Sunday, April 15, 2007


So near yet so far. An island, yet no longer one. Now connected by bridge and 20 mins away from Kota Bharu. A relative, last met probably 35 years ago. A new goal - to visit at least one "long lost" relative, every time I returned home.

This long lost relative, "Pok Mudo", aka Young Father. Yet, not so young. Past 70 but energetic. Proud father of 12 children and quite an effort to name all when asked! Wife passed away several years ago and now has a "Mok Mudo", aka Young Mother. Relative to his age, the Mok Mudo is young. My guess, at least 25 years younger! Now we know his youthful secret.

Asked him for his "petua". One of his untold petuas I cannot follow, have 12 children. The other "petua" I dare not follow! But one petua I always follow.

"Kito tok leh kedekut gheng". can I translate this? "Gheng" can be translated as effort or energy. What Pok Mudo is trying to tell us youngsters is that we must always expand our energy. By doing so, we become more energetic, and therefore youthful. How true. While I do my regular cycling, Pok Muda walked the beach, every morning and worked out a generous sweat. Envy him. We city folks will pay a bomb to have a house by the sea. Pok Muda's house overlooked the South China Sea.

He was a fisherman, just liked my father was, but not anymore. In his retirement age, he is a "jala" maker. Jala is cast net, like the picture below. With his jala, he casted Mok Mudo too!

He showed us the mould used to make the weights for the jala. The weights are made from timah (tin) which used to be one of Malaysia's main export years ago.

Pok Mudo had migrated from the inland when he was still a youth and has established his home in Kundor Island. The island offered certain charms. I can't quite recall my last visit 35 years ago. The kampung, just like any others, has modern amenities like pipe water and electricity. So, the telaga (perigi) has now outlived its use. Girls or women therefore no longer took bath in the open, with the sarong worn to just arm-pit level. Men too no longer show either their pot-belly or sun-tanned fishermen muscles while bathing. Those were the days.

In Pulau Kundor, the youths expand their gheng by kick-boxing. The Kelantan govt has since made this sport legal. Locally known as Boksing Siye, it is a sport originating across the border and is catching up in popularity. Well, anything so long as youths stay away from doing drugs.

For the boat-builder enthusiastic kids of Pulau Kundor, they experiment on making boats. Timber is now expensive, with the depleting resource from Lojing. So, they turned to metal boats and call it Heavy Metal! Can also call it boat potong, just like kereta potong.

I don't know when will be the re-visit. I have other relatives that I need to complete my rounds. This will happen in my Cycling Trip III to Kota Bharu, perhaps 3 months from now.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Let me digress a little.

I reported on the delayed train in Kuala Lipis on my cycling trip back to Kota Bharu. To kill time, I struck a lot of conversation with the lady in charge of the goods for despatch at the railway station. I need to pay RM4.30 for the transport of my bike to Bertam.

She was also from Kelantan, but speaks pretty good English herself. I told her I was also from Kelantan but had made Subang Jaya my home. I don't know why, but I also told her my mother lives with me, occasionally. That information somehow triggered some sadness in her. She said she "lost" her mother early and therefore don't know her. Her father had died.

She had 3 kids, 2 boys and 1 daughter. Nur Aelish is her daughter, a Std 5 girl. Back in Kota Bharu when her daughter was ready for kindergarten, the only kindergarten near her place was a Chinese kindergarten. She enrolled Aelish. Aelish frequently asked her what the teacher was saying. She told the daughter, "I can explain the English, but I don't understand Chinese."

The daughter decided then, that that was the language she wanted to learn. Amidst certain resentments from some members of the family, the mother persisted.

Aelish dropped in to the office in the afternoon after school. The mother introduced her to me. The mother said she liked to dress like a boy. Kept her hair short, wore pants and t-shirts. Hmm...sounds familiar to me!

I found her a very bright student. She certainly knew what she wanted to be when I popped her that question.

When I told her I didn't learn Chinese, her spontaneous remark was, "Pak Cik belajar Tamil kah" and she laughed heartily, with a scornful look and embarrasment of the mother. She must have supported her witty remark from my "burnt" look.

When I asked her what she liked to eat, she said

Does she know that this Indian Pak Cik don't like sayur? Aishay terror lah Aelish.

I managed to ask her to tell me a story in Chinese. She obliged me with a story about a crocodile. The story is about.....hmm...let me see............


And when the train arrived, I said bye bye to Dr Aelish. I hope to live long enough to ask for some aspirins from her.

Saturday, April 7, 2007



I have since made it a goal. Every return trip to my home state Kelantan, I will visit at least 1 relative whom I have not met for a long time. I chose not to be too specific about the "long time" though.

First visit was promised while I was still in KL, before doing the cycling trip back to KB. I promised this Pok Sepupu (Father Cousin...aiya) that I will cycle to his house. He probably thought it was a joke! His name : Abdullah or better known as PAK LAH! Of course, we called him Pok Loh.

PL has been a favorite "Father Cousin" since I was a kid. He was a carpenter, house builder, motor mechanic, barber, and self-defense exponent in his younger days. He with several other relatives built our house back in the 1960s.

His passion now is fishing. Give him a fishing rod and all his worries are over. When the fish bites and the rod trembles, he will not part with the rod, not even for cash. That ecstacy he must relished, never mind if the fish is ikan buntal. That's his love, now that his wife has passed away several years ago. With his blocked heart, he will not be able to stand a new wife! So he goes fishing.

He was scheduled for an angio-plasty until GH told him he had to fork out RM15,000. So he politely told the government he'll wait for his time to see the maker.

So, as promised, on my second day of arrival (31st Mar 07) to KB, we (my brother Rahimi, his wife Sufia and I) made the trip to the PM's residence. After a ravishing Nasi Kerabu at Warong Siti Aishah, we cycled the 15kms to Kg Beris Kubor Gajah. No one appeared to be home. We sat ourselves at the benches under the shady pokok ketapang and I called PL on his mobile. He answered coyly and he was in the house. We "invited" him to join us under the Ketapang tree.

He narrated many funny stories. He recalled staying over in my TTDI house eons ago. He went out to buy cigarettes at the shop, remembering the number of right and left turns to the shop and back. He got lost and couldn't locate my house, as all houses were similar. He didn't realise he was actually at my gate until my maid asked him why he was standing outside the gate. Embarrassed, he said he was just taking some fresh air!

When I was a Branch Manager of a bank in Tg Karang in the late 70s, he spent a few days with me. He became a local celebrity because of his relationship with the Bank Manager! And that Bank Manager was not aware.

We had a great time relishing our youths. We stayed in excess of an hour before we bade goodbye. One goal accomplished.