Friday, April 27, 2007

On The Plane, April 17, 2007

MH 0072 KLIA – Hong Kong – 0915-1300

Fatah was good enough to send me to KLIA very early in the morning. As usual I checked straight away and the time was 0710.

We touched down safely at Hong Kong International Airport at 1245. Hong Kong was gloomy and cloudy as if trying to say that I am about to receive a not so good news.

I was on the Hong Kong Airport Express Train when I received the sad news about my dear friend. I was sad and down for a while thinking about him and certainly was not enjoying or aware of my ride into Kowloon.

With a free afternoon at 1500 we went out to check Hong Kong Island. We took the ferry, with the fare at HKD 1.70, there and in no time we were walking into the heart of the island. Initially Kevin wanted to take me to the Hollywood Road to check out some antique shops. However, along the way while trying to find our way around Kevin told me about, possibly, the longest escalator in the world. I was intrigued and became very interested instantly. But of course the first challenge is to find the start which we after navigating the maze within the bowel of Hong Kong.

It was really unbelievable until you see it for yourself so much so we went all the way to the very top. It you have very weak knee don’t ever climb it without having enough hours on it. One thing for sure people in Hong Kong do not need to go to the gym or taking any serious sport to stay healthy as walking up and down gave me a very good cardio vascular exercise. Along the way I discovered the real Hong Kong and a bonus of finding 84 year-old Jamia Mosque.

Back at Kowloon and after a dinner of a not so good Paskitani dinner at Chungking House we decided to watch the nightly light show from the promenade. Sadly the not so spectacular light show was made worse by the cloudy weather.

Sleep was easy because I was tired but I my friend’s condition kept coming back to me.

On The Train, April 6, 2007

I have not been updating my blog lately due to the following reasons:

I have three very interesting books to finish
I have nothing good to write, and
I am very lazy to do so

Of course it is more of the #3 :))))))

The usual Friday evening commuters are on board now and we had just left KL Sentral. Now I am hearing three different languages were spoken into handphones – Malay next to me, Chinese about a meter at 2 o’clock and Indian at 3 o’clock. Hei, I thought I am hearing a fourth foreign language. All three were talking as if they were the only one on this train. With so many different languages spoken on this train I wonder why I could just only able to speak English and Malay (more if you consider Kelantan’s, Nogori’s, Perak’s, Utara’s way of speaking different languages). The Commuters are getting interesting and louder now as I could hear Chinese conversation all the way from the other end of the coach.

The Mid Valley crowds are making the train even livelier now. As expected they are happy lots enjoying the Friday evening anticipating the eventual weekend. Talking about weekend it would be another hectic one for me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

On The Train, (Synaptic Learning) Mar 19, 2007

Few years back I learned something important about myself after I finished reading Anthony Robbins’s Unlimited Power. What I learned was I could create tracks in my mind for different feelings that I cold trigger at will. The way to set any trigger is to do something when I am at the maximum feeling of any emotion. When I set the triggers often enough I could just flip from one feeling to another at will just on a flick of my fingers. I did not understand the scientific explanation for that and since then I hardly practice is. Today reading Mind Wide Open it was explained why. The process of creating the ‘tracks’ is called Hebbian Learning, based on the scientist Donald Hebb that discovered the phenomenon. According to Hebb when we were experiencing certain traumatic or high intensity emotion we fire off several neurons on several tracks and during that traumatic event there would be other things happen at the same time in our mind. For instance during that moment a music was playing on the background or something that we were not conscious about or seems to be related to your high emotion event. A few months later when you hear the same song the same feeling of the moment started to swell within you. According to scientist the component of the brain that does this to us is called amygdala

In early 1996 in a dark winter evening I was seating alone in my East Genesse St basement apartment. I had the radio on and was also plucking on my guitar to no particular tune. I looked out of the window the snow is falling creating certain lonely feeling in me. Together with the cold I felt really homesick and at the same time a certain song was on the radio. Until today whenever I heard the same song not only I feel the same intense of homesickness but I would be taken back to that moment with a very clear vision in my mind. With this knowledge any form of narrative extraction with certain degree of contextualization is a possibility

On The Train (On a LIM bus through Sikamat Valley). Mar 16, 2007

I felt it was realy a chore going to work this morning but I braved it telling myself I got certain responsibilities to fulfill. The trust that others have on me so sacrosanct that pulled me through the day.

Going home in the evening was like traveling in a LIM bus on the Sikamat road. Since there was only one LIM bus plying the Sikamat road it was packed to the seam all the time. The combination of jostling, body heat and the stagnant air created unbearable situation to most. The worst for us was that the driver simply picked his own sweet time to start the engine and move. To improve the situation we cracked, both, real funny and ‘belia’ jokes. While on the move the bus looked like a solid bun sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes falling out at the edge. Even one joker suggested that all of us should lean on one side at a very tight turn so that the bus would overturn. Back then we did it just for the fun of it not thinking about catastrophe at all. That’s how I felt going home on the train today.

The Graveyard, Mar 15, 2007

I just stood there staring at everyone hard at work burying my cousin. My thought was everywhere thinking about life, future and current state of affair. I saw my aunt seemed to be fine helping where she can but I know she was shattered inside and she could not hide that from me. I also overheard behind me my cousin’s wife was talking to my uncle about my cousin. Trying to ignore the conversation was hard but at least I can sense the wife was ok. I also sense another being was or were there with us I hope they were praying for my cousin.

The talqin was read and doa recited in the end everyone left except a few of us who still had a last rite to perform. As predicted there was my aunt crying and kissing the batu nisan. It wrenched my heart my other cousins and I quickly went to console her. I sat facing the grave, squashed he earth and did the best I can to say my last prayer to my cousin.So tragic, so unexpected, so sad but life goes on……..

On The Train on the way home at around 1000 hrs (Tragedy, Death and Brain Dead), Mar 15, 2007

You read and watch all kinds of tragedy happening from the newspaper and television and always amazed at how thing could happen, bizarre or not, not in a bit realizing that all those things could certainly happen to you or your family. You know doubt feel sad and sorry about those things but we seems to thing we are immortal and immune to those kinds of things. Under this circumstance that I received the news of the death of my cousin pretty badly, he felt off his roof, and my first reaction was to submerge my real feeling. I failed miserably after about two hours when all kinds of memories started to flow within my brain.

I am currently reading Steven Johnson’s Mind Wide Open and from my initial reading understand what I am going through now. My aunt has had several deaths that she had to bare already and I am not sure how she would handle this one. Thinking about this really saddens me the most. She has been strong before but how many deaths that one could handle. I am going to face her, inshaAllah, in three hours and I already dreaded how I am going to react to that.

The brilliant morning sun is coming through the glass window of the train as we are approaching Bandar Tasek Selatan. That change my mood a little bit, just a little bit, that help me. I look up at the glass right in front of me and I see my own black reflection sitting alone. My reflection is lonely and although there are few people on this train I look lonely. My brain is going deeper I guess.

The part of the Steven Johnson’s book that I am reading talks about the ‘tracks’ that have been created in your mind due to certain powerful feeling. You are not aware of this until similar incident triggers your memory. The past weeks due to certain thing I entirely forgot my ATM pin number so much so I had to get it replaced with a new one recently. Just now as I walked out of the building I stopped at the ATM machine inserted my card and just punched in the number, the right number for the old card. It was just instinctive and sadly immediately after that I could not remember the number that I had keyed in. Reading the book now I am in deep thought as to what actually had happened in my brain. The number is always there in my brain but what actually triggered me to instinctively key it in I am not sure. Was it the sadness? Or was it because I was too anxious or stress out? Probably I would know once I finish the book.

Engagement and such (PD), Mar 10-11, 2007

The first time in my life I was asked to become the spoke person for an engagement. It may not a big deal to some; still, it was a big event for me. It was the engagement of my wife’s nephew and I had to negotiate on his behalf.

We rendezvous at Ngah’s place around 1245 as planned before we drove down to PD. Abang Mat mentioned to me the latest on the dates that necessitate me to reevaluate my strategy. As usual somebody had to be late and as I did not wish to make the other party to wait for us I decided with others to depart and promised to meet up at Telok Kemang’s mosque. As usual I floored the escalator and sped down to PD and as usual within half and hour I was there already.

The engagement went well although the Tn Hj, the other side spoke person, trying to tease me I equal to the task. Maybe he was expecting somebody older. What amazed me was not really the engagement but yet another discovery of life beyond the road frontage. A kampong, Kg Telok Kemang, is striving beyond the road that most of us familiar with when we were in PD. As a passerby we stereotype just think what we see in front of us and never beyond. We forget even the adage ‘do not judge the book by its cover’.

That night we camped at Ancasa Apartment and late evening decided to drive down to Melaka for ikan bakar.

On The Train, Mar 6, 2007

I overslept and had to take the 0724 train to work. I deduced that the medications that I took the night before were still in effect as I continue to yawn and falling asleep even while I was standing. The 0724 train got me to the office albeit I had to stand all the way. Under different circumstances it would not be a problem for me but that morning every part of my body went to sleep. I can tell you it was really a challenge standing up in a packed train that morning. Couple of times I actually simply dozed off only the mono poll saving me from total disgrace.

My condition was no better at the office but since I had a full day meetings it was alright as I managed to pace myself.

On The Train, Mar 5, 2007

I was still tired when I woke up and dragged myself up to go to work. I made the same train and slept all the way to work. I had difficult sleep last night due to my blocked nose.

At work if one was observant enough would realize a zombie walking in the office. Nevertheless, I got things done as usual.

My phlegm got a bit thick and sinus worse on the way home that prompted me to go to see my doctor to ask for some medications. It happened that Mar was not feeling well as well.

Cycling, Death, Wedding, Futsal and Memory Lost, Weekend (Mar 3&4), 2007

A lot happened in one weekend which left me very tired. The weekend hectic schedule actually started that Friday night where we went for bowling at Alamanda. We arrived home past midnight and I had to wake up very early for my weekly cycling to UKM.

The four of us cycled as usual to UKM and Saturday is not the best day as there were a lot of traffics on the road. We were cycling on Saturday instead od SUday because of one of us would be going back ‘balik kampung’ on Sunday. The route was a bit easier for me now and we should be graduating to a tougher one now. While we were resting at our usual midway place we received a text message informing us of the passing away of our neighbor. After resting a bit we rushed home maintaining a bit faster speed all the way. When we arrived home there were already few colleagues at the neighbor’s place visiting giving their last respect. Din and I decided t take our bath first before going there.

The passing of my neighbor was not unexpected in away as she had been diagnosed and fighting the big C for quite sometimes already. But expected or not death is still something that is hard to deal with. We help where we can.At 1400 I drove to Gombak for the wedding of my former student Norazlina Dol. We arrived when the bridegroom and bride were busy with their photography session already indicating that the ceremony was almost coming to an end. We started to eat immediately and the food were nice. I met three of my other x-students. When I looked around I realized we were one of the last group that came to the wedding. After we had finished eating we congratulated the bride and left for home.

That night we went to play futsal at NIlai which supposed to be a friendly match against Melati. I said supposed because only six of us turned up from PT and most of us had to play the full one hour. Now if you add up all the hours so far I won’t blame you if you were to agree with my wife’s statement that ‘you are not that young anymore you know to do all the super things in one day.’ I just smiled a very tired person’s smile.

Well, that was not the end as that Sunday morning I woke up early to coach our Under 15 football team. I was really tired then by still I forced myself as I had promised the kids to coach time that morning. After we had done I took a nap, a power nap.Something very strange and odd happened to me in the evening when I wanted to withdraw some money. I was standing in front of the ATM with my ATM card and my memory went blank. I could not remember my pin number at all. I just could not remember anything at all.

On The Train, Mar 2, 2007

Wow!, there goes another week and a stressful one for me as well. Looking at things going on now I am expecting many more stressful ones in the future J). I guess manageable stress for now as I still manage to smile and laugh at the end of each day. Today a dear friend of mine sent a pps (powerpoints show) on having happiness in life where in the last slide the it conclude that to achieve happiness means;

To hate no one
Avoid having a stressful life
Looking at the bright side of things
Help others
Live a simple life


To me all within my means but a bit harder to achieve number two.

On The Train, Mar 1, 2007

January and February are now behind us. I feel it is just like yesterday that we had our end of the year vacation. In a week it is going to be a school break again and my children are obviously expecting for us, the very least, to go somewhere near for a short vacation. The easiest and we are actually, to just drive down to PD for a weekend. The holidays even how short it is, is part and parcel of my children’s learning process. When I was growing up school breaks mean a long day of fishing, bird catching, tree climbing and playing whatever game in season. We were lucky even if we got to go back home to our kampong once a year. Of course I am not comparing the old and new for the sake of illustrating the obvious different in era. I am just merely sharing perspectives of life and in doing so to try to allude to the fact although forms and mechanisms are different. The ways we learn and absorb knowledge are almost the same. It is through exploring, discovery (you may want to say serendipity), and social interaction within a close-knit groups. When I was growing up we were territorial to the extend we created our own language. The girls with their ‘f’ language and us boys ‘reverse syllable’ language. So ‘kereta’ to the girls would be ‘keferefetafa’ and us ‘takere’. Hey, the girls are even using the same language now. One day I overheard my daughters were talking this way and I interjected to their utter surprised.

Again, my point, first, the way we learn is the same and what works before could work again given the right context.

Am I talking nonsense? Could be, LOL, after all I am on the train and got nothing else to do.

On The Train (Sense of Belonging or Is It CoP?), Feb 27, 2007

I arrived at the station at the same time as the 0646 train and decided to miss it. What I mean is that I could have still make it if I rushed a bit but not wanting to start a day on a stressful level I just walked towards the station on my own usual pace. I was late because of a trailer blocking our path on the other side of the bridge crossing the railway track. I knew by then I would be late of at least would barely made it. Fortunately I was relaxed waiting for the trailer to move aside to create a path for us to pass through.

Obviously the platform was empty when I walked on it towards my usual waiting area. I sat myself on the bench and waited doing nothing. I did not know what to expect really knowing the crowd on the 0646 train I could be standing all the way to the office on the 0704 one but I was bullish. I confidently felt that I would get a seat nevertheless. One after the other commuters started to emerge and walk pass by me until I realized I was actually seeing a different set of commuters from the one that I am used to in the morning. Suddenly I felt like an outsider encroaching on another territory. The feeling was compounded when I actually inside the train when people, those awake anyway, started to look at me strangely. As simple or mundane as commuting on the train I could feel that way, sense of lost and detached from my own community, and feeling threaten by a new one. That was certainly a powerful realization for me.
Strangely though I never had the same group of commuters going home everyday. Regardless whether I am late or early it would be a different set of people. Well a least I have that feeling.

On The Train (Tired, Sport Day and Nostalgic Fool), Feb 26, 2007

I was so sleepy going home today and the thought of having a snoring session in a crowded train somehow forced me to stay awake. I barely managed it in between yawning and falling asleep while typing. It was the same thing when I was in the office today. I just do not know what’s causing it but a hectic weekend contributed to it. On Sunday I went cycling again with the gang and playing football the same evening. The day before that I was at Kak Cik’s sport day under the hot sun taking photographs of the sport day and in the evening playing football. My dear wife did warn me that I was not what it used to be and advised me to take it easy. Well, I am to proud to admit and stubborn man what can I say…LOL.

Still, Kak Cik’s sport day was very interesting. Not because of all the events being competed but more of the occasion itself. It was held in their school padang that created an atmosphere of close togetherness. Everything seems to happen at the same time close to one another. On the main section of the field the 100 meters dash was in progress with young athletes running over a water clogged tracks. At the same time telematch kind of events were taking place at the other end of the field for standard one, two and three students. The rest of the students on the other side in house colors cheering in earnest to encourage their runners. Parents were no less mobile jockeying for nice views and place to observe and take photograph of their children performing. I was in the thick of all these enjoying myself. The running and the competitiveness made me compare it to the scène in SWALK when Mark Lester was running in the 200 meters with the others yelling close to the lines. Of course with the Bee Gees blaring ‘To Love Somebody’ as background music. Just like that while shooting for good shots I got connected with the past from different times of my life. Childhood days in Bukit Galing Camp, Kuantan, growing up in SDAR, the days when I was in college and as a young man joining the rat race. So who’s to say children sport day is boring…..

On The Train, Feb 23, 2007

I was at the meeting today helping one government agency with their ‘knowledge centre’ initiative. As usual they started out with the right set of problem statements to necessitate KM program but tried to find solution with technology. I can understand where they are coming from and I can certainly understand their predicament as it is not their fault to think that way. If I were to be in their position I would think and do the same as well. The attendance of the meeting was interesting to me by itself as it got me connected with my colleagues from past working lives. We are definitely connected socially and getting the meeting going and to come out with great dissuasion and input was easy. In a way we are communities of practice that just got together by the situation and invitation. Because of the connectedness as well the environment was conducive for knowledge sharing and transfer to happen.

At the meeting as well I got to know that more or less our organization is the benchmark in Malaysia as far as KM is concern. I would want to believe it is because of our holistic implementations which internally some of us do not understand still. Otherwise we are a good talker and seller of what we are doing to the outside world. The lack of this understanding probably we do not see how far we have gone with our initiatives.

On The Train, Feb. 22, 2007

The train rides these days were dominated by KTMB’s inefficiencies rather than anything else. I read today in the Malay Mail that their General Manager of Operation admitted that they are guilty and informed us that they are in the midst of servicing the trains in batches which going to take sometimes. He promised everything would be back to normal after, how long again? Knowing KTMB I took this statement with a pinch of salt. How often have we seen they repeat the same mistakes all over again? Learning is not one of their competencies I guess. Up until now they could not solve their problem with the theft of their signaling cable.

Selera Herba Restaurant, Feb 20, 2007

The Owner, my friend Alim

My handphone buzzed indicating a message coming through just after 1115. The message reads something like ‘We are glad to inform you today is the opening of our new restaurant Selera Herba at Secttion 9, Bangi next to the mosque and we are serving nasi beriani with less cholesterol.’ Two things that enticed me to go. One, it was my friend’s, Alim, new restaurant and second because of the less cholesterol…LOL. On reading the message I immediately informed my wife not to cook lunch. However, since I was a bit tired after the cycling adventure I dozed off for, I thought, a while. I actually woke up at a quarter to 1500.

The Menu

Restaurant Selera Herba is the new kid on the block still minus the usual signage and pomp that normally associated with any new opening. Nevertheless, it was a new restaurant with a difference and minimalist décor that actually suit me. Alim and Ai (Alim’s wife) greeted us as we seated ourselves. The signature dish for this restaurant is Nasi Beriani with your choice of lauk. Apart form that you could also have Nasi Beriani Goreng whih later Fatah ordered for himself. I chose Nasi Beriani Daging and the chicken deprived members of my family ordered chicken beriani. To spice things a little bit I added herba soup. The beriani was delicious and as intended not oily at all. Shortly after we had cleaned our plates Fatah and his mum arrived to join us at the table. For dessert my dear wife ordered Tapai ice cream, I thought at first she would order is as a starter or even the main course, which according to my wife was nice as well. Tapai is my wife’s specialty so I can trust her with her assessment.

So as a conclusion, if you are reading this, I fully recommend you to drop by at Selera Herba Restaurant, Section 9, Bandar Baru Bangi to sample their southern delicacies. Although taste is subjective and if you know that once in my life I had dedicated my life to eating, a lot of eating, I could not be wrong with this one. Yes, as that commercial advert that we familiar with ‘tolong beritahu kawan-kawan dan saudara-saudara kamu suruh bawa kawan-kawan, kawan-kawan kamu dan kawan-kawan kawan-kawan kawan kamu sekali.

Mountain Bikers on the Road, Feb 20, 2007

It has been few weeks now and consistently there are four of us on every Sunday morning cycling around our township. Actually I meant to do it for quite sometimes already but never came to it until few other cyclists in Putra Terrace brought up the idea. It just happened one Sunday morning and now the regulars, Mazri, Din aka Acong, Zul and myself, are busy recruiting others to join us. We have not been that successful yet nevertheless we made progress with our cycling. We started with cycling around BSP and Bukit Mahkota, graduated to include Nilai 3 and yesterday the three of us, Acong, Mazri and myself, went out to UKM. That was the furthest and toughest so far and we loved it. We have set ourselves a target of Putra Jaya, Seremban and PD as indication of progress.

Yesterday was unexpected and not planned. While we were just cycling around BSP Acong suggested UKM and Mazri and I being gung-ho yelled yes. So off we went expecting it to be just a nice straight cycling with minor climbs here and there. Boy! Only if we knew what Acong had in mind and inkling of how UKM terrains were. To me it was a nice surprise and we were totally not prepared. I can tell you now although we were tired it was fulfilling. We doing that route again this Sunday.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Blog

Up until now I have a nice flow of traffic coming into my blog. When I first embarked on my writing journey I was not really expecting much from it but just a channel for me to write what ever I like. In this case the adage ‘if you build it they will come’ became a reality for me. Just recently someone from my alma mater left a comment, glad to discover my blog and linked it to his. I have a few groups of people reading my blog that at one time in my life and some still are having an association with me. The only group that I am waiting to discover is from my primary school Sekolah Kebangsaan Galing Kuantan Pahang. Maybe I have to write more of my years there to attract few attentions.

Recently as well, due to the performance of blogspirit server I created a duplicate of this blog at blogspot and I am still populating that one. The one in blogspot is titled ghaz-lifejourney. Apart from duplicate of postings I added new ‘old’ writings, from my collection and spice things a little bit with few original images

On The Train, Feb 15, 2007

I witnessed today how many ‘gadis gedik-gedik’ really are in Malaysia. One group after another keep coming on board and disembarking along the route. I may be prejudice in my perception but incidences in front of me would not be able to persuade me to think otherwise. Yes, probably they were just happy but I just cannot think otherwise. I guess at that moment I just could be shake the negativeness.

On The Train, Feb 14, 2007

On the way home I got to think about KM and Learning, and realized how little one can separate the two. If we look from the point of view of outcomes Learning would try to enhance performance that ultimately translate to better decision making and innovation. At the same time what KM is trying to bring to organizations are also better decision making and innovation. If we look at the process, although the initial discovery would be a bit different, the actual process of learning and KM would almost be the same if not intertwined with each other. The mere process of learning is also knowledge creation and acquisition to KM. Teaching is knowledge sharing, transfer and also a form of mitigation for knowledge lost. Coaching and mentoring are also knowledge transfer, sharing and mitigation for knowledge lost. I could go on and on.

On The Train, Feb. 7, 2007

I was not sure what had happened but I had to stand, yet again, all the way to KL. I was really pissed off because of it but later realized it was a blessing in disguise. The situation forces me to read and read I did.

I got off at Bank Negara station and decided to buy nasi lemak for breakfast. I have not had nasi leak for quite a while now and I just thought I have one. I did not think much about it until I was in the office unloading my rucksack when I hold up the nasi lemak it was dawned on me that I had really moved on since the last 40 years. I used to pay RM0.10 of the same quantity of nasi lemak when I was in my primary school compare to RM1 that I just paid. With that I just sat at my table for a few minutes staring outside looking at the train passing by reminiscing old days. It is indeed amazing to me to realize how times seem to fly by you just like that. I mean just last night I found out my school mate has just gotten his Datoship, the one given by Sultan, and not long now we will get the real Datuk title. Looking at my children behaving I could be the first..LOL.

I was a bit late going home. Just like riding on a train, where we have to be cognizant of all the happenings around us to make it more interesting, we have to be able to look beyond the obvious to detect weak signals in managing project. Again it is proven today to make sure we can achieve that we have to continuously listen and talk to one another to understand issues and solve problems. We have to allow dynamic human interaction to flourish to ensure knowledge transfer and sharing to be natural. On my part, no mater what, I have to communicate and converse to stay connected within the dynamics.

One Day On The City Train, Feb 1, 2007

0723

I am doing it now, albeit it is not a working day, it is Thaipusam and Federal Territory day holiday. When I mentioned that I was going for a day on a train excursion in Klang Valley I was not expecting any enthusiastic reply from anybody. I was wrong the lady of the house and the girls unanimously said they would love to join me. Even after I said I’ll be leaving at the first crack of dawn. In fact yesterday I found out Fatah would join us as well. Here we are now on the southbound Komuter train to Seremban. We caught the 0710 train at Bangi just now. I have no strict plan for the day but basically going to Seremban from Bangi, having breakfast in Seremban, on board from Seremban straight to the end of the line Rawang and back to KL Sentral. I will decide later at KL Sentral what would be our next line and destination.


0723


We were expecting Fatah at Nilai station but instead Imah is with him as well so now there are 7 or us. Looking around not many people actually traveling towards Seremban. Again maybe it is the holiday.

0730

We always see the Labu (direct translation means Pumpkin) station from the road whenever we are going to Seremban or PD using the inner state road. Now we are within the bowel of the station and joking about Labu. As uninteresting as it may seems to all of us it is a station for somebody and place called home for a lot of people. To the uninitiated Labu would be ‘cowboy town’ but to the residents some of them that’s what they all have, their pleasure and life. The eyes of outsiders always misjudge or have misplaced view.

0736

Kak Cik mispronounced it as Tirai but of course it is Tiroi which I could not place in my mental map. I just know it is there along the route. Everyone else is quiet on the train except for us. We are no doubt a happy and optimist group which obviously indicates that we have a different objective being on the train today compare to them. To them it may be just a journey to somewhere or even a chore. To us it is an exploration of discovering possibilities.

0743

It was perfect timing for breakfast when we arrived in Seremban and now we are having breakfast at NKI’s Bistro, a mamak nasi kandar like joint, which is right in front of the Seremban Parade. I think it is a new Bistro as it was not there the last time I was in Seremban.

We are leaving and while closing my laptop only I realised a strong present of TMnet Wireless service. Soon we are walking back to the station.

0830

We are on board the Seremban line again heading for Rawang. While trying to get more information before purchasing our tickets I realize that it is cheaper to buy the Day Tourist Pass of RM12 and RM6 for adult and children respectively. The mathematics is simple as it is RM8.10 one way to Rawang. The biggest advantage paying the day ticket is that we can break our journey anywhere along the route and do whatever we fancy to do. Before boarding everyone stops at the newsstand to buy their favorite readings. I do not have my book with me as I am concentrating of the travel.

0850

We are at Tiroi again and now looking outside I figure out where exactly it is.
Various stations are coming up fast. 0855 at Labu and 0901 at Nilai where the commuters started to build up. Semarak at 0904, Batang Benar at 0907.

The trend continues at Bangi, UKM, Kajang, Serdang, and Bandar Tasek Selatan. The obvious difference is that most of the commuters today are happy faces compare to the sour, sleepy and moody commuters that I normally used to going to work everyday.

‘Mar, finish your homework cepat!’ Yes, my wife actually brought Mar’s homework with us.

0943

In the pack train now, at Bandar Tasek Selatan, I sense that everyone, my family, is bored and to continue to Rawang would become a chore to them so we decide to change our plan.

1000

At KL Sentral we get down and walk out to explore the place a little bit and while at it again I decide it would make more sense to go to KLCC instead. Which means we are taking the Putra line. It is a first time experience for most of them.

1051

There aren’t too many people waiting on the platform and I gather it would be the same inside the train. The Putra line is a different experience compare to the Komuter although all of us are standing we do not mind as we know the journey is short and further more the train is standing friendly train. I once actually witnessed a lady perfectly sleeping while standing on this train. I am not kidding it is the truth. In fact she swayed together with the train.

1055

‘Abah, why is the train going underground’, Kak Cik is asking me.
‘Because of the road infrastructure and the route make it more sense to build underground’.
‘There isn’t any station at KLCC?’
‘Yes, we are going to stop at the bowel of KLCC’

1102

We walk out of the KLCC station towards the mall.
‘Hei! that is neat’ pointing towards the mural of the wall along the passageway. ‘Let’s play tourist and take photos here.’

1116

I have a personal reason to be at KLCC as I am going to admire Latif Mohidin’s latest works at the Petronas Gallery. I must say the abstracts are splendid and brilliant as any very good artist could produce.
‘Ada ambil gambar firework tu dulu tak?’ one friendly staff of the gallery breaks my concentration admiring of the abstracts. With my Nikon sling across my shoulder I could be either a true photographer or just a showoff to someone. Either one I am fine.
‘Karya Latif Mohidin ni cukup halus dan penuh erti. Orang sastera yang cintakan bahasa memang halus kerjanya.’
‘Encik galakan anak encik berkarya dengan apa jua alatnya. Jangan paksa dan terlalu nak mengajar biar identity seninya lahir sendiri.’
‘Memang saya setuju. Saya pun cuba tidak membetulkan hasil-hasil karya anak saya. Biar mereka mengasah bakat mereka sendiri tanpa kongkongan peraturan-peraturan yang ‘betul’ untuk menghasilkan karya.’

1201

Everyone seems to be hungry thus we walk to the centre food court.

1246

Sam, Kakak and Imah decide not to join us to go to the Petrosains. I have been to the Petrosains twice already and this is going to be the third which I am very sure I am going to enjoy once again. I know it would be fun for Kak Cik and Mar.
At the entrance the volunteer suggest for us to buy a package entrance fee for Petrosains and World of Speed. Fatah is good enough to pay for the entrance fee. We walk into Petrosains SPEED.

SPEED is really good and I recommend everybody to go.

1329

We climb the car, mechanical car, and start our journey into the world of oil and gas. The Kak Cik and Mar almost explore everything and they are committed to stop at every experiment booths to learn. What is encouraging to me is when they volunteer themselves during the ‘show’.
I the middle of all this I manage to squeeze few badly needed zzzzzzzzzzzz. You should have seen me sitting there on one of the benches unconscious.

1532

We walk out and straight to where the girls are. While the girls and the rest waiting in the Cold Storage Kak Cik and I walk to the Surau.
Of course we decide it is still early and walk down to the KLCC Putra station to go back to KL Sentral. As of now we are keeping our option open. The Putra line is a bit busy than this morning but we manage to get in and stay together.
Arriving at KL Sentral Kakak says Fatah is going to MidValley.
‘Ok if you are all going then Mum, Mar and I will take the Port Klang train’
‘Who wants to go to MidValley?’
‘I thought you are?’
‘No, I am not’
‘Ok if that is the case all of us will go to Port Klang’
‘Ok’
‘Ok. Since it is a bit crowded here let us cross to the next platform and take a train down to KL Station and board Port Klang train from there.’
‘Let’s do it!’

1704

The train is crowded as well and the majority of the passengers are Indians returning from Batu Cave I presume. We are lucky as most of them disembark at KL Sentral and we have our seats.

1728

‘Baru sampai Angkasapuri?’
The packed train and the heat are beginning to have an effect on me.
‘I am very tired and sleepy I think I am going to sleep.’

1830



‘Where are we?’ ‘Port Klang’
‘You mean I slept all the way?’
‘ Lucky for everyone you did not snore.’
Walking out of the station,’nak pergi mana ni Bah?’
‘Ntah tak tahu, jom kita relak kat KFC tu kejap.’

1904

We walk of the KFC and make a line towards the jetty. At the jetty we can see a lot of people are still waiting. We presume they are mostly Indons going home to Sumatera as at the time the ferry service to Pulau Ketam has closed for the day.
1917
After reliving ourselves at the nearby restroom we board the train that is already waiting on the platform.
By now the journey home is not that interesting for everyone. We are just basically enjoying ourselves talking and joking with one another.

o Port Klang 1917
o Jalan Kastam
o Kampung Raja Uda
o Teluk Gadong
o Teluk Pulai
o Klang
o Bukit Badak
o Padang Jawa
o Shah Alam
o Batu Tiga
o Subang Jaya
o Setia Jaya
o Seri Setia
o Kampung Dato Harun
o Petaling
o Pantai Dalam
o Angkasapuri
o KL Sentral
o Kuala Lumpur


I purposely sit away from my family during this last stretch home from KL Station as I want to concentrate writing this. Normally in doing this at this hour I would be in my office attire and with different set of commuters. I first thought that I would not feel the difference but I am wrong. As soon as I open up my laptop I could sense it already. For one I can see more eyes are looking at me typing away. I guess normally they are expecting me to do this but not these commuters. On the average there are a lot of long distance commuters going home to either Nilai or Seremban. From their conversation my guess more to Seremban.
Thinking about it taking this train to some maybe a non issue and a natural routine. But to those that are observant it could mean seeing things from different perspective which what I really interested in. Looking at something as a routine blinded you from new discovery. Just like taking the train routinely would set your expectation of the next station and the next station giving no thoughts to what actually different about the stations in daily basis. No surprises to you. But if you care to look at things from different set of eyes you can discover a lot of new things. Entrained thought is our enemy to learning most of the times. I guess that is why certain KM interventions are not successful because we tend to look at knowledge transfer or even creation as a routine thing rather then trying to contextualize the process. In this case then knowledge reusability means creating an environment where knowledge assets could be reused for different context.

o KL Sentral
o Mid Valley
o Seputeh
o Salak Selatan
o Bandar Tasik Selatan
o Serdang
o Kajang
o UKM
o Bangi 2123

2125

Our day on a train ended as we walk out of the Bangi station. To me I just had a nice day sitting on the train to the rest I am not sure.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Flora Parade, Putrajaya, Jan 27, 2007




It was 15 minutes after 0700 when I parked the Ranger at the usual place where we parked whenever we were at Putrajaya Boulevard for the Merdeka Parade. The parade was scheduled to start at 0800 and by my standard we were late.As expected there weren’t many vehicles parked at the place and in fact I was expecting less crowd compared to the Merdeka Parade. Kak Cik and I walked the Boulevard towards the Palace of Justice and with a camera each we shot at will at whatever we fancied. I was searching for the shot but sadly until the end I could not get any, at least one that I really can be proud off. I guess it was not that I was losing my edge but more of getting myself familiar with my new Nikon.

I was right the parade merry people were less but decent in numbers. The other difference was there wasn’t any barrier put up by the organizer to separate us from the procession. Whatever it is Malaysian sense of timing was the order of the day yet again when the parade started way beyond 0800. The delay partly contributed by the unnecessary speeches compounded by a politician who could not give a decent speech.

As it was a Flora Parade it started with a colorful dance and we became photographers more that parade revelers. Crowd started to build up behind us while we were waiting for the parade to start. Behaving like a true Malaysia crowd most of them started to push everyone in front forward and many actually just simply squeezed themselves through inconsiderately trying to get a better view. I only managed to be patient for a while as once I could not a decent shot I became and behave like a true photographer albeit without an official photographer’s tag. I told Kak Cik to stay where she was and jumped over the crowd to join the parade to take photos. Obviously my act was not being taken lightly by the RELA personnel maintaining orders. They were doing it from different perspective I must add, not to the benefit of us watching and enjoying the parade but more just to make sure we were behind certain invisible line. I knew it was their job but adding few brains into it would make it more palatable for all. Some of us may not be professional or official photographers but we know our stuff no less and some decency and leniency from the menders would be good. At one instance, getting fed up with their continuous instruction, I just walk to the middle of the parade and started shooting. For number of times the menders faces kept coming into my view finder. Didn’t they know I could see the floats coming? I was not the stupid to be squashed by them.

Coming back to the parade I was actually a bit disappointed with it as nothing really different or spectacular about it. Just about 14 floats passing by separated by almost the same number of marching bands. In the end all was not lost for me as the flowers and colors changed my mood.



The parade ended almost on schedule and by that time the crowd got thinner as the heat and not so interesting floats got to most of them. Kak Cik and I of course patiently waited till the end. I took around 200 shots that day and still could not satisfy me.

We walked back towards the exhibition area with the crowd and as I was walking I could see a cameraman with a newsman was interviewing somebody. I did not think much of it until the newsman turned around and pointing at our direction. I was very sure he was pointing at someone behind us but I was wrong. He came straight at me introduced themselves as from TV3 and started to ask me a question. They actually wanted my comments of whether Putrajaya is a good tourist site and they wanted me to answer in a specific way. I immediately felt that they had their own agenda. I did not ask what program they were taping for but I just answered the way I want it to be answered. As I said I did not asked what program it was and until now I am still wondering.

On The Train, Jan 29, 2007

At least most of them were happy, at least they seemed like they were, in the packed train. But the again looks could be deceiving. Deceiving or not it was obvious everyone was in their on world. Sleeping, reading, talking, listening, staring at nothingness or being bored they were within their own space. No doubt some might be questioning their sanity of subjecting themselves to the stupidity of KTMB. The fact was compounded when I found out at Kajang one Seremban bound Komuter already stranded on the platform. I was very lucky I was not on that train if not I would be surely be cursing KTMB bigtime. I seriously mean bigtime.

On The Train, Jan 26, 2007

KTMB continued with it’s theme of bad service from last week to this week. I could not say much anymore about that but I really pity the others that had to suffer. I knew a lot of them do not have a choice but being subjected to this kind of thing everyday could soften ones resolve.

On The Train, Jan 22, 2007

I have not been writing and posting quite regularly lately and all this due to my stubbornness to finish my travelogue first. Today I’d just decided to try to write something although I did not have a clue to what yet. Looking at things around me there was nothing worth writing really. So far it was just the usual incompetence KTMB and it’s so called services, if we can call what they ditched out to us are services. I am becoming very critical of them as I aspect the year 2007 would the year where could really improve their service. Unless the celebrated Visit Malaysia Year 2007 is not big enough for KTMB. The ‘service was so unreliable in the morning and getting infectious in the evening. In fact one morning last week I had to stand all the way to KL Sentral all because the train was late. Now I am in a very packed train going home. Those regular commuters who had not yet to pick up reading as a very good train companion are clearly suffering.

A Weekend Reunion With My Teacher and Basketball Coach, a Merisek Mission, Birthday Party and Family Day in Port Dickson, Jan 20-21, 2007

My original plan was to stay a night in PD after my planned reunion with my former teacher and coach but nice coincident presented itself that ended up us having a family day, sort of, in PD.
We left BSP very early as I planned to hit the beach early to avoid the crowd and I did it in around half-an-hour. I remember pulling out of the compound at 0750 and arrived at the warong at Teluk Kemang at 0820 to buy breakfast. I surprise even myself as I did not think I drove that fast. Blue Lagoon was still empty when we got there and we immediately spread our rugs and had our breakfast. After breakfast we waited for the water to receed a bit and then it was all water for us. We swam, canoed and snorkeled until midday when the water really receeded far out to the ocean. If you have been to the Blue Lagoon you would know how far it can be.

Merisek a PD Mermaid

I made a mistake of thinking that the HiTea Reunion was at 1730 only by chance to be informed by Baqir it was actually 1430 when he opened my laptop. DKN confirmed it when I texted/SMSed him. Which means I could not join my family in the merisek mission on behalf of Farhan. (After so much searching this guy in the end actually settled for a lass from PD) I knew they were in good hands and drove my family to the rendezvous place before proceeding to Selesa Beach Resort. Later I found out it indeed turned out fine.

Mr Jim Khulman


My Jim Khulman of a Peace Corp Association joined SDAR’s teaching staff the same year I enrolled as a student. On the first day he was introduced to us we knew straight away that he was different from the rest of the Peace Corp brigade. He was one crazy dude….LOL. We just knew as we had the instinct for that kind of thing. This crazy American really proved us right and transformed our basketball program at the same time. Funny thing is he was not much of a coach or player, sorry Mr Khulman if you are reading this…J, but he really boosted our self believe and morale to be the best on the court. Indeed with him we captured Hamdan Cup three years in a row and won the state championship beating the state basketball powerhouse Chung Hwa. During those periods the whole school was abuzz with the American style basketball that we played. Mr Khulman, the Coach, thought some of us IA, that’s Industrial Arts for those of you that were born too late J. Now after hearing the stories he told us I understood why he was an IA teacher. He was a carpenter sent to Vietnam to fight Vietcong, rather poor people who had nothing to do with America according to him. To me he was my basketball coach when I was lucky enough to play for the under 15 in 1976. All of us just could not wait for the training sessions that we enjoyed so much.

With someone special there always key incidence or incidences that you would remember and not forget. To me, with the Coach, there were two. The first one happened on one very early Saturday morning during the first week of our training period. I mean very early morning and I was still dreaming of something, those days what else could we be dreaming of if not girls, when suddenly a very loud recognizable voice barked into my ears, ‘Get up you lazy bones!!!! Or I’ll throw you out!!!’ Still did not realize what had hit me I thought why in the hell The Coach in my dream, the second yell came ‘Bond! If you were not out in five minutes I’ll sure going to throw you out.” Shit! It was really him and to this day I do not know how in the world he knew where my exact bed was in room C5. Seeing me struggled down to get ready he moved next door to give Scoob a hard time…LOL. The second incident was during 1976 District final at Tg Durah. The game was played on a very slippery court due to the sand debris that came out of somewhere. Seeing our players not abled to play our normal game to the fullest, out of no where, he produced a broom and started to sweep the court. What seemed to be dedication became a funny joke to all of us because without realizing it he was sweeping the sand into the VIP stand. BTW we won the final and we celebrated like mad. However, sadly, the Coach left at the end of that year.

After 30 years I would be meeting him again and I waited with the others impatiently. When he finally arrived we were grinning from ears to ears, the Coach with the widest, happy to see each other. The Selesa Beach Resort became the witness to the historic teacher and students reunion. Except for the white hair and glasses he was a fit man. A fact he showed off through out the time we were with him at the reunion.

Naturally we talked, reminisced and laughed like we were 30 years ago and we did not want it to end. He even shared his escapades before and after SDAR with us. The notable one being staying a month in a palace of the then Agung all because he wanted to learn Malay from and old fisherman. I found out that he was actually around 25 years old when he was in SDAR and was paid RM10 a day to teach us. He fondly referred himself to as a poor and not so clever Mat Saleh. Now he leaves in Ohio, has three beautiful grown up children and build houses for charity.
But it had to end and it came abruptly to some of us. With so many old stories resurrected I wondered how I would be coping in the current real world again. Not that I became scared suddenly but I was very sure that I was so emotionally drained by the event. I hugged him towards the end and said that I was really happy to see again. He corrected me to say he was the happiest. Without looking back I walked out of the hotel…

Birthday Party That Was Never Intended To Be

Teasingly everyone agreed to try to not remember Baqir’s birthday. The truth is even if we want to it would be very difficult because of two reasons. Firstly, he diligently kept on reminding people about it and second the day happened to be Maal Hijrah. So happy birthday Baqir!!!!!!!
I did not wish to spend more than we should so we went to the PD Batu Empat Pasar Malam. I bought 100 sticks of Satay and several Hainesse Chicken Rice. His cousin bought him a big birthday cake and his Pak Ngah bought enough drinks, fruits and snacks. We took all the food back to our apartment at Casa Rachado and celebrate his birthday in a small way. It was a decent and happy family occasion. I did not realize that all of them would be staying for a night as well. Luckily we had enough mattresses and bed in the apartment for everyone.

Just Wanted To Swim Became a Family Day of Sort, Sunday, Jan 21, 2007

Almost all of us woke up early and individually everyone had their own thoughts on what to do. However, all the thoughts somehow merged to the swimming pool. Since I had four breakfast voucher with me and I could not simply anything I decided to have breakfast at the resorts. Fatah, Baqir and Kak Cik followed me. I must say it was the worst breakfast that I had ever had. Luckily I did not pay for extra.

After breakfast everyone decided to hit the pool and that is when the fun started.

We were already swimming in the pool and there were only few kids beside us when Tariq introduced two balls and we decided to have an impromptu water polo game. Fatah, Imah and I on one team and Tariq, Baqir and An on the opposing side. We had fun playing but tiring. It was really a family atmosphere that I like about it. Of course, although we clearly won the game, the opposing team said they were J. We were really tired when we decided we had enough of water polo. But then it was still early and the nice weather encouraged us to stay around a bit more and we decided to play beach volleyball. Still in the same team we played four games. We finished the fourth game around 1100 and since we need to check out at noon we called it a day and clean ourselves. All in all as I said it was worth it and one of the best family outings that we had. I already can see the same thing happening again soon. Probably during the Hari Wilayah weekend somewhere in ……… rahsia

On The Train, Jan 5, 2007

I just could not believe my ears were hearing something really foreign when I boarded going home. I sat right in front of two, my guess, Vietnamese, and they were playing their song out of a handphone unbelievably loud. Although I never claimed that I have been on a Vietnamese train before but I swear going home that day was like taking a train through Vietnam. The melody was nice and upbeat but the words closed resemblance to Thais. At this rate I am expecting a Mynmar train ride soon :))

On The Train, Jan 8, 2007

If ever you want to make sure you have a good start to a week do not take the Komuter train. Everyone on the Seremban line paid the price today for trusting KTMB to be professional and customer centric in their service.

I was early, I wanted to be early to the office today to have a good start, and I got to the station on time to board the 0631 train. The train came a bit late and from the distant I could see the headlight and slowly approaching. The train seemed to be getting slower as it approached the station and eventually coming to a silent halt a bit further away that suited me fine. I was the first to enter and got the seat that I wanted but as I sat down the train getting even quieter and I could sense something was wrong and I just knew the dreaded will eventually come and it did. The train was deemed to be broken and not going anywhere anymore for the day. We were asked to get out and wait for the next train on the next platform.

If I were to be working for KTMB then and wearing the uniform standing among the commuters I knew I would not be save from flinching. All around me people were complaining aloud about KTMB and most of the complaints are not printable here. You can guess what happened after that from UKM station to BNM it was a sardine can. The three things that saved my day were I got a seat, my book and a bunch of Indonesians school children that somehow managed to transport me to an experience of taking a train in Indonesia :).

It was no better going home as I boarded a very hot sardine can. Just imagine traveling in a sardine can called KTMB Komuter from Bank Negara to Bangi with no aircon. ANY KTMB FOLKS READING THIS???????

Cuti Cuti Malaysia 5: Dec 29 2006, Seventh Day, Friday, Taiping, Bukit Larut, Tapah Road, Home




By 0630 everyone was ready to go and left for the foot of Bukit Larut soon after. I did not know how others felt but I was excited and couldn’t wait to be driven up. Once we were at the office I went in and paid for the first Land Rover to go up at 0830. Since it was still early we had to wait. While waiting I saw a lot of people walking up the hill and some were already coming down to indicate to me that Bukit Larut is a very popular exercise place for people in Taiping. After a while a retired school teacher came to approach us and we started talking. From our conversation I understood more about the community of Taiping. It is a town with a soul of community.


Our Land Rover was ready to leave eventually. There were twelve of us and the twelfth, later I found out, was the staff of the operator – Larut Matang Land Office. Sam and Mar sat in front with the driver and the rest at the back. Before we pulled out the driver left the back flip door down open and I thought he was going to close it when we moved but instead the twelfth person jump onto the flip and stand hanging on like a comic book superhero. Honestly I thought he would disembark somewhere close along the climb. Instead he stood that way all the way up to the peak. With the Land Rover going up very fast maneuvering the steep climb and corners he was really like a superhero. You should see it for yourself the next time you going up Bukit Larut make sure you take the first one in the morning. With both hands holding the mesh of the top and legs spreading wide he had positioned himself as if he was about to take off in the air flying through the forest. It was a sight. The disadvantage for me, since I sat at the edge, was that I had to hang on tight holding everyone in place from falling out of the Land Rover. Because of our superhero I had to be one as well. If not I could have taken few shots as a prove. The road was tight and steep and I understand why visitors had to be driven up.



Tulips of Bukit Larut

It was about 9 km up and we got to the main stop at 1036 m above the sea level at around 0915. We had two hours at the top and our Superhero told us to get back there to go down around 1045. The first question that I asked the keeper there was where was the Tulip garden. I was shown the direction that required us to walk up a bit more. The walk up was tiring but it was worth it as soon as you were at the tulip garden. The tulip garden is managed by the Cendana Resthouse where a fee of RM2 to be paid for entry. Nobody else were there so we sat around the tulips and enjoyed ourselves. My Nikon obviously was made to work overtime. We really just enjoyed and pleased with ourselves being there. The resthouse was also nicely refurbished giving it one restful feel and cosy resort look. My assessment was a nice place to stay and enjoy but for a night only. If you stay longer than that would be an overkill. The were other bungalows of course but very basic. One or two were under renovation and should look better once completed.



After a while we had enough and walked back down to wait for the ride down. We were still early but nobody wish to walk anywhere else so we lingered at the gazebo waiting and having a nice family bantering.



Exactly at 1100 we boarded and went down on the same land rover but minus our Superhero that now left behind to manage whatever he supposed to manage there. I discovered that we were sharing the ride with the people that were staying at the Cendana and two of them were two female experience mountain climbers. I over heard them talking about their climbs.
As I said earlier a lot of people take places like Taiping for granted and almost always skip it either on the way down south or up north. The location of the town away from the highway also plays an important role in this. If you look and explore it with different perspective I believe you would enjoy Taiping and you would not regret it. I certainly did not. Having spent two days there I believe it still has a lot to offer and I am going back there again, hopefully, soon. If you were from Taiping and reading this please email me and tell me what else I could do there.




We headed for breakfast straight away and I chose one mamak restaurant at the edge of the town because it will ensure variety. After breakfast without missing a bit we went back to the hotel finished our packing, checked out and left for home. Of course going home was not a straight forward thing for me ..LOL. We stopped at Bagan Serai for Baqir to shop for his school pants, Sg Perak for me to nap, and at Tapah Road to visit my sister-in-law, Bok. We were safely home around 2116.


Inside the Land Rover that took us down
The Crossing

Cuti Cuti Malaysia 5: Dec 28 2006, Sixth Day, Thursday, Kulim

Ever since our first end of the year sojourn up north we had never really stop at Taiping to really explore it. When we planned this trip I had two very good reasons to do it. First was the Taiping Night Zoo Safari and second Bukit Larut (used to known as Maxwell Hill). We left Kulim quite early and soon enough we were in Taiping. I followed the signs in Taiping and decided to check out the places first before checking at Seri Malaysia for rooms. A nice surprise was to discover as we approached Taiping town that Seri Malaysia was along the way and at the vicinity of the Taiping Lake Garden and everything else that we wanted to explore. First I drove to the foot of Bukit Larut to get exact information on how to go up the hill. I was told the days ticket had been sold out and was asked to come as early as 0800 the next day. Which was my plan anyway? Another nice discovery was that the Taiping zoo was actually within the Lake Garden with that my mind was set to get two rooms at Seri Malaysia. I drove around the lake garden and turned into Seri Malaysia and we were very fortunate to get two connecting rooms for the night.

Quickly I made plan for the night and were out of our rooms as soon as we said our prayers.

Taiping is a historical town which I feel a lot of Malaysians took for granted, including Taipingese themselves. This was what drove me to really wanting to explore the place. When I was home after the trip I did a search on Taiping using Google and came back with slightly more than 1 million hits world wide and around 165K hit from Malaysian sites. Quite impressive no doubt. I doubt it that many Malaysians know that the Taiping Zoo is the first in Malaysia. Yes, it is sad but that is the truth as some of us prefer to travel oversea to find history and culture yet we have a lot within our own backyard.

Comparatively I knew it was quite a big town and just trying to initiate some senses to my family I drove around town. Of course you would not find all those big malls and hypermarket (Carrefour was due to be completed in 2007) but the town is huge with history. As we passed streets after streets we could see and feel the history, mostly provoked by the old historical buildings around us. One major mistake that I made during this was not really walking the town. (Hey! A good reason to go back to Taiping :). Maybe the main turn-off that day was the unusually hot day. But the first in our agenda then was to find a place to eat and with sheer luck we ended up at the bazaar. I can’t recall the name of the bazaar but it was along the same street as The Store. I guess the main street for people of Taiping. Just like the old bazaar that I am used to there were eateries at the ground level and bazaar on the second. We did not have a clue as what was the best to eat in Taiping but for sure at least two of us had to have rice. So we just sat at the high potential stall and had our lunch. No pressure to go anywhere we took our own sweet time eating and joined the Kakak who owned the stall in common conversation. With no fixed plan I suggested we go up to the second floor to check out the rest of the bazaar and a major event took place :). The major event was actually I ended up spending around RM500 buying jeans for everyone. Well it started when I saw this sale sign for Lee, Lois etc. Lee at RM99 was something worth checking out I thought. With a combination or good salesmanship and my porous resistant towards shopping the guy managed to convince me to take a serious walk down memory lane buy buying Rider jean and Lee Chetopa, I almost added Lee Corduroy. Seeing me at my weakest moment my children grabbed the opportunity to add on their own collection. But I must tell you here that I actually had to persuade, yes I persuaded her, my wife into buying one for her. Of course to the salesman that was the biggest sale and commission for him to date but to me a flat wallet. But I was happy.

We continued to walk the street and saw few other shops worth checking out but not before me tracking back to see ‘my good friend’ (Kawanku) to replenish my supply of RM. Crisscrossing the street finally we entered The Store as a finale, I just knew it had got to be The Store.

Mar saw the pool when we checked in and she reminded me of it. Since we were going to the night safari as well we drove back to the hotel to rest a bit.

You have a choice of either walking or to take the tram around the zoo. Of course I was bullish to walk but my wife thought otherwise. If I said walk the kids would have just towed behind me but considering the zoo was a bit dark I opted for the tram. I had been to the Singapore Night Zoo before so it naturally became my benchmark and I am glad to report Taiping Night Zoo Safari is not that far behind. Of course camera flash was not allowed and I had to content myself with slow speed night photography, which did not come out well. Artistically the photographs are good as they depict movement and flow. After completing one round around the zoo on the tram we were given option to explore a bit more on our own. Baqir, Mar and myself decided to do just that but Sam, Kakak and Kak Cik chose to stay behind at the main plaza to wait. We walked in the dark to admire the animal night life especially the Savannah. We did not do the whole zoo but chose to walk the second ring that was better. We enjoyed it until Mar got restless. I sense she saw something that not suppose to be there J) and we walked a bit faster.

We joined the rest at the plaza took some photos and left the zoo for dinner at the hotel. We chose the hotel because we were bought by the advertisement we found in our room. It was a mistake as the food were lousy and the service appalling. Can you imagine eating a steak, a hard one to boot, with a butter knife? We could have explored other places to eat. Since we were going up Bukit Larut very early the next morning we decided to retire early. Not before I was pissed off with the hotel staff.

After dinner I went to the reception to enquire about the wireless internet access and I paid for a half day service. Once at the room I tried to connect but I can’t and I called the reception to enquire. After few minutes of talking he said he will call back. He did saying that there was a submarine cable failure because of the earthquake in Taiwan. I was really pissed off hearing that and said to him, ‘ Why in the world you sold me the service then?’ ‘We were just informed’ was the reply. ‘It doesn’t matter it is your job to know and your service provider to inform you and not until a customer complaint!’ and bang I slammed the phone.