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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".


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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.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Trip to Europe 1995... Trouble in Amsterdam...

Hardcopies of the writings on my trip to Europe of 1995. The writings were made in 1997 using my then workplace's computer system but was lost when upgrades were made in the Intranet system. Thank God, I rediscovered the hardcopies at a family house in Kajang about a week ago.

Continuing from where we left off at Trip to Europe 1995... The story begins... is a piece on what happened in Holland, particularly in Amsterdam. The editted piece was published in The News Straits but soon enough came a letter to the editorial made by Dutchman who was not happy with the story. The letter which was published in the NST's centrepage blasted my story for potraying Amsterdam as a place of thieves. I guess it's my mistake for highlighting the city's negative side. Then again many Europeans have told me how dangerous Amsterdam really is. Anyway, read the story and judge for yourself... :]

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Again. I lost my guitar again. First I missed the bus with all my things inside. Then someone decided the guitar was worth a few fix.
What’s the big deal? Well, for a start it was an Ovation! (the famous Malay rock band Search used it for their concerts, mind you).
Just when I thought I could have my own "Live in Amsterdam concert" – busking was part of my travel agenda – the guitar was snatched right under my nose. Worse comes to worse, I could have sold it for some bread.
It was partially my fault really. I had been warned about this. I was told about Amsterdam’s reputation as the city with the highest crime rate in Europe. But no… I still treat things as if I was in Kuala Lumpur.
I was sleeping on a table in Niumarket, a market square east of the infamous red-light district after the long bus trip from London. It felt like a king-sized Dunlopillo at the time as I snuggled inside my sleeping bed ignoring the mid-noon heat, and a gruffy Dutchman lying torso bared with red-eyes beside me.
He was mumbling all sorts of rubbish about living on the street as a thief. Maybe he was striking conversation to relieve his angst.
I didn’t care as I dozed off with my rucksack under my head as my pillow and the guitar-strap tied to my body. I was out for the count.
Suddenly, a loud voice shocked me from my slumber. "Wake up, someone stole your guitar!!!"
There was an old guy thugging at my arms. The rucksack was there, so’s the straps. I can’t believe it, where’s the guitar?
I waited for a few minutes. There was a time in London where a homeless guy went off with my guitar and came back to return it. But then this was not London. The Dutchman never came back.
Much later at a police station where I made the report, I was told not to raise my hopes. In Amsterdam, once something is gone, it stays gone…
Anyway, it’s time to move on. I decided to check a coffee shop filled witg gigly funny-looking people (there were plenty of them around). It looked like any normal pub. But the music, an endless mix of rave with its repertoire of electronic sounds was hypnotic, almost pscychedelic.
A waiter handed me a menu. On it was a list of items. Jamaican, Turkish, mixed, weed, black plus some other exotic names. Hmm… Interesting blend of coffees, one might think.
Surprise! Surprise! No one’s talking about coffee but different blends of cannabis!
The bartender looked at me and the rucksack, rolled his joint, and bluntly said: "Keep a watch on your things buddie. This is Amsterdam,"
Yeah… Keep a watch of my things.. I will always remember that. And my guitar was probably somewhere on a boat to Colombia as an exchange for some cannabis!
That night, I walked around the famed red-light district. Several shops with the sign "adults only" greeted me.
Flanking a canal were old shophouses with glass windows and pink night-lights radiating a kind of sexy tinge in the air.
Inside the windows were every schoolboys’ wet dream come true. Girls, lots of girls… Chinese, Siamese, African, European, all clad in their undies dancing along to sexy music like some magic mannequin waiting for prince charming to pay their bread and butter.
They would dance non-stop until it’s time to rest or a customer calls. But that night, they’re just for show…
Sleep was in a sampan moored on one of the canals. No one seemed to mind. I did it for two nights (the sampan I mean).
Touring around Amsterdam on foot, I came across a fountain in the middle of a small round-about near Central Station. The surrounding pavement was filled by people watching street entertainers perform and pigeons scrurrying around for food.
But the main focus was the Damrak, the main street of Amsterdam extending southwards flanked by shopping malls and restaurants. Museums graced the other end including Van Gogh’s in honour of the eccentric painter who puts Holland on the arts map and his ear in an envelope.
I walked along it, sight-seeing and window shopping. Indonesian restaurants seems to appear at every visible corner. Locals cycling on big bulky bikes reminding me of cyclists in Muar, my hometown filled the gap between the cars and the people.
Then there’s the VondelPark, the local Taman Tasik Perdana with its beautiful landscape and twelve statues of Buddha sitting in the familiar lotus position in the middle of a lake.
However unlike Taman Tasik Perdana, the park was full of people high on booze and spliffs and joints enjoying a cool acid jazz concert, certainly a rare sight in Malaysia.
Despite all the attractions, it was time to start my hitchiking journey. But I still hadn’t summoned the guts to flag down any cars or lorries.
Instead I took the coward’s way out. A train to Schipol airport, another to Leiden and then a bus to Den Haag or The Hague. But I still got the best deal – I didn’t pay.
At Den Haag I spent two nights at a friend’s place facing the English Channel. The beach constantly filled with tanned Dutch, men and women, some topless, some as nature intended literally spelled sumer-time Dutch style.
On August 22th, I was finally ready for my first hike. The friend dropped me beside a highway, an ideal place to get a ride. My target was to reach Germany before midnight.
So there I was holding a cardboard marked "To Germany or East?" waving my thumb at every passing motorist.
Two hours later, I was still there with arms getting sore from the exercise. I walked heading east with the cardboard plastered on my rucksack, while waving to all the vehicles along the way.
Five kilometres later, I got my first hike from an Arab in a van all the way to Rotterdam. A good sign, I thought.
The rest of the hike saw me throught the towns of Delft, Dordretch and later Venlo near the border of Germany, before midnight.
As planned, I arrived in Germany, before midnight.
As I closed my eyes, body tucked inside the sleeping bag on a cosy spot in the woods beside the highway, I thought again about my beloved guitar.
Well goodbye guitar, welcome Germany.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Trip to Europe 1995... The story begins...

A copy of the first article I did on my travelling in Europe 1995 as appeared in The New Straits Times, Saturday March 15, 1997. The editor who edited it mentioned that the writer Radzi Sapiee travelled through 9 countries. The truth is it was 11 countries as the editor who saw a sketch of the route forgot to count in Monaco and Liechenstein which are independent countries despite their small sizes...

As promised, a story on my travels in Europe in 1995. The story was made in 1997, in my first year as a journalist with the major Malaysian English daily, The New Straits Times. So forgive the naivity in the language and such... I was still new to writing, being a graduate in Mathematics and at that time eager to impress with what I thought then was a fresh and exciting way of story-telling.
The truth is, what happened during the travel was dark... Very dark as the travelling was made during a period of intense soul-searching. Nevertheless, I managed to jot it down on paper and it did made the pages of a mainstream paper for all to view. So here goes, the actual version as written in 1997, not the version editted and appeared in the paper.
Oh... For information, this piece and the remaining pieces on the travel which covered 11 countries were supposed to make my first book. But I dumped the idea after the whole lot which was stored inside the company's computer Intranet system was lost after some upgrading exercise.
I've forgotten about it for 10 years now until I accidently discovered some hard copies which was actually stored at a family home in Kajang. I take it as a signal that I should at least present it for all to see. Here goes...

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“Europe in 31 days… See the canals of Amsterdam, the fairy tale-like castles of Prague, the beautiful towering alps surrounding Zurich and the rest of Switzerland, the warm mediterranean coast of Genoa and Monte Carlo and the sprawling majestic city of Paris with its Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph.”
Ahh… How did that grab me. So there I was going around asking friends on how to travel around Europe, the things to do and other myriad gory details. “Check out the chicks,” the guys said. Yeah, sure…
So how does one prepare for a European tour?
Simple. Get a Eurorail ticket, the cheapest way to travel, they said. Its valid on most trains in Europe for 30 days.
Lodging shouldn’t be a problem either. Cheap youth hostels are available all over the continent or take night-trains and sleep onboard, a friend advised.
Remember to visit the museums, theatres and entertainment venues – EuroDisney, Eiffel Tower and Amsterdam’s many love museums. Check the love-scene too, said one hedonistic friend.
Passports and currencies, etc.?
Get visas where required (call the embassies) or Schengen visa from the French consulate covering entries to most countries.
Do get some currencies too - Holland’s Guilders, German’ Deustchmark and France’s Franc – and travellers cheque, normally Thomas Cook cheques in US Dollars.
Maps, traveller’s guides and bilingual dictionaries in the main languages – English, French, Italian and German – are also a must especially for those looking for company.
And then, there’s the rough and tough jeanswear, travelling boots and a backpack along with clean underwears and a ton of deoderant. You’ll need it.
There, its bon voyage time.
“Wait a minute, what’s the cost,” I asked a friend.
“Not much. A Eurorail ticket cost 245 Pounds (about RM900). One night in youth-hostel cost at least six Pounds (roughly RM25). So’s the food per day,” she replied.
“What about tickets to Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and classical concerts in Prague?” I pestered her.
“Not to worry, 700 Pounds (about RM3000) should cover most expenses and provide a fulfilling trip. That should be affordable,” she assured me.
“Uh… Em… Er… 700 Pounds. OK, should be peanuts,” I answered.
Yeah… Sure… Some peanuts. I only had 150 Pounds in my accounts… Time to get another advice.
“Joe, can I tour Europe with 150 Pounds?” I asked another.
“Sure, go to Amsterdam or Paris, you can spend three days there and enjoy yourself with that much money,” he replied.
“But I don’t want to see just one or two cities, I want to visit at least ten countries in at least 30 days,” I said. “How then?”
“Uh… Em… Er… Work for a few more weeks and save money or get some from your dad,” was the wise advice. Not exactly a solution. I don’t have much time. My London to Malaysia flight was due in 6 weeks time. Dad wouldn’t give me money either.
After a few nights of brainstroming, I arrived at a solution.
This was what I did:-
(a) Sold the old Samsung microwave to an Iranian friend for 30 Pounds.
(b) Bought a 50 Pounds Euroline round-trip London-Amsterdam bus ticket, the cheapest to Europe avaiable.
(c) Get the arsenals; a rucksack, sleeping bag, clothings and towel, guitar, cheap camera, some guts and a thick-face.
The travelling plan was:-
(i) Go to Amsterdam.
(ii) From there, hitchike, clockwise through as many countries as possible before returning to Amsterdam.
(iii) Go back to London.
Sleep? Any place, with a sleeping bag.
References? Any bookshop and petrol station would do.
The guitar would be handy for company or busking (= extra money) or if worse comes to worst can be sold (= more extra money but that’s it. It’s only for one shot).
The 130 Pounds left will cover the meals plus any contigencies. Piece of cake isn’t it? Not exactly… Once, I was thrown in a lock-up in Lyon for no apparent reason. More than once, some gangsters tried to mug me. So’s the thieves who tried to reap my things.
First morning in Europe and I got stripped of my travelling gears! The rucksack, sleeping bag and the guitar; the mobile home and accessories, vanished, kaput, nyilek!
It was at a rest area on the outskirts of Breda, Holland. The bus made a pitstop on the way to Amsterdam.
Breakfast at a restaurant nearby and a visit to the toilet and the bus was gone! What’s left was an empty spot between a tree and a red car in front where the bus was on.
So much for the travel plan. At least the passport, bus return ticket, wallet and cash was on me.
But how was I to conclude my travel without the mobile home and accessories? The only solution was to catch the bus or check the things at the next station. Either way it means getting to Amsterdam as soon as possible. But how?
Then I realised other Euroline buses were around. I approached one. Luckily the driver let me on the bus heading for Amsterdam.
I sat beside the driver’s seat facing the back with thoughts fixed on the guitar and the rucksack. Will I see it again?
Three hours later, we arrived in Amstel, Amsterdam. No other London-Amsterdam bus was there.
I looked around walking to and fro in front of the station watching and scanning the surroundings. Where was the bus? No sign of my belongings at the Euroline office either.
Despair was setting in… Suddenly came a bus with some familiar faces onboard. They recognised me too. Some waved their hands frantically asking where had I been. What a relief!
It was ironic. I departed twenty minutes later, arrived twenty minutes earlier… And recovered my belongings too!
Well. Let’s see what Amsterdam has to offer…

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Next... The thieves at Amsterdam or something like it. Coming soon... :]

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Perak trip... A one day trip made in December 2006

And to close the current session of writing for the day, let me let out a simple pictorial story of a one-day trip to Perak made on December 8th 2006...


The trip was intended to be made up to Tanjung Malim, the town at the border of the states of Perak and Selangor. We stopped at Kuala Kubu Baru in Selangor on the way...

Another view of Kuala Kubu Baru...


We stopped at a food-stall for launch. It happened that there's free wi-fi Internet signal there. So I decided to check out what's on the World Wide Web.

Oh... While in Kuala Kubu Baru, we also visited an old mosque there. Click Masjid (mosque of) Ampang Pecah for the story...


I can't remember where this is. We are heading for Tanjung Malim when I saw this mosque not far from the main road and asked Zaidi to turn the car back so I could snap this picture...
Oh... It's in Kerling wherever that is... At least that's what is inscribed in Jawi writings on the walls...

Soon enough we arrived in Tanjung Malim. The main reason I asked Zaidi to join me there is to visit an old mosque which is actually situated across the border in the Selangor side. The story has been told in Masjid Sheikh Ismail di Ulu Bernama (The mosque of Sheikh Ismail in Ulu Bernam) .

Then I felt that we should go on further into Perak... Next stop is Sungkai. Zaidi snapped the picture above with the main range Banjaran Titiwangsa in the background as we were about to leave Tanjung Malim...


At Sungkai, we stopped at the old mosque for Maghrib prayers... The inscription says the mosque was built in 1933...


A view inside the Sungkai old mosque...


We tried to catch the picture from outside but Zaidi's budget video-camera needs more light to catch better pictures...

At least we managed to record this inscription saying how the mosque was used as a meeting place for some Malay nationalists to organise an effort to ask for the independence of Malaysia, then known as Tanah Melayu, the Malay lands...


We decide to press further into Perak and head for Teluk Intan. For dinner, we stopped at this old Malay house in Bidor which has been turned into a restaurant...


The leaning clock tower of Teluk Intan. This picture is taken the next day, after spending the night at the old mosque of Batak Rabit... For a story on the mosque, click Masjid lama Batak Rabit (The old mosque of Batak Rabit)...


While going around in Teluk Intan, we found this curious looking picture which looks like a Malay nobleman worshipped at a Chinese temple...


Nearby that temple, we found pictures of these 'elders' worshipped by a Chinese family. But that's beside the point...

This particular trip to Perak was intended to be made just up to Tanjung Malim, about 70km away from Kuala Lumpur but we ended up in Teluk Intan some 100km further.

Anyway that wraps up this current session of writing. God willing, after this, I will feature my old writings on a hitchiking trip made in Europe in 1995. Cheers! :]


Perak trip of September 2006... A look at the tombs...

These are some of the tombs visited in the Perak trip made on 12-15 September 2006...

Tomb of Toh Puan Halimah, daughter of Laksamana Raja Mahkota Muhammad Amin beside the old Malay mosque in Taiping. She was married to the well-known 19th Century Malay figure Ngah Ibrahim...

The tomb of Daeng Kuning in Taiping...

Daeng Kuning is said to be the grandfather (or was it great grandfather) of Mahaguru Meor Abdul Rahman, the late founder of the martial art's group of Silat Gayong...

The tomb said to be of Datuk Sagor, one of the Malay warriors implicated in the murder of the British resident to Perak J.W.W. Birch in 1875. This tomb is also located in Taiping...


The old graveyard at Kamunting in Taiping...


A grave hidden among the bushes there...


This piece of tombstone now stucked under tree-roots should give some idea on how old are the graves here...

I was in Kamunting with some friends to look for the tomb of a local legendary figure known as Bidan Susu Lanjut. Suffice to say, after an hour searching or so, we found it but can't disclose it's actual location because of certain reasons...


The tomb of Tok Temong, a legendary female leader of 16th Century Perak, one of the tombs that must be visited by Perak rulers upon their installation up the throne...


The tombstone of Tok Temong which is an Aceh-type tombstone...


The tomb of another legendary Perak figure, Daeng Selili at Kampung Padang Changkat, Kuala Kangsar...


I don't know who was buried here but this tomb outside Masjid (mosque) of Kota Lama Kanan, Kuala Kangsar must belong to someone of significance and noble birth too. The end! :]


Perak trip of September 2006: Around the royal town of Kuala Kangsar

Continuing straight from where we left off...

I spend the night besides the tombstone inside Masjid (mosque of) Kota Lama Kanan some 3 km or so across the Perak river from the town of Kuala Kangsar...


In the mosque's compound are many old graves and this old cannon...


Here is a look at the mosque...


And a last look at the tombstone inside before starting the day's journey. For information the tombstone is erected inside the mosque to mark the spot where Sultan Mansur Shah, the second ruler of Perak who lived in the 17th Century was said to have vanished without a thrace after conducting the Jumaat prayer there...


I walked out from the mosque heading back towards Kuala Kangsar and snapped pictures along the way...




Then it's time to get on the Sultan Abdul Jalil bridge...


The bridge seen from the sides...

And Bukit Chandan seen from the bridge...


After getting across, I came across this quite interesting old Malay building at the Jalan Daeng Selili/ Sultan Abdul Jalil bridge junction...


I head for the town centre and saw the burial site reserved for the family of Temenggong Wan Hassan, a Perak noblemen of 19th Century or so...


Took this picture of the intersection between Jalan Maharajalela and Jalan Laksamana named after two noble titles of Perak... I found it fascinating as I know for a fact that the first Maharajalela who is Daeng Selili and the first Laksamana who is Raja Mahkota Nakhoda Hitam (both lived during the time of Sultan Muzaffar Shah III, the 13th ruler of Perak sometime in the 18th Century) are actually brothers, a fact that very few people know or care to know...


A jetty off the Perak river...


Then I saw this interesting mosque across the river. The story has been told in Masjid (mosque of) Sayong, Kuala Kangsar ...


A view of Sultan Abdul Jalil bridge...


Staircase leading to a bridge across one of the tributaries of Perak river...


View from a jetty...



And this... This is my way of telling enough of this particular story... On to another one... :]

Perak trip of September 2006... Going merrily around...

Greetings dear readers. Having released some pictorial stories based on a set of journeys made in December last year up to January 2007 ending with the article The Dutch Fort in Pulau (island of) Pangkor, Perak..., now is the time to let go of another set of pictorial stories based from earlier journeys to Perak.
Let me start with this one ya based on a trip throughout Perak made on 12-15 September 2006. For information, this happened a few days after attending the reburial ceremony of my great-great grandfather, Laksamana Raja Mahkota Muhammad Amin. The story was told in The return of Admiral Muhammad Amin's remains to the Perak royal mausoleum... last year. So let me get one with this one ya... As simple as possible as I am actually too lazy to write anything right now but I still must complete this session... Otherwise I won't feel complete for the day. Here goes...
After attending the burial of Laksamana Raja Mahkota Muhammad Amin, I rest for a few days at an aunt's place in Teluk Intan before going to Lumut and spent the night at the old mosque there. The next day I left the town by boat to get across the river Dinding. Above is Lumut seen from the boat...

The boat approaching the other side of the Dinding river, known as Damar Laut...


Then I got the bus to the town of Pantai Remis. Here is a picture of the hills of Segari seen from Pantai Remis. Somehow, everytime I see those hills, I'm reminded of the ancient Malay kingdoms of Beruas and Gangga Negara... Hmm...

Since this travel happened sometime ago and since then I've made a few other travels elsewhere, I've forgotten the actual sequence of travelling... On what day and what time I was at a certain place and such. So let me get straight to the point ya... Above is a picture of the Bugis was gear as displayed at the Fort (alias museum) of Ngah Ibrahim in Matang near Taiping...


This is the main building inside the fort of Ngah Ibrahim with his grave (allegedly) seen in the picture... For information, the (alleged) remains of Ngah Ibrahim was brought back along with that of Laksamana Raja Mahkota Muhammad Amin who happens to be his father-in-law. However in the case of Ngah Ibrahim, there are people who believe the remains brought back from Singapore actually belongs to someone else as they claim Ngah Ibrahim had returned to Perak under disguise and died somewhere in his homeland. So there...


This is the surau (small praying hall) at Kampung Temong nearby Kuala Kangsar where I often spent the night whenever I'm there...


A staircase leading to the Perak river at Kampung Temong...

The Perak river seen from Kampung Temong...


Part of the small town of Kati some 3 km from Kampung Temong and 7 km or so from Kuala Kangsar...


Kati from another angle...


Kampung Padang Changkat behind the Iskandariah Palace at Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar...


The Perak royal palace of the 1920s which has been turned into a museum...


Another Perak palace at Bukit Chandan, albeit a more modern one which has been turned into another museum...


Part of Kuala Kangsar at night...


The Sultan Abdul Jalil bridge...


View of the bridge on the way to Kota Lama Kanan...


View of the inside of Masjid (mosque) of Kota Lama Kanan. Notice the tombstone there? Let me continue in another article ya. Cheers! :]