Showing posts with label malaysia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label malaysia. Show all posts

Sunday, July 6, 2014


It pierces its way through the fine gap between the flesh-coloured curtains spread out from the high ceiling down to the tiled floor of a wholly bleached room. The visible ray of the spectrum, which finds the glass window as its true-blue accomplice at 6 in the morning, faint and dull, upsets the sleepyhead from her comfort. It taps me that it is a new day, and she is now mobile from a 6-hour paralysis, displacing herself slowly inch by inch on her mattress, creeping, as she stretched forth her hands to check on the clock at her bedside table. Fuzzy are its dials and numbers. She argues with the drag of getting up and succumbs to engaging in a 10-minute nap, setting the alarm this time, and buries her exasperated face in the lavender-scented pillow. 

I will wait until she wakes up again, while clearing my throat inaudible enough to be heard. My left temple rests on my fist. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, and the room doesn't get any less colder. 

She rises up, at last. As part of her morning routine, she stretches her extremities in repetitions until the cracking of joints satisfies her. Dishevelled, she combs her candle-like fingers through her hair and glues herself to the arched mirror and solicits a convincing grin for herself. It means she is all ready for the day, and she will be sporting that radiant aura all day, like what she does all the time. 

After washing her face with soap and lukewarm water, I follow her footsteps down the staircase. Barefooted, she grabs over the lacquered railing while yawning sheepishly, as though somebody has caught her red-handed. She laughs at herself. She must be very sleepy still, yet she treads as lightly as she can to the kitchen past the living room, the library, and the dining room. No one else is around as usual at this very hour. 

She plugs on the thermos just beside the bread toaster. She hurries herself to prepare breakfast sandwiches with bacon, egg, and cheese. Poor thing, lava-hot olive oil spills from the pan, compounding the beads of sweat forming on her forehead. A small drop of it burns her skin. It is nothing serious, though, as she continues on. 

Coffee, milk, and two sandwiches are now served. 

She climbs the stairs and realizes that she is without her slip-on slippers on, amusing herself twice today. 

She opens the door of the room right next to hers, which has always been unlocked. On his bed, she sits beside the 7-year-old boy who is reading his favourite children's book, a fable collection, for the fifth time. After flipping through the end of chapter three, he turns to her. Dejection wells up in his eyes, and she is accustomed to this cycle. Nothing has changed ever since that day. All that she can muster now is to hug him, one hand on his flushed, rosy cheek, the other on his skinny right shoulder. 

"Mom, I miss him. I wish dad were still here." These are the last words the young boy recites every time before they go down for breakfast.

Image: Johor, Malaysia

Friday, December 13, 2013

Crafting a Destiny

Crafting one's destiny is an art. It goes to show that the hands that toil are anyhow inches closer to the work of any mind or heart. While some of it may seem like a long shot or keep you hard-pressed, sheer determination in the long run will prove to be invaluable. And equating that belief to faith, in this respect, will be unparalleled of a stroke.

Image: Kulai, Johor, Malaysia

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Passage of Time

I can’t afford to be so na├»ve so as to dismiss the young faces around me. Their energetic flair, gusto for knowledge, thirst for adventure, and quest for an endless love, remind me that not too long ago was the time when I realized my dream and its quantitative derivatives were becoming more tangible. They teach me a few things that push me harder, only to get better. They make me think constantly about the rapidly changing world, and never let me forget about the years that have passed. Perhaps, they are half of the reason why, believe it or not, the old ones’ way is less obscure.

I am still young and probably have the mien to prove it, sans the fine lines on my forehead, bags under my eyes, and tummy unwittingly sticking out. I am saying this out loud that I am a proud twenty-something, though I am nearing off the calendar. I am proud to be in this bracket. But I have already started counting the expiration of my so-called youthful years, and yes, I am endangered to be part of the old population, soon, panicking not nonetheless (trying to sound calm).

If going 30 is jumping off the fence, then I am definitely old. But, I plead to make the numbers game higher. Forty or 50, perhaps? In my opinion, either is reasonably old. Now I know the perception of being old also grows as we age.

In our neighbourhood, oftentimes, I see a group of, say, senior citizens sitting around, immersed in a less modulated conversation I couldn’t fathom because of the language, and, more importantly, enjoying the morning sun. They are a bunch I have always wanted to ask what it is like being old. Their perspective would be a bright answer for someone who is potentially old.

So many questions, I just need to ask. What it is like being that old lady at a mall who struggles to text her husband to pick her up? What it is like being a part of that joyous old men’s club at a hawker centre? What it is like silently standing on a long queue for more than an hour at a bank one fine Saturday, where half are the same as your age and being amused by that vibrant, bejewelled, chatty lady? What it is like selling tissues on a wheelchair or a seeming sleeping mat, when you should’ve been resting comfortably at home already? What it is like working as a waitress or checkout lady, when your age doesn’t merit you to? What it is like joining a club doing rounds of morning and evening exercises? What it is like working as a calloused trike driver? What does it feel like when the able doesn’t give up his/her seat inside the train? What does it feel like being sent by your only child to a nursing home? Is there anything else you want to achieve in life? How come you’re so successful?

Some answers might be hard to imagine, while some would easily make perfect sense, but one thing remains true, the old people are living proof of a time existing in two dimensions -- a time wasted and a time well-spent. Perhaps, they are half of the reason why the young ones’ way is less obscure. They should be.

Image: Penang, Malaysia

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Railway Tracks

Stop this train now. In a few minutes, armed with nothing but my jaded feet and a load of 5 kilos strapped to my back, I’ll be jumping off the train real quick, because the train, I realize, doesn’t stop. It only slows down. I may sound imposing, but they won’t hear it, even if I have to scream at the top of my lungs. I can only get off the moving train in the end as fast as I can.

That’s a crooked, insane thought. But that’s life -- life that is manifested by the endless train that comes rattling down the railway tracks. A ticket to your train destination is as good as your own life. You can make it dull, exhilarating, or crazy for the heck of it.

As long as you enjoy the ride, everything, from all of life’s frivolities to the philosophic drifts, becomes clearer. Without a doubt, you will further your journey to even more destinations worth the thrill, worth the spectacular possibilities. Your horizon grows and becomes wider every single day. That’s what happens when what you’re doing is spot on for your destination. Dreamy it can be.

But if you can’t take the ride anymore, there will always be ways that will serve you better, contrasting what you have initially thought to be good or the so-called immediate fix. You just have to learn to say no, to stop the madness once and for all. Sure, it might be an uneasy fit, never a walk in the park, but listening to your heart while having a good head on your shoulders comes to the rescue. Keep the drums beating excitedly, no matter how deafening they can be, for that’s your life’s fuel, and life’s meant to be spurred by what delights you most. Dig in your inner passion, motivate yourself despite all the odds, and don’t stray from the path. It will draw you closer to the purpose of your existence.

Define your own railway tracks. Take risks. Stretch your limits. Be on track. Happiness is on your way.

Image: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Petronas Twin Towers

Kinetic I & II are to be visualised together, one complementing the other. Just as the PETRONAS Twin Towers joined by the skybridge symbolize strength in unity, the sculptures represent the concept of unity in diversity. The revolving parts of the sculptures relate to the vitality of creative vision and symbolise the dynamic growth of PETRONAS and the Malaysian people.

"Kinetic I," 1998
Latiff Mohidin
Stainless Steel
4198 mm, 2730 Kg

"Kinetic II," 1998
Latiff Mohidin
Stainless Steel
4198 mm, 2730 Kg

Sleepless in Kuala Lumpur

Bring it to the table, and I will eat it. Come to my mind, and I will do or act on it. With another solo exciting trip wafting into my mind, which was still pre-occupied with a short, tight-packed, with-a-purpose-for-friends trip back home, all I ever wanted was to take a breather and to think -- to give myself a much-needed think space, where a long distance from my little reality would make a lot of sense. There I grabbed the thought, and placed it into a somewhat scrambled plan.

The gruelling absence of a concrete plan only took off when I booked for a November 11, 2011 bus trip to Kuala Lumpur via Golden Coach Express. But you would know later that nothing was really technically planned. So in the evening of what many reckoned to be a lucky date, right after work, I was headed off from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, the Garden City of Lights. Yes, on the date of a triple 11. It is a date that will happen again at the turn of another century. Everyone in our office celebrated it. We enjoyed an afternoon snack, which was more aptly a heavy meal to our surprise, as opposed to our usual weekly snack. They also recognized the most hard-working employee of the year, followed by games and a lucky draw, where I was unlucky enough.

The trip began at 7:30PM. After an hour had elapsed, I was already in the Malaysian territory. Golden Coach Express, a different bus from Singapore to Malaysian checkpoint, had a homey atmosphere, and the seats were spacious that could be inclined up to almost 120 degrees. We arrived at Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur, at around 1:30AM. The long trip was smooth-sailing, while watching a femme fatale film starring Zoe Saldana, Colombiana, peeking into the sleeping countryside, and talking to my seatmate. I was at a guessing game with her nationality earlier on. At first, I thought she’s Malaysian, but no, Singaporean, but still no, and then Chinese, and then I conceded. She is Indonesian of Chinese race. She’s from Medan and working in Singapore, and came to visit her Malaysian friend. We burst into a long conversation since, when they turned off the lights at the time when we had just got started with our readings (her book and my magazine), and we both laughed at the wrong timing.

Alright, honestly, I was nervous when I first stepped on Kuala Lumpur’s soil. The ‘big city’ only dawned on me when I wasn’t too sure about which side of the printed map was I, because I thought we would be alighting at Pudu Sentral, though Berjaya Times was an ‘or’ option and the map was supposed to be easy to understand. But somehow, I realized I had just lost my sense of direction. With the Petronas Twin Towers on my mind as the first place to visit, I kept my feet on moving, going to the other side, passing Imbi Monorail station, but I wasn’t convinced the intersection had a pedestrian lane. I mean, seriously. It’s not pretty for a foreigner to be caught jaywalking, so I walked back to find a skywalk to the other side.

I turned right to Jalan Pudu, which was a shock because of an unlikely traffic jam  in those hours, and it stretched up to Jalan Bukit Bintang. From there, I carefully collected my thoughts about why. Like a fish out of water, I was in Kuala Lumpur’s red light district.  To the left and right of the street, you would see massage parlors with promotional girls cum masseuses parading themselves outside, girls in skimpy clothes, guys that sure smelled of booze and hostels. Anytime, someone would approach you for a ‘happy, happy’, ‘one night stand.' I was there, and it occurred in front of me.

To the twin towers, I just followed the railway from Bukit Bintang Monorail station along Jalan Sultan Ismail, and turned right to Jalan P. Ramlee. The long walk was worth it! Drenched in sweat, I enjoyed taking pictures of the towers (the lights were turned off, unfortunately), which were once the world’s tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004. Pictures will be posted in a separate post.

Next assignment was the Kuala Lumpur Tower nearby. I treaded the same road back up to the tower, which is on an elevated area. The gated tower actually opens at 9AM.

Masjid Jamek was up next. From Jalan P. Ramlee, to the right of Jalan Raja Chulan (a quiet, lifeless street), I passed by Telekom Museum, until I found the railway that would take me to the mosque.

Most tourist spots open at around 8 or 9AM, visiting hours of the mosque at 8:30AM. So I was slightly disappointed, again. I was about to go to Chinatown to find a hotel, when an Indian-looking guy in long sleeves and slacks approached me. He asked me if I was a Christian. I said a nervous yes, to think I was in what is a Muslim domain. It was comforting, however, when he introduced himself as a Christian, too. However, it was equally daunting when he said I shouldn't be there, just because the place was dangerous for Christians. He led me to a seat just in front of the mosque. He was Nepalese, and actually a tourist himself. I asked him about his day job, but he didn't get it, and restated instead that he’s just a tourist. I also asked him whether he’s a Roman Catholic, but he didn't get it, again. I asked him that again and finally, said he’s a Roman Catholic, too. He asked if I had a copy of my map, but I had only one. Then, finally, he asked about my next direction. I replied, Chinatown, and he said he’s headed to the same way, too. That’s when I started to be dubious about that person. His scheme was all that familiar. We stood up to Chinatown, walked a few meters, and I switched direction, suddenly. He said, I was right, Chinatown was in the opposite direction. He walked a few steps ahead of me, thinking I would still follow him, but I didn't, and stopped at a train station beside the mosque. I looked at him, he looked back at me, and just kept on walking to the dark alley.

It was a weird experience -- weirder than I thought. Praise God, I wasn't caught off guard, had my eyes wide open, and had good judgment about the situation. I should have been more careful next time, especially in those hours.

At past 6AM, from Masjid Jamek LRT Interchange station to Pasar Seni LRT station, I had found Petaling Street Hotel, in Chinatown, to stay for a night.

It's a must to have these maps printed out if you want to roam around the city upon arrival:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tioman Island in Malaysia: Explored and Conquered (Part II)

All the exhaustion that was meant to see half of the western part of the island in the day propelled us to a good night sleep afterwards. Indeed, it was a “mission accomplished” in our pockets. We dozed off soundly with the cold sea breeze gently piercing into the chalet until the sound of the phone alarm at 6AM prodded us for a brand new day to be seized. It was time for jungle trekking to Juara, a village in the east.

Fried noodles and coffee for breakfast were esteemed to be adequate for the journey -- with a stock of energy bars, some junks, and water in our backpacks.

The signboard at the foot of the mountain said it would be a 7km trek to Juara. We got our itchy feet started at 7:41AM. It should be easier this time since the last trek had us fully-stretched, I thought. It didn’t hurt as much of a hurdle for the first few minutes over because the trail was more pronounced, even cemented, but the steepness of it, of what seemed to be an eternal stairway (our feet probably landed on over hundreds of steps if not close to a thousand) left us begging to stop almost every minute, or was it just me. It was never easy.

Good thing, no snake chanced to greet us along the way. It would have been so polite of them, thus accelerating our pace, though, a local assured us that there were no poisonous snakes in the jungle. No fauna visible, not even a single bird showed up. We were merely among the trees.

After exactly 1 hour, we were finally out of the jungle. If we had traversed a perfectly symmetrical mountain and found our way up to its peak, then walking down the slope would be another hour lapsed equally, forgetting rolling. It was a rather straightforward walk, but braking every time with my able legs was causing some stress on my knees, nonetheless.

We went side-tripping to a waterfall just a few meters from the roadside, took some pictures until another group of tourists arrived.

We continued our way to Juara, this time seeing monkeys and a shy squirrel. At 9:29AM, the Juara welcome signboard greeted us, saying “Selamat datang di Juara,” and at 9:40AM, we had finally arrived at the beach. So 2 hours is what it takes for a 7km trek from Tekek to Juara beach.

Juara appealed to me as a ghost town with only the waves coming from the South China Sea roaring and crashing onto its long, wide, and white beach breaking the silence. The village is perfect if you want the peace and quiet you’ve always wanted, and, for me, Juara offers the best beach among others on the island. 

We soon realized that there is a surfing competition being held annually in Juara. Some people went surfing at that time while we tried for the first time skimboarding (we have just realized this very week that that board we borrowed from the kind restaurant girl where we had lunch at wasn’t a surf board, ha ha). I felt that surfing or skimboarding is something worth a second try next time.

At 12:17PM, we took a van going back to Tekek for 30 ringgit each and arrived twenty minutes later.

Our trip back to Mersing was scheduled at 4:30PM, but we departed so late at 5:23PM. I understood that because of the low tides, and, not to my surprise, we were at a complete slo-mo nearing Mersing.

If you could still remember in Part I, the trip versioning went to an all-time high to as far as version D. The supposed plan was that Kuala Lumpur would be the last stop on the trip, but it was the holidays! How could we forget that buses also have a time off? Buses are the only means of transportation to KL (discounting the highly-priced taxis), so we resorted to just taking a taxi to Johor Bahru. We were reluctantly going back home, ending our adventure, and trying to forget Kuala Lumpur.

we crept our way to the jungle, while everyone was still sleeping
fried noodles and coffee for breakfast
onwards to the foot of the mountain to Juara
hibiscus rosa-sinensis (the gumamela) - the national flower of Malaysia
Jungle Trek to Juara
the starting point of a 7km journey
water pipes
rubber tree
huggable enough of a trunk!
drinking water catchment area
the stairway to eternity
they're fighting for sunlight
almost there!
featuring my formidable stick to ward off the enemies
left to right: the paved road and the road less travelled; we just came from the latter
the long downward walk
pointing to the waterfall
a waterfall
she was threatened perhaps, so she towered herself up
Selamat datang di Juara (Welcome to Juara)
we did it!
Juara Beach
Juara jetty
Juara beach
still Juara beach
still the same surfing beach
monkey boy (that's me!)
thanks to Adidas, our main sponsor (wishful thinking! ha ha!)
my ever-reliable red Habagat bag
Juara Surfing Competition 2010
spicy fried rice for lunch with watermelon fruit shake
monitor lizard
back to Tekek
ticket to Mersing
still don't know the name of this little friend, anyone who can help me out?