07 November 2012
Kuala Lumpur Menopause
Sesungguhnya Kota itu nafasnya hanyir
muntahnya berkahak memualkan tekak
menjolok halkum sesak berbaur
neon-neon pun hidup memedih mata
lalu ain ini terpaksa ku lontarkan jauh
berpaling namun tidak ku dusta lagi
Kaki ini sudah penat
longlai kian membatu
berpasak goyah lumpur berhingus
kudrat sudah luntur
iradat masih utuh
namun suara itu berkata :
"...Hei anak Sg. Derhaka, bukankah kamu utusan itu...?"
Samarkand subur bukan mimpi lagi
"Sungguh..." bisik benua itu
Di Sungai itu
aliran lesu tambah berliku
Aku tidak mahu hanyut lagi
Ku biar Kota itu tenggelam
Selamat tinggal tikus mondok
bayangku akan menjadi teman setiamu
Nukilan tercetus setelah 7 hari menghirup udara segar dibenua baru, di tepi pantai Tok Jembal
24 October 2012
I'm coming home!
The Monsoon rain welcome me with a thunderous applause, hammering on the roof of my parent's house when I set my foot for another timeless visit to the charming and mystical land of my rightful birthplace, the Keropoklekor land. It marked the end of dry a season and the beginning of a wet season. It also marked the start of another cycle to my endless life journey. Fate is gradually stretching its finger and touches my conscience - it is time to pack and go back. It is time to go home. I've finally decided to settle down and later spend my golden years in a secluded corner of the Keropoklekor land. I am going to open another chapter in my life. It is not a new chapter but a reincarnation of time that fortify the umbilical connection between yours truly and a place where my childhood memory lingers happily waiting to be romanticize again and again. This time I am leaving my ghost behind for good, chained and chastised onto the world that I'd never want to look back.
In my homeland, I saw many things are different now, but yet many things remain the same. The intimate feeling and the connection with the whole place and its people are as strong as ever. The fondness to having mankind favorite past time- a leisure siesta under a coconut tree watching the horizon has never changed. When I first felt in love with the salty breeze of the sea, it haunted me for life. This is my destiny, prescribed by the Almighty. In fact this coincides very well with my planned life milestone, except a year earlier. Most of my childhood friends who we used to play police sentry and ikan skila are nowhere to find, probably struggling and joining the rat-race army somewhere in the big city. I need to pick remnants of my previous life though to make a good compliment to spearhead and jump-start my new future.
As I am about to start my new journey, I can no longer ignore the inconvenient fact that I'm am also laving part of my colorful history behind. Many lessons had been learned. During my short alliance with that superficial life, many friends are made and friendship are forged. True friends are hard to find but upon finding one, they are a gem to be grasped upon. I hope that portion of my life journey has made me wiser and even stronger.
An old friend of mine used to utter this lines to me when I was looking for an answer during one of our soul searching escapades in Ayer Keroh, Melaka more than two decades ago :
Setinggi manapun sang helang terbang
pabila senja menjelang
hinggap dan kembali lah jua ia ke sarang
That wisdom speaks directly to my soul.
I am really looking forward to my new life. I hope the Monsoon, the whole critters of Keropoklekor land and the seafarers from the South China Sea will welcome me with their open heart. The world seems to stuck here in the Keropoklekor land for now. This is home. This is a place where I belong.
Timeless and beautiful vista like this is a trademark of Keropoklekor land. It will be forever engraved in my heart. This time it won't be a distant fatamorgana featured only in my dream. I just open my window and the reality is revealed before my eyes day in and day out.
The face of Keropoklekor land has changed a lot. This gloomy and lifeless spot used to be a bustling jetty full of activities for small diesel-engine boats to shuttle people from Kedai Payang to Seberang Takir and other kampung along the Terengganu river. These makeover and other modernization are now creeping into the life of local people. Oh yes...I almost forgot. Keropoklekor land is now a bandaraya.
These two lovely soul, my parent is the biggest motivation to me. The big decision to relocate myself to the Keropoklekor land is mostly inspired by them. They had done their best part to bring me up and put me where I am now. It is my part now to carry out a son's duty - to serve them well.
Posted by DrSam at 10:45 AM 38 comments
Labels: balik kampung
27 September 2012
Dear Madame, I quit!
It was not an easy decision. Having spent my entire professional life constipating endlessly among the zombies, I finally decided to make a life changing decree. I decided to write a love letter to my boss and quit the job.
I am typing this memo to you because I can't write properly. My vision especially in Kebun Getah Sekangkang Kera is becoming blur and increasingly hard to focus. My sight now is not good and with slight astigmatism I am seeing double. If you care about me you should have known of my poor condition earlier. The least you could do is to give me special allowance for Lasic treatment. Now the smell around my office is also stink. But that is not comparable to your infertile antic that from time to time is getting worse. You seem to walk on the cloud and never look down. I know it is kind of lonely up there. But to make things worst, you are surrounded by clowns who don't know to make a single joke. This make the whole circus appalling, except for the schoolchildren.
As you can see, starting next year our lush Kebun Getah Sekangkang Kera will be converted into another Kalahari desert full of concrete jungles. I am am expecting by December next year during the Monsoon, the whole Subang Bestari (my house is only a 5-minutes drive to the office) will be wiped out and buried under a mile thick of flash mud. I am sure you wouldn't know or even care about all this because you seldom come down from your comfortable laurel up in the sky kingdom. It surprises me of your ignorance as the rotting minds that linger in the field and in the canteen had reached the Seventh Heaven and all the celestial beings are complaining.
I think my time here has come to its end. In short and after serious deliberation, I want to resign commencing last month and please let me go in peace.
Wishing you, the clowns and the zombies all the best.
p/s: BTW the password to my PC is "jangan kau rayu" - everything in capital.
That is the actual resignation letter to my boss, after I carefully translated it from Bahasa. Seriously. Upon learning on my Kamikaze decision, a friend said I should reconsider and write a short memo with a line something like this :
"...I want to withdraw my resignation, I heard a rumor that the company which is hiring me is going to hire you too..."
I am sure this is not gonna happen.
I am sure this is not gonna happen.
It has been 20 wonderful years and I enjoyed and cherished every single moment while constipating in my beloved Kebun Getah Sekangkang Kera. I am not sure about the clowns but many zombies will miss me. I am hitting the road for now and soaring high reaching for the sky. I believe we are born to be free and free is the feeling right now.
Note : I am on leave until the end of October. Anybody who feel the itch for a leisurely teh tarik session and some tips to write a better resignation letter, you are most welcome. Everything is on the house.
Posted by DrSam at 12:05 AM 42 comments
23 September 2012
Now I can see my future
After a lifetime of having a perfect vision and almost a supernatural power of x-ray capability scrutinizing the unseen and beyond the obscure, I was informed recently by a very young and petite optometrist that my eyes need some serious overhauling. What I mean to say is that, I need to replace my old single focal lens with a multifocal which allows me to read, watching ASTRO and monitoring my kids doing their homework at the same time. A multifocal lens enables me to do multiple jobs which is brilliant and cool. I can recommend this to my colleagues especially in the Public service to have one. In fact I should recommend it to my maid as well.
The problem started when I realized that I need to put my book a mile away in order to make out what the introductory part was all about. That explains why I just could not finish every single book that I bought from Kinokuniya, Borders, MPH and Amazon.com in the past ten years. The only book that I've so far managed to finish in a single sitting is on "How to Manage your Menopause Boss". That was while waiting for my connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro after a 5 hours delay.
This is clearly a syndrome. Our friends in the optical department single handedly coined this syndrome as presbyopia. A simple example of this awkward condition is when you start to have a feeling that your arms aren't long enough to hold a newspapers or a love letter from your sweetheart at a position where you can read it clearly. Simply putting it - I am getting old and almost every part in my body is deteriorating.
Having a multifocal lens is supposed to be fun, but it is not. It makes you look like a handicap person. Apparently, having a defect eyesight with a pair of specialized glasses don't put me in the same league as a mutant or X-men. At first I felt like walking on the cloud drifting and floating along with the wind. After a while, I can moonwalking like the late Michael Jackson, the skill I've never known I had before. Using and trying to comprehend this artificial eyes accessory though doesn't require one to be a genius or having an elephant brain. It needs a special skill which is patience. Initially I have to train my eyes to perfectly align with the designated regions in order to focus. They did and they behaved very well.
"up" and the eyes go up when I want to focus on the TV screen.
"down" and the eyes struggling to focus all the objects down and beneath my belly. But something is not right as I am having difficulty to focus around this region as somehow my expanded waistline seems to obscure the most beautiful sight every man should have.
This starts to sound a bit weird, but actually given that all middle-aged people are bound to start going wrong in every department, a defect eyesight is not that bad either. First and foremost, I am constantly reminding myself that something is being taken away from me in the most fashionable way - by the Maker. Secondly, it knocks the socks off having some dreaded terminal illnesses such as the 'Malay PHD' which translates as a person who cannot see others better than thou or the 'mata keranjang' syndrome. Both diseases so far have no known cure.
Finally I am quite contented. With this newly acquired skills of multitasking, successfully training my eyes to see the unthinkable and having a double vision, now I can see my future bright and clear.
Posted by DrSam at 7:05 PM 11 comments
Labels: multifocal lens
16 September 2012
Don't trust your GPS, a buffalo is a better bet
When the brainy guys out there invented something new or come out with brilliant technological gizmo, they do it with good intention or at least for the betterment of all humankind including the aliens and the whole inhabitants that roam the galaxy. But of course along the way they would have expected their bank account will be filled to the brink from the promised royalties of which in many cases seldom materialized, at least in the Bolehland. There are of course many who had made millions or billions of moolah from their invention or innovative mind but the number of success stories in our own backyard is still a far cry from that of the Far land or even our neighbors that are becoming more prominent these days - the Africans with their innovative black money scam.
Not so long ago, my hand felt a bit itchy to give a try using a very important travel companion called GPS, an acronym for a Gadget that occasionally Piss the S*#@ out of me. This gizmo similar to any other technologies out there is supposed to make our good-self smile behind the wheel and maintain my jolly good mood throughout the journey. This GPS however, on many occasions had caused me moonlighting to the Atlantis and on one instance had almost caused the whole family the worst gastronomic catastrophe ever. This gadget is either point you to the right direction or send you head on with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
It was our first ever trip to KB, or for the uninitiated this place is simply known as Kota Bharu via the East-West Highway (Grik-Jeli). It was also a perfect opportunity to test my newly acquired gadget I just bought from an underground dealer at Low Yat Plaza, Kay El. After we picked up my eldest son from his College and a sumptuous lunch of ikan sungai at K. Kangsar, we continued our journey Eastward through the scenic kampungs, beautiful lakes and across the Crocker Range. I was told the trip should take approximately 3 hours from Grik to KB and not more. To cut the long story short, we took 5 hours to reach the hotel in KB through flood laden kampungs, small winding canals, inching through smugglers trail near Sg. Golok and almost reroute into our neighboring country, Siam via Rantau Panjang. All because I trusted my GPS.
Wife : Why did you blindly follow the GPS darling? I thought your sense of direction is spot on.
Me : The night was dark and my tummy was grumbling. I could not see properly as my head was full with nasi kerabu and budu.
Perhaps this guys who invented GPS should take some lessons from the sperm. The successful one who has such precision to reach the target (egg) and later grow to become the inventor himself. Perhaps next time I travel, I should hook my head with an antennae that has a direct link with the North Korean Spy Satellite to direct me to the nearest public toilet at Kedai Payang.
Migratory birds, the white egret have a very good sense of direction. Each year they migrate to the same spot right in the sawah padi of my blissful Kampung. They have been coming to visit that particular area. My younger brother told me that the kampung folks, who I supposedly have never heard of H1N1, adding this beautiful bird into their exotic menu regularly. The unlucky birds left their tags and serial ring numbers as the grim souvenir.
The post traumatic Raya reminder. This iconic photograph becomes a testimony to the lack acquaintance (ignorance) of the available technologies in photography - a wireless remote shutter release. I inadvertently set the camera to a 2 second timer and the camera managed to capture my own unique zapin style - and my backside with all its glory. Classic!
Posted by DrSam at 8:34 PM 11 comments
Labels: East-west highway, GPS
07 August 2012
The end of the beginning
Perhaps after zillion years of this world allowing us to roam freely in her beautiful domain and giving the chance for us to seek the purpose of life, the mortals have to accept one thing. Just like we have to accept that time never moves backward or the nasi-lemak-eating nation can never behave well in front of the wheel, we also have to accept the fact that nothing lasts forever. Even the fondest memories will fade in time. It is a very harsh reality this universe loves to offer. Those reality in a way is constantly reminding us to cherish whatever God gives us in life. But even in another million years to come, the mortals with all their arrogance will never learn. Ignorance and greed...yes the greed will always haunt humankind until the end of time.
For a while, I have been disillusioned and blinded by the past glory of a place that has been my playing ground for almost two decades. What made the place so lively and buzzing with activities for the good sake of all humankind is now becoming a relic of a distant past. The signs are so clear. There is not much thing that can lift my spirit and make my day. I've been surrounded by zombies who have sold their soul, perhaps to the devil. My good old friends are all gone. They had served well and should earned their peers' respect. Even monkeys and their entire family who once roamed and controlled the rubber kingdom of Sg. Buloh will laugh at me if I share with them my sad story and the pathetic state of the kingdom they once cherish.
Now I may sound like a conservative, old-nostalgic-rotten maggot. For me history is very important and it does matter. Sadly, we are now living in a modern society who has turn its back on the past. Our view of the past shapes the way we view the present, therefore it dictates what answers we offer for existing problems. History should be preserved well and make known to our future generations. What we do today will undoubtedly have unpredictable impact to the future.
After the recent visit to the site that will be developed into another modern infrastructure that will benefit the masses and the privilege few, I am not sure if my heart will ever stop to bleed. I have to do something to sooth my soul. Even though the new year is quite far away I would like to make a personal resolution. I am going to share whatever resource that I have with all the mortals who are lucky enough to reach this virtual domain. I hope stories from Kebun Getah Sekangkang Kera will resurface and reach future generations. All being well, untold stories like this will enrich the history that I am also part of it.
I hope no Ebola-infested monkeys of Sg. Buloh will belittle my promise and fully support my personal commitment. My limited experience however says it is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. In fact it is the end of the beginning.
An excerpt from a colonial archival document. The chemistry laboratory situated at 260, Jalan Ampang still survives until this modern day with indistinguishable make-over. There is however not much organic, physical or analytical chemistry churned out from the lab nowadays as bucket-chemistry is becoming more prominent.
An undated aerial photo of Rubber Research Institute Experimental Station (RRIES) when it was first opened in the 30s. The peripheral areas were still covered with pristine vegetation and juvenile rubber trees. That was history in the making.
A recent googling over a cyberspace revealed an eerie looking reality. In the next 3-4 years, you won't see that big green path anymore. Red dots on the left were the places where the recent felling of the rubber trees took place (Field 45 - 52).
August 2011 - The first visit. It looked like as if a big, fat meteorite with crazy appetite to wallop the entire Bolehland had crash-landed into the back yard of our office. The first visit to the field really saddened me. Padang jarak padang tekukur. 200 hectares of vast and barren land waiting to be filled by lifeless concrete jungle.
Against the backdrop of the past glory, greedy ghosts of modern warfare are actively assaulting all the civilization built by our past co-workers. Only time will tell if there is any left for the future to admire.
March 2012 - A second visit to the landing site. No alien or any alien workers were in sight but seeing this had made me lost my appetite for the day.
The freshly opened road leading to the newly developed site. The Sg. Buloh series (a type of soil) won't benefit any rubber plant no more. It will soon be molested by giant claw of urban technology.
August 2012 - the most recent visit revealed many covert activities by foreign subjects that alienated the green lung of the area. The trees that once provided life essential have now becoming silent witness to human gluttony.
How could I look at this and go back to live in my present world? How could one continue life as before?
It is 84 years after the felling of the jungle started and now the life cycle started one more time. This time however, the cycle is more vicious and full of unpredictable.
Too many interesting stories were untold and don't trickle down to our ipad and Starbuck generations. Too little history has ever made out into the brain domain of our pampered kids. These untold stories are still perfectly kept in the dark domain of the unknown waiting to be discovered . I have been wondering, will our rich history, someday, ever bring our degraded society back into the reality? Will it break the barrier and close the gap between generations?
Posted by DrSam at 6:36 PM 9 comments
21 July 2012
Another chance to heal our soul
Alhamdulillah. The blissful month of Ramadhan has finally come again. We are among the selected one to embrace this special visitor in another splendid life cycle, therefore we should be very thankful to Allah S.W.T for His endless mercy. He is giving us, the mortal believer another chance to replenish our iman and strengthen our taqwa. Lets us start this special journey with istiqomah and continuous religious devotion. Lets us make this journey with the hope that this will be our best journey ever with this special visitor.
I am taking this rare opportunity in the first day of the Holy month seeking forgiveness. May Divine pour His endless blessing upon us, like rain throughout this month of few.
Marhaban ya Shahru Ramadhan.
13 July 2012
Soul rejuvenating journey with Madyan, Soddom and Gomorrah
An eight hours journey by The Royal Jordanian from KLIA was very smooth. The flight touched down in the wee hour of the morning at Queen Alia International Airport. Upon touching the ground, my heart was also deeply touched. Unlike the other trip or journey that I took before, this one was very special. It was my first experience in the land of the anbia'. The unfamiliar feeling was deeply rooted and mixed with other emotions - the feeling that no word can describe. That was only the beginning. It was the beginning of a journey to discover one's iman and the believe of whatever happen (good or bad), Allah knows the best. He always gives the best to us.
At the start of the journey, Allah S.W.T had already tested the iman of the whole Jemaahs. One hundred and five of us. The flight was scheduled at 2200 hrs and by 1900 hrs when the check-in counter opened we were still looking for the travel agents with no ticket and passport at hand. Many had already thought of the inevitable. I just pressed myself hard and prayed that everything will be fine. 2100 hrs - with everybody panicking and things became very chaotic suddenly the agent appeared with the documents and we started to check in in the most haru-biru manner. With half an hour left for departure, we had to virtually run to embark the plane from the main terminal to the satellite building through the immigration, security point, aerotrain and toilet in between. Our big group mostly consisted of special people, people with special illnesses modern medicine will normally dismiss as nothing wrong. The trip was partly for that special reason. Treating the special people.
In the nick of time, I jokingly said to my wife :
"macam explorace kita ni"
With 15 minutes to spare, we finally sat ourselves comfortably but anxiously in our seats. Suddenly it was dawned to us things could turn from bad to worse. There was no Ustaz Malek (group leader) or any travel agent among us. One of the jemaahs in front of me then revealed an sms saying that fourty five Jemaahs could not make the trip as there was not ticket for them. As cool as I am, panic started to creep into me. My wife had broken into tears. As we had only a one way ticket to Jordan, we could be stranded in the far and barren land of Jordan...
But all those things had made this journey very sweet, colorful and memorable.
Deep into the Jordanian valley, 55 km from Amman is the Dead sea. A grim reminder to us from the inhabitants of Soddom and Gomorrah of whom were destroyed by Allah S.W.T for their disobedience to the preaching of Prophet Lut. It was their abominable sin of homosexuality that lead to their extinction. "When morning came, God turned the cities upside down, and rained down on them stones hard as baked clay, putting an end to the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once and for all" (Al-Hijr : 73-76). On the other side of the water, bordered by the hills is Israel.
Being the deepest hypersaline lake in the world with 33.7% salinity, no aquatic life can flourish in this harsh environment. A tourist demonstrates the unusual buoyancy caused by high salinity. Nobody will drown in this lake I suppose.
The sight of half-clad bodies covered with black mud is a norm around the Dead Sea. This place is the lowest (elevation) health spa in the world. The Dead sea contains high concentration of salt and minerals which gives its waters the renowned curative and therapeutic qualities to many ailments.
The Bolehland Jemaah didn't want to miss the opportunity to experience and get a closer encounter with the Dead sea. On the far right of this spot, part of the section was reserved to the Westerners or perhaps Israelis.
That was not 'orang minyak' who terrorizes Malay virgins in kampungs (the recent sighting was in Kampung Laksamana, Gombak). But a so-called friendly brother from Libya who persistently insisted me to take his photograph for no obvious reason. I purposely add this rear picture of him into this blog as the frontal profile was a bit...errr..to put it mildly, undulating!
Salt crystal deposited on the rock along the coastal or the Dead sea. They are in abundance. Some Jemaah collected the salt deposits in many kilos and surprisingly the airport customs (in Jordan, Jeddah and Bangkok) didn't even ask or flip their eyes on the x-ray scanner.
There are many opinions on the exact location of the Cave. Some say the Cave situated in Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, Afghanistan and even in Spain. But we went to Jordan to see the Jordan version of the Cave. At the entrance of the cave, the group leader Ustaz Abdul Malek briefed the Jemaah on the significance of the Cave. With him is his youngest daughter - also the youngest member in the group.
Qitmir, the sleepers' loyal dog was buried in the cave together with the sleepers. The lady-in-black is obviously not Qitmir but my significant half, standing beside the grave of the dog. Two holes were drilled (it was reported done during the Ottoman empire) so that we can have a peek inside the grave.
Bone remnants of the dog - Qitmir, inside the grave. They slept for 309 years. The Ashabul-kahfi lived to teach the world many lessons. One is the possibility of resurrection by Almighty Allah S.W.T.
A new mosque - Al-Kahfi mosque was built very recently beside (left site on the hill above) the Cave. The site of the ancient mosque was at the front the Cave. The mosque was very quiet during our visit but buzzing with housekeeping activities by the mosque workers.
Propher Shuaeb mosque. Prophet Shuaeb were sent to the Madyan. The Madyan was greedy people, gave short in measurement, lied to the customers and most of all did not believe the existence of Allah S.W.T. Just like the other non-believers, the Madyan perished.
A cat posing for my camera in front of the Prophet Shuaeb mosque. The cat knows, even long after the Madyan gone, the spirit of the Madyan still lives and besieges the very heart of current business dwelling. I can see the Madyan linger freely and happily in the Bolehland.
Posted by DrSam at 12:49 PM 13 comments
11 July 2012
Gone, but not with the wind
That was not the first time. I hope it will be the last. The great lost was very hard for me to comprehend at first. It was not because all of a sudden my koi's pond became very quiet and lifeless, but because the trust has been broken. Unlike promises, a trust is by no mean to be broken. When I trust someone (politician is obviously not in this equation) or some immortal being (like my external HDD which mysteriously disappeared with all my important data and secret recipe) - I surrender my entire life with it, literally.
The usual suspect in this case was none other than an unsuspecting and innocent-looking Bangla, whose face slightly resembles the famous Bangladeshi actor Shakib Khan. He resides in the neighboring kampung Boyan, but most of the time find solace in my neighbor's house, a few block away from mine. He is actually a no stranger to my peaceful neighborhood - quite a handy guy. He is very friendly and ever willing to help.
On that fateful day, we left the house for a long holiday break. The man I trusted to look after my kebun and the wellfare of the fishes in my pond was none other than our friendly Bangla from the neighboring Kampung Boyan. We left for a balik kampung holiday thinking that everything was in a good hand. Until a few days later, another neighbor called me and conveyed the shocking news. The whole population of kois and carps were annihilated (except the mean-looking algae sucking fish, Hypostomus plecostomus a.k.a ikan DBKL). Following tips from fictional character Inspector Sigh and looking at the symptoms, I suspected the fishes' demise was due to over fed and suffocated to their last breath.
It was a very sad affair. It was even hurting when the man you trust didn't admit to his crime and started blaming somebody else. Does this sounds all too familiar? At one point in our life, we have to accept the fact that everybody makes mistake. I do make mistakes and I am sure will make many more. Mistake is our best educator if we are willing to learn from it. Anyhow, it was already considered a gone case. The wise man always says, lets bygones be bygone. Even though it won't be the same, the karps and the kois can always be replaced (the demise fishes will eagerly come to the surface whenever they heard my footsteps near the pond, expecting their food).
Along the way we can always ponder and learn some new things to enrich and put new meaning to our life. First - never trust a Bangla with a face that resembles any popular movie star (not that I am jealous). Second - Admit our mistake; it will make our life less complicated. Last but not least - never overfed ourselves as the consequences are quite predictable.
|These lifeless fishes were now a distance memory. They have been my source of 'ilham' for the past 12 years. Whether the new generation can emulate the aura of their ancestors - time will tell.|
Posted by DrSam at 2:03 AM 12 comments
04 July 2012
Six month gestation period - thank you John Jenin
It is not easy to achieve that particular state of mind though. I have to admit that air ketum or any psychedelic source has no part in this affair. It took me many trips to nondescript stalls under pokok ketapang, impromptu night meetings with my colleagues, numerous trailblazing trips to the entire Bolehland of which I'd lost count of how many and tonnes of teh tarik kurang manis in kedai mamak - I forget that the world is still spinning and the sun is still shining. I was in my own world. But all those sacrifices come with a price and in my case a pleasant prize as well. I owe that glorious achievement to one particular person. Unbeknown to this guy, he was actually the sole mortal being that inspired me. He is known or used to be known in the Bloggosphere as John Jenin. Another mysterious persona - a nom de plume who has never materialized himself into this mortal world. At least for the time being. In fact I've never met him in person or got a chance to have a cup of teh tarik kurang manis with him under pokok ketapang.
This inaugural blog entry after a long gestation period is a tribute to this special persona, John Jenin. Perhaps he is another genius hiding in the underworld somewhere in Putrajaya, or a retired teacher who just wanted to share his wisdom with the free world or even one of my closest neighbors who are too shy to admit it was actually his dog that actually came up with this brilliant idea. I feel very oblige. I am very sure if he read or somehow stumble upon this entry perhaps in another millennium, he will surely feel very proud. Thank you John Jenin. If I were to win a Nobel prize for this syok-sendiri innovation - someday, I will find you and fly you to the moon!
|Before the judgement day. All set for the big show and my obliging team members aka the inventors (minus one) posed an overconfident smile prior to the winning announcement. Yours truly pretended to be cool and composed.|
No amount of practice, script rehearsal, and cold sweat could have prepared Mr OCW to face the most impeccable and unassuming visitors. Sometimes thing will go wrong and it will go wrong at the wrong and the most unimaginable moment. But at the end - Job well done. Good work guys!
Posted by DrSam at 11:28 PM 24 comments
Labels: tribute to John Jenin
05 January 2012
While missing in Yunnan I discovered Shangri La
When I was a child, my late grandmother told me that our ancentral origin can be traced back in the mystical mountainous region of Yunnan in China. I never paid any attention then, until one fine day I stumbled upon a travel documentary that showcased the hidden beauty of the region, the colorful tribes roaming the sleeping ancient town and the mystical wonder of those ethereal places. It inspired me and I said to myself "Wow...! I must go there."
My wish did come through. I was enroute the Bolehland from Beijing quite recently and I thought a short stopover in Yunnan wouldn't do me any harm. The first stop was in Kunming the capital of Yunnan which was only a 5o minutes flight away from Lijiang. Lijiang is one of the very well preserved ancient city in the province. The air-view along the way to Lijiang was very pleasing. The undulating terrain, isolated tiny villages high in the mountain, vast fertile lands in a diverse landscape were impressive enough and astonishingly beautiful. Luckily my sanity was still prevail otherwise I would have jump out and parachute off the plane just to experience the bird-eye view of this natural wonders. On a second thought, it was not entirely a bad idea though.
My 2 faithful colleagues and myself ended up spending 5 exciting days exploring the ancient town of Lijiang and her surrounding area. We literally inched ourselves up the snow-capped mountain and almost knocked out by lack of oxygen, braved the ear-deafening roar of Yangtze rapid in the deepest gorge, blended with the local tribes on a horseback, passed through scenic mountains, valley and lakes, paced ourselves slowly on the fine bluestones in the small alleys and traced the small streams that run through the ancient town. That was my kind of travel.
One thing that has lasting impression and really touched my heart was the people I met while in Lijiang. While communication was almost muted, sincerity and warm hospitality became a mutual natural bonding. It is a universal language through good gesture and pleasant body languages. Perhaps we were very lucky to have such good encounters. I do hope those were a representation of the whole local population. I do hope others will have the same pleasant encounters like us.
At the end of the journey, I still could not find and unravel the mystery of my ancestral origin. That elusive family tree can wait. I have the feeling that somehow there is a strong sense of belonging there. That intimate feeling was so real and it was very personal. That wonderful and mystical place has really captured my heart - forever.
Lijiang is a place where minority ethnics and diverse cultures blended in seamlessly and seemed to exist in a much lower temperature as compared to their neighboring Northern highlander.
While other part of the ancient world is facing a new invasion of Western believe and culture, Lijiang is still immune to this threat, well at least in this part of the ancient town. These Naxi old folks are their last bastion in preserving their well-kept tradition and custom.
A communal washing area is a common sight inside the ancient city of Lijiang. Fresh and clean water that runs down from Jade Dragon Snow Mountain radiates through the town in the form of many streams which provide a life-support essential to the entire population.
This local Mosuo girl weaving their traditional pashmina looked suspiciously at me when I snapped this photo. Just like any tourist spot, there were many shops that lined the street in the ancient town of Lijiang and sell the beautiful hand-made traditional handicraft for visitors to burn their pocket.
I just took a deep breath, savored the pleasured moment and enjoyed the spectacular view on the edge of nowhere, close to the top of the snow-capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. At over 4000 meters above sea level, oxygen which was taken for granted in the lowland suddenly became the most appreciated element.
My colleague told me that if he find Shangri La, he will never look back and return to this mortal world again. I asked him whether the above picturesque Blue Moon Valley fit his criteria. He replied..."you have to go to the underworld to get the answer."
Very true indeed :)
Very true indeed :)
The azure color of the lake with a backdrop of majestic Yulong mountain was really awe-inspiring. Actually this almost surreal landscape was not in my original syok-sendiri itinerary, but with a good and willing personal tourist guide, the hidden beauty of the Blue Moon Valley unraveled before my eyes.
While standing on the edge of this rapid section at one of Tiger Leaping Gorge's deepest section I can't help myself but admired the greatness of our Maker. The 3 hours one-way trip across the mountainous region of Yunnan toward the mystical Shangri La that passed through many junctions of Yangtze river was blissfully heaven. This was a place with unparalleled beauty. A place worth exploring.
As Tiger Leaping gorge is claimed to be the deepest gorge in the world, going down close to the rapid and then up again was quite a challenge for some. If your leg or knee is not strong enough, those special carriers were ready to assist. With a small token you can ride like a king.
Along the way to Shangri La, I spotted this nondescript stall selling very potent looking chillis. I was to find out later that those were the hottest chili in China.
No. 1 Courtyard Hotel Lijiang is a traditional five star hotel with a very beautiful courtyard. It was through the kindness of our taxi driver which later turned into our personal tourist guide that took us to this place despite our uncertainty of our final destination (read lost).
It was not my usual fancy to show the condition of my hotel room. This one was special because for the first time in my life I slept on a waterbed. A good love nest for honeymoon couple. A very unusual experience for me.
This is the only mosque in Lijiang right across the road from our hotel. From the main road it was slightly hidden by the dense vegetation. The mosque situated just outside the peripheral of the ancient town on a slope behind the town bus station. Our guide didn't know the existence of this mosque, but my indispensable interpreter and talk person - Mr OCW managed to pin-point this location with laser sharp accuracy.
A nondescript eating place for Muslim tucked away and hidden front he sight of unwary travelers. There was only a handful of halal restaurants in Lijiang and you need a good local guide to pin-point the exact location as there was no apparent signage. I just trust the guide and my gut and I think he didn't bluff as the owner answered my salam graciously.
Mr. Yang (sitting on the far right) and my two travel companions enjoying the warm Naxi hospitality. Mr Yang was so gracious and very generous with his time and made all the effort to accommodate all our fancies.
The traditional yak's dishes for our lunch. The food was simple, fresh and very informal but yet shockingly very tasty. I just have to watch my uric acid level as throughout my 10 days China adventure, surprisingly red meat became my main staple food. Warm Yak milk to compliment the dish will make the whole eating experience sublime.
Lijiang is a place where many beautiful streams with fresh and clear water radiates through the town with small cafes and restaurants offer hungry travelers with their mouthwatering traditional and modern dishes. I didn't get a chance to sit down in one of the cafe beside a stream enjoying a cup of the most expansive tea in the world (Puer tea) because I was so busy snapping photos and got mesmerized by her sheer beauty.
The sun, the moon and open air... what else do we need to get the feeling of freedom while dumping our precious commodity in this open loo. This is the 21st century version of an exotic spa in the middle of nowhere. I thought I never had to experience this unique ancient ritual, but alas the nuclear-hot chili in my dish really had caused me to have another earth-shattering gastro-intestinal apocalypse here. What an experience!
This, in my opinion is the most beautiful and super-clean toilet in the whole province. It should be rated as a five-star toilet. Next time if I accidentally landed on this mystical land and miss the hotel booking I know where to gatecrash. Superb!
Posted by DrSam at 6:25 PM 28 comments
Labels: on the edge of nowhere
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