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.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kiss this!

To dear readers, if you find anything funny in this posting and the one below, than please take note of the explanation given in the other posting. Otherwise, ignore it as a glib in the fabric of space and time. Here goes...

Since it is already past 12am, officially today is the second-day I started blogging. That means I can say something here without contravening my rather superstitious rule of starting most endeavours in odd number of times (as in the 5 posting I made yesterday, he! he!).

Actually I'm not ready to say anything new yet but it seems I MUST make this posting. Why? Because I had to edit the article called "Trip To Aceh" as the picture of the book "Berpetualang ke Aceh" presented with it had to be resized so that the items on the top right-hand side (blogger's profile, links and such) can return to its rightful places. (The order somewhat went awry when I blow-up the picture to my heart's content... So there!)

In turn, the picture became so small that it is practically impossible to read the details. So I decided to solve the problem by breaking it into two parts - the front and back covers.
So here we are... The front cover on top, the back below.... Have a look

(Actually I had to delete this posting after copying the text to Word... Because it appeared after the article Kiss This Too! just because I made this one earlier, regardless of the fact that I kept it first as a draft... So I end up having to represent this back as a new posting with the text recopied from Word back to this blogspot... Ha! Ha! Ha!)

p/s: Yes... I admit, I'm trying to promote the book "Berpetualang ke Aceh" OK... It's not easy being the writer, editor, lay-out master, the crude artist, page and cover designer and the publisher too all rolled in own... Especially when you have been out of touch of the usual 9 to 5 working drill and whole civilisation thing for ages, having spent the last 5 years mostly travelling to strange places like old tombs and certain spots within the jungle in search for peace and answer. So give me a break willya...

Kiss this too!

Funny order of things today, I mean tonight, sometime after midnight...
The posting above was written earlier than this one but was kept first as a draft.... Why? To allow this posting to be made in a way more pleasing to the eye just because I don't know how (yet? perhaps yet?) to put two pictures inside a posting and have the text interspersed in between.
So if earlier, I had to break the picture of the "Berpetualang ke Aceh" book into two to make the details more readable, here I have to break the originally-intended posting into two and set the order of publishing of the resulting two postings too so that the front cover would appear on top, the back cover below. Kind of ironic isn't it?...
Anyway, since I have to go through all this trouble, might as well make it worth the time by translating the poem on the cover, a Malay poem I cooked up spontanously almost two years ago when out of the blue I decided to try my hand in designing the book cover on my own and in the process learn how to use Microsoft Paint... So there... And here's the translation -
Woopsie... Now that the back cover has been added to this text, then only I realise, even the original Malay poem is not as readable as it should be because the images posted are in GIF format... Why? Because I tried to download it direct to this blog using the browse option but the result became discoloured... Nay... More than that... Totally blue-coloured.
The other option within my still limited IT knowledge (my learning curve currently is more on the need to use basis) is to resort to Photobucket, that is by downloading the pictures there. The problem is the original JPEG format created using Photoshop did not go down well there so I had to use Paint to convert it to GIF with the result the resolution is compromised... So there.
Anyway, here's the Malay poem at the cover:

Bertahun kembara tak henti-henti,
Mencari erti dan juga diri,
Jiwa sepi menangis sendiri,
Harta dicari tak kesampaian lagi.
Lalu ke Aceh membawa diri,
Harapkan berkat moyang yang 'ali,
Maka asal usul ku telusuri,
Juga sejarah bumi bertuah ini.
Dari Perlak ke Samudera Pasai,
Membawa syiar agama yang asal,
Turun ke Melaka menyambung tali,
Agar Melayu gagah berdiri.
Bumi Aceh bumi para wali,
Di sini asal harta sembunyi,
Galilah balik jati diri,
Agar tercapai hidup abadi.

And here's the English translation made on the spot too...

Ages of travelling and no end in sight,
In search of meaning and understanding the self,
This lonely heart that cries inside,
The treasure yearned still elusive at large.
So went to Aceh looking for solace,
Hoping the dead-ancestors would grant their hand,
Family roots uncovered so goes the quest,
Along with the history of this abundantly blessed land.
From the kingdom of Perlak to Samudera Pasai,
Spreading forth the light of the original faith,
Then to Melaka to extend the chord,
So the Malays can stand tall and proud.
The land of Aceh the land of saints,
The source of hidden treasure is within its gates ,
Let us search back our real and true selves,
So that life everlasting shall we all revel in and taste.

Hopefully, this crude translation is enough to convey the deep meaning immersed in the story present in the book... God Willing! For He alone bestows real understanding...

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Symbol

Hah! So I have succesfully downloaded the first picture in my first ever blogspot in the posting before this, eveything done within the space of a few hours after I made the decision to start blogging myself. Hmm... I'm getting to be rather proud of myself for having figured that out soon enough... As they say necessity is the mother of invention. Just like when I produced my first book "Berpetualang ke Aceh"... Apart from writing the text using WordPad and later Microsoft Word, I learnt by heart and looking at other people's work how to lay the whole thing properly in book form using Adobe Pagemaker and designing the cover with Photoshop... And when I found out in order to print the book, it's better and much safer to change the format to PDF File, I spent the next 24 hours learning just that by trial and error.

However using the PDF Converter on Pagemaker turns out to be quite troublesome as the graphics placed alongside the text tends to run away from the positions intended... So I learned how to use the in-thing, Adobe InDesign to get the job done and wallah... The rest is history... Given all that experience, making a blogspot should be way way much easier isn't it? But just when I thought everything was smooth sailing, it turns out the format of my old articles from the NST (posted as my 2nd and 3rd articles ever here) was a bit jumbled in the outcome... So had to clear that up first before I can proceed with this...

And so here we are, you are reading the 5th article in my first day of postings as a blossoming blogger n soon to be rabid biter of the establishment? He! He!... Anyway, as mentioned earlier two postings down there, I have this superstitious habit of doing things in odd numbers... Since my first attempt at posting a picture here means I ended up having 4 articles as part of my first day of postings, might as well make it 5 then isn't it?... It happens that what comes into mind then was this - I should also post a particular picture of a symbol which I proudly created sometime ago by editing something else I got over the Web using Photoshop to be pasted on the cover of the book "Berpetualang ke Aceh"... So here goes nothing...

So... What does the symbol stands for you asked? Well, in the middle is the name Allah in Jawi or Arabic writing... Anyone with a semblance of knowledge of Islam should know that it is the name of God... The five names circling the inner one starting from the above moving clockwise are Muhammad, the name of the last and seal of the prophets in Islam followed by the names of his closest family members... Ali (his cousin and son-in-law), Hassan (eldest grandchild) Hussin (Hassan's younger brother) and of course, Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet and wife to Ali....

The five name are also known as the main names of the Ahlul Bait, the family of the prophet... The Ahlul Bait also comprise the prophet's descendants through the children of Hassan and Hussein. History has shown, quite plenty of them featured prominently as saints, dervishes and learned scholars of Islam who brought and fought for the faith all over the world.

Allahuma sali ala Muhammad wa ala ali Muhammad... May God grant peace to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. Amin!

The Trip To Aceh

Just when I thought it's time to quit the blog for the day, suddenly I realised how to load photos inside the postings here... As always, I tend to "receive" ideas out of the blue on how to make things happen when at the point of giving up. So by the grace of God, here's a picture of the Malay novel, "Berpetualang ke Aceh", translated literally "The Trip to Aceh". The book is based on real-life experience searching for answers to the meaning of existence and being, hence the Malay subtitle "Mencari diri dan erti"... "Looking for self and meaning". Set against the background of a trip made to Aceh before the Tsunami of 26 December 2004 when foreigners are not allowed in the very-troubled region, in-fighting between the Indonesian army and Aceh separatist group still rife where one can easily lose one's life, it tries to blend some 1,200 years of history, official and off-the-record stories relating Aceh to the Malay archipelago and even the Middle East.
It is a story of self-discovery as the main character Muhammad Al-Aminul Rasyid tries to understand the message behind his deja vus and dreams that became real in time... And lo behold, he uncovered deep-hidden history relating the old Islamic saints to the Malay royalties and the Ahlul Bait, the family and descendants of our beloved prophet Muhammad Sallahualaiwasallam. In fact the whole thing turns out to be related to some end-time propechies regarding the fate of mankind an re-emergence of Islam from the East!
The 300-page book, size of an A5 paper (practically A4 folded half) published privately under the company name Wasilah Merah Silu Enterprise cost RM24.90 each and is available at selected stores around the nation especially at MPH and Popular Bookstores.
God willing, in time I will try to publish the English translations of excerpts from the book here in this blogspot. Perhaps that will pave the way for an English translation soon? Furthemore quiet plenty of people has been asking for it, saying it would benefit more people and reach global audience. So pray for me guys n wish me luck OK... Thanks... :]

What do I think of polo

To complete my rather superstitious habit of starting something in odd numbers, in this particular instance, to make it 3 articles as my first ever postings as a blogger, ever, I'd like to present also an article made when I was attached to the NST Sports Desk... Have a look at it... It is a proper news-worthy article but made rather candidly after I was constantly egged, almost harrassed by some filthy rich group of elitist acquaintances who insisted I did something to help their favourite sport gain more popularity in the eyes of the majority... That is polo, the so-called sports of kings in which a player needs at least 3 horses or so available to him per game... Hardly a sport the people on the ground can relate to isn't it especially when a horse cost about RM50,000 each and above and at least RM1,000 monthly to feed but surely good to massage the egos of a few... Harruuummmphhh!!!
Well have a look nevertheless...

Publication : NST
Edition : 2*
Date : 23/07/2001
Page Number : 39
Headline : Once elitist, polo now appealing to the masses
Words : 595
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee
Column Name : Extra time
Text :

IT has been years, decades even, since any daily carried reports of polo matches in their sports pages. Most considered the sport too elitist for mass circulation while some considered it more as an indulgence of the rich. In Malaysia, particularly, the sport is viewed as the pastime of the more athletic royals, those who graduate from elite military colleges like Sandhurst, and the wealthy - not just any rich man but one with connections to the highest body politics or the palaces. Thus, the sport here fits more into the society pages of newspapers rather than sports. Except in 1983, when equestrian sports were introduced at the Singapore Sea Games, and Malaysia won the polo gold. The truth, however, is polo here is not as elitist as it used to be.

Sure, the avid fans still calls it the Game of Kings or King of Games, relating its illustrious history from the courts of Persia to the Moguls of India where British planters discovered it and brought the sport to the rest of the world. Naturally, it reached our shores through the British colonials who wriggled their way into the States' affairs by influencing the palaces, hence the royals' pioneering of polo among locals. But look at the list of players today and one is hard-pressed to find an active royal.

The Selangor Polo and Riding Club Annual Polo tournament in Ampang which ended recently might be the biggest in the local calendar but the list of riders showed only one with a royal title to his name, a Tengku. Of the 56 riders, there was only one Tan Sri and three Datuks, hardly a list of who's who like in the old days. Royal Pahang and Royal Johor clubs, which carry the name from a more elitist past, have a total of 16 players in the tournament. The Tengku played for the Pahang second team.

At least, some of them should be bigshots, one thought. One Royal Pahang player Sariman Sarir was singled out by a few people with respect. The club manager said he is currently the best handicapped in Malaysia, scoring a total of eight goals in three matches over the weekend. As it turned out, he came from a very ordinary background. Except he lived close to the polo grounds of Royal Pahang and his father worked for the Sultan. That's how he got into polo. Sariman said he's not rich and neither are most of the players under the current royal banner but they still turn out to be the major players.

The list also showed two corporals and a constable. They might not be able to afford a horse but being members of the Royal Mounted Police does have its privileges. That's how some lower-ranked members of the Armed Forces and the City Hall got to play with the rich and famous in the equestrian scene. The good thing is, it would make the sport more accessible to the masses.

Purists and conservatives, or the elitist, might argue against this dilution of the social significance of polo but that is the price to pay if they want their favourite sport to regularly grace the dailies, as some had conveyed to this scribe during the tournament. Otherwise, polo, although a vigorous, challenging and exciting sport, is better left to the society pages. For it is not fair to expect the ordinary folk to appreciate the sport when it is more a showpiece of the privileged to distinguish themselves from the masses.

radzisapiee@nstp.com.my (END)

Lamenting a lost

It's too soon in the game for me the to be able to make this blog kinder to my quite discerning eyes... At this juncture, I don't know any HTML and I sure don't know how to put pictures anywhere at all in this website, much less within the confines of the box which contains the title "Berpetualang ke Aceh" which I think would look infinitely much nicer if contrasted against a background of greens and mountains...

Nevertheless, I'll figure that out as I go along and God willing, I'll show you some nice pictures (at least it look nice to me...) to share...

Meanwhile, let me present to you this article in The New Straits Times I wrote some 8 years ago expressing my regret after losing someone very dear to me... So much so that until today memories of her and the love we used to share but spoilt by my own evils haunt me once in a while, forever reminding me never to go back to my old freewheeling days ever again. So hear goes, as fetched from the NST archives -

Publication : NST-LTIMES 
Edition :2*
Date : 30/03/1998
Page Number : 07
Headline :Too late for regrets after losing loved one
Words : 1037
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee
Column Name : First person
Text :

IT'S true what people say: you often don't realise the true worth of someone's love until it's too late. It took the recent marriage of a girl whom I consider as my soulmate and best friend to realise that.

I remember that fateful weekend. I was about to leave my aunt's place for the office when she broke the news: "You know your old flame is getting married this Friday?"

I hadn't heard anything from her for the last six months and now she's getting tied? Suddenly I felt all funny and queasy inside. We broke off (for the finaltime) more than a year ago. I should not be feeling this way. Still, I managed to utter a feeble "Send her my congratulations" to my aunt before making my way back to the office.

Suddenly, vivid memories of our first meeting came to mind. Feb 9, 1991. We were comparing our old bags. She had hers since her primary school days in the US while I had mine when I first went to boarding school. That was when we started to feel a strong bond together.

Before long, we were so in love, sharing bedtime stories, hopes and dreams that I even asked my parents and hers to consent to us getting married. We were then just three months into our relationship and about to fly to Britain for further studies. I was 20, she was 19. So the family said no. Besides, her parents found me too wild.

Nevertheless I felt ready to settle down. I even withdrew from my social circle, hoping to put a stop to my freewheeling days. We went to Britain a contented couple. But the bliss soon gave way to ugliness. My old wants began to resurface. Here I was totally in love with this beautiful girl but somehow the relationship lacked the spice I used to get from others. Being simple, she was not exposed to the art of flirtation that I find alluring.

Still trying to be faithful, I found myself turning grumpy and abusive, blaming her for every problem that came between us. I thought I was the one who had got the raw deal since I used to be the popular guy in school and college while she had always kept a low profile. So I kept shunning her every time she brought up marriage. And as the years passed by and I saw no end to our problems, I started seeing other women.

But still hoping things would work out, she somehow was willing to turn a blind eye to my gallivanting. The crunch, however, came when I got seriously involved with another. It was so serious that I spent almost two months alternating between the two girls. And they both knew about it.

Still, she was ready to forget that episode on one condition. "Promise me you will never again get involved with another girl," she asked. I loved her, but I just couldn't make that promise. So I let her go when she asked for a break, ending more than six years of relationship. She went home crying. I thought it was for the best. And I kept being indifferent even when she said she was seeing a potential suitor and that he had insisted we sever contacts a few months ago.

It had to take the news of her coming marriage to jolt me out of my smugness. She had always said that we couldn't even stay friends if she married someone else as the emotions and memories would be too much to bear. That was when I realised I was going to lose my soulmate, best friend and `wife'.

Trying to calm myself, I took my bike and rode along Jalan Gombak, heading for Pahang the next day, armed with a rucksack and a sleeping bag. Old memories kept coming back even when I tried to sleep on a bench in the open in Genting Highlands. I thought I would just ride on the next day but as fate would have it, I returned to Kuala Lumpur. I had this strong urge to see how the marriage preparations were coming along.

But surprise, surprise, that night was the wedding night! I was totally fazed and dumbfounded. There sitting on the bike, parked on the roadside next to her house, it dawned on me. I had been blaming her for my problems, my loss of self-confidence and everything that had gone wrong. Suddenly I realised how much of a fool I had been.

All the while, she had been waiting for me to take the lead while I tried to find zest in other women. The urge to barge into the house and tell her how wrong I was, how mean I had been to her and how sorry I was was building up. But no. That could jeopardise her new-found happiness. Enough of hurting her. Instead I stayed on, eyeing the proceedings, silently crying my heart out until all the guests had gone home. At least I was happy that she had finally got her wish to be married.

Still I needed to let go of her properly. I needed to cry freely and openly. The next night, as I sat in my office waiting for my night shift to finish, her face came back to haunt me and all the things that I wished I could have said to her. How I wish I could have at least hugged and kissed her for the last time and taken her for a ride on my bike which I bought after we broke off.

Mas, I'm sorry for being so mean, for being selfish, for not recognising your love for its true worth. I'm sorry for not being faithful, for hurting you so much, for taking you for granted.

I regret not telling you how beautiful you are. I miss the bedtime stories, the pinky shakes, the special hugs, even the fights, as much as you used to miss my noisy guitars, smelly shirts and constant request for a scratch in the back. My baby squirrel, my love, now I can finally let you go. Bye, bye sayang. (END)

A New Beginning

Assalamualaikum warahmatullah hitaala wabarakatu... Peace be upon you readers...

Today, after Friday prayers at a mosque in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, a suggestion by an uncle made during the first few days of Raya back in my kampung in Muar caught me once again. Knowing how vocal I have been in the past over a wide spectrum of issues ranging from philosophy and science up to religion and mysticism, and how frustrated I am with the current state of the world, the uncle who is a dean and an engineering professor at a local university suggested that I start making my own blog. Why? Because he himself has been quite a vocal person and pretty ill tempered in his youngers days, having been a prominent student leader among his peers in London in the 70s and idealistic in his outlook towards the world...

Knowing that I have been quite a firebrand myself but in the process of mellowing down, he related how his own experience starting a blog in the last few months or so have been soothing and theraupetic.

Mind you, this uncle has cooled down a lot over the last so many years and a good advice from him is worth taking note seriously as the man reflects his own beliefs in life...

Anyway, now that I actually started writing here, I admit feeling rather theraupetic... Come to think of it, the last time I actually wrote a full article in English was some 5 years ago! When I was still a journalist attached to The New Straits Times... The following years, I did write for my own viewing and satisfaction but instead of in English, I chose my mother tounge Malay especially when starting work on my first book titled "Berpetualang ke Aceh", hence the title of this blogspot...

The book could have been written in English as I am considered more adapt in this adopted language of mine having spent 4 years studying in London and living with the locals instead of fellow Malays... But I chose to write in Malay as it is a book about Malay, very Malay but not in the usual understanding of what a Malay stands for, rather a more egalitarian and global minded Malay... Insyaallah God-Willing, when the urge comes, I will explain more on that... Perhaps it might turn out to be an indirect attempt to write an English adaptation of the book written in novel form which is available at selected bookstores throughout Malaysia since June? Perhaps it will... Many have asked for an English translation, its just I'm still unsettled with a lot of things to actual carry out the task properly...

Anyhow this article is just my introduction into the world of blogging, being a first-timer at that... So don't expect the juice to come in flowing yet... Let me get used to writing in proper English again and in time everything will come out nicely to complete the jigsaw puzzle that is my life for others to view and make their own notes...

Hmm... Come to think of it, maybe I should post a few of my old articles from the NST days along with a few pictures... Yep... That should start the ball rolling... So don't stop reading yet OK cause I will return with more and more... Cheers moit!