Thursday, 29 July 2010

Threat on Tabur

They're going to do damage to my beloved Bukit Tabur!

That's the longest quartz ridge in the whole wide world!

Below which nestles the Klang Gates Dam that supplies clean water to much of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Tabur is a *geological monument and may be declared a World Heritage Site if left untouched.

Home to a *unique vegetation with five species of plants that are found nowhere else in the world, and the serow, our endangered wild goat

But the Federal authorities are building a highway right through it.

As well as through a couple of forest reserves, which have been designated as part of the Selangor State Park.

Just  take a look:

This highway is the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR) connecting Rawang to Cheras.

It will definitely threaten the eco-system of the ridge as well as the park.

Not forgetting that the forest reserves provide natural flood mitigation, slope protection and landslide prevention to the hillside developments of Hulu Kelang / Ampang - the sites of a number of recent landslides and slope failures.

Bukit Tabur, it is actually a ridge comprising a series of hills that runs in a semi circle bordering the Taman Melawati area.

Made up of mainly quartz, some believe that there is a spiritual value connected to the quartz crystals that directs and amplifies "universal energy" .

And is supposedly extremely beneficial for manifesting, healing, meditation, protection, and channeling - if you are into that kind of thing.

As for me Bukit Tabur offers rugged yet pristine unblemished landscapes.

and panoramic views from its peaks

I should know because I climbed it's eastern ridge with my family in December 2009.

It will be a shame to have it all destroyed in the name of progress and development.

And deny our children's children its beauty.

If you feel strongly about the preservation  of nature and the environment, please take a few moments to sign the online petition below by clicking this link:
*Protect Klang Gates Quartz Ridge and Selangor State Park from the proposed KL Outer Ring Road (KLORR)

And if you wish to read about our adventurous climb up Bukit Tabur, then click here:
Not for the faint-hearted


Friday, 23 July 2010

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Big Business

An unemployed man applies for the position of a toilet-cleaner at Microsoft...

which reminds me...

of my recent visit to Kuala Terengganu and Kapas Island with my children, where we encounterd the whole gamut of toileting fashions, from the luxurious at the hotel in Kuala Terengganu, to the normal sit-down at Captain's Longhouse on Pulau Kapas and the amazing hole-in-the-floorboards style at Awi's Yellowhouse on Pulau Duyong...

Honestly.... it was a perfect round-shape cut into the floorboards of an open-air bathroom.

Awi's Yellowhouse is a rustic budget-class digs built on a wooden platform structure on the banks of the Terengganu River. A number of thatch-roofed huts on the platform make up the guest-accomodation, ranging from double rooms, to single quarters and a dorm.

There is a basic kitchen where guests can fix a simple meal but what's quaint is that the bathroom is kampong-style of the sixties - with only a shower fixture and a hole in the floor for the water, etc to drain into the river below. I remember my grandfather's kampong house which had a large bathroom in almost similar design where privacy was provided by just the four walls and your batik or pelikat sarong - no roof. Almost similar because it was a little more modern, set on ground level, with cement floor and yes, decent drainage.

Anyway Awi Yellowhouse is where my third son Azeim is putting up while he undergoes his internship with a couple of boatbuilders there. When we visited, the place was clean and tidy and the evening air was breezy from the sea.

We met Azizah and her crew who were on long-term stay while supervising the construction of their vessels; last I heard Azeim is having a whale of a time in the company of these sea-farer types. I hope he remembers to learn from them as well.

Oh yes, back to the unemployed man who applies for the position of a toilet-cleaner at Microsoft...

He is interviewed by the HR Chief and subjected to a battery of employment tests.

The HR Chief tells him: Congratulations, you got the job! Just give me your e-mail address so that I can send you an employment package and let you know when to start work.

The man is distraught…

He has no choice but to tell the HR Chief that he has no computer and therefore no e-mail.

The HR Chief tells him that, if he has no e-mail address, he virtually does not exist and therefore cannot hold a job.

The man leaves in a desperate mood. He is down to his last $10 with no job in sight. He sees a supermarket and decides to buy a 10 lb box of strawberries.

He starts out making door to door calls , selling those strawberries by the pound. Within 2 hours, he manages to double his capital. He repeats the deal 3 times more and goes home with $60 in his pocket.

He comes to see that he can survive this way.

He starts every day earlier and goes home later every day, tripling or quadrupling his money every day.

Before long, he buys a wheelbarrow so he can buy and sell more strawberries. After a while, he is able to buy a truck and eventually becomes the owner of a fleet of delivery trucks with several employees working for him.

He adds other produce items to his deliveries.

5 years go by…

The man is now the owner of one of the largest food chains in the United States.

He starts thinking about the future for him and his family and decides to buy some life insurance. He calls an agent and selects a good policy. The agent asks him for his e-mail address to send him a confirmation of the policy.

The man tells him that he doesn’t have an e-mail address!

That is incredible, says the agent. You have no e-mail but you built this large empire! Can you imagine where you would be if you had an e-mail address?

The man briefly thinks and then answers:


Moral 1 of the story:
The internet does not solve all the problems in our lives!

Moral 2 of the story:
When you have no e-mail but work hard, you can become a millionaire!

Moral 3 of the story: You received this story by e-mail/internet. Therefore you are closer to cleaning toilets than to being a millionaire!

Finally, did The Beatles have e-mail?

Music Playlist at

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Identity Crisis

Kids at boarding schools love to call one another by nicknames. Some of these describe the kid to a T, like Jimok (gemok), or Bear (big-sized) or Kepeng (flat) or Gori (like a gorilla) while others are a corruption or a shortened version of the kid's real name like Ep, Harry, Tilot, Syiro, some are even called by their father's or grandfather's names!

What the heck, even adults love nicknames, especially those living in the blogosphera. In the non-sopo precinct where I frequent it's interesting to note that men tend to use an address before their names, either Pak this or Uncle that or Captain this or Dr that, as well as they are not adversed to being thought of as old, as in Old Stock, or Ol Rascal...

Whereas the ladies are more creative in giving themselves pretty names like... ahem... zendra, kay-leeda, desert rose, or mamasita, even just kama. Some refer to themselves as someone's mom, or elder sister or even declare themselves as being of the feline family, either tame or wild. But very few have taken to call themselves Makcik this or Aunty that... (is Mek young or old by the way?)

It's just so typical, isn't it? Men generally have an inherent need to be addressed as persons of seniority hence authority, and women mostly are just not that bothered. Nevertheless I cannot now fathom why I chose such a frivolous-sounding name for myself, maybe I did not know then that I would last this long blogging or that I would meet up with any of you blogotizens out in the real world, let alone hear myself being addressed as Zendra or Zen. It's even more awkward when I get introduced to other people by that name - in those instances I was able to establish eye contact and smile, but not able at all to say "Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Zendra", because in the real world I AM NOT Zendra.

Mat Bangkai transitioned to Sofian Boe very smoothly - at the same time revealing a picture of himself (a far cry from a bangkai is he and hardly a mamat). Like him, many others have their real world names on Facebook but not me - mine is "Zendy Zee"! My myriad nieces and nephews as well as siblings are already used to that, when they asked why Zendra, or Zendy Zee, I answered why not?

So my question is when next I meet you guys out on terra firma, will you be comfortable calling me Mariah or would you still insist on Zendra, or Zen or Kak Zen? Willmie Jalius aka Pak Tuo refers to me as Kak Mariah outside and Kak Z in here, but he's a cousin once removed, it's quite easy for him. Red Alfa and I, we sometimes forget where we are.

You know, someone said (was it Harun Yahya?) that life on this earth is a dream WE control - the Hereafter being the true world, real and everlasting; but for bloggers and facebookers and the like,  have we (or at least me) have we set ourselves up in yet another unreality, simply by virtue of a nickname, a persona (like a pirate)? Yew You figure.

(Don't mind her, Zendra's just rambling... and wondering what her name in that everlasting world might be)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Kapas - All Too Soon

It's goodbyes.

Here we are on the steps of Capt's Longhouse ready to make the boat-ride back to Marang.

There's our most gracious host out in-front with his lovable companion Jane wagging her tail expecting a walk on the beach. Sorry Jane, Capt's ours for the rest of the evening.

The morning had been an exhilirating one for us. After a breakfast of roti pratha (which Muni and I helped fix - again) and Captain's special prawn noodle soup, we took off with two of his young assistants to trek across to the other side of the island to the green lagoon.

The trail, well marked by orange paint smeared on the trees and with guide ropes in places, begins from just by the beach-kitchen uphill into jungle terrain.

After an hour, with a bit of play-absailing  at the last part, we emerged here.

Negotiate the rocks further along (me being assisted)

and we arrive at the panaromic lagoon

 where they had fun and I enjoyed forty-winks.

The trek back was much less tedious, the trail we used being on a much lower level following a dry stream bed and coming out behind KBC resort. One of the guides climbed a coconut tree and plucked young coconuts for us to quench our thirst on the water later at the Longhouse.

Back at the ranch, ooops longhouse, posing with our guides, trainee Jeremy Zaini, and whats-his-name who is a fan of Bob Marley and local rastafar.

Muni asked him, "Nama awak apa?"

"Panjang" he said

"Aaaa? Panjang? Panjang bin pendek? .....Nama elok-elok kenapa cakap Panjang pulak?" Muni grilled.

Sheepishly he told us "Badrul Shahmi Shamsul"

"Alhamdulillah.... kan nama bagus tu, ada bulan, ada berani, ada matahari..."

Nice kid, he had guided us well, doesn't smoke, loves to sketch - a regular beach bum hehe

And here are more bum wanna-be's

Oh... and the reason Badrul is known as Panjang:

See da hair maann, and the gleaming white teeth

Lunch was a snooze-inducing nasi lemak cooked with rich, island coconut milk with a hint of island lemon grass complemented with ayam briani Captain. He had whipped up these up while we were trekking. 

It was time to prep for our journey home. There was plenty of time yet. So...

Siestas while waiting for the chief

Last shot on the beach
minus Azeim...

Skipper debriefing us for the boat-ride

And we headed back to the mainland to the strains of Bob Marley blasting from Captains beach-bar and Jane deprived of an evening walk.

We had a great time Captain, thanks for everything. Hope we come back again.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Magical Kapas

I don't think I have a vocabulary wide enough to do justice to what we experienced on Pulau Kapas. On my Facebook page I wrote  our evening walk along the beach was "magical", and Muni wrote "Masyallah" expressing amazement at the sheer beauty of the lagoon we had trekked to.

 In fact it was both magical AND amazing.

Errr... If you're looking for me in that pool...    no, this aunty did not dive into it's pristine emerald waters, not because she did not want to, but she was afraid she might awaken fossilised dinosaurs lying beneath with her ungraceful landing. The rock formation is believed to be about 200 million years old, mind you. So aunty had opted to snooze under a very shady ledge instead where she too could have been easily mistaken for one of the fossilised dinosaurs by anyone passing.

Yes, it felt truly magical for me when we hopped on board "East Coast Blue Water", Captain's boat. He had written so much about her and had promised us all a ride many times (jokingly, we thought) that somehow I couldn't believe that it has come true - but only half-true because of the absence of half my family. That means I can claim another ride with the other half, Captain?

First up, a quick tour round the island, where we could see that the beaches are on the mainland-facing side and on the other side are mainly sheer cliffs of strataed rock that drop right into the sea with beautiful spots for snorkelling and scuba-diving, or just plain diving and swimming like what the kiddoes did.

Turtles do come to lay their eggs on Kapas as well. Because turtles are an endangered species, the eggs  are collected by the relevant authorities situated on Gemia Island (see map below) who later release the hatched baby turtles back to the sea.

As we set foot on the beach fronting Captain's Longhouse, we were greeted by Captain's old friend from his army days, Mahathir and his sons. A very friendly bunch they are, there to assist Captain with the operations for the day. We were going to have a BBQ dinner at the gazebo on the beach but before that some keropok and hot refreshing tea.

a "Yoko Ono" moment (me)

Bar in the background 
with our ginger tea on the counter

OK I had informed Captain that I was not expecting to cook my own dinner but Muni and I offered to help with the keropok anyways (pssst... plus the tea wasn't going to remain steamy for long)

haaaiii... mana boleh lari dari dapor cik kak

A 3 km walk on the beach with Captain and Jane followed.

Errr... who is Jane?

(Tell you later)

I fished this map off google, it's not current but it basically shows the kind of activities you can do while on Kapas. Captain's place is No. 2 - re-named "Captain's Longhouse". We walked from No. 2 to the other end of the island, and there are walkways built above the rockier parts making it altogether a very pleasant walk indeed.

Along the way Captain introduced  us to a few of the facilities owners who happened to be outside their premises. They seem to have a great community going there, supporting one another. I do not recognise some of the names of the lodgings listed there on the map however that boat service is still in operations.

But check out these spots we came across on the walk:

This place becomes a magnificient waterfall (says Captain)
in the monsoon season - November to March

Be wary of the creatures take shelter in this cave
We were greeted by a couple of Count Dracula's relatives
- just the insignificant ones 

This is one of numerous oysters that live on the sea rocks.
Captain chipped open one to reveal the flesh,
scooped it out and popped it into his mouth

We each had one as well. 

It was the most exquisite-tasting oyster I've ever had the pleasure of savouring, and I've had my share of them in my lifetime. It was fresh, lemak and manis, out-of-this-world (but on Kapas) - I kept it in my mouth for the longest time possible before reluctantly handing it over to my digestive juices. 

Totally heaven...

After the walk, we all freshened up for our maghrib prayers - it was re-assuring to hear Captain's other guests doing theirs in congregation - and then the wonderful BBQ dinner at the gazebo, Mahathir's specially-brewed teh tarik, good conversation....
 Budding sea-farer about to 
wolf down a BBQ'd lamb

And I wished the other part of me wasn't half a world away.....

(the next one should be the final instalment)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A Brief Respite - Heading Out To Pulau Kapas

Sunday was the day for our ride to Pulau Kapas for a weekend getaway. Azeim and I had flown in on Saturday and we had had a great time with my younger brother and his family. Muni and Adeen were to catch the morning Firefly service from Subang, take a taxi to our hotel and then we all continue on to Marang for the boat connection to Pulau Kapas.

Firefly, the subsidiary airline of MAS, offers thrice-daily flights to Kuala Terengganu (KT) taking off from Subang Airport. It's very convenient for us who reside in the Subang Jaya area - just 10 minutes away, thereabouts - given the right jamless window, that is. For Azeim and I, that Saturday morning was perfect; we arrived in good time for checking in, breakfast and that which comes after breakfast. And me having a cheery younger brother and his equally cheery family to fetch us at KT airport just about wrapped up the journey into a bow-tied package.

Muni had already been booked on that Sunday morning flight but Adeen wasn't too sure he could get a ticket, going by the people already in line at check-in. Adeen is a Second-Officer with MAS and is entitled to a 75% discount off the normal price, provided there are still seats when the check-in counter closes. Alhamdulillah he got a seat but the flight was indeed full - something I did not expect - it being a Sunday. I suppose that catch-phrase "now everyone can fly" is quite true.

KT is a short hop by propeller plane and by 12 noon that day all of us were already at the Marang jetty ready to meet up with the Pirate King of Pulau Kapas aka Chief of Captain's Longhouse aka Skipper of the good vessel East Coast Blue Water aka Chef de Beach Cuisine.

With so many roles and responsibilities as befitting his string of titles, this former helicopter pilot who has made Pulau Kapas his home and sanctuary as well as his cash-generator, only caught up with us a little later at an eating place close by. Many errands Captain had to run while on-shore, so we had a leisurely lunch, did our solats at the surau, and Azeim even had his long hair chopped off by the local tukang gunting.

Though hubby and I had only got to know Captain through us frequenting and commenting on each other's blogs and more recently on Facebook, meeting him in real life was just the same as when I met other blogger friends for the first time - there were hardly any awkward moments and  the transition from virtual to real was as seamless as meeting old classmates at a reunion, perhaps because we've already been familiarised with each other's thoughts and thinking and lives through our blog stories and FB status and comments.

 Captain's fearsome profile picture on Facebook

And it was through these media that Azeim was introduced to Captain who subsequently went out of his way to connect Azeim with the head-honchos of the Terengganu boatbuilding industry at Pulau Duyong and to secure places for Azeim to do his practical training. I seriously do not know how to  thank the  good Captain enough for this. Azeim, by the way, will be in his final year of studies in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering after this stint, starting October.

So that was how it came to be that we were at that jetty and then aboard Captain's boat heading out from the river mouth into open sea, thence to Pulau Kapas, to deliver Azeim to the Pirate King for a crack at boatbuilding and survival.

The boys with Captain's matey, Baharum
Adeen gets a chance at the helm

(to be continued)