Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Petite Batik Artist in Rantau Abang...

We were on our way to Kuantan from Kuala Terengganu on May 29, 2011, on see a signage that shows a sort of a Rest Area we stop to have a look at shops that sell Batik there. As I was about to enter the first shop someone from inside the shop say that I had to first take out my shoe if I want to enter. Well since they are more interested in what I wear rather than the money in my pocket I decided not to enter that shop.

I then move to another shop next to it which looks more like a shack than a shop. Anyway I decided to enter the shop. As I approach it I saw a lovely piece of Batik hanging to dry. I have a quick look of it and found that it is a beautiful piece of the work of art, which let me into buying it.

I then move on and saw a petite lady working on a piece of batik material. I seek her permission to take picture and she with a smile say it is OK. With that I then took some images of the happening while she diligently paints the Batik.

Meanwhile my spouse and our nephew arrived at the shop and start looking at the batik that are been sold there and end with buying many pieces of Batik textile and Batik T-Shirt. This part of the shop is managed by the elder sister of that petite Batik artist.

Enjoy the image folks. Have a nice day.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Of Pantai Puteri Malacca...

One of the greatest things about living in a peninsula is that the sea is always not that far away. About a month ago I was at the home of Pokcik Hassan at Batu Rakit, Terengganu. His beautiful country home is with a seafront of the China Sea and today I am at our condo with a seafront of the Straits of Malacca; Hassan's on the east coast and mine on the west coast. It is actually not that far; just a few hours drive from Kuala lumpur. Voila! One is at the seaside.

Last Monday May 20, 2011 I took a slow drive from Ampang Jaya and arrived at Pantai Puteri Malacca just before noon. And stayed there a few days at our condo, enjoying the sea and the fresh air; a place with a different environment than that of our home in Ampang Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. On the first evening a relative and his spouse who happen to be in Malacca then, came over for dinner. And later stayed on for a long chat over coffee at our place. It was indeed a colorful evening full of laughter and joy.

The next day early in the morning I took a slow walk along the beach out-front and took some images of the happening there and sharing it here. The images I believe tell a story by itself. I stop at a butcher selling his fresh meat at a roadside stall and watch him meticulously cutting the meat for sale. Had our stay here is longer I would have bought the fresh meat and do a B B Q with friends. Next time maybe!

The scenery at the seaside was green with the Casuarinas and other trees growing well near the beach. The beach is a nice place to sit in the early morning and late evening to while the day away but I found it not that suitable for swimming. Anyway I saw many local folks here use it more for fishing rather than for swimming. This beach is always dotted with folks enjoying their picnic with families and friends. The west coast of the country is part of the Straits of Malacca where hundreds of ships ply the busy sea route all the time, thus the beach at time became polluted with debris and the seawater became dirty. Anyway the sea always brings fresh air to those living at the condominium which is just two hundred meters away.

At some part of the beach there are Fisherman shack and I could see many boats parked on the beach making it a picturesque sight indeed. When they came ashore they would sell their daily catch on the beach and one could get fresh fish literary right from the sea. Indeed it would make a great grilled for dinner.

On one side of the road there are many food-court that sell foods at a relative cheap price. Some of the Fisherman daily catch are also sold at the stalls here. One of the mornings I went to get Nasi Lemak for our breakfast and saw Roti Canai been prepared for frying. It looks tasty but since we had decided that our breakfast for that day would be Nasi Lemak, I did not buy any Roti Canai.

Well folk since this place is faraway from the city, life here is somewhat slow; a different culture of living than in the suburb of KL. Indeed a great place to get lost from time to time.

Have a nice day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strangers No More...

What a wonderful world! We made friends in cyberspace and then over times we would meet in the real world. On a recent trip to the east coast we met these wonderful folks whom I had only known in cyberspace. It was indeed a meeting of joy and a day to remember. A story of friendships from cyberspace to the real world and now strangers no more.

Meeting for the first time with Blogger Pokcik Hassan of Almanar and his spouse Salmah.  We had coffee after dinner at the Primula Hotel, Kuala Terengganu on the evening of May 27 2011.The next day we were invited to tea at  their beautiful country home at Batu Rakit.

Meeting for the first time with Blogger/Facebook friends Alias Muda at the Felda Residence Hotel Kuala Terengganu on the morning of May 28, 2011 over breakfast at the hotel. Have been in communication with Alias through his blog and later on in Facebook for some years.

Met Blogger/Facebook friend Martin Lee for the first time in Kemaman on our way to Kuantan on May 29, 2011. Call him over the cellphone from the car. He was happy on the phone to meet and decided to take us for a brunch in Kemaman. When we arrived in Kemaman he was already there waiting for us in front of the Kopitiam.

With Aning Awang a Facebook friend during breakfast at the Vistana Hotel Kuantan on the morning of May 30, 2011. I invited him to join us for breakfast. He call saying that he could not made it early but eventually  arrived with a big smile. It was indeed a great first time meeting of folks in their golden age.

Folks, it was a meeting of friendships made in cyberspace and meeting for the first time in the real world. What a wonderful we live in.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Little Gem in Kota Bharu...

In Kelantan on May 26, 2011. Playing tourists while in Kota Bharu, I did it my way. I look at things differently from the other tourists. I always look for the uniqueness of the happening. So while in the Craft-center in Kota Bharu recently I wonder along the row of small shops that made the complex and eventually found one that I like.

I went in to have a closer look and then seek permission from the owner of the shop to take picture of the happening in his small shop. While doing so I talk to the artisan who were diligently doing their work of art; giving me the information that I need to understand what are they doing. I need information to write so those who read later on would have a better idea of the shop that I visited. In this case a shop that specialized in Silverware belonging to an artisan family headed by the father Mohd Maliki and the shop known as Seni Kraftangan Timur.

During my visit I saw three youth, two of whom are his kids were doing their works with ingenuity in creating their work of art. Both these kids have tertiary education which to me is a plus sign for good business. I often told parents that getting a college education does not mean you became a wage earner, it should be look at of getting more knowledge to improve one's quality of life. While there I saw them working on the ornamental part of the Kris and other fine silverware. Not everyone could create such a fine work of art.I was fascinated with the way they create fine jewelry and other aspect of turning a Kris Sheath into a beautiful piece of a work of art. Such Kris is often given away as present or just for keep as a mementos, to remind folks of its past glory in the once-glorious past of the Malay Kingdom. I saw the ornamental part of a Kris been meticulously created in front of my eyes. Only skilled artisan like the person in the image could do that with such confidence. The finished work done by hand continue to be a special work of art and there can never be two of a kind unlike craft that are produce by machine.

The image on the left show that part of the Kris sheath been crafted into a fine work of art. It was such a beautiful creation. Later at the hotel I thought that I would go back to the shop and place an order. Unfortunately all the shops closed for business at 6PM and the next day was a Friday. Thus I was unable to buy one. Most probably I would do that on my next visit there. So folks if you want to buy anything in Kota Bharu do remember that all shops closed for business at 6PM and that Friday is a holiday in the State of Kelantan.

Have a nice day.[Please click on image to enlarge]

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Colorful Market of Kota Bharu...

This market always fascinate me. I have been there before and I kept going every time I visit Kota Bharu. It is one of a kind; once in there you would be awe with its splendor that no other market could give. It is special in that it sell almost everything under the sun, almost I say!. From fish, poultry to meat to vegetable and Batik and Handicraft and other Kelantanese textile of all kinds and colors making it a one-unique market.

Nowhere else could you find the varieties of goods sold under one roof and most of all are run by their womenfolks. It is a tapestry of the culture of the uniqueness of the womenfolks of Kelantan, a state that was once ruled by a woman Che Siti Wan Kembang.

Take a slow walk and taste the traditional cakes like Buah Hulu, Akok and other delicious Traditional Kueh [cake] that only the Kelantanese know how to create that exquisite taste. Up at the Batik section one could easily get lost in the narrow walkways where individual stalls sells Batik and other textiles of varieties and design, the color of the rainbows.  

Peep down the balcony and you would witness the sprawling wet market below with goods laid in rows after rows making it a fascinating sight to watch. Such a clever way of presenting goods for sale. Indeed a kaleidoscope of color that always fascinate me every time I look. A magnificent sight indeed.

Just look at the photography that I have taken on this trip and I am sure you would agree with me that this is one place that should never be missed by those who visit Kota Bharu. Indeed a wonder of color by itself. Giving your holiday a memorable sight to remember in this east coast state of Kelantan.

Have a nice day.


Monday, June 06, 2011

Of Gua Musang and Tourism...

This is one town that I had not been. At one time it could only be reached by rail or road from Kota Bharu in Kelantan. It was an isolated place, deep in the hinterland Jungle of the main-range of Peninsular Malaysia. Nestle among limestone hill it grew at its own pace not until new roads connect it to Kuala Lipis in Pahang and Ipoh in Perak. With that Gua Musang is now easily reached from all points and with that development is moving fast-forward. I have always wanted to visit this town and last month I did that. A dream comes true.

On May 24, 2011 at just past 8:30Am we left KL by means of the Karak Highway. From there took the road north that takes us to Bentong and Raub. The road from Bentong to Raub has been upgrade and no longer like those country road that wind its way beside river and carved out of hillsides. It is almost a straight road and after a snack at a roadside stall in Raub we drove on bypassing Kuala lipis. I have driven up to Kuala Lipis before and this was to be the first time on the road from Kuala Lipis to Gua Musang. All the way from Bentong to Kuala Lipis it was a pleasant drive along country road with greens all over. My nephew took the wheel and I just watch the scenery and took photograph of those interesting sight along the way.

We eventually arrived at Gua Musang a town nestles among limestone hills at just after one in the afternoon. The manager of the hotel Othman call on the cellphone and guided us to his hotel The Goa Inn Hotel at one end of the new town. It is a new hotel and I am told later that it is one of the best around. We check in and took a short rest before went searching for a restaurant for lunch. We had lunch at one of the restaurant and found that some of the restaurant would open till the wee hours of the morning, thus kept the town lively in the night. After lunch we went on a spin of the town and saw the old part of the town including that railway station that had been there since 1931.  It was one of the Railway Station built by the British during the colonial era.

While my spouse took a rest at the hotel I went out to wonder along the street where I met strangers who are from the other states; working in this town and at the same time enjoying the little wonder of a town of a difference. Over coffee at the GM Kopitiam we chat on subjects that enriched me with more knowledge of this unique town in short known as GM. I soon found out there are many places where folks could do mountain climbing, camping or just roam the fringe of the tropical forest. It is rich in floral and fauna some of it is only found here. A paradise to those who want to do photography of nature at its best. The limestone hills are unique and had I been younger I would have wonder to the hill and explore the cave or perhaps camp in the wildness. There are of course wild animals but then one could take precaution to coexist with it like I did when I was a youth camping in the wild. I am told there are many Aborigines living on the outskirt of this town and it would a great place for anthropologist to take a closer look at these truly the Son of the soil.

For backpacker I believe this town and its vicinity is a paradise for their kind of holiday. It is now easily reach by almost of all mode of transport and for Backpacker I think the best way to get here is by rail. The town is full of budget hotels and homestay that are suitable for such folks who would need just a basic accommodation. Come morning they would go out to explore nature and only come back to the hotel after an adventurous day out.

To me Gua Musang is still a place full of mystique other then its legend of how it got its name Gua [cave] and Musang [civet cat]. The forest around it is still virgin and the river is still flowing with freshwater from the mountain. In such condition I am sure that are plenty of wild animals wondering the forest which is part of the National Park. Had I am still in my youth I would have come here by train and camp or live in the Budget Hotel for a few days and explore the wonder of nature. As for now in my golden age I have to be just contented at listening and watching the wonder of the happening in this corner of the country.

With new roads been upgraded and now accessible from most parts of the country and is just an hour drive from Cameron Highland; I believe that Gua Musang is a town to watch. It is growing and in no time it would be a major town at this part of the world. Perhaps then there would a landing strip for small craft that could take tourists on a half hour flight from KL. With a 4 stars Hotel these place could be the playground of the rich and famous in the future and smaller town like Merapoh on the Pahang side of the boarder could benefit as well.

Well folks on this trip I got to see Gua Musang or GM as it is locally known here. It is one small town to watch and to me the future is bright indeed. It would not be a surprise if Gua Musang turns out to be a big city if not the biggest city in Kelantan in the not to distance future.

Thanks to Pak Zawi and Othman and the ever-smiling receptionists of the Goa Inn Hotel and the many strangers who chat and shows me directions, our one day adventure in this remote town was a colorful one indeed.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Kelantan Delights...

We are back in KL after a week of traveling to meet friends and relatives on the east coast. There are so much to write and I would just write as I go along. This year I thought that it is time that we made a visit to our blogger and Facebook friends, some of whom I had only known in cyberspace. With that I set in motion of getting ready for that trip which would takes us to Gua Musang in Kelantan, a town in the hinterland of the forest of the Peninsular Malaysia. This would be our first visit to Gua Musang [I would do a special posting on Gua Musang later]. After getting words to my blogger and Facebook friends of my planned visit, I sought the help of Blogger Pak Zawi to book our accommodation in Gua Musang and in Kota Bharu. For Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan, after getting the information on the Internet I did the booking myself.

At 8:30Am on Tuesday May 24 we left KL with me driving the Honda Accord part of the way. My nephew took the wheel for the rest of the journey to Gua Musang where we stayed a night there. The next day we continue to KB after breakfast and arrived at KB at just past one in the afternoon. Pak Zawi and his spouse were already waiting for us at the Habib Hotel and after checking in they took us for a lavish lunch at a restaurant call Cikgu Nasi Ulam.

On entering we found the place was packed like sardine with folks enjoying their lunch. We did not have to wait long since the owner a friend of Pak Zawi soon lead us to a just emptied table inside a separate dining area. I was told later that at time the Sultan or his friend would have lunch here. We sat down as they cleared the table and before I could even thought of what to eat the table was loaded with spread of foods including a big plate of Budu, a specialties of folks on the east coast. Among the many dishes are Ikan Patin which I later found out is the favorite of Pak Zawi and Ikan Keli, a favorite of mine. Without much-ado we set to enjoy the food with me concentrating on the Ikan Keli [Catfish] and of course the Budu. Later the owner of the restaurant Cikgu came and sat at our table and joins to chat. He was such a joyous guy with his kind of local joke, thus add colors to the dining atmosphere.

The food was so good that for a moment I forgot what was happening around the table and kept digging on the two crisp fried Ikan Keli. Then I realized the others had all finished eating and I am the only one still enjoying the last bit of the crisp fried fish. It was such a delicious spread of foods that I can honestly say that it was one of the best lunch I had ever had of a typical local Malay dishes, simple yet tasty. Indeed a lunch to remember and if ever I am here again I am sure to head to this restaurant to enjoy the food again. I am selective about eating at restaurant and this one is so good that I would recommend to anyone to try and believe me you would love it till the last piece of rice on your plate. With that we went back to our hotel and had a good rest for the day.

The next day we decided to play tourists and did our share of shopping at the famous market in the middle of KB. [I would do a special posting of the Market] The visit to the Craft Center and a museum was educational. At one of the craft shop I had the opportunity to see the artisan working patiently on each creation of fine silver craft. Mesmerizing indeed; seeing a work of art created in front of my eyes. I met a lone painter taking his time to paint and had a good chat with him. As it was lunch time and we had a lunch date with an old friend, we headed back to our hotel for a rest before attending to the lunch. Then while waiting for our friend to arrived for the lunch date we did more shopping at the nearby shops.

A cellphone call took us to the Hover Restaurant nearby where we met my old office-mate MatBra and his spouse. This time the whole table was laid with every dish available including its specialty the fried Ayam Kampong. As usual with me I concentrate on one or two dishes which include that Special fried chicken. We chat as we enjoy that lunch. It was great to get to meet MatBra and his spouse Tham again after such a longtime. Since we had another invitation from Pak Zawi for dinner at his place in Pasir Mas we decided to just end the day after the lunch and had a short break before leaving for Pasir Mas.

Just around six in the evening guided by the GPS we drove to Pak Zawi place in Pasir Mas. While in the car I got an SMS message from Pakmat another blogger who live in Bacok inviting us for a dinner too. I replied to thanks him and told him that I am on the way to Pak Zawi's house for dinner and would have to take a rain check. After getting lost twice we decided to get the help from a group of police personnel who happens to be on one side of the road. On asking they willingly help to guide us to the right location of Pak Zawi place. I then call Pak Zawi on the cellphone and he told me that he would wait at the junction to his house and lead us there. To digress a little; if bungalow is an indicator of prosperity then folks all long the roads from the city center to Pasir Mas are a prosperous lots. True to its name Pasir Mas [Golden Sand] these folks are indeed enjoying their life in a dazzling way. With that we managed to arrive in time to his bungalow home and had a great dinner and chat on many subjects that pop up from time to time. It was indeed nice to sit and talks on things of mutual interest after a hearty dinner. Since it was late we left for our hotel in Kota Bharu and end the day dead tired.

The next day we check out after breakfast. Since it was a Friday and in Kelantan it is a public holiday we were not able to do anymore shopping. We then head for Kuala Terengganu our next destination using the coastal road.

Our trip to Kelantan this time was such a fun filled holiday, meeting Blogger and Facebook friends, having dinner and lunch and shopping that we were lost for time. Thanks to Pak Zawi and his spouse as well my friend MatBra and his spouse and the many strangers that we met on the streets for making our trip so colorful. Asmah and I did enjoy all those moments. How we wished we had more time but as usual time move fast-forward when one are having fun.

Thanks folks for giving us Kelantan in color during our short holiday there. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality. Have a nice day.