Sunday, October 30, 2011


We are pushed to look upwards as buildings go higher and higher. Malaysia does not lack behind in show-casting its grand towers. The KLCC Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur being the prima donna  followed by the Kuala Lumpur Tower and several others including the TM Tower at Bungsar. For sure even this week, another high rise project was launched representing  an icon for the Kuala Lumpur city.

NazaTTDI with a project of RM15 billion is set to start the KL Metropolis taking Kuala Lumpur to the height and distinction of a world city. How and what will come through is left to be seen.

Meantime I was made known by a friend in Canada of a new iconic tower being built and ready to be moved in by its residents before the year end. The Absolute World a landmark development in Toronto Canada ( 28/11/2006) saw an international design competition held with 600 registrants and 92 submissions all over the world. By 30/1/2007 six finalists were announced; they being  from Canada (2), UK (2), Mexico (1), China (1). 

The public were invited to vote for the favourite design and voting stopped 22/3/2007 . The winning design was announced 28/3/2007, Sales started  in May 2007 and the towers are expected ready by August 2011 or there about. 

The description above shows several aspects of the on going project. It has gone International. Competitive, fast tracking and with public feedback or participations. Of course there was a mad rush to purchase even before building started. The winner was an Architect firm Yansong Ma from China.

What's the design concept? What is its appeal? I leave it to you to see and guess why it is so much favored and why the rush to stay in this excitingly designed towers for the 'Absolute World'. At times when things are closer and intimate with us we forget to see the highlights and the impact. Possibly the guys from the orient continue to be overwhelmed by MM's effects. Then again imagination is a big realm. Huge. 

I wonder however why we continue to harp on the 'Metropolis' a long time even historic terminology by now. In short limiting the large overview especially in planning the city of the future in Malaysia.

Absolute World Tower 4 was dubbed 'Marilyn Monroe' by Sam Sibar during the announcement of the winning Yanson Ma design because to him it looked like MM.

p.s Thanks to my friend 'Uncle Lee' in Toronto who sparked my attention to this new tower which now joins the 'exciting towers of the world'

Friday, October 28, 2011


I am sure many of us are familiar with the word "Shangri-La' since many hotels in the country and else where in the world carry the name. I am made to understand that the first hotel that carries that name sprung in Singapore 1971 and there after many others follow throughout the world , all accepting the finery and  delightful design as put in place or even much better.

Then again 'Shangri-La' also evokes a mysterious, magical place that has been sought out as an earthly paradise. Yet to be discovered. The setting and the urge to discover 'Shangri La' came with the novel 'Lost Horizon' written by a British writer James Hilton in 1933. The seniors among us and the younger ones too who have opened the pages of the novel may know why there has been that search for " a mystical harmonious valley gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun mountains" The Hilton novel  placed Shangri-La synonymous with an earthly paradise but a mythical utopia' 

Each one of us may have dreams or sights of our own Shangri-La. Maybe we have found one because there are varieties of choices and not confined to the mysterious mountain abodes which has been sought for half a century now.They are however Sangria La or paradise that awaits us and that knowingly is easier to reach but with devotions, religiosity  and all the finer qualities of this present life.

Let me share with you some sights that caught my eyes and therefore the camera lenses of flora and fauna just around the Shangri-La at Putrajaya. The greenery surely grants freshness and life.

                         The palms and the shadows caught in the afternoon light

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


 WHEN were you last in Malacca? We were there on Saturday /Sunday 22 and 23 October 2011. If you have not been there in the last three years or so then expect the unexpected.. The city centre can be in the running with what our nearest neighbour in the south has done. No wonder there is a large flow of Singaporeans in the city by the sights of tourist buses and cars.

It is a generalized opinion since being in the state for no more than twenty four hours. But what you see, what hit you is enough to show that there has been changes. a BIG CHANGE too. How we wish other states in Malaysia especially with the God's gift of their flora and fauna and the winding RIVERS wake up to reality and do the necessary for reasons they can conjure up themselves. Either for revenue or for the simple reason of protecting our environments.  There is a wake up CALL but who hears!

And I am not touching on heritage issue yet. That's another special case for Malacca and others to copy. ( Yes, no need to crack your heads and minds - just follow what they have done) No need to travel outside the country and come home after enjoying the tour and sit back dreaming and nothing transpires. Yes a much repeated story.
    By the way our visit to Malacca took a BIG alternative. We traveled by car to the city. Parked and the vehicle stayed put until we were ready to depart. We carried TWO bicycles in the booth. Bolehkah dua buah basikal dimasukkan ke dalam 'boot' kereta? Mengapa tidak kalau kita guna gerek 'foldie' atau 'basikal lipat'. Lihatlah apa terjadi bila basikal jenis ini dibawa bersama.

                       Not easy to fit in but possible if you disassemble the wheels

      A row of 'foldies' in the hotel foyer ready for their riders in the morning. Yes safety too the bikes are 'parked' inside, under shelter and under watchful eyes.

                                                             Folded and light too

      This is the scene by the old Malacca River, renewed and alive again caught before 8.00 am.. Imagine if it was much earlier in the morning, it would have represented a more intimate atmosphere.The old backyards corners of homes have thrived exploding their values and statures. Was it so five centuries ago?

        The truth to my earlier statement

      We were in this Putrajaya Urban Riders group by pure coincidence as we just decided to join them a few hours earlier.. Even the hotel rooms where the group have booked were full. Never to be disappointed we checked out via internet booking. Yes it is available. next time if the hotel says it is full house, you know it is still available via internet booking

      Caught these ladies on the steps of the Malacca old Istana all geared up for the next route along the Malacca River

      Kampong Morten along the Malacca River, an example of pride and love for the homes we have.

      The families take pride in displaying their homes

       Intricacies and modernity . Salutes to the power that takes pride in the beautification of this city

               Feel like showing ourselves today because it was our anniversary by chance on the same date.

                                        Before and after. One as it is and the other folded up for easy carriage

      (Friends overseas, please see what you can get when you fly home to Malaysia. Only don't go for the BMW,Volvo, VW etc. You won't see what are captured in the photos above. Get yourselves ready to cycle . You have done that many decades ago so no problem getting back to peddle power. We can provide the foldies.) or you can bring one yourself. The airline will provide carrier facilities as its your luggage.)

      Friday, October 14, 2011


      MALAYSIA celebrated its 54th Merdeka 0n 31st August 2011. Coincidentally the sighting of the moon for Syawal 1432H fell at the same date, meaning it was a double celebration for Malaysians.

      To us who once saw service as teachers in Brunei a half century ago, it was an occasion with tints of nostalgia for when Ramadan came it was time for us to leave for homes in the Semenanjung for a month long annual leave.One of our terms of service was a fully paid annual leave for Ramadan and Aidilfitri.It included a night stop in Singapore, only seeing us continuing on the flight the following day. The Malayan Airways which flew the the twin propeller 'Dakota' did not fly direct. No there was no direct flight as now. A flight that took only two hours now between Kuala Lumpur and Bandar Seri Begawan ( Bandar Brunei) would reached its destination after ten flying hours not counting the night stop either way.Neither was there a direct flight between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The journey saw the plane halting at Malacca, Kuala, Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang. Alor Setar and Kota Bharu on its normal schedule before returning on the same route in the evening. Similarly the flight from Brunei saw halting at Sibu and Kuching before reaching Singapore.Earlier it originated from Jesselton in North Borneo ( Sabah). That was the luxury of flying then and we complained of delay and other uncertainties now even with all the comforts and luxuries added. At Singapore we had the feel of the old hotels such as Adelphi, Raffles, Cathay, Singapore or the Peninsula and thrown in with shopping at the entrepot city no doubt with some of the stipends saved while in Brunei.  

      Only after celebrating Aidilfitri with the families would we make the return journey to Brunei. It was all in that fortunate circumstances when Brunei saw it right to have the long school vacation break in the month of Ramadan contrary to what was practiced in Malaya then. However now its the end of the year choice for all.

      Now after fifty plus years, an occasion to visit Brunei as a group  with friends including those who had served there before, especially coming after the Aidilfitri celebration would indeed be a memorable home coming of a different kind but surely deep with nostalgia and memories. Trust with the organization of such a visit, I managed to get twenty persons to make that visit come through. So on the 27th of September 2011 we saw the group taking off from LCCT, KLIA at 6.45 in the morning for Bandar Seri Begawan. Two hours and fifteen minutes later we were already across the South China Sea and in the comforts of friends who had waited for our arrival. 

      When you see and feel the success of such a visit, whatever hiccups or shortcomings there were evaporated into thin air. Much has to be told and the story will continue.Suffice it was a throw back into time for the meantime.       

      Two senior friends who remained in Brunei after their terms of service were there to welcome us. Dato Hj Abdul Jalil Abdul Rahman and Hj Mustapha Shawal. The writer noting what to say at the welcome 'brunch'

      Hj Maawiah Hj Abdullah is another member who found Brunei hard to resist and therefore remained behind. He is here with Harris Dato Jaafar.

      A much welcome member of our group - Dato Baharuddin Marji and Datin. The most senior member in the group and respectfully our lecturer at Kirkby College Liverpool. We are happy to have both of them and they are especially welcomed by our friends in Brunei as they too knew Dato and wife since 1956.

      Thankful to our hosts in Brunei for all the arrangement and especially the convenience of a bus

      A delicious brunch was served here. Notice the signage. One that has remained in Brunei since we were there fifty plus years ago. Jawi scripts are a must for all commercial signage.

                Another monument that has stood the test of time. It remained where it was built.

       Dato Baharuddin looking at some photographs of his former students when they were at Kirkby College. In batik Hj Rawi Abdul Rahman of Kota Bharu who was also a member of the Kirkby teachers who saw action in Brunei in the 1960s. We were at lunch hosted by Dato Suni Idris, the only Brunei student who was together with us at Kirkby. Dato Suni served as an ambassador for Brunei in several countries before retirement.

      Dato Suni Idris and his lecturer. They met again since 1958. Yes the visit was especial since as I have said a home coming or a 'balikkampong'  extra ordinary. 

      Some of the lady members in the group that make the tour to Brunei. For many of them it was their first visit.

      My son in the middle who was born in Brunei, making his first visit. Have yet to know from him what it felt to see the place where you first see this world.Believe it or not during the 4D/3N we were in Brunei, we had no opportunity to spend Brunei $ in the cafe or restaurant. Friends and former students filled all the lunch and dinner schedules, even a high tea. It was cordial and solid camaraderie.  
      Of course 'Kampong Ayer' is a must visit in our itinerary . It is still there but with many improvements and a delightful place to be included in the tour.

      A golden opportunity. Coincidence or a matter of stepping out correctly?. We were guests at the Malaysian High Commission Malaysia Day Celebration and the opportunity to have this photograph taken together with the High Commissioner and the Minister of Education Brunei who we learned was one of our students at SOAS College Brunei in the 1960's.   

      On arrival at Berakas Airport and welcomed by friends. Second from left Pehin (Col) Ariffin one of my Brunei Rugby players was there too. Meeting the old friends again was the highlights of our visit.

         Sixteen members of the visiting delegation. Four others must be around the shopping arcade just a few steps away from the 'Centrepoint' Hotel where we stayed.