Sunday, September 16, 2012

Raya in America

The Hollywood Walk of Fame on the Hollywood Boulevard. This is Bruce Lee's star. Not surprisingly, it was always surrounded by groups Chinese tourists eager to record their visit here on photo

As one travel on the highways, or freeways as they would call it in US, one would be able to appreciate the vastness of this country. This picture is taken an hour's drive outside of San Francisco.

The famous clam chowder at the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. This is served in a carved out bread. Nice..

Unlike Los Angeles, San Francisco is a hilly city and this adds to the charm of its streets. There are more than 40 hills within the city. Famous ones include the Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill

Room with a view.  This is the view of a  Hollywood neighbourhood from my hotel room

Lombard Street, claimed to be the crookedest (and very steep) street in the world because of
its eight tight hairpin turns

Homes of the rich and famous of Hollywood have well-landscaped gardens and manicured lawn

The San Antonio Riverwalk after which our very own River of Life project in KL will be modelled after

The iconic San Francisco cable car is the world's last manually operated cable car system. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to hop on one. May be next time

People cycling on the Bay Trail. The San Francisco Bay Trail is a more than 500km interconnected trail system which links parks, open spaces and places of attractions located on the bay shoreline. I would love to ride my mountain bike here. Miles and miles of continuous integrated track, beautiful and varied sceneries, nice San Francisco weather. What else could a cyclist ask for.

There is this nice little tune called "Breakfast in America" by the British group Supertramp. Catchy and melodic,  Roger Hodgson's distinctive singing makes you want to "take the jumbo across the water" and fly to America.

But then if you had to leave for America during the festive season of Hari Raya,I bet no amount of serenading by Roger Hodgson would be enough to make you jump on a plane for the USA.

But then, work is work.

And that is how I found myself flying to the USA on the second day of Hari Raya last month.

Our destination: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio. Oh, and you can add to that one un-scheduled overnight stay in Narita, Japan.

So how did I find America?

Well, one thing which strikes me is that America is not just a big country in terms of its geographical size - driving from one city to another for six or seven hours is considered normal - it also has almost everything in super big sizes! The trucks and cars are bigger, and so are the highways, food servings and shopping malls.

The cities - at least from what I saw in LA and San Francisco - are also much more glitzier and glamorous.

But still, those were not enough to take my mind off my family and the Raya  celebrations back home.

Sorry, guys. I'll make up for it.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Stranded in Narita: Soaking up a Slice of Japan

The ubiquitous jidouhambaiki (vending machine). Japanese streets are littered with these machines
which sell almost anything that you might want

Japanese streets are clean and beautiful as it is simple in design

The sign reads "Narita-shi jdousha" (Narita City Car Park)

Urban street on the left, local residential street on the right

Off to school, no big bags to carry...?

The morning rush hour was just about to begin

We got stranded at Narita on our way back home from the USA. Our plane developed a technical problem, and the captain was not about to take the risk of continuing the journey to KLIA.

Replacement parts had to be flown out of KLIA, and it is a good seven hours flight to Narita. So we had  to put up for the night at a small hotel a few minutes away from the airport.

As someone who had studied and stayed in Japan before, the very idea of spending a night in Japan again was enough to get me a little excited.

It being summer, the sun had risen very early over Japan in the morning. Subuh was at 3.41 am! After a hurriedly taken breakfast, I told myself that I just had to go out and take a stroll to soak in bit of Japanese urban ambiance and breath in some fresh Japanese summer air.

The familiar scenes of nice clean streets, narrow neighbourhood roads, colourful vending machines and children walking to school instantly  brought back sweet memories of our three year stay in the Land of The Rising Sun.

Alas, it was not to be a long stroll. The weather was hot and temperature quickly rising even in the early morning. And my onward flight to KLIA was just three hours away. So I swiftly returned back to the hotel and reached my room sweating. But not after taking a few shots with the hand phone.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Our beauty at the Farnborough Air Show

Our beautiful Airbus A380 was on display at the recent Farnborough International Air Show in the UK last July.

See the video above and watch how it flies and manoeuvre seemingly effortlessly into the clouds.

The Farnborough Air Show brings back fond memories for me. During one of the summer breaks while I was a student in the UK,  I took time to do some part time job selling the Red Arrows Magazine to visitors at the Airshow.

The Red Arrows, of course, is the world famous British Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Our jambu air

In front of our house, just outside the main gate, there is a little tree which I care for enormously. It stands barely above two meters in height, and yet it has given immense joy to my family and I, as well as to our neighbours, and the odd strangers who pass by.

This is our "jambu air mawar" tree. Sometimes it is also called "jambu bertih" presumably because of the small size of its fruits.

This tree is particularly close to my heart as it reminds me of one of my father's many visits to our home. For the tree was planted by my Apak. The origins of this tree is to be found right in front of our kampong home in Kampong Kepayang Fair Park in Ipoh. Apak did a marcotting of a small branch from that tree, brought it to KL and planted it himself in front of my house.

That must have been six or seven years ago. Since then the tree has borne fruits countless number of times which we have enjoyed with pencicah rojak or the simple combination of kicap and some chili potong. When it bears fruit, the tree will look very beautiful with the sight of the bright red fruits against the background of green leaves. 

The fruit will normally be in much abundance such that we are always able to share them with our neighbours, the neighbourhood kids who pass by our house and the many Indonesian maids who stay in and around the area. It is very much a free for all for passers by who might desire a taste of Kampong Kepayang original jambu air.

The tree has been subject to numerous attacks by insects and plant diseases. But so far I have been able to manage them and make sure it remains healthy and continue to bear fruits. May it long continue to live and bear fruits for all and everyone. In so doing, I hope that that one small good deed by Apak all those years ago will continue to be rewarded by Allah SWT.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Buah Letup letup anyone?

I was in Trolak last weekend for a short course on macro economics. Yup, its back to school, folks. The course was held at the FELDA Residence, a small campus just off the Federal Highway Route 1, way, way off any distractions like shopping complexes and mamak stalls, even.

On the way to class, I spotted a familiar looking plant with its twines climbing up a tree and fruits ripe for  the picking. It was the buah 'letup-letup' as we call it in Malay.

It has been quite some time since I last saw this plant. During my growing up days at the kampong, I used to pick its small fruits and ate them just like that. Sweet and delicious they are!

The letup-letup is a common wild plant in many parts of the world. They can be found in Europe, America and the rest of Asia. So, it was not just my brothers and I who competed with the birds to enjoy them fruits. Most likely, even kids in Europe and the rest of the world were at it, too. So says the wikipedia.

But the wikipedia also says that the plant originates from South America and the Caribbeans. Now, this I find quite hard to believe. If so, how did the plant turn up in my kampong? For there is no way that a South American, nor someone from the Caribbeans, could have journeyed to Kampong Kepayang, Ipoh with seeds of this humble plant.

Yes, I have heard strange tales and stories of my kampong from atok and opah. But never did they mention anything about foreigners ending up at our little kampong, except for the Japanese during the World War II. 

Then again, who knows?


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Misai kucing for our garden

I have been thinking of overhauling our tiny little garden in front of the house. After all, the garden, in its current shape and form, has been around for fifteen years. It is, mainly, a result of ad-hoc plantings. No major design theme, nor systematic planning.

So what do I have in mind for the new garden?

Hmm, I think I'd fancy an English garden this time around.

English gardens are characterised by their "organised-chaos" look. Wild flowers, shrubs and herbs  are the mainstays.

Of course, creating an English garden in hot, tropical Malaysia do present its fair share of headaches. Chief amongst these would be choosing the right plants to create the right look and ambiance of a true English garden.

After much googling, I have managed to come up with a short list (I mean, a very short one) of plants. Problem is, they are quite hard to find at your normal, local plant nurseries. 

But a visit to a recently launched Herbal Garden somewhere in Serdang introduced me to the humble Misai Kucing. I had not realized before that this interestingly named local plant produce delightful looking flowers in hues of purple. 

So, that's another one included to my short list.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Putrajaya the rowing haven

If there is one thing that sets Putrajaya apart from other cities in Malaysia - other than being a new town, is that it has the Putrajaya Lake as a main feature of its urban scape.

About 600 hectares in size, the lake is an ever present feature throughout of the city. Touted as the "jewel in the crown", it puts Putrajaya in a league of its own. A waterfront city like no other in Malaysia, the lake affords easy access to quality amenities. In fact, a part of the lake is made up of wetlands. It is a habitat for numerous flora and fauna and fast becoming a unique attraction in itself.

With such a vast water body, it is no wonder that Putrajaya is fast becoming a premier centre for water sports in the country. The planners for the city has made sure that the lake is designed to incorporate a rowing course suitable for international level competition.

When it is winter in the northern hemisphere, Putrajaya Lake attracts athletes from Europe who come to train in our warm climate while their nation are freezing. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wembley, here we come (again!)

Liverpool beat neighbours Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final last night.

Although we have not won the cup just yet, the significance of this win over Everton is a cause to celebrate in itself. Everton is our local bitter rivals. Drubbing them on the way to another cup finals at Wembley makes it that much more sweeter.

We have been getting much flak lately. But as usual, Liverpool the team and the fans, stick together under pressure and under attack from misguided souls who do not understand the history and the very tradition of this one big family.

No doubt Liverpool's league form leaves much to be desired. But it is, after all, a work in progress. Patience is the key word here. What's important is that the foundations are set in place for us to progress further.

And two cup finals in a season surely says something about our progress.

League performance notwithstanding, I bet many teams would just love to be in our position right now. A cup double beckons.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

MAS Airbus A380: a beauty in blue

I saw the MAS advertisement for its new Airbus A380 in the newspaper today, and it took my breath away.

What a beauty she is in its all-new livery with blue being the dominant new colour. Yup, blue, my favourite colour.

Malaysia Airlines will introduce the A380 onto its KL-London route thrice weekly beginning 1st July 2012. This will increase to daily flights come August. Sydney will be the second destination when the third aircraft is delivered in September.

The MAS A380 will have capacity for 494 passengers compared to 359 on the current Boeing 747-400.

By the way, MAS is the eighth carrier to receive this giant of an aircraft. I am mighty proud to say the least.

Let's go London come July!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Law Kaana Bainana (Andainya KekasihMu Masih Berada Bersama Kami)

Andainya KekasihMu masih berada bersama-sama kami
Akan terlunaslah segala hutang dan semakin hampirlah
Dengan haruman Baginda, sebelum hilangnya 
Rasa yang meronta-ronta untuk berada hampir dengan KekasihMu.

Berada berhampiran Baginda jiwa turut menjadi harum
Dan apa jua yang kalian doakan kepada Allah akan diperkenankan
Cahaya Nabi Muhammad tidak akan pernah sirna
Sempatkanlah kami bertemu dengan Baginda
Wahai Tuhan Yang Maha Memperkenankan doa.

Hidayahmu kepada alam merata meluas
Tanda hampirnya kasih sayang Tuhan pemberi hidayah
Hadith-hadithmu ibarat sungai mengalir jernih
Berada di sisimu bagaikan dahan yang tumbuh segar dan basah.

Kutebus diriku dengan dirimu wahai Kekasihku
Nabi Muhammad yang mulia yang asing
Berada berhampiranmu jiwa menjadi harum
Wahai yang diutuskan membawa RAHMAT kepada seluruh alam...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lawn mown (at last..)

Our garden lawn has been mown, at long last.

The Mem Besar had been hinting to me, quite a few times, that our little garden is beginning to look like a little jungle. But due to, err...logistical issues and problems with scheduling, I had not been able to undertake the project.

I love mowing the lawn, actually.


I love the smell of the freshly cut grass. And I particularly enjoy the view of our small garden once the grass are cut nice and proper. Plus, it also gives me a bit of work out.

But you will understand, of course, due to logistical problems....

Saturday, February 04, 2012

"Jogging" in beautiful Putrajaya

This morning I went jogging in Putrajaya with my youngest, Nadiah. Just the two of us.

Nadiah had been nagging. You see, she had just got herself a pair of jogging shoes sometime back. But until today she had not got the opportunity to "test run" it. So, she had been nagging me and her Umi to go for a jog.

So we went jogging. But after such a long lay off from any form of exercise, I was not about to shock my body system with something stressful. So we just brisk-walked. No, in fact the walk wasn't even brisk. It was a santai walk, class 1.

We walked a little and we stopped to take in the waterfront scenery. We walked some more then we took pictures. We walked a bit more and we stopped to admire the flowers.

Ahh. This is the life.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Good morning 2012

Went to bed early last night and didn't wait to usher in the new year. I've never bothered to do so in the past. So this time, it's very much the same.

Woke up early and savoured the cool fresh morning air, and enjoyed the soothing view of our front garden from the living room. Subhanallah.

And what's more, Man United got whacked by Blackburn at Old Trafford last night. So it must be a happy new year indeed.

Good morning and welcome 2012.