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.

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...


“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…


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

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