Friday, December 3, 2010

Being a Writer

I was at a writing workshop with my daughter last weekend. It was something I always wanted to do with Kak CIk. Not only I got to know a bit better of the book and writing industry in Malaysia but it debunked certain belief that you cannot make money by being a writer in Malaysia. The industry and opportunity are still wide open for everyone. You just need to start to write and be a bit more prolific. Especially malay language materials. The  current statistics say that on average Malaysian reads about 12 books a year. In a way support my hypothesis when I observed the visitors to the KL International Bookfair every year. It was really a nice thing to know. I hope Kak CIk is inspired to start to write now. I surely do. In terms of subject areas several options still open for me. The only thing I need to decide is whether I want to be a certain type of writer or just publish anything that I wanted to publish.  It can be a difficult decision. I guess at the end on the day the answer would be - what are the things that I am passionate about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

KM World 2010, Day 1

Learning From Failure, Nancy Dixon, KM World, Nov. 15,  2010

Finally met Nancy Dixon in person. Nancy is one of the first authors of knowledge management. Her book Common Knowledge was one of the first books on KM that I read. Also met and sat next to Jay Liebowitz the author of Knowledge Retention. Among others in the workshop was also Lesley Shneier of the World Bank and Neo Kim Hai of the SAF.

Failure is defined as any deviation from expected behaviour.
Literature says if we learn from the small failures we could avoid - head off catastrophic failure.
FAA of the US learnt from near misses. Pilots benefited through lesson via simulation - successful
Healthcare industry took the FAA lessons and try to talk about their ‘failures’
Nuclear industry also learned from any deviation in their systems

We should learned from failed policy and near misses in our projects and policy works as well as dealing with our stakeholders at large. People issue is that no one want to talk about failures

Collecting lessons learned but  not learning from them is just a checklist
Need to break silos and get people to ‘talk’. Donna mentioned that her organization uses ‘fail often, fail fast’ strategy.

Surprisingly despite the development in KM and awareness most are still talking about the same old issues and problems - silos, not collaborating, not sharing, etc

Chris quoted ‘Failure is the mother of invention’

KM @ World Bank - ups and downs - new knowledge strategy - KM competency - core for everyone and specific for the KM group - Facebook linked  - ‘iCollaborate’ -
New mantra ‘Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Bank’ - you have to have a Champion and people passionate about the initiatives to be successful.

Nancy proposed 3-Step Process

  1. Identify small failures and make them visible. Kim Hai - Commander to blog, mine the data and connecting the dot. Is it possible for us to include in our knowledge mapping, CoPs, exercise to explore and discover. Would someone willing for someone else to make visible their ‘failures’. You need, as Nancy suggested, connectors to connect knowledge (information) to the right people.  
  2. Identify ways to make sense of failures (common and frequent failures). Someone make sense every possible issues to a problem across systems and processes; and get a group to converse and discuss about it to identify gaps and new meaning to the issue. Could be a World Cafe topic. The role of analysis, connectors and facilitators is important to make this successful. Candidates to do this possibly are the Analysis and Repackaging group or CoPs. One possibility is to link and embed the practice into the work process of line departments. The discussion on where KM group should be located structurally cropped up and I believe our model is still applicable. No mater where KM policy and thought leadership need to be central.
  3. Experimentation. Experiment the ‘failure’ findings into new environment or possibility. SAF Weak signal dashboard

The best examples of when the three steps being used, consciously or otherwise,  successfully are the discovery of Post-It Notes and Viagra.

Organizational Network Analysis, Patti Anklam

I attended this workshop because I would like to learn on how we could benefit and do the SNA. It is as what we read about and our biggest obstacle is more in mastering the SN software. Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) would be useful for us in identifying the networks of potential retirees for knowledge retention. Listening to Patti we could think of also use ONA as part of measurement tools
Before presenting the result (patterns) of the ONA we must seek to understand the network and seek clarification.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On The Train (Start writing Ghaz), Nov. 2, 2010

I have a lot of incentives to start writing my book or books today. A couple of important people around me urged me to do so. Out of the blue it was suggested also for me to co-write with someone. My dear wife has been urging me all this while. So today, seriously, I have given it a thought and apart from other writings that I have to do will start on the book with a structure and research. Do you think I’ll be any busy? Nah!!! I am pretty sure I’ll still keep to my current pace and schedule. Although it was said that too much multi tasking will spoil my brain cell development I’ll persist.

I caught the 2005 train home and it was the way I like it. Only a few people on board. cool with a lot of open spaces around me. I opened my research files, travelog and readings at the same time. Switching from one to another as my mood takes me. Writing now is almost second nature to me only the quality that I have to worry about.

KTMB yet again promised us with better services nationwide after the ‘soon to be’ completed double tracking project in the North. With that it was expected to cut short the journey from JB to Padang Besar and vice versa. Knowing their history I am highly skeptical though. For once I’d love to be proven very wrong here.

So when will be our next train excursion?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On The Train (Three Trains), Oct. 12, 2010

Last Sunday I really felt ridiculous when I felt like I just came back from a white winter of New York. Only after a week up at Cameron Highland, where the weather not even any close to freezing point, my body already could not take it.

This morning I once again felt ridiculous, not because of the heat, believe it or not I had to take three different trains to work. You might think that is normal? Well, this was on the same Seremban - Rawang line. I boarded as usual at Bangi and since I was a bit tired I took a nap after my second page of the book I was reading. Just after UKM station I could sense the train stopping and was waiting for quite a while. My thought then it must be waiting for the intercity train to clear at Kajang station. When we finally reached Kajang immediately the driver came on the air to announce that the train is facing, yes you guess right, a technical problem. I must say that announcement came out perfect, short and sweet.  After years of practice no doubt, something that I really learn up at Cameron Highland, you’ll achieve excellent result if not perfection. We were told to disembark and wait for another train.

The station master at the station then came on the air to announce to the others of the technical problem. He advised those going to KL Sentral to board the next to arrive intercity train from Singapore. Looking at the crowd around me, knowing how they will react, the fact that intercity train is at the top of KTMB priority list (they get the first right to any lines), as well as the fact that I maybe going to our PJ office I decided to take that train. As soon as the intercity train arrived I walked quickly to find the best door and the buffet car presented me with the best option. With my son following suit we sat with the rest there knowing we would not be that late. Sitting in the buffet car however brought about another excitement in me and I kinda missed being on the train and longed for another long excursion. Resurrecting the plan for KL-Bangkok-Chiang Mai was an immediate possibility.

At around 0730 we arrived at platform 2 of KL Sentral station and I walked up thinking that I was going to have breakfast before going to PJ. That was when I received the call that I was not needed in PJ. I abandoned the need to have breakfast and walked down to the platform to board my third train. It happened to be the new spanking ETS train that was being used to help ease the commuter train shortage problem. It was a neat short ride and I would definitely do the Ipoh route soon to experience the full pleasure of the express train.

Going home in the evening was another nice surprise. Expecting that I would be late, again  the same ETS train arrived the moment I was at the right place on the platform. A slightly longer neater ride home for me and I love it. As if KTMB have been listening to my complaint :)))

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Place of Possibilities

It is so easy to say there is no life after staying 4 days or a week in a place like Cameron Highland if you were born and breed in the city.

I was sitting in the resort’s restaurant alone having breakfast when I contemplated this while looking out of the window watching the day breaking in. You will miss a lot of things if you are not looking and just passing by. Age and the fact that I am a kampong boy at heart brought a feeling of sadness and loneliness to me suddenly. I do not mind at all if I were to retire at a place like this. Life is much slower compounded by the breezy weather outside.

I just got back from our early morning photo shoot at Bharat Tea Plantation. Being there got me in the mood to be a bit sentimental. When I sat there I realized that it was not just that but also what I needed and could possibly be I had nailed down my purpose and values in life. It is definitely a good place to think and write. I just could pick either one of the Bharat’s or Boh’s plantations and I would be contented. Who knows I might pick up drawing seriously again. Being a kampong boy I could relive my childhood days of vege farming as well. With the Bertam Valley route to Raub open now there are all possibilities.  One hour to Ipoh via Simpang Pulai, two hours to Raub and four hours to KL

I have my bicycle with me as well. So far I have done the Brinchang, the golf course and Tanah Rata loop twice. In fact I looped the golf course three times in between. Sipping my coffee I thought going all the way up to the Equatorial Hotel at Kea Farm the next day. That would be a blast going up and exhilarating coming down at faster speed with my face hitting the cool air.

In the end, a week up at Cameron Highland prove to be meaningful for me, both professionally as well as personally as far as my life is concern.

The photos below.

CH 1, CH 2, CH 3, CH 4, CH 5, CH 6, CH 7, Flowers and Fruits

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ramadhan ini

Hari sudah makin singkat tetapi aku masih memerlukannya
Tidak puas dan tidak cukup kerana kelalaian ku yang sudah-sudah
Dosa ku terhadap Mu amat banyak dan berat membuatkan aku merasa apa yang aku lakukan selama ini tidak mampu menebusnya.
Walau pun dengan dugaaan demi dugaan yang Kau beri
Aku bersyukor aku redha
Dan aku masih ingin bermohon kepada Mu
Akan kesejahteraan buat ku sekeluarga
Aku berharap berakhirnya Ramadhan merupakan permulaan yang lebih baik
Untuk melangkah kehadapan melawan arus
Mematahkan duri-duri serta halangan yang ada
Supaya kami menjadi
Lebih bersyukor
Lebih redha
Lebih tabah untuk menhadapi apa jua yang Kau berikan
Ramadhan ini aku nantikan
Ramadhan ini aku rintihkan pemergiannya
Ramadhan ini aku berharap
Mendapat keberkatan, keredhaan, kesempurnaan dan keampunan
Ramadhan ini akan terus berlalu
Ketibaan mu semula akan terus ku nanti

Salam eidil fitri untuk semua
Maaf zahir dan bathin

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On The Train (Bukit Galing Camp), Aug 6, 2010

Things got complicate and challenging for me this month. With various responsibilities demanding my resources - physical, time and money, I got stretched a little bit. The biggest concern however has to do with my own health. I had been a time bomb walking around waiting to explode.

The Bukit Galing Camp group page that I created few months back now getting a lot of air time and participation have increased many folds thanks to the old classics photos uploaded by my good buddy Zaha. Everyone is trying to reconnect to one another which is wonderful to me. Personally, slowly my old mental hardisk started to retrieve important and memorable events in my life between the period of 1968 -1976. The life as anak mat kampau in an enclosure that was named as Bukit Galing Camp. That was a long, long time ago but if you asked everyone they would say it was just like yesterday. That brings me to the main topic of my blog today - ‘organic social networks’ - if there is such a term. This kind of social network always associated itself to a place or location. The sense of belonging to a place is so strong that no matter what, one is immediately accepted to be part of the network if you once in your life been associated to the place. More so if you had been living in that place for quite a while. This kind of network would be stronger among the pioneers. Especially when they share certain experiences and growing up together. The stories that they tell years later would be the connectors to most of the meanings and contexts of the knowledge that they have. Over time though I am not very sure whether this kind of network is sustainable.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Masjid India and the Vicinity

After years of ignoring the Masjid India area, well I do not have any good reason why I should be there, last week I was there passing through for five consecutive days. I was attending a five day course in the vicinity.  Up until that day I did not know that there is a Maytower Hotel and Apartments in KL and let alone in Masjid India area. 

Walking through the area was indeed a new discovery. Gone are the days of mischievous if not really nasty neighborhood where hoodlums making it their den for almost any form of illegal activities. I felt really safe walking there and the existence of Mydin and Jakel bringing out more family atmosphere. It was really a nice surprise for me. the area now is a worthy tourist site offering more credible and clean three star hotels like Maytower. Being close to the Masjid Jamek LRT station is definitely useful and helpful. Jalan Melaka had been one of the banking street in Kuala Lumpur but ever since the collapse of Bank Bumiputra the area never recovered from the set back. A curse as it may seems but that is the reality for me. Thinking about it I guess it is the nature of a city like KL where events, positive or negative, will change the make up, environment and one’s perception of a place. I live long enough to see the transformation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Conversation with Gen Y

Last Thursday I was invited to be in a panel discussion at one of our local university. The topic was ‘Peranan Perpustakaan Di Dalam Memertabatkan Ilmu.’ I was asked to speak and discuss from KM point of view in corporate environment.  I basically was ever ready and did not need to prepare much. While driving and even more when I was already seated on the stage facing the audience it was confirmed that the majority of them was students, college students. I immediately had to change to plan B. The first panel speaker was Dato Zawiyah and she delivered her piece like she normally did.  After ten minutes into it the first line of students in front of me on the left were already in never never land. A few more in the middle rows on the left of the hall were in their dreams as well. Students at the back in the last row as expected were the first group to go oblivious of the going on’s in the hall. I knew they were there not on their free will and some of them can be very well very tired. I had to take the advantage of their present and make it count.  When Dato Zawiyah ended and the microphone was passed to me the first thing that I did was aligned my chair so that I was really facing them. I sat leaning forward a bit talking to them as if they were right in front of me and my eyes moved all over the hall as I was talking. After I thanked the organiser for inviting me I focused my full attention at the students. With my direct to the point and shooting at will framing them that I knew what they were and think I got their full attention. Most of them were awake as if being jolted to full attention. I knew I had their full attention to start the conversation. Firstly, I said to them that if any of them still in doubt about knowledge economy needed only to take out their handphone at look at it.

Relating my experience interviewing the straight A’s students coming through our system I said, ‘I must say I was disappointed.’ I alluded to the fact that when I talked to these graduates it was like talking to a machine. One line answer without much discussion and most a text book answers. I continued with my version of memertabatkan ilmu. I seem to get their full attention by way of a delivery. Maybe a shock treatment way. My objective was to urge them to be knowledgeable (berilmu) rather than just clever at their subject. They needed to be reminded that the whole world is revolving around them and they need ot learn to connect the dots. In of the ways, as their entire growing ups had been, social and community in nature. This is the irony to me. They live in a very connected and social world but do not act and think likewise when it comes to making what they have learned more meaningful and comprehensive. I shared with them a little bit what it means to be a knowledge worker as well as my organization as a knowledge-based organization. I was pretty sure when I talked about it about more then half did not have a clue to what I was talking about. Within ten minutes I just stopped talking and urged them to start to converse with us.

Questions started to come led by one planted by the organiser. I must say all the questions are good questions. Although we did not achieve the level of full conversation at least we managed to cover the important issues. One observation though, because of their immaturity and wanting to stake a claim at being the most could not care less macho jocks in campus, most of the Malay boys just sat without showing any commitment. It could be just my perception but then that was what I saw.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On The Train, July 23, 2010

‘Tren ke Seremabn telah mengalami kelewatan. Tren ke Seremaban sekarang ini berada di stesyen Segambut. KTMB memohon maaf di atas kelewatan.’ Nothing new there. In fact  it is expected on Friday evening and a culture for KTMB already.

Just now a colleague remarked that somebody telah meriwayatkan kepada beliau that whenever I got on the train I would straight away either open my laptop to do something or  my book to read. Well, yes that is my nature and I have been doing it for 6 years already. I would blog, do some work or now reading using my laptop. Books I have still a lot to finish so that would be a never ending story for me. In fact I am thinking one of these days I would just board a train on one Saturday or Sunday morning and started to read or write until the last station, Tg Malim. Maybe in the future all the way to Ipoh on the new express train. 

We were held up at KL Sentral and I was not bothered to find out why. I kept my head down concentrating of my reading and writing. The situation got worst with more commuters trying to squeeze in. Once in a while I over heard agitated voices asking people to move in and pleading reply saying that there was no more room for even a skeleton. I just smiled. It did not get any better at MidValley as well as Bandar Tasek Selatan. Lucky for me I was in the mood to read and write.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On The Train, July 16, 2010

I was reading a live Facebook updates between my two office colleagues who  were in their cars on the way home. They were discussing about the Friday evening traffic crawl and one of them was unlucky enough to be stuck in one nasty traffic jam. I jumped in the conversation by way of a question, ‘Train anyone?’. One of them replied. ‘ Train tak jem tapi dalam train jem En G’. She was of course right especially on Friday evening. The train would normally be like a can of sardine. That was one of the reason why I was still in the office then. You would have a comfortable ride home if you catch a train after 1900. I replied with a joke, ‘Bukan jem tapi tapai, durian and all the perfume made in B....... BTW I am immune to all that already.’ Which is true as well. After all this while I am immune to all the possibilities in the train. I am only, after trying very hard not to, but still amaze at the antics of KTMB. 
Going home today I got a seat straight away when I boarded the 2035 train that was late as usual very late. At Mid Valley it was solid packed. Lucky for me around me was a smell of a very expensive perfume. I am immune to that as well but this one was very nice. A lot of chattering today, mostly students going home for the weekends. Maybe going home after some shopping to furnish their dorm/room with new mattress for the new semester :)). Two of them were standing in front of me holding a mattress each. A student sitting in front of me was like me writing something, my guess his assignment, on his note pad. Are the commuters getting intellectual? Maybe, transportation of choice for students? Are students established customer segment for KTMB? There are only a few commuters like me and I guess KTMB should know better. Or maybe this is too complex for them?

Monday, July 12, 2010

In The Class, July 10, 2010

I arrived early for my first IGS class.  I am going to be here from 0900 to 1800. Who ever designed this seminar series need to go back to adult learning methodology course. Unless the would be lecturer allow at least four breaks in between. How could you design a straight 4 hours class per segment.
I waited until 0905 when a gentleman showed up to try the locked door. He turned to me indicating ‘no show’. He mentioned that the class has been moved to another place. I could not but be amazed at the fallacy of human communication skill and customer relationship yet again. I am very sad and angry that this is still happening at UiTM. How in the world could they fathom that we will know where the class is? What is the use of the website and our emails? I know my role as a student I checked, double checked and called to make sure I got the latest information. Another two ladies showed up and they similarly told us that they probably moved the class to Section 17. One of them called their colleague that was already at Section 17 and he/she was also wondering whether or not he/she was at the right place. Interesting!? We waited for awhile deciding our next action. In the end we decided to convoy to Section 17 and ended inside Anggerik Lecture Hall 15 minutes late. I was lucky the three guys were with me if not I would surely missed the class. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

On The Train (Now, today KTMB said the cable was stolen), July 9, 2010

Ha ha ha he he he he this morning KTMB said it was due to a stolen cable. A punk or two decided to steal a cable, which one I am not sure, somewhere at Bank Negara station rendering one line dead. I almost choke with laughter when I heard that as the reason of us being delayed at KL Sentral this morning. Well, it could be true and damn to the thieves or vandals but, again, this is not something new! How in the world KTMB allow that happen! I finally reached my station at 0800 after one an a half hour on the train. I was not late for work but others were. and I am very sure they were cursing KTMB all the way to the office. 

On The Train (KTMB said it was broken cable), July 7, 2010

It was a broken cable between Salak Selatan and Serdang today. The announcer said ‘a cable snapped’ and I surely do not know because of what? Fallen trees? No I did not see any trees along the tracks around the area. Cable pole came a ground? No, I do not think so. So it just snapped then. Just like the civet (Musang Pandan) that decided to fall off through the ceiling in my office yesterday. Well that’s another interesting story. Luckily for me I was in the mood to read and write. As I sat down reading and writing I could feel the unpleasant feeling among most commuters around me. A gentleman next to me occupied himself, engrossed, reading a novel.  A 45 minutes journey became almost two hours.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Innovation - Robert B. Tucker. Istana Hotel, June 28, 2010

Over the weekend I visited iCity at Shah Alam with my family. My daughter asked me what is the ‘i’ in the iCity stand for? I started to play with the letter ‘i’ to get myself to decipher what word it represents. Of course it is ‘i’ for Innovation, Innovation city. Their intention is good but I am not sure the implementation is right. At first when I saw the light trees there I thought they were made out of LCD or LED lights. On closer look they were from different sizes of normal light bulbs. Well they were still creative but I am not sure I could say innovative as well.

Today I attended a ‘Guru Talk on Innovation’ and the Guru was Robert B. Tucker. Well, I reserved my comment of the guru thing.

According to the ‘Guru’

Lightning might strike but you need to work at being innovative and a certain framework and processes need to be in place for it to happen. You could guess that the Guru came with his trademarked framework. No, I have no complaint on that but if we were to be honest with ourselves it is quiet common and the bottomline is to do it. Lets walk the innovation talk.

According to materials provided the best practices for innovation
  1. Making innovation a systematic process
  2. Implementation idea management system
  3. Collaboration with stakeholders
  4. Creating metrics and measures
  5. Involving everyone in the organization
In the business world there are three types of Innovation from the perspective of Products, Process, Strategy and they are;
  • Breakthrough
  • Substantial
  • Incremental
One thing I like most about being innovative is the statement ‘Innovation is about collaborating and collaborating is additive’.

Robert shared with us what he thinks as the required innovation skills.
  1. Embracing opportunities
  2. Be a good collaborator, leaders in Collaboration
  3. Assault your assumptions - Become aware of your own assumptions, Ask five ‘why’ questions, Ask for a 3rd option, Look for solutions outside your industry, Invite yourself to think bigger
  4. Passion for the stakeholders
  5. Think ahead of the curve and the tools are Technological, Demographic, Social, Economics, Environmental, Regulatory
Take Home Values
  • Look for patterns of change
  • Audit your information diet
  • Do ‘ deep dives’ on emerging issues
  • Improve your networking skills
  • Host ‘all things considered’ meetings
  • Fortify your idea factory
  • Harvest for ideas
  • Identify what gets your creative juices flowing
‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist when they grow up.’ - Pablo Picasso

Let’s try to help KTMB to make our ride On The Train to be a bit better, June 24, 2010

I was not even out of my office building yet when somebody mentioned to me about the bad news regarding the Komuter service. The person is a regular commuter like me and according to her, her friend said that one of the electrical wires broke into two somewhere between Segambut and KL station rendered one line ceased to be operable. She was walking to the station to confirm the news and for her to take alternative to go home. She was complaining that she has a monthly ticket and if KTMB continued to behave this way she going to be at the losing end. So I was not surprise when I saw the crowds moving and coming from the same direction. As I was thinking of what to do an announcement came on air about the mishap and delays. The announcer also mentioned that who ever wish to continue with the journey their ticket will be refunded and with that I straight away decided to take the STAR LRT to Petaling. I queued up at the counter and got my RM4 refund. This morning the line between KL and Segambut was still not ready and a lot of people were late for work.

Let’s try to dissect the problem and maybe, just maybe, we could offer KTMB a solution. First of all from the six years experience that I have taken the Komuter Train service all their problems that I had faced were not new problems. Meaning that they have had experience on almost everything happening within this year before. From learning perspective they should have learned from all these experiences and be better equip to anticipate and deal with the problems but this did not happen. Why?

They do not now how to learn?
The have issue with knowledge flow so much so the lessons learned were not shared?
Not enough opportunity to share because of structure, culture or process?

Truly, most adults take for granted that since they are adults they know how to learn. In actual fact they do not have a clue. KTMB need to find out if this is so within it’s organization. How to learn properly is important in terms of comprehension and retention. The capacity to learn is also as important as ability to learn. Most need to understand both of these first in order to know what proper learning is. If you are a baby boomer highly likely you would not have a clue about this unless you read and learn about it. Taking into consideration the population of the staff of KTMB especially the technical section that mostly deals with the current situation they are facing. Learning style, retention and the way learning is design and deliver are very important for them. I am beginning to wonder what sort of learning and training intervention they provide at their Batu Gajah Training Centre?

Or maybe with all the learnings they had from dealing with the day to day problems and issues just stuck with few people in the organization and the learnings were not being shared enough. This could happen due to several reasons for them. The technical knowledge were not captured properly and thus not many know the knowledge exist within the organization. Maybe it is due to the knowledge are not flowing far and deep enough in the organization. There is a bottle neck or stopper somewhere along the line of their knowledge flow value chain. The barrier could be a person, social network or process and the three may have a connection to the culture of the organization.

If all these are not the problem then it is just a case of not enough opportunities exist or being created for them to share ‘war stories’ easily in the organization.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On The Train, June 23, 2010

For some reasons I was really not in the mood to do anything productive today. I tried to do some research on how we should proceed to the next level of our KM journey but I was losing energy very fast and drained my self towards the end of the day. I forced my self to stay back to a bit to see what else I could do and got just a little bit in return. Grudgingly I walked down to the station after I said my Maghrib thinking I would be on time for the 2005 train. As usual KTMB had totally a different comprehension to the concept of punctuality.

I guess I had too much on my mind.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rediscovering The Forest

Over the weekend we decided to jungle trek up to the Tanjung Taun Lighhouse and, apart from the exercise, we rediscovered our love for trail walking.

After the cycle up to the peak the day before we found out that there were at least to walking trail that the visitors used to climb and we got interested to explore. I initially had the audacious idea of riding the trail down but I was advised by one of the workers doing maintenance there it would we difficult. Luckily I was not stubborn as usual. From the beginning I already decided to use the trail that would take us up via the secluded beach and immediately as we entered the gate Sam, little Mar and I turned left into the trail. It was almost 1030. We started to walk along a low gradient path before climbing down to a spot where seems to be a dry watering place for small animals. From there we walked up and incline that was quite steep but still not difficult. Walking under a canopy of the green gave us a certain nice feeling. We continued walking up and down stepping over a log or two crossing our path. I was on the lead for the obvious reason, Mar in the middle and Sam a sweeper of sort for Mar. All of us into our own mode while walking. I was thinking of the next path as well as how I missed all the green and trekking. The think is if you have not been doing it for awhile certain kind of edginess creep in you. Sometimes worrying over nothing. Having Mar and Sam behind me making me more protective I guess. Once in a while I stopped to check on them. Now the gap between the three of us was about 5 metres in between each other. I did not mean to push time but we started a bit late and we were two hours before our check out time. Assessing our progress so far I was confident we would make it back with enough time.

Then, we came down to the best part of the trail. An unspoiled beach. Before we reach there along the path was an old perigi. I did not check what was it there before but judging from he look of the perigi I guess it must be some kind of historical landing and dwelling.

The beach was beautiful to us and with wind blowing cooling us a bit we sat down to rest. Mar straight away jumped onto the beach and it took me great effort to stop her from playing with the water. Since she was only in a sandal I did not want for her to wet them as it would be slippery and difficult for our next climb. On the clearing nearby Jabatan Perhilitan’s contract workers were building new beautiful facilities for visitors to the place. I could not help but worry for the place despite their good intention to make the place a more convenient place for people to take a break of camping some Malaysians that I called idiots would in no time spoil the place with their behaviour. I have seen too many beautiful nature turned into a rubbish dump to justify my worry.

I hate to interrupt Sam and Mar in their reverie and pleasure of sitting under the tree with the cool sea breeze blowing at them but we had to move. Grudgingly we continue our walk and now facing was the the ‘tonggek’ climb. I told Mar, just to appease her, that was going to be the last climb, little that we knew what a climb it was. No, she was not complaining of being tired but she was even louder because she needed to go :)).

Slowly we inched up until we reached the peak to rest a bit before we continued to walk along a level path towards the lighthouse. At our pace we reached the lighthouse slightly more than one hour. We we drenched in sweat.

We used the tarmac road going down and we were back at the gate in 20 mintues. the next time we are going to back track the trail down.

Friday, June 18, 2010

On The Train (Lentang, Raub, Kuala Lipis and Pulau Chekas), June 14, 2010

It was another wedding weekend for me and I took two days off to rejuvenate and recuperate in preparation as well as aftermath of the wedding. We left the house early on Friday morning and I detoured to Hutan Lipur Lentang for a bit of R&R. The cool mountain and waterfall did wonders to my well being. Kak Cik, Mar and I were in the water as soon as we had our ‘breakfast’. The place was well kept and maintained by the authority to make our present there even better. I walked around and concluded that it is one of the potential for our next camping trip. I even found a potential track for offroad cycling.

We reached Gali Tengah around 1500 to rest a bit before I decided to go to KL (Kuala Lipis) for something. Actually my dear wife wanted to buy tights for her cycling. Well, it is always like that for us and small towns Malaysia. We always seems able to find what we need in small towns like Kuala Lipis, Kuala Pilah, Tapah, etc. In the case of Kuala Lipis I found my favourite sandal sold there as well. So at around 1730 we were in Kuala Lipis already. As I stepped out of the Ranger I realised I had a good evening light for a good photography. I took few shots of the old building along the main street of Kuala Lipis. As my wife walked along towards the shop I snapped at will and after getting her things we walked further on and I was presented with a classic. A classic vintage old bicycle that is at one bicycle shop. It was priced at RM300 and I was tempted to just grab it and take it home as souvenir. But then I remembered I already had two bikes at the back of the Ranger and adding another one will indeed posted a problem for us. At least now I know where to get one.

Once when we thought we had explored enough we walked back to our Ranger and when I was inside I realised there were a lot of people coming towards us from the bus stand. I said to my wife maybe there’s a Pasar Malam there and I decided to drive there to check. It was indeed our lucky day as it was indeed a Kuala Lipis Pasar Malam in progress. Without prompting I parked and walked towards the area to further explore. A very nice surprised indeed. In the end we were only back home at my mum’s at around 1930.

Saturday was a full wedding day for my cousin and we were busy doing our things since 1000. It was a hot tiring day and fun day for everyone.

On Sunday I decided to take everyone to cool off at Pulau Chekas waterfall which was not that far away from my kampung. I woke early and headed for the Raub Pasar Minggu to buy something for our picnic. Early as I was the Pasar Minggu was already bustling with buying and selling. I just grabbed whatever I thought we needed and headed back. Knowing we could be late if we dilly daly I gave an ultimatum to everyone that I was leaving at 0830 and anybody not ready by then will be left behind. It was really effective as I got everyone interested stirring up rushing to the bathrooms. With nothing much to pack at 0827 we left for Pulau Chekas and reached it 20 minutes later.

When we arrived we were greeted by the worst possible scenario. The place although almost empty was a rubbish dump taking the glow out of the beautiful rocks and the river. It was really pathetic and I was ashamed being a Pahang boy then. How could have they treated the place like that. Not only we have not many of such places now we are trying our best to spoil what we have. I really am sick the fault behaviour and attitude. It is beyond comprehension to me. As we walked in to find a good spot for us we saw a young kompang group camping in the middle of the compound. They were thumping their kompang in earnest when we walked by. The place is called Pulau Chekas because the river split into two directions before coming together again at downturn creating an island in the middle. The island, at it’s edges is where you can find some of the best picnic area. At one of spots that we decided to camp.

We had breakfast first and then leading the rest I jumped into the cold water. It was cold just a moment until our body blood system regulate the temperature to make it pleasant to swim. I was hoping I could stay the whole day in the water but I know I could not. In the end due to several unrelated events we left the place early satisfied.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On The Train, June 1, 2010

Yeap, I am on the train yet again. What can I do? I like train so much no matter how pissed I was yesterday. The 1920 train home was packed like sardine can. Came on board at the same station was a KTMB guy in uniform. I thought at first he was checking tickets and getting a ride back to the office. About 5 minutes into our journey I saw several men were coming through sheepishly and smiling from the next coach. They were chased out by the KTMB guy from the Pink Coach. So they are serious about the Pink Coach. I just hope they are as serious about improving the basic parts of the service.

If it was me I would not budge from the coach. Well, I am not trying to be stubborn or what but it I were to be there in the first place I must have a valid reason. Secondly, I would give the conductor my piece of mind before anything else. For one I would be telling him that KTMB has their priority wrong. Despite applauding and supporting the move to assign a ladies only coach, in the current situation it is ill-advised on their part. The other thing they forget is that most of their customers are really suffering because of their poor services. Especially for loyal commuters like me that have been using the ‘disservice’ for 6 years and more. At this point whatever KTMB does to make us piss will piss us big time. We are as hot as the hot weather in Malaysia now. They should know better not to increase the temperature further. I know most of them are just doing their job but as I said our body temperature has reached the bearable maximum.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On The Train (Piss off with KTMB Day), May 31, 2010

This morning I arrived at the station at the same time as the train. I thought the train was way too eager to start the week and was very early. When I saw the clock at the station and on my way to the ticket counter I found out that it was actually the 0616 train that was really really late. Luckily the next train, the one I normally take, was only late by three minutes.

As I was about to sit down at the station waiting for the train home in the evening an announcement came on to say a Seremban train was yet again had been taken off the schedule leaving me to wait for the next one that was then still at Kepong station. So whenever the announcer came on air to create an awareness of the pink coach I was annoyed. To hell with the pink coach if you could not get the basic right. Oh yes, I am pissed now. As if to rub it off and getting me even more mad the the train came and the driver brought the train to stop at a wrong place. Should I call him an idiot? Maybe that is not strong enough.

Today two of our international workshop participants arrived without their luggage. I really could not understand how that could happen. Application of taxonomy failure again? Maybe somebody just not careful enough? Whatever it is, it’s a nuisance to the stakeholders.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not On The Train but @ Specialist Hospital, May 26, 2010

As to beat the traffic jam we arrived early at DSH. It was 0631 to be exact. As instructed we walked towards the Emergency counter to register in. Formality done we waited for the next instruction. Around 0745 we were taken to the ward and I decided to have breakfast at the hospital’s cafe. Since DSH is fully ‘Wified’ all the three of us connected and communicated online easily. Then, I did not get the notion that I would be there for the whole day until late evening when I was at the cafe again having our evening coffee.

Now both of us are in the room waiting for Baqir to come back from the OT. And while waiting something very interesting happened and I want to add should not happen in hospital like DSH. Both my wife were in the room, I was standing making myself a coffee and my dear wife on the bed surfing the Net. A nurse came in and said to my wife ‘ nak ambil BP’ my wife straight pointed to the next bed and I said off the bat we were not the patients. After awhile the nurse went out and I remarked to my wife the nurse should not asked that stupid question and they should know who and where the patient is. True enough the nurse came back in and asked ‘ Patient pergi mana ye?’. I said straight away. ‘ You sepatutnya tak tanya soalan itu, you should know better. You kerja sini.’ Smiling sheepishly she said, ‘Saya tak tahu, saya baru masuk kerja.’ Sorry to say another wrong answer. No matter what, they should know who their patients are and where they are. The previous shift should do a serial knowledge transfer or a simple AAR by way of either written or verbal reports/briefing. Either way patient's records should be easily available to them.

On The Train (Wedding, Sungkai, Petai, Tg Malim), May 24, 2010

Another wedding over the weekend and this time at Tapah. It can be just like any other wedding but for the players involved. Sungkai, Tapah and Bidor were where my wife and her family used to reside. They were a part of the mining community there. My wife and her siblings attended their primary and secondary both at Sungkai and Bidor. Naturally they have a lot of friends there and naturally Tapah also came into equation for them. One of her sisters decided to make Bidor her kampung now. As strange as anything can be the family’s, read ladies, tailor is also at Tapah. So we frequently travel there to visit and recently my wife started to reconnect with her old family friends in the areas. Our host for the wedding was one of my wife’s closest family friends that I would not wrong to reclassify it as almost as true family itself. It is a place and occasion ‘where everybody knows your name’. Knowing how this thing works and having such an experience myself I was just happy to oblige. I just let my wife had her moment reestablishing her old networks of friends. Surprise as any surprise can be the bride, the host’s daughter, happened to be working in the same organization as yours truly. Now I can potential stake a claim on my wife’s network.

Photos here

After visiting my sister-in-law for a while I took the old route 1 home and when we arrived at Sungkai my wife remarked about the new railway station hidden on our right. You should know by how that I have this thing with train and train stations, I decided to check it out. The new station was not that interesting but being introduced to the old Sungkai town was a nice surprise for me. I’d never realized its existence. Of course my wife rebuffed me saying’ I told you so many times already. You are the one who was not listening.’ He he he, yes dear.

Photos here

When we arrived at Bidor from Tapah earlier my wife was pushing me to stop to buy some petai. Since I decided to take route 1 we missed buying them at Bidor. I drove straight on to Slim River (Mar asked me what is Slim River and I told her Sungai Kurus) from Sungkai firstly to fill up the Ranger and secondly to check whether there was a Pasar Malam there to buy some petai. I filled up the Ranger but there wasn’t any petai only a van full of petai coming along beside us that I tempted to stop. I entered the highway at Slim River and Schumacher my way down south. When we passed Behrang I remembered that there would be a Pasar Malam at Tg Malim town that night. I told my wife and turned left to enter Tg Malim.

The pasar malam covered half of Tg Malim town and to our surprised after we tawaf the whole pasar malam there wasn’t a single sayur kampung on sale. Which means no petai as well laa. But we discovered one of the specialties of the pasar malam, the biggest cheese apam balik that I have seen. Yes, not only it was the biggest it contain cheese as well. I guess you can called it Afem Ballick now he he he.

Photos here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On The Train (The Pink Coach), May 21, 2010

Last week KTMB introduced The Pink Coach on the Seremban Rawang line. I knew its coming. No impact for me in the morning going to work but a big one going home as my favourite coach going home is the one in the middle. Well, I am not against the idea but they have not improve on even the smallest thing about their service and yet they are introducing this. Here’s my grievance list.

1. Punctuality is suck and the rate of train missing from the schedule is still the same.
2. The announcement still not timely and blatantly misleading. Obviously, both lines, under the pretext of trying to improve their service, would play on recorded announcement when arriving at various stations. Whenever these trains arrive at KL Sentral, to save cost or whatever, they play the same announcement like this. “ ..... kepada penumpang yang akan meneruskan perjalanan ke Pelabuhan Klang sila ke paltform 4, ke Seremban ke platform 5, .....‘ The problem is I am already on a Seremban line or Klang line. It may not be confusing to someone like me but to the new passengers and foreigners? In trying to help and save cost instead they annoy and confuse their customers.
3. In trying to educate and help the passengers, especially at KL Sentral, the guards sometimes are rude.
4. The touch n go and ticket gates are faulty most of the time. Especially to those that using weekly or monthly passes. It is a nuisance.
5. The ticket machine fared no better

KTMB can paint all the coaches pink if they want to but they are still not pretty. If you know what I mean

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On The Train, May 7, 2010

I have been sharing and talking about Knowledge Management (KM) for quite awhile now since 1997. From the very infancy until what it is now. A lot have changed and still evolving. I could see an encouraging trends of Malaysian organizations wanting to ‘implement’/‘do’ KM. Though encouraging, one or two of them have been misled to understand and believe the wrong thing about KM. There are still organizations equating KM to a department setting up a KM Unit, KM is Document Management or KM is Portal. KM is more than that.

Another thing that came full circle and to my amazement few months back while attending a function I came across a printed slide presentation. When I browsed through them I could help to feel the slides so familiar. Until after a couple of pages I realised they were from my old slides that I used to teach. I have moved along since then and so did the slides, I thought. The slides were only useful a few years then and now some of the information are already overtaken by new developments in the subject areas. If anybody was to use the slides they should be used in perspective. Not in entirety.

Monday, May 3, 2010

On The Train ( The Pink Train), April 28, 2010

I was walking on the platform yesterday evening when I saw opposite on the other side that something was different. The first thing I saw was actually a police like barrier was tied around a bin against a pillar. At first I thought KTMB was trying to protect the bin from vandals but then I realised something else. All the pillars in question were actually painted pink. So I deduced that it was meant as an indication to ‘beware of a wet paint’. I was right but not sure why KTMB suddenly likes pink. Today my curiosity was answered firstly by a news report that KTMB has started to assigned a carriage in the middle of a Komuter train as a ladies only carriage and among other things decided to paint it pink. Secondly, when I walked along the platform today I saw across a big banner in between two pink pillars saying ‘ a waiting area for ladies only carriage’. The pink carriage. I was told by my colleague this morning when she boarded the specific carriage it was still full with men. :))). Obviously they were caught unaware of the new measure. For now the pink carriages are only available on Klang line. Well it is a good idea but let see how Malaysians react to that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On The Train (Fortunate or Unfortunate), April 26, 2010

By their behaviour I was certain the main thing they craved for was the love of parents. They may have everything else catered for them, even care takers or surrogate mum and dad, but they were completely missing the real thing in life. Seeing them I could not help thinking how lucky my children are and how they take life for granted. This sure begs the question of who actually are the fortunates and unfortunates. To me this depends on how you see the world and all of us see things using different lenses. Some of us see the world using a wide angle lens, the big picture and normally from a far. You tend to see things on the surface. Those that are using a close-up micro lens would be able to see a bit more detail and the tendency to be a bit more involved trying to understand further and help whenever we can. A lot of us also use our standard zoom lens and not sure how to react but just to pull in and out of view searching for something that you also not sure of. No matter what kind of lens you use you need to really explore an understand a bit more of your images. The first time I saw the kids when we arrived at the Rumah Kebajikan Ash Shakur I saw smiles and excitement on their faces. Probably because that day was the best day of their life to be able to go to The Lost World of Tambun that they probably never heard of before. Maybe just simply because they got to be away from the ‘home’ for a day to enjoy other parts of the world. Or maybe, just maybe, they were, because they were told they will be given a mum and dad for a day, looking for that unfulfilled needs to be loved. After few hours at Tambun I was certain it was the later and I was more certain when we were about to part ways at the end of the day when we sent them ‘home’. My ‘assigned’ daughter was a twelve year old Julia Azira Mohd Jamaluddin and son Mohd Hasbullah Mansor. Like the others both came from a different background.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On The Train, April 20, 2010

It has been two weeks already that I am in a thinking mode. Today was no different and while deep in thought I realized that between all of us we have, collectively, about 40 years of KM experience. So, except for new tools and thinking why are still relying on external expertise with our KM initiatives? We are experienced enough to develop our own perspective of what’s working or not. More than that I would think if we were to sit down and think about it we could even develop our own tools and techniques based on what we know and experience. A think tank of sort is in order for us. Maybe the next area to explore for us would be complexity science, Complex Adaptive System. Putting everything that we do in a better perspective. We seriously need to find opportunity to allow organic growth of the practice.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On The Train (Di Antara Agensi Melancung dan Agensi Melancong), April 16, 2010

Aku baru sahaja selesai menbaca Stones into Schools semalam dan ketika berkemas untuk ke pejabat pagi ini telah mengambil keputusan untuk mula membaca semula buku karya Bapak Hamka Tenggelamnya Kapal Van de Wijck. Buku ini telah lamu ku cari dan telah ku perolehi melalui belian di Internet. Buat pertama kalinya aku membaca buku ini semasa umur ku 18 tahun. Asyiknya aku membaca dan berkhayal sehingga mampu habis membaca dalam masa satu hari. Masih ku ingat ketika itu cuaca tidak menentu tetapi emosi ku jauh pergi berkelana mengikut jalan cerita yang diolah oleh Bapak Hamka. Indahnya kisah cinta sehingga aku teruja ingin terus mecari karya sedemikian rupa seterusnya. Malangnya aku telah kecewa.

Muka surat pertama buku ini telah ku meluai membaca sebaik aku duduk di tempat kegemaranku di atas keretapi pagi tadi. Aku pasti sehari dua ini aku akan tetap diasyikan dengan cerita lama tapi masih gagah berobek jiwa. Malangnya pembacaan ku telah diganggu oleh keinginan untuk lebih prihatin terhadap bahasa yang digunakan. Tidak semena-mena aku teringat akan teguran kesalahan menggunakan bahasa melayu Agensi Melancung dan Agensi Melancong. Paparan iklan sebegini kerap kita lihat tetapi masalahnya ia membawa dua makna yang berbeza. Dari segi bahasa kedua-duanya betul. Ia menjadi salah jika pernggunanya salah kerana Melancung bermakna Menipu dan Melancong bermaksud pergi berjalan bersiar ke tempat-tempat riadah. Jadi jika kita melihat paparan di papan iklan ditulis Agensi Melancung ia bermakna agensi itu adalah Agensi Menipu.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On The Train (Knowledge and Learning Spaces), April 13, 2010

I gave my usual talk on work spaces this morning and I had a very receptive as well as perceptive audience. One thing for sure I need to do a bit more selling for the whole community for them to really understand and appreciate the importance of the concept and spaces we created for them. In Knowledge Sharing, Creation, Transfers and Learning spaces play a major role. I used the term ecology and described the history of Silicon Valley. Paradoxically all of my audience today did not know where and what Silicon Valley is when I asked. They are the internet generation. They were born to live and use the products that came or originated from the Silicon Valley so to them for all they care these products could just be from China, Taiwan, Japan or even Vietnam. They certainly could not be bothered by where or what Silicon Valley is. It just did not register in their young brains. I shared with them how Silicon Valley emerged to become a habitat and used that as an example to explain what I meant by ecology. Although, it is a complex phenomena they are certain aspects of the ecology we could introduce in our environment. Using all the models and concepts that I knew of knowledge management and learning I explained how we developed the idea of work spaces in our organization that are crucial for an improved performance.

Come to think of it now train coaches should be designed for knowledge sharing and learning as well :))). Some of us commuters are already reading, like the lady sitting next to me, on the train, one or two like me writing or blogging on the train and maybe it could be a good place for story telling and discussion as well. A lot of things happen on the train that can be used as opportunities for conversation starters.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

3N2D Around Malaysia By Train - Final Leg

JB – KL Sentral, Jan 31, 2010, Departure 1420. ETA KL Sentral 1915.
Travelers: My Wife, Kak Cik, Mar and Me

At about 1300 we started walking to the railway station, Upon reaching it we found out not many travelers waiting. We couldn’t be too early? The fact is not many people like to travel by train anymore. Especially with the kind of services KTMB providing or maybe not providing. Those waiting together with us mostly looks like they were students or family traveling in large group. The state of the waiting area also indicated to me that KTMB was either losing money fast or could not care less. Granted they maybe waiting for the new modern terminal to be ready but that should not be at the expense of us. The surau was pathetic and when I asked for the restroom we were told it was inside the platform. The gate was padlocked. Innocently I asked how could we go in to use it and was told when we were ready to board. His next response was the best, well at least he tried to be helpful. If we really needed to go there was one across the road. Ha ha ha ha that was customer relationship management 101 KTMB style. They did not have a clue as to what customer experience was, and still is?

Again, trying not to spoil our mood we just made do with what KTMB could offer. We said our prayers and waited for our train to come from Singapore.

At 1420 we checked onto the platform, rushed to the restroom before our train arrived at 1420 for us to board for our last leg home.

Our first class seats were indeed first class albeit a bit rundown. We did not mind. Our coach was the only first class coach that day. Apart from the nice seats we were surprised by the availability of power socket by the window. Kakcik straight away plugged her handphone to be charged. I did not have my laptop then if not for sure I’ll be using it. In the future internet access would be the norm. The first class coach came with one master attendant and a waiter/cleaner that served us bottled water and bread when we boarded. My only complaint was that KTMB expected all their first class travelers to have bionic ears. The attendant put on a movie and the screen was naturally at the front of the cabin but to my dismay there was no sound. Well at least not for us halfway down the coach ha ha ha. I saw a passenger across the aisle actually took our his mini DVD player and put on his own DVD to watch. For us we did not care. The movie was an old movie anyway.

We purposely did not take our lunch before we boarded because firstly, we were still not that hungry and secondly, we wanted to eat at the buffet car again. So, ten minutes into our journey I asked the attendant how far down was the buffet car. I almost yell loudly when he said there was none. But, luckily that was a quick but, he told me ahead at Majidee, or Tampoi, there would be a caterer coming on board to sell packed food and drinks. Mar was already crying, more like yelling, for food already by then. Despite constant reminders she pestered me relentlessly. Indeed the food ‘boarded’ eventually and I quickly followed the guys to firstly determine what kind of food he had for sale. I was told of quite a nice variety but I had to wait for at least 20 minutes for him to start his business of a storage area at one corner of a coach down from our first class coach. I relayed a message to my family of the variety and I placed an order immediately and waited.

The food were not too bad. We finished everything in record time.

I tried to sleep but was not successful. In the end I planned my photo sessions for the rest of the journey. Having got down at certain stations already on the way down to JB I chose Kluang as my main station to shoot. When we got there I straight away jumped out with my camera blazing shoot at will he he he. I was joined a Caucasian tourist shooting the happenings there. Seeing us one of the train conductors advised us to come closer towards the station to shoot. It was also in a way telling us it is ok we would not be left behind ha ha ha. My shooting partner remarked loudly. ‘ What was it with tourist?‘ Jokingly saying that both of us were nuisance to others boarding the train. I just laughed at his remark. Maybe it was through for him but for me I was really just menyebok. Or maybe he was also a Singaporean resident taking the train for a short holiday in Malaysia. In any case we did our best to capture the lively scene.

From then on I decided it was not worth going back to my seat. I stood and sat by to the door until when we were about to reach Seremban. Immediately after Seremban the atmosphere and our demeanor changed. As if the lights had been switched off for us. We just sat quietly with our own thoughts waiting for our last stop. At that point was still KL Sentral. Even Mar was quite. Only whenwe reached Labu and realising the time we decided to disembark at Kajang instead.

At 1955 we disembarked at Kajang station and the end of our 3D2N Around Malaysia By Train. Till the next one 5D4N Around Malaysia By Train - KL Sentral - Padang Besar, Padang Besar - Gemas - JB, JB - Tumpat, Tumpat - KL Sentral.

Friday, April 9, 2010

3D2N Around Malaysia By Train (Almost) - 2nd Leg

Tumpat – JB, Jan 30, 2010, Departure 2030 ETA JB, Jan 31, 2010, 1045.
Travelers: My Wife, Kak Cik, Mar and Me

We were eager to be on board again. I told my family, once I was inside and the train moved, I was going to sleep straight away. Which I did. The day was hot and humid and with lack of sleep the night before even if I would want to stay awake I would not be able to. So I just followed what my body naturally told me to do. With the train movement rocking me I went into a deep sleep. I stirred once in a while but most of the time fast asleep. While sleeping I could feel that the train was actually traveling very fast. I felt like I was flying through the dark cold night. I woke up around suboh and called my wife to get up and we decided to take our bath. It was the first time experience taking bath in the small bathroom for my wife. I coached her on what exactly to do and she went first. Actually it was not that difficult after so many years doing it I could claim that I am an expert at it. Ha ha ha. Well my wife came back smiling and when I asked her how it was she said she did what I told her to do and she was fine. I followed suit and had a good morning bath. Since the Tumpat JB train did not provide a surau we said our prayers on our bunk.

Just after suboh we slowly rolled into Gemas Station and this time I went down on the platform with my camera. My camera clocked a time of 0708 on the first photo I took of the station. Still, in that early morning I could not help being so nostalgic. The train however did not stopped long at Gemas but enough for me to see the hand over of responsibility to a new engineer/driver. My guess was that the new driver would take the train all the way down to Singapore and later in the late evening would take the train back up to Gemas or maybe all the way back to Tumpat. Whatever it was soon everyone was awake and ready to have breakfast. Just like the day before we walked to the buffet car to have a breakfast of almost the same things we had on the train from KL to Tumpat. But instead of the morning scene of inner Kelantan that morning Buloh Kasap and Segamat were our views for breakfast. At 0814 we arrived at Labis a small station but very much alive with passengers embarking. I really was surprised with this

We sat in the buffet car for awhile trying to kill sometimes and for me for something interesting to capture. Eventually the usefulness of the buffet car as much as for us to use it to extract something special reached its maximum. We walked back to our coach and do nothing but just waited for JB to show up. The waiting was so unbearable especially for Mar. With the almost empty coach we joked and messed around with one another.

At 1050 we were standing in front of the JB station signboard to take our pictures. Another phase of the adventure completed and we had about 3 hours to kill in JB before we board another train back to KL. Since we had taken our bath and breakfast on the train the only next logical thing to do is explore what the vicinity could offer us. The JB train station was connected to the new mall opposite the road so we climbed over the pedestrian crossing and entered the mall. Of course it was already opened and we walked around. The usual outlets were there but all of us were not in a mood to window shop let alone do a serious shopping.

After awhile the mall lost its notoriety with us. Our feet suddenly were heavy and refused to comply with the instruction coming down from our brain. Yes, we were tired but it was not really because of that. Our brains were like saying after KB is this the best JB could do? We walked out and decided to explore beyond the mall. We walked down to the road and crossed the old main, famous main street of JB, road to the other side The other side were Sikh Temple, Puteri Pan Pac, a mall with Kamdar in it and resemblance of the old JB that I was familiar with. It was actually a futile effort as the ‘other side’ proved to be a disappointment for all of us as well. We lazily, with faces of almost disdain, walked back to the first mall to wait it out before we take our train home.

While walking back looking around to find something interesting to shoot an interesting realisation struck me. I saw around me the dichotomy of the old and new JB that forcefully staking their claim in the city. Clearly I could see a very old building sandwiched by new modern office blocks and hotels. Not only that within these old buildings or blocks lifestyle was preserved like it was then, lazy, what do I care and couldn't care less attitude. Observing and absorbing it made me somehow agree with their statements. It was by no means political but a statement of intent none the less. ‘Leave us alone we like our lives the way it is.’ I took some shots to immortalized this statement.

While walking on the other side of the road I saw what I was looking for all this while. Across the road on the ground floor of the first mall we entered was the Starbuck. We bought some coffee and tidbits and parked ourselves in there until almost an hour before our boarding time. We just crashed, I guess due to lack of proper sleep the night before.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

3D2N Around Malaysia by Train (Almost)

I have been planning this trip for quite sometimes. My intention was really to do the entire KTMB system KL – Tumpat, Tumpat – JB, JB – KL, KL _ Padang Besar and back to KL. When I planned this earlier I needed 4 days to do it and I was already at the KTMB counter to commit myself when I found out KTMB had changed its schedule. Dumbfounded and angry at KTMB I shelved the idea until recently when I found out that they changed their train schedule yet again. Mapping out my proposed journey I found out still I require four days to complete the whole system. I stalled and put it off for a while as it would be too early for me to take leave. The Chinese New Year holidays is one option that I could consider but I rather not compete with the rest of the holiday makers. Too stressful. I thought that’s it for now until I realized actually I could do KL Sentral – Tumpat, Tumpat – JB, JB – KL Sentral in 3N2D. Which means I do it over the weekend and back home on Sunday night. Luck had it that the following weekend was a 3day weekend for me due to the Hari Wilayah. I sent a message to my wife to say I would be doing the train trip and let me know who would like to follow me. The following day I dropped by at the KL Sentral and booked us for the adventure.

KL Sentral – Tumpat, Jan 29, 2010, Departure 2035 ETA Tumpat, Jan 30, 2010, 0946.
Travelers: My Wife, Kak Cik, Mar and Me

Initially two other relatives wanted to follow us but at the last minute canceled.

We arrived at the KL Sentral almost at the same time. Mar, Kak Cik and my wife from Bangi and I was from work. Despite their experience on the Komuter train battling the Thaipusam and 3 day weekend crowds everyone was very excited about our trip. Upon seeing me, Mar did a Baqir by saying, ‘Abah lapar.’ With that we went down to the Secret Recipe on the L1 to have dinner. Knowing what you could get from KTMB’s buffet car I ordered something heavy and advised everyone to do the same. When we were at the Secret Recipe I was frantically trying to locate a power source to charge my handphone as at that point in time I was already running low. I need my iPhone to be fully powered to last me until Tumpat as I was planning to do a live updates to my Facebook status.

Dinner was quick as we need to say our prayers before we went to wait for our train. An advise to travelers if you want to say your prayers without having to fight for a space go to the surau at L4.

Around 2010 we walked towards the waiting area and still I was searching for a power source that I could benefited while waiting. In the end I found one at the bottom of an accelerator next to a vending machine. We waited there until we were called to board. Mar being herself could not even stay still a minute and deep down both Sam and I were hoping she would be quite once on the train. Since I was a bit late with my booking our first leg had to be done sitting in an economy class. It was not bad as we did that before from Singapore and it was better for us as it was our first leg and we were still fresh. Luckily I managed to get sleeper for everyone for the second leg to JB from Tumpat. We were in Coach GX seats 7A-D and one advantage of our coach was that it was next to the buffet car. The coach was three quarter full when we boarded where at one end seated a group of young hikers, I thought, were heading for Dabong to hike Gunong Stong. Later I found out I was on the money on this one. At the other end closer to the buffet car a bit empty but for a group of young guys traveling together. I sat together with Mar and opposite us across the aisle my wife and Kak Cik. Directly behind Mar and me was a lovey dovey couple that later was a nuisance to our eye sights as well as our comfort level.

Once seated we could not wait for the train to start moving which it did slightly of schedule. I was delighted to see my planning and the eagerness to experience the long train journey once again materialized. Looking across at my wife I could sense her excitement and looking at Mar beside me was always new territory to experience. I, on the other hand started getting nostalgic about the whole things. I did not pay much attention to the early part of the journey as between KL Sentral and Bangi is my daily route to work. Instead I gathered my things, pulled out my book, I brought along Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey To The Soul of Britain by Matthew Engel, and coached Mar on the mechanics of using the chair. But one station that I was really going to get serious about – Seremban.

When we arrived at Seremban station I put strong words to Mar not to follow me. I got down and started to take a few shots of the station. When I was about to take one particular shot I saw the station’s clock through the view finder and that gave me a first indication that we would not be on schedule. The time 2215 really surprised me as I knew we could not have taken more than two hours to get to Seremban from KL Sentral if we were on schedule. That time on the clock also triggered my subconscious search engine to pick certain events and experiences in the 70’s. Almost exactly at the same time we would normally boarded our east coast train. Back then our trains were known and called by either east coast, south or north trains. South meaning the train was going to JB , North to Padang Besar and East Coast to Tumpat. The train did not stay long at Seremban, as soon as the last person boarded the whistle was blown. I jumped up onto the train before the train conductor, but continued to take few more shots from the slowly moving train.

I had brought along the KTMB route map with me and now using it Mar kept on asking where we were and what was the next station. Tampin would be next but it did not hold any significant as far as my memory bank was concern. It was Gemas that I was looking forward to. However in between reading and trying to stay abreast with Mar’s antics I got sleepy. At Tampin few more passengers boarded and among them were those without tickets. These passengers were normally a short distance passengers that would pay for the fare onboard and sit where ever they could find empty seats before the rightful owners boarded. They kept on walking the aisle if they could not find any and the younger ones would just prefer to stand by the doors. By that time I was really sleepy and despite the uncomfortable seat I entered my never ending story world. Mar was fast asleep already by then.

I must be really tired. I missed Gemas altogether in fact I missed a lot of stations. I only woke up when we arrived at Kuala Lipis at around 0530. I have never experience arriving at Kuala Lipis that early in the morning. The platform was empty and quiet. When I saw it from the train I decided not to get down and take photos. Instead, since Suboh was about to knock on our spiritual door, I asked around whether or not there was a place to pray. I was told one of the cabin at the back was used as a surau. I walked back to my seat and mentioned this to my wife. It was still too early to go though so we waited a bit. Mar by this time was still in a deep sleep, lucky for us she could go to sleep at all, and we planned it as such for Kak CIk and my wife to go first and I stayed behind to accompany Mar. Kak CIk and Sam came back a few minutes later to inform me that the prayers room was packed and I should be going there immediately to avoid further delay. Indeed when I got there men and women were already waiting out side of the small cabin and it got worse as we waited. At the first opportunity I rushed in. KTMB should provide another cabin for the ladies to pray.

When I was at my seat again I tried to read but I could not concentrate. The next station would be Merapoh and it was still along way to go, I dozzed off. I woke up when we were coming into Gua Musang station. I always had my camera hanging around my neck, instantaneously I jumped up and walked to the door to get down at the station to take some photos. I was so fast that i did not realised Mar was following closely behind me and I only realized she was there when I was already at the door. I strictly told her not to follow me down. It was still early in the morning and the light was low. I had to do some quick thinking and decided on a smaller aperture to make sure I capture enough. If I were to use the flash I knew it would not be enough to capture enough depth. Early in the morning my hands were not steady so I did my best. Realising in any minutes the chief conductor will blow his whistle I took a few quick shots. I jumped back up when the train started to move. Maybe we were to far at the front but I did not see any meks selling foodstuff at the platform. I really missed that scene.

As we left Gua Musang I decided to have breakfast at the buffet car. When we found a table we sat ourselves and started to think what food to have. That decision was not that hard for us as the waiter came to announce that they had only nasi goreng china or just plain nasi goreng. Even the eggs were ran out. I was lucky to get the last mi goreng. All of them not even fresh but for someone hungry we just ate. One good thing was the drinks were hot, original and fresh. The buffet car was not that full so we stayed back a bit longer to enjoy the scene outside. Since we were passing rural Kelantan we could see green of the jungle mostly. Now and then we would passed small kampongs and towns. At the back of my mind I had implanted a trigger to be aware of Bertam Ulu, the place that we used to live for couple of years, to take a look and take some photos. Alas, it happened so sudden and I was not ready. I was eating and talking when I look outside I saw a familiar rural stop and straight away my subconscious mind said it was Bertam Ulu. I almost yelled at everyone and tried to explain to them about the place. I thought the police station was still a bit far ahead as it was on top of the highest point of the place overlooking the bridge where the train would cross Kelantan river but I was wrong. It came so fast that I could only managed to grab my camera, pointed and shot what ever I can. The darn glass was a mess of droppings and lines of water tracks that the camera captured. I only managed to catch a glimpse of our old barrack. I was pissed with myself. As that was the second time in my life since we left Bertam that I failed to capture the image of the place from the train. Well, trying to be positive, I said we could always comeback again. We continued to sit there and enjoy the ride.

I could not stop talking about every place we passed. In a mix of geography lessons, social studies and religious opinion I was animated in front of my family. I was especially excited when I saw a small hut with a Astro disc on its roof. In places like that Astro is a must for them I guess and for sure the top channel for them would be Zee. Maybe it was the only channel for them he he he. Kelantanese love for Hindustani movies is phenomenal.

Overtime we saw people started to trickle into the buffet car signaling it’s the time for us to vacate the table and return to our seats. Back at our seats we just silently, but of course not Mar, decided to do our own things. I picked my book to continue reading but after few minutes I just could not concentrate. I knew I was too excited by the fact that we were about to pass through stations that I really knew and nostalgic about. Kuala Krai came under the early morning bright light. As we approached I could see the authoritative figure of the station master standing waiting for us on the platform. The station was his domain, territory and home that he had every right to feel that. Anything about the train stopping in his area was totally his responsibility. I could relate to that and respect him for his authoritativeness. Actually station masters are great source for stories of the area. For Kuala Krai it was Station Master Tajudeen. Since the station was fairly renovated I did not feel like going down instead I just sat to enjoy the view from my seat. After Kuala Krai the one prominent different would be the long bridge and crossing of Sg Kursial followed by a journey on flat land. Soon enough farms like paddy and tobacco fields started to materialize as our constant views.

When we arrived at Tanah Merah then I knew how really late we were, by at least two hours. With that information I did a mental calculation how much time we would have at KB. It’s all depends on how soon we could get a cab to take us to KB. Right after Tanah Merah as well I decided I had enough of sitting down and started to walk to the back to stand by the door. There were already three young guys/ teenagers on the right side of the door and another young man that was not part of the three guys standing on the left. With my camera I parked myself next to the guy on my left and stand facing where the train was moving. From the conversation that I overheard form the three younger guys two of them were brothers and they were going to disembark at the next station, Pasir Mas. From their vocabulary as well I deduced that they were either locals that have been brought up outside of Kelantan or really someone from out of town but visiting their parents who were stationed in Kelantan. Seeing my camera and in action one of them asked me whether I was on a assignment. I knew what he meant and not wanting to spoil it I just nodded my head. Who would have thought otherwise? With my discovery pants, t-shirt and cap backward on my head I would not blame him for thinking who I was.

Just outside Pasir Mas the train stopped to wait, not sure for what, and it was a long wait driving the three young guys impatiently mad. I myself was eager as if saying ‘hey! let’s get this over with. I wanted to see Pasir Mas station again so bad that I wished it was soon enough for me to get over it as well. The old station that I knew was a wooden station like Kuala Lipis and I was not expecting much development there. When at last the train moved all of us standing there almost gave aloud sigh of relieve. When we actually arrived I stepped down after the boys and started to snap a few. As I was still busy doing this the whistle was blown. Yes, we were late and the station master did not want to add to it further so I jumped up onto the train as it was started to move. As the train roll off slowly I was still standing at the door. With my left hand holding on to the handle bar and both my legs spread eagle hard against the two walls in order to steady my stand I shot the station and anything around it with my right hand. I did a continuous shot without stopping until we were out of the station. Leaving Pasir Mas meant we were not that far way already from the end of the Express Wau line. Coming up was Wakaf Baru where most people going to KB would get down. I was contemplating to do the same but then I won’t be staying true to my plan. I persisted and Wakaf Baru came and gone without much funfair. By then we were the only passengers in our cabin. The cleaners were already busy at work since Pasir Mas so after Wakaf Baru they were really at it. I could understand why, they wanted to leave the train for home sweet home as soon as it parked at Tumpat station.

We almost jumped out of the train when we arrived at Tumpat. Being late and our eagerness to be in and explore KB got us excited. With just a customary photography session we walked out of the station to be timely asked by a man whether we need a car or not. I replied KB and he said RM25 and I replied back let’s go then. It was a kereta sapu, why was I surprised I did not know as I should have known in Kelantan kereta sapu is quite command. The weather was a bit hot outside so the little comfort that the kereta sapu gave us was a blessing. As usual there was a bottle neck at the bridge going into KB. It looked abandon and I could not guess when the upgrading of the bridge area going to be completed. Maybe after the next election. Our destination was Pasar Khadijah as we intended to do a very serious shopping straight away. Indeed the first shop I entered at the Bazaar I bought a piece for Sam. The rest I left it to the girls to do the shopping and I gladly do the paying. We did not have much time left to spend in KB as our train to JB would be leaving at 2030 that evening so badly in need to take a bath we went to the restroom next to the Pasar Khadijah that had a shower facility to shower and immediately say our prayers at the nearby madrasah. When we got to the restroom we were told they had problem with water pressure and would not think it would be enough to take a bath. We decided to use the bathroom anyway to clean ourself the best we can. Once inside I saw the shower and turned the tap to have a nice surprise of flowing water coming out. Without much prompting I went in, undressed and had a very nice shower.

Refreshed after the cold shower and prayers we walked out of the madrasah with only enough time to take our cab back to Tumpat. We left a bit early as I did not know the nature of the traffic to Tumpat especially going through the never-seem-to-finish Sultan Mahmud bridge. Again when I was asked at the bus stand we were ushered towards a kereta sapu. Only this time a bit newer than the last one we took. We were lucky the traffic jam at the bridge was not so bad and cruised nicely towards Tumpat. I chatted the teksi sapu driver and was glad to find out that he used to work at Nilai. Well I was not surprised by it. It is common for Kelantanese to work in other state came back went they find life can be really hard in Klang Valley. He started to narrate about life there and the reason he decided to bring the family home. Life can be really hard away form home. He also lamented about the fact that his son actually failed four times in his application to join our police force. Promise after promise went unfulfilled. In the end his son moved to Klang Valley and applied from there and got accepted. Funny world according to him. To me it was just a basic economics. In places like Kelantan joining the army or the police force is one last and best option for the youth of Kelantan to earn a fairly safe job. Whereas in the city like KL it was the opposite. Not many youth would want to join the police force even if it meant that they going to stay jobless. So more opportunities to those applying.

We reached Tumpat railway station at 1831 and spent our time there taking pictures and enjoying the place as much as we can. Our train to JB would depart at 2030. While waiting for our train I was speculating whether or not it would be the same train with coaches that will be going to KL. Later I found out that the KL train actually already left the station at 1800. Our train was parked beside the station’s workshop. Just before maghrib to my astonishment came a cleaning crew with their water jet spraying the coaches. They were actually washing two or the newly chained coaches and it was almost dark. Sarcastically I remarked to my family they might as well start the job at 2000 when it was really dark. The surau was basic and the door to the lady’s surau failed to work so everyone has to use the man’s surau entrance creating a bit of nuisance to the ladies.


Monday, April 5, 2010

On The Train, April 1, 2010

This is no April Fool but a real sense of sadness dawned on me because of how people around us react to certain thing inappropriately. I am not talking about what had happened at work here. No matter what their motives are you cannot cloud your judgment with negativity. Well, one could argue it is easier said than done but then again if we do not try what are we? Life is full of surprises and not all of them are roses. Thus we need to learn how to deal with all of these and not creating additional unnecessary pressure for anyone. KTMB has gone back to being it’s incompetent self. Two days in a row the Bangi train just went missing in the thin air. Now I am in a solid packed train going home. I got my seat yeah, but looking at discomfort faces can get you feel sorry and very angry at the same time pretty quickly. I am also sad to think there is someone out there who is or might not be happy now. Am I being philosophical or reflective now? Maybe I am but that’s what I am.

Another month gone and I am not sure I have achieved anything?

Small Town Pahang, Stesen Keretapi, Holiday and Me, Dec 12-15, 2009 - Day 3

It was drizzling when I woke up on the second morning. Still, knowing that the rain would be intermittent I decided to go for a ride. I rolled off out of the resort at almost the same time as yesterday. I turned left also just like yesterday but I have no intention of cycling to TC. Instead I wanted to explore the inner life of Kg Balok. As soon I got to the junction pointing to the most promising route I entered and started cycling inwards. The rain got a little bit heavy for awhile and stopped as I cycled further in. Judging from the position of the kampung road I deduced that it was parallel with the main road going further up east. My mental calculation of the distance and direction was indicating to me that I would ended at Balok town itself and I was right. The route was not that difficult and I cycled at a medium pace. As much as I was trying to avoid the rain I was also trying very hard to explore and enjoy the kampung. It was not really a kampung like it once was. Instead of the old stilt kampung houses now many of the houses are modern exclusive bungalows or houses built, obviously, and owned by outsiders. I used to remember as well that part of Balok was actually a low wetland which now being reclaimed for the obvious reason. Once I reached Balok town I decided to turn back and use the Balok beach road going back.

It started to rain again when I was admiring Balok beach I cycled back to the Balok beach recreation centre office to take shelter there. When I explored the place I realised that it was a place where Azmi had his camping retreat recently and instantaneously gave me an idea. So I looked around to gather as much information as possible about the place. It was suitable for our Putra Terrace outing. Once the rain stopped I got on my bike and cycled back to the resort.

Once in the room no one is committed of anything to do. My lovely wife was still in the midst of her record breaking feat, Mar was her usual energetic self, and kakak and kakcik asleep. So I decided to take a nap before we check out.

The night before I decided to stay another night in Kuantan and of course we had to find another place to stay. Since I did not want to go far I decided to check the availability of rooms at the resorts exactly next to Duta Village. We were lucky there was actually a family room for us available at Swiss-Garden. So after we checked out of Duta Village we just lingered around Balok before we checked in again at Swiss-Garden. We have stayed there before so we knew what to expect.

Once in the room once again nobody wants to go anywhere so we just stayed in either sleeping or reading. Later Kakcik and Mar decided to hit the pool. When I woke up from my nap I decided to join them. As planned, for dinner, we went to visit my cousin. Frankly, thinking about it our third day in Kuantan was because I just did not wish to go home yet. Back from my cousin’s place we just hit the sacks. We checked out the next day thinking it would be just it would be a straight forward thing.

When I drove the car to the lobby to pick up everyone and our luggage I daughter exclaimed to me as I got down, ‘ Abah tayar pancit!’. Well, another thing to dela with. I put on my glove and changed the tayar he he he. Then stopped at the first tyre shop the we came to and had the puncture fixed. Because of that we decided to go to Tg Lumpur to have our lunch at the same palce we had out evening tea the day before.

Two and a half hours later we were safely home. He he he while they were sleeping I floored the accelerator.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Small Town Pahang, Stesen Keretapi, Holiday and Me, Dec 12-15, 2009 - Day 2

Cycling Alone, Dec 13, 2009

My wife could not cycle so I decided to go on alone. I woke up with a little drizzle but I went down all the same to start to prepare myself. My intended route that morning was Federal Route 2 (Jalan Beserah) going south from Duta Village to Teluk Chempedak (TC to the locals) via Jalan Tengku Muhammad and Alor Akar. There was a little bit of darkness when I rolled out of the Duta Village. As usual I was not bothered with the distance and enough to have at least two major climbs before I’ll get to Teluk Chempedak. I pedaled hard and fast as I was trying to avoid the morning traffic and sun during my climb. The best part of cycling in the east coast or early in the morning in a small town or kampung is that you got to see how life comes alive in the morning. It never failed to provoke the nice feeling in me, at times sense of deja vu. So I was cycling accompanied by that nice feeling through the village, passing Batu Hitam, Sekolah Menangah Kebangsaan Beserah and Pusat Sumber Pendidikan Negeri Pahang on my right until I arrived at my first long climb just after the small Beserah town. I knew I could do it but if you asked any cyclist not a single one of them would say they would like to do climbing alone. I am certainly not one of them as I prefer to maintain my own pace as well as not pressured by the speed of others. My only fear of doing it alone is being too hard on myself and forgetting my limits. On this one I sat a comfortable cadence and not pushing too hard up. The gradient was not steep but long. I was basically already climbing the range making up the whole Bukit Pelindung. When I reached the peak I was still full of energy and came down fast to the main traffic light junction. At the junction I turned left to start to climb towards Alor Akar. Cycling up and along Jalan Tengku Muhammad and Alor Akar area was really nostalgic for me. Especially when I passed the old Alor Akar Field Force Camp where we used to live for a short while before the whole camp moved to the then new Bukit Galing Camp. I was cycling while at the same time tracing back the sweet memories associated with the area. The orphanage opposite the Camp reminded me of my old primary school mates who lived there. I could not even remember any of their names. If I am not mistaken one of them was Adnan, a footballer. At the end of both the Camp and Orphanage started what still known as the school zone or areas, as along the road there were and are at least 4 schools beginning with Sekolah Teknik Alor Akar, followed by Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Alor Akar, both Sekolah Rendah and Menengah Kebangsaan Tengku Afzan, MRSM and Assunta Convent Girl School. My old puppy love went to Assunta.

One other most significant thing was of course the entrance of the climb to Bukit Pelindung. Where the trees and bush started are now filled with rows of exclusive homes. I could not remember how many times I climbed to the top of Bukit Pelindung but one occasion that I can remember clearly was our Scouts trekking exercise to the top. With our uniform drenched from our sweat we scrambled slowly next to the gate of the Telekom tower signified as the peak. I still remember I used to have a black an white photo of that and I do not know where it is now. I continued to cycle dictated by how fast my brain was tracing my memory bank for old stories and images to be superimposed by the new images I was experiencing.

Of course TC has changed. I even made a mistake of entering it wrongly through the McDonald’s drive in. To maintain certain order the authority had transformed the front of the main beach area into a boardwalk environment. So it was a no entry zone for all types of vehicles. Visitors to the beach have to park on the left side and walk to the beach from there. On a bicycle it posed no problem to me as I just swung my bicycle around and jumped onto the curb to cycle between two stalls to be on the beach front. Once on the beach front I cycled slowly to the end until I saw a boardwalk, wide enough for me to cycle on without being a nuisance to others, going over to the other side of TC, really on the other side of Bukit Pelindung. It was a discovery for me as in my many years in Kuantan I have never been to the other side of TC as it was then well known as lovers den. When I got to the other side I found out that the beach was beautiful. Not a lagoon but it was as nice as one. There was a big group of students camping in the beach. It was almost 0800 when I was there and the sun is beginning to take a peep of the world in the horizon. I stayed for awhile enjoying the atmosphere.

Grudgingly I got onto my bike and started cycling back on the boardwalk back to the main beach area. I had to, as I wanted to beat the heat to cycle back to Balok. Nevertheless, I stopped next to the downhill wooden ramp built for the recent Kuantan Enduro Downhill Race. I had to tip my hat off to those participated as looking at the ramp either your have to really know your stuff or your are missing a nut or two from your head to be doing the downhill. One wrong move you’ll smash onto the rocks below.

I cycled to the nearest stall to buy a drink as when I was on the boardwalk I realised I left my water behind. Trying to relax a bit I took a few shots of the place and while pushing my bike I thought I should capture myself for the record. I was lucky when I was there a saw a guy walking with his wife carrying a camera bag holding a Nikon. I requested him to take my photo with the Trek. I found out he was a MTB rider of sort as well and came from Shah Alam. After the ‘photo session’ I thanked the guy and cycled back, and the journey to Balok was no fun. The sun was already up by then and I had to do two major climbs immediately before I could cruise home. Just after the Pusat Sumber Pendidikan Pahang I crossed the road to cycled through Batu Hitam beach area instead of climbing through on the main road. It was around 0904 by then and I could not delay anymore or I would be trapped under the hot sun. Pushing hard ten minutes later I was already at the resort. I saw my water bottle sitting pretty on the back fender of the Ranger.

On my way to TC I saw a stall at Beserah selling variety of kueh and other foods so as soon I I had packed the bike inside the Ranger I drove out towards Kuantan again to buy some breakfast. When I was back at the room on Mar was interested in eating. Well, nowadays she always interested in eating. She is the girl version of Baqir growing up.

Mar and I were back in the pool again after we had breakfast and just like yesterday the pool was packed with holiday makers. Even the second pool was quite packed and kids jumping in. They’d never learn apparently that jumping could be dangerous, if not for them, for others in the pool. We just find our own space. I did a couple of strokes before I decided to just stand at the edge of the pool to watch on Mar. While standing there I got a muscle cramp on my right leg and I was mad with myself. Painful and I just could not move but to stand there until my muscles relaxed for me to be able to move slowly out of the water. The cycling before must have taken loads of salts from my system. I let Mar enjoyed the pool a little bit longer until I called for us to leave.

Lunch, dinner and the rest of the day were nothing to shout about. In fact we spent most of our times exploring the new mall.