Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My first meeting with Pak Chik Hassan was in September 2007. His daughter, who was a participant in a training program I conducted, suggested I visit his father. From his website, I got to know what this gentleman was doing in his kampong in Batu Rakit.

I set a goal to meet him and planned it during a short solo cycling trip from Kuantan to Kota Bharu. That was my first meeting with Pak Chik Hassan, and also his wife. Such gracious host they had been. Their hospitality spiced with the keropok lekor Pagar Besi the couple served me had left an indelible mark on me. The greater impact personally was what Pak Chik Hassan had been doing for the last 15 years - setting up of Al-Manar to teach the village children English, Science and Mathematics, single-handedly. Visit his site at http://www.almanar-nuri.blogspot.com/ for some soul-searching.

We had been in touch since then. Last year, my wife and I visited them on one of our regular flights home to Kota Bharu. This time around, I e-mailed Pak Chik of my intention to pass through Al-Manar with 5 other cyclists on our way to Besut. Pak Chik invited us to spend the night in his house instead. It was an invitation hard to refuse. I had missed that opportunity once.

So, 6 BJCC cyclists arrived at the gate of Pak Chik Hassan's house to experience his bachelor's hospitality. Pak Chik had been a bachelor for almost 3 weeks since the good wife went to KL to visit the grandchildren.

Two fully furnished rooms were ready for us. After some exchange of pleasantries, we headed to the rooms to shower to ready ourselves for dinner. Earlier, as we cycled along the beach to his house, we saw a few crowded warongs and the smell of grilled fish was floating along the stretch of the road. I believed we already had a consensus where dinner would be.

However, the warongs we saw earlier timed their business in tangent with the sunset. But Pak Chik Hassan already had a restaurant in mind and we were not disappointed. We were spoilt for choice. Zaba quickly got one Ikan Merah grilled. We took Nasi Kukus and the arrays of dishes. Sadly, I could only managed to scrape the bottom of the gulai kambing. In between five of us, we had a few additional helpings of nasi kukus and extra dishes, in the pretext of carbo-loading!

Fendi, down with fever, opted to rest at the house. We "tapaued" food for him.

The afable Pak Chik Hassan, seated on my left

We cannot quarrel with Pak Chik Hassan to settle the bill. He insisted!
Back at his house, it was desert time while we chatted the night away with Pak Chik, most times listening to his wisdom on wide-ranging topics, including his favorite subject on education and his concerns for the common and simple folks.

We retreated back to the comfort of the air-conditioned rooms, satisfied with our Day 1 ride and gratified with the experience and the opportunity to visit Al-Manar.
Thank you AK Hassan!


26th Jun 2009 : Dungun to Batu Rakit

Zaba booked the Mayang Sari Resort for our one night stay in Dungun. It is a small boutique-like resort. A stone's throw away is the beachfront. The three cyclists Zaba, Sham and Razak have had the time to soak in the winds of the South China Sea and spent a full night at Mayang Sari. They arrived about 6pm a day earlier.

For Jalil, Fendi and I, we must be holding the record for the shortest stay in a hotel - checking in at 5am and checking out at 7:30 am! We had no opportunity to enjoy the ambience of this Mayang Sari Resort nor the beach front.

Our 3-day cycle tour of the East Coast begun on this day. It was the dawn of another new beginning for the 5 BJCC cyclists - Zaba, Jalil, Fendi, Razak and Sham. The only thing they have not tried is a self-supporting tour, and this was it! I was looking forward to be part of this excitement.

We were ready by 7:30 and rolled our bike to the foyer. A group photo to start this 3-day journey was a must.

6 BJCC cyclists, eager to experience the charm of the East Coast

Zaba, ARZ, Sham, Razak, Jalil, Fendi

First thing first. In cycling term, it is "carbo-loading". Put simply, our stomach needs taken care first. We cycled out of Mayang Sari. The beach front was relatively quiet. The sea was calm and the morning breeze was the right tonic for the 3 sleepy-heads. We found a warong and enjoyed the Nasi Minyak and Nasi Dagang and the hot Nesacfe and Teh Tarek.

For the first part of the ride, we took the village road that led us to Tg Jara Resort. Exiting the town, we were soon on the bridge spanning the wide river with great views. A stop before we even begun. A photoshoot on the bridge to capture the memories of this maiden tour.

In a car, one would whizzed through this bridge and missed the opportunities to capture moments like this.

And it is moments like these that put meaning to cycling tours. And moments like these are aplenty, when one is not in a hurry. It is after all, not about the destination but the journey.

Continuing on through the canopies of the kampong road, we soon reached the gates of Tg Jara Resort. Tg Jara Resort is for deep-pockets. We are on a shallow-pocket trip and hence a photo-shoot in front of the gate would suffice.

I requested the guard manning the entrance to Tg Jara Resort to take our group photo. He said he was "busy". He was sitting in the guard house, busy doing nothing. I suspected this guard must have been asked zillions of time to take shots for cheapo tourists who stayed in no star hotels but want a shot taken in front of this 4 star Tg Jara. To him, we cyclists are no different! Ha...ha... So, Jalil sacrificed his face for this shot.

We moved on and was soon on the main road, heading for Kuala Trengganu. We made good progress. The road shoulders were wide and passing traffics remained at comfortable distances. 15kms into the ride, it was time to stop at the Petronas Station to fill up the water bottles. For Fendi, it was to run to a toilet.

Fendi had a run, for the entire 3 days. He was not sure what food he took that caused the run. Nevertheless, we admired his gut and perseverance to complete his maiden tour. He hardly showed signs of fatigue despite being weakened by dehydration from the runs. At most stops he could only watch the 5 of us enjoyed our heavy meals. He had to be careful of his food intake. Syabas Fendi and thank you for your frequent stops. We enjoyed the frequent stops - at your expense!

We hardly covered another 15kms before we saw a warong selling young coconuts. Presto, we stopped again for young coconuts. "Ride to eat and drink" would be the motto for Day 1. The motto was carried over on subsequent days.

When the sun was high in the sky, we headed for a siesta by the beach in Kg Pulau Kerengga. We had to push the bikes across a rickety bridge and the sandy beach but it was well worth the efforts.

Fendi, despite the runs captured Zaba in a pose

One for the album for Fendi too

We spent about an hour at the beach, purely soaking in the wide expanse of the blue sea stretching into the horizon. Sham too posed for a memory shot with his newly acquired folding Dahon bike. This was his first long ride with the Dahon and he was very happy with the performance.

But Sham had to make way for Razak who wanted the space to sleep. This was one brave man, dozing off under a coconut tree. As an insurance man, I guessed Razak had calculated his risk well!

He must have reasoned out that only "nyor kote" or old coconuts drop. And old coconuts are not heavy. They are shrivelled and dry. Landing on Razak's well-padded tummy will not damage either the coconut or his tummy!

The not so brave ones like me chose the relative safety of the hut. Using the fishing nets as pillows, we tried to catch up on our lost sleep.

We overstayed for an hour and reluctantly have to move on. We had not covered half of the 90kms we had to cycle today to Batu Rakit. We would have Pak Chik Hassan waiting to welcome us to his house by the sea in Kg Pengkalan Maras in Batu Rakit.

One last photo shoot for the Dahon-Brooks team of Zaba, Razak and Sham. The three of them bought the Dahon folding bikes specifically for this tour. And I must add, for their future tours too!

We had out late lunch at Pantai Kelulut, again by the sea. To provide moral support to our "running" Fendi, we decided to make do with just soups - mee and meehoon. Someone though ordered 2 pieces of ikan kembong goreng tepong. The very fresh kembong and the specially made chilly sauce that came with it was superb. The poor cat meowing at us in self-pity was only left with the bones. Terrible!

I called Pak Chik Hassan to inform him of our possible late arrival. I gave him an estimated time of 5 pm. We got going, passing Marang and bypassing Kuala Trengganu and headed straight to Kg Pengkalan Maras. Rain came before we entered KT but we continued on the journey and arrived Pak Chik Hassan's house a little past 6 pm.

It was Day 1 touring experience for BJCC's 5. In the words of Fendi "Time waits for no man, toilets or no-toilets, you should pack up and ride".

BJCC Goes East Coast - Preamble

Thursday 26th June 2009

The Transnational double-decker moved off from Hentian Putra on the dot at 10pm, but an hour late from the scheduled time. As the three of us rolled our bikes to join the queue of passengers, half of the luggage compartment was filling up fast. Wouldn't you expect a bigger luggage space on a double-decker inter-state express bus? Yes? Wrong!

We had no time to swear at whoever designed this bus. We had to find space for our 3 bicycles. The shaking of his head told us that the driver had no experience in accepting bicycles, let alone 3 full-sized adult bicycles.

There was some space on the opposite side of the bus. There were some curious onlookers. We quickly moved to the other side and started dismantling the bikes. Jalil's bike frame was the first up. Fendi's bike was already packed for transport. He laid his frame flat, neatly packed in plastic. My brand-new untested Surly frame went on top of Fendi's Bianchi frame. Then we had to find space for the wheels and our panniers at those other little spaces available. We were about the last passengers to board. The air-cond was not on and we were sweating profusely from our efforts.

The cramped luggage space

Our destination? Dungun. Our reason? To join our 3 other friends who would be comfortaby tucked in bed by the time we would reach Dungun in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Guess who?

Our real reason? To complete a 3-day tour the East Coast on our bikes, from Dungun to Kota Bharu.

I had carried my bicycle on buses many times before, first time in July 2005 to Padang Besar to start on my Peninsular ride. Many times thereafter, I had transported my bike from KL Sentral to LCCT both ways for my AirAsia flights to Thailand or Indonesia. They were all single-decker buses with ample luggage space on both sides of the bus.

So, there is always something new to experience, no matter how often one does the same thing. I shall no longer ride a double-decker bus if I have my bike in tow.

One can take cat naps in a moving vehicle. Deep slumber is wishful thinking.

Well past midnight, the bus stopped at the R&R in Cherating. The sight of food stalls sent hunger messages to the body. If we had remained on the bus, the additional calory intake of hot milo and roti bakar were not necessary. It is always amusing how the body reacts at the sight of food!

At about 4 am, the bus was nearing Dungun and the bus stopped frequently for passengers to disembark at their own drop-off points. We entered the bright lights of Dungun and the bus stopped at a bus stop. Passengers alighted and we were ready to alight at the Dungun bus station. The bus rolled on. Soon the bright light gave way to the semi-lighted road. I sensed we were now on the trunk road heading towards Kuala Trengganu. I asked a girl seated behind. "Bah ni nok gi ko Kuale Teganung".

We have overshot Dungun! Our booked hotel is now roughly 5kms behind us! The driver was informed. He stopped the bus and we alighted. We were rather amused at our folly. If we had dozed off, we would be in KT when dawn breaks.

Under the street light, we assembled our bikes and pedalled back into Dungun. The cool morning breeze and the relative silence of breaking dawn was a pleasure. We could cycle straight on to Kuala Trengganu.

Fendi and Jalil ready to ride at 5am!

Seeking direction from sleepy buddies snugly in bed posed another challenge. Fendi was our communication man and Razak was giving direction from his comfy bed. "500 metres from the last junction" was, I believed Razak's instruction to Fendi. "Look out for Restoran Kapal".

1 kilometre from the junction, we saw no Restoran Kapal nor the hotel. We made a u-turn and met 2 boys on motorcycles. "Depang lagi, dekat kubur nuh" one of them said, pointing us back to the direction we came from.

We made another U-turn, cycled on and soon saw a flashing light. It was Razak, fully awoke and welcoming us. Zaba was there too and directed us to our rooms. Sham, the other buddy was soon up disturbed by the commotion. Not long after, azan Subuh filled the air. We showered, prayed and tucked in bed to catch what little sleep we could garner.

We would have a long ride day today to Pengkalan Maras, Batu Rakit.

Monday, June 15, 2009


13th June 2009

Another batch-mate from RMC passed away in the early morning today, after battling with the big C for several years. He is Allahyarham Abd Hamid bin Joned.

We will miss him dearly for even during his fight against the disease, he remained a live wire in our social gatherings of x-classmates. He became a beacon of strength for the rest of us.

Our late Hamid (extreme right) with his wife and 3 daughters with Sherry (Liburg's wife) cutting the joint birthday cake. Photo taken on 15th July 2008 in Syed Hashim's house.
Allahyarham Hamid bin Joned was laid to rest after Zohor prayers in his kampong in Cengkau in Rembau, Negri Sembilan.

Four of us (Kutus) representing our Class of 67 paid our last respect to Allahyarham Hamid - Syed Hashim, Ahmad Fazil, Amir Abas and myself.

Syed Hashim, ever so affable had this shot taken with Allahyarham's mother, Puan Putih after we bade our final farewell to our late friend.

Burial photos courtesy of OP Azudin (OPA Secretary) who also attended the burial.

Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat keatas roh Allahyarham

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And People say ......

This morning in The STAR, I read about this gentleman Borhanaldin Ahmad, 53, who cycled on a tandem with his son on a cheap holiday to see parts of Peninsular Malaysia. Bravo to this father and son!

They spent nights at the suraus or mosques, hence the economical holiday.

This reminds me of my Peninsular Ride, Road-to-55 ride in 2005, on occasion of my 55th birthday. I too sleept in the suraus and mosques on most part of the journey.

I remembered a close friend who asked me about my intention to sleep in the suraus and mosques. I recalled the conversation that goes like this

Friend : "Li, you want to sleep in the masjid or surau?"

Me : "Yes. Why not?"

Friend : "The masjid committee may not aloow it. Also, you sleep at one place, you wake up at a different place"

Me : "How do you know?"

Friend : "People say......."

I recalled smiling at him and abruptly ending the conversation.

This is a major problem. Very often, we are reluctant to do something for fear of what people may say. Very often too, those who say whatever they say, have not experienced what they say. It is a great pity for us NOT to do what we want to do, for this reason.

Another well-meaning friend said I was MAD to do it. I thanked him for saying that. Indeed, I was MAD - I was Making A Difference to myself!

I am sure En Borhanaldin would have experienced what I had experienced.

Let me share this quote from Anthony Robbins

"You should not worry so much about what people may think of you, because if you knew how seldom they did, you probably will feel insulted"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Children loved to cycle, and shhhh....adults too! And when adults do, watch out kids. The adults became more kids then kids! No kidding.

I took up cycling (again) back in 2001, roughly 9 years ago. I took up cycling by accident....because I had an accident.

The accident damaged my ACL of my right knee. The doctor did not prescribe me pills and vitamins. He prescribed me a bicycle. Coincidentally, Tiger Woods had a ACL injury too. But that's where the similarity ends between Tiger Woods and Tiger Prawn (me)! Woods did an operation because his knee is priceless. Prawn's knee would suffice with cycling.

In the kampong, we cycled because it was fun to do so. But, at a late age of 51, I was cycling for health reasons and I had no referals. The obvious step was to acquire the right knowledge. Hence I bought a book, aptly titled "BICYCLING FOR DUMMIES"...ha...ha....

Till today, it remained as my resource book. Applying the knowledge I gained from the book, I progressed to exercising using the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). Unfortunately, the use of HRMs are currently limited to extreme sports users like the triathletes and top sports men and women, and serious exercise enthusiasts. They use the HRM to monitor performance and improvement.

The common man in the street are generally ignorant of the benefits of using HRMs. HRM is the tool to ensure that one exercises within a safe zone, not exceeding the maximum heart rate (MHR) of the exerciser. A quick way to know our MHR is to use this simple formula : 210 minus your age equals MHR. If one is 50 years old, therefore the MHR is 170 beats per minute. Put simply, a 50 year old should exercise within the safe zone of his MHR beat of 170bps, to avoid overstress of the heart which may lead to more sreious complication. And I am referring to those who would just be starting on an exercise regime.

How do I know this, and many other information? Again, I bought a book. Again, knowledge and application.

But how many will spend about RM400 for a HRM? Sadly, not many. But many will spend RM2,000 or more for a Golf set or just one Driver without a blink of an eye!

As I approached into my 60s, I am fully aware of the continuing degeneration of the body - wilting muscles, weakening bones and inflexible joints. While continuing my cycling activities for health, I have moved to another goal to slow down the degenerating process. Again, I turned to a Dummy!

It is my hope again to share this new excitement and knowledge with friends of my generation.

It is nice to be a kid again!