How It All Began


Any particular story could have multiple beginnings. I could say that the story of my blog began in a hospital the day I was born and my first thoughts began to form or perhaps in a hotel room in Penang when my dad sat me down at his computer with the ‘Start Your Free Blog’ button shining brightly on the screen. But I would choose the days leading up to the book launch of Growing Up In Trengganu as the start of this blog’s tale because that was the first time I was introduced to the term ‘weblog’.

Growing Up In Trengganu (GUIT) is a compilation of blog posts written by a ‘Trengganufolk’ Awang Goneng in a lovely and nostalgic book form and was launched at my grandmother’s bookstore ‘Alam Akademik’, also known by its former name ‘Kedai Pok Loh Yunang’. Since my parents organised the event, I was heavily involved in the preparations and witnessed the excitement they conjured in the comparatively quiet city of Kuala Terengganu. We even had little quips and blurbs pasted on our car windows that attracted so much attention that we even got stopped a few times by curious inquirers.

The book also introduced me to the use of language techniques with its broad vocabulary, uses of vivid imagery, metaphors and similes and good structure. It took me years to really digest how I could use them in my own writing but it was the first time I felt such a profound effect in a purely descriptive writing (as some of the chapters were) as narratives used to be my favourite read with their conflicts and heart wrenching drama.

So in the days that followed, I mused over the possibility of starting my own blog but I highly doubt that I would have created it if not for the support of my parents. The idea of giving the whole world a free pass to my thoughts for them to pry into and to judge was intimidating. However my parents saw it as a good way to build my confidence in my writing and have peer support as in the early days I interacted with a number of bloggers, both fellow readers of GUIT and those who stumbled upon my writing as well as loyal readers who until now still read my brother’s blog (since I had been much less careful in keeping mine active). It gave me an outlet to share my opinions, my perspectives and my own voice.

And I credit this blog to my good command of English, my writing capability as well as my recent A* grade in my CIE A level English Language and the Outstanding Learner Award I received for the paper. After all, my blog is also partly my collection of English assignments especially in my early blogging years. And I must thank my tireless mother who guided me, proofread my terrifying tenses during my early years and sitting through my relentless arguments on why my nonsensical analogy makes sense. And I must too thank my late father who introduced me to GUIT, the internet and from whom I have unknowingly inherited my narrative perspective.

“A Moment With English – Enjoying English” @ SK Padang Hiliran


Last Sunday, Alam Akademik Sdn. Bhd. (my grandmother’s bookstore which is also known as Keda Pok Loh Yunang) organized a program at Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Hiliran in Kuala Terengganu. The program started at 9 a.m. and ended at 11.20 a.m. It was held at the school hall. The program was attended by students from Year 3,4,5 and 6.

The kids listening to our little presentations

The kids listening to our little presentations

We hope to share our experiences in Public Speaking with all of our friends at Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Hiliran. We had a real good time at the school. The students are really brave and smart. They came forward to read and answer questions. I’m so proud of them. We hope our friends in Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Hiliran will enjoy learning English for we need to learn other languages to be smart and knowledgeable.

Syazaliana, the first person brave enough to raise up her hand

Syazaliana, the first person brave enough to raise up her hand.

I did a book reading and spoke about ‘The Creation Of Universe’ based on the book by the same tittle written by Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi. I read a chapter of Growing Up In Terengganu by Awang Goneng titled ‘Budu Spell’ which is very interesting and funny at the same time. My little sister Aeshah did what she does best… STORYTELLING!!! And Anisah sang a butterfly song. My little blogging brother Ahmad Ali, read a post from his famous blog entitled ‘Swine Flu’.

A photo of me delivering my speech

A photo of me delivering my speech

We ended the program by singing the Khalifah Song and Guantanamera. Guantanamera is the most popular song in Cuba and is an unofficial national anthem of Cuba. This Spanish Song is so beautiful and I can never be tired of hearing it.

The Sandpipers singing Guantanamera

The Sandpipers singing Guantanamera

I really had a good time too. I hope we can inspire them to learn English and other languages and be good oriaters… I wish to thank the headmaster and the teachers for inviting us to the school and for the token given to us by the school. I would also like to thank Syaza and all those from SK Padang Hiliran who had been reading my blog.

My little brother, Ahmad Ali, made new friends at the school. The girl in the middle (beside the boy) is Syazaliana. Perhaps she would name the rest of her friends for me...

My little brother, Ahmad Ali, made new friends at the school. The second boy is Izzat. The other two boys beside him are from Year 4 (if anyone know their names please inform me). The girls from left are Syazaliana, Hazirah, Adlin and Puteri. The boy in front... I don't think I need to tell you but just in case, AHMAD ALI himself!

Eating Out: In Kuala Terengganu


Two weeks in Kuala Terengganu was really enjoyable. I visited a lot of interesting places and met lots of wonderful people. I also had the chances to sample a lot of Terengganu foods.

Pak Chik Changgeh mentioned about a restaurant in Rusila named Kedai Lempeng that serves ‘ttupak sutong’ everyday (Please refer to ‘TTupak Sutong’). We went there on the first day they started their business after their Eid break. I like the place and the owners are very friendly and polite. We tried their ‘ikang and sutong celuk ttepong’ (please refer to Cicoh – part 2), ‘ttupak sutong’ (please refer to ‘Ttupak Sutong’) ‘lepeng nyor’ (lempeng), ‘rojok ceranang’ (a type of Terengganu salad), ‘rojok kateh’ and ‘keropok lekor’.

The fish and squid were fresh and tasty; and so were their ‘ikang singgang’ and ‘budu’ (please refer to ‘ikang Singgang’). The ‘rojok kateh’ was also tasty  but the ‘ttupak sutong’ was rather “cero“. The ‘kuoh’ or the curry soup of the ‘ttupak sutong’ was not thick enough (too watery) and did not have either that wonderful flavour nor the lovely aroma of a tasty ‘ttupak sutong’. Anyway the ‘air nira’ and the young coconut drink which were both mixed with ice-cream were really tasty. And so were the lempeng or “coconut pancake” as my siblings called them. Actually that was the first time I tried the ‘lepeng nyor’!

The next day I ate ‘lempeng’ at another stall close to the Primula Hotel known as ‘Keda Atak Nipoh’ (Nipah Roof Stall). We prefered their ‘lempeng’ compared to the ones served at Kedai Lempeng. The people who run this stall were very nice and friendly. They also sell delicious Terengganu style ‘nasi lemak’.

Another place that sells delicious ‘nasi lemak’ was a stall in Jalan Kampung Kolam which was run by Mak Cik Ani and her husband. Mak Cik Ani used to work for Alam Akademik, a bookstore  that belongs to my grandmother. Mak Cik Ani’s ‘nasi minyak’ was delicious too.

We also had our ‘nasi minyak’ at a very popular ‘nasi minyak’ and ‘roti canai’ stall opposite the Sekolah Kebangsaan Ladang. When we reached there, the stall was almost full but we managed to get our seats. We waited for ages but nobody came to take our order and when we called the staff, she just looked at us rudely and ignored us!

The worst part of their bad service was there were customers who just came in could get their ‘nasi minyak’ almost at once while others had to wait for ages to order their breakfast! Infact another customer who was seated next to us just walked out of the place after telling us that he was already tired of waiting for his ‘nasi minyak’. At last we got our ‘nasi minyak’; but the ‘roti canai’ never came. Another customer said that being so popular, the  stall owner do not care if their customers walked out or gave up on them ‘cos more will come for their ‘nasi minyak’ and ‘roti canai’. And that reminds me of the rude lady at the sales counter of the very popular keropok lekor place in Bukit Tok Beng! (please refer to ‘Two Weeks in Kuala Terengganu’)

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!

Lakse Kuoh Masok


On Sunday, we had a very delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (laksa kuah masak) for dinner at nenek’s place. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is a type of rice noodle (lakse) dish served with a spicy fish curry sauce (kuoh masok) and fresh raw vegetables called ‘ulang’ (ulam in standard speak). In Terengganu, we have two types of laksa dishes – ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (rice noodle in cooked fish curry sauce) and ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ (rice noodle in uncooked fish curry sauce. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh meroh’ while ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh puteh’ due to the colours of their fish curry sauces.

The delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ that we enjoyed that evening was specially brought by Pak Cik Hisham who works in nenek’s bookstore, Alam Akademik in Kuala Terengganu. The ‘kuoh’ (fish curry sauce) was cooked by Pak Cik Hisham’s mother. She must be a very good cook for the ‘kuoh’ is very tasty. According to nenek, it is not easy to prepare a very tasty ‘kuoh masok’ for in cooking Terengganu traditional dishes, the amount of ingredients used for a recipe is just ‘agok-agok’ or about ‘a certain amount’- so one needs a lot of practice to master the recipe.

Even the laksa (rice noodle) is brought from Terengganu. In KL, mum uses the dried laksa because the kind of fresh laksa sold in KL tastes very differently from the ones sold in Terengganu. Of course the fresh laksa or ‘lakse kebok’ is much tastier than the dried laksa especially the one that Pak Cik Hisham brought to KL. Nenek said that Pak Cik Hisham’s ‘lakse’ was of high quality and stayed soft and fresh even after two days outside the refrigerator.

Preparing a traditional ‘lakse kuoh masok’ is rather tedious especially when the types of fish suitable for the fish curry sauce are quite bony. First we have to boil the fish and debone them. The process is tricky as we have to look out for fine fish bones. Then mash the fish using a mortar and pestle until smooth. Cook the fish in coconut milk together with shrimp paste, chili paste, asam, shallots, garlic, ginger and other spices and herbs on slow fire for at least four hours for a tasty ‘kuoh masok’.

For the vegetables, traditionally we use brinjals, cucumbers, bean sprouts, fresh basil leaves, cashew shoots, long beans and kesomleaves or polygonum. Slice (very fine) all the vegetables except brinjals and cucumbers that should be cut into fine cubes. Anyway for the modern version of ‘lakse kuoh masok’, any ulam (salad) such as pegaga, ulam raja, etc can be used instead of the vegetables mentioned above but the basil and kesom (polygonum) leaves are a must. If using the dried laksa, boil the laksa until soft, then rinse them in cold water. Please do not use the KL version of fresh laksa for it does not taste like the Terengganu ‘lakse at all. Serve the ‘lakse’ (lakse kebok’ if possible) with ‘kuoh‘, vegetables, slices of hard boiled eggs, lime and some shrimp paste and chili paste for an extra delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok‘. ‘Pok Cik Shang‘, thank you very much for the delicious lakse – we really enjoyed the ‘akok’ and egg tarts too.’Sedak sunggoh kuoh lakse mok Pok Cik Shang. Rase macang nok lagi je’.

A New Trengganuspeak Word From Awang Goneng


[this is the revised comment as posted at Uncle Awang Goneng’s blog]

Wow Uncle AG, that is another new Trengganuspeak word for me to learn. Neither my parents had ever mentioned it to me before.

I have been “trying” to write some notes about Trengganuspeak too at my blog: Trengganuspeak and Trengganuspeak (2).

But definitely not to challenge the “sifu”. By that, hopefully you will not be mistakenly called “Awang Goneng Siput” as in Pok Chang Siput (your “Snapshots to the Past” that mentioned about my ancestor’s [Pok Loh] migration from China).

All my sibling enjoyed the several meetings we had especially when you came to visit our Atuk and Nenek and later during the GUiT launching at our Keda Pok Loh (Alam Akademik).

Photo 1: Showing Uncle AG the Dewan Pelajar (Disember 2006) which featured me on the cover. Sharing the moment were my siblings and Atuk.

Photo 2: Group photo after GUiT lauching at my Nenek’s Alam Akademik (Keda Pok Loh). Pok Loh’s sole surviving son (my great grandfather) is between Uncle AG and Auntie Zaharah (Kak Teh)

Note: But my dad just commented that he use “kherjong” instead of “kerejong” [I don’t know how to do the “umlaud” as you did]. And I thought it was “khejong” as in “kerah khejong” but as it happen, kerejong has nothing to do with khejong. That is how difficult and confusing Trengganuspeak is (to me).