Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reception in Commemoration of The Great East Japan Earthquake

Our work may relate to foreign affairs or international ties (yup the diplomatic officers) but only a few being selected to involve in those specialised field. So when i was being invited by a friend, Ms. Mala for such event, chances to see and mingle with those foreign alliance was not something to be missed.

So here we were, in the Official Residence of Ambassador of Japan, the reception being held to commemorate the tragedy of Great East Japan Earthquake which happened last year March 11. From a quick search in the Internet, it is also being held in other Japan Embassies throughout the world.

The Japanese expatriate kids performing some dance.

The commemoration ceremony was simple. His Excellency, Mr.Ambassador made a brief speech on the effort done to help the victim especially the contribution from Malaysians. After expressing his thank you, it was followed by a 30 seconds of silence to remember the great lost...

There was a performance of orchestra, from Petronas Philharmonic, strumming some classics on the stage. The dance performance from Japanese expatriate kids helped to lift up the sombre mood, followed by some photos session with the Honourable Guest, Malaysian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As the guest rethreat to dining area, which was delicious Japanese buffet spread, we managed to make some conversation with people from many walk of life - Mr. Ambassador himself, the First Secretary, a Defence Attache of Japan, some other countries foreign affair personel and our own people. In the first place it was a bit akward moment to start a conversation, only after we were being greeted by a friendly Japanese Lady who is well conversed in Malay and Arabic (seriously we are impressed!) things were getting easier. Decked in full kurung attire, it did manage to help the crowd to notice us. As what Mala said, it is the crowd puller!

One of the buffet spread.....

Mr.Ambassador, my friends and I. We were told that Tun Mahathir couldn't make his appearance due not feeling well...

Somehow, we managed to discover an exhibition being held in one of the rooms. Photos of Earth Quake victims and a video being shown in this area. I was really touched to see the expressions in those photos. Prior to this event, a related documentary from Majalah 3 was aired on national telly and again it was shown here.

The Japanese people who were being affected by the great tsunami. They looked so positive and in a very good spirit, despite the big lost and calamity.

Another photo that capture my attention...

Some drawings shown, by the younger victims....

This drawing simply remind me to a Japanese Song I learnt in school back then, if not mistaken, the title has to do with "Sekaii" ....this World.

Again, my good friend, Mala made some friendly conversation with a Navy Attache from theUnited States...

We were delighted to be in the powder was nice....

Taking this shot for my friends and the Jap Defense Attache.. we simply love his uniform...

The nice looking origami, in the entrance hall...

We left the Residence around 10.00 pm and with Maz, i made way to Putrajaya via ERL. Thanks to Mala again for dropping us in KL Sentral....

managed to get some name cards... Yup, it is important to bring name cards in this kind of event.....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Short Overland Trip (Golok-Narathiwat-Pattani-Danok) (Part Six- Final)

From Pattani to Danok, the minibus fare was RM13.00.

As the van started to make way there, i noticed changes of the landscape. From flat land to hilly areas of rubber plants, we entered highway then two lane road, indeed i do love the fact that these road are well maintained - again the driver was a F1 racer wannabe. From there the transition was pretty fast with view of houses, beautiful carved with jati, it is known that these people are talented in wood carving. Along the way, furniture shops of jati product will definitely catch the attention of avid home-centric people, but not to sure how much these thing cost.

From muslim villages, as we approaches west cost area, many siamese influence in the villages we saw. Kids, especially boys running around, with this typical hair cut, clean shaven at both side but some hair left on top of the head (please watch Nang-nak if u wanna get clear detail) proved that we were entering Siamese area. The reason of the hairstyle? According to my housemate, those hair cut is to ward off the children from evil spirits roaming . tatau betul ke tak....

So we made it to Danok. Walked all the way from immigration office to Malaysian border. Hugh relief! The only thing bought at Danok was the famous pulut mangga (yummy!) unfortunately the price has gone higher, from RM4 (in June 2010) to RM5 today. As usual the kiddo will only feast the chicken wings. We entered Malaysia via Bukit Kayu Hitam immigration point safely, Alhamdulillah......

So how do I feel about this place - Southern Thailand (Pattani, Nara and Sg. Kolok)?

After witnessing myself and experience it without relying on the news and rumours, it is indeed somewhere i call closer to home. Friendly people, laidback and easy. They are exactly kind of places of where I used to grow up - Kelantan. Infact, dotter kept on saying "macam dok malaysia jer except for the signboard". Yes she was right.

The shop selling army stuff.. how easy eh?

The insurgency caused by the Separatist in gaining Independence, in my two cent worth opinion is a proof when people realize how it is important to preserve their heritage of language, religion, culture, life style and sense of belonging before having the love of the country. They simply want to live like their forefathers. You have to be yourself before accepting others, is like to what we have now when the Government trying to gain power of ruling in East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the local are much pretty sure of what they want - someone who is comfortable enough to be what they want exactly. The sense of familiarity and belonging. Another one thing, we can never can simply change people when it comes ideologies . Dunno whether you will agree or not, but the proof is not only can be linked to the state itself but to many others.

Just in case you wander what is all about - the mufti wish for Haji Mabrur (truest form of pilgrimage) to those who performed Haj in Mekah/Madinah

In conclusion, only tolerance and understanding of the importance to keep each other comfortable despite the differences is the only solution to have a united nation.

With that I regard this trip is a learning experience. A great one.

For more beautiful pictures of the region, simply browse into this page. Awesome!
The End.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lintas Langsung Perkara-Perkara Semasa

Haish dah dekat sangat tarikh perjalanan tapi sabarlah ye. Permohonan keluar negara tak dapat dapat. entah apa jadi agaknya. Mungkin dalam tindakan. Mu

ngkin kena sorok dalam laci kot. Entah lah! Kita yang golongan marhain ni harus berserah jer la. Kalau bos tak nak bagi pegi (cuti tak lulus, nak buat macam mana kan?)

Memandangkan mak sudah hampir empat bulan bekerja tanpa henti iaitu tiada cuti-cuti nak makan angin riang ria yang sebenar (minus la yang pegi Pattani ari tu), ada perkhabaran menggembirakan hati mak apabila rakan mak sejak DPA lagi, Cik Malahayati dengan berbesar hati mengundang mak dan seorang rakan lagi menghadiri satu majlis yang bermakna pada 29 Mac ni. Apa dia?

First time i dapat undangan pegi ke Kediaman Rasmi Duta Besar Jopun! Sapa tak nak kan?

Acara tersebut adalah sempena memperingati tragedi gempa bumi dan tsunami yang telah melanda pada Jepun tahun lalu (Ingat Sendai, Fukushima? Honshu?). Ia merupakan satu acara yang disambut oleh Kedutaan Jepun di seluruh dunia, maka dengan ini para jemputan juga terdiri dari pelbagai golongan seperti para diplomat dan duta, wakil-wakil Kerajaan dan NGO-NGO tertentu.
It is an honour to be given an opportunity to be ther
e and listen to the speeches and learn the tragedy and their struggles (though Majalah 3 with their recent documentary helped to provide the audio and visual prior to this event).

Bagi mak, ia adalah satu permulaan bagus untuk mak membuat esei wajib sempena permohonan program IATSS Forum. Kalau dapat, 55 hari segala perbelanjaan ditanggung sepenuhnya utk study trip ke sana (sapa tak mo bukan?) dan peluang berjalan-jalan satu Jepun, tapi yang ni agak tough la berbanding dengan program JICA :( Insyallah....

Selain dari acara yang mak sangat looking forward ni, mak juga sangat happy kerana akhirnya. setelah sabar menunggu, tangkapan berjaya dilaksanakan pada hari ini juga!

Dapatlah tiket balik dari Sydney ke Changi akhirnya... maka perjalanan ni menarik kerana kami pergi dengan promo permulaan AA ke Sydney RM199 satu hala dan tambang balik dari Sydney ke Changi cuma AUD88 sahaja menggunakan Scoot (dapatlah merasa dua jenis syarikat penerbangan kali ni). Pukul rata tiket pegi balik dalam RM480.00 sahaja utk satu perjalanan yang jauh dan negara yang airport tax selepas conversion cekik darah. Ya, kami akan berbaju kurung serba serbi di hadapan Opera House (sempena jalan jalan hari raya) nanti, insyallah!

Thank you Scoot for making such a good deal, I hope this competitive offer will keep the industry at the edge with other competitors!

Sekian melaporkan!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Short Overland Trip (Golok-Narathiwat-Pattani-Danok) (Part Five)

I was supposed to finish this last week but there were some urgent matters and some guest in the house. By the time you have this, I am still mourning for the lost of my pictures (cuz ‘s wedding and pattani trip- big lost!) after dotter accidentally formatted the whole card in the camera. It wasn't easy to get back those shot since I might not be able to go there againbut luckily some were already being saved in the facebook.

To spend a day in Pattani for some sight seeing perhaps need some proper planning if you are going outside the town area and relying solely on public transport. I had regret not to dig more info for Masjid Kerisik, the coastal area and of course, the museum before this trip, since it was quite tiring finding local public transport (theTuk Tuk) and the hassle to ensure the little one would be able to keep pace with mine. Seghabut palo weih....

So we decided to just have whatever stuff available in town for its proximity and the convenience for us to leave for Hat Yai later.

On our walk to find breakfast, we found a new complex being built. Yeah, obviously the name can be understood...I think this is the most modern shopping complex gonna happen soon?

The tower at the roundabout beside our Hotel.... We took tuk tuk to another spot in the town....

Fishermen boats in many coat of paint at the riverside. Some men were doing some repair work on the boat.

From the way it looks, the place is still new.

A small shrine built next to a public school......

The pavement and the trees.... love its shade...the building at the end is The Court House

The Court House.. Notice how tall the flag pole is?

After some aimless wandering , I decided to pay a visit to the largest mosque in Pattani District, knowing we could not make it to Masjid Kerisik. Asal ada cukuplah kan... namanya pun trip redah... We asked a local woman who waited someone at one corner shop. Luckily the friendly lady (happpened that she used to work in Kuala Lumpur) helped us to show the direction which we needed to take another tuk tuk.

Punyalah penat menunggu with the lady, the weather become hotter and out of nowhere came this tuk tuk with a single old lady passenger who may came all the way from a market (the basket was ladden with veggies!) ...For the entire journey to drop her off and to the mosque, she kept asking in me in Thai for everything ... aduss dah macam ayam itik bercakap kami berdua. To be polite, i kept on nodding whatever she said while daughter kept on laughing for the hilarity of the situation - two strangers trying to keep each other entertained!

Pattani Central Mosque

We entered the mosque area. One man, obviously the caretaker welcomed us.

Dotter upon finding a friendly cat loitering around...adus, budak ni tak boleh nampak kucing!

The dome.

There was a local family relaxing at one spot of the mosque. They have been curious with our presence and asked us a lot of things. Borak punya borak, they were quite surprised to see me, came all the way from KL, without any male companion and with a kid somemore.... habis direcommend saudara lelaki bertaraf duda kat kampung diorang...ehehehhe, tak mo lar, nanti tiap-tiap tahun kena cross border balik raya :)

The wudhu' area/wash room for female.

This mosque is a popular spot. From my conversation with the caretaker, many people around the world come to visit as it is the largest in Pattani District. Sometimes ustaz/ustazah from other country come for religious discussion and lectures here. To pay my respect and fulfilling a request from a local who invited me to listen to morning kuliah, I just followed her for a brief session.

Luckily the kuliah was being conducted in Malay kelantanese dialect, which perfectly understood by me but not to dotter as she was not having much interest. Dia tak paham, ahhahahhahaha. She went out playing.

The kuliah for that day was 'Asal kejadian Jin".... -The origin of Djinns....everything about the origin of djinn and comparison to the human in term of numbers during Judgement Day is countless, according to the lecturer...keluarlah ayat "segala petala langit dipenuhi dengan beberapa lapis golongan jin yang tidak dapat dikira dengan pandangan kasar... those stuff I could still remember....

Most of the students (i assume them as learners) would take out their notes in Jawi to refer to the lecture. Some re-wrote back the lecture, not in Jawi but into Thai characters to another note books, camner tu... they did direct translate kot... canggih tul! As usual the derma / donation being collected with bowls handed to everyone here.

Our way back to the hotel..Dotter had to hold the iron bar or she might be thrown out from the bike eh?

After excusing ourselves , we bid farewell to the family again and took a bike (not tuk tuk) to hotel for check out. Rupanya jarak hotel ke minibus stop agak jauh, so we needed to take another tuk tuk going there (haish, every trip is 20 baht, it was quite troublesome to pay and pay, ahahhahah).

So this was when we decided to change our route. No van to go to Hat Yat at the point of time and someone suggested me to change the course :to Danok instead. Thinking it has been a day in Thai Province (we have enough), we just boarded the bus. Fare price? RM13 for one person.

To be continued......

Friday, March 16, 2012

Short Overland Trip (Golok-Narathiwat-Pattani-Danok) (Part Four)

The journey from Sg. Kolok to Narathiwat took about an hour where we ended up at Narathiwat Bus Terminal.

The town can be considered small in size. I think only a few block of commercial areas so again I was thinking. We may need to consider whether it is convenience for us to move or cover the town area and what kind of stuff we wanna see there. Some says Pattani is better (Masjid Kerisik was one of them), so with little time left, I made decision to continue our journey to Pattani.

The Bus Station Terminal, situated at the very end of main road.

The Bus Terminal is so clean. Same goes to wash room. A convenient store is available next to this terminal.

There was a funny incident during our stop in Narathiwat. In the washroom, a local girl smiled and greeted me in Thai, which I could not comprehend and politely i said in Kelantanese dialect that I could not speak the language.

"Bakpo tok leh kecek Thai nyor?" (why cant you speak Thai?) - question thrown back at me.

After explaining to her that I am not a Thai citizen though i may dressed like them and looked so Malay, she begin to understand the whole thing. Happened that most young people here will speak in Thai and the elder ones speak in the other language. When it comes to a conversation, for example, when the minibus driver ask the younger passengers for their next stop in Malay language, you can find the younger generation will answer back in Thai. Weird heh? I found it a little bit annoying. You will never see this in Homeland, don't you?

Dalam erti kata, kalau aku tanya ko dalam bahasa melayu, ko cakap mat salleh, memang kena parang lar jawabnya. Hahahahhahah.

Ok, coming back to our journey to Pattani. So we have waited for people to the van to be filled with more passengers. The driver was a little bit younger than the first one. There was a family joining us together beside two nursing college students (mati mati aku ingat budak sekolah agama, kerana mereka memakai serba tutup litup!)

The journey begun when an elder lady joined us. I nicknamed her "Mak Jah" based on this character from a malay drama. Suara dia sebijik macam watak tu, garau dan tegas. Throughout the journey, this Mak Jah kept on nagging in Kelantanese dialect and some in Thai language and sometimes mix or rojak language of both, spitting her anger ahahahhahah...but of course not to the driver or to us. She was on the phone most of the time, dunno on what occasion she was up to, but something to do with business?

There was a silver lining behind any cloud heh... listening to the words of this lady, eventhough she sounded fiery, it happened that the conversation ended with some nice thing to happen. Along the way, there were some wedding reception held and every brief stop at this places (the village area), there would be a person standing at the road passing kenduri food to this Mak Jah. How lucky!

The cute little boy who was curious with Fatiha

Mak Jah perhaps was so famously known and seemed to be an important figure to this people, I guess. She would hand some money to these people in exchange of those lauk kenduri. Thanks to her, due to the brief stop, we could witness how Pattani people hold their wedding reception.

Wowee... i can say, their wedding reception is far more interesting and why? When the bride and the groom sat at the front lawn greeting guest coming in and out, there would be some deejays blasting their merry thoughts and antics, jokes and tease the crowd and the couple, cool! Too bad I did not take any pic since I was too busy observing these people.

My Garden Hotel, the affordable in town

We finally made it to Pattani around 8 p.m and Mak Jah advised me to be careful with my belongings right before the van took off - takut kena curi, katanya. The kind driver dropped us at MyGarden Hotel, one of the most convenient as what he recommended, RM60 per night, and we need to find dinner ASAP - too famished and too tired.

Fortunately, as suggested by the van driver, there is a halal restaurant, next to the My Garden Hotel. How Convenient!

Dinner was some simple plain rice and two kind of dishes. Since I never try Singgang Daging made here, it was a good attempt. When we used to stay in Kelantan, in one occasion, Mum used to tell me that the origin of Singgang Daging is from Thailand. Betul ker?

So how was the verdict? My mother's version of Singgang Daging is more delicious, I think. The version cooked here is too much laden with galangal (as you can see in the pic) and the taste was more to beef soup broth.

Why i am so into Singgang Daging? It is the only dish I would open my eyes for it during Sahur. Lauk lain i tak layan. Kaki malas bangun sahur!

We too noticed many people made a line for the keropok lekor which were piping hot for sale and not to miss the opportunity, we bought RM2.00 for this. All thick cut of delicious keropok (10 pieces of them) and it was the star among the food here!

We had this crispy keropok for supper and breakfast with typical sweet sour sauce .... fantastic!

As it was still early at night (Thailand is one hour behind Malaysian Time), we decided to venture into Pattani night life (hope there was some activity). Luckily again, the hotel is within the tourist-friendly area.

Pattani itself does not really a touristy place but it has this road with shops, restaurants, cybercafes, ATM machines and many other shop along the road which I found this place very convenient for travellers. We went to check our e-mails in one of the cybercafes and to our delight, in fact it was unbelievable, the rate for an hour usage of the Internet was RM1.00, very cheap eh?

After some wandering a little bit here and there, we made it to the hotel to rest and sleep...

to be continued......

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Short Overland Trip (Golok-Narathiwat-Pattani-Danok) (Part Three)

A few days ago, during some news, i came across this.

There was a bomb incident in Narathiwat in a day before (four people got killed), followed with another one in Tak' Bai (an attack in public area).

Alhamdulillah, we never expect there were many bombings around, despite some warning from a friend about this trip. My guts kept on telling to go to Pattani as soon as we cross the border. Narathiwat was only a short stop over. Tak' Bai was given a miss since I have seen it once from the other side which is in Pengkalan Kubor, Kelantan. We were just being lucky, pure lucky. Alhamdulillah.

OK, let's continue, shall we?

From the Railway Station, i made some inquiries from the people about the minbus that goes to Narathiwat. The waiting area was across the road. Nice.

We approached the driver of the van, a kopiah old guy, and the fare for the trip was "Tujuh ghiyar". Equivalent to RM7 or 70 baht.

I just remembered that I did not have any baht with me. Cash in hand was RM150 only for my bus ticket to Kuala Lumpur, haiya macik lupa!. Luckily the ATM machine is just around the corner.

Apa lagi, need to withdraw some money, huk huk...

Power seh... this is my first time seeing a foreign bank retrieving my Maybank Savings Account Balance unlike my other international/overseas transactions like ANZ (jakun sat!). CIMB ada? RHB ada? BSN Giro ada? Har Har Har, Dont laugh at my balance yer ehehehheheh. I was supposed to withdraw RM100, but upon checking maybank2u statement, my withdrawal was being charged at RM125, with overseas transaction fees for 150 baht dan sekali lagi caj misteri yang sering dikenakan oleh Mebeng itu (anggaran RM10).... huk huk huk... (menyesal tak withdraw sesiap kat Rantau Panjang!)

Ok berbalik kepada soal minibus.

To people who frequents many parts of Thailand, minibus was something sent from heaven, especially to backpackers - in term of convenience and flexibility. As we made payment to kopiah guy for the final two who prompted the journey, I had this huge relief. Waste no time and we needed to make it in Pattani as soon as possible.

Points Noted - I made payment before boarding, but the local made payment only after they arrived their destination so obvious that we are not local! har har har har.

The mini bus to Narathiwat

Clean interior, i loike!

From Sg. Kolok, view of paddy field can be seen along the road with mountain as the background - really nice. Some is in their harvest time and some still in their green shade (wonder how many seasons they have here)... other than that was scenes like you can find along the Terengganu coastal road - palm trees, low swamp areas, . Houses being built were not so close to each other but what I like the most was good condition of its road that allows drivers to drive like roller coaster, aha aha aha.

Yup, the insurgency of Southern Thailand conflict is still around and you can see it from the number of guard post built along this highway. Some were occupied by Thai Army and some were barren. Number of them? Around 20 post. Approaching Narathiwat, there were many more post and and more check up, luckily it was done in brief.

Risky job with possibilities of many bomb attacks, the army look so young, tired and a little bit terrified? (ya ka, i guess so! Kalau aku pun, cuak seh!)....

To be continued.....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Short Overland Trip (Golok-Narathiwat-Pattani-Danok) (Part Two)

After saying goodbye to the bride and host, we made our way from kenduri to Pasir Mas Bus Station. Thanks to my uncles and aunt who gave us a lift and not to waste time, we straight took a cab (RM20 perway) to Rantau Panjang.

As the driver kept on reminding me to be a little bit careful (due to recent bombing thing), I was praying that my passport would not give me problems (another 2 months to expire). Dotter will expire in 2016 (I do envy that!)

Malaysia 's Immigration Check Point

Thailand's Immigration Check Point

Yup, the immigration procedure was smooth for both sides. When I was asked to get my Arrival Card being filled in by an old man, seating somewhere in the office’s corner, my sarcasm took it lightly for things happened. In Bukit Hitam, we were told to put RM2 as “Overtime Fee” in our passport to hand over to Thai Immigration, but here, asking someone to help you filling in the card (it is free in Changi eheehheh), nampak sikit la terhormat kan?

Prior to that, we have made our river crossing. Yup, we made through. hati berdebar-debar sangat tapi agak girang.

Vehicles coming in and out from Malaysia. Yup we are leaving Homeland, semoga selamat semua.

Dotter feel giddier... she never do this, her first time. Sampai besar boleh ingat kot?

The history of the bridge. Other name known as Harmony Bridge.

The river. Some say the river is small like a big drain, but to us, it is still a river OK! See how closed our side to theirs. Not to suggest you illegally cross the river by boat though we have been asked, huh, takmo amik risiko!
The other side of the bridge.

Ok, we are approaching the other side of river.

The immigration complex. 100 meters away from the bridge.

The welcoming sign board. You will be seeing this and understand it at this point of time , not after journey, the rest, amek ko, x paham!

So we walked. We did not want to spend a single cent hiring any motorist to send us to the town since it is walking distance. Penat juga lah menapak ke pekan Golok.

This is Hospital

Hotel Genting? Jangan tertipu... ehhehehehhehe

As we walked to the town, we came across this park...Nice... the concept a park within a rail road is a refreshing idea. Dotter said it looks eerie and sad at the same time, but to me, it shows the people here do appreciate their surrounding and beautification effort... many street peddlers selling tidbits, keropok and drink along this park.

The Sg. Kolok Rail Station, at last.
You can take train all the way to Bangkok via Hat yai Station. Are we going to board any? Nope... Don't be surprised!

The map.Took a glimpse to check whether we are making the right way or not, huhu.

As we walked further, something good to happen. Yes!

We saw two KSR bikes on the front of this toy shop. terubat hati melihat... well the owner is the first Thai people I think I made contact with and he has the exact kind of bike like mine! Cool isnt it?

Checking the sticker on the bikes, "Golok Rider Club", i can say it was a good omen to come all this way, for a journey, unplanned. A safe one hopefully!

To be continued!