Thursday, 13 July 2017

A clinic for the masses

Tucked in an obscure corner of the UTC Kotaraya complex in central Johor Bahru is the government health clinic known as Klinik 1Malaysia. It offers both medical and dental services at a nominal price.

Earlier this month I made my first visit. At the registration counter for dental services, I handed over my MyKad and was asked to fill up a form. The nurse then keyed in my data into the system. While doing so, she asked me a few questions.

"Have you been here before, sir?"

No. My first visit.

"May I know your occupation?"

Retired.

"Do you have a pensioner card?"

No. I work in the private sector.

She returned my identity card, gave me a queue number and asked me to wait until my number is called. There were not that many people in the waiting lounge, maybe six or seven, I can't recall now. The lounge itself is bright and clean. There is a television on, tuned to the Suria Channel of Singapore. The TV reception is quite good and I assume that is why it's tuned to a neighbouring country's programme. Unless you are subscribed to Astro, the reception of local stations using normal antenna can be quite dismal. Except for the stiff and uncomfortable metal seats, the overall waiting experience was generally bearable.

The duration of the wait, under different circumstances, I would call as exceedingly long. But then you have to remember that this is a government clinic. Waiting for one to two hours is normal. Furthermore, I was a walk-in patient. No appointment needed like most private dentists.

When my number finally flashed on the screen, I walked into Treatment Room 8 where I was greeted by a smiling young male doctor. He asked me a few questions and then told me to sit on the dentist's chair. The chair and other equipment in the room looked as modern as can be.

After performing the descaling process on my teeth, the doctor pronounced that all my white chompers are in good condition. He praised me for taking good care of them. Wow... no other dentists have never praised me before.

Of course I walked out of the clinic with a big smile on my face. And I paid only RM3 for the whole treatment (RM1 to register plus RM2 for the scaling work).

Convenient and inexpensive. A very good government initiative.

Friday, 30 June 2017

One local destination a month - Part 5 : Jugra, Selangor

The 5th instalment of my 1LD1M series is somewhat delayed in making its appearance. The trip was actually done on 24 May 2017, before the Muslim fasting month. So I'm squeezing this post in just before the month of June leaves us.

This time, I managed to make the journey to Jugra in Kuala Langat, Selangor, the place where I intended to visit in April. There are a number of interesting historical spots here which are not so well-known and discovering them made our trip so worthwhile.

1. Istana Bandar

Within the district of Banting in a small village with the oxymoronic name of Kampung Bandar, there is an old palace built by a former sultan of Selangor. Known alternatively as Istana Bandar or Istana Sultan Ala'eddin, this royal dwelling was built in 1905 by the fifth Sultan of Selangor.

The building sits on a 12.6 acre flat plot of land and is a combination of Malay and Moorish architecture. It is a 2-storey design; the upper floor having the grander rooms and balconies while the lower floor has a relatively low ceiling height. When Sultan Ala'eddin (also known as Sultan Alauddin Sulaiman) passed away in 1938, his successor did not take residence there and the palace became empty. Over the years, the building went through a series of transformations in its use before reverting back to being an empty shell, left to be appreciated by only a few who care to have that inkling of interest in history. The palace is presently registered as a heritage building under Jabatan Warisan Negara.

On the day of our visit, we were the only ones there. The guard at the security post was probably surprised seeing a car with Johor license plates driving up to that quiet location on a weekday afternoon. After signing the visitor book, he allowed us into the compound and said that we are free to walk around.

The palace is totally empty inside - no furniture or furnishings or exhibits. A number of broken windows and rotting floor planks (properly cordoned-off) show the age of the building. Nonetheless overall the place is clean and tidy. Even the external grounds are well-maintained, i.e. no overgrown bushes or creepers and the like.

Serene and peaceful. And if you are alone, can be creepy as well.

View of Istana Bandar from the front. Visited 24 May 2017

A water reservoir or kolah in the internal courtyard

A view from inside to outside through broken windows

Wide staircase at the rear

2. Bukit Jugra

On the eastern side of Sungai Langat near its mouth, there is a hill known as Bukit Jugra on which sits the Jugra Lighthouse. The hill slope next to the lighthouse is a popular place for para-gliding enthusiasts. On the day of our visit, not a single para-glider was in sight because it was a weekday. I was told that they pack the place mostly on weekends.

Anyway, we were there to enjoy the view from a lovely vantage point. The Langat river mouth where it meets the Melaka Straits can be clearly seen. This viewing spot is surprisingly quite accessible by car. The road up the hill to the lighthouse is paved and there is even space to park your car safely, although I can imagine some congestion on weekends.

A barge being towed upstream of Sg Langat. The Melaka Straits on the horizon

Jugra Lighthouse

3. Makam Sultan Abdul Samad

I came upon this royal mausoleum by chance. As we were heading towards Jugra Lighthouse, I saw a signboard that indicated the grave of royalty. The cemetery itself was not visible from the small road and I decided to make a stop on the way back.

Sultan Abdul Samad ibni Al-marhum Raja Abdullah was the 4th Sultan of Selangor. He reigned from 1857 to 1898, a span of 41 years. At the time of his death he was 93 years-old. The heir apparent to the throne, his eldest son Raja Muda Musa had already departed ahead of him. This resulted in Raja Muda Musa's eldest son, Sulaiman Shah Musa (later also known as Alaudin Sulaiman) becoming the next-in-line. The 5th Sultan of Selangor was therefore the grandson of the 4th.

Perhaps the most famous building in Kuala Lumpur that bears his name is the Moorish-styled landmark known as Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad, located opposite of Dataran Merdeka and the Royal Selangor Club.

This mausoleum at Jugra is a hidden gem. The place is well-kept with a wide parking area for visitors. The security guard on duty was kind enough to give me an impromptu tour. Other than the king, members of his immediately family are also buried there.

Resting place of the 4th Sultan of Selangor

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Salam Aidilfitri 1438 Hijrah


Ramadhan berlalu Syawal menjelang,
Yang jauh datang yang dekat hilang,
Pergi kembara tak akan pulang,
Jasad tiada budi dikenang...

Salam Aidilfitri buat sahabat-sahabat dan pembaca di blog ini. Saya doakan agar semuanya sihat dan selamat sampai ke destinasi masing-masing. Mohon maaf dari saya sekiranya tersilap kata, terkasar bahasa dan terlebih bicara. Tersinggung perasaan, tersalah pesan mahupun tertulis yang bukan2...

Semuga Allah swt panjangkan umur kita untuk bertemu dengan Ramadhan sekali lagi...

Monday, 19 June 2017

The fragrant aroma of clarified butter

My mother is an expert in cooking Indian-style briyani. Her skills have been passed down to my better half who has now become the go-to person when her siblings crave for tasty mutton briyani. For Aidilfitri, it is normal for our house to serve briyani when the normal Malay raya dishes would be ketupat and rendang.

There are many different recipes to cooking briyani, depending on the region or version. Pakistani style, Hyderabad style, Batu Pahat style, just to name a few. The ingredients in my mother's version are quite extensive. One of the most important is ghee. It gives the briyani rice a unique fragrant aroma. Recipes that make use of other fat substitutes would simply pale in comparison.

Ghee or clarified butter (commonly known as minyak sapi in Malay), is an expensive component. Even among the many manufacturers of this product, there are varying qualities. We have tried cooking briyani using different brands of ghee and conclude that the one from QBB is still the best. Not surprisingly, it is also the most expensive.

So expensive that the Mydin Supermarket chain has to attach security caps on the cans of QBB ghee to deter shoplifting.

Compare the prices of the 2 brands on this shelf

Anti-shoplifting bands on the QBB cans. Proof of its popularity

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Spread a little cheer...

No matter how bad your situation is, there would always be others far worse off than you. So be thankful, don't despair and never give up hope. Something I subscribe to for a very long time.

At every large city in the world, there is the problem of the homeless and destitute. Johor Bahru is no exception. These unfortunate souls gather around the old central train station where they lay down for the night on used cardboard boxes as their mattress. Men and women of various races and ages.

Last night, I joined the team from Free Market Johor and Friends & Strangers, to spread some cheer. We distributed food packs and some basic toiletries (small towel, toothbrush and toothpaste). As a special occasion to celebrate the coming hari raya, the FMJ team collected a large number of pre-loved baju melayu to give away for free. The fast food chain Macdonald's also contributed to the event by giving burgers and drinks.

The distribution was held at the KTM cargo bay at JB Sentral train station. Around 100 persons came and collected the food and clothes. It was a small effort by the team but I'm pretty sure well-appreciated by the recipients.

Volunteers helping to prepare the food packs

KTM Sentral Cargo Bay became the distribution point for the night

Pre-loved men's and women's clothing for some raya cheer

With fellow MRSM Kuantan alumnus, Amin Shade and his lovely daughters

More pics can be seen at this Facebook page -> Friends and Strangers