Thursday, February 28, 2008

On The Train, Feb 15, 2008

I have been reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt since Monday on the train and whenever I started on it I could not put it down. Because of that I was not able to write anything going home since then. Today I just force myself to do this as I did not want to miss anything interesting to write. The one thing that I must write is this constant announcement since Monday when I was waiting to go home. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen we are sorry to inform you that there is a disruption in our service schedule due to some (you guess right) technical problem. Our train service from Rawang to Seremban will be delayed by 2 hours’ and the time decreased everyday but still too late for my comfort. Although by now I am beginning to accept the fact, still I curse KTMB once in a while.

It was at Serdang when the train stopped I saw liquid moved beside me and when I looked at it I realized there was water at the base of the glass window trapped in between. Soon after that I kept looking at it and as we move the water tilted to indicate our alignment with the ground. It acted as a nice water ruler for me. I was surprised I did not realize it earlier. I guess because I was conscious of a young girl seating restlessly beside me till then.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On The Train, Feb. 6, 2008

KTMB failed us yet again and this time I considered big-time. I came down to the platform around 1900 and I had to wait until almost 2020 for the train. The reason ‘technical problem’, yes that magic words again, at Kuang station. Being the eve of Chinese New Year the domino effect, chain reaction or whatever you want to call it was no-brainer. It was beyond sardine can when I boarded at Bank Negara station and you could imagine the crowds at KL and KL Sentral stations respectively. Chaotic to say the least and I witnessed the most inconsiderate Malaysians today. But the most inconsiderate most of all are the people seating on the management seats of KTMB. What I failed to understand is how they time and time again failed in their service. Although they made the necessary announcement not to warn or alert the commuters they have not learned fast enough. As I said before they have big problem in managing knowledge. To the credit of most of the commuters once they were on the train I saw made the best effort to smile. But a lot, no doubt, still cursing KTMB big-time.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Stumbled on the first try (The MARDI Treasure Hunt), Jan 26-27, 2008




Team Number 5, Car no. 7

We have been waiting for this for quite sometimes and the buildup to it was unbelievable. I spent quiet a sum to service and repair the Ranger for this Hunt. Just to make sure nothing would come in between us for our first family Treasure Hunt. We knew we were in for challenging time as between the four of us I was the only one who has had the experience. I had to give everyone a crash course in Treasure Hunting and I was sure I would be the driver, navigator and problem solver at the same time.

I was up as usual and rallied everyone to get ready quickly. By 0645 we were on the highway for Mardi. The mood was good and eager; they could not wait for it to start. We were the seventh
car to arrive and when we registered we found out we were team number five.

The Breakfast

The Briefing

The breakfast and the briefing were the order of the day before we were flagged off at 0900. During the briefing the organizer asked the first timer to put up their hands and three quarter of the hands went up. I smiled, at least we were not the only wannabees, and we were in for a good hunt.

When the tulip was given to us I found out the route would take us through Putrajaya, Salak Tinggi, Sepang, Bukit Pelanduk, PD, Linggi, Masjid Tanah, Alor Gajah, Pagoh and the destination Kluang. It was not that difficult for Baqir it seemed but the reality was not exactly that. I took the Ranger to turn left out of Mardi going to the Putrajaya – Puchong highway passing through Serdang Hospital. The first question, UPM, was easy. I guess a bonus from the organizer. I advised Baqir to read the tulip properly as we could easily missed a point. We nearly did only for another hunter in front of us. The route no doubt very familiar to me as I have been plying it for number of occasions at one time or another. But then it was not a race but a treasure hunt. I started to get the team going by asking my wife to read the questions aloud. The second question was also easy once we see the signboard but the third one was a bit tricky. True enough when we drove into old Salak Tinggi I immediately saw the answer to the second questions. The third was a bit difficult for us and after awhile we decided to gamble and drove on to the next sector which was the fourth question. Baqir immediately spotted the answer and we yelled in excitement. Encouraged by that we drove on towards Sepang and the next question was even easier to us the newbies. We saw York even from a distance. After Sepang we drove towards PD via Bukit Pelanduk. The next sector was not far away but the question was beyond us and we went for something that my wife thought made sense. In our excitement to move ahead Baqir missed a point and we missed our next question. I backtracked once and then gave up as we were wasting a lot of time.

The HUNT

Immediately when we entered Lukut we had to answer four questions at sectors that were close to one another. However, being inexperience Baqir read the tulips wrongly that we had to backtrack to the very beginning of that sector. The first question in that sector was easy, second I could not decipher, third and fourth we nailed them as we were driving through. The next one was at PD Yatch Club which was Muzium Rajimen Angkatan DiRaja Malaysia. The question at Pasir Panjang was a jeopardy question which we guessed correctly. However not after we had to turned back because again we read the tulip wrongly.

It was pricking hot when we arrived at Mardi Linggi for our challenge questions there. We supposed to answer five questions and they were not that difficult if you search properly. One of them was ‘ A Cartoonist in the 5th month’ which was ‘Melati’. When we arrived at Mardi Linggi we were the 22nd car which mean there were about 20 or more cars behind us. I was encouraged by that and drove on towards Masjid Tanah. The next question was before we arrived in Masjid Tanah and Kak Cik saw it first. I was glad for that as it meant that everyone in the truck now could get the hang of it and I thought would could be doing good. The first question in Masjid Tanah was a jeopardy question that I failed to nail so I moved on to the next three that were pretty easy even for us newbies. Again we had to back track for the last one there when Baqir missed another point. We entered Alor Gajah around 1430 and I knew we were making good times. I got the answer to the only question in Alor Gajah quite easily. Then I asked my wife to start to look at the treasure questions and only the we realized we already missed the first treasure as we supposed to get it before Mardi Linggi. So I asked my wife the treasure questions after I could not decipher them when she read it them aloud to me. One look at the rest of the questions I knew the answer already. One was Lombok Durian that we had to purchase from one Pn Zaini at one of the stall along the route after Alor Gajah. Another two were two dragon fruits and any Tongkat Ali drink. The other question was a question that we did not have to buy anything by a name that we had to mentioned at the final checkpoint. Tongkat Ali was easy to get but Dragon Fruit could be tricky so I entered the highway at Simpang Empat with the idea of stopping at the Ayer Keroh R&R to get both items. As I predicted we got the tongkat ali. While I was trying to the items I left the engine running and I have been doing that since Linggi and I did not realized that the temperature was rising. Without realizing it I entered the highway again as sped on. Then Baqir said it was hot only then I looked the meter and the temperature was really high. At firstly I thought it aircon fan would cool off the radiator but instead the afster I went the hotter it got until we could hear a hissing sound coming from the bonnet. I immediately jam the break and eased the truck to the edge. I immediately ordered everyone out and when to check. Indeed hot water was hissing out of the radiator. I knew I had to wait for it to cool p before I could do anything. My thought immediately, ‘there goes our first treasure hunt.’ Lucky for us there was a shade at the place I stopped and we decided to wait there. I was not worried as I knew we had enough water for the radiator but I decided to wait and decided to call the organizer. They promised to send the Marshall but after awhile I knew the Marshals were far gone and I decided to walk to the plus emergency phone not far away from there to get them to come.


The Breakdown


The Shade


From the PLUS emergency phone


The Workshop

We were waiting for only about fifteen minutes after I made the call a PLUS Ronda Ranger came and parked behind us. The sight of the Ranger brought little comfort as if not for anything else at least the PLUS ronda people would be very familiar with Ranger. I mentioned to them what had happened and one of them went back to their Ranger to get the water and started to fill the radiator. While waiting we had a small chat on the Ranger and where we were going. After the radiator was full and I managed to start the engine successfully we all agreed we were ok. I thank them and I pulled out into the highway with the intention of going to Ayer Keroh to at least get the Ranger checked . My wife asked from the back whether we were continuing our hunt. By the question I knew straight away that they want to continue. So was I and I checked the time. I said we still can make it to Kluang on time provided we skip the rest of the questions along the way. We were that eager to continue until Baqir knocked some senses into us by saying that the car was not that good and we could risk it would breakdown again somewhere alien to us. On hearing that my wife was cautious a bit and repeated what Baqir had said in noncommittal way. I sensed she was still eager to proceed but also aware of the risk. Honestly I was ready to risk it and proceed but when I saw Mar at the back I decided to call it off and headed for Ayer Keroh. As I drove slowly into Ayer Keorh I could sense a heavy feeling of frustration in the truck. Kak Cik actually cried he he. Yes, she did and I felt for her how she waited for the hunt and it ended that way. I said there will be a lot more hunts in the future for us. That is one promise I intent to keep. I do hope it will happen soon rather then later.


The Air Kelapa

I managed to find one major car service outlet at Ayer Keroh and told the owner I would like to service the radiator. Because he told me it would take a couple of hours we settled to put the flowing water through the system and clean whatever we could. In the end I changed the radiator cap and viper as well.

All of us when we arrived at Ayer Keroh already decided that we were not going back but to stay for a night there. I drove off to a sure thing, Seri Malaysia, and took up two rooms. As a bonus to be in Melaka we went to our favourite place for ikan bakar that night. Actually that was the first thing Baqir said when we decided to stay for a night.

On The Train, Jan 24, 2008

I arrived at the station sweating as I was walking very fast to make sure I caught the last train home. It was 2242 when I arrived at the last train going out to Seremban from the station was 2259. I was almost the only one left at the station when the Port Klang train came and went with it’s last group of commuters. A Chinese guy walked towards me and asked me ‘ Ini ada keletaapi pegi Selang ka?’ ‘Mana?’ I said, “Selang, selang, selang’ he said continuously. I was stumped until he said, ‘Itu sana ada pegi Kajang.’ Only then I realized he meant to say Serdang. So I said clearly, ‘Serdang la”. He asked me to repeat that I did. We chatted a bit hime expalaining that he came from Klang and missed the exchange at KL Sentral because he did not now he suppose to get down and cross to the opposite platform for the Seremban train. I shared what I can with him to teach him a bit about the Komuter service. For Rawang, Sentul, Seremban and Port Klang trains you can only change at four stations. KL Sentral, KL Station, Bank Negara Station and if you missed the three the last one Putra Station. Normally commuters will change at KL Sentral but if the were too many people and they want to make sure to get a seat they will back track to KL Station or even Bank Negara. So there we were seating until I saw another commuter came waiting at the other end.

The last train was late and as usual I was already cursing inside. The Chinese guy remarked the train should not have been late because there wasn’t any traffic jam like the normal road. I tried very hard to give a decent smile to his comment but I only managed to say. ‘Itu la pasal kadang-kadang banjir dan rosak.’ I was of course being cynical in that reply. Eventually the train came at 2320 and when it approached the station I had to squint to see the sign to make sure it was indeed a Seremban train. The sign a bit smaller but was a LED display tat made be a bit made. Only when I was standing to board I realized it was a new, or at least anew refurbished train. The seats inside were arranged just like the STAR LRT. You get slightly less seats with this new arrangement but more room for standing commuters. It was a pleasant surprise and I like it. That at least made up the disappointment that I just had. The seat was a bit higher then before though that my laptop slanted when I put it on my lap.

Of course on the last train you get tired and sleepy faces as your fellow commuters. Except for one or two faces smiling and laughing at their handphone, obviously chatting with friends at the other end of the line.