Saturday, October 31, 2009

A fine morning at Starbucks ~ of monkeys and coffees

The other day, my sparring partner and I had coffee.
We usually ordered both lattes but that day, he decided to get an espresso.
The coffees looked so cute next to each other, that I just had to do something!

He'd just only ranted about the absurdity of the establishment's labelling system and so knowing how it would get him worked up again, I posed this question to him.

If my coffee is a tall... what do you think yours is?

He mulled over it only a second and went, If THAT is a tall then THIS is king-kong.

Sigh. He cracks me up (all the time). :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kunak ~ see food seafood!

I took this video while holidaying off Tabawan Island off Darvel Bay on the east coast of Sabah, Christmas 2008. And posted it to my youtube.

Guess what.

Someone expressed disgust at learning that these sea creatures were destined for the dinner table. I guess that is their prerogative. It would be better though, I think, if one stopped being an outsider looking in and tried and stepped into another's shoe and looked at things from that person's world. :)

I was waiting for my boat ride to come take me to an island. I had been observing this family of five maybe, three young kids in tow, in the water, poking about, wading and just looked like they were collecting shells out of the water. When they came out of the water, I was quite curious to see what it was they had collected, it turned out to be sea snails, a common (delicious) food in Sabah. :) I asked if I could take a video and they were kind enough to let me :)

Speaking Sabahan Malay :
lady : inda mau guyang suda tu (it doesn't want to move anymore)
me : tadi dia mau guyang (it moved just a sec ago)
inaudible chatter, giggling and more giggling
me : sya tangkap gambar dia mau guyang-guyang k? (let me film them moving about k?)
observing in silence
me : wah, pandai dia mau guyang kan, tapi ini inda mau kan? (wow, that one is moving, but this one wont huh?)
lady : nda (no)
man : nda pandai dia (nope it wont)
inaudible chatter, chills, more giggling
me : cuba kau pigang anu tu, kalau kau pigang dia punya anu tu, kasi kaluar ka dia punya anu tu? (that's me being imprecise..haha.. try touching that thing, if you touch it, will it stick its thingamijig out? my friends hate when i use the word 'anu'... it's a word that refers to anything.. in this case i meant its foot/ muscle/ tail/ whatever)
a bit of poking
lady : kacau-kacau sikit (poke them, move them)
more poking
me : kalau kau (inaudible.. even i cant understand what i said!! haha) dia jalan ka tu ah? (if i did (this?) will it move?)
me : tida mau suda, kalau kacau dia diam (it wont respond anymore, it is shutting down)
lady : diam suda dia (it wont move anymore)
me : ba ok la (ok then)
me : na ni na ni (oh look at this)
man : kalau kau di pulau isuk, tangahari kau puas-puas (inaudible) gambar ni (if you went to the island in the afternoon, you'd have a grand time taking pictures)
me : tida mau suda dia, ok la, thank you ah (it wont move anymore, ok then, thank you)
lady : welcome
inaudible chatter

And this is how it looks like ready to eat. Best grilled and eaten plain. And no mayonnaise! Yukk.

Monday, October 26, 2009

road trip : Taman Negara~ Lake Kenyir leg

We decided to take a chance and take a road that was marked 'under-construction' on the road map that we were using ~ the second east coast highway.

This road cuts across the peninsular from Kuala Berang straight towards Lake Kenyir - one no longer need go north all the way to Kota Bahru and then head back south towards Kuala Terengganu.  Pretty cool huh.

It turned out to be a wonderful surprise and we saw some amazing views!

To get there, take the road from Gua Musang heading towards Kota Bahru and take the right turn where there's a sign that says Taman Negara via Kuala Berang. The road is okay for most parts but there are some stretches that have not been laid. Luckily, it doesnt last more than 2 km in total. After some time, we came to a three-way junction. Earlier, down the road, there is a guard house, from whom we had gotten some directions. He advised us about this junction.. good thing we stopped to get directions. Don't want to end up taking the wrong turn and end up in Kota Bahru after all!! Hah. Anyway, take the extreme right fork and that will take you to Lake Kenyir, and the road from that point on is close to perfect! Hope it stays that way a long time.. :) hope it's not just wishful thinking :)

Check out the pictures...
The western part of Lake Kenyir... the environment is pristine...

The new second East Coast Highway ... it is like this most of the way ... traffic-free!! :)

I had rolled the windows down and was at once enchanted with the tropical sounds. I said stop, stop here. Let's listen to the sounds of the forest for a bit. And as we did, we heard them. Sounds of huge birds. We weren't sure what type of birds. I thought they might be hornbills... but I thought they couldn't be... hornbills only exist on Borneo!! Hah, good thing I dont know my ecosystems very well! It turned out that they were hornbill sounds!! Woot! We saw movement among the trees and then saw them!!!  It was such a special unexpected treat to hear the cry of these birds and then to actually see one fly from one tree to another!
The car park at Lake Kenyir... I just love the trees :) the way they seem to crowd overhead and form a canopy against the sky... like they are trying to share a secret with me:)
One of the many rivers we saw along the way, this picture doesnt quite do it justice...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

a beautiful waterfall in Sumatra - people

Our trek up Lubuk Hitam, and generally our stay in Bungus Beach was all the more memorable through people, locals and fellow travellers, that we met there. :)

Hady and Taufik whom we met on our way up to Lubuk Hitam waterfalls - a three tiered waterfall just a few kilometers from Bungus Beach. The bay in the background opens to the Indian Ocean. A fantastic view on the way to the waterfalls.

Yanti, an ultra-cheerful, ultra friendly local girl, who offered us a ride back to our losmen. I had lost my sandals on the trek up the waterfalls, and was walking on the road in socks! This picture was taken by David, a French sailor/traveller, waiting for his boat from Thailand to pick him up en route to Madagascar!

David took this picture of us. C'est cool! The structure behind us is a restaurant that Raoul is building. He has big dreams for his little losmen!

One of the many many bathing pools along the river leading up to the waterfall..

.... teeming with nibbling fish!

a beautiful waterfall in Sumatra - Lubuk Hitam

Literally means Black Hole. Scary name eh. Maybe the locals just have a black sense of humor :) or it could reflect a darker past, in which case I prefer not to know...

We were in this part of Sumatra over the labour day weekend (30 April - 3 May 2009). It's a lovely place that I would like to come back to... after I'm done visiting a lot other places (on my places to visit before I die list) in South East Asia.

I'm putting this up because of the recent earthquake in Padang. :(

During our short stay there, we made friends with a few locals and a fellow traveller. When I heard about the earthquake, I sent text to Raoul, the guy who ran the losmen (Losmen Tintin) where we stayed. No reply. The next day I sent a message on his facebook. Still no reply. I was sorry that I might have lost a friend. Then 3 days later he sent me a message on facebook saying he and his family were ok!! Relief! :)

The trip :
I didn't want to do the tourist routine - going to Bukit Tinggi - as on the flight to Padang, I heard the others talking about going there. But even before I knew just exactly how many planned to go to Bukit Tinggi, I'd already decided I wanted to do something different. Something the locals would probably do - go to the waterfalls on a Saturday morning :)
I had checked online, and I checked again with Raoul. He confirmed that there was a waterfall nearby, but that we'd have to do it on our own. No matter. :) more fun that way :)
He did get a friend to give us a ride to the waterfall tho. And what a ride! Three on a motorbike, helmetless, zipping on a narrow meandering road through a picturesque village. Definitely no regrets there! :) I think it cost us Rupiah3000, but one can negotiate down :)

The early part of the trail was easy enough to get through.

Parts of the trail ran alongside the river. There were quite a number of locals bathing in the river. In their underwear or nothing at all. I was too polite to take pictures :)

It rained earlier in the morning, at dawn, so as we got closer to the waterfall, the climbing became a bit harder not because of anything else but the wet boulders. Some of them were huge and mossy and so slippery! Good thing we met some local boys who were on their way up - for their morning bath! - and they offered to help us :) pretty good huh? :)

The place where we stopped gave us a lovely view of the waterfall. The boys stripped down to their underwear. I think if we hadn't been around they'd probably have gone au naturel :)

The sound of the waterfall was lovely. I can still hear it in my head if I concentrate just so :)

a beautiful beach on Sumatra - Bungus and losmen tin tin

Bungus Beach on the west coast of Sumatra is a lovely place to spend a quiet quiet weekend. We were there labour day weekend (May 2009).

We stayed at Losmen Tin tin, a lesser known losmen about 500m down the road from the more popular Losmen Carlos. It turned out to be a good choice for us :)

The owner is a very friendly local, whose real name is Azrul, but he says it's easier to call him Raoul.

How about breakfast by the beach?

He made banana pancakes for breakfast for us :) So much much nicer than toast and coffee! I thought the pancake was really nice, but then again when you're on holiday, breakfast with a view of the sea, everything looks better, tastes better, sounds better... :)

In the evening, he got us to sing along with him on guitar, David on harmonica, Jalidah on (home-made) maracas and me with my point and click camera! He has quite a repertoire of music songs! Does requests too :) from the likes of Siti Nurhaliza to Pearl Jam!! Impressive!
Earlier in the evening, I had taken a walk down the beach and how! I wish there were beaches like this back home...
I had booked a room in advance via email to Raoul. I was surprised at how fast he replied my queries! When we got there, he showed us two rooms. One was bigger but we picked the one facing the bay (no brainer there right?)
Precious Raoul bought that yellow towel just before we arrived! It still had the supermarket price tag on it!
I had my eye on that blue sampan (kayak) and next day, Raoul said we could go for a quick paddle if we liked. We plead with David and reluctant he was at first, he finally relented!! Poor him. Jalidah and I were quite useless with the paddles and the poor thing had to struggle so hard paddling against the strong current so that we didn't get carried out to the open sea! It was bloody hot too!! What with the 3 0'clock sun beating down on our backs!!
I thought even the dead leaves look pretty on this charming beach fronting the Indian Ocean! Sigh. I would definitely go back again :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

road trip : Kelantan ~ Lake Temenggor leg

We had already had a lovely surprise taking the supposedly under contruction highway that cut east from Gua Musang across to Lake Kenyir and on to Kuala Terengganu had we wanted to go that way to return to Kuala Lumpur.

But having had this nice experience with the new highway, we felt it would be a perfect way to complete the road trip by taking the road that ran over Lake Temenggor. It was a drive well worth taken :) The road was in good condition and there was not much development all along the area, which meant we had a great view throughout the drive.

We kind of went a bit faster than usual, not stopping to take photographs because we did not want to miss the sunset view at this lake. We managed to get there in time for the sunset sky. And it was so worth going that fast!! The lake is much prettier than I imagined.

And so although we had earlier thought we would head on to Gerik to spend the night, we decided that it would be nicer to stay by the lake if we could.

This bridge takes us across Lake Temenggor to Banding Island in the middle of the lake. There is a nice resort called the Belum Rainforest Resort on this island. You can't possibly miss it... just follow the sign boards!

Anyway, the resort is very nice, a fancy schmancy place in the middle of all that wilderness and it has a nice manicured garden, almost like an anomaly :)

But regardless the unnatural beauty of the garden in the middle of the wilderness of Belum, the place still, for me, had a magical quality.. just as any place located next to a body of water would for me :) There's something about water that mesmerizes :)

Anyway we didn't quite fancy the room that was available and it was a bit pricey. The guy at the reception said there was no other accomodation available nearby.

That was probably the only disappointing thing about the trip so far. So we thought we'd explore a little, go look at the jetty, eat something, and drink tea and then head on to Gerik to settle for the night. We said we could always drive back here in the morning to explore the place.

There was a little cafeteria at the jetty. Just by pure chance, I asked the lady if she could tell us of any place to stay in the area.

And to my surprise she said yes!! She pointed to a collection of wooden huts on the opposite bank of the bank across from the jetty!!

It just goes to show that you should never hesitate to ask. You never know what nice little surprises you might discover! :)

Anyway, however after more inquiry from one of the boatmen at the jetty, he advised us not to sleep at that place. Very dirty was his comment. Instead he said we could check to see if we could get permission to sleep at one of the empty apartments in the fisheries department on the mainland. How exciting! I seriously think this trip is charmed! :) Everything just seems to fall into place :)

To make a long story short, we ended up spending a very comfortable night in a two-bedroom apartment! :) We did some more exploring next morning. Didn't see anything too exciting, though we almost came across a wild boar.. or so we thought. We tried to wait the creature out for a bit, but I guess it was scareder of us than we of it!

We went to check out the place that we were originally supposed to go to, and were glad we didn't stay there! It is neglected beyond description.

Sadly, it could have been an amazing place to stay, if only the landlady had maintained the place. After all it was partly floating on the water. And that was magical already.

In the end, we only had tea, and even that was a bit awful. My travelling buddy poured his tea into the lake! I hope he did not kill any fish that morning!

A limestone formation we saw en route to Gua Musang. Pretty!

road trip: kl-gua musang-lake kenyir-lake temenggor-kl : up to gua musang

So this is Gua Musang - there are two parts of this town - the old town and the new town; the old town being way more interesting than the blandness that is the new town.

Three things made me excited about coming here; its numerous limestone outcrops, its train station and its description as a frontier town.

We got to the old town early evening. It is so quaint! We used Rough Guides ( and it has descriptions that quite fit our needs :) Saw the train station first!! That was a treat!!

When we first arrived in Gua Musang, we wanted to see the fabled old train station - part of the fabled Jungle Railway that runs through the jungles of the peninsular from Singapore to Thailand. We might be taking that train ride in future. Hear it's got 'atmosphere'. I have not travelled third class nor with livestock, so it will be an interesting ride. We shall see :)

A little story-telling :
Looking for a suitable place to stay turned out to be an adventure by itself!

I got locked inside a room that I was looking at, and as I banged on the door to be let out; (I was on the third floor and everyone was on the first floor) already I imagined this was part of the (dodgy-looking) hotel's secret involvement in the human trafficking trade and I was on my way to be transported to some god-forsaken shanty town in the south of Thailand!! Yikes.

Should I be thankful for having been bestowed such fly-away imagination? (Yes. Thank you. Muah!)

Anyway, drama aside, after securing a safe-looking place to stay (the receptionist at the second hotel was a 10 year old boy - safe by my book..haha) we decided to eat before it got too dark to look around town.

We had earlier read about and wanted to eat at a place called 'Kedai Makan Mana Lagi'!! Such a cool name for a restaurant. (where else to eat restaurant or what other restaurant is there? whichever you prefer).

Until we actually ate there :( ...the portions were tiny :( ...
Hey just because we're thin people doesnt mean we don't eat eh.
Fortunately food is not our main criteria when travelling :) we can live on cookies :) still cool :)

Some stopovers before we reached Gua Musang;

I'm not sure what this place is called but already we saw limestone outcrops! So many and so beautiful!
Word to the wise : This is not a limestone outcrop.
I just like the reflection of the hill in the pond :) The limestone outcrop is just on the left of this picture. I should have put up a picture (which I have by the way) of it here but trust me. It is an amazing view. Go see for yourself. :)

There is only one thing that surprised me about Gua Musang. A place like that? With limestone outcrops all over the place? I would have thought rock climbing would be a local passion.

This place should be a place that produces world-class rock climbers. Then when I tell people (and friends) that I was just back from Gua Musang, they won't go... 'Gua Musang??? What's there???!'

Imagine that.... Gua Musang... the home of world-class rock climbers.... that would be nice :)

Why am I not surprised???
I had just read sometime not too long ago, that Malaysians consume an average of 25 teaspoons of sugar daily!! This was my tea and I had specifically asked for less sugar.

More sugar... but this is the natural kind... so should be OK. Right??

The first limestone outcrop that we came across en route to Gua Musang. What an incredible structure. Unfortunately I forget its name. We saw a sign on the road and made what turned out to be a rewarding stop :) I love these road trips and the little surprises that we are lucky enough to stumble upon :)

Cherating again. What makes a place special?

The five senses are a powerful thing.

We were in Cherating again last month. Not that I'm crazy about Cherating. So why Cherating again? Memories maybe? From something you saw? felt? heard? smelt? tasted? :) And then it stays with you. Hopefully forever :)

The day before, I had looked up at the evening sky. It was changing colours and I wanted to capture the colours in my mind and archive them there. I laid on the sand, and looked and looked and looked. And I thought of M&M's and lipsticks and rainbows. We ended up with wet clothes and hair! I didn't really care :) Sigh. The joy of abandonment...

The morning was bright as a day usually is when I'm out by the beach (maybe it's all in my head :) ) and we laid for a bit, got bored of lying down, and decided to walk down the beach. And found a river mouth! Seems like the beaches here have a tendency to do that! No miles and miles of sand, but always meeting a river mouth somewhere 200-300m further up or down!

Interesting stuff we saw along the beach.

A piece of wood that didn't want to be ordinary...

A flower that probably birthed a future gigantonomous tree destined to delight visually...

A jellyfish that decided to take a short break on our beaches en route to a more exotic beach beyond alpha centauri!!

We stayed at this cute little place, an arrangement of wooden houses. Ranting Inn. It must have been there for awhile. The bougainvilleas are huge trees! Well maybe I exagerate a little. Haha. But the ones growing here are no petite bushes.
There's a pond a little way back inside the compound, and it looks georgeous but probably not a good idea to stay in the houses in the immediate vicinity!! Mosquitoes you know...

something about cherating

OK, so I lied. It's not Cherating.
It's an even lovelier beach some 20 mins away from Cherating.
It feels almost sacriligeous to say its name for fear of invasion by the masses.
(Because then it will lose its charm! The thing that made us visit this beach 3 times in as many months!)

I cried the first time I discovered this beach. Its quiet beauty was nothing I had expected. I thought ho hum, regular beach ahead... then we made the turn into the beach and lo and behold... what a view!

Imagine this :
A little meandering road through a cute little uncrowded kampung.
Houses, some dilapidated, some colourful, scattered about in no recognisable order (which is charming in itself :) ).

Already you get glimpses of a beach that promises to look a little different from what you're used to...
A turn around a biggish open sided building, most likely a bustling fish market in the early mornings, and you see a sight that takes your breath away. You want to hold on to that moment a little longer. Because it's so so pretty!!

A walk further down this beach.. ok ok.. it's Kijal... is a river mouth. Not too sure which river; I've never looked it up. OK I will now.. I think it's Sungai Penunjok.

Depending on the time of day, whether it's high or low tide, the view is different. The first time we were there, it was high tide and high noon! Hot! But deliciously so :) there were boys swimming in the river in the shade among the boulders. I had pictures of those, but will put them up another time.

The second time we were there, it was low tide. And the treasures the beach offered up on show was something else entirely different but equally precious :)

We walked among water buffaloes :), mud skippers, little crabs with huge orange clippers, and dozens and dozens of hermit crabs :)

Dont know who was more scared.. the water buffaloes of us... or us of them!!! haha

This is Cherating :) where we stayed. Unfortunately (or fortunately :) ) there was no sleeping place in Kijal :)

I have this collection of cemented shells sitting on my bathroom sink now. I look at them every morning and think what a lovely visit that was. And the thought of going there again makes me smile :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

bah... time to get started again eh?

wow... can't believe so much time has passed since i last posted anything on here!!

have done some travelling around the country, so that will be up in a bit.

have been writing a lot more too, since Awan Dania, have written a few more episodes... a drama Kecuali Cinta Mu, now it's in reruns. Had a pleasant surprise last week. A complete stranger wrote me and had only nice things to say about the drama!! :) yay!

busy working on (editing) episodes of a new soap. Hope that takes off :) Senja Permai.. due to air Dec 14 2009!