Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mount Bunga Buah-Berangan

From Left: Apit, Ti, Baung, Azizah, Forever Yours and Mahfiz
Courtesy of Mahfiz's camera

A true friend is one soul in two bodies. ~ Aristotle ~
People say, nobody should live alone in this world. We need at least a friend or a family to support us emotionally if not financially. Hahaha... that is out of the subject.

My posting this time is not about the summit that I've recently conquered. It is more about the journey that brought bonding of friendship that goes stronger because of hardship. This is also a mountain story but not of 'Mount of Agony'. This one is called Mount of Bunga Buah-Berangan :)

Unlike my previous sojourn to Mount Chabang, I shared a tale of suffering while climbing one of the toughest mountain in my list as per that moment. The next mountain was Mount Bunga Buah or Mount Flower of Fruits (direct translation in English) in Genting Highland, Pahang. This one tells a different side of mountaineering story :)

Here goes....

Azizah & I taking a break 30 minutes away from the peak. Beautiful view at the back :)

The rest of the gang, arriving a few minutes after us. More at the back. We were always infront :)
Mount Bunga Buah was only 1,500 meters in heights. To go there, you may just park your car half way at the entrance near the road leading up to Genting Highland. Then take a walk using the old paved road that is now covered with all sorts of vegetations and swarmed with leeches. Yikes!!

Generally speaking this mountain was the easiest to climb. The trek was fair, going up and down giving you a variety of feelings. The weather was cold at the time we were there; it was around 21-14 degree Celsius because of the constant rain from day of trekking till the wee hours and till morning and till we got back to the starting point at 1.15 p.m. Sigh…. Mahfiz was diligently checking on the temperature from time to time :)

The most memorable thing about the climb was Buah Berangan or Chestnuts in English, bought by Azizah at the Genting Sempah rest area. It was our savior because we were mentally down due to growling stomach and uneven ground to sleep on. We were out of food supply. We were trekking non-stop, skipping lunch. We ate at 6.30 p.m. and we were not motivated to even go to the peak which was only 5 minutes away! Huh! The Chestnuts which were forgotten earlier lifted our spirit and woken our gastronomical senses. Thank God!

We were like nuts talking under the fly sheets. Because our eyes just can’t be closed with the condition we were in. We were angry for we were hungry and the stories kept us going. Buah Berangan which we ate divided equally to all, helped us drifted to a dreamless sleep for awhile. Then heavy rain came at 4.00 a.m. to leave us sleepless again till morning came because we were wet with drops of water coming through the non-water proofed fly sheet. Sigh…

The next morning… due to sleepless night, we decided to pack up early and shoot down without going to the peak which was only 5 minutes away. For Azizah and me, this was not our first time climbing Mount Bunga Buah, so I was not motivated to reach the peak as well. Surprisingly, Mahfiz, Apit and Baung all agreed not to go too because all of us were not motivated by the night’s ordeal.

However, after breakfast, our spirit started to soar just like when we first started to climb. We were back to our jolly selves but still stick to our decision not to go to the peak this time. We will repeat next time in a better condition. We headed down fast enough to catch up with our next agenda, i.e. to visit Azizah’s new apartment :)

The three of us missing Mie because he was not with us in this trip :)

The moral of the story here was that, when we go through hardship together, we become closer to the person who shared it with us. Through hardship, we get to know each other better. And through hardship we learn to appreciate little things we do not usually care in our every day’s lives. Hardship is good once in awhile. It kept us grounded and more humble.

That’s all folks. Till the next posting, I want to wish everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009!!!

Mwah! Mwah!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mount Chabang - The Summit Dream

Magnificent light from the first ray of sunrise from Mount Chabang
All photos courtesy to Mahfiz

“It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe”. ~ Muhammad Ali ~

What people do for fulfillment in life is beyond comprehension. Everyone has their own dreams to reach up to whatever they wish in this life of evanescence. I love everything that is from the creation of time immemorial. Animals, people, jungle, rocks and mountains, it all has something to teach us. I love a balanced ecosystem whereby we all could live with peace and harmony. I go to the jungle often enough to find my peace. It makes me happy, it makes me humble to the great creation of the Invincible.

My recent mountaineering adventure was in the State of Perak. I joined Azizah and Mahfiz for a meaningful weekend climb on 28th-30th Nov’08. The mountain is called Mount Chabang situated near Pos Selim, Simpang Pulai, Perak. It is at the heights of 1,711 meters (5,612 ft) from sea level. We started our journey from the Orang Asli Village of Pos Selim on Saturday, 29th. As we passed through, children and adults greeted us with smiles and curiosities. We took the opportunity to snap a few photos with them. Always fascinated with their original ways of living :)

From the starting point - Pos Selim, The Orang Asli Village

The suffering started there and there soon after a river crossing. It was an ascending trail all the way up and up and up endlessly! As we progressed… the terrain got higher and higher. Lots of bamboos and thorny rattan trees. The ground was slippery due to recent rain. One wrong step means kissing the ground, struggling and crawling was the way to do it as stand up would be quite difficult. Muddied and not much trees to hang on to. My Goodness…This mountain has no MERCY!

With much difficulties, sweats, scraped calves and arms, heavy breathing, twisted ankles and etc., we reached our campsite, ‘Kem Botak’ (Bold Camp) to spend our night before shooting off to the peak. It took us almost 7 hours of hiking. We didn’t shoot to the peak just yet. We saved it for the next day to regain back the lost energy.

Botak Camp was a great place indeed. It offers the best view of the surrounding mountains. You can see all of them in their best glories. We had great time on top with lots of photos as evidence of our almost conquest of Mount Chabang. It’s only 45 minutes away from the summit. But it can wait for a little while :)

As always the case in the jungle, I can hardly sleep. It was real cold sleeping under a fly and a ground sheet. But I dozed off at the end, I think. Except for our friend, Mahfiz. He couldn’t sleep till the wee hours. He took photos of the night scene. Very beautiful.

Morning glory - Camping at the top was awesome!

Then morning came, with all its glory. Soooooo beautiful. The first ray of light. We all ran out to witness nature’s wonder. A magnificent creation! I was truly humble by the magnanimous beauty!

After breakfast, prepared by our designated Chef, Ijan and Fiza, we shoot off to the summit. Nothing much to see but the beirut to mark the summit and the marking stone. We took crazy photos of victory. That was real feat when you know that you have reached the highest peak.

Faces of triumph - we've made it! Malaysia Boleh!

Everyone say Hahaha....

Just about 30 minutes after, we shoot down the ‘Mountain of Agony’. Again, it was not easy to descend as the trail was steep, muddied and full of thorns, that you can’t simply touch anything. However, it was much easier than ascending. Hehehe… it took us only about 3 half hours to get back to where we had started. That fast! Yes! Because we were sliding and gyrating down the mountain like a rotten jackfruit or “macam nangka busuk jatuh” from the tree.Yes, that bad lah!

Tired, hurt, sweating, spent but triumphant - back to the Orang Asli Village

We took bath at a nearby river, under a bridge. Who cares anymore. Changing clothes in the open conveniently and off we shoot to Cameron Highland. We want to buy strawberries and roses. That’s the aim. And we got what we aimed for.

It was started to rain. We have our strawberry umbrellas for shelter. Nice… :)

We drove back home around evening, Sunday, 30th Dec’08. I requested for our team to cut short the rendezvous because I had another important one in KL :)

Thank you to Mahfiz, I got to reach home just nicely to drop my hiking bag and flowers from Cameron Highland. Then off I go to my next rendezvous :)

18 members of climbers, i.e. myself, Mahfiz, Mie aka Adam, Along, Azizah, Mie-G, Fasha, Ijan, Fiza, Bad, Sue, Kechik, Ijoi, Lela, Ben-Kerex, Salam-Kerex, Nazri, Naza, Salman. The guides were Botak, Omar & Amir.

Please note that I appreciate all whom has helped me during the difficult climb. Firstly to Azizah and Mahfiz for the tears and the laughter. Next to Mie for temporarily exchanged his bag to mine which was much heavy, to Along for being sporting with us all, to Sue who had passed me the stick to ease my climb, to Omar who kept me company, sang and tied my shoe laces twice on the trail, hehehe….to Fitri and Salam for accompanying me on the trail to Botak Camp, to Nazri and Naza for great photo seasons, to Ijan and Fizah for the fantastic cooking, and not to forget all the rest of the gang Mie-G, Bad, Kechik, Ijoi, Lela and the guides for being sporting throughout. Thank you all for making it an enjoyable and bearable experience :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Road Not Taken

Bamboo tree of Kenaboi jungle in Negeri Sembilan

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost 1874-1963)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I have this mood today for reading poems. Lots of poems of old and new. You just pick any subject that suits you for free in the world-wide-web. Sometimes I like to read classical master pieces and my true favourite is Emily Bronte (1818-1849) because she wrote Wuthering Heights. A famous classical novel but very sad one. Reading it was like pain itself. You got what I mean :)

It is her one and only novel in her 31-year short lifespan. However, she was a very gloomy person living in a gloomy world. I wouldn't want to attract gloomy spirits into my life. This is according to The Law of Attraction. We all are our own destiny. We choose what we want in life. You wish and the universe will conspire to make it happen for you. Hahaha... Some of you might understand what I'm talking about.

Just to share with all my loyal and new readers in blogspot and multiply, this ever famous poem which has been a source of inspiration to many of us in this world. Here is the complete text of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Friday, November 07, 2008

SKY WHAT?... Sky Fruit Babe :)

This is Sky Fruit babe...

Having great interest in botany, my family always search for special herbs for remedies of ailments. We have been practicing natural cure, alternative to modern medicines since as long as I can remember. If can be avoided, we do not go to hospitals. Since child, I had great interest in knowing what nature could offer and always it leaves me amazed and full of wonder of the greatness of creation.

In my journey to happiness celebrating Eid Festival in north part of Malaysia, namely Kedah and Perlis, my sister pointed to me a tree which my father explained as mahogany. It is a type of timbre tree that is widely sought after for furniture industry for it has a wonderful wood colour of reddish brown. My father recognised the tree immediately for he has been in the logging business before in Borneo (but not anymore, ya). My sister told him, that it is called Sky Fruit Tree or in Malay, Pokok Buah Tunjuk Langit. She said, a lot of people who knew of the tree will go and get the fruits for its medicinal value.

What interests me the most, however is the name of the fruit, i.e. Sky Fruit or Buah Tunjuk Langit. Why is it so-called? Then I see the answer clearly with no assistance. The fruits all pointed up to the sky and it only appear at the shoots, clustering at the end of each branch. True to its name, Sky Fruit shoots up skywards. A good name and very suiting, isn’t it :)

We were so lucky that it was the time of the year when the fruits were maturing. It has a unique shape as you can see in the photos. When it is matured, the fruit will split and all the seeds will fly like a helicopter fan, flying away following the wind. Actually, botanically speaking, this is how big trees spread their genetics to other places and territory. See the logic :) The intelligence of God’s creation. I took one seed from the ground and demonstrated to my nephews and only niece, how the seed spins in the air like a helicopter wing. They all learned something interesting that day :)

Then my mother started nagging for my sister to show her where she can pick up the fruits in quantity. We were lucky because we found that many roadsides in Kedah actually were planted with mahogany to give shades. This is done during Tun Dr. Mahathir’s time, our 4th Prime Minister. He has this vision of planting timbre trees along stretches of highways and streets for its timbre as well as preserving timbre species and future supply. For example, you may notice Teak or 'Pokok Jati' (a type of timbre tree for furniture) being planted along the North-South Highway. Apart from landscaping purposes, it is also planted for research and timbre harvest. Another kind of intelligence from a person I most admired. During his rein, a lot of progress and new ideas came into our landscaping scene :)

Back to Sky Fruit (scientific name: Swietenia macrophylla), it has a tremendous amount of medicinal value. You may read it in the internet search of this fruit later and be amazed by it. It is almost like a magic fruit :) To keep it short, here is a cut and paste miracle explanation of SKY FRUIT:

"In 1996, a team of renowned American biochemists had encountered a major discovery during their research that there are abundant of Flavonoids (found in Citrus, Gingko, Tea and Red Wine) and Saponins (found in Ginseng and has a bitter taste) in SKY FRUIT." Info from myskyfruit.com.

Flavonoids have antioxidant activity. Flavonoids are becoming very popular because they have many health promoting effects. Some of the activities attributed to flavonoids include: anti-allergic, anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. The flavonoids quercetin is known for its ability to relieve hay fever, eszema, sinusitis and asthma. Taken from this site.

Saponins have many health benefits. Studies have illustrated the beneficial effects on blood cholesterol levels, cancer, bone health and stimulation of the immune system. Read more at this site.

Needless to say more. Here are the summary of the benefits:

- Revitalize sex drive
- Revitalize energy
- Increase strength
- Rebuild tissues
- Increase pregnancy rate
- Supporting healthy energy
- Reactivate cells
- Beauty agent
- Anti-aging
- Strengthen stomach, heart, lungs, liver, spleen
- Replenish blood and strengthen arteries
- Regulate blood sugar
- Restore healthy heart and brain, etc.

Now do you see why it is called MAGIC FRUIT!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gunung Besar Hantu

Wan, Azix, Liza, Azizah, Dee, Lyn & Mahfiz (front) - photo courtesy of Mahfiz

In my quest to fill up my time as much as possible, not leaving a single moment wasted, I join a group of outdoor friends in multiply.com. From there on, it turned out that we are constantly planning for activities. Sometimes, not all can be fit into the schedule.

Last weekend was the most interesting so far. We went for a mountain climbing in Negeri Sembilan. The mountain is called ‘Gunung Besar Hantu’ or Big Ghost Mountain (with direct translation). It is the highest peak in Negeri Sembilan at 1,462 meters. Situated about 100km from Seremban.

We started our journey on Friday night, 24th Oct’08 and came back on Monday morning, 27th Oct'08 during Deepavali public holiday (I'm sorry my Hindu friends, I missed visiting you guys this year).

A night in Jeram Gading

Friday night, 24th Oct'08 we started our journey from KL Sentral to Ampangan, Negeri Sembilan to meet up with the group leader, Mahfiz. He's one of the key person from an outdoor group in Negeri Sembilan area, namely Kenaboi Adventure. We were hungry like a wolf, so we ate first at the Ampangan area by his suggestion. Our initial plan was to have a BBQ night at one of the camp site. It turned out that our plan didn’t materialized. So instead, we spend the night in Jeram Gading playing cards till the wee hours accompanied by Wan and Lobbo as sentry.

Talking about Jeram Gading, we reached the place at around 1.00 a.m. so nothing much to see but darkness and water flowing in the river. However, from my torch light, I can tell, that it is an awesome place if ventured in day time.
Jeram Gading ('gading' means ivory) derived its name from incidences whereby elephant tusks were found in this area once upon a time in history. It used to be a resting place for Malay Rulers when travelling between Jelebu in Negeri Sembilan to Pahang State. And it is also a place of Malay religious ritual of 'Mandi Safar' (bathing in the river or sea to wash away bad luck).

Kg. Chennah

Morning 25th Oct'08, 7.30am we headed for breakfast at Kg. Chennah in Jelebu. We had 'nasi lemak' and bought over ration at the nearby groceries. We met with Amir, another key person from Kenaboi Adventure. Mahfiz managed to persuade him to guide us to Gunung Besar Hantu.
At the coffee shop, we got to see the simple kampong life. It facinated your soul that even a cat could attract your attention :)

Around 9.30am, We went to Amir's house to prepare for equipments and to start packing our bags. It was a cute kampong house that anyone would admire. We got to know his mother, Mak Long who was very humble and friendly. She took us all into her hospitality with warmth embrace of a mother. Dee and Azix, two of our team members arrived at around 10.00am.

Our friends, Man Tibet and Lobbo who were assigned to take us with 4WD to the trekk has been arriving at Mak Long house before Dee and Azix but still we were stuck waiting for our pack lunch to be readied. We forgot to order earlier. It took so long to get it delivered. The menu was 'Cendawan Kukur' and 'Chicken Chilli'. Around 12.15noon we managed to get into the Toyota Hilux, heading to our starting point of hiking.

Kg. Tohor and a ride on 4WD

Our next destination was Ponak Camp Site to stop for lunch. Before we reached there, Mahfiz and Man Tibet stopped at a nearby aborigine village, i.e. Kg. Tohor to get ourselves a few stick of Lemang (glutanuos rice with coconut milk cooked in bamboo). It was made by the aborigine people of Temiar Tribe which inhabited the Jelebu area. Coincidentally, they are also celebrating their festive day. All cheerful and colourfully attired especially the children.

We got ourselves what we aimed for, the lemangs. We head straight to Ponak Camp Site to stop for our lunch. The initial plan was to have our BBQ dinner there a night earlier, but since we were too late, it has to be canceled. The place was breathtakingly beautiful. Suitable for leisure camping with BBQ, guitar and camp fire. Sigh... I wish... (that was meant for a repeat).

Getting to Orchid Camp Site

At 2.00pm we reach our starting point. It took us about 30 minutes to get ready with our things, photo taking and prayer citing. The aim was to jungle trekk to Ochid Camp Site which is about 900 meters above sea level. That will be the place for us to camp that night. We targeted to reach there in within 4 hours time.

So off we go... my goodness, I realised how unfit I was. The sometimes muddied trail gets into your psych and it slowed you down. You got tired easily. This can't be happening to me. I just feel so dejected by the fact that my body was failing me.

Sg. Kering (taken by MahF15)

On the way to Ochid Camp, we took a stop in Sg. Kering at 3.30pm. A very beautiful river with clear water. We replenish our water supply over there. Then head straight again to our destination.

We reached Orchid Camp Site at around 6.30pm. When we reached there, we met up with 82 campers who just got down from the peak of Gunung Besar Hantu because they trekked a day ealier than us. We barely had enough space to build our tent. Lucky that Mahfiz talked Jeman, one of the other guide to relocate his tent to some other place. With only 8 of us, a fly and a ground sheet were more than sufficient for the night.

Wild Orchid which grows in abundance; the origin of the camp site name
(Photo taken by Wan with Sony DSC200)

The 82 camper.

As usual I was the designated cook for the night (only cook in the jungle, not in real life). It was nice to contemplate the jungle night life. I learned how a banshee may sounds like (if you all belief me – no wonder they call it Big Ghost Mountain, very noisy lonely Banshee circling the camp),crickets, and whatever monkey species were heard too. I don’t really feel scared because there were too many people around. We continued with playing cards till wee hours and chatting till almost no time to sleep. The wake up time was at 4.00am! Oh dear!

The Summit

We've made it!
(From MahF15 Camera - taken by Lyn)

26th Oct'08 at exactly 5.28am (Mahfiz time), we started our journey to the top. Our aim was to see the sunrise. The track was all upwards that sometimes almost vertical. However, trekking in the dark makes it a lot easier when you don’t see the real heights.

7.32am (Mahfiz time – my time keeper Azizah has forgotten her role this time, sigh…), we've made it to the top!!! It was soooo breathtakingly beautiful from up there. You can even see clearly Genting Highland buildings. Other mountains like Nuang and bla bla bla (can not recognize cause I have not yet climb them) can be seen. The sky was blue… everything was perfecto!!! Superb!! Marvelous!! Mwah! Mwah!

Congratulations to Mahfiz, Wan, Azizah, Dee, Azix and Lyn. Not to forget, Amir, Man Tibet, Lobo and Mak Long, a heartfelt gratitude for everything :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Family is Best

Left: My handsome youngest brother CD, cooking lemang on eve of Hari Raya
Right: My younger sister Lyn with her family

1st Photos: My eldest sister's family, Along
2nd Photo: My second sister's family, Angah

From Left: My cute little nephew, Shahmi and my dad, yellow babe, my kind-hearted mom, my third sister Alang, younger sister, Lyn (front row) and youngest sister Fika (front row)

Yours truly in Yellow Nyonya Kebaya with Sarawak Batik Sarong

All of the above are photos of my fabulous and happiest Eid Celebration with my loved ones. I had the best Hari Raya in three long years and so happy to share it with everyone in this blog :)

I spend my first day of Raya with families at home, in Kg. Damai, Kuang, Selangor. I came back home on the eve of Hari Raya itself (due to some unforeseen circumstances). At that time, my brother CD was cooking lemang at the front of the house with my nephew Faiz and my father. My younger sister Lyn and her family were there earlier. When they all see me, I can see smiles on everyone’s face. Heehee… I was welcomed with so much love and warmth.

Not long after me, came my sister Alang. Both of us were late. Oh dear… Lucky I was back on time to see the lemang cooking. This year, my big brother Shahril was not celebrating with us. He went back to his wife’s place in Perak. As usual, couples will argue which home to go back to, whenever there is Hari Raya. Well, next year we all will be around as one big family.

Never mind that, on the eve of Hari Raya, we cook lemang (rice cooked with coconut milk in bamboo), rendang (beef cooked with special spices and coconut milk) and ketupat (rice cooked in casing made from coconut leaf)with kuah kacang (spicy ground nuts gravy). I slept at 2.00 am after all was done and in order.

On the first day of Hari Raya, everyone was in their new traditional attire. Men with songkok (black head dress) and sampin (a piece of sarong-like material wrapped around the men’s waist) whilst the ladies with tudung, kebaya and baju kurung. My sisters whom have families of their own preferred to wear themselves with same-colour theme of blue and pink and red but me and the rest whom are still single have no theme at all :) We wore whatever we like. We received a record breaking guest on the first day of Hari Raya. I was left tired but happy doing dishes and cleaning up the table.

On the second day of Hari Raya we went off to Tanjung Malim, Perak to pay visit to my mom’s side of family. Oh dear… we visited to so many houses that I have never step foot in my life. Towards the end of the day, my father suggested we all shoot off to Kedah to spend Hari Raya kampong style visiting my sister, Angah husband’s hometown. Wow!!! What a drastic decision on second day of Raya… But we all went along with it, anyway.

On the third day of Hari Raya, we were in Kg. Permatang Bonglai Besar, Air Hitam, Jerlun, Kedah. Like in a dream. Waking up in a house surrounded by paddy field, coconut trees and all those chickens. Wow! I had a true blast!

My father wanted to buy some bamboo trees for his garden and the best place was in Perlis. So off we went to Perlis just to get the bamboo. So lucky the nursery is near the Taman Ular and Reptilia Perlis, so we went it for a peek.

It was a real fun time for me and my nephews. I seldom had time going out with them, so the Hari Raya break and the journey to Kedah, was an awesome experience for all of us. It brought us closer as family.

We have pledge ourselves to get together again next year with better programme with families to create better bonding and to create memories for years to remember.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Beauty, i.e PEARL

Akoya Pearls - Silver, Rose and Ivory (Photo taken from Pearl-Guide.com)

In my previous postings, I have written about my jewelleries and gemstones of Water Agate Bracelet, Rose Quartz Pendant, Citrine Ring, 21-Eye Dzi Beads with Obsidian Bracelet, Golden-Strand Ritulated Quartz Bracelet and Jade Neclace. Today, I am called to write about another magnificent type of gemstone that fascinates me, i.e. PEARLS.

I believe not many of us understand the real value of pearl. It is very different from any other gemstones because of its organic nature. It comes from animals, molluscs (clam family like oyster and mussel) to be exact. Pearl is one of the most sought after gemstone for jewellery. Fascinating, isn’t it!

Astrologically speaking, pearl is the gemstone for people born under the sign of Cancer and Gemini. Why is it so? Well, because pearl is synonymous with the moon which appears in these signs. Some folklore described pearls as the 'teardrops of the moon’. Why associate it with the moon? Logically speaking, because of its translucent lustre and unique colour, it almost reminisce the shine of the moon. Haha…

Spiritually, pearl is the symbol of feminine wisdom, purity, and spiritual transformation. It changes bad fortune into good and discord into harmony. It also brings support from influential people.

A story about my knowledge of pearl industry; I spend my whole adolescent life in the Island of Borneo. This is where I develop my sense of adventure :) We were living in the East Coast area of (Tawau and Lahad Datu). In between the town of Tawau and Lahad Datu, there is this town, namely Semporna that used to be a very famous spot for pearl enthusiasts. A Local-Japanese joint venture company namely Sarikat Kaya Pearls Sdn Bhd used to operate a cultured pearl farm (akoya pearl) in Bohey Island, 18km away from Semporna which covers some 11.5 hectares of area since 1963. However, I was informed that the pearl farm has no longer in existence. My mother used to buy loose pearls to make up earrings, pendants and bracelets. She even bought it in bulks to give away as souvenirs for family members back home in. I wonder what the price of pearls in Semporna is now.

Back to the subject of PEARLS, there are many types in the market today. It can be a natural pearl or a cultured pearl and it can be saltwater or fresh water. Natural pearl is very rear nowadays. In the olden days, people go for pearl hunting by diving into the deep sea to look for one. It can be a dangerous job. However, because of its rarity, the natural wholly formed pearl can be very precious as well as very expensive. While cultured pearl means it is cultivated in a pearl farm with human intervention. The man who worked hard on pearl farming industry and made it so famous all over the world was Kokichi Mikimoto (1858-1954). Although it was not him that invented the first pearl culturing technology, he was credited as THE FATHER OF THE MODERN CULTURED PEARL INDUSTRY. He successfully cultured whole akoya pearls and founded the modern cultured pearl industry. You may get all the information from the internet :)

Now what is the difference between saltwater pearl and freshwater pearl. Well, both are produced by totally different types of mollusc that lives in different habitats. Saltwater mollusc lives in saline (salty) water of the sea while freshwater mollusc lives in rivers, lakes and ponds. They are totally of different species and genetics :)

Examples of the famous saltwater pearls are akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls, and South Sea pearls. Akoya pearls are the most famous to make up jewelery because it is very rounded and suitable for necklaces, bracelets, earrings and even rings. Imagine yourself to be given an akoya pearl necklace. Wouldn’t it be fantastic! Wow!

However, freshwater pearls can be very valuable too because unlike saltwater pearl, it is generated as a whole pearl with no bead nucleus inserted in the molluscs. It needs only little stimulation to enable the pearl to develop. Therefore, freshwater pearls rarely well rounded like saltwater pearl which follows the shape of its bead nucleus inserted in the molluscs. A well rounded freshwater pearl has a high value. Quality freshwater pearl necklace for example has to be in the same size and colour to produce well appreciated jewellery.

Different type of mollusc produces different type of quality pearls. It varies in sizes as well as colours. For example, black pearl is produced by "black-lipped" oyster, or Pinctada Margaritifera cumingi. A well rounded pearl usually is suitable to be made into necklaces. Black pearl necklace is the symbol of elegance and class. You may want to get one for yourselves or your loved ones. Ever since the revolution of pearl farming by Kokichi Mikimoto, the price of pearls is affordable to most of us. You may find this site valuable to buy good pearl jewelery:)

Lady Di final pearl necklace before her tragic death

Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz likes to wear her pearls in most of her formal functions.

Pearls are good for gifts. It signifies pureness of heart, honesty, sincerity, wisdom, and pure love. Not many dare to buy pearls as gifts due to fear of people thinking that it might be fake ones. Therefore, when buying pearls, please ensure you do a little research on it, know how to value it and pick a quality one. Famous people who like to wear pearls are Lady Di, Princess of Wales and Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, our former Minister of International Trade & Industry.

To think of it, women have so much to be thankful for. Women adorned and pampered themselves with the best of beauties in this world of evanescent. If people ask me to describe beauty, I would say, “Beauty starts with Eve”. Adam would agree with me :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bukit Tabur Night Climb

Top view of Bukit Tabur at around 2.30 a.m. - Photo curtesy of Mahfiz

Eight of us on the top! Yea!!! - Dee Z, Along, Myself, Azizah, Yani, Mahfiz, Lyn and Mie

Bukit Tabur is located in Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur under the administration of Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ). The hill is a very popular hiking spot. Bukit Tabur is also known as Bukit Hangus by the locales. To go to Bukit Tabur, from Kuala Lumpur city centre, the easiest was to use the Middle Ring Road 2.

Our team of eight people went there at a meeting point near Giant Hypermarket in Taman Permata oppisite of Taman Melawati. We started our climb at around 1.00 a.m. after all has arrived. The starting point was at the Klang Gate Dam.

Earlier on, myself and Azizah, one of my Mount Tahan mate, Mie aka Adam and Along both are my newfound outdoor friends went for shopping spree at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. The plan was to buy myself Baju Kebaya Nyonya and Baju Melayu for my beloved younger brother. I got all those shopping done beautifully. However, it was a very jamed night. The amount of people shopping that night was out of your mind. You can hardly breath. In the end, the three of us, only I did all the shopping. I got all what I was looking for with big smile on my face. Can't wait to flaunt my yellow Kebaya Nyonya this Hari Raya :)

Done with shopping, we head straight to Taman Permata via Selayang-Batu Caves-Taman Permata. We met with the rest of the team at 12.00 mid night.

Arriving at the Klang Gate Dam around 12.30 a.m. we started our climb at around 1.00 a.m. I have been retiring from climbing exactly one year ago. My last climb was Gunung Tahan and I never went anywhere afterwards. Lack of training makes me feel so unfit and humble compared to my younger team mates. I used to be a very good climber last time. Hehe... This is really making me feel so old! No way! I was panting at the beginning. However, once I got used to the speed and the terrain, it's getting easier. Thank God.

The hill is about 1000 meters in height. However, it is very rocky. It was made of quartz/limestone combination. A climber needs a good shoe grip in order to climb and a little bit of wall climbing skill because you will find a lot of those vertical rocky walls. Climbing Bukit Tabur really brought back those time when myself and Azizah were in Mount Tahan because the geographical condition was very much like climbing from Camp Pangkin to the top of Tahan. And climbing at night time was something Azizah and I were used to while in Tahan. We were always late to reach our camps because it was difficult and very slow climbing with the blind people. Usually we end up reaching our destination at 8.00 or 9.00 o'clock in the heavy rain situation. It was very nostalgic. I missed all those experience. Makes me determine to repeat Gunung Tahan climb with friends this time.

Back to Bukit Tabur, it was real fun climbing with newfound friends and not to forget my adorable friend, Azizah. She's the reason to all these new madness in outdoor. I was thankful to her for coming back into my life when I needed it the most.

Dee Z, Yanie and Mie

Not to underestimate Bukit Tabur, it has certain areas that are a bit challenging. At one part, one has to use a rope to go down. Those who has heights problem might feel a bit difficult to go through that phase. This happened to Azizah, surprisingly. She's the queen of mountains. Have conquered so many mountains in Malaysia. More than me! However, we all love her and made her do it no matter what. Let her conquer all her fears.

We reached the top at around 2.15 a.m. Just about 1 half hours. Haha... What a joy to see the beautiful night view from the top. You can see lights from Genting Highland. It's like a city floating in the sky. You feel like an angel who wants to fly over to that city. And you can see the mist pooling like clouds at the bottom, makes you feel so high above. Like you are standing above the clouds.

The city lights of Kuala Lumpur was a breath taking scene. You can see KL Tower and KLCC too. So out of words to describe. We celebrate with fire crackers and 'bunga api'. We cooked simple meals. Not so hungry but it's nice to have meals to instill some memories on top in the wee hours :)
We set up small fire to brightened the night. It was really cold up there. Again reminded me of Camp Pangkin before reaching the top of Tahan. It was windy too. Lucky we had early rain that day, so the night was clear. You can even see the stars. Magnificient!

We came down at around 3.35 a.m and reached down at the foot of the hill at 4.30 a.m. exactly. Two of our friends, were waiting for us at the foothill, sleeping in the car. Haha... They were too late to join us but still want to catch up with sahur together. We found out that their car was having a pucture. They don't even realised it! The guys all set to help. Within minutes, it was done. Later we all shoot for sahur at a nearby mamak.

At 5.30 a.m. all said our farewell... Most were planning to go back sleeping till afternoon because of Saturday. However, I was to work, Manager on Duty for weekend at the hotel. Huhu... no sleep for me.

It was a great climb and unforgetable experience in Bukit Tabur. All of us pledged to repeat a climb, this time to see sunrise from the top. Surely it will be a marvelous view. We had to start climbing in the wee morning around 4.00 a.m. to see achieve that. And to come down before the sun is above our head. It will be really hot in the afternoon due to scarcity of vegetation up there.
Another fantastic memories :)

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Jaafar Onn & Haiza

Haiza, myself and Jaafar

Everyone said to me, I was crazy to climb Bukit Tabur in the middle of the night during fasting month and to come back the next morning at 4.30 am and then straight going to work. Really crazy, isn't it. Hahaha... well that's what makes this life more interesting. To do crazy and memorable thing. I think, my thing indeed :) Haha...

So eight of us, a team of outdoor enthusiasts went that night to satisfy our thirst for madness. I will write about the climb in detail in my next posting. For now, I am interested to write about my dear friends Jaafar and Haiza.

I've known Jaafar during my rein as the PR, Marketing & Special Events Officer in Taman Botani Putrajaya. A place which has my great love and so many beautiful memories. Jaafar was our favourite artiste to perform in most of our corporate family days done by big companies, factories and government agencies in Putrajaya area. It was in late 2005. Why he was a favourite? Well I would say, Jaafar has a very friendly character, courteous and knows how to handle big crowd of people of different races and background. All who knows him will concur that he is an entertainer and a performer.

My encounter with Haiza was before I met with Jaafar Onn in person. It was in early 2005 when I was just about to fly off for another adventure in life. We were in a charity project of promoting a dangdut album for a good cause. I've written about it before in my blog. You can read it here. At that time, my friend called me up to help him in a dangdut project for the royalty of Kedah. The organisation we were to help is called PERSATUAN BENCANA ALAM NEGERI KEDAH or P-BANK in short. It was under the patronage of Sultan of Kedah and run by his brother and beautiful wife, Tengku Bendahara Kedah. I was acting their PR & Communication Manager for that particular project.

The project was a success. Every unit of an album sold, RM5 will go to P-BANK fund to help the victim of natural disaster in Kedah State. It was a noble gesture by a noble royalties. However, I was offered a better job with Taman Botani Putrajaya, so I left P-BANK for my greater passion in life, i.e. NATURE :)

Well... It's true when people say that this world is small. Never make enemies, for you will meet each other one day, no matter where you are. Oh dear... God forbid this from happening :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Love our Children

I met with this two children at RACTAR (Rumah Amal Cahaya Tengku Ampuan Rahimah) in Subang USJ on 18th September 2008. They are Nisya and Atiqah, both sisters around the age of four and five. When all other children of the house went to school, they were left at the home playing by themselves. The rest are a bit grown ups, working in the sewing workshop, learning a living skill of making dresses for their unknown future.

RACTAR was initially chosen to be the orphanage home for our hotel to grace our Ramadhan Charity function. Changes in the function date has resulted them unable to participate. We invited a differenct homes afterwards. However, since we still have budget to spend on charity, our hotel has decided to still honour our initial plan to celebrate the home. So, we went to RACTAR one fine afternoon to deliver them some goodies. That's the least we can do.

Nisya and Atiqah were playing after their lunch meal. They were too young to fast, in seemed. I went to them just to see what's interesting about these kids. They look too small to be left playing alone. They greeted me with a sincere smile of a child. I asked their name, later took photos. They seemed to like it so much. They know how to pose. Very cute poses they gave me. My heart was started to warm towards them.

It was sad to hear their story from the administrator. The father left them to the care of their mother some time ago and the mother brought them to the orphanage, unable to support them. However, it seemed the mother have not come to visit the children for quite sometime already. The home will put them into adoption soon if she didn't come to claim the children. How sad.

In this era, more and more irresponsible parents are causing heartache and pain to their children. We have a choice in this life. To be or not to be a parent. Why we want to choose a path that we can't handle when our action will cause so much damage to others. This kind of people don't deserve to be in called a parent.

And it is sad that some people can bare children but they don't want them, and some people love children but they can not have one. Cases such as abortion and baby dumping are an everyday news to us. I encountered many types of people in my life. Children and baby talk will always have a sensitivity to me as I myself wish to have children of my own. I want it so much, in fact, it is the only reason now if I were to get married.

I pray and hope that our society will take responsibility of their action. To take good care of our children as they are the future of our nation. Give them all the education and knowledge to build a better society and better environment for all to live in. This world is made up by the people. So the people must change or at least make a difference.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Night Filled with LOVE

Jaafar Onn, Rohana Jalil (left) & Haiza (right) singing with orphans with LOVE.

Duit Raya, hampers and goodies from our Group GM, witnessed by our Group CEO. Some more LOVE :)

Single Mother had their share of LOVE too :)

LOVE the underprivileged - Mr. Lam given the goodies, looking on, Dato' Adnan (Director of MPSJ in maroon shirt) and our Group Directors.

Yesterday my stars must be in alignment that makes me feel so much love. I was bursting with happiness that I could not put away a smile from my face. I was smiling and chatting chirpily the whole day and night. I was in a vibrant mood, nothing could ever spoil it.

It started with a dream of my past. I saw something that was so melancholic, I felt pity about it. However, the dream was like a liberation of my heart and my mind. I can't go into details of my past nor my dream. It is too private for public knowledge. What I am sharing here is that from the start of my day, I dreamed of this person. Then it stopped. I went away with my day feeling like a princess. Hehehe :)

We had another charity Ramadhan Buka Puasa with the underprivileged. A joint venture event with Subang Jaya Manucipal (MPSJ) and the media. We celebrated four underprivileged groups, i.e. the orphans, the poor, the single mothers and the disabled (OKU).

The pictures above tell it all. It was a night filled with LOVE and giving. I am so much in LOVE, I drove home with a smile.

Reaching my home, I was looking for a parking space. Then I found one car that was coming out. I waited for it to go out. The driver was putting things at the back seat. I couldn't see his face. Something familiar about the car, though. Then, I saw the registration number! Oh My God! It was my past which I dreamed of. The car reversed without really seeing who is taking his place. He went out and I went in. And that was it. I was filled with wonder. What a day!

A nice closure indeed :)


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My mind says:

  • If it's not you, who else!
  • Love your country. Keep it SAFE & GREEN...