Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Am In Labuan Again

It was in August 2008 that we bought our AirAsia ticket to Labuan. We had known by then that my daughter Azini who was undergoing her practical training in Labuan will be sending back my grand daughter Balkis to be looked after by us in Pasir Mas. This was because she will have to attend the final 2 months of her teacher training course popularly known by the acronym KPLI which stands for Kursus Lepasan Ijazah (Graduate Training Course) to qualify her as a teacher.

We flew into Labuan by the last flight which was scheduled at 6.00 PM but managed to take off only at 7.00 due to aircraft congestion at KLIA Airport Sepang. The reason was explained to us by Captain Haron after we had safely taken off and attained cruising height. I wonder how the congestion could still happen when we have two runways dedicated for take off and landing. It was understandable when the second runway was under construction.
Balkis with the grandma before boarding the flight to Labuan

Balkis behaved well most of the journey. Since it wasn't exactly a full load, we managed to secure a row of 3 seats for ourselves and thus Balkis had ample room to move about. She managed to work her charm into the small boy in the from seat and another middle aged couple behind us. They kept her occupied and she returned their nice gestures with her most charming smiles. Upon landing at Labuan airport the middle aged couple came to us to playfully pinch Balkis rosy cheeks. Balkis' father was waiting for us at the exit and we passed Balkis to his waiting eager arms. We rode back to his home at Taman Mutiara Labuan.

The next morning I called Hafizi a lecturer from University Malaysia Sabah (Labuan Campus) who was recently transported to Labuan. Hafizi had asked my assistance to help find him a place to rent after reading my post on Labuan. I had asked Hafizi to call my son in law Lokman for help. With Lokman's help he managed to find a place in the same housing estate where Lokman lives. He promised to come over to Lokman's place after had done some purchases of food.
We met Hafizi, his wife Nor and son at the Labuan Pasar Tani.

After breakfast we went to Pasar Tani Labuan to have a look around and I was surprised when somebody called out 'Pak Zawi'. I was then busy taking photograph of anything interesting at the Pasar Tani. At that instance I was taking some shots of a few persons doing 'bekam' (blood letting using vacuum induced suction bottles).
The lady wearing spectacles and her daughter will be taking care of Balkis when my daughter starts working. We bumped into them at the Pasar Tani.

A vacuum is created by sucking out the air from the cups. Blood will slowly oooze out through punctures done by using needles. This guy must be having neck ache and thus had it done on the neck.
This guy is using it on his back, presumably to cure hisw bachache.
He introduced himself as Hafizi. He too came to the same Pasar Tani with his wife Nor and 4 years old son. We struck up a small conversation and found out that Nor is also from Kelantan, with her mother from Pasir Mas and dad from Tanah Merah. Hey when a Kelantanese meet another in faraway land, we are immediately feel related.
At another corner of Labuan Pasar Tani I saw a crowd gathered. I was curious and went over to investigate and satisfy my curiousity.
A man in traditional garbs was selling medicine. His sales pitch was attracting the crowd. I wonder what medicine he was peddling aqs I couldn't understand the local dialect much.
We parted ways and moved on to Ujana Kewangan the financial complex on the other end of town where the other half wanted to indulge in some shopping. There she bought two pieces of silk cloth and 2 handbags! That is what I call indulgence. At another shop we saw some beautiful crystal pieces coated with 24 carat gold at the edges. Such beauties! Fortunately it was only something for her to feast her eyes on.
15 months old Balkis making her own choice of cloth at Ujana Kewangan, while her dad looked on.
The other half went into the shop and since the prices of the items she enquired were quoted at above RM500.00, she decided not to buy any just yet. Knowing her, if she wants something, she will get it.
The other half couldn't decide which handbag she likes better. She ended up buying both.
They were celebrating World AID Day at Ujana Kewangan. I waited long enough to see some aerobic dance excercises being displayed.
These dancers were demonstrating and aerobic excercise to inculcate healthy living via exercising while having fun.

At another corner I saw this pretty girl dancing to the same tune. When my camera flash exploded, she scuttled away to her mum. After that she posed again for me.
It was almost noon, so we decided to go to the wet market and buy some fishes. We bought some fish and crabs. The crab will sure induce my gout but since I came prepared with the medication including some pain killers, who cares. I will suffer if I have to suffer because I love seafood especially fresh crabs.
I saw ikan buntal (puffer fish) being sold at the Labuan wet market. It is being sold at RM8.00 for each of the big ones. I know some species of ikan buntal is very poisonous but they said this one isn't. Would you like to try it?
Another stall was selling ikan todak (sword fish). I guess it is better than the ikan buntal. Remember the story of how silly people of old Tumasik being attacked by sword fish in the story Singapura Di Langgar Todak? I call them silly because they could have easily stayed away from the beach and later harvest the fish for food instead of getting themselves injured. Later a smart Hang Nadim advised them to use banana stems to shield themselves. Later he was ordered to be killed by the Sultan who was ruling Tumasik then for being smart. It doesn't pay to be smart then. Now you must be smart to survive.

That evening we left Balkis at her minders and headed again for Labuan Town. My wife was not done with her shopping yet and she saw some shops selling more silk materials and she needed to buy some souvenir shirts with the Labuan emblazoned on it for the grandchildren in KL. She added another 2 pieces of silk clothing material to her collection too. Since she is charging everything to her credit card, why stop her from this one sin in her life? After all she will be paying for them.

Balkis was acting up tonight. We were at our wits end trying to get her to sleep. She was crying for no apparent reason. We took turn between the grandma, myself and her dad trying to get her to sleep but she kept on crying. We need to sleep ourselves as we had to wake up early for the 7.00 AM ferry ride tomorrow. Somehow I managed to lullaby her to sleep at 1.00 AM.

I will be leaving for Sabah at 7.00 AM today.
Since this will be my last post before Idul Adha, I would like to wish all of my Moslem readers Selamat Hari Raya Idul Adha.


mamasita said...

Selamat Hari Raya Haji to you and your love ones!Hope you'll have a marvellous day all the way!Great snapshots!

uncleawang said...

Salam Eid-Ul-Adha buat Saudara.
Nampak nya..ada cerita lah pasal adventure nanti...OK lah kami tunguuu!!!.

Patricia said...

Selamat Hari Raya Haji to you and your family, Zawi.

Thank you for the lovely pictures of the Labuan market. My sister and her family moved to Labuan at the end of last year. It was nice seeing some of the things that must be now familiar to them.

Ouch, the blood-letting - doesn't it look very painful??? I wonder if it works!


mekyam said...

pak zawi, selamat menyambut hari raya haji in labuan to you and your whole family!

noticed those pictures on "keluarkan/tarik angin". i think indonesians usually precede this with "kerok".

p.s. pat, it's not bloodletting and not painful at all. quite a nice sensation actually and the relief is real. there are a few spas introducing it here where i am.

Patricia said...

Hiya Zawi, minta izin to talk to Mekyam, ye :)

Mekyam: that's not bloodletting? Oh, no blood flows out lah?! And it does NOT hurt? Wow. It looks painful to me lah. Hahahaha. And you say it works... cos you've tried it?


Patricia said...

Hiya Zawi, minta izin to talk to Mekyam, ye :)

Mekyam: that's not bloodletting? Oh, no blood flows out lah?! And it does NOT hurt? Wow. It looks painful to me lah. Hahahaha. And you say it works... cos you've tried it?


mamadou said...


Every post seems very interesting. Many things that I hve not seen I see in your blog.
Bon Tabaski

mekyam said...

by your leave, pak zawi...


yes, i've had kerok* followed by the keluarkan angin thang (with the use of cups and candles) done to me in indonesia as well as in the nyc.

no blood, no pain, but the marks left looked like you're been belasah well and good.

the pores open really wide after the cups were popped off your skin. good for averting the onset of colds etc as well relief from muscle aches and general fatigue.

most malaysians have indonesian househelpers. bet you almost all of them know how to kerok and keluarkan angin.

*kerok is the practice of scraping lightly with a thin spatula-like thing (usually made from ivory or wood, even metal - most indonesians who self-kerok at home use a coin). you can google abt this ancient practice. the chinese, japanese and koreans also kerok apparently, though i don't know it's called in their languages. wikipedia probably has an entry about it or you can google about it.

Patricia said...

Hi Zawi,

Thanks to your post, I get to talk to Mekyam and find out about something new - that's apparently not 'new', but very old! Hahahah!

Thanks Mekyam - I'll Google it and find out about it :)


Zawi said...

Selamat Hari Raya to you and Datuk. Been on the move and unable to respond to all comments till now. More pictures coming!

Zawi said...

I was in Kundasang on the day of Idulidha and prayed at the mosque there. Have loads of experience during the trip from Labuan - Menumbuk - Keningau - Ranau - Kundasang.

Zawi said...

I was in Kundasang on the day of Idulidha and prayed at the mosque there. Have loads of experience during the trip from Labuan - Menumbuk - Keningau - Ranau - Kundasang.

Zawi said...

Thanks for the Raya greetings. Time to pay your sister in Labuan a visit then. There is quite abit to see here.
The blood letting isn't really painful from the sight of those who did it. None of them cried of ppain anyway hehehehe.

Zawi said...

We celebrated Hari Raya Haji in Kundasang Sabah.
It is blood letting in this case as they used pin to prick the blood vessels as to avoid the scars if blades were used. If you enlarge the pictures you can see blood oozing out from the skin via the pricked holes.
There won't be any blood oozing out if the vessels are not pricked as is done for tarik angin.

Zawi said...

If you have learnt anything by reading my blogs, then it is worth all the effort. I am so happy.

Zawi said...

You are most welcome.

louis said...

It was quite common to see the round red welts left by that traditional medicine practice among the Cambodian and other SE Asia refugees in Southern California.

I think the practice was also common in the Caribbean at least in the '40's.

Pi Bani said...

I have done bekam before (a few times actually). Wasn't painful at all.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

puffer fish, also known as fugu is indeed poisonous pak Z. not sure if the ones you saw are of different specie and can be consumed just like that. the notorious fugu that the japanese digs, are known to be lethal if it is not properly prepared. i dont mind trying it out but only if it is cooked by an expert from japan.

Zawi said...

This kind of practise is an old practice everywhere. First saw it done on my late grandma. At that time they used the cupped end of the buffalow's horned and a vacuum was created by burning pieces of paper in it before applying the open end on the open incised wound done with a sharp blade. Later small glass bottles were used and the same method of creating a vaccum was done. Currently specialized tools are used where pumps are used to suck the air out to create the total vacuum and thus a more powerful suction.

Zawi said...

Did the bekam before? The moost effective place on the body seems to be the nape of the head. You can hide the scar under the hairs too. Is there any specific English word for 'Bekam'?

Zawi said...

That is why I asked the fishmonger if the puffer fish was poisonous. She said the specie she sold wasn't poisonous as the poisonous kind is the one with thorny skin. I think she knows her job otherwise her customers would die everyday and she will have no more customer left.

mrs.lim said...

Good afternoon, Pak Zawi..

Selamat Hari Raya Haji to you and all of your family members.

We are bringing the children to KL for a week, busy planning out what to bring. Though they are all secondary students now, being a typical mother, i have to prepare the list of items to bring.. ;D

It won't be long before they don't need my assisstance any more.. so i might as well enjoy the fun of organising the trip while i still can... :)

Beside clothings, medicines (just in case), I added in foldeble umbrella and torch lights.. my children asked me whateverfor, I told them, just a forethought.. :)

Have a nice holiday, Pak Zawi. :)

p/s: I am glad you didn't discourage your better half from buying both bags. LOL..


Gurindam Jiwa said...

Pok Zawi, hope you enjoy your Eidul Adha in Labuan.

I'm enjoying mine here, even without the regular traditional preparation.

And the Takbir for Eidul Adha will have more significance for me from now own.

Zawi said...

Mrs. Lim,
Thank you for the Raya greetings.
I hope you are enjoying your holidays in KL too.
I have no reason to discourage her since she is enjoying spending her own money. When we reached KL, she bought another handbag which was a Sach that took her fancy. So she will now be bringing home 3 bags.

Zawi said...

Doing the Idul Adha prayers in Kundasang Sabah was something to remember too.
I am glad you found a new meaning and significance in the Takbir for this year.

mdhafizi said...

Dear Pak Zawi,

Thank you for everything. You are a very kind person. Thanks also to Lokman, and the rest of your family. Keep on blogging on LAISI. Enjoy reading it.

To all readers and those wishing to visit Labuan whether for short visits or stay, welcome, I suggest you to read Pak Zawi's blog for first hand info...or contact me...( is my 15th day in Labuan...if I work until 'pencen' that would be another 20 years to come!!!)


Hafizi, Noor & Ili Ilham
Labuan, Malaysia

p.s. My wife is admiring your dedicated work on blogging about life & experiences. She intend to have one once we have the internet connection.

Zawi said...

It was fated that our path crossed and I am most most thankful to Allah for the friendship offered. I am happy to know that you enjoyed reading LAISI. More of my visit to Sabah will be posted later today or by latest tonight.
There is no harm in making Labuan your home. The Kelantanese community there is large enough to make you feel at home. Lokman and family are just a few blocks away.
Opportunites abound there and I am most supportive of your Noor's plan to start the food business. It will definitely be a success.
Tell her to start blogging soon and establish a readeship. The blog can also promote her soon to be embarked business.
Enjoy your stay inLabuan.

Edd Bohari said...

Salams Pak Zawi,

Thank you for your blog on Labuan which beats any other Labuan guide out there. I have been researching on the island as I will be reporting for duty there in January, Insya Allah. I hate to burden you or your son in-law any further, thus I would like to take up Sdr Hafizi's offer for help. Could you please somehow get me in touch with him? Thank you.


Zawi said...

Edd Bokhari,
I will be emailing Hafizi's number as well as Lokman's number for you to get in touch. It is like a big family in Labuan so get along with all of them and help each other when in need.

Anonymous said...

are u sure taking off from subang airport??

Zawi said...

Thank you for pointing it out. I have made the correction.

mdhafizi said...


sdr Ed bohari. you can contact me at 013-3977719, or email me at

welcome to labuan


Zawi said...

Lokman told me that there is a vacant unit at block M ground floor. I think that unit should be taken by Edd Bohari immediately as it is not that easy to get a ground floor unit. Bokhari please call Lokman immediately to get the owner'c contact number. You must act fast.

pendita said...

pok wi.. bilo nok minum2.. ambo duk klate nih...huhu..

Zawi said...

Esok boleh? Anytime, any place. Just SMS me.

pendita said...

mano no tpon pok wi..
Segan la plop nok jupo ore banyok ilmu nih..hihihi..

Zawi said...

0199125647. Kalu senang hari Ahad sarapan pagi di Wakaf Baru buleh? Sambil ke rumag Ab. Rahman Alabaladi. Banyak ilmu? Sama nagn orang lain je.