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, January 16, 2008

Nostalgic memory of Muar's "Kopi 434"

Greetings dear readers. A few days ago... Or was it over a week ago? Hmm... I think I came across this article in The New Straits Times while in Muar. So that must more than a week ago.

Anyway, I came across this article on "Kopi 434", Muar's locally grown and blended coffee with the brand (or number? whatever) 434 and I just can't help lapping it up. You see, first of all I was born and raised in Muar. I've spent practically half of my almost 38 years of life in that quaint cute town, officially touted the second biggest town in Johor (after the capital, the city of Johor Bahru)... The second biggest but yet as I remember it when growing up, had a relaxing unhurried small-town charm that not many towns especially that size (it can be considered fairly big) and important (in terms of administrative standing at least) can beat. Then again those were during the days I remember. When the main mood of transport in, out and across town were bicycles and trishaws. So much so that even school boys have to purchase bicycle license, if I remember correctly from the police station! To keep tag of its bustling number, that is...

Then, Muar was known as the town for retirees. It can boast of many significant personalities especially in public service and politics including a number of Johor Menteri Besars of Head Minister... They say its sons (and daughters too...) can make their names and fortune in as far as America and England but still return to Muar much later and once in a while go out on bicycles despite owning a garage of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

Geez... I remember spending some time in Holland (or the Netherlands) especially in Amsterdan and Rotterdam summer 1995. Looking at the number of bicycles plying the roads, I just can't help thinking of Muar. I mean, you can still be damn succesful but still use bicycles right? Just look at the late Junior Kennedy who still ride bicycles across New York despite his popularity and fortune. I mean the world knows who is his President daddy and his celebrity royal-like mother, the heir to billions in shipping fortune but he still strides his stuff like nobody cares. Too bad, Muar isn't like that anymore. I guess development has taken its toll. Anyway I'm off my real subject which is about coffee. Sorry, I just can't help being nostalgic about Muar.

So back on track, about being nostalgic on Kopi 434. I should... I just can't help leaping back into the past when I saw the article about the coffe in The New Streets Times. As a young schoolboy, I still remember accompanying my late grandma for shopping at Kasipillay's (I think I got the name and spelling right. But Muar folks, at least my peers should know), the local Indian variety shop... That was in the days before we had supermarkets and shopping complex. Despite the heavy aroma of spices there, I just can't help my nose be led up to the next shop (or was it the next after... gosh... It was more than 25 years ago!) where the whiff of coffee being blended was simply blissful, aahhh...

Why, I remember when we returned home with packets of the said coffee (of course, Kopi 434) I would try to persuade and find ways to make my grandma let me take out some of the transparent plastic packings so that I could taste it straight away... Raw, that is. Not with any water...

Mind you, I was never a coffee drinker until pass the age of 20. Thus I have absolutely no business with coffee except this one smells so persuasive, if I may use the word, that I'm absolutely gagging to take bites straight with the plastic! Of course my grandma wouldn't let me. Sometimes with loads of drool, I just gnaw at the plastic packings just to get a hint of how I imagined the taste should be but never too bolt to actually bite. But one day, when she's not around and nobody's looking, I just can't help it. The aroma was just so strong and "beautiful", I did literally bite through the plastic bag and "eat" the blended coffee! Then only I learned that the taste is bitter. I thought it would be more like chocolate. So there, my memory of Kopi 434.

Suffice to say, the memory was so "beautiful" (good lord, I just can't helping using words in any way I please especially since as always, I'm writing spontanously and this one seems to come out like water gushing), that when I saw the article some time a week ago, I pledged I would share it here in this blogspot. However my travellings and other things made me forget until something today I'm not sure what stirred the thought again.
Luckily, a Google search under the keywords "Kopi 434" showed me the way in no time. So without further ado, the article itself... Cheers! :]


My Johor: Kopi Cap 434 — our very own exotic coffee


I’M a coffee drinker. The state, which boasts two of the country’s best coffees, namely Muar’s Kopi Cap 434 and Kopi Kluang, made me one.

Twenty-three years in Kuala Lumpur has yet to convert me into a lover of gourmet coffees from Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Although I must admit I have acquired a liking for flavoured coffee especially toffeenut latte.

My family, especially my mother, still swears by Kopi Cap 434.

Whenever we drive down to Johor from Kuala Lumpur, my mother would insist on making a pit stop in Muar. Besides going to the jewellery store to get the butang baju kurung to replace those that we have lost, she’ll get her supply of Kopi Cap 434.

We’ve been doing this all our lives. When we were growing up, our parents made it a point to stop in Muar each time we journeyed north to Kuala Lumpur or on the trip back.

From Johor Baru, they would time it in such a way that we would be in Muar town for a breakfast of satay, lontong or soto ayam from the Malay stall in front of the coffee shop.

On the way home, we would stop for lunch at the Makcik’s stall where the ikan sembilang masak asam pedas is something to die for.

Having coffee at this corner lot coffee shop in town was a must for my late father.

Back then I thought the black coffee, served in the thick porcelain cups and saucers, were a tad bitter but it was drinkable. We kids would pour the coffee from the cups into the saucers; blow into it to cool it before slurping it up. On a hot day, the iced black coffee could really quench a thirst!

Before we leave the town, we would get our supply of the ground coffee from the nearby shop. Never mind if you don’t know the shop’s address. Your nose will take you there. The smell of the ground coffee can give you the same exhilarating effect as the taste.

Kopi Cap 434 has been around for 55 years. It was founded by Kiar Am Sai in a double-storey wooden house just behind the Muar river at Jalan Ismail in Muar.

Kiar, who was known among his customers as Ah Sai, was said to be 17 years old when he arrived in the country from Hainan, China. The number 434 incidentally is his three digit telephone number during the 1960s.

The Kopi Cap 434 is the company’s most popular house blend coffee but there is also espresso coffee and instant coffee under the 434 label. They come in packets of 20, 50 and 100 sachets.

Do you know that the company also offers delivery service?

Call for the best quotation, transfer the money into the company’s account, call again for a final confirmation and the consignment will be couriered to you on the same day. I haven’t tried it yet but would surely do so once our supply of the 434 runs out.

And I discovered only recently that 434 is indeed a local coffee.

Kopi Cap 434 uses the Elephant Bean AA, which has been described as an exotic coffee that has a very outstanding flavour and unique taste that can be found in neither Arabica nor Robusta coffee. Belonging to the Liberica species, the beans are bigger in size and longer in shape.

Somewhere in Muar, the company has a 1.6ha plantation cultivated with the Elephant Bean AA coffee. It’s worth a visit when you’re next in Muar, eh?

Monday, January 14, 2008

And now, a quaint look at Johor Bahru!

Yep! As the title says, after doing the last posting called A quaint look at the town of Pontian , let's see the bustling city of Johor Bahru from the slightly uncommon eye and perspective, perhaps with a tinge of art and nostalgia... Perhaps...
Good lord... Having had a quick look at the previous article, now only do I realise that I started this article with almost the same wordings... Unintentionally though... I just followed what came out from my thoughts, spontanously that is...

OK... To be frank, you could say I'm writing this article just for the heck of it. There's no serious reflection involved or is it? Don't let those simple facade and way of story-telling fool you...

On thing's for sure... I feel the need to let go of the story of my recent Johor travel covering the state's main 8 districts of Muar, Batu Pahat, Pontian, Johor Bahru, Kota Tinggi, Mersing, Kluang and Segamat... And Tangkak @ Ledang if you count it as a separate individual district... I still consider it as part of Muar but people say, it has now been officially announced as a separate district although I have yet to see it pointed that way in the maps currently available...

Anyway, after pitching some stories in my blogspots (remember, I have three including this one), it is now the turn of Johor Bahru to feature in the spotlights. So I've decided to split a set of pictures, one for the blogspot CATATAN SI MERAH SILU and another for this.

But I've decided to write this article first... So to stick with the title, a quaint look at Johor Bahru, let's have a look at the above picture. Bear in the mind, it is taken right in the middle of the city next to the bustling Jalan Wong Ah Fook... Hmm... If I could describe the place in my own words, I'd say it is in JB's very own little India.

While walking around, I saw this old red building and plenty of pigeons... Somehow it touched an artistic string in me...

On the opposite side, lies this walk, across Jalan Wong Ah Fook that is... I think it's called Persiaran Meldrum or the Meldrum Walk...

Actually I was walking around looking for a cheap hotel to lodge at. While walking along Meldrum Walk, I saw a certain hotel by the name (if memory serves me right) Hong Kong Hotel! And somehow, my heart says just check in there...

It is not as cheap as I thought it would be. I had to pay RM38 for a small room with only a window overlooking the inside making me felt rather cooped in. The only consolation is the toilet is inside... I mean some hotels offer cheap rooms but you have to share the toilet outside. That should accomodate my stomach which has a habit of wanting to pass down some 'goods' quite often...

Earlier, I did approach another hotel which looks much smaller, one made from pre-war building which is my favourite type. Too bad it was fully booked. Otherwise I could have gotten a room for about RM20 plus a day.

Anyway, I can't expect to get cheap rooms easy in Johor Bahru or JB as it is fondly known. After all, it is a bustling city very close to Singapore where people come in with currency more than twice the value of the Malaysian Ringgit.

For Singaporeans, it is very cheap to shop in Malaysia particularly JB. For the people here, that made the prices of goods and services go up and thus some say the cost of living in JB is much more than that of the bigger and more metropolitan Kuala Lumpur (although JB folks like to think otherwise, that is their city is bigger and more metropolitan...)....

Oh... I was too engrossed in letting out my thoughts... Forgot to tell, the picture above was taken from the area behind my hotel room looking down at the street walk....

And this is the view from inside a Mamak (Northern Indian) restaurant just outside and across my hotel. After I'm done settling down at the room, it's time to fill the empty stomach...

Then it's time to explore more of mid JB...

Here's a look at the city's tallest buildings... Should be around 40 floors or so...

I stopped by at a small street foodstall... There's something endearing about this old man slicing bananas to be fried to make Pisang Goreng (friend bananas)... The view was made more quaint when contrasted against the background, that is the big blue billboard behind...

I shifted focus on the board. At the same time, another elderly man was walking around, a frail old man who looks like he is dragging himself to get across...

Contrast that against the words on the billboard.... "Dengan Celcom anda berkuasa", literally translated as "with Celcom you have power"... Really? Would the frail old man be able to walk faster and stronger if he subscribes to Celcom? Hmm...

And finally an angle looking down the bustling street of Jalan Wong Ah Fook... In the horizon are the flats in the state of Singapore just across the Straits of Johor. Quite a contrast isn't it to the pictures shown before? That's all ya... :]