A Weekend In Penang

My family and I had just arrived from Penang two days ago. Unlike most of our trips to Penang when we stayed at the Feringghi BayView Beach Hotel on the island, this time we stayed at the Butterworth Palm Inn Hotel which is just across the road to the Dewan Dato’ Haji Ahmad Badawi where we attended a seminar on Sunday.

For my parents, a trip to Penang won’t be completed without having Penang’s special ‘mee udang Sungai Dua’ or ‘Sungai Dua prawn noodle’; so we headed to Sungai Dua for the special dish as soon as we reached Butterworth. In fact, we drove to Sungai Dua again that night where they again had ‘mee udang Sungai Dua’ for dinner at another restaurant! I had ‘keoy teow goreng’ or ‘fried flat noodle’ for both lunch and dinner which I think is much cheaper and tastier. The restaurants are not fancy but both are located in beautiful natural surroundings; we had lunch at a riverside restaurant and dinner at a restaurant facing a large paddy field.The food are very, very good and the price of food is far cheaper than in KL.

On Sunday, we attended the ‘Seminar Mendaulatkan Islam – Agama Negara (SEMAIAN)’ (see here) at Dewan Dato’ Haji Ahmad Badawi across the road from our hotel for the whole day. In the afternoon , I sat down on the floor outside the hall and drew a picture of the hotel which turned out quite nice. My siblings walked around the large field in front of the hall, playing in the wind and watching the pigeons performing airshows and playing ‘guess the plane’. And Ahmad Ali caught a feather that flew down from a flying bird(and decided to start a feather collection) and made such a fuss about it on the car trip back to KL.

We had a lovely time in Penang although we didn’t go to the island and played at the beach. The view from our hotel room is marvelous, especially at night. We snapped lots of photos from our hotel rooms which face the island and the Penang Port.  I hope that one day we could go on another trip to Penang.

An evening at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh… With Uncle Nisar!

We took a trip to Kuala Terengganu on 24th of December, 2010 together with Uncle Nisar. That was his first trip to the east coast of West Malaysia and we were very excited to take him around our hometown.

On the evening of the 26th of December, we went to Pantai Rhu Sepuloh (Rhu Sepuloh Beach – near Bari). According to Uncle Fauzan who is my father’s good friend, there is a special place at the beach where we can buy fresh fishes and other seafood along the beach.

Walking along the sandy beach

After buying some fresh fishes and some tasty big prawns, dad drove us to a stall selling delicious ‘ikang celuk ttepung’ served with ‘air lada’ for tea. Of course they do have other food in their menu but the ‘ikang celuk ttepung’ is probably their most popular dish since their fishes were freshly caught. We also had some prawns, squids and fried noodle. The seafood were so fresh and tasty and not like the ones that we usually buy from the markets. After that we each had a refreshing glass of coconut drink.

Enjoying our ikang celuk ttepung

After tea, we took a walk along the beautiful sandy beach. We found a shipwreck and mum suggested that it may be Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship, ‘The Black Pearl’. Uncle Nisar told us that Captain Jack Sparrow was so popular in the USA that people would dress up as the captain to the cinema to watch the movie!

Is this all that is left of The Black Pearl?

Then we came to an area where the fishermen dock their boats. We met a fisherman who showed us some fish traps. I still could not figure out how the trap works; I really hope that Uncle Azahar can help me 😉

We went to see the fishing boats

Examining a fish trap

Finally we walked back to the car and started our journey back home.

A Wonderful Weekend With Aunty Selina

On Friday night (29th of January, 2010) Aunty Selina reached KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) for a 3 days trip. Aunty Selina, who lives in Maryland, USA,  is a very good friend of my parents. She stayed at The Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur at Jalan Ampang.

She brought all of us lots of lovely presents. I received a 1000 pieces jigsaw puzzle ‘Home Sweet Home’ (a part of the Medallion Collection, featuring a picture of the countryside in the morning) and a beautiful historical fiction novel, ‘Stepping On The Cracks’ which I finished reading that very night. She also gave us two packets of a very tasty ‘Lindor’ by Lindt chocolates with peanut butter and orange fillings. The dark chocolates are so deliciuos and the chocolate fillings burst with aromatic flavour as they melt in my mouth. I just love them and could not stop eating them. I love Swiss chocolates and Lyndt is my favourite!

On Saturday, Aunty Selina spent her day sightseeing around Kuala Lumpur on the KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus. That night, we had our dinner at  Ayam Penyet AP Restaurant in Wangsa Walk Mall which served  delicious Jawa Timur (East of Java) and Minang  food. The special dish was the ayam penyet (smashed chicken) which originated from Surabaya. Unfortunately they were out of avocado. Indonesian styled avocado juice or ‘es alpukat’ is one of my favourite drink.

That night, we saw a big and bright blue moon (a blue moon means the second full moon of the same month. This phenomenon only occurs once in a blue moon 🙂 ). The moon was also supposed to be the brightest and biggest of the year.

We spent the next few days going around Kuala Lumpur with Aunty Selina. We went to Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Masjid Darul Ehsan, Putrajaya and lots more of interesting places.

Thank you so much, Aunty Selina for the wonderful presents and the delightful weekend we spent with you 🙂 . Please do come again to Malaysia. It would be great to see you again. We really miss you.

Friends from Sri Lanka

Last Friday, my family and I went to May Tower Hotel in Jalan Munshi Abdullah to meet Uncle Zahedi, Aunty Suzana and Brother Hisham. They came from Sri Lanka to send Brother Hisham who is currently doing his Master’s Degree in Islamic Finance here in Kuala Lumpur.

We met them after the Friday prayers. When we reached there, Aunty Suzana looked at me exclaiming, “Oh, she looks just like Aishah”. Aishah Salihue is Aunty Suzana’s niece and a friend of mine who lives in San Jose, California. Coincidentally, Aishah shared the same name with my little sister, Aeshah, while Aishah’s little brother shared the same name with my little brother, Ali. I had met her and her family twice during my visits to the USA in 2005 and 2006.

I remember going to her house in 2006. Her huge backyard is like a wonderland  filled with many kinds of fruit trees. On the day I visited her, Aishah found out that their first apple had ripened in the backyard. She excitedly pluck it and ran with the apple indoors to show it to her mum. There was also a tent, Aishah’s bike, his little brother, Ali’s wagon, a table with benches and a trampoline in the backyard.

I remember feeling so excited as I succeeded to ride Aishah’s bike without any difficulties even on the grass. It was actually my second time riding a bike without the two tiny side wheels to help me balance. I also remember pulling Ali’s wagon with both ‘Alis’ giggling inside. We also drew pictures and wrote stories on the wooden table. But the best part of the day was when I met Aishah’s grandparents who came all the way from Sri Lanka. Aishah’s grandfather gave me a lot of very beautiful Sri Lankan stamps which are now safely kept inside my stamp album.

We had a great time. Before we left, Aishah’s mother gave me a beautiful brown hijab. We still keep in touch through emails and we sent stamps to each other several times. I really hope that Insya Allah, I could once again visit Aishah in her wonderful backyard.

It was so enjoyable meeting Uncle Zahedi, Aunty Suzana and Brother Hisham. They are very nice and wonderful to be with. Aunty Suzana is very sweet, beautiful and friendly and she really reminds me of her younger sister who is Aishah’s mother.

Answer to the Stowaway Passenger Quiz

Hmmm… seems like nobody hit the bulls eye. The answer is actually a…

…SNAIL!!!

Yup, it’s a small snail sitting on the windscreen. Somewhere on the Karak Highway, it glided to the roof of the car and most probably blown away because when we arrived at the rest area I searched for the snail but it was nowhere to be found. I was sitting at the front seat and was able to snap a few photos of it. Scroll down to have a look!

We found it on the hiding behind the wiper after passing the Gombak toll.

We found it hiding behind the wiper after passing the Gombak toll.

Later it moved from left to the right side of the windscreen and started to climb.

Later it moved from left to the right side of the windscreen and started to climb.

A better view of the climbing snail

A better view of the climbing snail

It's already climbed higher than it's previous position but climbing at a very slow pace.

It had already climbed higher than it's previous position but climbing at a very slow pace.

A few minutes later, it moved a few centimetres higher up. I guess it wanted to have a better view of the highway

A few minutes later, it moved a few centimetres higher up. I guess it wanted to have a better view of the highway

The snail can now feel the wind pushing it upwards

The snail can now feel the wind pushing it upwards

The snail's desire to get a better view drops while his fear of getting blown away suddenly struck it as it glided up the windscreen assisted by the 'kind wind'

The snail's desire to get a better view drops while his fear of getting blown away suddenly struck it as it glided up the windscreen assisted by the 'kind wind'

This was the last photo I was able to capture. Later, it glided up to the roof and disappeared. The poor old city snail who thought of moving to a nice town in Terengganu is now lost somewhere near the highway and had to learn to live the country ways. What a disappointment! 😦

Ps; I am now on my way to Terengganu accompanied by hopes of meeting Uncle Azahar at Zainun’s Nasi Ayam.

Two Weeks In Kuala Terengganu

I was so busy for the last 2 weeks that I can hardly find the time to update my blog. Apart from visiting our relatives and friends, I also visited many interesting places in Kuala Terengganu such as my grandmother’s shop, Alam Akademik (refer to ‘A memory of Kuala Terengganu’), Bukit Pak Apil (refer to ‘Special Ramadhan Treats from Terengganu’), Taman Tamadun Islam in Pulau Wan Man, Pantai Batu Buruk (refer to ‘A memory of Kuala Terengganu’), Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School – SSSS (refer to ‘A memory of Kuala Terengganu’), Pasar Chabang Tiga (a wet market) and places where they made keropok lekor (a special Terengganu delicacy made mainly from fish)

When we were at nenek’s place in Kuala Terengganu, I was too busy reading the new books that I got from Alam Akademik and also those that I borrowed from  my Apa – Hj. Yaacob bin Abdullah Al-Yunani. Apa is my maternal great grandfather (please refer to ‘A Memory of Kuala Terengganu’) and he has a huge collection of those lovely and very expensive Reader’s Digests books. So far he had already spent more than RM20,000 for his collection. My Apa is a wonderful man and he is always very happy to see us rushing to his ‘Reader’s Digest library’ choosing books to read every time we visited him.

A few days before Eid, dad took us to a famous keropok lekor place in Bukit Tok Beng. When we reached there, there was a very long queue outside the stall. This is not an ordinary  keropok place as they use machines to roll their keropok lekor. We were so impressed; but later we were shocked when a rude lady at the sales counter shouted rudely at us telling us to wait for our turn when it was actually our turn and in fact a few customers had jumped the queue and went ahead of us. Later we heard more ‘stories’ from our relatives and friends about their bad customer service and how their attitude towards their customers changed after their business flourished. What a pity…

The next day we went to another keropok lekor place. This time, in Tanjong. The place is very small compared to the one in Bukit Tok Beng and all the processes of making the keropok lekor was done traditionally. What is very interesting about the place is the lady who runs the place. She was so nice and humble as how Terengganu folks should be… It makes me wonder if the lady in Bukit Tok Beng was also nice to their customers before the place got to be as popular as it is now… And I just hope that this lady in Tanjong will never be rude to her customers even if  her business grows bigger than the one in Bukit Tok Beng!

Going Back To Terengganu (Balik Kampung)

Starting my own blog taught me lots of new things. For instance during our journey back to Kuala Terengganu, I was more alert to the surroundings – taking notes and photos for my blog. Normally I would just sleep, watching the VCDs or lost in my own world.

There are lots of beautiful old traditional houses by the main road in Kemaman. I took photos of them wondering how much longer they would be standing there. I guess one day those houses will be replaced by modern shop houses or other buildings considering their strategic locations. I can’t blame their owners for destroying our heritage for the old houses are of no commercial value compared to the modern buildings.

We passed some beautiful rivers and scenic beaches. Born and grew up in Kuala Lumpur, far away from the beach my siblings and I are always excited to see beaches. How I wish that we can stop by at those beautiful beaches…

‘Amlr’ mentioned about a Pasar Ramadhan in Geliga where one can buy ‘ttupak sutong’ (please refer to ‘Ttupak Sutong’). Passing Geliga, I tried to look for the location but failed to locate the Pasar Ramadhan. Maybe it is not located near the main roads to Kuala Terengganu or maybe we were there too early as we passed Geliga at about 1p.m.

Reaching the Petronas Complex, my little 5 years old blogging brother, Ahmad Ali excitedly searched for the fire at the refinery complex. He just love counting them and searching for the biggest fire. He too was searching for things to write in his blog (which he posted on 27th Sept, entittled ‘Things I saw on the way to Terengganu’). He kept telling us that he wish to own  a real camera or a real phone with a camera so that he can take lots of photos of the things he likes by himself.

I passed the ‘Keda Lepeng’ in Rusila – another place that sells ‘ttupak sutong’ according to ‘changgeh’ (please refer to ‘Ttupak Sutong – 1st comment). And yes, I can see the words ‘ttupak sutong’ written big and clear on their banner. The place looked empty. I guess they are still closed as most restaurants starts operating their business late in the afternoon during Ramadhan.

Breaking fast (iftar) in Kuala Terengganu is exciting. I waited for the sound of the ‘bedil’ (please refer to ‘Special Ramadhan Treats from Terengganu’) to mark the time for iftar. And finally I ate the delicious ‘ttupak pulok‘ with ‘samba daging’/serunding daging’ or beef floss for iftar today. How I missed the delicious ‘ttupak pulok’ (as I wrote in ‘Ttupak Pulok‘). Mum enjoyed her ‘ttupak pulok’ with ‘ayang golek’. And talking about ‘ayang golek’ reminds me of the old fashioned ‘ayang golek’ on sugar cane sticks (as mentioned by ‘Pok Cik Luckganu’ in ‘Special Ramadhan Treats from Terengganu’). How I wish I can try them…

Note: Where do they fire the bedil? I’ll be writing about it in my next post, Insya Allah.

Niagara Falls

As I was reading (a poem) “Kemanusiaan” by Usman Awang (from ‘Sasterawan Negara: Usman Awang Edisi Kedua’ by Zurinah Hassan, DBP), I came across a word ‘Air Terjun Niagara’ or The Niagara Falls. All at once, I was transported back to the most magnificent place I’ve ever been to!

The Niagara Falls (consists of The Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls) are massive waterfalls on the Niagara River, shared by the USA and Canada. Famed as one of the world’s most famous spectacles, the Niagara Falls are unmatched for their sheer vastness and volume of water; not even by the Victoria Falls!

We drove from Chicago (Illinois) to the Niagara Falls (New York). Along the way we stopped at beautiful parks, lakes and scenic small towns. We spent a night in Holland, Michigan.

We reached the Niagara Falls just in time to watch the Falls Fireworks and Illumination Show. It was an awe-inspiring sight to see the massive falls illuminated in coloured lights over the darkness of night added by the thundering sound of water pounding down the falls.

Just in time for the fireworks at Niagara

Early the next morning we headed to the Prospect Point to see the American Falls. We saw the Rainbow Bridge over the Niagara River and also Canada across the river.

Then we drove across a bridge over the rapids to the scenic Goat Island. The whole area is under Niagara State Park. The park is so clean and beautiful, flowers blooming in flower beds and in the trees, leaves had started to change colour since autumn is just a few weeks ahead.

From the car park, we were greeted by the sound of the falls. Walking towards the Terrapin Point, I was speechless for I’ve never seen such a spectacular sight in my whole life. My little brother, Ahmad Ali was so excited to see a few full rainbows all at once in the morning mist below us over the Horseshoe Falls.

One of the many rainbows forming over the Horseshoe Falls

We walked to Luna Island across a beautiful bridge to have a close look at the Bridal Veil Falls. Along the way, we saw the Cave of the Winds; but it was too dangerous for us to go down to the cave for Ali was just 3 years old at the time. And for the same reason we couldn’t go aboard the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour of the American and Horseshoe Falls.

Crossing the bridge to Luna Island to have a close view of the Bridal Veils Falls

Connected by bridge to Goat Island are three small islands named Three Sisters Island. Next to the third Sister Island is an even smaller island named Brother Island. Three sisters and a little brother – just like me and my siblings! What a coincidence.

The Three Sisters Island

Subhanallah. Allah is the Greatest as only Him can create such a great creation. No rides on theme parks could ever match the feelings of standing by the Niagara Falls. And no words can ever justify the awe-inspiring sight and sound of the Niagara’s water, plunging into the their turbulent rapids! [It can fill up one million bathtubs in one second!!!]

I pray to Allah that I can visit Grandpa Jan in Toronto and have a chance to visit the Niagara Falls from the other side of the river – Ontario, Canada.

A Trip To Taiping

On the way to Penang, we made a stop in Taiping to visit Opah & Atuk Idris. They are the proud parents of Uncle Najmi (or Khairul Najmi, the Akademi Fantasia* 5’s English Teacher). Uncle Najmi is an old pal of my dad and during his university days, dad used to visit them in Taiping. I enjoyed spending time with them as I enjoyed the company of Uncle Najmi.

We saw old photographs of Uncle Najmi. Opah told us an amazing story of how Uncle Najmi [at the age of 8] picked up Opah’s handbag and kept it safe when the family’s car collided with a lorry after an outing. Uncle Najmi was the only person who escaped unhurt and he even gave the statement to the police!

My little brother, Ahmad Ali was really amazed to see so many houses in red (either painted red or using red tiles with red roof). Even Atuk Idris’s house has red pillars! We drove past the Taiping Railway Station which must had been built a very long time ago.

Note*: We do not watch Akademi Fantasia, Gang Stars, American Idol and those likes. Dad taught us to be smart in choosing what to watch on TV; infact at home we do not even suscribe Astro. Even though I enjoyed Astro once in a while especially the Discovery Channel, I do not miss them at all. I find reading more satisfying.

My visit to Penang

Last week, my family and I went to Penang. We went there by car and stayed at Bayview Beach Hotel, Batu Feringgi. It was a fun and lovely trip. We had a half an hour boat ride and guess what??? We saw DOLPHINS!!! There were about four of them jumping in and out of the water. And there were so near about a couple of metres away from our boat. We also saw jelly fishes. Some are big and long, others are very small. I also rode the jet ski with my father. It was great fun.

My mother (right), my brother and me on a boat ride at Batu Feringgi.

My father’s friend, Aunty Habsah and Uncle Firdaus invited us for dinner at Padang Brown. They told us that the food court in Padang Brown is one of the oldest in Penang and the operator are actually the generations of the original people that first started the food court. We tried their mutton soup with roti mamak, Penang mee rebus, mee mamak, pasembur and satay. They are the most authentic Penang food that I’ve ever tasted.