Sunday, November 23, 2008


21 Nov 2008 - Taman Tasik Semenyih

When one's name is associated with the famous Tan Sri P. Ramlee, one was obliged to perform in front of the crowd. One can't disappoint the crowd, well at least that would be one's intention - to please the crowd.

One cannot disappoint the musical director either. He is a professional, a man of various musical talents, good with both his fingers and mouth. I mean this guy can pick the guitar, both Spanish and electric flawlessly. I too can pick the guitar, if the guitar was about to fall from its stand!

He blew the Saxophone just like Ahmad Nawab. Kenny G would have to change the alphabet to his name.

He could plant his fingers on the keyboard and piano just as confidently as I grip the handle bar of my bicycle. He melted the heart while I worked the heart beat!

When he blew the flute, my heart beat moved almost into sleep mode. But when he expanded and compressed the accordion to accompany my JOGET KELATE, M Daud Kilau would want to duet with me!

He is KHALILI KHALID (KK), a batch-mate of mine in RMC.

So, today the musical director directed us to attend rehearsal at his house for tomorrow's big night. I meant he was giving us "directions" to his house in Semenyih!

When I arrived just after 1300 hrs, Bob was already there. Bob is Dato Roshdi Nordin, another batchmate. In RMC, Bob was the envy of us from the kampongs. He was from KL so he could do all the twist and dance routine that we from the kampongs could only gasp in awe!

Today, Bob would be matching his vocal chords to the tunes he had selected for the crowd.

Shortly after I arrived, the Arab arrived. He is Syed Hashim. A strong supporter, he had always been our function man. No, he was not in charge of the functions. He attended almost ALL the functions. He won't be offering his vocal chords to the crowd though he certainly could.

Arab is man of many talents. In RMC, he represented the RMC in almost all the games. He was also the Malaysian National Junior Tennis champion. In adulthood, he was the Malaysian Malays Golf Champion. By the way, I'm learning golf from him now!

But alas, he had found some other love and cravings.

Later George Lopez (aka Trini Lopez) arrived. He came straight from the airport, direct from Perth. He was picked up by Arifin Hew, another batch-mate of ours.

He needed no practise. He was a pro. I suspected he moonlighted from his accounting practise to sing in nightclubs in Perth. He knew what key he would sing in, while I @ P.Ramlee @ M Daud Kilau was fumbling for my carkeys when the Musical Director asked for the key!

I must not forget another professional musician, Khairafik or Rafik for short. Rafik is KK's nephew and runs a music studio in Taman Tun. We were therefore accompanied by professionals and we therefore must sing like one, or at least pretended to be one.

But of-course, all the practise would not have been worthwhile if not for the great effort of KK's wife, Salha who was a fantastic host and ...ssshhh... a great cook! I believe, for once I beat the Arab at his own game! Yeah, I put in more calories than Arab did that day. I'm only posting the shot we took for tea. I just didn't have time to take any shot during lunch. Thank you "yam leave" Salha. Suruh-suruh lah Khalili buat jam session dirumah selalu.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Today, 22 Nov 2008 I will join many others of my batchmates from the Royal Military College for a re-union in Port Dickson. I was a fresh raw student from Kelantan back in 1967 when I set foot in Sungei Besi, the military camp where RMC was located.
For this reunion, I volunteered to prepare a slides presentation, a down memory lane that would be a common feature of any old classmates gathering. Browsing and choosing the old and not so old pictures brought back nostalgic memories.
My daughter Mimi had been reminiscing about her childhood in her blogs' current posting. Guess it is time for her Abah to do likewise!
I flipped through a 1970 edition of PENDITA, the journal of the Arts Union of the College.

And there I was, posing a slim figure with all the other slim Puteras. It read ARTS UNION CENTRAL COMMITTEE, 1969 - 1970. I could not even recalled being the Chairman, Finance Committee then. That's me, third from right.

The bigger surprise was that I penned a Sajak in this issue. This was our last year in RMC (1970) and my sajak was titled HANYA KENANGAN SEMATA. Wah, penuh dengan emosi agaknya.

It started with

Masakan yang datang,

Datang selama-lamanya

Please don't translate "masakan" as food OK. Masakan has to do with time lor!

And I continued with

Akan kami tinggalkan kamu

Buat membentuk Putera yang masih ada

Akan kami pergi dari kamu

Bersama kenangan suka duka

(wooo....very emosi one).

Bagi kami --- sudah hampir pada akhir jalan

Pengakhiran buat permulaan

Dalam lakun hidup yang baru

Well, we were leaving RMC for the next phase of our education

Untung sabut, timbul-lah kami

Sa-andai untung batu

Ke-dasar kah kami?

Namun, dimana juga berada

Kan kami kenangkan

Maktab Tentera Di-Raja bersergam hijau

and I continued with the final phrase

Sayonara Cawangan Putera

Datang kami menangis

Pergi kami menangis jua

Yes, I recalled. A young boy from a small fishing village in Tumpat, arriving in the darkness of the night to RMC, flown in on a Hercules transport plane from Pengkalan Chepa. Vomitted on this military transport plane sebab kawe oghe daghat, first time naik kapa tghebe!

Arrived confused to the assigned hostel in the College and kena ragging immediately. Every morning got to wake up to clean the dormitory. Every morning I will hear the distant train as it passes through Sungai Besi. It reminded me of the Tumpat Railway Station where as a child, I spent many hours there. So every morning I would start crying, thinking of my family back home.

So, datang kami menangis.

And after 4 years in College, it was so sad to leave. The fleeting years we were to leave behind, the friends that would go on their seperate ways and all the fond memories.....

So, pergi kami menangis jua.

But today, after 41 years I look forward to meet friends I have not met for that long a period.

Friday, November 7, 2008


This would be our last day, a 130kms back to Bentong Rest House. We agreed to leave very early, before Subuh. Acid's water bottle is now filled with 100 Plus for today's final ride. The chocolate milk was now history. Our energy bar would be in the form of bananas. I filled my 3 waterbottles with mineral water and kek pisang as energy food in case breakfast got delayed.

Our timing was not perfect. Just as we started off, subuh azan sudah kedengaran. However, we decided to continue the ride and stopped along the route for Subuh. With blinking lights at rear and front, we made our way into the darkness as we said goodbye to Jerantut.

Rides in the early morning is always a fresh option. Breathing in the fresh cool air with the road almost to yourself is a choice I always prefer on my solo tours. Roughly 20 kms after, we stopped for our Subuh prayers. We were not very late. There were still jemaah about to leave the surau as we arrived.

As the mornig brightened up, we continued on. Eyes were now focussed on looking for a warong. We stopped at the first one we met. Nasi Lemak and half-boiled eggs were the main menu.

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. As usual Man, Acid and I took our time while the 2 Zuls rode at a faster cadence. The three of us stopped often. The first stretch from Jerantut to Benta was pleasant with the canopied winding road offering shady rest areas. This was the same experience on the first day.

By noon, we were in Raub. We had a pretty heavy lunch. The warong next to the Mosque had arrays of dishes - ikan bakar, gulai kawah, budu (of-course), sambal belacan, ayam goreng, ulams of various kinds, asam pedas, etc and etc. Lin Chi Kang, ABC, Kelapa, Sirap Bandung, etc and etc. A good lunch followed by jamak Zuhur and Asar. Next a 15mins doze off at the mosque terrace.

It was a chore pulling myself up for the remaining 34kms back to Bentong. The weather was still hot but we need to continue on. We stopped once at a warong and proceeded on for the last leg. The final few kms was a mighty climb and we could see the expanse of the valley of Lembah Bilut on our left. There were plenty of cars on both sides of the road. Then, it was a final stop at a sugarcane stall in Bentong where we met up with the 2 Zuls and then proceeded on to Bentong Rest House.

Acid and I took a quick shower at the Rest House. Refreshed, we exchanged our congrats and made our way home. For Acid, it would be another couple more hours. He left his car in my house. He would continue on to Muar.
A good short 4-day ride. I had planned this for the past several months, either solo or accompanied. The chanced meeting with Zulkifli during the Merdeka celebration increased the number of cyclists three fold.

Zul is a strong cyclist. This was his first touring experience and he is taking this newfound excitement like duck to water. I am happy for him. He is looking forward to his own future trips. I wish him all the very best as he chalked the kilometres in the future. My one advise to Zul would be, "slow down" a bit. After all, its not the destination. It is the journey. Incidentally, Thaqif my grand-nephew also knew Zul. They are both in the Wilayah Archery Club.

There is this other Zul. Together, they become the 2 Zuls I kept referring to. In his younger days (not that he is old), he competed in races. Hence his fast cadence. Zul rides very smoothly, very little body sway, a trademark of an experienced cyclist. I believe he too is getting hooked to touring. The 2 Zuls are now planning to do KL - Penang. Great. Same advise I would give this Zul - "slow down" to smell the flowers

Then there is Man. The cool guy. Already had done one solo ride recently from JB to Selangor. Strong cyclist too but prefers to take it easy and ride with the seniors. Travels very light, and I thought I am a light traveller. He will make a very good companion for anyone planning to do a cycling tour.

Last but not least will be the cyclist from Muar, ACID. He is certainly no acid. He is friendly and therefore very "alkaline". This is his first cycling tour experience, hence the chocolate milk drink for energy! He needs this experience to ready himself for his coming Sulawesi ride with me in Jan 2009. I would have done Sulawesi solo, if not for Acid "discovering" me through my blog. Like me, he would probably be trading his motorised bicycle with the non-motorised bike. I look forward to the ride in Sulawesi with Acid.


Monday, November 3, 2008


The third day would be a back-track to Jerantut. A short but rolling 70kms awaited us. We knew what to expect, except that the terrain would now be in reverse. What was the climb yesterday would now be the downhill today. Can we therefore expect shorter uphills and longer downhills?

We were ready early. Paid the RM100 for the hostel at Agoh Chalet that accomodated the 5 of us and proceeded on for breakfast. This day was Saturday. Even as early as breakfast, visitors were already coming in for their visit of Taman Negara. The weekend would be busy as Monday was Deepavali. We made the right choice to exit out of Kuala Tahan before the crowd.
The ride was uneventful. We expected the rolling hills and the cool morning was still kind to our heart-rate. I got Man to capture me on this stretch of the road. It was a nice downhill followed by an incline. One usually pedalled fast on the downhill to maximise the speed and the roll for the uphill. We played this game of fast downhills for most of the time.

There had been a few scarry moments on my journeys on the bicycle. It had been mostly with dogs. I had no experience with buffaloes.
Man and I were having our relaxed ride together when we came across a herd of buffaloes on the bridge. They looked lost. They were grouped together, the older (and bigger) buffaloes were on the outer fringe, protecting their youngs.
Their eyes and their heads were alert, I would say ready in attack or protect positions. They were not moving anywhere. They could not move back towards the jungles as they were on a bridge. Their horns looked menacingly curved and sharp. One of them could easily flip both bicycle and owner over the bridge. All that one could hope for would be a soft landing in the river below, shallow enough not to struggle to swim!

At this time, the 2 Zuls and ACID were ahead but not in sight. I hoped they were not by the riverbeds under the bridge! We certainly did not want to join them down there.
A kancil came from our direction, but it was too fast. The car just drove on into the herd, blared the horns and the herd opened up to allow the car through. Would the herd opened up for 2 cyclists, with no horns to sound except 2 dry throats that may not emit any sound?
Man suggested I go first. I knew Man's intention was noble. He was not offering me to be the first victim. He wanted to capture it on camera. Why not, this tiny brain of mine seemed to say. A little excitement. Uttered some prayers and I cautiously cycled on. As I got nearer, I could see the "chief" looking at me, perhaps sizing me up whether I was an enemy or a harmless creature. I tried to maintain the gap between us as far as possible, though restricted by the bridge wall. I was at the right gear, heart-beat was on the high side and thigh muscles alert for a sprint should it become necessary. I knew I need to appear cool. The herds moved a bit as I got nearer. My heartbeat went a notch higher. The "chief" looked as I passed by and I was soon in safe territory.

I waited at a safe distance and Man, cooly cycled through. Further up the road, we caught up with ACID. He was taking a break on another bridge. Acid encountered the herd together with the 2 Zuls. Glad that there were no unwanted incidents.

We again stopped at the same jagung stall and had our fill of the fresh and sweet jagung. There were no further incident. Acid, Man and I took another rest about 10kms from Jerantut. I was chatting up this lady while resting. She was selling bananas, brought to her stall by planters at 50 sen/kg. She sold them for RM1.50/kg. She had no transport. Any unsold bananas would be covered and left there. Next day, she would come to open her stall again. I suppose the process to eke out a living is repeated day in day out.

It was really hot when we cycled the last 10kms into Jerantut. We immediately went to a warong for our lunch. Man ordered double helping of Nasi Ayam. The waiters thought Acid and I wanted double helping too. All 3 of use got double helping, and we cleaned the plates. Cost to us? Unbelievable at RM16.00, inlcluding drinks. We recalled the waiter for a recount, and emphasised we had double helping. It was still RM16.00.

Soon we checked in at our hotels and towards evening, the 5 of us went to the Pasar Malam - jalan jalan cari makan. I had my first taste of Sup Gear Box. SGB is found everywhere but I had never took the trouble to try it. After all, I have enough gears on my bicycle - 3 x 8 = 24 gears!!!

Acid and I retired early, ready for tomorrow's 130 kms final ride back to Bentong.