Monday, 31 October 2011


One man to another : "I want to marry a smart woman; a good woman; a woman who'll make me happy."

"Make up your mind."

KL night view from Ampang look-out point

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The link to east Johor

News articles relating to the findings of the 2010 Auditor-General's Report are coming in thick and fast. Among the items that made the highlights is the newly-opened Senai-Desaru Expressway linking central Johor to its eastern coast. Read the Star Online news report at this link -> RM1.3bil Desaru Highway.

Actually, this highway had been partially opened to traffic last year. The first completed portion from Senai to Tanjung Langsat in Pasir Gudang was made available for use, pending the completion of the bridge crossing Sungai Johor.

This post is not to discuss the A-G's findings about the expressway project. Upon reading the news article, I thought I might try take a drive across this new bridge just for the fun of it, having previously driven on the Senai to Tg. Langsat stretch. And so earlier this afternoon, I took my car out for a spin and headed eastwards towards Pasir Gudang and entered the highway at Tanjung Langsat. From there, it was a mere 38km to reach Desaru, a beach resort area facing the South China Sea. The original route from JB to Desaru requires us to take the long road via Kota Tinggi town, a journey that can take up to two hours.

From the Tanjung Langsat interchange towards Cahaya Baru toll plaza, the highway is the standard dual-carriageway design that we see at most other toll highways in Malaysia. From Cahaya Baru towards Desaru, the highway is surprisingly single-lane, just like a standard rural road. There is not even a central divider, which means that you can actually make a 3-point turn and go back the way you just came, although there are numerous signboards warning you not to do so. Obviously, this single carriageway construction is temporary, possibly due to cost constraints. At present, the traffic volume plying this route is way below the designed projections.

The bridge spanning Sungai Johor is a four-lane cabled-stayed bridge rising high above the river. To my eyes, the bridge design is quite beautiful. However, the quality of construction of the road linking this bridge is quite poor. I am surprised the authorities allowed the concession holder to operate the highway without first rectifying the defects evident at certain stretches. Notwithstanding this minor grouse, I do find the highway very convenient if I wish to make a trip to Desaru or any other part of south-east Johor. The toll from Cahaya Baru was RM5.90, reasonable enough if you consider the time saved. Just be extra careful when you drive on this road and don't speed unnecessarily.

I took a photo of the bridge before crossing it and was thinking of taking some more pics of the river from the middle of the bridge. Unfortunately, vehicles are not allowed to stop on the bridge itself, so I proceeded to take a leisurely drive towards Desaru and also to Tanjung Balau beach. On the return trip to Johor Bahru, I decided to use the old route via Kota Tinggi but first made a stop at Teluk Sengat village for another view of the bridge. Teluk Sengat is located on the eastern bank of Sungai Johor and the new highway bridge is downstream southwards.

Approaching the bridge. Traffic was light, hence this pic taken while standing right in the middle of the road.

View from Teluk Sengat southwards. Low tide.

Senai-Desaru Expressway Route Map. Borrowed from here -> SDE Map

Desaru and Tanjung Balau claim to have the best beaches in Johor and the state government has long been promoting this area as a tourist attraction. There are a number of quality hotels and resorts along the coast. I have stayed at Desaru only once before. Being a Johorean myself, I'd say that there are many other lovelier beaches you can find in other parts of Malaysia.

Friday, 21 October 2011


Ramai dari orang kita.... ilmunya tinggi tetapi pemikiran cetek.

Pengalamannya luas tetapi pandangan sempit.

Berlagak sebagai pemimpin kepada ramai tetapi tingkah laku dipengaruhi segilintir.

Berbicara dengan penuh kobar tetapi bertindak sekadar indah khabar...

Low tide at sunset (October 2011)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Are you a keeper or a thrower?

The title of this post has nothing to do with sports. It is something that relates to human nature and behaviour. According to a study I read somewhere, when it comes to possessions, human beings fall into two main categories... either you are a keeper (one who likes to keep many of his old stuff) or you are a thrower (one who prefers to discard old items and replace them with new). Actually, I cannot remember the proper term used in that study to identify these two types of people but I'm sure you know what I mean.

I am declaring upfront that I am a keeper. I keep a lot of my old stuff. Knick-knacks, souvenirs, handwritten letters, postcards, books and of course photographs. These things are kept because they all have some form of memory or history attached. But you cannot call yourself a true keeper until you keep other items as well. Things that are outdated and in most cases, practically useless. Under this group of stuff, I have in my possession old receipts, credit card statements, ATM slips, my university lecture notes, shoes, spectacles and my box of LP records bought when I was still a student. Crazy, huh? I mean, who listens to music played from vinyl albums nowadays? Firstly, you'd have to look for a turntable to play it. Secondly, the sound quality is not as good as the widely available CDs. Even if you crave to listen to music from the '70s and '80s, much of them are available today in MP3 form and downloadable from the internet.

Just to let you know, I still have my first turntable. It no longer works, of course... and sits there in one corner of my store gathering dust. Why haven't I thrown it away? Why do I still keep receipts of items I bought many years ago? What use can I have of those old round-shaped John Lennon type of spectacles which I thought looked cool when I was in my twenties? Why do I hang on to a bunch of keys that open doors or locks that I do not know of anymore?

I really can't give you a simple answer... but if you put a gun to my head, I'd say,"It's in the genes..." It is not that I don't throw stuff away. I do carry out spring cleaning every few years (the `few' here is very subjective) but when carrying out such tasks, I end up flipping and reading up old items and re-living the memories attached to them. Like for example, when I wanted to dispose off large files of my lecture notes... I flipped through one of the folders and found an old assignment paper regarding construction law. I re-read what I wrote nearly 30 years ago and felt a certain kind of warmth. It brought to mind the time I spent reading up on the subject and the effort in writing that paper. After finish re-reading it, I decided to keep my notes for a while longer.

Envelope containing handwritten letter from Japanese friend Akemi Koga. The letter is dated 12 April 1992 and she wrote the first two paragraphs in Bahasa Melayu. How can I throw away such a lovely item like this?

British Railcard from student days
Apart from memories, another factor that holds back keepers from disposing off stuff is the thought that there could be some handy use for the item at some particular point in the future. When any of my household appliance breaks down, I always try to salvage parts that still function. It gives me satisfaction when the occasion would come where the part that I saved becomes useful... but more often than not, such parts are never re-used and end up being stored as junk. Call me stingy, if you like, but re-cycling is in my blood.

My mother is also a keeper (did I not say earlier that it is in the genes?), even more hardcore than me. When we were renovating our house many years ago, she instructed that a separate shed be built at the back to be used as a store. Half of the stuff in that store today belongs to her. You can probably guess what some of these things are... plates, bowls and cups. Pieces of china from the '60s era.

My youngest sister, on the other hand, is a thrower. She doesn't like to keep too many old things. When she moved to a new house, she bought mostly new furniture and disposed off the old ones. When her hobby of keeping aquarium fish waned, she wanted to get rid of the lovely wrought-iron tank stand. Guess who offered to take the thing off her hands?

My habit of keeping stuff is still not that serious... not reaching the stage of being a hoarder yet. But I seriously need to get rid off a lot of objects in my store because it is too crammed now. Throw away a lot of the old junk... so that I can create some space for newer junk...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Food for thought...

When I was a young boy, I loved eating durians. It used to puzzle me back then, why westerners find the smell of the fruit so disgusting. I used to believe that the king of fruits has the best aroma in the world... so how can anyone describe the smell as being stinky?

As I grow older, I slowly come to realise that different people have different tastes and perceptions. One man's meat is another man's poison. And we don't even have to look at a foreign culture to understand this. Even within our own country, the type of food commonly found in one particular region may not necessarily find favour at another.

My exposure to the varying regional flavours began when I entered boarding school. The school is located on the east coast but students come from all over the country. Indeed, the first boy whom I met when checking into the hostel was this guy from Kedah. He spoke in a thick northern accent which I initially thought sounded weird. Later when I met boys from Kelantan, I thought they sounded even weirder. It was from one of these Kelantan friends that I learned about budu. After returning back to school from one of the term breaks, he brought along some of the stuff to show me and sample the taste. My first thought.... Good lord! How can anyone like this?

Till today, I still have not acquired the taste for budu although now I do like to eat nasi kerabu, which in itself gave me a somewhat apprehensive first impression. I mean... purple-coloured rice? Bizzare.

When I got the chance to study in England, the experience of foreign food culture became more interesting. The English love their fish and chips. They liberally spray their chips with salt and vinegar. When I buy this item from the takeaway chip shop, I always say, `Just salt, no vinegar please.' Vinegar, to me, is the stuff my mum use to soak kaffir limes to make her delicious acar limau.

While on a backpacking trip to Europe during one of the summer holidays, I came upon a shop in Switzerland selling all kinds of cheese. The view from outside the shop window was quite lovely... there were cheese of different shapes and sizes in varying colours of white, yellow and even shades of red. I decided to enter and have a better look. The moment I opened the door and took my first step inside, the pong hit me like a blast. I made a quick u-turn for the fresh air outside. I thought the cheese smelt terrible!

It then dawned on me... this must be exactly the same feeling when Mat Sallehs get a whiff of our durians for their first time. Strangely nowadays, I don't consider the durian as my favourite fruit anymore. I still eat it... but I won't go crazy if I don't get it.

So why am I writing about food today after not posting for such a long time? Well, a few days ago I was watching this overseas cooking show on satellite TV and saw a familiar looking vegetable being used as one of the ingredients, but the Mat Salleh called it in a name I've never heard of before. The vegetable (or more correctly, tuber root) is called jicama, pronounced in the Spanish style as hi-ka-ma. Locally, we all know it as sengkuang, a favoured ingredient in our rojak. Also a compulsory item when my mum cooks her kuah lodeh for lontong.

I had always thought the English name for sengkuang was turnip. Apparently I am wrong. You learn something new every day. Seems like some westerners like to have sengkuang in their salads too...

Note : Pic on the left borrowed from TryMasak Online.