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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trip to Europe 1995... Getting classical (and Merdeka too) in Austria!

A pix of me pretending to be a classical composer in Vienna...

OK... Time to break the ice.
After making my 111th posting in this blogspot 10 days and then leaving it unattended, now I present the 6th part of the story on my travels in Europe of 1995.
Coincedently, Merdeka... The Malaysian independence day is just around the corner (the 50th edition that is) and coincidently, I happened to mentioned something about Merdeka in Vienna in this article written in 1997, 10 years ago. So here goes. Enjoy it... :]


“Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!”. It was 31st August 1995, the independence day. I wish I could shout out loud those magic words the way Tunku Abdul Rahman did it… “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” but I can’t. It’s not Merdeka time for me yet, at least not until my European trip is over.
Instead I was on a road full of cars and trailers making their way through the Slovakian-Austrian border. A gorgeous Bratislavan girl was standing outside a restaurant nearby. She was dressed to kill like a lass out on her first date. But the heavy backpack on her ruled that out. For all you know, she could be a wife running away from home…
I stood waiting for a lift while also eyeing the girl which began to look like an escaped mental hospital inmate as she walked to and fro looking at her watch waiting for God knows what.
A brunette with light blue eyes, she was slightly taller than my shoulder, petite with the right proportions.
She approached me with a smile, her beautiful full red lips curving up nicely to show off the neatly arranged teeth.
My… My… She turned out to be quite gorgeous…
“Are you going somewhere?” she asked maybe looking for company.
“Yeah, I’m going to Vienna,” I answered.
“That’s great. I’m waiting for a friend to take me there!” she said. That got us on an even note…We chatted as she waited for her lift. Looking at the girl, I didn’t mind spending all my time there.
Later, a blue car arrived. Out came a guy who immediately hugged her. They were deep in embrace as they spurted into some unrecognisable language, probably German. That’s when she told me the guy was her boyfriend. Shoot!
The girl offered me a lift. I can hear the two discussing rapidly their options… The guy grunting while she was all smiles presumably trying to persuade her boyfriend to take me in the car.
His face grimaced before finally giving his approval. And off we were on our way to Vienna.
In the car, she introduced herself. Elizabeth was sweet really. She was articulate as she shifted conversation between me and the boyfriend. A university student in Bratislava, she was conversant in English while being most charming in the way she flicked her hair and move those thick eye lashes… Damn!
I was let off nearby a river that runs through the city of Vienna. Little Donau as the locals call it was a tributary of one of the most famous river in Europe, the Danube.
I walked along heading for the centre of Vienna. There was a familiar flag waving outside a big hotel. It was the Malaysian flag!
“Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” With only 20 Pounds in my pocket, some Malaysian hospitality was sorely much in need.
Indeed, at the Vienna Hilton were plenty of Malaysians hanging around. It was an AIA (American Insurance Agency) Summit meeting, a bonus for the top sellers. A trip to Vienna lah, who don’t want lah…
However they were less than hospitable. I remembered what one of them said thinking I was one of the participants.
“Macam you pun boleh dapat top seller ka?” as his eyes looked up and down sizing me up. Big deal… Only insurance agents can travel overseas ke?
Observing the congregation of salesmen, I felt disgusted. I recalled the posters that largely adorned some sales headquarters in Malaysia with phrases like “Be among the 10 per cent intelligent people in the world. Join us and all your dreams will come through,” the war-cry of the higher-than-the-masses salesmen. Pass me the toilet bowl. Hurgghh!
Anyway Vienna was definitely a sight to behold. With history recording it as the capital of the much celebrated Austrian empire, it was no wonder to see majestic regal buildings and monuments strewn everywhere.
That night it rained quite bad, I tucked myself inside the damp sleeping bag, shivering from the cold. My shelter was a hollow cylinder like the one used to make oil pipes, protecting me partially from the water that occasionally creeped inside.
Come sun rise, its time for some help. With me and my clothes badly in need of washing, I decided to check the “Merdeka” spirit at the Malaysian embassy in Prince Eugene Strasse.
I met Ahmad, a diplomat there to ask him to let me stay the night at his place. He was sceptical at first as his eyes squinted looking at me like I was a conman. I can’t blame him. A lot of people would have either sprinted away or fainted on the spot seeing me then. Nevertheless, he accepted my presence soon enough…
Sleep that night was cosy. I had warm dry clothes and a very comfortable bed. Thanks, Ahmad and family.
On the way out of Vienna was a bridge over river Danube with an island five kilometres long dividing the river into a murky greyish side and a blue one. Was it the Blue Danube I wonder? The tune of the famous classical immediately sprang to mind inspiring me to go to Salzburg, the city of Mozart.
But the trip took longer than I thought. After hitchiking through Huttledorf, St Potters and Ybbs on different set of wheels, I spent the night under a flyover at Eugendorf, a small village town just twenty kilometres on the way to Salzburg.
I remembered coming across two old ladies on their morning walk (or was it they who came across me?). Tucked inside my sleeping bag, I heard them say: “Blah… Blah… Stupid tourist… Blah… Blah…” I looked around. Apart from the ladies, there was only me. Hmm…
Later at a junction in front of the local supermarket, I got my next lift heading to the historical city known for a famous citizen… A very famous composer and musician. Guess who…
Salzburg had a smell of romance in the air, the romance of lovers entwined together in tight embrace dancing to a classical tune.
Mozart was born here, pushed by his father to achieve artistic perfection but died a tragic death at a young age.
I can feel an orchestra in my mind, of concertos and overtures as I walked through the cobbled streets surrounded by hills with castles perched on top and old ancient tunnels underneath. But soon it was back to stark reality… Off Salzburg, I hitchiked a vacant express bus up to a junction to Munich and Innsbruck off Rosenheim, Germany.
Left alone, that’s when I realised I was out of food. With only 20 Pounds left, I promised not to spend a penny until I reached Italy.
Luckily there was a maize field. So it was maize (jagung mentah) for launch including some for tapau…
At the southbound highway, I got on a small Fiat driven by a sweet old lady to Innsbruck, Austria’s winter sports resort town, once the venue for the winter Olympics, also a famous destination among travellers. As it turned out, I decided to bypass Inssbruck, following her instead through a series of tunnels before arriving at Widnau in Switzerland, my resting place for the next three days.