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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Original colours of Batik

OK. I won't explain what this is all about as the time hasn't come to disclose the story about it yet. I only put this pictures here earlier for the benefit of someone... otherwise I would have posted this a month, maybe more than two months later. But I could say these are newly-produced batik clothes made at its traditional factory in the East Coast. Feel free to have a closer look at it by opening the pictures in other windows. Thus this becomes the 666th article in this blogspot.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The little 'hill' recently discovered in Kuala Selangor

The final piece for the current bout of 'idle January' stories...

Last Sunday, after a visit to a friend's house, me and family went up the hill of Bukit Melawati in Kuala Selangor. It was almost dusk and I just wanted to enjoy the view. I was admiring the scenery of the river Selangor opening into the Straits of Melaka when I felt like looking more to the right to see (yet again...) how the smaller hill called Bukit Keramat (if I recall correctly) blend into the surroundings.

Look at the article Kota (Fort of) Tanjung Keramat in the blogspot SENI LAMA MELAYU (MALAY OLDEN ART). See how that hill looks quite big when you are looking up from its foot. Notice the growth on the left centre of the picture above. That's the hill I'm talking about. That's how it looks from the much bigger and higher Bukit Melawati.

You see I have this habit of comparing actual landscape to what's seen on the maps, making comparisons of places from different angles and viewpoints to see how it all adds up. Mind you if I don't know there's a hill there I would have thought it is just the growths from a cluster of tall trees. On the other hand I noticed slightly right to the centre what seems like a small hill. Having seen such small hills before and mistaking it for trees that set me wondering how come I've never seen this hill before when the fact is I have been up Bukit Melawati studying the view around many many times apart from going around the area seen down there.

Astonishingly I saw the small hill again as I stepped back into the car. I don't how but I have unwittingly positioned the car in a way I could directly see it from inside. Notice the part enclosed by the contour of the growth and cannon?

Let me zoom in on that part. Taken from the same picture pay attention to how the hill fits into the closed area created by the growth and cannon. I'm sure you'll agree with me that if I were to park the car in any other way, just a slight turn of angle and such and the hill would have been obscured behind either the growth, the cannon or the wall. I take this as a sign to go down there and find the hill.

After going around comparing trees and buildings down there with the picture taken I at last found the hill. Well, it is not actually a hill but a tall and wide jungle tree situated within the compounds of a hotel. It was the heavy canopy on top that makes it looks like a small hill from afar.

Then again it is an astounding majestic tree. I couldn't catch it with all its natural splendour on camera when it was already dark but I could tell you this... it is one of the most impressive tree I've seen my whole life. And being an avid jungle trekker with a hobby of climbing tall trees when I was younger, I've seen plenty of trees.

While it is not a hill at all there must be a reason I noticed it after some 2 years making regular visits to Kuala Selangor. There must be a story behind this tree, a story that would unfold in time. Otherwise how could I suddenly found a strong urge to look to the right when I was cosily enjoying the view of the Selangor river, an urge that would lead to the discovery of the 'hill'? And when I noticed it, how could I have parked the car in such a way that it could directly be seen from inside when the objects in front could have easily obscured the view? How could the 'hill' appear inside a box or inset created by natural objects? What are the chances of anyone parking a car, noticing an object later and find it directly visible from inside the car with such a small margin of error? Hmm...

Bumping into the Thaipusam procession

OK. This is what happened on Friday 19th...

I was driving to get to my bank at one end of Jalan Ipoh when I saw plenty of Indians walking, some on the middle of the street in colourful celebration customs.

Parking my car across I could clearly see it was a procession.

The following day is the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam and that day they were carrying their deities from one of the main temples near city centre to Batu Caves.

Well, I have been told before that they would pass this way. But it never crossed my mind I would accidently bump into it at the very time it would pass across my bank.

I was so excited with the colours that I actually recorded nearly 4 minutes of non-stop video, crossing the streets and weaving through traffic with the camera on. Have a look...

From Nilai to Kajang : Reminiscing on how life has changed and such

Still, going on with the current 'idle' flow of stories...

Friday 14th January, after settling some business in Ampang Jaya area, I did the obligatory Jumaat congregational prayers at a mosque which used to be a surau (small praying hall). This reminds me of the time I used to bunk at an aunty's place nearby. She has this house rule that the gates should be all locked at the latest 12 am and that's when the house alarms would be on.

Her whole household tends to sleep by 10. There's the maids who could open the doors for me later but by 12 I wouldn't want to disturb anyone or trip the alarm. For I realise that I was simply bunking at their house as I try to figure out what next in life. I never ask for the keys and I don't feel right about it. It is enough that the aunty and family have accepted me when my life was in disarray and I was having a hard time putting it back to order.

So the simple rule was this. I was allowed to stay but should I spend time late into the night then I should only enter the house in the morning, after 7 am. That should not disturb anyone as by then the whole house would be awake ready for school, work or whatever. At times I need to spend time with friends outside not far from the house. But the conversation tends to go on until the very wee hours... in fact most of them only turned up near midnight. So the surau which is now a mosque was the place I used to rest at while waiting for morning to come.

Well things are different now. I'm married again and have a place to call home. Except this place is some 40 km north-west of Kuala Lumpur compared to the aunty's house 10 km or so east of the city. So I only go to Ampang once in a while when I have business to attend.

After Friday prayers I went to Gombak and then picked up the wife at Jalan Ipoh after work before heading home. The following day Saturday we took baby Al-Rasyid down towards the KLIA quarters at Nilai way south from home. We wanted to visit a friend and his place is not so far from the quarters.

Baby Al-Rasyid in front of the mihrab, the front most section of the KLIA quarters mosque. Boy, life has sure changed. Not that I've never had a kid before, it's just I was not in the right frame of mind when my previous wife gave birth to my daughter more than 8 years ago. I was then in total turmoil. Having lost my job to office politics, a few months later a grandmother died, my dad's mum.

You see I was in the midst of getting to know my roots after 30 years of not caring anything about it. She was the one who had all the answers and I came to her after having a certain dream, after having not seen her for like 3 years or so. We managed to have a few days' conversation before I had to go and then started falling sick, not able to talk until the day she died. A few months later I lost my youngest brother in an accident the night after my daughter was born. Just 2-3 months afterwards or so, I lost another grandmother, my mum's mum.

A look towards outside the mosque. You see, that grandmother, my mum's mum was the one who brought me up until I went off to a boarding school at the age of 12. Funny I found myself getting distant from her as I grew up and left my native state of Johor before going overseas at the age of 21. It's when I lost her that I began to look back at things but in a numb way of sorts. Perhaps I was shocked perhaps I was simply pretending to be not so affected, playing it cool when the fact is my heart was breaking down. At the same time I still felt strongly the lost of the other grandmother which I was getting closer to after practically ignoring her side of the family for three decades.

Actually I went to this friends house at Kota Seriemas, Nilai to get a copy of my latest book. I am the writer and he is the publisher. From there we took the rural road towards Kajang. I then veered right to old town Bangi.

Part of the old road further on passes under the railway tracks. I am writing this piece merely to share some pictures of another day (or 2 days, Friday and Saturday) of my 'idle January' following today's current bout or mood of writing. I have no idea that some old memories would be rekindled or resurface, perhaps because I was trying to explain the signifance of the mosque where I did my Friday prayers at.

The road after passing the underpass. Let's not continue with the reminiscing ya. For after all this years, I still can't help but feel sad about it and tears were starting to well...

Anyway we went to old town Bangi because I wanted to take a route I haven't took for more than 10 years, the route from old Bangi to Semenyih. Here's a pix after we have left Semenyih far behind and entering the town of Kajang.

It has been awhile since we enjoy a meal of satay here. For the record Kajang is very famous for its tasty satay or skewered meat especially under the Haji Samuri brand or restaurant. It's just a pity that they don't have enough onions it seems. I always prefer my satay dish with onions but they said they have ran out of it.

I find it hard to believe that a large restaurant like that of Haji Samuri can run out of onion. It would be logical if I came late at night but just before dusk? Aren't they going to entertain more guests for dinner? How could such a well-recognised establishment ran out of such essential item as onions before prime meal-time for satay? One wonders, were they just simply making excuses to cut up cost?

Like I said before onions are very essential to a tasty satay meal. Apart from that I have been told that it neutralises the carbon present on the meat due to the traditional way it is prepared. Whatever I simply couldn't eat satay without onion. I actually went out in search of some and luckily found a mamak restaurant about 200 metres away with peeled onions ready for cooking and the cook agreed to sell me a bulb.

Hmm. I think this is the first time we brought Al-Rasyid to this restaurant. Lack of onions aside, dining at Haji Samuri is great as it also have relics like this old car to entertain.

Al-Rasyid enjoying a 'drive'.

Many times he tried to grab the wheels from me as I was driving and actually tried to touch the pedals with his feet!

Enough of this story...

Kelang river at Kuala Lumpur city centre

This continuing 'idle January' piece should add a missing piece for the section called "Fascination for rivers" at the middle sidebar. First let me quote what has been written in the supporting article Fascination with rivers - the Middle West Coast...

11. Sungai Klang

About as big as Sungai Selangor but given more importance due to the existence of Malaysia's main ports near its mouth apart from the fact that it flows through the city of Kuala Lumpur. I have seen the parts in the city perhaps thousands of times due to the fact that I've spent years staying in the Klang Valley. I have seen the wide parts near the city of Klang maybe tens of times but could have seen more if not for the fact that I try not to go there more often because of its often bad traffic condition. But all in all I never took enough pictures or make stories about it. Perhaps I have taken it for granted and need to make amends... will do one day.

After spending time buying orchids (read Al-Rasyid and the orchid farm) we spent the rest of the day at home indoors. The next day Monday I followed my parents to an uncle's place at Damansara Heights where we had lunch before I decided to head for Kuala Lumpur city by public transport and walked around. At the Central Market LRT station I saw a nice view of the Kelang river and decided to take pictures. Furthermore it is time that I fill the missing part about this river for the "Fascination with rivers" section.

You see it has been a while since I walked at these parts of the city and took the LRT. Then I noticed there's a pedestrian bridge connecting to the old train station across.

That was how I got to take rather interesting pictures from the middle of the river. Oh, the previous picture is headed upriver, this one is downriver...

Next I walked towards the famous cultural market/shopping complex, the Central Market. I don't know when was this sheltered walk built, as far as I could remember it was not around when I last walked here and that should be within 2 years ago.

I went pass Central Market to take another angle of the river. This one is heading downriver.

For upriver from the same spot you can see where the tributary Gombak river flows into the Kelang river. This is the place where Kuala Lumpur got its name... kuala is the Malay word for estuary referring to the Gombak river mouth, lumpur means muddy. So Kuala Lumpur simply means the muddy estuary which is how it was when the city was started with a settlement more than a century ago.

A close-up zoom showing the signboard Sg. Kelang (Sg. short-form for sungai or river). But don't be mistaken. The one seen above is the Gombak river. The Kelang river which is below the signbboard is out of view.

Here's a look at the Kelang river. These parts look smaller than the Gombak river. Perhaps the latter adds volumes to the downriver portion after where the 'muddy estuary' or original Kuala Lumpur lies?

Al-Rasyid and the orchid farm

Still getting idle. Continuing from Al-Rasyid's antics at a cousin's wedding....

After the wedding my parents followed us home to Bandar Tasik Puteri. We spent the following day indoors just watching movies and television. It was only on Sunday that we went out. As usual whenever they slept over at our house, they wanted us to bring them to the orchard farm just 6 km away from our house.

Here's a picture of Al-Rasyid standing at one part. Otherwise I have to chase him around as he weaved in and out the rows of flower ports, stopping only at the back to play with the terappins and turtles. If I remember correctly this is the first time we went here since Al-Rasyid started to walk at 10 months old, 5 months ago. Since then my parents have slept over once or twice but we were then busy with other things, no time to visit the farm.

My parents love plants and flowers. Being former government servants they practically spent all their time on gardening since retiring at the age of 55 and 57 (my father took 2 years extended work). Both are now turning 69. My wife and I are well-pleased to be able to bring them around and make them happy what more with Al-Rasyid healthily walking or rather running around amusing them too. Look also at the old article Of orchids and old college memories....

Al-Rasyid's antics at a cousin's wedding...

Continuing the 'idle' January stories started with the article A relaxing afternoon at Batu Arang.

So that article was ended with a snap of my beloved big bike taken on Friday. That night I brought the wife and our 1 year 3 months old baby Al-Rasyid to attend a cousin's wedding.

We immediately went to a private room reserved for family members.

Held at Shah Alam's Concorde Hotel, it was quite a grand affair.

For Al-Rasyid however it was just something that aroused his curiosity to explore.

Mind you from the private room behind the main hall which is separated by another section also full of tables and guests he managed to weave his way around more than 100 metres to the stage.

Perhaps it is his own instincts, perhaps it's a chip off the old block. He found the going-ons amusing without a thought to all the looking eyes.

Being a grand affair of course they have a number of well-heeled guests and many conscious of protocols and appearance of what such people thought are good manners that shows one is well-raised up the ranks, allegedly. Well, not baby Al-Rasyid and not me. We (at least me) knows where we came from. And no that's not from the gutters. Where our family really came from, it is the so-called VIPs and VVIPs who have to bow down their heads in total humility and submission as we do what we want to do without caring for the commoners' protocols and artificial concerns (sorry, that's the old rebel me giving the snob speech against today's rampant snobs created by the capitalistic system)...

Al-Rasyid playing the thoughtful and discerning observer. Hopefully he'll develop my natural ears and taste for a wide variety of music and not pretend to like classical because it makes one looks upper-class, again allegedly...

Why, he was so comfortable with the scene that he climbed up the stage many times and I had to pull him down. At one stage (pun unintended...) he tried to join the performers and a male singer picked him up and continued routine with Al-Rasyid in arms for some 2 minutes! I thought I got it on video only to realise that I have pushed the wrong button on my camera. So there, no record of that but many still noticed. In fact my mum who was watching the proceedings from the big screen inside the private room thought it was me who carried and danced with Al-Rasyid on stage. No surprises for her if I actually did that...

Al-Rasyid posing one stage in-between shows. For more stories on weddings look at these old articles...

A wedding on top a hill in Janda Baik

The bride's home wedding reception on Saturday

The lavish night reception at Shangri-La

The cousin's reception...

The bride's wedding reception in Singapura

The groom's turn for reception

Hmm. I thought I've already did a piece on another cousin's wedding to a New Zealander who lives in Australia held at Damansara Heights towards the end of 2009. I found it to be very eventful not because of the lavishness or presence of VIPs and VVIPs or guests from abroad but because almost all members of my extended extended family (4 generations descended from a great-grandfather) managed to make it. As far as I could remember that was the first time in years we managed to gather such a quorum of relatives...

A relaxing afternoon at Batu Arang

Peace be upon you all. Today let us make an excursion from the northern trip stories. I don't think I've ever said in this blogspot that I've spent a rather tiring 11 days up the East Coast with the wife and baby from Christmas till 4 days after the recent New Year's day. Mind you I drove a total of 2367 km and took 4743 pictures...

It was taxing physically, mentally and financialy apart from putting a strain on the car. So for the month of January we decided to practically stay around the house and workplace. No long trips during this period, just short ones within a radius of 100 km I think. So let me just let out some short stories on the way the period was spent so far...

Thursday afternoon Jan 6th 2011, after 2 days returning from the East Coast I took my trusty bike around the small town of Batu Arang and saw a little pasar malam, the periodical night market just starting then. Living at the residential area of Bandar Tasik Puteri just 3 km from this town and often stopping by for meal and drinks or just simply riding if not driving I was surprised to see this. Maybe I've never came at the right time but this is the first time since staying nearby for about 2 years and 2 months that I noticed a pasar malam there.

The pasar malam was held not far from the local mosque. Then I realised another thing I've failed to notice before. There's more than one old chimney at Batu Arang.

A close up of the same picture showing the chimneys. Refer to my first article on this town, The quaint small town of Batu Arang made 2 years ago and find out what the chimneys are all about. And to think it took this long before I realised there's actually 3 chimneys within the vicinity, one of it at an angle obscured by the trees.

It was refreshing to realise this. And it was a relaxing afternoon as I also spent some time just sitting idly besides the main field.

Again while I've been to Batu Arang many many times as it is close to my house, this is the first time I actually sat at the town's main field rather than just passing by. Maybe the tiring trip up the East Coast finally made me want to sit down here to smell the roses or rather the field grass? Hmm... :]

Oh... this picture was taken the following day at a stall at Bandar Tasik Puteri. I was just playing about with the zoom of my new camera, a state-of-the-art compact Olympus bought just before the East Coast trip. Ah... how I love my bike. I've had it since 1997 and had travelled all around the Peninsular with it many times. And how I love my new camera, the 4th digital one since I started to seriously take pictures out on trips end of 2006.

For more on Batu Arang read The lakes at Batu Arang and The lake I've just discovered near my house..... Look also at the article Visiting the Chimney at Tanjung Kubong. While it is not about the town of Batu Arang, is is about batu arang as the commodity (batu arang = coal) and also about chimneys...