Wednesday, February 21, 2007

On the Road (Boh Tea Plantation, Breakdown), April 2, 2006

I overslept and woke up with a bit of daylights already. I immediately said my suboh. Tariq, Intan and their baby girl were already on the yard taking photos by the time I was finished. It was cold but I took my bath the same. I went down for breakfast with my laptop, obviously there wasn’t any breakfast ready so I decided to start on a couple of toasts and fruits, and sat silently eating at the end of the big dinner table. Soon everyone up and Traiq and Intan decided to cook western breakfast. Eventually everyone was at the breakfast table we ate like one big family. Some of them, I knew, were wondering where would we be going or doing that day. I did not mention anything yet about the day’s plan and they were waiting for me to say something. I kept the suspense going and suddenly a quarter to nine I said loudly that we were going out at 0900. Immediately like an army drill everyone got up and hurriedly got ready. They knew I hate to have them late for something. Only when we were in the truck I mentioned to my wife that we were going to the Boh Tea Plantation down below. I chose Boh because that was the only plantation that we had not been to. The other car at the back of course did not have a clue as to where we were going. But they knew me enough it would be somewhere very interesting.

As I turned right towards the Boh Plantation from the main road I did not really know how far it was but the road was bigger than the usual plantation road. I started to drive through various vegetable farms. So close were some of the vegetable beds to the road that I felt like driving onto one. Since it was a little bit early in the morning I sped along a little bit. It was a pleasant drive that I enjoyed very much. Not long suddenly we came to the perimeter of the tea plantation and immediately the road became very tight and acute. Just like the old days when I was on the Bentong KL bus going through tight winding road I blasted the horn hard to let any cars on the opposite direction know that I am coming through the bend. Once in a while playfully I made music out of the horn. Nevertheless the tea plants around us created a nice scenic drive through. In no time we were at the gate to the tea processing plant.

When I saw some kids were yelling from the top of the hill I knew straight away I had to be there as well. Since they were kids I figured there must be an easy way up. True enough there was a foot path with steps going up. First, we checked out the souvenir shop and my daughter told me they have films there, yes I am still using films, so I bought a roll for her and one a spare for me. I made my intention known to the rest by making a short announcement that I am going to the top. Four year old Mar just knew what I was saying so I took her along. If Mar could climb the hill to the top you know that the climb was not that difficult. In fact we enjoyed it, stopping now and then to take photographs. Eventually the rest followed us up. It was flat at the top, well again enough to play football, and the grass had just been trimmed. Together with the cool breeze and the morning sun it was a wonderful feeling to be there. We explored the area from one edge to another freely taking photographs as we want. All of us agreed that if we had a day we’d just stayed there the whole day. The views, surrounding, weather and atmosphere were very pleasant. Comparatively though I love Kundasang better. I sat at the edge looking down at the workers quarters down below and started to imagine about the life in the plantation. In a way I envy them but then I knew as well the kind of hard work they put up to climb the terrain to harvest the tea leaves. The kids and their cousins were really enjoying the place and hardly anyone would want to be the first to go down or even mentioned about going down. In the end I had to be party pooper announcing that I was going down and with that automatically everyone followed.

Down at the teashop a group including the rest of my family was watching a video on the plantation which I decided to skip. I walked out to the teashop and ordered a cup of Sg Palas. It was the first on the menu I ordered it just to avoid spending to much time deciding what I wanted to drink. I thought my family had enough to drink or they do not want tea anymore how wrong I was. As soon as they came out of the viewing room the gathered themselves at the counter and started to order. Someone, at least I saw one, actually have had enough of tea and ordered Milo. Oh yeah, by the way the ‘teh tarik’ was brilliant as it was at Bharat teashop. The fly, however, spoiled my wife’s ‘teh tarik’ by deciding to take a swim in her mug. While having tea I urged everyone that we should as a group tour the processing plant. The plant was not that big I think as big as the one at Sg Palas. Since there was no guide we just toured the place on our own.

We left the place around 1130. As my wife and her sister wanted to buy some vege to take home I drove up towards Kea Farm and the place was packed with people when we got there. We parked by the roadside and walked to the place. It was the usual vege, fruits, trinkets and t shirts all over the place especially strawberry. When we had enough we went back to the bungalow to relax for the rest of the day before leaving for home. We eventually left at 1730 and stop at Bharat tea shop as I wanted to buy a souvenir, that much I thought. All came down and in the end we had our last tea drinking session before we left Cameron Highland.

The drive down was nothing special. As usual the highway way jammed with cars going down south. We had to endure almost a crawling pace at certain stretches. I decided not to stop at Tapah R&R as planned to avoid the congestion and proceeded instead towards Ulu Bernam. We rested a bit at Ulu Bernam and took our time by talking. At around ten something or so we left the please. The traffic a bit better but still heavy so I drove a bit careful especially when the driver in front of me loves his or her break so much. After about ten minutes of driving I felt hot and discovered that the aircon was not working and I started to fiddle with the knob and switches. Nothing happened and soon my wife nad I tried to identify something that we did not know about. Suddenly my wife gave a yell, ‘Abah, the temperature panas!’ Indeed the indicator was at the maximum instantaneously I signaled to the left and pulled over. My wife by then in her panic yelled at everyone to get down. I made sure everybody is ok and slowly open the hood and got down to check. I knew instantly that the radiator was empty as soon as I opened the hood. It was either the water pump, host or the radiator I thought. First thing first, I put the stress signal reflector at the distance to warn other traffics. My mind raced thinking about the most appropriate solution and Azizi’s name, my friend the mechanic, constantly on my mind. Not long after the Plus Highway petrol came and parked behind me. Inspecting the situation quickly they voiced their verdict. My water pump is jammed and they did not wait for the engine to cool off a little bit more before refilling the radiator with water. I was lucky as my mechanic friend told me the whole engine could crumble if sudden cold water was poured into the radiator. The Plus Highway guys were wrong on two counts it was not my water pump or the radiator. In any case I was really grateful to them for their help and as suggested by them I drove the truck slowly towards Lembah Beringin Tol Plaza that was 2 kilometers away. Once there I immediately called Azizi. I was really astonished when he said he was behind us before he made a turn at Tg Malim. Talk about a coincident. Trying to avoid the jam instead he got stuck in worse on the trunk road to KL. He said he would turn back as soon as he can. Luckily the rest of the party is in happy mood and seemed to enjoy themselves.

The vulture started to narrow in on us and one of them approached and waited together with us at the parking lot. Definitely they have a very good network and no doubt one of their ‘runners’ is the Plus Highway guys themselves. What’s interesting though I suspect this network is formed based on necessity. So life is about a series of socials networks. I of course ignored them. Farhan arrived first after braving the heavy traffic from Bangsar and Azizi finally arrived half an hour after that. Seeing Azizi at work the vultures left the scene. Azizi found out that one of the water hose cracked and immediately ‘McGyvered’ the live out of the Ranger. Eventually we slowly drove home and I sent the Ranger straight to Azizi’s workshop. BTW Azizi with his family was on the way home after sending his daughter in Taiping.

Lessons learned: I remembered one of my friends used to say, ‘If you genuinely help others in difficulties one day when you are in the trouble help will come from the unexpected’. What’s turn around will come around.

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