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.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Endurance 1

One of the main reasons I started this blogspot was to start an English adaptation of the Malay historical and adventure novel "Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti" (literally translated as "The adventurous trip to Aceh: To find self and meaning"). The idea is by translating/adapting bits and pieces from the novel whenever time allows and whenever I feel like it, I will have enough material to publish an English version, God willing. The problem is I'm also too preoccupied wih other things. It's been a while since I did an adaptation from any part of the novel, the last one was in The Tale of Keramat Kuala Bidor 3 – And so the story goes…. But I need to get this blogspot updated, so let me take the lazy way out by presenting some of the articles done while being a journalist at The New Straits Times (again?). It happens there's a series of articles on endurance horse-riding begging to be re-displayed so here goes... 

Publication : NST 
Edition : 2* 
Date : 02/05/2001 
Page Number : 38 
Headline : Endurance riding should come easy for the common folk 
Words : 650 
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee 
Text : 

FOR most Malaysians, owning a horse is a luxury almost like owning a Ferrari. Equestrian is viewed as a privilege of high-society and when people think of horse-riding, they tend to think of Royalties playing polo or proud well-dressed gentry manoeuvring horses over bars in showjumping or daintily putting it through small paces for dressage. 

But in countries like the United States, Australia and Europe, equestrian is a way of life as a horse is just another farm animal like a cow or a goat. Except that they are much more enjoyable, rideable and respond better to human call. 

Thus endurance riding, basically riding a horse over a distance, comes naturally to the commonfolk rather than polo, showjumping or dressage. 

Malaysia, too, have an equestrian culture in parts of Kelantan where farmers still breed horses from the old days of the Pattani kingdom (now part of Thailand) and Sabah, famous for their traditional Bajau horsemen. But they have mostly ponies and are confined to their groups. 

The modern history of endurance racing started when a Wendell T. Robie set up the 160km Tevis Cup in America in 1955. He wanted a sport which `involved rapport with one's horse, companionship on a trail and the opportunity to share the incomparable scenery of my home territory', referring to his native countryside near Lake Tahoe. It was a huge success and more races followed in America. Australia embraced the sport in the 60s and Britain and the rest of Europe followed by the 70s. 

Soon the Arab countries followed suit. Arab-bred horses became the only type used for endurance racing, due to their strength and fitness, and it is only natural for countries like United Arab Emirates (UAE) to subsequently become huge promoters. 

In 1998, they invited countries affiliated to the FEI (world equestrian body) to compete in the World Endurance championship which they hosted in Dubai. They even paid for boarding and flight for those who qualified. 

Malaysia were invited and five locals - Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani, Dr Nik Ishak Wan Abdullah and Police mounted unit's Azhar Abu Bakar, Sharaf Ibrahim and Zulkefli Sudin - were selected. 

Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) endurance committee chairman SM Shuhaimi Shamsuddin said several riders went through the selection process held over increasing distances to qualify under FEI rules. 

"This resulted in the five completing a 120km course near Bangi. We were the first Malaysians to get involved with the sport," he said. 

Bear in mind that an endurance race is not very straightforward. Not only is it gruelling, there are veterinarian checks held at stages where horses which failed to meet certain fitness conditions are disqualified with the riders. More than 30 countries sent five riders each to Dubai. After the initial vet check, 162 riders were allowed to compete in the World championship. 

Malaysia became the butt of their jokes when our riders arrived with Criollos, Argentinian-bred horses said to be good only for farm work, but managed to silence the critics when Azhar became one of the 77 finishers. 

Whatever, the seed for endurance racing in Malaysia has been planted. A year later, Sabah set up their own endurance body and started their own short distance races and by 2000, they have conducted 80km races, equivalent to the pinnacle of junior championships on the world calendar. 

The Malaysian Endurance Racing Society (MERS) were formed later that year. Shuhaimi said MERS came into being to allow ordinary folks to participate. Otherwise, one must go through EAM and only those who are affiliated with riding clubs (read: with money or support) can join the association. Thus starts a chapter in the Malaysian equestrian history and this would soon culminate in an event that could well do what polo, showjumping and dressage have failed - to bring the field to the masses. 

* NEXT: Creating an equestrian culture in Malaysia (END)

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