Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A visit to the Ranch... in Marang

Meet the boys! All they do is eat!

All I got to do is feed!

The house where Gina used to live in when he took care of the place.
Nah, I don't think you want to be a farmer boy!

I just had two calves born recently. the family is getting larger!

The bull is local and that is why the calf is somewhat smaller.

Used to have hundreds of them ducks but one day they came in a truck and took it all away, in th middle of the night with some goats too!

There is a major difference between eating kampong chicken to that which is industrially farmed chicken, much more healthy too, no chemical infusions to booster rapid growth, no hormones no celluloid's. All natural food and thus good for our children, knocks off obesity 

Yeah if you ever want to help run a cattle ranch Malaysian style you can always drop by and work for your uncle.

Life begins at sixty four!

For three to four mothns of the year these beaches are hit by severe Monsoon wing and rain and swimming or any other form of fun activity along the shore are out of the question. In the aftermath there will be all kinds of of debris and flotsam brought down from the interior by the raging floods and swollen rivers to be poured out into the sea. This was when I will take my walks and start my collection of driftwoods and various other unique items that is left behind. These includes dead fowls and animals too unfortunately and so i would help to bury them in the sand to avoid the smell.

When living by the the Terengganu Airport at Gong Badak my house was the only one in the area facing the sea and every morning at sunrise i would take a walk and a swim in the calm waters, floating like of a water bed and sometime doing my Zikr or repeating certain verses from the Quran and listening to the vibration in the water as my ears are below the water level. It is like being in a vacuum. It was a part of my ritual and spiritual practice at the time. I would float for an hour or so sometimes oblivious to my whereabouts as the water was so calm like floating in the womb of my mother, safe and happy.

I would often sit facing the rising sun with my eyes focused on it without a blink and this would go on till I could take it no more. In this I imagine myself being scanned by the sun's energy and the atoms within my system is being re-energized and revitalized. The rays from the sun is placed jut above and in between my eyes while i sit with my mind empty of any thoughts letting the warm rays does its work on my brain cells, Most city dwellers do not get this opportunity to use what is the source of energy to our advantage in the form of healing and recharging, we get too buried into what we call work. We become servants of time and not the other way round.

Our Five Star Hotel! The residence of Bibah Songket. Waht a lovely place and my twin brother an his wife has done very well for themselves in this life. It is more than a dream come true for them and i am very fortunate to be here and entertained with my son who first swim in the sea is right in uncle's back yard. I hope and pray that thrift we have had between us as the 'Corsican Brothers' as someone once called us because we never got along, has now come back closer together and is healing, it is about time.  

What more would you ask for when the ocean is right in your backyard. and you can stroll along the beach and pick seashell anytime you want and the gentle breeze is constantly blowing to cool you down from the noonday sun as the Island of Kapas sits in the shimmering horizon. And the food! My sister in law loves to entertain when it comes to food and did we have some of the best dishes from lamb chops to Jack fruits. 

                                                                  And we get to rest in coll air conditioned rooms as the occupants, my nephews and nieces have all left to be elsewhere raising their own families. It most probably was as pleasant for my twin and his wife to have someone to entertain after being cooped up in the bungalow all by themselves.
On the right is my Dad's car and on the left is my uncle's  pick your choice!
Upon arrival Timo and i immediately took a plunge into the sea and enjoyed ourselves to the pure, clean salt water as it enters every orifice in our bodies cleaning up our system from head to toe inside out. The first  noticed that was affected by the salt water were my eyes as they cleared like being scrubbed with salt. My sinuses too took a good thorough clean up throwing out all the accumulated mucus and I know there was allot more that had been subjected to the cleansing power of the salt water like the skin and the inside of the ears and not to mention the mouth and the teeth. I would absolutely recommend to anyone to do this every now and then, take a good long dip in the ocean and allow your body to float free from the pull of gravity and you also move any which way you like, like you are in a flotation tank, kick punch, roll, do your Taichi moves and your Yoga or simply just sit and float.
AAh! All that ocean to myself, what a life.

Rambling on about my trip to Terengganu.

Walked through the Muzium Tuanku Fauziah at USM after what seems quite sometime not being here and the collections of antiquities hanging on the walls still calls to me to remind me of my own rich culture as a Malay, a Malaysian. I am moved to feel proud of my heritage as manifested here around me in the forms of the Shadow Puppets or Wayang Kulit and the Javanese face masks, the Hand Puppets from India and the stick puppets from Bali; these are some of the forms that has been handed down from my past. In the silence of the large rooms filled with traditional works of art and creativity I bowed before what is the Lord of Creation. I felt the awesomeness of the Malay weapons such as the Kris and the badik and the parangs and tombaks, it must have been tremendously hard to create these instruments in the old days working with simple tools of the time.
The Gendangs and Rebanas, the Mak Yong costumes and Gamilan Instruments brought back a piece of my past and as now they lay on the padestal locked in time and history, I could only imagine the beauty of their sounds and the joys they brought when I was a child growing up along the East Coast of Terenggnu. Among the few annual celebrations that was held by the folks living along the East Coast was what was known as 'Puja Pantai' or 'Main Pantai', a sort of harvesting festival after the harvest of rice. It was most probably the most joyous moments of the lives of the Malays young and old during those years as almost everyone leaves their homes as far as the interior and migrate to the beaches along the South China Sea to enjoy a National beach party! But the Religious Department puts a stop to this. It is against the Islamic Ways for the people to migrate to the sea to making offerings for prosperity and peace, for thanks giving and a joyful get together of the whole community of villages once every year, to just in short have fun. This is a major loss in the name of our cultural history, in the name of religion we have buried our way of life which had its positive impact much more than the negative.
For three days and nights during the 'Main pantai' or Beach Play like having fun in the sun on the sand and in the sea, the villagers would bring with them building materials to construct huts and lean tos, shacks and so fort in the form of bamboos and ratans and coconut leaves and pandan mats and the y will camp out on the beach. Cultural performances such as the Wyang Kulit or shadow plays and Mak yongsd the Kelantaneses form of opera and the dikir barat or the traditional choir of men shouting out songs whils in high spirits, will be performed while the audience will sit around on the sandy ground eating and drinking and simply enjoy the show till morning comes. Watching the Ramayana in it entirety for five nights in a row lasting five to six hours a night can be a challenge to one's span of attention and the Daland or Puppeteer's dexterity and high standard of performance. As it was performed out in the open, only rain could stop this show, otherwise you soon become a part of this epic journey of saving the queen Sita accompanying the Kinf Rama and his younger brother Lakhshaman and you are part of the troops of monkeys led by Hanuman. The rage of wars will keep you awake through the night as the two armies of Rama and Ravana met and here in lies the genius of the the puppet master.. the Dalang.
Today we could off course watch the whole real life performance of the Ramayana in different versions by three or four different production companies on You Tube, but it is never the same as when you sit underneath the start and all round you are folks with their babies asleep on mats and the parents absorbed in the show munching keropoks and rojak kateh and drinkinf Kopi O or teh O. Those were the originals and as original as it could get when enjoying the Shadow Play For this I bowed in gratefulnes before I left the exhibition rooms at MGTF. I walked by the exhibits saying hi to every object hanging along the walls with sad melancholy feeling as I know these arts will become extinct along with the rest of our cultural heritage that is disappearing all around us due to change. There is not much that can be done except to preserve what is left and make it available to the general public especially to school children in the form of extra curriculum..
Taking Georgetown as an example as a City being awarded the World Cultural Heritage Site, it is evident how the past still dominates the present in how it sees itself. Georgetown celebrates its colonial days and ways in the form of its major landmark structures that were left behind by the British. Today millions of dollars has been spent in renovation and preservation of these colonial era building all over the City. Although the former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir urged us to look East, Georgetown if not Penang will always look to the West.
My trip to the East Coast with Timo driving in my Kancil was invigorating to say the least as the challege is always there that the Kancil might break down anytime anywhere along the highway in the middle of the night, but still inside there is a trust in the will of my Maker to see me through with a safe passage.For over eight hours we drove through the night crossing the mountains of Banjaran Titiwangsa or the Titiwangsa Range, the spine of the Malay Peninsular, to get tot he East Coast and along the way we spotted three elephants along the side of the highway, two adults an a juvenile, they were all white in color from having wallowed in the mud earlier most probably. I enjoy driving along the this part of the east West Highway especially when I am doing it alone. Timo stayed awake to keep me company most of the way and most probably a little bit perturbed at my ability to court danger.
I enjoy night driving as the cool weather is not too hard on the car and there allot less traffic and there is no need to use the airconditioning which saves on gas and gives more power to the engine. I realize fully the dangers of night driving and am very sensitive to every shift of light in front of me as an indicator of on coming traffic.I also hold to be true that if you intend to overtake a vehicle in the dark be courteous to the vehicle ahead by observing all good practices such as when to use high or low lights and to be sure to use the indicators such that the driver ahead is fully aware of what you intend to do and make way for you; respect and proper etiquette is recognized even in darkness, Bismillah!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A drive around Pulau Duyong

 My long time friend Awi, a man who has weathered life on the island of Duyong building chalets in the river with his own hands and called it the Yellow House. It is being visited over the years by numerous travelers who seek the path less traveled. Writers and artists from all over the world, seasoned seekers of the path in one form or another. 
We survived our friendship despite all its trils and tribulations and arriving at becoming grandfathers watching our children make their own errors and learning to survive.

 Awi carved a piece out of the natural mangrove environment and turned into a retreat for the way ward and the lost. He built his own resort on the water where the toilet hole leads straight down into the mud or water bellow depending upon whether it be at high tide or low when one is doing the number Nothing could feel more natural in this day and age where fancy toilet bowls often dont flush or is plugged up and over flowing..

This is a moment and time i share with my son visiting the east Coast from Switzerland, land of snow peaks and lakes frozen half the year. A piece of myself that I have left behind but still in touch with every now and then like today. 

Awi's traditional Yacth and wants to sell it.. 

This is Art! This is creation out of love and passion, work and perserverence; this is survival of the most creative.. I am very proud to have been a part of this in my life for I have spent many great moments in my life here and so did my children Marissa and Karim. 

It is a time honored art, the art of building a floating pontoon bridge using recycled materials and Hashim my friend who is Awi's younger brother is one of those master builders all the way from model boats to real life size Prahu Pinis.

The tall nipah palms stands in the slat water  home to numerous creatures both during high and low tides. 

Hashim, or better known as Wan to the younger generation of Duyong kids, a Mc Guiver if there ever is one. whose wife has been ill for many years with incurable skin problems among other another creative survivor who has made it in this round of life. Tall and proud men who deserves more than just simple respect but their achievements should be awarded.. Instead he is today being played out by the man he trust who has not paid 8 months rent to his showroom in the water front the result of which the council has put a lock and tag on his premises. Where is justice? The man has raised his children to the best of any man's ability and is involved in the Monsoon Cup race as a crew member of one of the leading vessels, this in itself merits an award or at least a token of recognition fro the local authority or Ybs as they are called here. No! lets teach this guy a lesson if he thinks he can get away with not paying his rent! Sorry my friend, them are the breaks! Malays has a saying.. Dah jatuh tangga ditimpa tanga! After falling off the ladder, the ladder falls on you.
This is where it all began. This was the primordial swamp from which it crawled out of the mud and started to explore the world beyond the water's edge.

Pulau Duyong is most famous for its traditional boat building sanctuary. Here master boat builders come together every now and then whenever there was someone to spend the money to own a traditional cruise liner, this is where it happens 

Not much gojng on these days as there is not much interest in getting this unique culture alive and so chances are this is another art going into extinction if the government does not do something about it. 

If there is anything worth taking picture of in the area is this broken down dillapidated house . This is architecture meets mother nature.

A taste of Life and Culture.

What can happen after being born with half and hour difference from the same womb. On the right is the mighty Kancil that made it all the way to and from Penang to Terengganu and the Mercedes that could leave the garage to go to dinner due to computer glitch, ha! ha! 

Time to take that dip in the sea as was foretold in the revelations.

This is it, the long awaited swim.

AAH what blissss....

A visit to the cattle range is inevitable.

Looks good!
There is definitely artistic talent in the family.
Giving the finishing touch to Obama's  Songket portrait.

I just had two calves being born.

Welcome into our family and this is who we are.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The morning catch.

Somewhere along the coast off the small town of Fikr, Terenggaqnu, or could it be Merang Beach?i a lone fishing boat sits in the calm water while it was being unloaded. It is known that most of the good catch by larger fishing vessels never made it to the Terengannu market as htye are sold while out at sea to  foreign buyers  like Singapore and Thailand. Fish is getting to be rediculously expensive in the state that prides itself as a fisherman's State. Most of the fish you find in the terengganu market comes from Tahiland ironically but they are frozen or cured with carbide to make the fish look healthy. This is the plght of the Terenggany people, being sold out by their own fishermen.

My son Timo, is still recovering from a sleepless night after driving with me all the way from Penang, he could not fall asleep even had he wanted to as his dad was a maniac on the road So now he is asking for a shower and a bed to pass out on. However the morning sunrise had different plans in store for him as the day wore on he had hardly thought of sleep or a room to crash, the lure of the sea was too much for the Swiss from the Alps.

The rising sun has always captured my mind and attention, it has stopped time and thus my mind, I often become the rising sun over the horizon blazing my way out of the my watery grave and and illuminating the skies around me while the Azzan is being hailed from ever mosque within hearing distance.   

A group of fishermen is on the way in from the mother boat and they looked heavily loaded as the sampan rides deep in the water. What it must e like to for them to hve spent the night out at sea  trying out their luck while at the mercy of the weather.

A group of men could be any group them up and down the coastal beaches of the State of Terenggnu where for as far as your eyss can see there lies the stretch of  beach of golden sand sometimes nary a soul in sigh you feel like you have the whole beach to yourself..

This small insignificant scene is an added bonus for one who is looking for a story to tell and dream to fulfill in this journey of his. A journey of self discovery and fulfillment. I have in the past while growing up along the Coast of the South China sea experienced such similar scene only the time and place were different, i was there like I am now.

There is beauty even in the simplest of settings and it is for one to be present in the moment when it happens and to be able to carefully capture the beauty and share it with those who have chosen to read your story.. Perhaps there is a lesson to be be learned perhaps it helps tp sooth a wounded soul  or heal a worried mind by its own beauty alone.

Dress these men id batik sarongs and batik wrap around their heads and you spin time back into history while the fiber glass boat is being replace by a wooden sampan, this is what it was and will always be along the Terengganu coast all the way from Kemaman in the south to Besut in the North.
Alright lets get going guys!

Not bad for a night; s catch.

Homeward bound.

Eat Fish, its better than chicken or beef!