Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weather Dependent Travel

Heard over the news that some airports in Europe are closed due to heavy snow and very bad weather. All my children are away now. Tessa is in Italy, somewhere between Rome and Milan. Shaffik and Mini are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Sita, in Wales, is getting ready for a trip to Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck with Fahrul and the kids. All of them plan their holidays away from work at the end of the year. Maybe it is not such a good idea to go to Europe this time of the year after all, given the repeated end of year adverse weather conditions.

Due to the closure of the airports, planes are stuck and flights cancelled or delayed. The rippling effects of these delays are felt all over, even in areas where there are no snow!!

Three of our grandchildren are with us in PeeJay. They are keeping us occupied. They are quite big enough to do many things on their own but they do still need close supervision from us. It is very pleasant to have them around though as there will not be a dull moment with them around, their pranks and tricks keep us entertained at most times. One drawback though, they hog the TV. Its cartoon whenever they are around!! They tried to take over my laptop but I have the old, slow, laptop which I allow them to use, hence I am still in control of my laptop!!

Shaffik and Mini are due to return in a few days and soon after they will go back to Bintulu. The house will be quiet again...... hmmmmmmm....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Long Distance Driving

For the wedding in Jawi, Penang I decided to drive and included a trip further North to Perlis. Immediately after the wedding reception at the bride's house in Jawi we made the two and a half hours drive to Kangar, Perlis and headed straight for Fahrul's parent's house.

We had, for quite a while, intended to visit the North again and also meet up with Fahrul's parents. They had been to KL several times and visited us and we had to look for opportunities to reciprocate. The wedding in Jawi gave us the reason to go further North and visited them. We arrived in their house in the late afternoon. It was a pleasant and easy drive, highway all the way and no congestion anywhere, except when we passed the area close to Butterworth when traffic was quite heavy. But that was only for a distance of about twenty kilometres. Lots of greenery with rice-fields as far as the eye can see on both sides of the highway the rest of the way.

While in Kangar we put up the night in Fahrul's parent's house. We had to. Fahrul's dad went straight for my big luggage and brought it right up to the bedroom upstairs. He said he wanted to make sure the bag does not get back into the car and insisted that we put up the night there. We were not given the opportunity to decline his offer!! We had quite a bit of catching up to do too. It has been quite a while.

Dinner that night was at a seafood restaurant, and there were many, close to the jetty for passenger and commuter boats to Langkawi Island, some twenty kilometers away from Kangar. One not familiar with the rows of seafood restaurants would be lost for choice of which to patronize. Apparently Fahrul's parents had their favourite.
The food at the seafood restaurant was good. We had fish, prawns, squids, crabs and vegetable dishes cooked in various styles that they continued to whet our palates. Not sure about Ram but I think I overate that night. The cool sea breeze and the lively atmosphere then only added on to the enjoyment of food served, food being my number one weakness. We later found out that the dinner cost less than half of what we would have to pay if it was in KL or even in JB for that matter.

We left after breakfast the next day and started our journey southwards. We decided to take the old road that pass through the villages and skip the highway, to the next town of Alor Star. It was not a good decision though as the road was quite congested all the way, made worse by the so-called 'nuisance' traffic, i.e those who, for reasons of their own, decided to drive slowly and hog the centre of the road!!

There did not seem to be much changes in Alor Star. I could get about town easily and remembered the roads and the various spots we used to visit when we were there previously. Ram wanted to check out the market-place, and I was lucky to be able to get parking space closeby. We spent quite a while there and then moved on to have lunch at a restaurant serving a wide choice of good local fare. Again I overate, phew!! And again, the food was cheap. The full meal for one person cost the equivalent of a cup of coffee at Starbucks or Coffee Bean!!

Our next stop was at Kamunting to visit a former schoolmate/classmate of mine. It took me a while to find his house. The place have changed a lot since my previous visit several years ago. I could not recognise the buildings and most of the roads have been upgraded or major reconstructions were still taking place with road diversions that was confusing me. I found the house after quite a while but unfortunately he was not at home. We met his wife and was also privileged to be able to welcome his grandchild of a few days, a first-borne from his youngest daughter. We learnt that he now has eight grandchildren altogether, beatimg me by two!!

It was late afternoon already then and we had a long way to go to return to PeeJay. We continued on our journey southwards after saying our goodbyes, and after talking to my former classmate on the phone from his house. Soon it was dark and I noticed that I had difficulties lifting my leg while driving and it also felt a little numb. We still have about three to four hours drive to make to reach PeeJay. We decided to stop in Ipoh and checked into a hotel for the night. I did not want to take the risk of continuing the drive in the condition I was in. After a good nights' rest and relaxation through the next morning we continued our journey home arriving in the late afternoon. I guess I was just exhausted the evening before and the feeling reminded me that I am not as young any more. I should not overdo things and should take strides that are lower or slower in pace. May the Almighty forgive me and may HE be pleased and continue to guide me always......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Surprised……. Inns That Were Not

Three weddings in two weeks, one in Kelantan, one in KL and one in Penang. For the out of town and out of state locations we accommodated ourselves in Inns, in group bookings to be together with family and relatives. An Inn is defined as an accommodation opened to the public offering more than six rooms and at least one food outlet. This is to differentiate Inns with bed and breakfast accommodations.

Since the weddings took place during the day, specifically in the afternoon, we planned other activities as well, to make full use of the opportunities being in the respective locations.

The Inn we stayed in in Kota Bahru had 35 large rooms each offering two queen beds and tea/coffee making facilities. We were assigned a corner room and had two windows, bright and airy. However, they had no food outlet. So, by definition, they cannot be called an Inn but only a boarding house. We had to go out for our meals or buy packed food to take back to the Inn. That aside, the Inn was well managed, clean and orderly, not anywhere near the facilities provided by the ‘starred’ hotels but sufficient for our restful needs. The staff of the Inn were friendly, accommodating and helpful. We managed to get about town while in Kota Bahru and my comments were posted here earlier.

Another Inn we stayed in was in Jawi, the Jawi Inn. It has only eleven rooms, two of them very large and others standard with two single beds. There was no tea/coffee making facilities in the room, no fridge, and non-functioning TV!! There was a space that looked like a restaurant but it was not functioning. There was also a small conference room. Does it deserve to be called an Inn?

We arrived at the Jawi Inn after a four hours long drive from PeeJay at 2.30pm. The room assigned to us was not ready. The previous guest had just checked out. We had to wait for our room to be cleaned. Then we had to do our bed ourselves!! There was only one staff manning the Inn. He man the reception, he cleans the room, he does everything else necessary to make the Inn function!! The job is rotated in shifts amongst three people. Yes, you guessed it. Many things had to give with a one man show. Top of the list was cleanliness. There were flies all over, even in the room. The Inn has a manager but he was away in Langkawi, playing golf!!

We had half a mind to check into another hotel or Inn but there was none nearby. Since the whole family was there, all eleven rooms were taken up by the family, and since the programme required us to be away from the Inn and we only require it for sleeping, we decided to stay on. After a short rest on checking in we had to get ready for the wedding solemnization ceremony. We returned after the ceremony and had another short rest before leaving for the barbeque dinner in the bride’s house. We returned after midnight tired and very sleepy. Woke up late the next morning and had to go out for breakfast. Then it was time to get ready for the wedding reception. So there was hardly time to notice the comfort or was it discomfort of the Inn. The bombshell came when the family requested an extension of stay from the 12noon check-out time to 1.00pm. The lone staff said, after consulting his ‘invincible’ manager of course, that there will be a charge for one hour!! No amount of coaxing would change his mind. We decided not to pay but to check out and gathered at a mosque in front of the Inn.

Soooo, will I come back and stay in the Inn in the future? Noooo never. Do I recommend the Inn to people? It will only give me a bad name! ha ha ha……..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two Weddings Back-to-Back

Having attended the wedding in Kota Bahru we have two more weddings to attend. One was for the daughter of Ram’s nephew in Kuala Lumpur (no pictures available yet) followed by the wedding of my nephew in Jawi, Penang. (Pictures of this wedding were posted earlier).

We received news of the KL wedding through sms and later received an invitation card. We would have appreciated it more and would be more responsive if Ram’s nephew had contacted us personally and perhaps discuss the wedding and its preparation. This was the wedding of an only daughter and the only child. At the very least they could have enlightened us on the preparation, the programme and if there was any need for input from us. Sms’ are too brief and impersonal and the invitation card just stated the date, time and place. The solemnization was on one evening and reception the next evening. That was all that we knew. We guessed then that the bride’s parents had everything thought of and can manage without our help, hence there was no need for us to ‘poke our nose into their business’, so to speak. We were just like any of his acquaintances or associates, not like family.

We had the wedding of my nephew in Jawi, Penang, with the solemnization ceremony on the same day as the reception for the KL wedding. We opted to be in Jawi and skip the KL reception, after all what was important was the solemnization ceremony for which we made a point to attend both, and on the assumption that Ram’s nephew do not really need us around except as guest in attendance. However, a couple of hours before the solemnization ceremony I received a phone call from the father of the bride requesting if I could be his spokesman during the ceremony. I would have gladly obliged but his spokesman for the engagement ceremony several months ago would be present for this solemnization ceremony and I thought he should continue to be the spokesman for continuity. We were not at the engagement ceremony (somehow they missed us) and were not sure of what transpired then.

Wedding solemnization ceremony is a mix of religious demands and cultural tradition. It is a formal affair and is a revered and holy occasion at the same time. Culture and tradition liven up the ceremony and add value to the ‘coming together’ and unison of two families. It is like a merger, one that should last for lifetimes of the families. These cultural and traditional values are now lost in the modern mainstream. Religious requirements however, are still adhered to as it is demanded and without which there is no wedding. Several elderly folks present at the ceremony, and also at the reception ceremony the next evening I was told, had ‘raised eyebrow’ and I am sure many amongst them had questions like “where are our heritage, our cultural values?” etc., running in their mind while observing the proceedings. Money and material wealth appear to have ruled their lives and taken over the wealth of culture and tradition.

The wedding of my nephew in the bride’s house in Jawi, Penang was also held over two days, starting with the solemnization ceremony held immediately after the late afternoon prayers in the local mosque. This ceremony followed the religious requirements as well as traditional practices. An afternoon tea reception followed in the bride’s house. The bride’s family then invited us to return later in the evening, i.e. after the late evening prayers for a barbeque session just so that the two families could meet, interact and acknowledge the unison of the two families. There was much exchange of light banter and pleasantries that we forgot time and left for our hotel soon after midnight. The actual wedding reception was held the following day at lunch time. The reception by the groom’s side was held two days ago in JB i.e. a week after the ceremony in Jawi. The bride’s family and relatives arrived the evening before the reception day and were received in a get together dinner session in the groom’s parent’s house before they proceeded to their hotel. The two families continued with the light, friendly banter and pleasantries and by now the two families were like old friends. There was all round camaraderie and friendliness. The cultural and traditional practices do play big roles in making this camaraderie happen.

The actual wedding reception was held in the afternoon of the next day. Friends and families gathered together and the bride’s families present interacted with the JB families and guests. There was a lot of fun and laughter amidst an informal setting. I believe everyone enjoyed themselves meeting up with friends and relatives. I met a distant cousin whom I have not met since I was in primary school and another cousin that I have not met for many years! It was indeed very pleasant……….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On The Road - For Three Weddings

On the road again. There were three weddings over the last two weeks starting with one in Kota Bahru on 30th and 1st, then another wedding in KL 0n the 4th. The third wedding was in Jawi, Penang on 5th and 6th and then for a reception of the same wedding in JB on the 11th and 12th. So we were all over the country in two weeks.

We started off for Kota Bahru taking the early morning flight on 30th from Subang, not too far away from our home, and definitely much closer than having to travel to KLIA in Subang. It was a one hour flight arriving in Kota Bahru airport at 8.30am. Ram's niece, and mother of the bridegroom had arranged for a self-drive car for us to pick up at the airport. Hence transportation for the two days we were there were taken care of.

It has been a long while since our last visit to Kota Bahru. We wanted to meet friends and relatives while there this time and in between the wedding receptions. We were quite free in the afternoon on the first day and in the morning of the next day, as the receptions on both days were at around lunch time. However, due to road construction activities in the city, especially the building of a second bridge close to the current one across the Kelantan River, there were massive traffic jams on both sides of the river. We spent the whole evening just to cross over the bridge and later cross back just to visit a friend living on the other side of the river. It took us one and a half hours to cross over the bridge one way!! There goes the evening.

We took the opportunity next morning to go about the city. There definitely has been a positive change in the road system around the city and it is much easier and pleasant to drive around. The city also looks much cleaner now compared to how it was several years ago i.e. when we were last there. There are several new buildings amidst old building in the city centre and I hope that there will be efforts to preserve some of the old buildings as pride of heritage. Noticeably the old palaces and government buildings are still standing and have been nicely spruced up, adding on to their touristy and aesthetic values.

After the wedding reception on the second day it was time for us to go to the airport and fly back to Subang. We dropped off the car at the airport and checked in for the flight. There was a slight delay but no hassle. We were home in good time, and planned for attending the next wedding and the next trip out of Klang Valley......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Another Wedding In Pictures

Another wedding. This time it is of my nephew, the youngest son of my third sister and fourth sibling,to a girl from Jawi, Penang. We drove to Jawi for the function held over two days. More of the travel later and here's some of the pictures....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Kota Bahru For A Wedding

Two days in Kota Bahru (KB) for a wedding. (The wedding was in Pasir Putih, some 40 kilometers from KB but all decided to stay in KB). This time it’s the wedding of Ram’s grand-nephew. It has been a long while since our last visit to KB and we had planned to squeeze in meet-ups with old family friends while there, and if time permitting. There are several, including my paternal uncle who lives part of the time in KB and partly in KL. Let’s see the wedding pictures here first and more rambling later…….

Groom's Parents With Gifts For The Bride:

The Bride - Full Anticipation

Grams & Mum Ever So Happy...

Goodbye Bachelorhood:

Parents of the Groom:

Family Lunch:

With Family: