of announcement coming from the driver. I was lucky I was conscious when we arrived at KL Sentral if not I would be sleeping through to Kepong or worse Rawang. That would be a real story for my friends

On the way home there was one big guy in red batik shirt sitting about 3 metres from me talking to his handphone so loud that almost everyone in the coach could hear him. Lucky for all of us he disembarked at KL Sentral if not it would be a very painful journey home. The usual Friday crowd boarded at KL Sentral and Mid Valley.

On The Train, April 18, 2006

I got to the station at 2023 and the Seremban train was on the platform already. I thought I could make it but the train left as soon as I cleared the gate. There are seven wooden and one concrete benches at the platform and the average of three persons are sitting on each. About 12 are standing. Comparatively my experience tells me that there are more people using the Sentul – Pelabuhan Klang line than the Rawang – Seremban line. So out of the 33 people waiting about 20 of them would be taking the Sentul –P Klang line.

The number is slightly less than yesterday when I boarded the train. As usual the numbers picked up at KL Sentral and Mid Valley. I was engrossed in my planning for our east coast holiday in June so much so I was oblivious with the happening around me.

On The Train (Fellow Commuter), April 17, 2006

I was a bit late going home and caught the 2015 train. The average of commuters is slightly less than 2 per cluster.When we were approaching Kajang a Chinese gentleman started a conversation with me by asking about my laptop. ‘You punya’, pointing at my laptop, ’12 inci ka?’ he asked. ‘Sepuloh’, I replied. ‘Ok ha senang bawak. Saya ada satu tapi 14 inci berat nak bawak. Ni tujoh ribu ka?’ asking me about the price. ‘Empat ribu (four thousand RM),’ I said. ‘Centrino kan?’ he continued and I nodded. Our small talk continued about laptop for a while until he asked me whether I work in a Bank. I said yes and this is where the stereotype began. ‘So you guna spreadsheet buat accounting banyak ha.’ I wanted to correct him but I stopped as he continued to say that he basically using his for graphic drawing. I just let him continued to have the wrong perception of my work. Even if I worked in a bank doesn’t mean that my work would all about numbers and furthermore this is totally a different bank.

Just like me his station is Bangi. I saw him few times at the Bangi station waiting for the train in the morning.

On The Train (Friday Night Commuters), April 14, 2006

It was not a normal Friday commuters. A normal Friday commuters would normally comprises of long distance travellers either heading to KL Sentral for their next journey on the intercity trains or KLIA express. There would also be a few people heading to meet friends, girl/boy friends (if there are not already together on the train) to go to Friday night outing. The train was almost full when I boarded and packed when we got to KL Sentral. The breakdown of commuters in terms of race, gender and age remain as usual. Of course most commuters are either, quietly smiling, jovial or outright boisterous anticipating the weekends.

On The Train (The Research), April 13, 2006

As soon as I entered the gate at the station the Seremban train came approaching at a faster speed than it used to. The time was approximately 1922. I was walking quickly trying to make to my favored coach. I barely squeezed in the last door to the coach. Just like yesterday the average passenger is two per cluster. At KL Sentral about the same number that were already on the train boarded. While the doors were closing I over heard an announcement made regarding technical problem on certain lines. I was not sure which line.

Overall, the male female composition is almost equal today. The age group majority is around late 20’s. Where as the racial composition is 60% Malay, 30% Chinese and 10% Indian. The composition remains the same at MidValley. At least only 2% are reading books, newspapers or magazines. About 1% talking to each other and the rest just sat thinking of something or nothing. I do not see anybody sleeping yet.

Today a lot of commuters disembarked at Bandar Tasik Selatan but only 6 people came on board. At UKM now the average is 1 to a cluster.

On The Train (Train Community), April 12, 2006

Met another staff who is commuting from UKM on the way home. Actually we bumped into each other as we were walking towards the station. We only managed to talk about BSP a bit when the train came. As usual I moved forward to enter my favorite coach. Somehow my action was so abrupt as if I was trying to run away from him which I was not. I hope he was not offended with that. I did not know what time exactly I boarded the train but I calculated probably around 1914 like that. The train had decent number of people on it where on the average two persons to a cluster of seats. There were two types of clusters – three and four. The first group up to KL Sentral was quiet where majority were contented with their own thoughts. One or two were staring at nothing with an obvious faces of boredom. A group of talkative men came on board at MidValley. This is a normal feature of commuters boarding at the station. Probably the environment at MidValley made them such a way. As usual the commuters getting thinner as we got to Serdang, Kajang, UKM and I say only about 10% going all the way to Seremban