Monday, 9 January 2017

The previous year in pictures

The last time I did a post like this was in January 2011, where I selected one photo for each month of the previous year. Six years has since passed and I'm now resuming the effort because I feel that most of the photos taken on my mobile phone camera are of reasonable quality.

There weren't that many interesting pics in the earlier part of 2016 but towards the end of the year, we traveled to a few places and visited many interesting spots. So choosing just one pic to represent each month became a somewhat pleasant problem.

Click on each photo if you wish to view a larger image.

January :
22.01.16 - Crown on a quartet of swords. Mersing
February :
05.02.16 - Jambatan Putus Buloh Kasap. Segamat
March :
12.03.16 - Wani's wedding. Bride is the daughter of my former colleague, Mariam Ibrahim.
Taman Perling in Johor Bahru
April : 
09.04.16 - Wedding of Nornajmiah Nawawi, niece on my wife's side.
Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam
May : 
27.05.16 - Snake in the grass. Some of the hazards encountered in pipe maintenance works.
Bukit Indah, Johor Bahru
June : 
04.06.16 - Early morning exercise by the beach. Mersing
July : 
19.07.16 - Masjid Sultan Iskandar, Bandar Dato' Onn. Johor Bahru
August : 
22.08.16 - Preparing for homemade briyani. Johor Bahru
September : 
16.09.16 - Masjid Tengku Ampuan Jemaah, Bukit Jelutong. Shah Alam
October : 
14.10.16 - Young man and old man. Dareez with his grand-uncle.
Surau Al-Hijrah, Kota Kemuning. Shah Alam
November : 
06.11.16 - Selat Mendana, Kong Kong. Johor Bahru
December : 
22.12.16 - Masjid Amirul Mukminin. Makassar, Indonesia

Saturday, 31 December 2016

It's the end of the year...

Events that happened in this month of December 2016 :

1. The Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V, was appointed as the country's supreme ruler, the 15th Yang Dipertuan Agong.

2. The invitation to former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir to attend the Agong's installation ceremony was cancelled because the Palace authorities `could not allocate him with a seat'. Rather than letting the Tun be `embarrassed' by being forced to stand (as opposed to other dignitaries who would be seated), they decide it is better to withdraw the invitation.

3. A few days after watching a CGI-enhanced Princess Leia say something about `Hope' in the closing scene of Rogue One (I must say, the CGI image was quite horrible, not the way I remember the young Leia in Episode IV), Carrie Fisher departed this world.

4. My 7-year old grand-nephew, Qhamarull Suhayl bin Suhainizam, lost his life in an automobile accident in Subang Jaya.

5. My second son, Harith Shahiran, completed his studies in Medicine at Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia.

Happy, sad and indifferent news.

Wishing all my friends and readers a happy and fruitful 2017 ahead. May your days be filled with joy and laughter. May sorrows and hardship take a back seat. May the Almighty grant you patience and perseverance to face all challenges.

Achievement after 6 years of hard work and onward for greater challenges

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

From tip to tip...

If we are to look at the map of Malaysia (both the peninsula and Borneo Island), there are two locations of some note. These points are at the very edges of their respective land mass. While it may seem that they are just another place where land meets sea, their unique geographical positions have made them tourist attractions. I have recently made a visit to both locations.

1. Tip of Borneo (visited on 5 December 2016)

This tip of land is located on the northern-most point of Borneo Island. The actual place-name is Tanjung Simpang Mengayau in the district of Kudat in Sabah. The area is a slight hill with a gentle cliff leading down to water. The actual tip itself is a large slab of bedrock, peeking just above water level which cause incoming waves to break upon impact. It is a quiet and beautiful place.

The tip marks the meeting point between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. Looking north, the calm blue sea shows nothing on the horizon. A slight turn of the head to the right and we can see the two large islands of Pulau Balambangan and Pulau Bangi, also within Kudat district.

Loacation map from Google Earth

Capturing a memory of the Tip of Borneo
A beautiful day to sail around the tip

2. Tip of mainland Asia (visited on 17 December 2016)

This tip of land has the local name of Tanjung Piai. It is located in the district of Pontian in Johor state. It's claim to fame is due to its position of being the southern-most point of the whole Eurasia continent. Wow... imagine the scale of things. Theoretically, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, could walk from Cape St. Vincent (the southwestern-most point in continental Europe, facing the North Atlantic Ocean) and head towards Tanjung Piai (facing the meeting point of Straits of Melaka and Straits of Singapore) without needing to cross any sea.

The area around Tanjung Piai has been designated a national park. In contrast to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, this area is muddy flatland and mangrove forest. In its own way, it is also a beautiful place. It is a designated Ramsar site, meaning the wetland is of international importance. Looking southwards from this point, the Indonesian island of Karimun is visible on a clear day.

Tanjung Piai is actually not very far from where I live. You may observe that the tip which is nearer was the one I visited later. Now how do I explain that...

Location map from Google Earth

Standing on the edge of a huge land mass
A walk among the mangroves

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Below the wind...

What is it about mountains that make us gaze at them in awe? That drives men and women to leave behind comfort in exchange for pain and agony to climb them. Just because it is there?

Well, for whatever the reason, humans have been fascinated by the view of majestic mountains for a long, long time.

We have just been back from a week-long trip to Sabah where I got to see Mt Kinabalu up close for the first time. I am in no shape to attempt to climb it so enjoying the views from a distance would suffice for now.

There's much to write about but I'll start the initial post with some photographs. Still... no promises if a full-length vacation story would be available soon :-)

Pic taken at dawn just before she hides behind a veil of clouds and mist

One of the very few times when the sky is clear enough to see its full span

This pic captured at a spot along the KK - Kundasang road

Sunset at Kota Kinabalu

Friday, 25 November 2016

40 days mutton curry

If you are traveling on the North-South Expressway from Johor Bahru heading north, you would reach the Ayer Hitam exit at around the 80km mark. From this interchange onwards, you would notice that the old trunk road known as Federal Route 1 running parallel to the highway on your left. This visible parallel stretch goes on for about 10 km, at times so close to each other that I would think they share a common boundary.

At almost exactly the 88km mark, an intriguing shop signboard on the old road would catch your eye. The signboard is large, with a nice typeface design, obviously intended to grab the attention of the highway users. It proclaims : `Restoran Kari Kambing 40 Hari'.

On my regular drives to Kuala Lumpur over the years, I have always wondered why the restaurant is named as such and why it is so popular. Even from the highway, you can see the many cars parked along the roadside, an indication of the large number of customers. The fame of the place grew with many reviews appearing in Facebook and personal blogs.

Two weeks ago, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and make a visit. A friend in KL had invited us to his son's wedding on Saturday so I decided to start our journey on the Friday, one day earlier. This allowed us to drive at a leisurely pace and make a number of stops along the way, the first of which was at 40 Hari for our breakfast.

For breakfast, the restaurant offers nasi arab and roti canai, accompanied by their trademark dish, the mutton curry. They run on a self-service concept where customers queue at the serving counter, place their order for food and drinks, collect the food and drinks, and pay at the cashier's counter down the line.

The seating area is large and spacious. From what I can see, the roof is newly renovated with a high ceiling level to reduce mid-day heat. Turnover of tables is brisk with a team of workers clearing and cleaning the tables as soon as customers finish their meals.

Okay then, what about the taste, I hear you ask? Before I answer that, let's find out about the restaurant's name. As we placed our order, my wife asked the girl at the counter, why 40 Hari? The girl surprisingly replied that there's no particular reason, the boss chose it to be so (which I don't entirely believe but we'll just leave it at that). I then remarked that she must be bored to face the same question every day. This drew a sweet smile. I suggested to her, get her boss put up a smaller sign so that whoever asks the question can read the answer for themselves. Save a lot of trouble, no?

I tried their nasi arab kambing (RM13) while my wife had roti canai with the mutton curry (RM2 for 2 pieces of roti + RM7 for the curry). Overall the taste of the mutton curry is not bad. A tad on the sweet side for me but I guess it works for the general Malay taste-buds. As for the nasi arab, the taste and texture is no where near mandy or kabsah. Again, I guess it works because the chef has modified it to suit local tongues. So I would still give the place a `can come back again' rating.

To reach this restaurant from south, you exit the highway at Ayer Hitam, travel towards Yong Peng on the old trunk road. If you are from the north, then do the reverse. Exit at Yong Peng Utara and travel on the old trunk road towards Ayer Hitam. The place is about 10km from either direction, you can't miss it.

Note : Open daily from 7.30 am to 3.00 pm.

Front ordering counter

Nasi arab kambing

The truck in the background is on the N-S Highway