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 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

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 :)


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