Friday, September 25, 2009

EID me to NATURE


Melayu (Malay) House in Paya Indah Wetland, in Dengkil, Selangor - Photo courtesy of Mr. Stoned

EID MUBARAK! to all my Muslim friends and blog readers. It's the joyous celebration after one month of fasting and 'ibadah' (worship to Allah s.w.t). Unlike in other places around the world, Eid celebration in Malaysia has become a Malaysian tradition. The way we celebrate it is totally our own unlike the Arabic culture. It is truly a Malaysian culture by itself and we celebrated it with open houses for exactly one month.

During Ramadhan month, we have the Ramadhan Bazaar in almost every residential areas in town that sells lots of mouth watering dishes for breaking of fast. Some of the delicacies can only be found during the month itself which means only once a year. Therefore, all Malaysians in regardless of creed, race and religion will flock into the bazaar to find the things that they like most. There's surely something for everyone.

Eid is called Hari Raya in Malaysia. Everyone started their preparation of Hari Raya months prior to the special occasion. The most important thing is to have the Hari Raya traditional dresses or Baju Raya. It's a custom that almost everyone wants it to be tailor-made and following the latest trend and design. Being in the family of tailors, we are the busiest people during Ramadhan to get all the dresses sewed on time for Hari Raya.

Apart from baju raya, one more important thing is the kuih raya (small Raya cookies/biscuits). Like in Christmas and Deepavali, all houses must have kuih raya to serve the guests during Eid. The varieties of kuih raya can be as many as 20 types in one house alone. Home-made ones are always the best. Among the most preferred ones are the almond london, bangkit, batang buruk, makmur, suji dan tart nenas. Well... these are what I like.

Then the visiting part. Malaysian will open their houses to just anybody who wants to come for Hari Raya. And being Malaysian, the Malays have adopted the Chinese culture by giving away money packet to children who came to visit. It is called duit raya as a small token for children to make them happy.

As for my Hari Raya, I was sick on the first day. I did not know that I had a gastric pain, therefore I was bed ridden for the whole day unable to don my baju raya like my other siblings and parents. They were worried sick thinking that I was over-worked with the house chores and sewing cloths. My sisters all feeling guilty for getting me involved with the sewing thingy. However, I was back to my vibrant self when my close friends came to the house on second day of Hari Raya. They all took me for a trip to other friends' houses and later to the best place on earth, the WETLAND!

Being always an outdoor person, I just love the outdoor world in harmony with nature. So do all my outdoor friends. Being rough and carefree like we are, our Hari Raya celebration was also one with nature. We went to Paya Indah Wetland in Dengkil, Selangor to visit one of our friend and to explore the place since I had never been there before. It turned out to be very enjoyable and superb outing! All the pictures here are from from the wetland.

Paya Indah Wetland
was initiated by the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in 2001. It is a place for nature enthusiast. Among the activities that can be done are fishing, bird watching, cycling, camping, team building or just contemplating the wonders of nature. It was temporarily closed in 2005 due to financial constrain but was relaunched again in 20th Oct'08 following the Environment Week. Lots of development work is still going on when were there. So it is obvious that it's not fully open to the public yet. As for us, we get to enter the place because our friend Amy works there. She took us on a 4WD ride around the eco-park.

I have high hopes for the Paya Indah Wetland. Being a nature lover to the bone, I will give my full support. In my next visit, I shall be able to cover more story of this wetland. It's important that the next generation understand the importance of wetland and how it contributes to the sustainability of our nature and animal species. This I must do, to educate everyone of the environment conservation and its impact on our lives.

Till then, again EID MUBARAK to all! Mwah! Mwah!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Reunited in Negeri Cik Siti Wan Kembang



Cik Siti Wan Kembang with her pet antelope - Kelantan Ruler 1610-1677 (source of photo unknown)

Recently I went up to the East Coast to go to friends' houses in Kelantan and Pahang. It was a wonderful and enjoyable adventure. My last trip to Kelantan and Terengganu was like in 2001 and it was a one month non-stop travelling visiting hospitals and schools with my collegues, Amin because I was doing hospital and school advertising back then.

This time, I had the chance to go with two of my dearest friends, Azizah and Mie. It's been awhile since the three of us went for a trip together. We used to be inseparable. Four of us in fact, but that will fix itself sooner or later.

My visit to Negeri Cik Siti Wan Kembang (famous name to indicate Kelantan, a beautiful princess who became the ruler of Kelantan for 67 years. Source: 'Detik-Detik Sejarah Kelantan’, Sa'ad Shukri bin Haji Muda, Pustaka Aman Press, Kota Bharu, 1971 via Ibnu Hasyim's Blog) was very insightful and nostalgic. The famous long-winded and fatally dangerous route from KL to Gua Musang was a bit of a worry to us, all the time. Lots of people died on that road because of speeding, or simply being sleepy. We reached up to Kota Bharu early in the morning, around 6.30am. Beautiful freezing morning that makes you want to pee... heehee... but can't fine the loo. Fogs forming clouds from among the trees going up to the sky and serene looking paddy fields and kampung houses. It gives you peace of mind. So peaceful that you forgot your camera to capture the moment (:

Our first stop in Kelantan is Pantai Cahaya Bulan (used to be called Pantai Cinta Berahi or Beach of Passionate Love). Unfortunately, nothing interesting about the beach. Not much of a development for the tourist. Not even a toilet. I was trying so hard to keep my bladder. However, we were entertained by a group of goats. The offspring were all cute, jumping up and down like a clown (photo taken by Mie). It made us laughed out merrily (:

Interestingly, I never thought of what people call goat's offspring in English because in Malay Language we did not have different names to differentiate male, female or its offspring. We called the female as betina, male as jantan and offspring as anak, then followed by the name of the animal. So if it's a goat, we called it kambing. If it's a male goat, it's kambing jantan, if female, it's kambing betina and anak kambing for the offspring. Very simple. But it's different in the western culture and language. They have names to indicate gender and status. So just for everyone's info: Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, intact males as bucks or billies; their offspring are kids (Source: wikipedia).


I realised, little has changed in Kota Bharu from my previous visit in 2001. All looks the same. Hardly new building in Kota Bharu except for some slow development of new shop houses here and there. Most of the rest still remain the same. The opposition party that rules the state obviously has not put socioeconomic matters into high priority. Lots of young Kelantanese had to go out of the State to build up their career in Kuala Lumpur. But that's not a complain, we love Kelantanese in KL for they made up the colourful faces of KL. They bring us the opportunity to taste the Ayam Percik, Nasi Kerabu and Nasi Dagang (famous Kelantan/Terengganu delicacies) in KL itself! (Photo of Nasi Kerabu taken from Cooking Momster Blog).

After Kota Bharu in Kelantan, we shoot down to Terengganu State, famous for its beautiful island beaches and conservation of its turtle. Okay I'm sorry I bought the turtle eggs sold in Pasar Payang, but that was not from the endangered species. I used to eat a lot of them when I was in Sabah. That was way back in the 80s and 90s, not knowing a thing about turtle extinction. Huhuhu... not anymore, ya. The photo of the three of us inseparable bunch taken in Pantai Kelulut in Marang, Terengganu.

So, we went to Pasar Payang as I was excited to discover its famous intricate hand-woven songket and hand-painted silk cloths. I've already bought one silk in Kelantan but now looking to buy one more in Terengganu for my Eid traditional dresses but can't afford to by the original songket because it goes by hundreds and some by the thousands of Ringgit! The most expensive that we asked has a price tag of RM5000+!!! Then I can understand why. It is very finely woven with colourful treads and detailed motifs that tell you story. It's not even repetitive in some of the master pieces. I was in awe. The photo showed Mie and Azizah with some of the Terengganu Songket for man to be worn with baju melayu (Malay man traditional attire).

After Pasar Payang, we shoot down to Pahang State to break our fast in our friend's family house in Maran. We stopped to buy the never to be missed when visiting Terengganu, the keropok lekor. A mixture of flour and fish flesh to make into the most addicted, mouth watering delicacies. Ummm yummy!

Then we went down to the nearby beach to leave some footprints in Terengganu as well as to instill the moment with a few photos to remember in years to come. The photo showed all of us who went for the trip, courtesy of Nurul's camera.

We reached Maran, Pahang just on time for iftar (breaking of fast). Mawi and his family (our outdoor friend) were so hospitable towards us, by serving a lavish buka puasa spread kampung style. Just as we like it!

Thank you to Azli and Mawi for your great hospitality in Kelantan and Pahang respectively. Thank you to Azizah, Mie and Mariati for all the tears and laughters in the car along the journey. Thank you to Pantas, Nurul, Jaja and Sham for being a good buddy along our journey together to the East Coast. It was loads of fun! Yeay!!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bless the Children of Adam


Kids and single mothers from Pondok Penyayang Raudhah

Ramadhan is here again. A month that is full of blessing, a month that is beautifully bonding and a month that is meant for sharing and giving. I am truly humbled.

Being in my position, I had the opportunity to do something for the community. Every festive seasons means lots of programmes for the less fortunate. That's one of the reasons I love my job and that's also one of the reasons that I stayed on in this line of duty.

For this holy month of Muslims, we have called orphans from Pondok Penyayang Raudhah, Batu 11, Gombak to share the abundance of Ramadhan Buffet at our famous restaurant, Swez Brasserie. A total of 40 orphans, 3 single mothers and 7 caretakers were present for the buka puasa session accompanied by the hotel management.

I was happy to hear story from the leader, Puan Ummi. She shared some information of the orphanage. They were pretty much independent for they do not get funds from the government. It was established by Ustaz Mokhtaruddin and his family. They have their own business and they are doing some kind of a farming to help ease the burden of day to day expenses. The children were taught to finish up their education and for those who are not into academics, were sent for vocational training. Orphans are aged from 3 months old baby to 20 years old teenagers.

How I wish I could be a rich person that I could give more to the unfortunate people. For the time being, my limited contribution hopefully will bring some kind of joy during this Ramadhan. Hope that Malaysians will always be charitable and giving towards one another in regardless of creed, race and religion. We all are the same red blooded human being. We do not have to see colours for doing good, ya. The rest, leave it to Allah swt to judge. That way, we will not hate, but we will love more.

A gentle reminder to those who are just about to venture into charity. Please know that, orphans, visually impaired people, old folks and physically or mentally challenged people are sometimes very eccentric people. They do not conform to our normal rules, therefore, pardon them for being different. Give with no expectation to receive.

Donation for this home can be made via MAYBANK: 564221610787 or call the home at 03-6185 2068 to arrange for a visit.

Last but not least: "Jangan lupa bayar ZAKAT"

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My mind says:

  • "I CHOOSE TO LOVE EVERYTHING THAT IS MINE"
  • If it's not you, who else!
  • Love your country. Keep it SAFE & GREEN...