This blogspot is a medium to share my thoughts and adventures apart from promoting my books. Below are the books which have been written or authored and published by myself.

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti".

ISBN 983-42031-0-1, Jun 2006

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Membela Syiar yang Asal"

ISBN 983-42031-1-x, May 2007

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Sirih Pulang ke Gagang?"

ISBN 978-983-42031-2-2, November 2007

It is interesting to note that while these books were written in Malay it has gained enough attention to merit being part of the collections of the American Library of Congress and National Library of Australia. Look here and here.

While the first three books were published by my own company, the fourth titled "Rumah Azan" was published in April 2009 by a company called Karnadya with the help of the Malaysian national literary body Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It features beautiful pictures along with stories behind selected mosques which could be related to the history of Islam and the Malays alongside the formation of the Malaysian nation. Look at the article A collaboration of old collegemates - the book "Rumah Azan".

My fifth book "Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and Malay Sultanates", an English translation and adaptation of the Malay book "Ahlul Bait (Keluarga) Rasulullah SAW dan Kesultanan Melayu" authored by Hj Muzaffar Mohamad and Tun Suzana Othman was published early 2010. Look here... My 5th book is out! Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and the Malay Sultanates... . For more information check out my Malay blogspot CATATAN SI MERAH SILU.

Like my fourth book "Rumah Azan", the sixth book "Kereta Api Menuju Destinasi" is also a coffee-table book which is published by the company Karnadya with the cooperation of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (the main Malay literary body in Malaysia). Coming out January 2011 it features pictures and stories on the adventure travelling by train to all of Peninsular Malaysia along with the interesting places which could be reached this way.

My seventh book "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" in turn is a coffee-table book which is written, editted, designed and has pictures taken by me. Coming out of the factory October 2011, this book which combines family history with history of places such as Singapura, Johor, Batu Pahat, Muar and in fact the history of the island of Java and England has been reviewed with me interviewed live in the program Selamat Pagi Malaysia at RTM1. Look at the article Siaran langsung ulasan buku "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" dan temu ramah di Selamat Pagi Malaysia. Some selected contents have been featured in Sneak peek "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah".


The "Berpetualang ke Aceh" series of novels could be obtained in e-book form. Enter http://www.e-sentral.com/, click general novel and go to page 4. You can also type the word "Aceh" at the search box. Or click straight Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's up at Bukit Belachan

Greetings earthlings! After spending a hectic day settling some things, I returned home around 9pm and started updating my Malay blogspot "Catatan Si Merah Silu". Material-wise, that is infinitely much easier than updating this blogspot as all I have to do if don't want to write something totally new is to tap inside the rich contents of the Malay novel "Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti", written of course by yours truly. As it happens, I made 3 new postings there and that's when I realise, the total number of Malay postings have exceeded the English ones at this blogspot by 1 article... So let's make it even (or odd?)... A total of 9 postings each before calling it a day and so here we are... The 9th posting in this blogspot.
One of the reasons I started this English blogspot is to indirectly start the English adaptation of the book "Berpetualang ke Aceh". However presently, I'm too tired and not really in the mood to do any translation work or adaptation so we have to wait another day OK... Insyaallah!
Luckily, I've still got some old articles from my days as a journalist at The New Straits Times and it happens that the moment I went into the relevant folder, one particular title suddenly caught the eye to fit immediately into the moment. So here is a piece on Bukit Belachan, translated literally - Prawn-paste Hill...
What? You may ask?... Well have a go. You'll find some philosophy in it that neatly sums up my entire believe... Go... Read!

Publication :
Edition :
Date :
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Headline :
Grasping the unknown at Bukit Belacan
Words :
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By Radzi Sapiee
Text :
WHILE at the office one night, I had a sudden urge to bunk in the woods, preferably where a stream ran nearby if not a waterfall.
Actually, it was just another periodic urge. Having decided to lead a rather nomadic life in the last seven months, I had been accustomed to follow my instincts and make quick decisions on where to spend the next night. The stack of spare clothes in the office closet, a few pairs of shoes
under the desk, a huge rucksack and a worn-out sleeping bag bore testimony to that.
But I hadn't really roughed it out for some time now. I used to bunk at the office parking space - for almost three months - while working on a book that seemed never to be finished. Otherwise I was at some friends' place. At times I went to Dad's for laundry and fresh clothing. So why this sudden urge to head for the woods? And at four o'clock in the morning too!
Well, for a start, my house in Kajang had no water supply. And it's already too late to call up friends. Besides, I had been at their places much too often and some were not too happy at the way I kept shifting venues. So after changing into a pair of batik trousers, a loose t-shirt and a pair of sandals, I slipped on my leather jacket, took the rucksack and sleeping bag and left the office on my trusty bike.
The destination - Bukit Belacan - was decided upon while I was on the elevator down. I hadn't been there for years and the last time I really roughed it out was when I became homeless in London for three months and travelled in Europe for one month on a RM500 budget. So there.
Actually, I did spend the previous night outdoors - beside the lake at Taman Tasik Perdana. But that didn't count.
So there I was riding past Jalan Bangsar, heading for the city centre before turning into Jalan Sultan Ismail. Then it was through Jalan Ampang, all the way until the end where the jungle reserve was. About 15 minutes later, the sleeping bag was nicely laid out on a bench beside a stream. The surroundings were dimly lit by a street lamp and the stars.
But I just couldn't sleep. After tossing and turning on the bench for half-an-hour, I realised that too much was racing through my mind.
And being alone in the middle of a jungle was scary. At times, I even heard a rustling noise coming from the bushes. Unknown noise that could belong to anything from a wild animal to, well, ghosts and such.
Yet it was my yearning for the unknown that had led me here in the first place. It was also the unknown that had prompted me to choose the nomadic life and responsible for my state of mind for the last 10 years. And so I stood my ground.
Now what is my excuse for turning into a bum? Allow me, my dear friends, to explain.
Since young, I had been fascinated by the stories of the travels of adventurers like Marco Polo and Ibn Batutta. Accounts of UFOs, not to mention ghost stories and such were also the fuel that lighted my eyes.
In time, the fascination turned to curiosity of the unknown, leading me to consume stories that follow the likes of Prince Siddharta Gautama Buddha, along with such celebrated Sufi mystics like Ibn Arabi and Sheikh Qadir Jilani. These men had all been fuelled by the impetus to travel, sometimes aimlessly, before they were initiated into the mysteries of the unknown.
Siddharta abandoned a kingdom to head for the woods while Qadir walked the deserts on the outskirts of Baghdad for seven years.
For similar reasons, even Prophet Muhammad left the comfort of Mecca and the embrace of his wife to climb the surrounding mountains and take retreat in a cave.
Now it's not easy to explain what exactly is this unknown. Nevertheless I find myself consumed by the same yearning. I too find myself prone to retreat and wonderment in an attempt to grasp the unknown.
Although what I had discovered so far was insignificant compared to the knowledge achieved by some, it nevertheless helped me weather some hard times while increasing my conviction in a higher power. For one, it had helped me come to terms with my tumultous teenage years and a past filled with gangsterism, sex and scandals apart from the normal fights with families, authorities and the like.
In a country where materialism runs rampage, where money talks and bullshit walks, and where corporate figures and stockbrokers are worshipped like gods, there seems to be little space for spirituality. But when the material fabric that creates the illusion of well-being - the money, the big house, the posh cars - breaks down, then one would be hard-pressed to look for the significance of events, or at least to rationalise them.
One would be called, albeit forcefully, to find how to seek fulfilment of life without the Porsches, the credit cardsand the drinking bouts in Bangsar. One would be called to get to the core of matters in a manner that money can't buy.
On a bigger scale, look at the development of Malaysia itself. What does it mean to be developed?
So far, my impression is that it is only about ringgit and sen. About creating thousands of entrepreneurs and erecting monuments for prosperity.
But countries like America and Britain were not developed only on tall buildings and corporate multinationals. There's a whole host of cultures comprising arts, literature, scientific discoveries and such.
And when we look at the European renaissance, or even the great days of the Baghdad Caliphate or the Muslim Cordova civilisation, the accent was not on tonnes of jewels or such but on the flourishing of learning, of intellectual and aesthetically-pleasing endeavours.
Now how do such intangible goals fit into our society, people and youths? How many aspire to be another Einstein or Ibnu Sina? How many want to be Bill Gates because of the ideas he inspires rather that the billions he pockets?
If you get my drift, then look again: What made Einstein great, Mozart awe-inspiring or Beethoven simply divine? What creates geniuses and lights the way for mankind?
I'd say they were all inspired and consumed by a fire within them, a minute spark of spirituality that stems from the unknown. Whether they have travelled physical or mentally, they are all wanderers and in time turned to be such great beacons of mankind.
Now, I am very far from the status of these people although I hope to achieve the same elevation. Nevertheless, in these trying times, I did prove that one need not stay in five-star hotels to feel fulfilled.
Anyway, I was not the only one in Bukit Belacan that night. An hour later, a few cars came and parked next to my bike. Out came men and women wearing the barest of clothes with towels and buckets in their hands.
Ingatkan apa, rupanya nak mandi.
Hmm. Bless the water woes for bringing people back to nature and bless the economic problems for showing the path to a stronger and more mature Malaysia.

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