Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Train to Singapore, Dec 14-15, 2007

(This is the write-up of a trip we took last year)

As if trying to keep my record of not being at home on every weekend in December, late Thursday evening I decided to take the whole family down to Singapore by train for a day. Immediately after work I stopped at KL Sentral to buy the tickets. I called home first to ask if there were anybody else would want to follow us and I was told three more from Mohd Hanafiah’s household. Prior stopping at KL Sentral I checked over the Net to see if there were tickets left and I was confident waiting for my turn at the counter. I managed to get 9 sleepers going down but only second class seats on a special train coming back the same day.

On Senandung Malam Express to Singapore, Dec 14, 2007, L6, Sleepers 21 - 30

All aboard!!!

I decided to be early and took the commuter to KL Sentral just after I changed my clothes just before Maghrib. The plan was for me to come from the office, my family from Bangi to board at KL Sentral and for Ngah, Fatah and Imah to board at Seremban. Everything went as planned until we were called to board and encountered another unpleasant disservice of KTMB. By now I already coined KTMB as ‘Keretapi Tak Mahu Berkhidmat’ and my first two reasons are these. All of us were very happy waiting for the train and we were even happier when we went down the escalator to board. When we reached the bottom of the escalator we were not greeted by the KTMB attendant but I had to say my coach number and asked first only then I was ushered, rather pointed, towards my coach. I brushed it off as normal, I am still polite I guess, and walked down to where coach L6 was and we were still happy as we walked towards our sleepers. That was when our joyous mood suddenly crushed by the incompetent KTMB. I had booked 9 sleepers and the numbers given, computer printed, were 21 to 30. When we were there we discovered there were already two other passengers occupying our 21 and 22. From their slant they were Indian nationals or at least someone from that continent. We compared our tickets and to our astonishment we had the same ticket numbers. Exactly the same number 21 and 22. I was already pissed off and it was not our fault so we walked back to the attendant and complaint. He came back with us to the coach to check as if we were lying and when it was confirmed he stared to talk to his walkie talkie to someone. We waited for awhile and did not get our answer. Eventually he asked me to walked back to the coach to see if that were the only two sleepers double booked. I asked him to repeat his instruction, the tone he used was like instructing me as if it was my bloody mistake, and that pissed me even more as that suppose to be his job not mine. But being nice and not wanting to spoil our short excursion I relented and walked back to check.

Baqir pretending to sleep

KakCik my ever willing model

Mar who could not keep still

I told him that they were the only two and he made another enquiry through his walkie-talkie. He came back to us saying there were two sleepers that were empty that we could take, sleeper 23 and 24 at coach L1. We took that at face value and walked towards coach L6 and I told my family we have two options Baqir and Fatah to use L1 while the rest L6 or all of us sleep at L6 with Mar and Kak Cik sharing with somebody. Since Ngah, Fatah and Imah would be boarding at Seremban we waited before we decide what would be the best option. Before we arrive at Seremban I walked towards coach L1 to check and true enough Sleeper 23 and 24 there were empty. Around 2300 or so we arrived at Seremban station where Ngah, Fatah and Imah boarded. We told them what had happened an automatically they opted to stay together and took up option two. Since I did not want to be tired the next day I decided to sleep rather doing whatever I normally do on night train. Anyway I bought the sleeper for a reason. Anyway I was awake when the train stopped idle waiting for the signal at Batang Melaka. I had a feeling the train was there waiting for awhile already. I went to the restroom to ease myself and then decided I need a drink and took Kak Cik, who happened to be awake, to the buffet car. It was 0251 in the morning and we stayed there long enough to enjoy the cool and quiet night scene outside. On our way back to L6 passing through L1 I realized something that made, even in that cold morning, my heart boiled with anger. There were actually somebody sleeping at suppose to be our sleeper 23 and 24. This proved to me that both of them were not empty after all when the attendant asked us to occupy the place. Had we been sleeping there and confronted by the other would be occupants I would hit the roof. I can tell you I would not be nice anymore to the person in-charge. So that was the third time I was pissed off with KTMB.
I think it was 0300 whne i woke up and need a drink. Kak Cik was the only one awake. So we headed for the buffet car

Everyone is sleeping

At our coach I went to sleep again and I was successful at it so much so I missed my favourite station, Gemas. I actually was awaken by my trusted alarm at 0600. After I had cleaned myself I saw an attendant passed by and asked him if there was any place for me to say my Suboh. I knew the answer already but I just asked him anyway. A train service own by Malaysian government carrying predominantly muslims and yet they did not provide even a small place for us to pray. Yes, I understand that for other journey we may not need it but for a night journey that scheduled to arrive way after Suboh you need a place to pray onboard. Is that so difficult to understand or think about? No wonder they were not making any money. I managed myself.

Daylight was breaking outside and I knew JB would not be long so I announced to everyone that I was going to the buffet car. By now almost everyone was awake.

JB Station, Singapore, Dec 15, 2007

JB Station

Everyone is awake whenwe arrived in JB and gathered at the buffet car

Just musing at JB Station. Ftah, Mar, Kakak and Kak Cik

All of us sat in the buffet car and ordered small breakfast just as we say ‘alas perut’, meaning eat just enough to last for awhile until we were properly in Singapore. We arrived at JB station at 0650 and as I expected held up for sometime there for the Malaysian Immigration officers to come on board to check the validity of our documents. That morning JB station bore witness to our happy mood in the buffet car. It was so obvious that everyone was enjoying the moment. As usual I took enough photographs to commemorate the occasion. Eventually the train departed JB and began the anticipated journey into Singapore. It was the first time for everyone except Ngah. First time for me to go to Singapore by train and the first time for the others to be in Singapore and by train. I could read what they were thinking but they were expecting something new and interesting nevertheless. Of course to enter we have to go through the Singapore immigration at Woodland where everyone had to disembark with their luggage to be checked. We were among the last group to be cleared through and for the whole passengers in the train it took less then 15 minutes for the immigration to clear everyone. In the end the waiting time to board the train again was longer. We took the opportunity to clean ourselves a little bit in the waiting area’s restrooms.

I was so disappointed with the interior of Tg Pagar Station that I decided to make this as our signature photo

Waiting for their first MRT ride at Tg Pagar

Almost exactly at 0900 we disembarked at Tanjung Pagar station. Once we were out in the lobby of the station we waited looking around to get our bearing around the place. Already with my map opened I explored the area and found out that there were several stalls at the station. However all decided that they did not need to eat. I did not know whether it was due to the excitement or just plain ignorant that halal food would not be that easy to find. To keep their excitement level intact and with the map in hand we walked to the Tanjung Pagar MRT station. During my days at SC I used to frequent Singapore and one of the hotels that I used to stay in was Amara Hotel. I knew on the way to the MRT station we would be passing it and was really surprised I could not remember it much when I looked at it.

All of us experienced our first MRT ride in Singapore and from Tanjung Pagar I decided Orchard Road as our first destination. When we arrived most of the shops were still closed but we walked the shopping complex anyway. In the restroom of one of them we cleaned ourselves a bit and changed into fresh cloth. We did not have shopping in mind really when I decided to do Orchard Road first but just to show everyone what and how it is. We went in and out of shopping malls the length of the road and if you trace our movement on a big paper you will see a trace of line zig-zagging across buildings, malls and walkways. If it was a test for our next proposed trip half of this party failed as after just two shopping malls almost everyone crying for water and a place to rest. This shopping malls touring was not all lost as Baqir got his t-shirt at Bossini, my dear wife two handbags at Robinson, my D80 lens cap and few other things.

By the time we finished touring Robinson we were almost at the end of Orchard Road and very hungry. We were lucky we managed to locate a Muslim stall in one of the shopping malls and the food was good. While eating I was also planning our next assault the options were either to go to Arab/Bugis Street or Little India where we can walk to Mustafa. Apart from the obvious potential shopping area these two places offer a place to pray. Even after we came out of the shopping malls where we had lunch I was still undecided of where to go next. Only when we were walking I decided to walkup the way we came to take a train to Little India. By this time we were walking for few hours already and I can see faces in agony. To ease the tension we went into the malls that were closed before and explored a bit more. With few new purchases and handbags some of us were smiling again. From Orchard Road at about 1345 we took a train to Little India. I knew what Little India was all about but the heat was too much for all of us as if saying we were really in India. I knew it was a painful walk for everyone but I prodded along to keep the momentum. When I saw the minaret of the Angullia Mosque I decided that would be our next stop and a place to rest for a while.

Of course the ablution and the restroom are clean and when I was inside one of them I could not resist the temptation to have a bath. I peeled of my sweaty shirt and pant I ad a long nice bath. It so refreshing that I did not want to stop and get out. Reluctantly I came out refreshed and said my combined prayers inside the mosque. We did not straight away left the mosque but stayed inside for awhile to rest our tired bother. In fact the heat outside was still at the peak and the thought of dozing off for while crossed my mind. When we finally came out of the mosque the weather drastically changed. The sky was growing darker which of course something that we would not complaint and maybe wishing for.

I was not sure whether it was because of the sale or a normal everyday phenomenon Mustafa the shopping mall was packed with shoppers. To get our bags stored was already negotiating a long queue let alone to move inside. Since we were already there we went inside anyway. Once inside we discovered it was a mistake. We harried our tour of the place and came out with heavy downpour welcoming us outside. We had no choice but to wait the heavy rain and after awhile decided to have a drink, that eventually became a second lunch, at the nearby mamak restaurant. We waited in the restaurant until the rain became a drizzle.

We were walking back towards Little India when I saw the sign to Ferrer Park MRT station on my right and cut off straight away there. I did not realize it was the better choice if we were going to Mustafa. But then again we have missed a lot of things and it won’t be adventurous he he he. Once at the station I decided to take everyone to Clarke Quay to enjoy the riverside scene.

Clarke Quay is of course a watering hole for a lot of Singaporeans and a meeting/hang out place for the younger generation. Beside the riverside atmosphere my objective was also to show my family the other part of social Singapore. I did not know whether I was successful to make a difference as I can only hope a good perspective would register, especially, within my children. It was still drizzling we were there and we took shelter at the nearby Novotel. We stayed around the area until almost 1800 we I decided enough of the place and walked out towards Central Mall. However when we reached the Mall I realized we were still very early to go to Tanjung Pagar so I decided to walk up a bit more and we ended up at Chinatown Mall where for no reason we sat at the McD to kill some times. I thought we were just only ordering something to drink. But I guess you can never do that when Baqir is around and we ended up ordering meals. I did not feel that hungry so I restrained myself. Close to 1900 we left the place and took the MRT at Chinatown to Tanjung Pagar via Outram Park. At 1938 we were the Tanjung Pagar KTMB station sign post taking photographs. Looking at the faces around I knew the hard seat of KTMB second class coach won’t stop my family from sleeping soundly. They were that tired walking for the whole day.

Singapaore-KL Sentral, Dec 15, 2007, Seats 1 A-D, 2 A-D, and 3A

Our train home was at 2100 so we had around one hour an a half to clean our self, pray and have dinner. What mazed us was how different the place was compared the rest of Singapore. It was like walking into a totally different zone. If we want to give a good impression for tourist before entering Malaysia KTMB certainly failed miserably. The place was really pathetic comparatively and I felt so sad looking and being there. I just could not wait for the train to take me out. Eventually around 2100 the train did and I was glad my agony of being there was relieved.

The journey home was boisterous in the beginning but soon enough very quite as everyone settled down in their seat sleeping. I somehow as if my body clock still remembers the timing from 20 years ago woke up at around 0215 when we reached Gemas. We reached KL Sentral early in the morning at 0533. We said our Suboh and lepak at the only place opened, McD, for breakfast and to wait for the Komuter service to start.

I have been complaining quietly through my writing about KTMB and it seems it never lack resources to piss me off. After we had our breakfast I gave my son RM50 to go and buy our tickets home. He came back to us shortly saying that the girl at the counter said she did not have any change nad had the audacity to complaint to my son ‘pagi-pagi buta ni mana ada duit tukar!’. I was really mad hearing that but seeing it was a pregnant lady I restraint myself. I mean I had to really restraint myself form yelling at her. I just stand there and wonder for all their short comings how they can treat their customer like that and the girl really missed the point big time. Let give a blow by blow points to make it clear.

1. The customer, in this case us, for no fault of theirs happened to not having a small domination. She admitted it was very early in the morning
2. The service provider in the first place should not even ask whether or not the customer has a small change.
3. The service provider must be prepared for this kind of situation. Through the world that I have been no service provider had asked me this question. They will accept whatever domination tendered to them.
4. This particular girl, although at the frontline, do not know what customer service is
5. Of course the girl should be so rude to remark as she did.
As I said if not for her being pregnant I would have yell and give her my piece of mind.

So for this trip KTMB really failed big time at the beginning and the end of our journey. KTMB management should spent more money to send all they staff to Stakeholder Management or Customer Service training not just personal grooming to be sitting pretty. I know despite all these I’ll still be using KTMB simply because I love traveling on a train

We were safely home at 0747 and straight away went to bed.

On The Train, Dec. 17, 2008

My wife complaint loudly about my not updated blog the other day and I have no reason to rebut her as indeed I had been neglecting it. Her complaint was also due to my stories that, not only her, but the rest of my family want to read. Although they were there when most of the incidences happened they still would want to read my perspective I guess.

Well we just came back from our short holidays and something happened at KL Sentral on the early morning of Dec. 15, 2008. After years or agony, frustration, and anger I blew my top at KL Sentral. No thanks to the disservice and attitude of KTMB staff. Suffice to say not I really hit the roof that morning. The detail will come in a complete write-up later. I hope soon :)). For now this and the old write-up about last year’s trip will do.

I was a bit surprise that the train is still packed going home. I thought most people would be on leave already. I guess most of them would be away next week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Putrajaya Critical Mass. November 28, 2008

I arrived around 2030 at the Mamak Double Trouble at Precint 9 and I did not see anybody on bike or with bike in sight. The rain had stopped so I was pretty sure the PCM was on but if we were to roll off at 2100 surely there already at least few people around already. I parked and walked around a bit and then only I saw a rider riding around, obviously, trying to find cycling soul mate. Seeing him I went into a mamak sundry shop to buy two bottles of 100 plus.

As I was walking back to the Ranger I saw Kol cycling searching I gave my salam. That surely indicated the PCM is on so I got ready and unloaded my bike.

Kol and I stand with our bikes at the curb watching cyclist slowly trickling in. It was then obvious to me we were not going to roll off anytime soon. Had it was not my first PCM I would have rolled off on my own. MBA brought free t-shirts courtesy of REDTone for our group. I met the rest of what was known for that night the REDTone riders. Abedib and other SDARAs decided to skip this PCM and I am lucky that I cycled with Alif, Shahrin, Kol, MBA, and Taufik before so I did not feel alone that night.

We eventually rolled off close to 2200 after a brief briefing from the organizer. I purposely did not bring my camera as I wanted to enjoy my ride. We rode slowly out in group out of Precint 9 towards Dataran Putra for our first stop. During the briefing it was made very clear that the PCM is a community ride for everyone to enjoy, safety is paramount and no speeding. With the roadies with their high performance bicycle I wondered how long that going to last. Well their patient lasted until Alamanda when most of them sped up the climb and blazed their way towards PICC. The Marshall caught upwith them and they eventually waited for the other groups to at least in decent size before we rolled off again and this time they had no intention to slow down or stop and sped towards Precint 9. I was initially with the group in the middle and having an easy ride. However when we got to the climb at Alamanda knowing that a major group would find the climb a bit tough I sped off trying to catch up with the leading group. With my bike I knew it was a futile effort but I just went off with my own pace. Along the way I met a fellow REDTone rider and chatted as we cycled. We shared the shame predicament pf not being a serious cyclist early. He was surprised that I have a 21 year-old son at home. We continued to cycle and chat until we saw the first group waiting at the top of a small climb. I hate to stop in the middle of a ride when I was already in a nice rhythm. But I knew I must stop and waited together. It was then already half past eleven.

At the PICC I decided to hit it and go home straight away once I reached Precint 9. I told Kol who was then already cycling with us that it was too late for me to join them for a Teh Tarik after the ride and would want to proceed home immediately. With that I sped off alone all the way to Precint 9. It was just few minutes after midnight when I got there. Since I had to bowl the next day I immediately loaded the bike and drove home.

I enjoyed my first PCM. Had we rolled off early I would have rode easy and stayed back to chat with other cyclists to get to know them. I do think that my PT buddies would not like the PCM but I would do it again in the future. Most of the riders are season roadies and MTBs with their near sophisticated machines. But there are rooms for beginners like me who were there just to have a nice ride and trying to get to understand their bike better. But one thing that we can definitely improve is to start on time.

Thank you everyone for the company and till we meet again in the next PCM.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pak Hitam Fuad and My Abah

My cousin Hawa wrote a piece about his late father who was my uncle that we called Pak Hitam. Reading it I could feel how very much she missed him at the same time transporting me back down memory lane that I sometimes do not wish to revisit. But I know I must somehow if I want to be at peace with myself. Yes, I could not lie to myself, I miss my Abah very much as well.

Pak Hitam and Abah shared a similar trait that I inherited. Both of them did not like sad occasion and most of the time would want everyone to be happy. Both sort of happy go lucky and loved to be a friend to almost everyone they met. No matter where we were in Malaysia Abah never seemed to be far away from his friends. That was amazing feat that still amazes me considering the kind of technology at our disposal now. Due to our near nomadic life I did not have the opportunity to get very close to Pak Hitam. Only once is a while during school holidays when we were back at Gali that I got to meet him. Then he was a young teacher living together with his young friends next to Aki’s house. When at Aki’s house I could hear their voices and the antics that they were in. In the evening they would be playing their guitars and singing on the veranda sometimes to the chagrin of my late grandpa. At night I could hear them starting their Vespa, no doubt, going to Raub town. Being a kid I just loved them and hanged around. Pak Hitam would tease us when he saw us. Once in awhile we got a treat of ice cream.

Abah being the eldest was the one all my uncles and aunties looked up to and his word is the rule especially after Aki passed away. But I knew despite him just being a policeman his sisters and brothers respected him, especially Pak Hitam. I still could remember the night that Abah passed away Pak Hitam was the one who called me. Pak Hitam was Abah’s designated driver whenever we were back in Gali. Abah would just borrow a car from somewhere and asked Pak Hitam to drive us somewhere. Once we went to PJ for a holiday and we took along Pak Hitam’s only daughter, my cousin Hawa. One of the places we stopped was the old Mimaland, the then 'Sunway Lagoon', in Gombak. (Hawa do you remember that?)

As I grew older I saw less of him and only heard stories of him from the conversations that I heard. Had not for Hawa’s piece I would not have known, for instance, that Pak Hitam used to teach and stay at Fraser’s Hill. The hill resort that now being one of the places we normally go just to relax. I guess that was when in one occasion Lan, Long and myself got a ride home in his car for Mak Cu’s wedding. I was in college then and Pak Hitam to me was the same Pak Hitam. I never knew he loved to travel as I do as well. I guess it is all in the family. Abah was one who could never want to stay around at one place too long and naturally we do as well. So Hawa keep on writing as it is our family biography.

The time I received the news of his passing I felt like time stood still as I felt just only recently I lost my Abah. Both of them being almost similar in look and mannerism made it even harder for me. During the funeral I mentioned to my cousins, in a crude way, that the time for our uncles and aunties to go one after another was here and we had to prepare ourselves for the worst do not neglect to visit one another more often. Pak Cu followed Pak Hitam a year or two later, then Pak Anjang and Pak Ngah. Pak Ngah passed away when I was oversea on assignment. I do not know how old Abah should be now but for what ever it is he lived his own life and he was his own man.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On The Train, Nov. 25, 2008

BNM announced a new OPR 3.25 to boost the economy further and of course it is the business news of the day. A lot of people wanted the OPR to go up as well for whatever reasons. It is so obvious I am no economist but the again you do not have to be one to see the obvious. The world financial crisis will affect everybody and only the prepared, smart and sometimes lucky ones would be spared the worst. The next six months are crucial to us.

As I was early the train was a bit congested.

At Kajang Kakak texted me to ask whether I was still in the office or not. I replied I was already at Kajang. As usual I called my wife to say I was already at Kajang. She asked about Kakak and I said I was not sure where she was exactly. Just after UKM I texted Kakak and she told me she had just passed UKM. Instantly I knew we were on the same train. Better still when we disembarked at Bangi we found out we were in the same coach.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On The Train, Nov 24, 2008

Anyone could have start with ‘It is end of November already’ or ‘Well! It is end of November already’ or ‘Gosh! It’s end of November already!.’ Whatever it is, it is just making statement with no conviction what so ever. Making the statement with no real statement of intent but just making what seems to be an interesting expression. So I would not insult anybody’s intelligence by doing that. Yes. it is already end of November so what? It is whether you have done with the year’s target or not? All I can say for me Alhamdulillah.

Most of the world economy are already or going into recession now. Malaysia is doing ok due to our good foresight, management and past experience. There will be slowdown obviously but we are going to have a small growth still. So not too bad. Conveniently the west is putting the blame on Asia for their predicament.

As it is already a school holidays we had a different crowd on the train. More of the holiday makers and family rather than the blue and white collar workers.

Sunday Riders, Nov 23, 2008

We almost did not make it. After a half day of Futsal on Saturday every inch of my muscles were aching. Had Acong hinted any kind of excuse I would have said yes. But neither of us would want to commit the first move I guess. Also, maybe, it was going to be our first ride together after a long time.

As I was early, I warmed up by cycling around the housing estate. It took me awhile but I was ready when Acong came out at 0659. We immediately cruised down towards Bangi Lama and took the same route I took last week to Putrajaya. This time I was a little bit ready and we reached Taman Warisan at 0845. I thought everyone was still on their way but they were actually already cycling the boulevard. They were Abedib, Alif, Kol and Shahrin and on Kol’s direction Acong and I cycled to meet them halfway. That was it for both of us in Putrajaya. We backtracked and had a light breakfast at Taman Warisan’s eateries. During breakfast Kol and Alif shared with us the gory details of their ride the day before at the Horse trail. Hearing their description and stories I could see Acong’s face was eager to try it. I felt the same and we looked at each other agreeing silently. We had tackled the back to back three phases climb at UKM and this one is another one we want to conquer.

Around 1000 we said goodbye to one another and head for home. For both of us home me another 30km ride and we decided to take the same route I took last week as well. Meaning another assault of the mean climb at Sg Merab MKT before screaming down to Sek Teknik Sepang. This time I was prepared for it and with Acong around pushed me up a little bit.

We were home safely around 1100 and the end of another satisfying ride for me.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Wetland, Putrajaya, Nov 9, 2008

After just a third outing since my long layoff I was really pushing it a bit too early too far over the weekend. I cycled from home to the Putra Jaya Wetland to join my Sunday Riders buddies to cycle around the Wetland and after that to cycle back home. Getting there I rode about 20 km, 12.5KM around the Wetland and 20KM ride home. More or less it was a 50-60KM ride for me. I did this mostly alone and I nearly paid for it. At the end of the ride home my leg started to tense and I knew instantly cramp was developing on my right leg. I eased up, relaxed and drank a lot of water as I inched closer home. I was more glad than my wife when finally I reached home. She remarked ‘Sampai juga my husband home’. Of course she was skeptical that I did. Glad as I was it was still no consolation for missing Mar’s recital. She was already mopping upstairs when I asked about her. But I was saved as I was not the main reason but because she did not win anything. I straight away went up to be a father and finally the promise of High School Musical 3 consoled her.

I took off from home a bit early than before. However since the days are breaking early these days it was already bright. I was supposed to be at the Wetland around 0800 and it was 0700 when I set off. A good one hour but I was not like I was so speeding top speed to Putra Jaya was out of the question. Further more the route was a long winding and hilly one. No matter which one I pick I could not avoid these two characteristics. I picked a decent speed as I came out onto the main road via Bangi Lama towards BB Bangi. My chosen route was Bangi, Teras Jernang, Jalan Abu Bakar Baginda, Jalan Haji Yusof (Sg Merab), Jalan Aman, Jalan Ayer Hitam (Kg Bakar Baginda) and enter Putra Jaya through Gate 1. Taking Jalan P14, Lebuh Perdana Timur, Bulatan Persiaran Sultan Sallahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah and Persiaran Persekutuan. Getting to Teras Jernang was not a problem as I was used to it already but getting out of the hilly Sg Merab was a worry to me as I was not that fit to make the continuous hill run. When I got there I just gritted my teeth and screamed down first before tackling my first long climb. It was still a bit early and not many cars on the road enabled me to push harder and faster up. I was a bit relieved when I got to the top. The second downhill was really a screamer downhill. I let lose and let the momentum to carry me up the next climb. At the top at the MPI junction was the halfway point for me so I stopped to take some liquid and check on my time. It was 0726 and it was a decent time. I had half an hour to go to get to the Wetland so I continued immediately down Sg Merab road towards Kg Bakar Baginda. The climb there was equally long but the gradient was not as steep as before. I do not know about other riders but I really hate this kind of climb as its get to my nerve sometimes. One way to prevent that is for me to look down and paddle hard. Knowing time was not on my side I concentrated my sight to the line on the tarmac and just pushed hard.

Mostly the tarmac in Putra Jaya is new and proper but Section 14 and the surrounding area were still under going development. Although I could gain some speed I was weary of pot holes as the last thing I wanted was to double up on the road. I maintained a decent speed to cross the Lebuh Perdana Timur. Though I was a bit tired I felt sort of liberated when the wind broke on my faces. The sunlight getting through sort of magnify Alamanda on my left. This feeling stuck with me until I reached the Bulatan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah when I hope a smooth ride to the Wetland Boating centre. Unless you are cycling you would know that the big bulatan clockwise is actually an incline. It was not obvious that is why only cyclist, rather a tired cyclist, would notice it. I immediately felt it and lowered down the gear one notch. Knowing I was in time I relax to enjoy the environment to the maximum. Although my leg demanded a relieve the mind is so powerful to divert my attention to Botany Garden on my left. In general due to the open spaces, hard surfaces as well as limited greeneries Putra Jaya is still a hot place. The lakes and the wetland were supposed to bring equilibrium for the area but I guess the bare open spaces are still far too big.

Most of the Sunday riders were already at the Boating Centre with their bikes ready when I got there. 70% of the riders were new faces to me and I introduced myself. Abedib introduced me to Shahrin whom by the look of it a regular and experience cyclist. Nik was the last to arrive and as soon as he was settled at about 0825 we rolled off with Ahmad Taufik Jamil as lead rider. I stayed at the back, not because I was the sweeper, but I wanted to have a relax ride and to take photos at the same time. One of the main reasons why I cycled from home was that so I could enjoy the Wetland a bit more without worrying about pushing myself for a good workout. So I stayed back through most of the ride. We started on a gravel road at a slow pace, I guess, so that everyone is conditioned to the ride. We passed under our first bridge soon enough and immediately after I saw a flock of stocks in the water closed to the bank. I immediately stopped to take few shots. It turned out not too bad. I quickly joined the others after that. The group eventually broke into three groups. The leaders, second group comprises of the majority not too far behind and then followed by Alif and I at the back. The group in the middle comprises mostly by newcomers and they were pacing themselves to make sure they could catch up and maintain a decent distance with the leaders. I was riding with my eyes darting everywhere trying to find something to photograph. Because of that I lost my sense of place and found it difficult to place us within the big scheme of thing within the wetland.

I saw the rest were waiting ahead of us with a lose rock crossing on our left. Since I could see the path straight ahead I thought they were resting and stopping for a photography session. But we were ready to move on Taufik said we were crossing and we had to carry our bike across. I heard somebody said, ‘Are you serious?’ I was still busy snapping at the surrounding as I was fascinated by the manmade wetland. My friend Atak is responsible for that. When everyone crossed we were off again and at this point I heard somebody for the first time asked, ‘Jauh ke lagi?’ Obviously and indication that some of them were tired already. Consciously now I stayed at the back waiting on the last person to catch up. At that point the path was really inviting for speed. Conscious that I would be cycling another 20 KM home through a hilly terrain I resisted the temptation. I slowed down further thinking someone was still at the back and I didn’t realize that Doc Azmi was already in front. So I was left too far behind and that prompted me to kick the pedal hard. So I was speeding anyway and joined Abedib, Alif and Nik. By then we were on a smooth path already and looking across the lake I could see the Boating Centre indicating we were almost home. So I decided to go ahead and sped until we reached a barricade when the portion of the wetland being ‘renovated’. We had top get down and walk our bike across the barricade. I took tome to take a photo of the ‘kapal korek’ and a lone crane in the middle of the wetland. The barricade also meant the end of our ride around the wetland. The rest of the group was already waiting on the main road to take the shortcut back to the boating centre.

I knew I was already late for Mar’s commencement but I thought I could still at least make it to her performance so when on the road I decided to speed on the motorcycle track instead of the walkway. However at the end of the track I had to rejoin the others on the path and that instance I decided to jump over. The decision to do that was right but I made mistake in the execution because I misjudged my condition. I was a bit tired already and I pulled the handle a bit low when I jumped and the front tyre stuck on the pavement. With that the momentum threw me over the bike and I somersaulted on the ground. In one movement the momentum also carried me to stand straight away. I knew I was not hurt and my camera was ok. So I checked the bike first. Laughing at myself I picked the bike up and rode down to where we started off.

After a bit of rest and saying goodbye everyone I took the road home. While riding around the wetland I was already thinking about the easiest and fastest route home. I was actually kidding myself as there was no easy route home. But I thought, although I had to do a few climbing, the Sekolah Teknik, Jenderam route was the fastest. The first challenge was to tackle the long incline. I put the gear on low and paddled patiently up. The bonus at the top was a long downhill until almost the turn towards. Sg Merab MKT. But I felt the long downhill came to soon when I had to tackle the three continuous steep climb. I managed the first one find but the second climb was draining me until almost at the top I knew my limit that day. I got down a rest for awhile next to the futsal court near by before I walked the bike to the top. I was lucky as I was pushed up by the momentum to the top of the third climb and the rest was almost all downhill to the Sekolah Teknik Sepang. After that it was almost a flat ride for home but I was still far away from home.

The first time I felt my right muscle tightened when I was already halfway on the Jenderam Bangi road. Since it was my first experience I thought nothing of it especially when the pain was gone when I just continued to paddle. Losing a lot body fluid I decided to stop at Sg Buah’s rest area to rest for awhile. After a bottle of 100 plus and few minutes I was ready to ride all the way home. The decision to stop was correct as I was a bit fresh after that but I was still tired. I pushed home slowly admitting at that point in time I was not going to make it for Mar’s commencement. Although she was ok when I said to her that I may not be able to see her perform I still would like to be there for her.

I finally forced my way up the last climb home. Halfway I felt my tight muscle tightening and cramp materialized. I was not sure when the last time I had a cramp was but that day I just got down from the bike and walked the bike up the climb and when I was ok at the top cycle slowly home.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On The Train (An Oven for a Coach), Nov 13, 2008

It was dreadful as you were riding an oven. That’s how I felt on way home today. The supposedly new refurbished train had its air-condition malfunction. I was positive at first but when more commuters started to board at KL Sentral, MidValley and Salak Selatan I was sweating inside. At that point I was already blogging and I did not get the flow that I used to have. I almost gave up until I thought I would be worse by just sitting doing nothing. Thus I forced myself to continue writing. Thing only got better when a lot of commuters disembarked taking along their body heat at Kajang.

Friday, November 7, 2008

One Sunday Morning, Nov 2, 2008

I did not have my camera with me so this is the result from my handphone

It was no fun cycling alone last Sunday. Not just last Sunday but it is never fun cycling alone. Also, for safety reason it is not advisable to ride alone especially on the road. But having started the last weekend I did not wish to have gap in my momentum for our, at least mine, target this year.

I was out cycling around the housing estate to warm up around 0700 and at that point still undecided as to my route. Also, I was not sure of my stamina and endurance I did not want to be too ambitious. After few rounds and cycled out of Putra Terrace down towards the main road. As I reached the main junction to Bukit Mahkota and BSP I decided to test myself against the Bukit Mahkota climb and proceeded ahead at decent speed. I observed that I could still maintain a constant speed and inched closer to the climb. At the same time I was trying to enjoy my morning ride and look around me to see a couple of people jogging and having a brisk walk on the road. When I approached the steep climb I dropped my gear and cranked up for speed. I lasted a quarter up when I slowed down to control my heavy breathing. I felt of as the heavy breathing w

as due to my lack of fitness and that was when I was confident to go the distance. I reached at the top of the climb using a higher gear from what I used before. As usual I flew down enjoying the cool breeze breaking on my face. At that instance I made my mind to turn back make another climb, speed towards Bangi lama and climb the Bangi lama new road that I have never done before. Come to think of it none of us had gone that route. However not wanting to outdo myself before going to Bangi lama I turn left into Bukit Mahkota lake area. I discovered that their clubhouse, with decent swimming pool, is almost complete. I cycled around and met two joggers and casual cyclist and a family flying motorized airplane. When interest me was that the man with the airplane was not the first and only one I met in the area. At least I have seen three of them flying their planes in

the open ground around BM and BSP. Another fact is that several families now began to come out exercising on weekends. All these are indicators that we have a good community now. Both BM and BSP are growing in population now. From what I have seen so far we have a good mix. Crimes, petty or serious, are getting easier to combat with the thriving community. It brought a nice feeling in my cycling that day and at the same time gave me a bit more confident to ride further that morning.

The long climb before I got to the bridge

The sad and lonely station

I knew it would be a long consistent climb up Bangi Lama bypass so I psych myself before the climb. I was worried about the traffic but that morning, maybe because it was still early, not many cars on the road so it helps my climb. Since I was alone nobody was around to push and pull me up. I just greet my teeth, ignored the pain and pushed hard up. The triumph of getting to the top was indescribable to me. I was glad for myself being able to do so and another part of me began to feel cocky and thought it was easy. Luckily I came to my senses as I was screaming down towards Bangi Lama town. Then halfway down I saw and realized I would be passing the railway bridge and I decided to stop there. Everyday I would be at the station waiting for my train at dawn and disembark at dusk. The feature of my life for the last five years. It gave me a different perspective looking at the station from the bridge. Strange, but I saw a lonely and sad station. I could just stay there for hours watching the train passes by underneath and I would not be bored.

I decided to move on when I felt the sun was creeping behind my back. Any cyclist would tell you that downhill is when you should catch up on your breathe but since my muscle was about to go to sleep I cranked hard. I took the normal route home. Although I would rather cycle with my friends the solitude of cycling alone was therapeutic in a way.

Friday, October 31, 2008

CUTI CUTI ASIA SHENZHEN (HONG KONG) June 19-24, 2008 (Day 6)

June 24, 2008 (Tuesday) - Flight AK5209 Depart Shenzhen at 20:05

All of us woke up early as my family and I would be going back to Lo Wu Commercial City because, among other things, we had to pick up my suit. Tariq, Intan and Ngah decided to stay back and maybe just explore Dongmen for one final round. However we were to early and the Commercial City was still sleeping when we got there so we just killed the time by hanging around. As soon as the fabric shopping area was opened we were the first in and we got our first customer advantage and discounts. I picked out my suit which was a bit disappointment. I was warned by my colleague but I ignored his advice and paid the price. The jacket was ok but the pant was not what I wanted. My advice to anybody cutting a suit there please make sure either you have a sample with you or you spent enough time patiently explaining the exact thing that you want to do.

However, we were not finished with our shopping, I thought we were, and taking the first customer advantage Sam bought few more fabrics and I squeezed in two more for suiting. I’ve learned my lessons. We took the train back to Loajie and since we had couple more hours we stopped at the McD on Dongmen street to eat.

Once back at the hotel the first thing that I did was to ask for late checkout, that I got until 1400, and booked a transport to the airport. After lengthy explanation and translation I was offered a mini van, I thought it was a mini van that could fit 13 of us, at 400 yuan. When it came at 1600 it was actually a mini bus. Thus we had a nice comfortable ride to the airport.

Shenzhen airport was quite a big airport that served as a hub in the south serving other major cities in China. We were dropped by the bus driver at the end of the airport where the International wing was and it was not a small wing serving just few major countries and destination like Taiwan, Bangkok and KL. Actually there was no indication as to where our checkin counter was from the outside. We walked the entire airport we could not see anything until we backtracked to where we were dropped off then only we saw a small handwritten notice stand stating our flight number. I enquired from the staff nearby and was told to come back to lineup at where he was one hour before flight time. Without nothing much to do we just hang around there to wait. One thing I do not like taking a low cost carrier is that most passengers tend to be a little bit kiasu. In fact this what exactly happened when we were outside lining up to enter the checkin counters and inside the waiting area when we were to board. I just could not understand how some people just do not have a brain to give way to mothers with small children and old folks. It was not really a long flight that they had to be too particular to get a seat. When I boarded trying to sit at the isle I politely asked two Chinese nationals if I could sit there and they reacted as if they own the plane. I remarked loudly in English, ‘Why you do not want me to sit here. I do not think I smell and furthermore I paid to be on the plane.’ Obviously they did not know what I was saying and I ignored them the whole flight home.

Obviously everyone were hungry – hungry for rice and anything resemblance to Malaysian food could not wait for the flight attendants to start with their round. I left Baqir to order the lot for most of us and when he did that the flight attendant almost feinted. Yes, Baqir is a big size young man and would tend to eat a lot but what he ordered to the flight attendant could feed an elephant. Only when he passed the food around she realized the situation. The flight attendant joked about it.

We landed safely at LCCT at 0045 on Wednesday.

CUTI CUTI ASIA SHENZHEN (HONG KONG) June 19-24, 2008 (Day 5)

June 23, 2008 (Monday)
Hong Kong

I have been to Hong Kong before and went through the immigration and custom check point to enter Shenzhen so I was confident we could go in easily. Because of that we left the Hotel for Lowu quite late. It was a mistake to do so I found out later.

As I anticipated we did not have any problem at the border check point and passed through easy enough. We rushed to buy our tickets to Lim Shia Shiue and boarded our train that was already on the platform. Actually there were three trains waiting and all were going down the same line. I knew the train was clean and good so we enjoyed our journey down to Hong Kong. We left the hotel around 0630 and was on the train to Hong Kong around 0815. Around 0900 we walked out of the Tsim Sha Tsui underground station into Kowloon air. We headed straight to the ferry but before we crossed we stopped at the McD for breakfast.

While my family was having breakfast I walked out to the tourist center at the ferry terminal to gather some information and maps.

My plan was to take them across to Hong Kong island on the ferry and later back using the train. Once across we used the bridge footpath to walk around and my first destination was the Maybank Centre as I wanted to withdraw some money. While on the way there we stopped at whatever shops that we fancy to either shop or check out the items.

The first time I was in Kong Kong I did not have time to go to the Peak so I decided to take my family there. Looking at my option I could take them on the double decker or just walked to the hill station. I decided to walk and gave Baqir the map and instruction to lead because I knew I would have casualties at the back later. If they did not know it yet they knew then I loved to walk so they persevered. If not no more excursion with Abah, Pak Cu or Tok Cu ever again LOL. With sweat falling like Niagara Falls we reach the Peak Ground station and bought tickets to the very top. The ride to the top was fun and faster compare to Bukit Bendera. The view was also a bit better. Along the way we could see the multimillionaires of Hong Kong building their houses along he way. Once at the top we climbed up to the highest point in the observation deck. There were two types of prices for the Peak the cheaper one was for the Peak area and the slightly expensive one for the rooftop of the observation building. We paid for the rooftop for better viewing and photography. Since we paid that much we stayed as long as it worth the payment that we made. The kids enjoyed themselves there but not Sam as she is phobia with height. We did not go down straight away but lingered on at the Peak to enjoy the place. I would say it was worth paying that much to be there.

It was almost 2pm when we were back at the bottom and my instinct straight away told me to move fast as we do not have much time to do the rest of Hong Kong. I decided to walk again took them along the financial and eventually the shopping zones. All the branded items shopping complex were there that also means a very expensive stuff. But we were tourist and we had to do tourist things by walking along with Hongkies gawking at their malls. Eventually we reached Queen’s Place at Queen’s Road Central. To save time I decided not walked up the Place as well as going to the Escalator but instead decided to turn back and find a Metro station to cross to Kowloon. I however gave them times for them to explore a bit of Queen’s Place. When we turned back I also took them through the alley bazaar to check for things worth buying.

Of course the train crossing to Kowloon would be going through an undersea tunnel the fact that I mentioned to my family but somehow my children did not believe me. I indicated the route on the map to them and ask them a simple question of how then would the train cross the sea. We crossed and came out at a road just before the Kowloon Mosque. The plan was to pray, eat some rice and shopping till night time and we did all three in much gusto and bravado, especially the shopping part. But when we came out at Kowloon everyone were already complaining of being hungry so I had no choice but to find a place to eat rice. Yes, after three days without rice they almost strangled me for not taking them to where the rice was fast enough. Before they decided to picket there in front all the resident of Hong Kong I dragged them to the nice Indian Restaurant that I had eaten before. Unfortunately I made a mistake of thinking it was on Lock Road while the restaurant was actually on the Hankow Road the next road. We turned back and I entered Chungking Mansion to be accosted by touts working for various entities in the buildings. Most of them would be Indian, Pakistanis or even Afghan touting for establishments like restaurants and budget hotels in the upper floor of the building. I decided on one Pakistani Restaurant on the floor. To make life a bit more interesting one of the small lifts was out of order and we had to line up to use just one tiny lift going up.

Thinking the serving was like in Malaysia they ordered aggressively and they realized their mistake when the food arrived. Of course I knew this but I just kept quite. Hey, do you want to argue with hungry mob? They could kill you, you know. Now they had too much rice I just laugh at them. Going down I decided to use the stairs and once on the ground we walked straight to the mosque.

With just few more hours left for shopping I decided to just make do with what Nathan Road could offer and it offered us plenty. Suddenly everyone was in the mood for shopping and with their stomach full they were demanding at times :). As long as they were happy I was there to oblige. Lucky they did not go berserk shopping like mad cow searching for a drink. Dia orang dengan sopan santun shopping.

Eventually after I extended the shopping hour till 2000 hours we had to leave for Shenzhen. I knew the train service would not end before midnight still I did not want to risk the whole thing. As they say there is always another day for Hong Kong. So went down the subway and walked to Tsim Sha Tsui KDR station to take our train back to Shenzhen.

One minute to 2100 hours we walked out of the train at Lo Wu station and crossed the border without much problem. Few minutes after that we were already strolling Dongmen back to our hotel. Back at the hotel reality started to sink in that our holiday was about to end. I guess everyone went to sleep reluctantly that night hoping the time would stand still.

CUTI CUTI ASIA SHENZHEN (HONG KONG) June 19-24, 2008 (Day 4)

June 22, 2008 (Sunday)

The days in Shenzhen became too long for us as we have found out nothing much else to do. I guess if I had hired a van it would be different but then looking at the surrounding we were better off using the train. The night before I asked the rest what should we be doing the next day and I gave three options.

1. Window of the World
2. Splendid China
3. More endless walking and possibly shopping

The first two were close to one another but you have to pay a separate entrance of Yuan 120 each. I figured two costly to do both and the third option was not feasible as everyone trying to save some money for Hong Kong. We decided to go to the Cultural China. Actually I was thinking of The Windows of the World at first as Windows of the World would showcases famous site in the world in miniature form. But I decided I did not wish to see them as we were in China we should look at things Chinese rather then Eiffel Tower and such.

At 0900 we walked out of the hotel to our home station Laojie and took the train to Hua Qiao Cheng. The Splendid China was just next to the station. When we arrived there around 1030 the heat was really prickly and I was sweating like mad. I could see it would be a challenge to walk the whole place but since we were there already we paid for our tickets and entered the place. We walked slowly trying to absorb the place and an early indication of the place tells us that it was a well done place. However the heat was too much for the kids. After walking a bit half of us abandoned the plan to walk everything took a short cut and rest at the performing area to wait. I did not know it then but we actually broke into three groups. Ngah, Sam and Mar raised a white flag, well at least Sam and Ngah. While Tariq and family went the other way. So it was left to Ghazi, Baqir, Kak Cik and I to make sure our entrance fees were worthwhile. We went around the whole area and enjoyed ourselves. What they did with the place was excellent as they showcased most of the culture of the ethnic groups in China. There were their different abodes and way of life. Within that they included live culture shows as well as acting out some of the major history of China like the great horseback battle. It was really a good work out for me but the heat proved to be a problem. We were just as glad and relieve when we finished touring the whole place. Tariq and family chose to board the tram to see the rest of the area and the rest of us sat at the entrance drinking coconut to cool off and waited for them.

At 1436 we walked up the staircase to exit the area.

We took the train back and I decided to stop- at another shopping complex where there was another Jusco. Again, mainly to buy some foodstuff for the night and the next day. But of course we ended up buying other things as well. One of the things that we found out when you shop in Shenzhen is that they do not provide you with a plastic bag or such for the things that you bought. That was the reason why we saw most Chinese with bags and trolley when we went out shopping. So at the Jusco we had to pay for our plastic bags. To save a little bit we just put everything in our knapsacks. Ngah bought a shoe without a plastics bag meant she would have to carry the box just like that. So she took out the shoe put in a bag and threw away the box. I could survive on bread alone as I was used to it but I did not know how long more the rest of my family could last without rice.

We were home at the hotel on time for our prayers and stayed in the rest of the night because everyone was preparing to explore Hong Kong the next day.

CUTI CUTI ASIA SHENZHEN (HONG KONG) June 19-24, 2008 (Day 3)

June 21, 2008 (Saturday)

I spent quite a bit of my time last night studying the map and searching for Muslim eateries on the Net. I came up with quite a list. To make my life easier I capture the image of the list in my Nikon for easy reference later. So my plan for the day was to take everyone to experience the fashion wholesale market, back to Lowu for my fitting and off on the train to explore a new shopping area where there was a Jusco. My intention of going to Jusco was familiarity and to shop for something familiar to eat and ration.

The Gang minus Yours Truly

We stopped at McD first to have breakfast. Of course we ordered whatever we could eat except for Imah who thought she was in Malaysia by buying a beef petty. She was about to eat it when I saw her packaging looked different so I asked her what she ordered and my instinct was on the dot. We laughed at her and kidded her for a while. She sort of annoyed for awhile by it. We took some pictures there and left immediately after all of us had eaten.

The first stop after breakfast was easy as the fashion wholesale market was at Dongmen and once we were inside it was a maze of wholesale selling in big plastic bags or bundles. Most of the buyers were of course small town sellers from other precincts or districts. We mingled in perfectly but know our different taste we split with the ladies going in one direction and Ghazi, Baqir, Mar and myself to another. You can get most of what you need in a bundle and they do sell you a piece or two but you could not bargain anymore unless you were buying a lot. In terms of quality it depends on what you are buying. Generally they were ok but most not my taste as I found most of them were too tacky for me. Baqir decided he needed a set of fake adidas basketball uniform. Other than that I advise for them not to buy anything unless it is really good and necessary. The ladies were actually enjoying the maze and we had to wait for quite a while until they emerged onto the square. Kakak came out to me saying how amazing the experience was and mentioned to me we should come again the next day. She could not believe what she just saw and experienced. I almost told her, ‘Welcome to China the land of imitation and cheap stuff.’ From there we walked to our Metro station and boarded for Lowu. My only reason for going back there was to fit the suit that I made the previous day and to window shop a bit. For the ladies apart from continuing where they left off they planned to look for brooches and stuff like that. When I was there the first time a year ago a lot of that stuff was on the ground floor. So when we got there that was the first place I took them and I was surprised to find out there were not there anymore. So I concluded they must have moved somewhere and by that time Sam was complaining aloud already. So we proceeded to the top floor. Initially I thought we were going to be very quick there but when I was fitting the suit they were still busy buying fabrics and even more then the day before. I was amazed and tired of waiting I took the kids walking around the complex trying to find something worthwhile to buy. The suit that I made was fine only the pant was not properly tailored and so Sam’s blouse. It was not that the quality was not good but they failed to get our instruction right. So if you were to tailor anything there please make sure they really, really understand what you want. The best is to bring a sample.

The ladies eventfully joined us somewhere on the second floor and while going around we found the trinkets, brooches and stuff bazaar there on the second floor. So we left them there and continued walking the complex with the kids until we were hungry. I bought few things for Mar because she insisted on buying something there but I held off Along and Baqir as I thought what they wanted to buy were not value for money. Furthermore I was getting fedup with all the ‘lookin’, ‘lookin’ and they were so adamant of selling to us at exorbitant price. I decided then it would be better if we were to wait for Hong Kong.

So with no possible eating place insight I decided to take everyone to the newly completed shopping area where I knew from my research the night before would be a Jusco shopping complex. With something familiar to us I thought we could get something decent. So we took the train there. Gong Wu Gong Yuan station was our destination and true enough as we exited the station there was Jusco almost in front of us. We went straight in and we found what we need to make a decent lunch and food for the next day. We bought a couple of breads, several can of sardine and tuna as well as several bottle of waters. I did not realize how hungry we were until I saw everyone’s purchases at the checkout counter LOL. The best thing as well I could use my ‘plastic’ that I could save my Yuans for other shopping. I was the last to make payment at the check out counter and once I was outside there was my family having picnic at the seating area inside the mall. We couldn’t careless what the others think we just sat on the floor, opened our cans and bread and made the biggest sandwiches for ourselves. To the Chinese we sure looked like immigrants or runaways that have not eaten for days. But then our mannerism and attire would tell them we were tourist. That day I found out eating a decent acceptable food for our palate could be a problem in China. Indeed they have Halal restaurant but the cooking if you were not familiar could be a problem. I tolerated only for a day and before going back to bread. After we had our lunch we decided, actually I decided and the rest just followed :), to check out the rest of the new shopping complex and cultural centre. Everything were new full with branded items but very expensive. Even the cinema would cost us about RM15 a ticket. So we just enjoyed ourselves walking around until some of our legs went dead. Before heading back we stopped at the Jusco to buy few more things for dinner and ration for the next day.

We took the train back and walked straight to our hotel as most were too tired to explore Dongmen. It was 1815 when we walked through Dongmen. By now Dongmen was nothing to us. What we did not like was that once the darkness crept in a lot of beggars emerged from the crowds. I knew they were really poor but they were very persistent to the point of annoying as well.

CUTI CUTI ASIA SHENZHEN (HONG KONG) June 19-24, 2008 (Day 2)

June 20, 2008 (Friday)
We got Broadband connection and China is pretty advanced in providing broadband access

Suboh was at 0430 and around 0500 I did not know what to do so I put on my shoe and walked out alone. I did not want to disturb Kakcik and told my wife that I was checking out the surrounding if there were anything decent for breakfast. I have no idea where I should be going but my instinct said to follow the main road behind the hotel downwards. By that time it was 0600 and the sun was already out and bright. The streets we mostly empty except for hard labourer pulling heavy carts for the customers. I knew there was a wet market nearby and most of them came out from there. To me that was an indication of a hard live for some of the residents of Shenzhen and I am pretty sure some of them are not locals. What they are wearing also like a uniform with license plat on their back. I guess the have to get a license to do such job.
0600 in the morning

A prove of global world. The bad thing it is creating a world culture at the expense of the ethnic uniqueness But would you ever thought of McD stack below KFC

Going to work

I knew there was a wet market close by and men pushing carts like this are common sight

In two hours this street will be jam packed with activities

Our hotel apartment

Still a lot of bicycles

I walked on until it was already hot, the heat was the kind that I used to experience while I was studying in the US so it was prickly. I worried about the others. In order to get myself familiarize with the streets and how things were in Shenzhen I walked west on the way back with the hope I could find something good to eat. That was when I realized that all the trees beside the roads were actually mango trees. They were quite nice and my only assessment to that was probably Shenzhen was built on top of swarm. On the map indicated that there was a train station close by and I tried to locate it. After a few turns it proved to be illusive and I abandoned the search. I found two bakeries but I was not confident in buying any of them. They looked delightfully suspicious with that I walked back towards Dongmen on my way back to the hotel. When I was about to get to the pedestrian bridge at the hotel I decided to have coffee at the McD there. By then it was only 0752 and it was already really hot. Of course by now there were a lot of people already on the streets including school children in their uniform. I ordered coffee and egg burger and stayed long enough to finish my coffee. By 0830 I was back in the room and ready to roll out with the rest to explore Shenzhen.

You may laugh at this but watch up they are learning fast and soon will conquer the world

Because of the heat I zigzagged in and out of the building sort of to acclimatize everyone with the heat. Once I thought they were ready we headed towards Dongmen for our official visit to Shenzhen. Of course Dongmen is famous for being a shopping zone where at nights the street will be filled with people from all walks of life. Neon lights would shine the street to look like a Chinese New Year day. There was no light of course when we walked the street and the obvious thing was China also was very much colonized by the business chains. Starbucks, McD, Body Glove, KFC and the like were everywhere. However the Chinese now are getting smarter. They made good on their years of being copycat by producing the own quality brands.

Every morning a crew will wash Dongmen

Dongmen coming alive

My target was the Laojie Metro subway station somewhere at the end of Dongmen but with the lack of proper direction we were of target. So with the map I asked several people. The first guy after looking at the map confidently directed to backtrack a lane and turn right but it took us to another lane with no sign or indication of the metro station. So I asked what looked like a street police man and it was even worse as he could not even understand us. Even with the map he asked us to turn back. We went around a bit until we just went with our instinct until we saw the small Metro sign on a wall of a shopping mall. Well, it was not even a mall but a building full with small time traders. We went down the escalator and suddenly the sign went dead and we were pissing off our steam until a guy who must have seen this a few times pointed us to the right direction inside the mall.

Just underneath the bridge was a Muslim restaurant

Their train service was excellent

I still remember when I was small having my hair cut underneath a rambutan tree

Our home base Metro station was Loajie, not sure how to pronounce that but we made do with Laojie, and the fare to Lowu was 2 Yuan per person so it was 14 Yuan for our family. The metro was brand new and efficient. I was told and read in someone’s blog that there was not any English signage then. I was really afraid of that and prepared for the worst. However I had a nice surprise to find Romanized name and English announcement on the train. I was really please and impressed. No doubt they have learned their lesson and learning very well. It was a short ride to Lowu and of course our destination was the Lowu Commercial Complex that was full with cheap, very cheap, fabrics and other stuff. It would be a field day for my wife and other ladies. From Loajie Lowu was just two stations away. If you have been to Shenzhen you know that Lowu Commercial Centre was just outside of the border point to HK. I have been there before. The weather was a bit hot then the usual again and we barely managed. Staying indoor was the best.option and we did not have any problem doing that as the place was full with cheap things especially fabric. What you can get there are cheap quality fabric and silks, all kind of fakes t-shirts, jeans, electronics, handphones and handbags. But I do not advice buying any electronic, well unless you have a lot of money to burn. The t-shirts were mostly top of the line fakes but you have to bargain hard. We were at this one shops selling t-shirts and stuff and we were ready to buy some. We started to cut the prices by half the lady came back with another price and suddenly in the middle of the haggling she started to quote us in US dollar. I was really shocked and stared at her astonished. Then walked in two Caucasians and seems to like another foreigner and the lady started to ignore us after we were ready to conclude the deal. We had selected a few already and we had to wait for her to deal with the other foreigners. Getting fed up with the treatment all of us just walked out. As we were about 20 steps away I heard her running and calling after us. We just ignored her and served her right as we were the ones with the money to spend. Then we just walked around with no particular things in mind. Or course Baqir was relentless with his nagging for handphones. I decided they were not worth it. In the end I just bought a few things and cut a suit at the price of 500 Yuan. I had to come back the next day for fitting.

We arrived at the place around 1115 and we left the place at around 1400 due to two main reasons.

1. The ladies almost bustered their shopping budget in record time, and
2. We need to find a place to have lunch.

We were actually not prepared for the first day and we made the mistake assuming that there would be at least a place to eat at Lowu. We actually went around the place as well as the train station and we did not find any. What we should have done was to pack sandwiches or something. But then the problem was we did not find a decent place to buy bread. People in China hardly eat any bread so another blunder on our part. We had no choice but to head for home and eat at the Muslim restaurant near the hotel. We were there at 1430.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel to rest. I was not that tired but because of the heat I decided we need to really cool off for awhile and maybe go out again after dark.

It was Friday night and Dongmen was strewn with all sorts of mostly young people. I saw bad influence from the west had already sat in the Shenzhen young generation. Their dressing and the way they handle themselves were westernized in so many ways. I would have loved it if it was a Sunday night market kind atmosphere but Dongmen was different. The smell from the food vendors and the place were something that we were not used to so we were a little bit uncomfortable. Worse when the beggars started to pester us excessively. Actually the place was not that bad as I said we would have enjoyed it. I was expecting it to be like Hong Kong but the mentality is obviously different. There wasn’t anything that attracted me to buy either so we just walked endlessly until we were bored and walked back to the hotel.