Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Vote For Development

Speculation is rife over when the General Election will be held. The cabinet is taking their group photo today, further stoking the fire of speculation. After Chinese New Year? After OIC?

Whenever it is, the main battlefront will be Kelantan as always. In recent memory I can only remember Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan ever falling to the opposition's hands. Even then they were won back soon enough. But that is not the case for Kelantan. The coalition lost it in 1990, and has been trying to win it back for the past 17 years.

Let's be straight, I come from a pro-UMNO family. But that does not mean we're pro-government blindly. We criticize when need be, and support accordingly too. As for me myself, I am an UMNO sympathizer. I'm not yet a member in any form, so I regard myself as a sympathizer. My reason is not because of my family, or not because I'm a conformist. I just think the opposition doesn't have what it takes to rule our nation. I wished Keadilan would be less activist-oriented and then maybe the coalition will have a stronger opponent. Not everyone believe in revolution as the way to go.

All that aside, I actually wanted to talk about my homestate Kelantan. Would I want BN to finally wrestle it back from PAS, or would I prefer the status quo stay unchanged? I vouch for the latter. No, I'm not confused over where my allegiance lie. I will tell you why.

Since the last election, a lot have changed. Maybe the slight advantage in the last GE opened the eyes of both sides - PAS thought they had to improve to keep the state, BN thought they should do more to finally deliver the coup de grace. In essence, both parties will do their utmost to develop this so called underdeveloped, poorest state in Malaysia. I say let them slug it out for, maybe, the next 20 years?

As for Kelantan itself, it spelt good fortune. I've seen the rapid development of Kota Bharu (I can't speak for other places, I'm a born and bred KB boy) in the past few years. When the PKINK building downtown used to be the tallest (which is actually not that tall, mind), it has now been surpassed by at least 3-4 buildings. And there's more to come. The only shopping to be done in KB in those days were at Parkson (in their old reincarnation, not the newly redesigned look), Pantai Timur or Hankyu Jaya. No shopping malls to speak of, departmental stores were as good as it gets.

Now? Kota Seri Mutiara was developed first and was launched as KB's first shopping mall. Soon enough KB Mall followed suite, instantly rendering KSM into your neighbourhood Ampang Point equivalent. Early this month, Tesco opened its' doors as the first establishment in the new development belt comprising of the riverside area (Bawah Lembah) and across the river to include Pasir Pekan and possibly Wakaf Bharu as well. Another shopping mall (Pelangi Mall) is still under construction, located nicely near the old town of Kota Bharu. Meanwhile downtown, Giant is making its' presence felt as well. They will be the anchor tenant of the Kota Bharu Trade Center where the Parit Dalam night market used to be. Kelantan Trade Center on the other hand is being constructed beside the renowned Hotel Perdana and the specialist hospital. KBTC will be a commercial and residential project while KTC will be a convention center plus an office block and an apartment block. Several apartment and condos have been completed as well, some without me even noticing the construction period. Not mentioning the nicely designed new airport to replace the aging old one beside it.

What's next? Time will tell. If the plans for the proposed Port goes into action, things should pick up more. Yes we have oil too.

Now you see why I want things to stay the way they are?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ulek Mayang Ku Ulek

There is one traditional folk song that I really love, and it never failed to give me goosebumps whenever I heard it. It is Ulek Mayang, the fisherfolk's song of Terengganu.

I must've heard it for the first time when I was very young, pre-schooling age perhaps. I remembered watching a made for TV movie about the whole Ulek Mayang lore. It got me enthralled by the graceful swayings of the puteris, the costume, the incomprehensible lyrics and the mystical air around it. The song was supposedly a healing ceremonial dance to restore the spirits of the fisherfolks who were possessed by the sea spirit.

There is something about the song, that haunts me to this day. Perhaps sacred is too strong a word for it, probably at the cost of incurring allegations of blasphemy even. I have the mp3 of it, which I listened once in a while, usually late at night when all is still and the mood strikes me as such. The audio track is almost 10 minutes long, and it starts out with an uptempo in strumental part - suggesting all is fine in the beginning. Almost 2 minutes in, the wind can be heard blowing in the background of the track, the main track itself is now slowed down to a more melancholic tempo - things are no longer fine and dandy it seems to say, something is wrong. The rest of the song works in a similar manner, painting a picture with the tempo changes and the lyrics.

But listening to the song only would not be a complete experience. I have seen several staged performances of it, but I would really love to be able to see the real thing in action. Imagine that, a shaman in black baju melayu, eyes upturned in ecstasy, waving the coconut mayang over the body of the afflicted man while 7 maidens sway and swirl their way in tune with the music being played in the background - gongs, violins, accordions weaving their own magic. On they would dance, sweat trickling over their collectives brows, until they all collapse. Trance? Exhaustion? Play-acting? That's part and parcel of the whole thing.

But I doubt it is still practised, at least not in public. Perhaps in some sleepy fisherfolks' village just a little off the beaten path, this tradition lives on despite the modernity and censorship that comes with it.

I found a quite good performance of the Ulek Mayang by a group of Malaysian students in the UK, using the same mp3 file as the one in my collection. Do watch it and be enthralled by the swaying grace of the seven tuan puteris...

Ulek mayang ku ulek
Ulek dengan jala jemala
Ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan tuannya puteri
Ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan jala jemala
Ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan puterinya dua

Puteri dua berbaju serong
Puteri dua bersanggol sendeng
Puteri dua bersubang gading
Puteri dua berselendang kuning
Umbok mayang diumbok
Umbok dengan jala jemala
Nok ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan puterinya empat

Puteri empat berbaju serong
Puteri empat bersanggol sendeng
Puteri empat bersubang gading
Puteri empat berselendang kuning
Umbok mayang diumbok
Umbok dengan jala jemala
Nok ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan puterinya enam

Puteri enam berbaju serong
Puteri enam bersanggol sendeng
Puteri enam bersubang gading
Puteri enam berselendang kuning
Umbok mayang diumbok
Umbok dengan jala jemala
Nok ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan puterinya tujuh

Puteri tujuh berbaju serong
Puteri tujuh bersanggol sendeng
Puteri tujuh bersubang gading
Puteri tujuh berselendang kuning
Umbok mayang diumbok
Umbok dengan jala jemala
Nok ulek mayang diulek
Ulek dengan tuannya puteri

Ku tahu asal usul mu
Yang laut balik ke laut
Yang darat balik ke darat
Nasi berwarna hamba sembahkan
Umbok mayang ku umbok
Umbok dengan jala jemala
Pulih mayang ku pulih
Pulih balik sedia kala

Monday, January 21, 2008

Turning Twenty

Plus five. Denial denial denial.

What do people blog about when it's their birthday? The same standard "25 years ago, on a peaceful Wednesday morning bla bla bla"? Done that, and I still cringe about it now.

Anyway, I'd like to give my thanks to the 30 odd people who wished me a happy birthday. Some wished me a full week earlier(!), and some belatedly. For me it does not matter, at least they still made that effort. I appreciate that folks. As always, I'll try to remember yours too. Encik Deskmate IV Sc V even dedicated one blog post for me!

I've said before that I draw up my resolutions on my birthdays every year. I did, and it's for me to know. You may find it superfluous, but for me it's like an annual reminder of things we should do. No harm in doing, so I shall stick to it.

Steven's birthday is the same as mine, I only found out when I saw the notice board at the office proclaiming his team's birthdates. I agree 100% with him when he exclaimed to the whole department that all guys born on 19th January are very good looking. Well said indeed, haha.

Man, I started this post in the morning, and has been saving and reopening it a few times throughout the day. My mind is blocked, too concerned with work at the moment I guess.

Anyway, here's a happy birthday to Steven, to Youppe who also shares my birthday, and to anyone else who happened to have the same birthday too. Age is but a number, eh boys?

"we never grew old, it's just the body that wears out"
-heard during a MCOBA weekend

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


A belated birthday wish to my brother Kimi. He turned 18 yesterday (I did wish him personally alright, I didn't forget!).

Look forward and erase those blots. Times are hard, but it's only easy for the lazy. You'll only be 18 once, enjoy it but keep a level head. Don't do things you will regret a few years down the line, attributing past mistakes to youthfulness is just a way to avert blame. Be the man I know you can be, stay strong and keep rocking!

- Your Broke Banker Brother
(formerly 18 not too long ago.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bukit Tabur!

Sometime last week Zairus had this idea that we should go and scale Bukit Tabur and take pictures. Sure I've read about the place and seen (wonderful) pics of it on the net, but don't really have any idea of what to expect.

So come Saturday morning, Zairus and I drove to Taman Melawati to the starting point, which is just before the Klang Gate Dam entrance. We started up at 5.30am (trying to catch the sunrise), and 15 minutes later we arrived at a plateau. We thought 'is this it?', and lepak there waiting for the sunrise. Just after 6.00am we heard voices and a group of climbers went past us and were soon lost in the darkness. Then only we realized we're nowhere near the peak yet.

So we continued on, it was easy going all the way to the peak. The sun rose when we were still some pace off the peak, so had to take the pictures there and then. The view at the top was excellent, the pictures in Flickr did not lie indeed. By around 9.30am, we're ready to go down.

Earnestly we asked some guys who has peaked several times before, how do we go down. They told us that since we're first timers, we should go down the orchard way as it's very scenic. It's just a bit hilly, so we were told.

Maybe he thought we're fit climbers.

I tell you now, it's not as easy as it sounds. Maybe if you're fitter it is a piece of cake but for the two of us, challenging is a subtle way of putting it. There's probably 9 summits to scale after the scenic peak, and climbing up and down rock faces while staring at the drop below you're feet wasn't exactly what I was expecting.

But we made it through largely unscathed, just a few scratches and bruises here and there. Arrived at the car around 12.00pm, went for a superb ais kacang at the foodcourt nearby the MRR2 interchange, and then drove home for a refreshing shower and well deserved nap!

Managed to take a couple hundreds of pictures, still lying in my PC though. Will upload them sometime soon, I hope. Caught the wonderful scenery that I never thought KL can still provide, had an exerting exercise and the relief after it ended was priceless!

Some tips for those planning to go:
1. Bring lotsa water, two 500ml bottles are not enough. Lesson learnt.
2. Bring a Snickers or something like that, good for that extra energy boost when you thought your legs can't go any further.
3. Bring a deep heating rub as well, cramps can set in if you're not used to the exertion (or because you did not warm up like us idiots). Trust me, climbing a near vertical rock face while both ur thighs were cramping is not something I want to relive even again.
4. A glove would be helpful when scaling the rocks, especially if you love your hands.
5. Wear proper attire. I wore my Nike ACG, and it's a wonderful sandal to wear on hikes like this. I wore my Timberland cargo pants as well, which I must say is an excellent pair of pants.
Even after all those contact with rough surfaces, it is not even frayed a bit.
6. Wear a cap, it helps to keep the sun and sweat out of your eyes, especially while again scaling the rock faces. Lesson learnt.
7. Leave everything you don't need. We thought it's going to be an easy stroll so we brought our phones, wallet, keys etc. I say leave them all behind.. Just bring your car keys and IC in a pouch or bag.
8. Have a good breakfast beforehand, but not too much. A woman was retching when she got to the small area me and Zairus was taking pictures. Not a sight I'm expecting.
9. Have a good night's sleep beforehand. I slept minimally the night before, a point which I regretted. You'll need the rest, trust me.
10. Finally, have fun!

The climb up and down should take only about 4 hours or so. We took longer since we stopped quite a lot to take pictures, to rest and to wait for our turns at some places along the route. If you're planning on going, good luck and do tell me how did your climb go!

*posted on behalf of author who's still disconnected

Friday, January 4, 2008

Here We Go

I have not been away, just disconnected.

It's already 2008, and perhaps it's too late to do a post mortem of 2007. However, since we're all our own Napoleon on our repective blogs, I chose to do so nonetheless. Let's see, where shall we start?

Positives: found someone wonderful, moving into my own house, travelled to East Malaysia twice for music fests, bonded closer with old friends.

Negatives: contracted dengue, lost some old friends.

That's all I can remember really. A year is a terribly long time to recall. So in short, 2007 has been a great year in that I've had more ups and downs. Resolutions? I don't make one on New Year's Day, I make em on my birthday instead. Enough about new year, it's getting old.

I spoke of losing old friends somewhere up there. It was sad really. Some friends, it was me who always did the initiative to keep in touch etc. I can say I've lost 4 friends:

#1 had some personal issues and said that she's erasing me from her life.

#2 slinked away into the dark due to inferiority complex. All his friends got good jobs, while he's still unemployed almost 2 years after graduation. Actually it's his own doing, never making an effort to actually find a decent job.

#3 & #4 were the type who never made the effort to keep in touch with me since I left uni. When they did, it was only to borrow a sizeable sum of money. It saddens me than I am reduced from being a friend to just a pile of money to them. No I did not give a cent to either one, and I decided to not be friends with both of them anymore, bloodsucking bastards.

On New Year's Day, I had a housewarming for my close friends. I invited only those I consider close friends and I think they can make it. If you're not invited, then it's either one of the two reasons. 40 turned up, it was great seeing all these faces in one place for me. I hoped everyone had fun, had enough to eat (though I'm sure not enough places to sit since some took the liberty of sitting on my TV cabinet even!). I'll upload the pics when I have the chance to. So much to say, so much has happened since I last blogged. Just hope that TM will connect the damn line soon enough so I can blog whenever I like.

For whatever it's still worth, Happy New Year!

*posted on behalf of author who's currently zoned out from information technology