Monday, January 18, 2010

@ the Zoo Negara, Jan 10, 2010

I was uploading our pictures at the Zoo yesterday when Mar came over and said, ‘ Abah, tulis la cerita kita pergi zoo tadi baru best.’ So here it is.

I woke up early as usual but chose to lie down after I’ve said my prayers. It was of course a mistake as at 0730 my phone buzzed and it was Rudi’s phone, passing it to Aizam, to ask whether I was coming down for our weekly cycling or not? Because it was late already for them to wait for me I said no. Zam tried to persuade me but I said no still as I really did not want them to wait for me. That said I thought I could go back to dreamland. A few minutes later there was a knock on our door and I knew it would be Mar. When I let her in I asked her would she want to go to the zoo. She replied ‘suka hati Abah la.’ So I asked her back. ’do you want to go to the zoo or not?’ Since I was awake already and that could be the only opportunity that we have I decided to go. I really love to go as well. Zoo is our thing.

We arrived at the entrance of the Zoo just after 0900 and we were that early our Ranger was one of the first five to be parked there. When we entered it was a wonderful early morning at the zoo. The first order of the day was to get a cap for Mar. I did not want her to be more tan than she already was he he he. We bought one at the gift shop on the left as we entered the zoo. The second order of the day was to have our breakfast. I wanted to ask whether the eating place was already open for business so we walked to the Information Kiosk. We were told apart from the one in front of us the others should be opened already and the person indicated the direction. He also suggested for us to by the map which was RM3. I just paid as I knew I was contributing to the upkeep of the zoo.

I ordered ‘egg burger’ and black Nescafe for myself and when I asked Mar she said nothing. Wow! Mar said no to food! But I forced her to eat something and she asked for orange juice and a bag of popcorn. We sat ourselves nearby to eat our breakfast. As we sat eating we saw visitors started to trickle in at the entrance. Mar started to scrutinize the map and all she asked and talked about were the butterflies and elephants. I said they were all there and we will visit every inch of the zoo. But we needed to strategise. Normally when we were at the soon we would immediately turn left to see the giraffe and the elephant first and circumvent the zoo that direction but today since Mar wanted to watch the animal show at 1100 I suggested to her we go right first as it was nearer to the aquarium. Since it was still almost three hours to go we walked slowly to enjoy everything. With my longest lens on the Nikon I shot everything from a distance. It works very well as I could catch Mar being herself. Well, I succeeded once or twice as she had the knack to suddenly turn around when I was about to press the shutter release and modeled for me. Instead of just a peace sign her repertoires included outstretch hands now.

If you turn to your right as you entered the zoo the first thing that you’ll come to would be, as Mar said Baqir’s friends’ the monkey’s cages. Well there were a couple of birds but mainly monkeys. We continued to walk ahead and I indicated to Mar where the show was going to be. She insisted to check it out despite after I said a few times the place was empty. When she was satisfied we walked to look at the hippos. When we walked on the bridge on our right was the African hippos and on the left the pigmy hippo. Both buried themselves in the water. Nothing much to see but we waited anyway. In the end the African hippos stirred in the water and emerged slowly. I told Mar that hippos were basically nocturnal animals so it was normal for them be sleeping and happy to be just in the water. The pygmy hippos decided to do just that the whole day we were there. Submerged in the water like immobilized submarine.

We walked pass the hippo and entered the so called Bee Museum. Well, there were nice display of anything to do with bees but also almost half of the area was occupied by bottled honey for sale. You guess right that a specific bee farm was sponsoring most if not all of the ‘museum’. Actually the zoo needs such company coming in to do that to ensure the Zoo Negara is still in place for people like Mar and I to keep coming back to. We tasted few rounds of honey and walked around the display. Mar was asking a lot of questions and seemed interested to know more. I was eager to explain but then she said ‘I want to see the butterfly and the elephants.’ I said later as both were in the middle and at the end of our route around the zoo. If we were to go there we would not have time to come back to see the animal show at 1100.

The Indian Seladangs were just lazying in the morning sun, the sunbears were still deciding to come out or not and the otters were really crying for their late breakfast. To kill more time we stopped at the gifts shop nearby to window shop and be caressed by the cool air blowing from the aircon. You should know better that there is no such thing as just browsing if it is about souvenir t-shirts for me. We bought one each )).. After awhile we walked out of the shop and backtracked towards the show area next to the aquarium. The pigmy hippo was still in the water not moving where as her African cousins were out in the pen now. I waited for a while for a good shot.

The show was still 20 minutes away and to pass the times I suggested to Mar to visit the aquarium. No matter what we still enjoyed the fish. Mar kept her face closed to the glass most of the time while I was trying very hard to play around with the camera settings to try to capture good scene. I failed miserably I am yet to master the D80 fully. As I was fiddling with my camera and trying to capture Mar a gentleman on my right was watching me. Once I look up he said hi and said,’ I knew you looks familiar.’ It was, Fadzil Abd Aziz, my old colleague from my MDC days. He was there with his two boys. Fazlyn was at work he told me and we talked and asked a bit about each other. He is now working in Ipoh while Fazlyn is toying of moving over to Cyberview. I somehow in our conversation mentioned about my cycling activities and he exclaimed that he was into mountain biking as well. So we promised to get in touch if we were planning for a ride around each other areas.

We did not finish the aquarium properly and rushed out to the amphitheater for the animal show. Mar really ran towards the place and my yelling did not matter at all. I had to search for her when I got there. In the end she spotted and called me to the second row from the stage. We sat there waiting for awhile until eventually the first show began. It was the bird show that we have seen so many times before. I sat there waiting for a great shot but none came or maybe I was not that observant. Still Mar enjoyed the whole same old bird routine. Next came out the seal, I could not remember his name, and the show got better with interesting routine. The last one was the sea lion, again I forgot his name, show. This big guy cooperated in the beginning with all the routines until towards the end he decided he has had enough and left his trainer standing mumbling about him being sick. Well that’s how it is with animals, nothing guaranteed. With that the show ended prematurely and I was disappointed and Mar disgusted.

As we agreed when we entered in the morning we would walk the zoo, off we went walking towards the Savannah. Little of the Savananh interest Mar except for an ice cream vendor nearby. She bought two big scoops while I settled for a Cornetto. What can I say we were fed Cornetto every week when I was in school and the habit stuck. She sat herself next to the Camel’s pen and took her time to finish her ice cream. I gulped mine.

Since we were just about few meters from the orang utans I suggested we walked up a bit before we walked back down. She kept asking about the butterfly and I told her it was just down below and we will pass through. Only then she got up to follow me to see both the orang utans and chimpanzees. The orang utans already tired being a model zoo citizen when we got there. The chief, I presumed as he was big, slumbered on a slab just of the ground with his eyes dreary looking into space. The rest of the support crew either perched on the platform built for show or just on their back counting non existence stars. The amount of food on the ground indicated to us no extra amount of food would move them now. The chimpanzees behaved no better. One oldtimer actually sat on a decline like a nelayan sitting under his hut on a beachfront looking out waiting for nothing. I do not mean to be rude here but that was the impression that I got. If indeed the chimpanzee had a sarong on his demeanor would not be very far from the reality. Mar just stood there at the edge waiting for something to happen while the others were just relaxing and talking to each other. Now, I did not know who was looking at whom? Maybe the orang utans were so pissed they rather watched the people there behaved. Mar asked me whether she could feed the both the orang utans and chimpanzees but I told her both were not hungry and it would be just a waste of food and money. We stayed a bit longer there just to rest and then walked back down towards the butterfly area.

The young male Caucasian of European origin, I guess German, stopped us at the entrance of the butterfly park to request to see our handtag. Upon seeing ours he advised us that we have to pay an extra RM5 and RM3 respectively to enter the place. I jokingly asked Mar whether she wanted to go in. Immediately once inside was a display of anything to do with butterfly and insects. But Mar was not really interested in that. So we did the display as fast as we could and entered the butterfly compounds. It was already a bit hot and most of the butterflies were not really that active. Still a lot were flying searching for nectars. The compound was not that big so I allowed Mar to explore by herself and I concentrated on taking photographs of the butterflies. I would think we were there just around 5 minutes when Mar already complained loudly that we should be going already. Being a very hyperactive girl I would expect something like that to happen but not that fast. She was the one who wanted to be there in the first place. I was still intense photographing the butterflies. What irked me I could not get the kinds of shot that I was craving for. Still it was a precious moment to be there with her to enjoy the place. Come to think of it, it was not the zoo or butterflies. It was being together just the two of us. Mar being the last has about many years age difference with her brothers and sisters. She did not get the experience of going through thick and thin with me growing up. Her brothers and sisters may think I am playing favorite with her but it is actually not. They had gained a lot through the experience whereas Mar I had to create that for her.

We continued to circumvent the zoo against the natural flow of the visitors beginning with the tigers and lions. When we were about to pass their dens Mar showed the first sign of being tired. She officially requested for us to rest at the bench overlooking the lion den. I was a bit tired too thus we sat there admiring the ‘Lion King’ perched on his platform posting proudly for the crowds.

We were sitting for about five minutes and we realized that none of us would want to move any longer. Both of us were thirsty and tired already but I reminded Mar of her elephants. We dragged ourselves up and walked slowly. By now anything small was interesting as long as it would give us inspiration to move along. A stork that decided to join us on the path, the crowds that were feeding the hungry deer and even fish in the murky pond. As we threaded along I still tried to capture the surrounding. Suddenly, Mar saw the elephants and the sight reenergized her to almost run towards the animal. I picked up my pace to catch-up with her but she was there first. When I got to her I put up a proposal to her for us to go to the nearby kiosk first to cool off as well as to rejuvenate. She agreed and we emptied a bottle of 100 plus each as soon as I paid for it. Aware that any more sudden surge of cold drink would be too much for our tonsils I walked towards the elephants. By then Mar was already pestering me to feed the elephants with the sugarcane on sale. So I gave her RM10 to buy only one first, a foot long sugar cane was RM3, to see if she could reach the elephant. The bull elephant was the only one active so she jostled her way among the crowd. I just watched her from a far. When she put out the cane for the bull I thought it would not reach him. I guess both wanted it to really happen. Both tried their best to reach further and they succeed. With that experience naturally Mar asked for more and I gave her RM6 to buy another two. This time I was really ready with my camera and I caught them both on camera. The giraffe was next but to the dismay of the giraffe Mar paid just passing interest. I thought we were ready to go home.

Wrong!!!! ‘Abah, l want to see the buaya.’ She said and off we went to the mammal zone not just to see the buaya but the snakes, local as well as the Galapagos turtles. Only then it was really the end of our day at the zoo. So we thought.

)) somehow sub-consciously both of us tried our best to stay longer and mouthed a couple of reasons to that effect. Like we parked ourselves at the carp pond at the entrance/exit area as well as going into the gift shop that we had been before just to make sure we did not miss anything. In the end both of us had to admit it is the end and we walked out of the zoo to go home.

Click HERE for our the photos.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Malaysian Holidays, Langkawi, June 10, 2009, Wednesday, Day 3.

I woke up as usual and after I said my Suboh I sat down to think what the best thing to do that morning was. Obviously we had to check out from Awana Porto Malai and check in into the other resort. The problem was in between that we were limited by time and distance as to what we can effectively do. To go to somewhere far meant we had to rush back to check out and waited for about two to three hours before we could check in into that other resort. My options were firstly to ask for a late checkout say around 2pm so that I could do a bit more things and we could check in immediately after we check out. Or just go out now and risk it and hoping that we cold check in into the other resort earlier. So I called the reception to ask for a late check out and it was denied conclusively as they were expecting a capacity that day. With that it was option two for us. I woke everyone up to get ready to go out. Having had the breakfast at the hotel yesterday we decided we had enough and went out straight away to have a Langkawi breakfast at the stall on the way out to Cenang. On the way out I called the resort to enquire if the bungalow was ready for us to check in and if not what time we could do it. I was told by the keeper around 1300. So it was not too bad which meant I had just few hours to kill before we could check in.

Nothing special about the breakfast, only that in the whole of Pantai Cenang at least the price of nasi lemak bungkus was standardized to RM1.00 with standard codes written on the bungkusan to indicate what kind of nasi lemak it is. SB would mean Sambal Bilis, SU for sambal udang, SS for sambal sotong and so on. I ordered omelet just to see what I would be served with. What came was our normal telur dadar goreng like we normally have at home.

We left as soon as we had finished our breakfast and drove towards Padang Mat Sirat. My intention was to visit and check out all the art and batik outlets within the vicinity. If I could not find that many I also wanted to explore the area to see what else were there we could enjoy. Despite driving the beat-up Wira I was within the Mat Sirat area within minutes. I drove towards Pisang Art Village first but it was still not opened when we arrived there. Taking a cue from that I drove ahead passing the already harvested paddy fields. It was nice scenery of Langkawi farming area so I stopped the car to take few photographs. To kill time I drove further around the area until in the end I decided to explore the area near Pantai Kok fishing village. As I was passing through I could see one batik shop was opening and made a mental note to stop there on the way out. As we had plan to go to the cable car the next day I stopped halfway to turn back to shoot some of the fishermen’s boats harbored there. I have always a soft spot for that kind of scenery.

As I intended we stopped at the just opened Batik Shop. When we were at the entrance they were just about to get ready and advised us to come in a few minutes. So I told them if that was the case we would not be coming at all as we had limited time. With that answer they relented and allowed us to come in to browse. The reason for me to be there was for just one thing, the batik paintings. The others were left to explore the shop on their own. In the end I settled for a medium piece batik painting. Satisfied, we proceeded back to Pisang Art Village.

Pisang Art Village was worth the wait. We explored the arts and enjoyed ourselves there. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for my wife there wasn’t any art that I like enough to buy. But Mar, I was paying of course, bought small pieces of batik chanting, according to her, as presents for her teachers and Fatah. We were at the place long enough until there wasn’t anymore interesting things to see or observe. I drove towards Cenang and decided to have our lunch along the way.

The bungalow was huge there were 5 rooms and each room was designed and equipped like a hotel business suite. Baqir and Kak Cik took one room each on the ground floor, Kakak and Mar the second room on the upper floor and of course Sam and I the master bedroom leaving one room at the ground floor unoccupied. The living and kitchen were huge as well so much so the three days we were there we did not know what to do with the entire space. We relaxed a bit to enjoy the place and then went out again. This time we drove towards Cultural and Craft Centre at Teluk Yu. The reason was that Sam saw a banner that there was something going on there. We were there in no time and indeed they have a sale fair or something there and we explored the placed. All the local crafts were there on sale as well as a number of demonstrations to local games, cooking as well as crafts. Truthfully, we have been there before and we have seen most of them but in the hope to be surprised we went with the flow. Most of us got excited with the bargain, Mar with the games and arts demonstrations and me the batik painting. In the end I came out of the place with three pieces of canting batik painting. I was lucky as they were at bargain prices. My advice to everyone is that if you want to buy batik painting at a cheaper price checkout this place first.

At around 1730 we left the place with no specific direction in mind. I just drove on towards Padang Mat Sirat hoping to stumble into something interesting to stop and see. Unfortunately it was ‘been there and done that’ for all of us and with that my instinct maneuvered me to the direction of Kuah Town where there would be a Pasar Malam that evening. Since there was still a bit of daylight when we arrived we window shopped a bit. We bought few things, chocolates and stuff just not to be too time consuming the last two days shopping in Langkawi. There wasn’t much to buy anyway. Once the sun started to set and with the early night started to creep in I parked the car closer to the Pasar Malam area and we walked there. Judging from what we could see Kuah Town Pasar Malam was the main Pasar Malam in the island.

We walked the length of the Pasar Malam identifying the food of our choice along the way when we turned back we started to stop at each places to buy them. It was like any other Pasar Malam albeit slightly different kind of food. With everyone’s favourite purchased we decided to head back to the resort. Once back we unpacked our food and had a feast down at the big dining table. The resort was at Cenang Beach and we had planned the day before to check out the night life on Cenang road as we saw it was quiet a ‘happening’ place at night. After we have taken our bath we were out with the intention to walk the length of Cenang Road. Being a tourist there was easy and the attraction was not bad. However I was a bit sad. I was sad to see the beach front properties were turned into something like the Ferringhi Beach in Penang and became too commercialize with the only consideration was to get everyone visiting their places to have the ‘baddest’ party or drinking session. I knew 100% of the beach fronts properties were used to be owned by the Malays of Langkawi. Luckily it was not a total lost though and I sincerely hope the land owners would preserve certain novelty about the beach area. Change they must but please do not forget our values.

Halfway through Mar started to complain that she was tired and asked me to carry her. I knew she was and sleepy too but I refuse to carry her and forced her to walk. Hey, I was not being cruel to my daughter. I just wanted her to see a bit more and then walk back to the resort. In the end all of us had had a long day and ready to rest. After we bought a couple of bottled water we walked back. Baqir was not happy though as he could not find any bootleg DVD on the Island.

With the huge space for everyone we retracted quietly into our own wonderland.

Our photos for day there are here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

On the Train (Selamat Jalan) , Jan 7, 2009

On Monday, Jan 4, 2009 after coming back from Hajj with flu and cough my Uncle Abdullah Omar passed away after few days at Putrajaya Hospital. It was really unexpected and sudden for us in the family. Allahyarham was my arwah Abah’s cousin and we have met couple of times at Faisal’s house at BSP.

Yesterday, my very good friend Tam sent me a message that his beloved Kak Teh was in a very critical condition at Seremabn Hospital after a experiencing a stroke there days before. She had been in come since then and at around 1340 the same day I received another message from Tam bearing the sad news of the passing of Kak Teh. Kak Teh was dear to all of us that stayed at Tam’s place at Kuala Klawang for at least a week, I stayed almost a month, to help to organize her grand wedding. The wedding was one of the best that I had ever involved in. You could see all the kompung folks came together to help out with kayu basah, clearing the place, cooking and arranging for all sorts of cultural and religious events. If I were at any wedding and remember this best wedding definitely would remind and connect me to Kak Teh.

I would be the first person to admit that I am never good at accepting and dealing with death. For both deaths I was just numbed hearing and thinking about them. I just do not know how to react. When I called Tam words, let alone proper words, hardly came out from my mouth. I was not there to send both Pak Cik Omar and Kak The ‘off’. Even if I were I would not know how to deal with it. But deep down inside I know I did a proper one for both of them. My own way. May Allah Bless both of you and place you together with the soul that is loved by Allah.

What I have learned with this experience is that deep profound feeling towards something will immediately create certain connection and context to some of the deepest knowledge within you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

On The Train, Dec 24, 2009

I have been away most weekends in December and tomorrow will be the longest until year end. My days on the train have been somewhat different as well. Much more thinking and photo editing. I was just not in the mood to write anything and nothing could push me to do so. I just felt I was brain tired, lucky not brain dead, and rather spend my times creating different kinds of dopamines.

A lot of new things that I have learned though. The reality of KM and the state of my understanding change with it. Nevertheless I am on more firm ground now. My new understanding provokes me to want to go out to talk to people again. As if reading my brain invitations came in after one another. I’ll try my best to honor them. That means 2010 will see the old Ghaz preaching new improved thinking with more vigor and passion.

Tomorrow means it has been a year since I broke my clavicle cycling at FRIM. I won’t be going back there tomorrow but to drive home.

On The Train (Neuroscience), Dec10, 2009

The advance in neuroscience enables us to understand about out brain better. The last three days I was introduced to some of the most amazing discoveries and realizations. The things that I have read about Intuition, Decision Making and Naturalistic ways of doing things both came together ‘fixed’ by the understanding of the basic components and working of our BRAIN. To develop and nurture our brain we have to exercise it by getting it to experience either a lot of different things at different intensity or doing while learning from mistakes on everything that we do. This way we’ll develop and create a lot of dopamines