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.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trip to Europe 1995... East-West contrast in Germany

Albums containing pictures from my old trip in Europe... As you can see, I'm not so good at taking care of my things. Maybe because I couldn't care less. But once in a while, I would feel so nostalgic that I start going through piles of old junk just to feel and evoke back the old mood and experience of yore. So there...

Thank God, tonight I managed to complete some work for my other blogspots. While I still got the mood and energy, might as well continue with the story telling on the Europe trip of 1995 here using the writings made in 1997 lock stock and barrel. Here goes... Part 3...
Oh... This part and the continuing stories didn't make the pages of The New Straits Times. When asked why, the editors said the pages were filled and they had to wait for another time.
I did wait but the stories never made it public. My guess is, after the last story which I republished here as the Trip to Europe 1995... Trouble in Amsterdam... received a public scolding by an upset Dutchman in the editorial pages, my travel stories were forced to go to cold storage. Anyway, we still have the Internet. So go on... Read!


Ouch! My arms… Ouch! My back… Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
On a cosy spot besides a highway near the Holland-Germany border, I was attacked… By ants, teeny-weeny German ants.
Woken from my slumber, I jumped out of the sleeping bag frantically frisiking under my sweaters for the insects. A few of them were inside but that was not all.
When I opened my rucksack, there they were, hundreds of the little pesky six-legged creatures marauding on my bottle of chocolate spread. Some tougher ones managed to get inside indulging their little tastebuds with the precious choc spread.
The sun was already up and my stomach was calling for breakfast. Not wanting to waste any food, I took a few pieces of bread and dip it into the choc spread, ants and all. Munch… Munch… No more ants (actually, I shaked some of them off, I didn’t want to spoil the taste).
After that episode I soon rose up to see what Germany had to offer.
The first hike of the day was on a gigantic trailer driven by a Dutchman who dropped me near Koblenz, a tourist town famous for its vicinity to the beautiful sections of the river Reine, one of the two major rivers in Europe stretching from the borders of Switzerland and Austria to its estuary in Holland, 1,392 kilometres away.
But I didn’t see the much-touted scenery, in fact I didn’t pay much attention to any of the scenery in Germany, whether at Wiesbaden, Mainz, Frankfurt or Dresden, the four main cities visited while in Germany. Instead I was more concerned about the contrast between East and West resulting from Hitler losing the World War II.
There’s the Mercedes C300 which brought me from Bingen, a town a few miles off Koblenz to Wiesbaden, a city neighbouring Mainz and Frankfurt. The driver, a guy younger than me managed to make enough money to buy the Mercedes. Not bad… He insisted on me to visit his hometown to see how beautiful it was. So I went there.
Classy Wiesbaden with clean streets and regal buildings reflected its affluent society. It was a typical example of rich Germany with rich-looking well-dressed people filling the well-decorated shops.
Then there’s Mainz, a city about five kilometres from Wiesbaden, across the river Rhine. Compared to Wiesbaden, the city looked like a ghetto. As the German guy with the Mercedes described it, "Mainz is a low-class city". Still it was comparatively affluent compared to some.
Frankfurt’s skyline strewn with tall buildings like in Bukit Nenas and Bukit Bintang was impressive. Apart from a few World War II ruins, most of the city were made up of post-war structures.
All three cities displayed signs of western Germany’s affluence. The character of the western Germans themselves were a testimony to that.
I used to think they were uptight, like those soldiers with the famous oversized helmet in Combat walking rigidly with legs raised up to hip-level as depicted in so many Hollywood World War II movies. I also thought that German girls are burly, sturdy built with the statistics of a mental hospital nurse.
But I was wrong, so wrong. The Germans proved to be quite lively people.
Here were also some of the loveliest creatures in Europe. After all Claudia Schiffer is German. And there’s more, even better where that came from. The deep blue eyes, nicely formed nose and the golden blonde hair coupled with the confident gait… Ahh…
However the eastern Germans were a different story. The case study was of inhabitants of Dresden, the largest city in the eastern parts after Berlin.
With my guide Dirk, a guy from Frankfurt (Frankfurter?) I met outside the only McDonald’s in town, the night scene was explored for a closer look at Dresden’s post-Communism life-scene.
The city looked pretty modern with several night-clubs on the northern parts looking set to rival London’s Hippodrome and Equinox or KL’s Modesto’s and Brannigans reflecting the advancement of capitalism seeping in since the Berlin wall broke down. But the sight of the people in the discos were a far cry from the polished exteriors of the buildings.
The teenagers looked quite trendy with their latest-fashion Western-clothings but ackward with a strange vacant look in their eyes as if scared to let themselves go, a bit like shy kids attending a party for the first time. In London or even Frankfurt, they would be totally out of place. In fact the Sri Aman girls and Bukit Bintang boys frequenting Piccadilly’s at Damansara Utama looked far more bolder and livelier than these Germans.
This vacant look was prevalent even during the day as the citizens walk about with serious faces and monotonous expression. The ones with the lively eyes tends to be tourist from Western Europe.
There were times some locals stared at me. Was it because I was not fair enough, my nose was not sharp enough, my eyes not blue or simply because I did not look as timid as they were?
Maybe they were not used to foreigners. There were very few foreigners there. Come to think of it, I was the only one I saw.
There were also a few times when I came across rowdy looking guys staring with that "Watcha doin’ in ma bloody country" kind of look. I stared back. They looked at me with an even meaner look.
I smiled at them. Somehow they backed off, not able to look me straight in the eye. Odd… Was it an offence to smile at strangers? Yet a moment ago they looked ready to spill my guts. Could this be the effects of years of Communism?
Although the era was gone, these guys spent their childhood in it. Maybe self-expression was a major offence under Communism with the Gestapo or KGB waiting to spring on those who dare to be different?
Dresden had its fair amount of opulence. The museums, the opera house and a 15th Century building studded with gargoyles on its rooftop with a road lined up by statues and lamp-post painted in gold did hint at some form of affluence.
But the sight of many cheap-looking flats surrounding the city again betrayed the actual affluence of the city much like the vacant eyes of the teenagers in the nightclubs betrayed their lack of self-expression.
The flats not unlike the Pekeliling flats in front of Dewan Bahasa Pustaka were everywhere. Maybe these were the standard citizen’s accomodation during the Communist era in adherance of the Marxist’ principle citing all people are equal.
Of course the leaders, the generals and the Gestapos would live in better houses. Some people are more equal than others…
I left Dresden thanking God the Domino Theory of the advancement of Communism from Communist Vietnam never did materialised. Imagine every apartment in KL looking like the Pekeliling flats, uggh…


Going back through this story made me realise why the editors at The New Straits Times stopped publishing my travel stories... I was just too opinionated and there were many instances where what was said could offend others... Just take the part about what I said if every apartment in KL looks like Pekeliling flats. Down right snobbish! Then again that's me in 1997. Just take these writings as a journey of discovery of one's own self and leanings which in turn provide the impetus for better changes, God willing! :]


Unknown said...

Mesmerising....I love ur writings radzie..its truly original and fitrah... I wish I could write like this!

Radzi Sapiee said...

TQ. Your comment has made me revisit this writing did 16 years ago. Though it is naive to a certain extent I must say the older me now is quite surprised at its flair... :]