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, March 19, 2010

Celebrating the Prophet's birthday in Aceh : A feeling of old Kedah... or rather, old Malay country before Western colonialists spoiled everything?

Time to continue from Celebrating the Prophet's birthday in Aceh : A sudden unexpected trip... .

A few kilometres after the airport we stopped at this restaurant.

Behind is a hall which was exclusively reserved for our entourage...

OK. There were about 20 of us who came from Malaysia joined by 10 or so of Kak Ann's staff. By the way, Kak Ann, a Malaysian staying in Aceh was our host...

She also flew some guests from Jakarta, about 6 of them if I'm not mistaken. Seen in the picture is my wife holding our then four-months and a half old baby next to Ike As Sagaf, a guest from Jakarta.

So there we were seated waiting for lunch to be served.

Writers Puan Suzana and husband Haji Muzaffar was trying to hide their immense delight. For both it was almost like a dream to have finally arrived in Aceh.

Suzana has been writing a number of books concerning the genealogy of Malay rulers and their relations with the Ahlul Bait, family of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. Her own research has lead to the discovery that a main ancestor, the venerable Bendahara Tun Sri Lanang (a major 17th century Malay palace official, writer of the famous Malay treatise Sulalatus Salatin, known also as the Malay Annals) flourished and died here after being transported from Johor to Aceh. A grandaughter (or so) of Tun Sri Lanang married a certain Sayyid (a descendant of the prophet) resulting in progenies who became later Bendaharas of Johor.

When the infamous Sultan Mahmud of Johor was murdered while being carried on the pedestal in 1699, he left no heir. So custom dictates that the Bendahara should be elevated to the throne and that's the start of the Bendahara dysnasty who ruled over Johor, Pahang, Riau, in fact wide expanses of land which used to form the glorious Melaka empire of the 15th century AD. Colonialists intervention soon saw the break-up of the empire. Suffice to say these resulted in the modern states of Johor, Pahang and Terengganu having monarchs who originated from the Bendahara line, which in turn originated from the Sayyid and Tun Sri Lanang who flourished in Aceh.

Imagine knowing all this, knowing how your main ancestors started out and where they came from. Imagine, having wrote a number of books about it but have yet to step foot on the land where it all started. Not only that, Suzana was actually in the midst of writing another book. And she happened to reach a snag when comes to a subject which concerns Aceh!

While Suzana and Muzaffar whose movement are currently constrained due to having a small child were harbouring dreams of visiting this land sometime in the near future, they never dreamt it would happen so soon. Who would have thought, because of their association with little old me, coupled with the fact that they wrote the very succesful Malay book "Ahlul Bait dan Raja-raja Melayu" (which I've translated to English. See My 5th book is out! Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and the Malay Sultanates... ) they got invited by Kak Ann with all expenses paid?

So there they were husband and wife trying to contain their delight in all civility while savouring the food and view at the restaurant. And they were only a few kilometres away after arrival from the airport. All they have seen so far were just little samples of the wonderful historical land which is Aceh.

My dear wife and baby Al-Rasyid posing downstairs. For the record this is the 3rd time my wife came to Aceh, second for our dear baby...

The wife staring at the scenery, wide open expanses of paddy fields which characterise major parts of Aceh, even at the rather urbanised capital called Banda Aceh! Yep... when we came last year and stayed at the only 4-star hotel in the whole of the land, we can't help but notice the paddy field just behind the hotel. Which brings us back to the meal we had.

While Suzana was rather composed, Muzafar reached a staged where he almost cried. "My God," he quipped."These paddy fields reminded me of my growing years staying with my Nenek (grandmother) back in Kedah more than 30 years ago!". Which is exactly my sentiments. I might be 5 years younger than him but I still remember the paddy fields which used to cool my eyes besides the stretch of road from Muar up to Negeri Sembilan.

Here in Aceh, I also found scenes from 30 years ago being enacted again with people still farming the old way, man and woman walking in the mud and such. Muzafar went one step further by declaring all the food we had tasted of the good old years of the 1960s to 1970s, a period where Malay villages were still largely undefiled.

"How come the food here tastes so good?" he asked. I answered, apart from the clean air and refreshing scenery (Aceh has no big industry with factories to pollute the air) the food were freshly taken or plucked from its sources. No sir, they hardly use preservatives here. As far as I know and have tasted, whatever you eat are taken from a close-enough locality in amounts which are sufficient for the day's need. So sir, we don't need to use artificial preservatives nor we store our fish and meat in ice for months and on. Nor do we have to pretend these are fresh when thawed or served with microwave...

Here's one with all the people gone. So on to the title of this article.

While industralisation has made people progress in a certain materialistic direction, it has also made them less-sensitive to nature, in fact more oblivous to their actual natural needs. Consumerism has created artificial longing for goods that we don't really need. The same goes for the body. It is consumerim which has made food taste less natural in Malaysia then it was, say 30 years ago.

So why did I use the words "... before Western colonialists spoiled everything?" in the title of this article? Well go figure. At the risk of sounding very insular, I dare say it is the Western colonialists who brought consumerism and its whole artifical demand thing into our once nature-centred population. Everything is spoiled since then...

Later at night we visited the orphanage built by Kak Ann in Lhoong, some 50 km south-west of Banda Aceh.

The very same night we returned to Banda Aceh. We had supper at another restaurant before checking in at our hotel in mid-town.

Here's a view outside this restaurant. Seen in the background is a stretch of land which extended into a small narrow peninsular (or was it some sort of island connected by bridges?) constituting the famous area called Ulee Lhue and its harbour. That's all...

p/s: Do excuse me for the poor quality of pictures. What happened was, the night before we flew to Aceh I've just found out my Olympus camera charger was condemned beyond simple obvious repair. I had no time to find replacement. Thus I had to proceed with a camera with less than 5 per cent power still on.

Luckily a friend brought a videocam and asked me to record our trip. It is a fairly good model and you can see the results in the latest postings at my Malay blogspot BERPETUALANG KE ACEH. However the snaps made using its camera mood leaves a lot to be desired. Either that or I don't know it well enough to operate it properly hence the pictures you see...

To Kak Zanina of The New Straits Times' Travel Times section, if you happen to read this, I suggest you go straight to the collection of articles listed under the post The Aceh trip stories... in order from ground zero until the end... . The links point to all the relevant articles posted in all my three blogspots, hence you have those in Malay, English and bi-lingual bundled together for easy reference and continous flow of understanding. That should give you some idea what sort of articles I can produce or reproduce if you decide to have some for Travel Times. Mind you all the pictures have been down-sized to 10 per cent while the original ones at 3 megapixels should be good enough for paper print.

I have more pictures in store, those I did not publish in my blogspots. Besides the Aceh trip referred to was the 8-day trip made June 2009. Since then I have been to Aceh again twice, in January and February and now I'm just starting to relate the later. Cheers! :]

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