Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pak Idrus In Kelantan.

It was on May 17th that I received a message on Facebook of Pak idrus' intention to visit Kelantan. When he confirmed his dates he asked me to book 2 rooms in Kota Bharu and the same number of rooms in Gua Musang as he intended to travel via the Kuala Lipis-Gua Musang route to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur. Breaking journey in Gua Musang especially for elderly people like us who have exceeded the 10 decade marks is extremely necessary. Anyway if you know Pak Idrus, he is still young for his more than 70 years living in this world. Very often he outpace me when we walked around in KL.
This visit would be most appropriate for me to repay his kindness towards us a he had feted us to a sumptuous lunch at his place in Ampang when my wife Fatthiyah and me visited him with Akmal some years back.
The rooms in Gua Musang was booked for 24th May via an old friend living in Gua Musang. I specifically told him to book some comfortable room in Gua Musang New Town in order to surprise Pak Idrus who is a first time visitor to the modern days Gua Musang which has developed into a lovely township. Contrary to popular belief the recent development was brought about by the Majlis Daerah Gua Musang with the basic infrastructure put in place by Kelantan Selatan Development Authority (KESEDAR). Without the combined effort I doubt that the town would be like it is today.
The rooms for Gua Musang sector was easily done and I had to trust my friend Othman Hassan to get the nicest available room. The problem is for the Kota Bharu sector as my attempt to get rooms at The Royal Guesthouse on 25th May for two nights at the small cozy hotel was a failure since they had a large group on that day which will only check out on the 26th May morning. Though there are other larger hotels in town but I doubt that they will provide the kind of ambience that I want Pak Idrus and Kak Asmah to experience.
Browsing through the internet I found out that a new hotel belonging to Habib Jewel Sdn Bhd is already in operation. Knowing Habib Jewel's reputation as a seller of jewellery products of high quality, I believe they would do the same thing for their hotel. I called the hotel and was told that the required rooms were available and within the budget that Pak Idrus had given me. Take it from me that the price of the rooms are cheaper if you book via the internet. So when I confront the receptionist on duty about the lower price on the net, she agreed to give a discount.
When Pak Idrus checked into the hotel in Gua Musang, he was happy with the new hotel. His only comment was that the management should be more professional and stress more on maintainence as he had spotted some part of the wall papers peeling off. Small thing but important to discerning travelers.
On the afternoon of 25th May, we waited for Pak Idrus' and his entourage to arrive at the hotel in Jalan Maju, Kota Bharu. Pak Idrus had promised to leave Gua Musang early and I gave him three hours to reach Kota Bharu. He had brought his nephew En. Rahim along to drive for him. As a 70 plus year young man, Pak Idrus must be feeling his age when driving long distance.

Immediately after checking into the hotel we headed for Kampong Kraftangan located near the Istana Balai Besar which is beside the Royal Guesthouse where I first wanted to book for Pak Idrus. As the parking lot close to the Kampong Kraftangan were fully occupied, we had to walk a short distance to the eatery.
They had to walk a short distance to Kampung Kraftangan for lunch. From left is En Rahim, my wife Fatthiyah, Kak Asmah and Pak Idrus.

The restaurant is self service but there is an air conditioned room where it would be served albeit at a slightly higher rate. Who cares as all the tables outside were occupied since lunch is popular at this place.
We were served the ikan keli goreng (fried cat fish), ikan patin masak asam pedas, ayam goreng, an assortment of ulams fresh or boiled to be taken with either budu (fish sauce) or sambal. Even as a regular I was surprised with the whole bowl of budu that was brought to our table. They were more than enough for the five of us. In the budu not only chili padi was placed in it but also a dollop of durian which was certainly not a tempoyak since tempoyak is fermented durian. I think they may have run out of tempoyak and place the durian flesh instead of tempoyak. Anyway it is normal to do so to the Kelantanese. Now the Thai durian is in season and fresh durian is the only option. The durian season is Thailand is quite far ahead of our durian season in Kelantan. I believe lime juice has already been squeezed into the bowl of budu.
Pak Idrus dug into the ikan keli and he seemed to be the only person among the five of us who took it. I do take ikan keli but at that moment I preferred the ikan patin masak asam pedas and let Pak Idrus alone to enjoy the two large fried ikan keli.

Slightly later Chegu Hamid, the restaurant owner came to join our table for small chats. According to Chegu Hamid, even the royalties and their guests come to eat at this place. On such occasions the eatery will be closed to the public and his staff will take a rest after cooking all the food. All the servings will be done by the people from the istana who are familiar with the etiquette and only special crockery owned by the palace will be used. Today we have Pak Idrus and company using the room alas with normal crockery and served by the restaurant's own staff.
After taking them to their hotel we bid them good bye and let them paint the town of Kota Bharu red. Before leaving we invited them to dinner at our home in Pasir Mas.
It is not really easy to locate my home but knowing that Pak Idrus has a Minah Garmin GPS, I sent him my house address with the coordinates for good measure.

The above pic showed Pak Idrus holding his Minah GPS.

I guess he has yet to learn how to key in the location using coordinates instead of an address. Since the Minah GPS came from the United States of America, she has yet to know of such remote places as Jalan Pam Air KADA, Mekasar, Pasir Mas. The Minah GPS must have prompted him to key in Jalan Parit Air KADA, Pasir Mas Kelantan instead and thus led him to the other side of town in Lati instead of Mekasar. Luckily for him there was a platoon of policemen doing some sort of exercise. The sight of an important looking man in a brand new Honda Accord must have moved them to help out Pak Idrus and he was told that Mekasar is on the other side of town on the way to Kota Bharu.
He did the next sensible thing by calling me on the phone and I waited by the main road after giving some obvious landmark for him to locate.
As is anything with high technology, the output depends on the input. GIGO or garbage in and garbage out holds true for such equipments.

Here they are chatting after having dinner of nasi putih with ayam percik, telor goreng dadar with pucuk cekur manis, ikan kering and some beef curry. They all love the ikan tamban kering.
We adjourned to the living room and continued chatting till almost 11.00 PM when our tired body couldn't take it anymore. Hey old man like me sleeps early.
Pak Idrus and Kak Asmah, we were really happy to have you as our guests. Please take this post with a pinch of salt and laugh at those humorous parts as spices of life though it may bite you slightly.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The last long distance flight to Mecca to perform our Umrah via Amman Jordan with a stop in Bangkok has put us off from making another trip to another destination longer than 6 hours. So for now we will take a break from long flights, limiting ourselves to just regional destinations or just Asean destinations. We have in mind such destinations as Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Shanghai and Hongkong in China.
The spate of promotions by AirAsia has made it possible for retirees with a small pension like us to travel. They have benefited us immensely. The cheap fares to Kuala Lumpur is something we will always grab. Even if we are not going to travel beyond KL, we can always use the cheap fares to visit our children in KL.
We did secure such low promotional fares on 22nd November when the basic fare was just at RM10 each way per person. The total fare inclusive of airport taxes, convenience fees came to RM142.00 averaging to about RM71.00 per person which cheaper than the bus fares.
The next step was the purchase of the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jogjakarta which came to a total of RM230 for two persons return but excluding the exit tax from Jogjakarta on the return flight. Hey that's just RM115 return fare per person.
For this trip we bought rooms in Jogjakarta from 22nd November to 25th November 2011 at the Malioboro Inn which cost us USD150 for the three nights. It was a mistake really as we had wanted to book the Malioboro Hotel which is located in a shopping complex and thus much more convenient. Anyway the inn is also a few minutes walk away from Malioboro Street, the heart of Jogjakarta.
For the visit to places of interest, we will just scout around at the travel agents on our first day of arrival as we are sure they can be easily done. What we have in mind is to visit The Borobodur on the second day and a day tour to Solo the next day.
We booked our KL trip for February 2012 on 16th March 2011 with AirAsia and the fare is a mere RM70 return for 2 persons. The whole fare inclusive of taxes and fees came to RM182.
A few days ago AirAsia went on another promotional blitz and advertised fares as low as RM0.10 or 10 sen on certain sectors including Siem Reap in Cambodia which had been on our wish to go to list. I was prepared to purchase the fare on the launching date which began at 12.00 noon on 23rd May 2011. On that day the AirAsia website was jammed with people trying to access the site. The jam only eased off in late afternoon and only then was I able to access the site to purchase my flight to Siem Reap on 27th February and the return on 1st March. Of course I didn't get the 10 sen fare to Seam Reap. On those dates the basic fare that I managed to get was RM50.00 per pax per sector. At this fare the total fare including taxes, fees, baggage and meals of nasi lemak for each one of us came to about RM620. This means a saving of some RM500 if I were to travel on the earlier dates of 26th Feb and return on 29th February 2012. This saving could easily offset the 10 sen return fare to Kota Bharu for the 1st of March 2012. At the basic fare of 10 sen per pax the total came up to just over RM50 when the airport tax, convenience fees and baggage was factored in.
For accommodation in Siem Reap, we chose the Soria Moria Hotel in the Wat Bo area as opposed to the earlier choice of Ta Prohm hotel in the Old Market area. Though the Soria Moria Hotel would cost us some RM200 more at USD50 per night, the close proximity to a halal restaurant known as D'Wau Malaysian Halal Restaurant was too tempting for us. Moreover, Faizal the Malaysian owner could connect us to a Cambodian free lance guide by the name of Yusof Palal. Yusof once studied at a Madrasah in Kelantan.
Should I get Yusoff's services in Siem Reap, I don't expect myself to be fleeced much of my USD and having a guide speaking in your own dialect is of course a bonus.
Before connecting with Faizal or Yusof in Cambodia, I need to connect with Cikgu Zmah who mentioned about them in her blog Ceritaku Untukmu when she visited Siem Reap with her husband sometime ago.
As long as AirAsia could provide us with cheap fares, we will be able to continue flying all over the destinations covered by Airasia. I guess it is fair that they continue getting tax exemption as long as they can provide such low fares. Don't forget foreigners are enjoying this benefit too but as long as they keep coming to Malaysia in droves, there should be an advantage to the tourism industry.
Thank you AirAsia, now everyone can fly including pensioners like me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Painting For Azini

The painting for my youngest daughter Azini was started at the tail end of my work on the painting for my son Azuan. The first attempt of a three piece job on black and white based on her request didn't turn out well and aborted the job immediately after the first piece.
After communicating with her, she agreed with me to use a bit of color and I introduced crimson red beside black and white into the composition. This piece is considered an abstract piece which is something new to me as this is my first attempt doing an abstract.
Earlier on I had declined a request by Zaitgha of the blog Day In Day Out .... from Seremban. The reason I gave her then was that I wasn't yet an accomplished artist to be able to do an abstract. To me somebody who does an abstract must be accomplished in all categories of painting be it landscape, portrait, figures and what not that are based on realism. On second thought I will never be able to do abstract if I were to adhere to that principle. On that basis I did this piece of abstract for my daughter Azini just to test the waters.
With encouraging response from the eventual owner and a few facebook friends I was confident enough to complete it.
Initially it was a two piece painting but Azini hinted that if would look even better if it were a three piece. I guess she must have plenty of empty wall to cover in her new house in Kerteh.

Some light repair will need to be done to the newest of the three as it seems to be lighter in color.
My next project will be for my eldest daughter Azura as she too wants a piece of my work after seeing the painting for Azini.
My initial sketches for Azura is as per below. I wonder if she will be happy with the scheme.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Royal Wedding Commemorative Items

Fatthiyah saw the Royal Wedding commemorative items on our national news over TV3 on the day The royal Wedding was telecast live all over the world including Malaysia and she immediately expressed her wish to have one of the mugs and a small plate to keep. Though we have no special relation or affection to the Royal couple, the chance of having a memento to remember the occasion by was overwhelming.
Immediately it came to my mind the names of friends living in London who could help us to buy one or two items. The first names that came to mind then were those of Awang Goneng and his wife Kak Teh. The problem then was that both of them were already back in Malaysia to launch Awang Goneng's latest book A Map of Trengganu. The next name that came to mind was that of Nick Habgood of Azini Capital whose company shares a common name with my daughter Azini. When we were in London on our European Tour we had the chance to meet this pleasant personality by the name of Nick.

I immediately sent Nick a message on Facebook to seek his help. At the same time I posted a message on my wall seeking help from any friend who could assist me to purchase the items. Nick immediately replied asking me to decide on which design that my wife Fatthiyah wish to have and he gave me the URL to the website selling them. They were available online and there were so many sites to choose from and the choices were stupendous! The price range from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds depending on the quality of material the item is made of. The postage and packaging charges would be 30 pound to anywhere in the world. Another friend who responded was Steven Lee a Malaysian professional photographer who resides in London. Steven asked me to state the items needed and for me to indicate my budget. Wow what great friends to have.
My own son Azrin who flies for a commercial airlines does not fly the London sector but he said he can ask his friend Mat who flies the sector to buy it for us when he next flies to London at the end of May.
Yes that was the best option as we can easily give cash to Mat and ask him to buy something and bring it back. We presume the price of things would become more affordable as many stockist would want to clear their stocks as the wedding day has long been past and maybe forgotten by many. We thanked Nick and Steven for the offer to help and we told them of our plan to get a friend to buy them. Once again I would like to thank Nick Habgood and Steven Lee.
One day out of the blue I received this message on my wall on facebook:

Pak Zawi, Azidi and I just came back from Scotland and I bought a Mug of the Royal Wedding for your wife. Can I have your add and I will pos laju to u.
The message was posted by Bariah Ishak the wife of Syed Azidi of the famous Kickdefella blog fame! Actually I have worked with Bariah and Azidi before on the Magazine project belonging to Perbadanan Menteri Besar Kelantan magazines namely Qiadah and Kelantan Gateway. Bariah had read my appeal and since they were touring Scotland at the time, the two of them decided to surprise me with it. She only informed me of the purchase after she had come back to Malaysia.
Yesterday was Saturday 14th of May and we were not home to receive the parcel which was received by our neighbour on our behalf.. It was only after the Asar prayers that we came back to the house and the next door neighbour handed this package to us:

Upon opening it we saw these two lovely items with their respective containers:

The white porcelain mug with the picture of Kate and William came in a cardboard box which is meant for Fatthiyah. The other item was a box of White Earl Grey tea, blended exclusively to commemorate the Royal Wedding on 29th April 2001. This one is for me! The tea came in a metal container which will be kept as the commemorative item. Lucky Us to have such a friend as Bariah and Syed Azidi. They insist that the two items are a gift from them and will not accept any payment even for the courier charges.
The mug is now proudly displayed in the main living room.

A close up of the mugshot of Kate and William.

During our travel overseas we will bring home collectibles such as mugs and plates of the places we visited.

Above is our collection of mugs and below is our collection of souvenir plates from our travel and some were given to us by our friends.

Thank you Bariah and Syed Azidi.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One Down, Four or Five More To Go.

Yesterday I did manage to complete one painting for my son Azrin which was long overdue since he had moved into his new house quite sometime ago. Since I started painting again I had been working diligently on that painting to ensure that it will be ready before we leave for KL on 29th May 2011. Thank you Allah the new found enthusiasm and drive has spurred me on to complete the painting in double quick time.
On my first visit to his house he had even shown me the wall where the painting would be hung. It was quite a large piece of wall immediately visible after entering the house. No mention was made as to the kind of painting that he wants other than that he wanted a big one if possible 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. Ya Allah, that is large and I have never attempted something that large!
Upon coming back to Pasir Mas I immediately started working on his painting since I already had a piece of canvass stretched on a wooden frame just the size that he wanted. It didn't turn out right and I tried painting over. Unfortunately painting over such a big piece was a tedious job and would have expended a lot of expensive oil paint should I have continued. So I left it at that. That was the reason why I stopped painting for so long. Only lately the desire to paint again came to me and I started with his painting. This time I was determined to have it completed.

The initial coat of oil paint was for the background. Look I have no studio so any open space with sufficient light will do.

Putting in more colours. Now the painting seems to be getting more interesting.

Further touch up.

My wife is the harshest critic. She said the background doesn't look nice.

Reworked on the painting. Now how does it looks? I consider it done and will sign it soon.

Immediately after feeling that the job is done, I started on the next painting for my daughter Azini who had also moved in into a new house in Kerteh, Trengganu after she and her husband were transfered there from Labuan.

Azini wanted a three piece of something in black and white. It sounds easy but do you think so?

When I did finish this job for Azini I need to start working on the painting for my son Azuan. Actually his painting of the sanserveria was already done along time ago. Unfortunately for him my dear friend the late Dalilah aka Raden Galoh of the Blog One Breast Bouncing (may her soul ret in peace) had asked for it after she had already acquired another painting of The Bird Nest Fern. Knowing the situation Dalilah was in at that time, I was so moved and had to let her take that painting too. Both Raden Galoh and husband Red Alfa came to my son Azuan's apartment in Shah Alam one evening to collect the two paintings. Hopefully the two paintings would still adorn the wall of their house and remain the token of friendship between the family and me.
I have yet to decide on what to paint for Azuan. He is a bit critical of my work as he had been exposed to some of the great paintings by the many great artists that now adorned the wall of Bank Negara Malaysia, where he works. Azuan will often criticize on the lack of depth on some of my paintings. I believe in him and often reworked on the painting he so commented.
Of course my eldest daughter Azura wanted a piece of my painting too. Sincerely, I believe my children must keep at least one of my paintings in their respective houses. That is one way for them to remember me when I am gone.
Only after all of my children has got hold of what is due to them, ten only will I be able to start work on the many other paintings that I still owe my blogger friends. These blogger friends are still waiting for their pieces:
HJ Angus of Malaysia Watch, Kerp of Lets Go Land, Shah of My Neverland and a certain En. Zainal from JB.
Anybody else out there that I still owe a painting?
Please pray for my good health and longevity, God willing I will deliver on my promise.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Back To Blogging

I have decided to continue blogging after a long layoff. My last post was on 7th. December 2010. Until this morning I thought it was the last and I would cease to post any new post and would let the site be dormant for as long as I was in no mood to continue blogging again.
There is nothing specific that made me lay off from posting a new post. The only reason that immediately comes to mind is laziness, the lack of enthusiasm, lack of interest as so many other bloggers who can be considered as my peers has passed on or has vanished from the blogosphere without any parting post. The demise of Captain Yusoff Ahmad of The Ancient Mariner, Ruby Ahmad, Dalilah Tamrin's One Breast Bouncing and now Zaharan Razak of 'I' of the Storm is lying a comatose in a hoispital somewhere in Trengganu, and several other bloggers such as Mat Salo of Borneo Blues and The Pirate of Pulau Kapas with his blog Capt's Longhouse has all gone quiet, the blogosphere that I was comfortable in becomes lonely and desolate. Slowly I too went quiet.
Now I am waking up. I have a life to live and share whatever I have to share with my family and friends via this blog. This blog will continue to be the life within me. This blog will only die when I die.
After two weeks of soul searching in the holy lands of Medina and Mecca, I thought I would come back rejuvenated. My life should have been alive on the day I set foot on Malaysian soil again. Alas it was not to be and it took me a full month to begin.
Beside making new post again, I will begin painting again. There are a couple of painting which I promised to do for my friends and family but I have yet to fulfill their request. Namely Pakpayne with the almost finished Traditional Fishing Boat, HJ Angus for his Sunrise at KB's Waterfront, a painting for my son Azrin and daughter Azini since both of them has just moved in into their new homes.
One activity which I didn't stop was gardening. I did manage to clear a small patch on the vacant land in front of my house and I planted some chilli plants, some kangkong and some angled loofah. All of them are bearing now while the kangkong has been providing me with an endless stream of fresh green vegetables.
Since the last posting in December I have been blessed with two grandsons. First to come was Razeen Ilham the son who is 4 months old and he is the fourth child for my son Azrin and Yanie while Airil Hafizi is almost two month old son of my son Azuan and Ijjah. Their coming to this world was a joyous occasion which deserved a post on my blog at least as a matter of records. Unfortunately they came at a time when I just wasn't in the mood to write anything.
With this post, I hope to be back to my normal self and continue to do what I used to do before, sharing the joy of life with my family and friends.