Friday, March 28, 2014

BALI INDONESIA VISIT

We are at it again... traveling to places around the peninsular. This time to the island of Bali. No this is not our first visit to the island since there were two previous visits though the first one was more than a decade ago. However on this occasion I was the tour organizer for the thirteen pax in the group  made up of friends and seniors.

Yes it was another exposure to become an organizer, tour guide and involved in the  tourism business.I may say it has added more experience and know- how re organizing such a visit. The planning had been arranged at least three months ago with prior reservation and booking for the airline tickets thereby to get the best offer and contact for reservation of the accommodation facilities. With all expectations hopefully ready and completed the group departed from KLIA on 17 of March 2014 for the 4N/5D visit. Our flight on Malindo Air took three hours to reach Den Pasar Airport. 

I had expected to experience a long walk to the vehicles after clearing Immigration and Custom as we had found several months ago and was surprisingly surprised that a new airport terminal was ready to welcome visitors to Bali. Dato Baharuddin Marji and wife were members of our group and I had requested a wheel chair facility for him upon disembarkation. However that was not necessary as now it was only a short walk to the vehicle terminal. However our drivers for the requested vehicles were ready to assist. One vehicle was reserved for the luggage and bags and the thirteen of us climbed on the two other cars ready to take us to our next destination. It was to be another hour before we reached the place for our stay for four nights, not without stopping for lunch at a Nasi Padang Restaurant on the way. The noon arrival surely made everyone craved for a good lunch. I guessed the Nasi padang proved satisfaction because of the great array of dishes.

    The 13 pax group with senior Dato Baharuddin Marji and wife plus 8 former Kirkby friends, two neighbours from our Putrajaya home and the two of us. Seriously it was easy organizing this vintage group. It may be said that it was a Kirkby Group visit since Dato Baharudin and wife were Kirkby students as well though later he was our Malay lecturer.   

Our stay in Bali was not at the normal hotel sites, though there are plenty on the island offering all the facilities you would like to choose with all the comforts but I chose to stay at Siyut an area close to Ubud and north of Den Pasar close to the traditional and cultural centre of the island. Below you see part of the home and the swimming pool with its greenery and flowering shrubs.

It is not often you get to experience a stay as this especially in a  homely atmosphere with all the comforts and services. By a stroke of luck we have come to know Pak Jim and Ibu Paula ( both Dutch and Indonesian) in our earlier travels and they have allowed us to be guests at their home in Siyut, especially when both are away in USA and we had the services of their house staff to help when we were here.

                                       
        Part of the home with its garden, the swimming pool and facilities

   Hj Omar and Azudin did not miss to jump into the swimming pool




                                            
                 

  
               They dig into the breakfast dishes prepared by the girls at Villa Flora, a far cry from the normal hotel buffet in the morning.

  

 Our first tour for the day included the rice terrace at Tagalalang. Be prepared to meet large numbers of visitors or tourists at this favorite place


The home comforts more or less would like to tie you down rather than release you to travel out but since arrangements have been made and the drivers with the two vehicles have reported at the time designated we then proceeded on the the tours for the second, third and fourth day. Bali has many places to offer each challenging your time and endurance. So we need to choose what is best to see and visit. Good comfortable cars with two drivers who are tour guides by themselves are credits for the visits



 This clean footpath actually brought us to the coffee plantation where we had a taste of the ('musang') Luwak coffee and observed its processing as well as become introduced to the fertile volcanic soil of the area where fruit orchards and other plants grow at their best.


Hj Omar took a look at one of the cages, with the cockerels  ready to be taken to their destination for the fights of their lifes. Yes cock-fighting is one favoured past-time here though we did not meet up with its participation.


The Kintamani tour took us for lunch at the peak overlooking an active volcano and the lake. The large wooden table, a piece of a tree trunk  constitutes a common furniture at many outlets and one would like to cart one home if possible. Wonder whether it is possible to export one. 

You wonder what has happened to our quality tree trunks. Why not a semblance of it appear as dining tables in its natural condition and size! Small size furniture yes and even than good timber pieces are hard to find unless you cart home imported versions.


The next day tour included a visit to the village stage performance to see the traditional dance. Bali offered several traditional dances at locations that began their show at 10.00 am. The village folks including the musicians, actors and dancers presented a colorful show lasting an hour. Several premier hotels do similar shows which come with your dinner. 

The group on the elaborate stage after the show.


Bamboo  especially for furniture seems to be a favored choice. The auditorium for the stage show had seats made from bamboo. Our group was the first arrival and therefore had the front seats. 


 At Villa Flora similarly the garden furniture were from bamboo too



A visit to Mas Village met us with this craftsman who elaborately curved the object of a bird. The establishment distinguished itself with a large collections of wooden art crafts.




Craftsmen were around at work and you could stay if you like to observe them doing their pieces.


An accidental visit a day earlier to  "Bale Udang' a restaurant
that advertised itself in the local newspaper as being newly opened brought us here for dinner the next day. Specifically to see the building and its environment plus of course to savour the dishes served. Again the surprise to see the total construction of this establishment made from bamboo. It even has a second level. Set in a padi field environment, we were welcomed when we arrived with the majestic view of the setting sun beyond the padi fields and the western horizon.  

The main hall of 'Bale Udang'



 bamboos along the corridor



The setting amidst padi fields make us wonder why we do not realize this grandeur and don't we have padi fields too in Malaysia! Maybe it's a challenge. 

There are many tours that you can take to see Bali, either via tour agencies or by your own planning as we had done. Motor cars with their drivers can be arranged with the stipulated price. You are advised not to drive yourself when in Bali since regulations for accidents if happened can be heavy for the driver or even direct imprisonment.  We had two good friendly drivers who speak Bahasa and English and excellent guides too. My arrangement for the vehicles and drivers were made much earlier and 'Made' being their names waited for on our arrival with 'placards' at the airport and were with us throughout the tour.  


Your visit Bali would not be completed as part of the itinerary  of your visit unless you make a visit to the 'pasar seni' where crafts of the locals are sold at a bargain price. Besides clothing, paintings, various handiworks could be bought at a fair price if you bargain rightly.



Here I caught the lady placing the flower offerings as commonly seen almost every where while customers are welcomed by the shop assistants even before they enter the premise.



A sign which attracted my attention. " Kalau anda bukan orang sembarangan janganlah buang -buang sampah SEMBARANGAN" Though Bali is populated with 4 million people,  the people observed road regulations and cleanliness is a plus factor.


There was an interest to visit the beaches in Bali. Kuta being one but traffic into the area was heavy in the evening and we could only make our way to Sanur. With the hotels by the beaches and the tourists in its vicinity it was quiet and yet clean.  


Again I caught this picture of the table made from a piece of a tree trunk. A treasured piece if you could have one in your home. Guaranteed you will never get one again in years to come.
It was a good visit, exposing us to many aspects of Bali and especially allowing one to know the modes of planning and organizing a conducted tour and allowing oneself to travel as part of the team.Maybe getting someone involved in the business itself for an opportunity to visit places ..... 

You may be surprised to learn as we have that on the 31 of March 2014, the Balinese will observe a religious day called Hari Raya Nyepi Tahun Baru Caka, the day of total silence throughout the island. We are told there is no activity, no traffic at all on the roads and no fire may be lit for 24 hours . Notice were given that the airport is closed and no flights would land on that day in Bali. Visitors to Bali must come before that date or later. Now would you like to be there that day?


 
















Friday, March 7, 2014

MARCH TAKES ITS STRIDES

Just as fast like lightening, the months rolled on and we are already in the third month of the year. The speed or otherwise is measured by our achievements in what we have managed to do or otherwise. Naturally at our passage in time, it would not be fair to claim any records, but suffice to know that we have not been dormant but striving to do what should be done, necessarily for the home, family and community.    

One thing for sure, my intimation with 'Kotastar' seems to register the lowest contribution. Is it then an indication of slowness or inclination towards other matters or issues? Nonetheless the efforts must be strengthened otherwise one sure inhibition will die a natural death and the quest for writing and recording will ceased. More so the chance to contact with others in the cyber space.

Be that as it may be, perhaps a retrospect of the past weeks would help to pacify the reasons for the lack lustre. 




12/02/2014 The long shadow and the dry season that hit the country recently coincides with the harvesting season in Kedah..Sadly at other places the dry and rainless climatic condition scourged some of the padi planting zones in the Kedah. Some places in the country even reported a very cool low temperature with Mt Kinabalu recording a freezing one.



In loving memory of her father my wife has named the old house as Cafe & Dewan Arshad AlBanjari recognizing the family connection with Matapura of Banjarmasin.


08/02/2014 An old house has been renovated and the interior now as seen below allows for meetings and private dinner or lunch to be held here. The restaurant proper is just close by. The picture below shows the interior and a meeting in progress.





24/02/2014 Restaurant Citarasa TT Gajah ready to welcome guests for lunch.  YB Dato Ismail Sabri Yaakob Menteri Pertanian dan Asas Tani and MADA officers came for lunch after their tour of Pendang district hit by the drought.
 
YB Menteri and group at lunch in the restaurant.



1/3/2014 Pricinct 16 Putrajaya Community members held the Annual Dinner at Dewan Bankuet Marina Putrajaya Presinct 5 Putrajaya. Permintaan untuk ahli menggenakan pakain  'Arabian Night'  mendapat sambutan. Kesempatan berada di Putrajaya kami hadir dimajlis ini.


                       
  Presint 16 Jawatankuasa Persatuan Penduduk 'Super Link Presint 16'

                       
Kanak-kanak menyertai 'musical chair'. Dua orang cucu turut mengambil bahagian .                                       



Wah! Saudara juru acara majlis dengan pakaiannya. Tak hairanlah beliau di pilih sebagai Johan berpakaian ala Arabia.


                        
Sdr M Kassim , seorang lagi ahli dan juga jiran kami di Presinct 16



 Our grandson braved himself to enter "Ketegori keluarga' and won himself a price.

The community at Presinct 16 Putrajaya has always been active and gets strong support from the members. Activities held throughout the year had a good following and the annual function brought the community together.

Crowning what seems a lack lustre month arrived on 03/03/ 2014. This would naturally makes March and the following months dotted with activities, particularly attending to the new arrival. Happily and on record we could say that we have enough members ( grand children) to set up a rugby team if girls can be included. I could be the master coach and with still three reserves standing by. Another grandson comes into the family and delivery was at Hospital Colombia Asia. Wow! Can you expect the South American country to have its hospital here in Selangor? Yet that's what it is called. 



03/03/ 2014 In the morning as we moved to the railway station at Putrajaya, I caught this morning sun as it moved through the branches signaling that haze that over - casted the sky especially in Selangor was clearing. ( As the traffic on the road gets heavier each day the ERL connecting Putrajaya and KL Central serves the commuters and senior citizens get their good share of discounted tickets )  

Never realizing that in the evening a much brighter signal was to come via the telephone. Only a few hours later, he is able to give a smile to the world as the pix shows.

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Maybe I am justified that February has been a bad contribution month in relation to my submission to Kotastar.blogspot.













    

Saturday, February 15, 2014

THE CONNECTIONS : TIME TO PONDER AND BE GRATEFUL


THE CONNECTIONS

With the plug pushed into the socket, you would naturally get the electricity and your house is lighted, the TV is on or the air conditioning unit is blasting to cool you. Simple. Much appreciated by families and we would cry foul if otherwise.

Now let's look at ourselves. Do we have connections? Surely and certainly but more often than not we brush that aside assuming a take for granted discourse. 

The inherent connection of gangsters with the underworld is made clear to us with movies or novels that tell the linkages granting that they would find hard to survive without the support of the other. How true that is remained the mysteries of the files in the police or justice department.

But we do need connections - even to get things DONE fast and with success we need help or assistance. Our connections with friends or friends of friend's come handy and expected. Recounting the past, our movements through the decades surely cannot escape the connections that came our way. We owe and salute all the assistance that have come our way. 

Moving on from our previous service or career we would naturally accumulate much connections : especially in terms of friends and office or career colleagues. These are true and sincere connections that give spice, assistance and foremost continuing friendships. However as days go by, that connection begins to wain by nature of displacement, transfer and irregular meetings face to face. How often when we meet again, it takes time to recollect and to remember names.

I find therefore a need to be circulating where and when possible so that the connection continue to hold. It is therefore a grand opportunity when former office staffs meet again in a big way; when students call on their former teachers or when association of members function to keep this spirit of togetherness alive.





Two pictures which bring former members of Universiti Utara Malaysia together with the formation of Persatuan Pesara UUM. It was a golden opportunity to say 'hello' to one another and exchange news. Hopefully the Association will continue to bind that linkage.

 How fortunate we are especially to be able to meet daily at our local Mosque or 'Surau' thus the connection of neighbours or community in the area, kampong or 'taman' is guaranteed. Majlis Khenduri often held in the community helped in a big way i.e if you show yourself there. 




Personally I find it heart warming when my former students call to say 'hello' and further still meet at opportunities that bring us together. When students of 1959 (at their primary class and students of the 1964 ( Secondary School) get together you feel a great sense of 'achievement' in the simple diction that they remember you and remain friends and no more 'guru dan murid'. 







Connections in all its greatness bring light, refreshment, happiness, knowledge and gratefulness in ways that keep you confident, secure and happy in the sense that there is continuity.  









Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Opening Month ....Journeying Through January 2014

The calender saw the month of January 2014 stripped away and replaced by February. So too our diary closed its pages for the month. However not many people keep diaries now, especially to record what has passed through the days, weeks and months. If there are they only noted appointments, meetings and dates to be remembered.  

Possibly the camera and the smart phones have taken over that role, remembering intact and with great exclusiveness the happenings, especially in relation to what you have encountered and experienced. Searching through the snapshots of the month, I have the following pictures to record my activities and surprisingly declaring that as a family we have not been idle but moving around guided by programs and invitations as expected at this juncture of life.

January or R'awal 1435H saw invitations to weddings and one was at Putrajaya when the grandson of Tun Zahir Ismail ( the late Speaker of Parliment Malaysia) met his bride. Amongst the guests were Tun Dr Mahathir and his wife Tun Siti Hasmah. The picture shows the guests at the wedding taking the opportunity to meet the former Prime Minister. For many it was a golden opportunity to record the occasion. 
4 Jan 2014






Another day we had the golden opportunity to meet with Saudara Hj Hashim Abdul Rahman and his family at Putrajaya too. Hashim lives in Canberra Australia since he graduated in Computer Science in early 1970's. Without the prospect of entering that specialized career then in Malaysia, he saw the opportunity to do so in Australia. That took him there and remained since. We met him and his daughter together with his grandson and grand daughter. An ex teacher from the former Malaysian Teachers College at Brinsford Lodge England he traveled often between Australia and Malaysia and on occasion touched the Hawaian Isle as one son has started a career there. Truly we can never predict where we would be. A widower he has kept himself busy with religious and social activities . 15 January 2014



17 January 2014  ' Vendetta Abuse of Power' is the title of the book. We were at the official launching of the book at one of the hotel in Petaling Jaya by Dato Rais Yatim. Dr Shaari Isa, a friend and former bursar at Universiti Utara Malaysia is the author of the book that chronicled the story of Syed Kechik, his contributions, loss in Sabah and more so his struggle and continuing efforts by his brother to right the wrongs. It was however a first opportunity for me to see a grand book launching accompanied by my son Abu Bakar Sidqi.


Guests and the media were at the function with MPH as the publisher. Below Dato Abdullah Abd Rahman of MPH presenting a souvenir to Dato Rais Yatim. Dr Shaari Isa accompanies..











Two restauranteurs met. Abu Bakar Sidqi with Auntie Annie talking business at Auntie Annies Restaurant in Nilai Negeri Sembilan. Famed for her culinary cooking, her restaurant pulled in visitors and the ambiance of the place was an added factor.    


   Some of the dishes especially of Minang Cooking  met our likings.



19 January 2014 saw us on the road and leaving Putrajaya in the morning found us halting at Simpang Pulai near Ipoh with its green lay-by and affording a good breather for the tired bodies and then continuing for another 200 kilometres and more before reaching Alor Setar. The signage along the Highway tells that Bahasa Malaysia has never been adopted as the media though it is an obligation and necessity. The hills of Ipoh too with its quality marble seems to be eroded with the passing of time.   






In the evening upon reaching home we met with friends who had traveled from Kuala Lumpur as well as Kota Bharu to be in Alor Setar on the occasion of the Sultan of Kedah's birthday celebration. Tunku Khadijah Tengku Abdul Rahman, Syarifah Nur Aza, Tengku Yusoff and wife were  at Citarasa Restaurant.It was a happy occasion when we met old friends.




23 January 2014 saw me traveling north and to the Universiti Utara Malaysia Campus at Sintok. It was an opportunity to meet with old friends and former staff of the University. It was an occasion after thirty years when the administrators realized that an association of former staff of the University has to be formed and this was the launching ceremony of the Association. Hopefully the Association will grow and function successfully supporting ex members of the University. 





Come 23 January 2014 it was an opportunity to celebrate Maulidur Rasul at Titi Gajah and specifically at Restoran Citarasa TT Gajah. Guest Speaker was Ustaz Husammah from UUM. Neighbours, friends, relatives and former students attended. At the same occasion Dewan and Kafe Arshad Albanjari was officially opened. 






      Megat Hj Salleh introducing the guest speaker.





Five former students of SMSAH Jenan and Tunku Bendahara of Kodiang at the function remembering old times.  



 29 January 2014 saw us departing for KLIA by flight and exiting the terminal at KLIA one is pulled to give glances at the attractive displays of several new stalls that graced the corridors. The air journey that normally takes an hour landed much later due to heavy traffics at KLIA. The rush home for the Chinese New Year celebration added to the heavy traffic in the air and on the road.


 The varieties of handbags in the market especially in the up market sector see the women folks at a puzzling moment for the choice of one. It is recognizing the original from the fakes.






 30 January 2014. My wife's program to attend an old classmates gathering over dinner took us to a restaurant by the side of the lake at Putrajaya. It was a meeting that linked friendship with new friends and trust that other similar meetings will find their ways again.   The magnificent few of Putrajaya graced us from its vintage point.


31 January 2014  It was the last day of the month and yet again another wedding khenduri has to be attended and this was at Banting Ulu Langat. However over dinner at one of the restaurant in town we had a good choice of sea food and local dishes served. The price of 'ikan siakap' at RM 40.00 a piece indicated the pricey item that is part of the news at this point in time. It was your choice to have it cooked or to pick another dish.

 













Sometimes during the course of our visits and traveling, we unexpentingly meet with friends. This was one occasion when over breakfast I met up with Professor Hamid who hailed from Kelantan. Golden opportunities like this comes unexpected and a great reward..



How fortunate that the small camera that you carry with you manage to keep the records and it falls back on you only to rewind and trace back the moments. How otherwise would you bring back the past moments?