Friday, July 17, 2009

The Lady From Kafe Dakoh

Too many things happened during the past 2 weeks and I was hard pressed for time to do my next post. I am having a dilemma as to what to post next. If I were to post the last and final segment of the European Tour, it maybe sometimes before I can post the next items which will end up with being overtaken by events and left not posted. Delaying the last segment to a later date maybe better as some of you might be bored with them by now.
In a nutshell these were some of the major happenings since my last post.
- Met Maria of Kafe Dakoh
- Attended the opening ceremony of Program Penempatan Pekerjaan Peringkat Negeri Kelantan Tahun 2009 by Y.B. Dato' Maznah Mazlan, Deputy Minister of Human Resources Ministry.
- Went to Shah Alam to see my latest bundle of joy, my eighth grandchild Adam Hakimi.
All of the above three deserve to be mentioned as part of happenings that deserve to be recorded in the history of my life.
Now I am back home in Pasir Mas so I must start with posting a new post should I want to get one done. I have decided to start with my meeting with blogger Maria of Kafe Dakoh.
It was her Europe Here I Come - Part 8 that first establish us as a new blogger friend. Knowing that she resides just across the border in the often turbulent district of Narathiwat in Thailand adds to my curiousity of what a 25 year old American doing down there. Visiting her blog Kafe Dakoh added a new puzzle as to why she is so addicted to the bygone era of Hang Tuah. Another knowledge that she frequently visited Kota Bharu for lunch gives the possibility to know her more and perhaps learn something about this humorous lady who is as old as my youngest daughter.
Though she mentioned that she was going to KB for lunch, I was unable to make time to meet her that week. Only on her subsequent visit that we managed to meet for lunch but read here how the meet nearly failed to happen.
We have agreed to have lunch in Kota Bharu and since her co worker Robert from the Philippines who usually drive to Kota Bharu will not be coming, she will be coming on her own via the immigration checkpoint of Takbai, Thailand. According to her it is just half an hour van ride from the town of Narathiwat. She mentioned that she could be in on the other side of the border across the river in Pengkalan Kubor by about 10.30 AM. Well and good, I said I will be there to pick her up so that she doesn't have to ride the bus.
By 10.25 AM I was there at the Malaysian side of the immigration check point. Having given her my car registration number,car make and colour, I thought she would be able to find me in a jiffy. For me to spot an American lady in Pengkalan Kubor will be chicken feed. 10.30 went by without any sign of any American be it male or female. Waited for another half an hour before I decide to perch myself on a specially made viewing point tat gave me a clear look of the river and the town of Takbai across the river.

This is the jetty where all arrivals by passenger boat arrive. I can easily spot her arrival.

This is the view of passenger boats plying across the river bordering Thailand and Malaysia.

That is the jetty on the other side of the river as far as the eyes could see.
Using a 200 mm zoom this is what I could see.

Then this vehicle ferry crossed the river and I thought she may have used this ferry to cross the river and would thus be using the other immigration check point. I rushed over to the other side of the small town but there was no sight of anybody looking like an American.
Then only it dawned upon me there there is a one hour difference between Thailand and Malaysia. What is 10.30 AM to Malaysian is just 9.30 AM to the Thais. OK I will wait till 10.30 AM Thai Time. 11.30 AM came and there was no sign of Maria. After giving her another 30 minutes of grace, I decided to to go home. A few kilometer down the road I saw a cyber cafe. I decided to check my mail because I know for sure she would have emailed me something if she were unable to come. The cyber cafe had many computers mainly used to play games by the kids in the area. Most of them were the low end types with slow processors. It was only after changing to the third computer that my emails managed to load. I saw no mail from Maria, meaning she didn't cancel the trip. I decided to check her again at the jetty.
When I reached the fate to the immigration and custom complex I saw Maria in her stetson hat clutching a plastic packet of the 'cendol' drink.
She entered my car and immediately she revealed the reason for her late arrival. She realised too late the difference in time zone. The van ride that usually took half an hour took much more than that. The reason? It was the durian season and the van driver went to every small roads to pick up fares of durian sellers with durians to sell in Takbai.
When I asked her how she managed to handle the durian smell in the van. I was surprised to hear the answer that she loves durian and could withstand the smell.
On the way we stopped at a Buddhist temple because on her previous trips she never had the chance to stop at one. Here Maria gave one of her manly pose.
Since I had only a piece of 'roti canai segera' for breakfast, I was on the point of starving. Maria suggested that we have Banana Leaf rice for lunch,which happened to be my favourite too. We stopped at Meena's Banana Leaf Restaurant in Jalan Gajah Mati. Ahhh just the right place for me to get the owner of the restaurant to test her Tamil which she profess to speak as she was a student of Classical Tamil at Berkeley University back home in California. Berkeley is not the Berkeley School of Music that many Malaysians had been to to study but this Berkeley is the rival of the famous Standford University and both are located in the Silicon Valley in California. Maria hailed from St. Jose.
Both of us must be starving as we had second helpings. It has been sometimes since I had rice at this place. The fish curry is out of the world and so is the 'ayam goreng kichap' (chicken fried in soy sauce).
The Indian guy who owned the business later told me that her Tamil was definitely the classical Tamil better than his own low class Tamil.
Next we moved to KB Mall where Maria wanted to buy an alarm clock. She needs such a gadget to replace the alram provided by her handphone which came back without the alarm after a repair job.
The first stop was a camera shop since she needs to look around for a video camera. She needs to know the price before buying one. I suggested that she buys one with a build in hard disk as the other tape or mini DVD format is getting out of fashion and too cumbersome to use. She will buy one after her parent's consent and perhaps share the expense as most of the videos to be taken will be sent to them for their viewing.

Maria looking at some of the handycams available at the shop.
Later we saw an activity at the concourse of the shopping complex. Y.B. Dr. Ng Yen Yen was due to open the Mega Sale 2009 for Kelantan. Her arrival was greeted by the din of the loud chinese drums and cymbals interspersed with kompang beat. Accompanied by a group of boys dressed in monkey costumes, she was led to the stage where the boys performed a monkey dance with music provided by a local ensemble of musicians using recycled contraptions such as large plastic pails and earthenware urns. They manage to produce splendid music led by the local 'serunai'. This is definitely a great show for tourism. Unfortunately there were not many tourists around to benefit from the pageantry. What a bloody waste. I guess it is the usual reason of insufficient publicity by the people who is supposed to publicise it.

YB. Dr. Ng's arrival was greeted on arrival by the troup of boys in monkey costumes.

Maria observing the spectacle from the balcony above.

Among the VIPs on stage being entertained by the monkey dance was the rep from Narathiwat Thailand.

On the top floor we found this shop with the name Tentative Computers. Maria was amused by the name use and asked met to take a shot, Yeah it was tentative business too as they have either close down or moved to another location. Should you want to open up a business, make sure you find a good name with an appropriate meaning otherwise you may end up the way the business was named.

Always game to try on something, the lady from Kafe Dakoh triend her hands as making some noises on the urns. Well she did managed to produce some sound.
On the way back to Pengkalan Kubor we stopped for a drink of coconut water. Pure coconut drink with no sugar added. It was bliss.
We stopped at another temple popularly known among tourists as the Reclining Buddha. It is purported to be the longest in this part of the world.

The older buildings though in a stage of degradation seems to attract Maria's attention most.
After that I just gave Maria my camera as I wanted to see what really is seen by her eyes. Here are some of them.

Details of the murals on the wall of the reclining Buddha.
An ancient urn from China which is used to burn the incense.

Now which is it? The pillars or the statues?

More murals.
The dragons on a roof top.

At another temple we saw a wooden building in an advance stage of damage. This one really caught her fancy and she went of a frenzied spree of photography. I dont really know what went in her mind.

The building from afar. It was beautiful once but it is losing is luster. Being made of wood, it must be very difficult to maintain and repair.
On the way back to the jetty, Maria talked about her life's experience after she graduated from School. Her parents had given her the choice to do her post graduate studies or to see the world and study from the life university before coming back to pursue her higher studies and later perhaps become a lecturer at her Alma mater. She had chosen the later which has taken her to Japan, India and Kuala Lumpur before landing a teaching job in Bankok Thailand. The dirty air in Bangkok didn't help her health much and she was offered another teaching job in Narathiwat at the same pay making it very affordable for her as the cost of living is very much lower in Narathiwat.
From her eyes she let her parents see the world via volumnous emails which her parents made into hard copies and compiled them. Numerous pictures accompanied the emails. It was a win win situation because her parents refused to leave their heaven on earth as they thought they are living in the best place on this planet so why should they leave their place even for a short while?
Soon her parents will be seeing streams of videos when Maria manages to gat her hand on a video camera.
See more of Maria at her site Kafe Dakoh named after the sweet smelling coffeee being brewed on roadsides in Cambodia. Muslims traveling in Cambodia must beware that Kafe Dakoh is brewed in lard.


secret lover said...

Pengkalan Kubor!
my kampung.hehe.
long time tak pergi beli pulut ayam di Tak Bai ;p

Pi Bani said...

I think you should be the minister of tourism lah Pak Zawi...

Pak Zawi said...

secret lover,
The next time Maria is coming over from Takbai, I will tell her to tapau some pulut ayam for me.

Pak Zawi said...

Pi Bani,
As long as Dr. Ng Yen Yen is doing a good job she can keep the job. I wanted to take over during the tenure of the previous minister but luckily she wasn't there for long.

Akmal said...

Eh? cucu baru? :D
You tell maria to go and get herself a camera also lah. She took nice shots.

Hi. I'm Zendra from said...

A very nice post recording your day out with Maria, Pak Zawi.

Guess her eyes didn't see you when you lent her your camera... hehe.

Pak Zawi said...

Ya cucu no 8. Anak Azuan. Hero lak tu. Sekarang dah 3 hero 5 heroine. Maria has her still camera but on that day she didn't bring it along. yes she took great pictures. waiting for her to respond.

Pak Zawi said...

Yes she did take a couple of shots of me but of course I didn't include it in my blog. She is like a daughter to me so definitely there will be more occasions to consider.

Maria said...

Great post. That Maria character really sounds like an awesome person. Her sense of style and eye for falling-apart buildings is just phenomenal. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. :)

For the record, I went back to KB with my coworkers yesterday and put a deposit on the Panasonic camera. I would have bought it then and there, but neither my Citibank nor my Siam Commercial card had the mysterious chip that their machine demands. Hrmph. Once I change my visa to multiple-entry, I'll bring the money back and get it for once and for all.

kbguy (福生) said...

O, it's all about Maria. What about your grand child ? Congrats to you Pak for the newly arrival grandchild.
And welcome Maria, to Malaysia. I am sure Pak Zawi is a good guide. He always do as he has accompanied many of his blog friends around to Kelantan.
O, next time Maria is coming ask her to 'tapau' for me pulut mangga too, and some sweet ikan bilis, and some laksa and some............tomyum etc...

cakapaje said...

Salam Pak Zawi,

Last I was at PK and Takbai was like ages ago! Likewise with Narathiwat. Man, I do love Narathiwat.

Pak Zawi said...

Your namesake is definitely an awesome person. You should find out more about her.
Oh you were in KB again. So the choice is the Panasonic camera. Their refusal to accept your card means they want you to come back another time. Once you get your hands on the new camera. do stop by in Pasir Mas to shoot some footage of the unique Chinese houses found here. Just drag Robert along with you.

Pak Zawi said...

yes it's all about Maria for now. The grandchild can only be next or after the final part of Europe here I Come.
I think Maria will be reading this and she should be able to accommodate your request if you decide what really that you want. As it is you seem to want everything available in Takbai. Why not you just go to Takbai yourself? After all you are just half an hour from there.

Pak Zawi said...

We all love Narathiwat. Lots of fond memories of the place. If only things are not the way it is over there, I would love to make monthly visit to do photo shoot of the beaches there.

uncleawang said...

Pak Zawi,
You are very kind.Ini kan contoh orang Malaysia:)
Have a wonderful weekend.sochul

Pak Zawi said...

When friends come visiting, that's the least we could do for them.
Bila you nak datang Kelantan?

kbguy (福生) said...

Pak, before the bombing in Southern Thailand I use to go Narathiwat very often. Just go there for b/fast and lunch and come back the same day. Sometime I stay overnight at Tanjong Hotel or Pricess Hotel (I think that's the right name) haha.. It's really long I haven't been there. Almost 6 years.
One think I don't like is the 'jaga' who helps the customs officers to collect money at the car check point !

Pak Zawi said...

I have not been there for that long too. Did you disco at Tanjong Hotel too? it was fun then.


uncle... i havent bn to those temples. must go wen i'm back in kota bharu :)
btw, we are coming back tis thursday for a 2-week break. yeay! home sweet home, finally.
my hubby's havin his 1st solo show @ pelita hati house of art, bangsar on 1/8/09 (launching ceremony 530pm). the preview is on 29/7 and it will be goin on till 15/8.
in case if u are in kl, u might wanna come :)


PELITA Hati is holding an art exhibition called “Cokelat” by Issarezal Ismail from July 29 to Aug 15 at No 22 Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. It is open from 10am to 6pm. For details, call 03-2284 8380.

- here's more info on the show :)
see u uncle!

Adi Atsauri said...

Pak Zawi,
bangunan kayu lama tu di Wat Kok Seraya Chabe 4 kah ?
bangunan kayu tu ada masuk dale encyclopedia of malaysia - architecture..
senibina tradisi kelate..
adonya janda berhias, som berbentuk makara..
no wonder la Maria tertarek pun..

Pak Zawi said...

Little Dewa,
If you want to see the temple no problem, uncle can take you there. Just SMS me when you want to go.
Your hubby is having a solo show? Is it an art show? Painting or drama? Please explain because I am interested.
If it is a show of paintings, I know of an avid art collector who may be interested too.

Pak Zawi said...

Little Dewa,
OK, thanks for the details and contact number. I will forward them to my friends.

Pak Zawi said...

Adi Atsauri,
Yes it was at the wat Chabe 4. If it is such a significant building, Badan Warisan should do something to save it. As it is the broken shingora roof tiles will lead to earlier damage to the building.
It is funny that our own people cannot appreciate such a beauty whereas a young American can see it. It was a chance stop and she immediately took a liking to it.
Thanks for the info.

kbguy (福生) said...

Pak, the shop which you brought Maria to at KB Mall ( Mega city).. just for sharing since we don't have much choice in buying cameras in KB, is selling quite cheap if you know how to bargain.
They have a chain of shops all around and mostly selling at instalment scheme with higher interest. But if you are buying cash, ask them to check on their PC for minimum price. A friend who once work there says there is a minimum price stated for the staffs to sell off their products. For credit card payment, just add 3%, even though the bank actually charged them 1.5%. Never accept on the price tag. And for main products (not accessory)there may be gifts provided by the principal but not given out. So, they sometimes sell it individually. Try to ask for extra gifts then like camera stand, memory card or the soft cloth cleaner.
Whereas most of the shops in KB are selling at List Price provided by the principal, with much higher profit margin.
The above is just for your info only and for camera and video lovers.

Pak Zawi said...

I hope Maria will read this. I wanted to take her to Capitol Photo Studio but it was a Friday and it was closed so I have no other option. Further more KB Mall is convenient for maria to go to and she is familiar with the place. Hopefully she will bargain hard before paying the balance since she had paid a deposit on it.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Wah Pak Zawi, your missus so understanding one leh. My Ah Soh, would never allow me to play tourist guide to young lassie one what, let alone go over to Thailand.

Hey u & KBGuy must be like John Travolta in your “FEVER’ younger days. KBguy, one day u must show us some of your moves.

Oi I did all those bargaining tactic thing u mentioned in Hong Kong but the retailers start to ‘tiu’ me here & ‘tiu’ me there, shouting ‘Hum Kah Chan’, ‘pok kai’ etc….How lah??


P/S – Hey Maria, u r one lucky girl, U don’t find too many kind hearted soul like Pak Zawi in Malaysia nowadays.

Pak Zawi said...

Tommy Yew,
Maria is as old as my youngest daughter so she must have regarded me as his own father.
Now you know who is KBguy hehehe. Another John Terabor.
Like you I am not good at bargaining. my wife is. When we were in Xian China she bargained like crazy and finally she will get what she bargained for despite all the wailing from the retailers that they didn't make any profit from her.

Maria said...

When I went back on Thursday, I let my coworker Sarina deal with all the bargaining. It turns out that the guy who was helping us (I think the same guy that Pak Zawi and I met) spoke fluent Thai! One of his parents was from far northern Thailand and the other from Ipoh. Figure that out!

Anyway, Sarina was able to get me all sorts of extras for the basic price. That's fine with me!

Now if only I didn't have so many hoops to jump through before I can leave the country again...

Maria said...

Adi Atsauri --

OMG! I just looked that building up in the encyclopedia Is that what it used to look like? Somebody needs to get in there /fast/ and rescue what's left! It's a crying shame what's happened to it.

Pak Zawi said...

Lucky you. You must have got a better deal than me. What's the rush to leave the country?
So you have found the building listed in the encyclopaedia. Make some noise somewhere and hopefully they will realize the necessity to restore this beautiful wooden building. You better come back and take a detailed photographic study of this building and use it for your post graduate studies.

Atok said...

i wish i cud visit narathiwat one day, particularly kg bukit durian where i've many relatives, including my nanny. when my siblings and i were young, she learned to read and write with us. i wonder where she is now...

mokcik som used to make daily trip to KB market from there with her vege. but i think she stopped doing that many yrs ago. a 'tok peraih sayur' she was. there was also (arwah) pokcik mat zin, whom i was told was quite a muay-thai fighter when he was young. he made yummy roti canai.

then, there was (arwah) pokcik sin in yala who had a kedai makan there. he used to tell us stories about those communist comrades who frequented his shop. wonder where his only daughter, Moh, is. he lavished her with nice toys, which we envied a lot whenever they visited us @ jln bayam. one day i was told, she got married... she was only 12 or 13 then.

Pak Zawi said...

You will get to visit Kg. Bukit Durian when you come back. I may find someone who can take you to the village. Yala is a bit dangerous as of now. Just give yourself ample time when you come back to Kelantan.
Being an architect don't you feel for the building at the temple as photographed by Maria? I think it is worth restoring.

Adi Atsauri said...

Pak Zawi,
memohon permisi utk menyalin gambar bangunan kayu wat kok seraya for my collection.
rasa sayu hati tgk keadaan bgnan tu terbiar sedemikian rupa..

kalau Badan Warisan Negara mengambil tindakan segera, ia akan menjadi projek yg kedua selepas Masjid Kayu least on site preservation..

Pak Zawi said...

Adi Atsuri,
I will get Kosmo to publish an article on this building. Maybe it will create an awareness of the value of this deteriorating building to warrant them to do something about it's restoration.
be my guest with the pictures. Though maria took it, I think she won't mind it.

Pokku said...

Congrats on the new cucu.
Nice pictures.
Next time Maria visits, give her some kopi deka. It will go nicely with her Kafe Dakoh.

Pak Zawi said...

Thank you for the visit. Thank you for the advice. I will offer kopi deka to Maria if I find out what kopi deka is and where to find it hehehehe.

VersedAnggerik said...

I like! The fact that U gave your camera to Maria to 'see' from her perspective!

Not many would think of that!

Maria said...

Kopi deka, eh...?

And if my photos can be used in any way to make people aware of this building, please use them. :) (Though if they're to be published, pleeze credit me! Then I can be famous!)

Pak Zawi said...

She didn't bring her camera so I guess the best way to know what a tourist would like to see is the photographs that they took. I am sure glad to have done that. Otherwise I would have missed the finer points of things. I guess her majoring and Asian and South East Asian Studies made her see deeper than mere mortals like me.

Pak Zawi said...

Do you know anything about Kopi Deka? I know nothing about it.
We will do our bit to make you famous. In what way you will be famous, your guess will be as good as mine.

kbguy (福生) said...

Is it true about that Building in the encyclopedia ? Is it the same one at Wat Kok Seraya ??? If it's true, I will try to speak about this to the Chief Monk over there, He is the caretaker.
Can someone give me the link ?

Btw, hi to Maria and Tommy.

Atok said...

abe wi,

that's the main prob; time. so far, my trips back home have been super shorts. last time (3 yrs ago) it was only for 2 days. in addition, if i were to go to narathiwat, i wud have to bring my parents along, coz my relatives won't know/recognise me...i hardly stayed at home then, i.e. 'jenih x lekak dumoh', which in a way explains why i'm here and not there. nevertheless, lokching-quest might force me to stay longer next month :)

Pak Zawi said...

it must be the same since Maria too seemed to find it in the encyclopaedia. Hopefully someone will give the link.

Pak Zawi said...

See you in KB soon. let us enjoy Lokching.

Pak Zawi said...

The listing of the building is in Malaysia Encyclopaedia Vol 5. You better discuss with the chief monk to start a fund to restore the wooden building as it will make the Wat a unique one compared to the other Wats in Tumpat.

mamadou said...

Wah hebat Ayoh Awi

Malaysian Hospitality

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Great post and pics as usual, Abang Zawi! Isn't it great when we have the opportunity to meet up with non-local friends and show them around? Ah yes, UCS Berkeley. I have 3 friends doing their postgrad studies there. I visited the Uni in 1999 when in the States to visit my friends in Hayward.

Pak Zawi said...

Biasa je la tu, apa la hebatnya. Teringin sekali nak gi Mali. berapa agaknya bajet yang diperlukan? Mohamad boleh buat pakej untuk kesana kan?

Pak Zawi said...

Ee Lynn,
How great it will be to meet you one day.
You have been to Berkeley? Maria will be glad to hear that. Eariler I told her that Malaysians heard more pf Berkeley School of Music than University of Berkeley. Now I know how wrong I am.

Adi Atsauri said...

Pak Zawi,
tertarik pada bangunan kayu di ambang keruntuhan di Kok Seraya, ambo ado upload pic asal yg dipublish di Encyclopedia of Malaysia dlm blog ambo.
boleh bg emel Pak Zawi, then i could email it to you..

Pak Zawi said...

pak Zawi dah menziarah blog Adi. Terima kasihlah kerana highlight saya.
Hantar kepada

william said...

Simple post but great expression of thoughts.. how do you do that? i think your a veteran blogger! am i right?

anyway I'm william
mind if I put a link back to you?

(clickable) ------> double breasted suit