Saturday, August 25, 2012

A little after 6.00 am, our bus pushed off from Subang Parade heading towards a highway. It was unknown territory to me as it was still dark and I did not seem to recognize any landmarks. Anyway, the bus was full and I felt that I was like making an India tour. For in the bus was Supra our leader, next to me was Mr. Rajah and opposite the aisle was a Lily. I was sure there were some Maniams, Samies and Rajeswaries.

Yet there were also a sprinkling of members of the Sino stock.

Then the karaoke was on blaring forth with Tamil songs. Some of us sang and other just hummed along. Outside, the sky was pouring and the road was wet. Luckily our driver was a careful man for he just cruised down the Seremban Highway at a reasonably safe speed. Soon we reached a Rest and Refreshment area for travelers. We alighted to have a bite. It was a self-paying breakfast. The place was crowded and we took half an hour to fill out stomachs.
 Singapore Merlion
The journey continued. At 11.00 am we stopped at Gelang Patah a tourist stopover. We had lunch. Though hungry some of us had spoilt appetites. Why? The place was littered with garbage and swarmed by flies. The bus headed to the Immigration check-point. We passed the Malaysian immigrations and the Singapore one plus the customs. Now we were on foreign soil and our tour leader warned us to practice restraints in disposing of our food wrappers and tissue papers. Singapore is a fine country and if you litter you will be fined. The bus headed straight to the Hotel Royal in Queen Street. In a hurry we were herded into a ballroom to attend the Eckankar seminar - our purpose for the trip. About three hundred more chelas started the HU chant. To me the chant was like the roar of a jet plane.

After listening to the seminar talks, we went to check into our hotel. Excuse me, it was but a hostel named the BUNCHOSTEL. No wonder there was a pun in the whole affair. Okay! Each cubicle 8 people shared! As soon as we entered the room we found actually there was no standing room! We have to just jump on and occupy the beds. The whole thing was a Bed and Breakfast sort of accommodation. Before the trip I thought we would get twin-sharing hotel rooms! But now what I saw was sardine-packed accommodations!!

The bathroom and the toilets are everybody sharing arrangements. Though congested, the place is air-conditioned. The walls and sheets were completely ivory white - no stains no graffiti. Even the room key and the public bathroom and the toilets are only accessible by electronic touch cards. We took turns to bathe.
 Singapore River Night View
Evening came. It was the hours for free for all. We walked around. Was I in Singapore! I wondered; for all around me were little Indian shops and restaurants. Oh! I was then walking through the little India of Singapore! I went into a small but neat and clean eatery. I had dinner of fried rice washed down with some drink fizzy.

I went back to our cubicle and as I was overcome with fatigue, I fell off to sleep. When I came to next, the rest of the occupants of the cubicle were snoring.

Breakfast was with a main course of bread and jam. We spread the slices of bread over a barbeque fire to make toasts. Then with jams of fruit and peanut we spread on the bread. These were washed down with self service made hot coffee and tea. Not a bad breakfast when you are not choosy but hungry.

The second day's seminar was interesting with many talks about spiritual things. There was a tea break in between. It looks like Singaporeans are quite sparing on food. The tidbits lay out quickly vanished. Even the crumbs and fragments of string hoppers were scrapped up and devoured.

We had lunch at the local hawkers' centre of which Singapore are famous for. We could have a good meal for 3 or 4 Singapore dollars.

The seminar ended on the second day and our bus pushed off right away bound for home. However, I did not go home. I abandoned ship. I wanted to roam.


From Singapore I landed in Johore at the Immigration check-point. There I took a Causeway Link coach to Johor Bahru city. After alighting from the bus, I hailed a taxi. I told the taxi driver where I wanted to go. He asked me if I knew the place. Of course I answered no. That no answered could have led the taxi driver to think, "this is a stranger that I can wring him dry."
 Johor Baru City
So he drove me via a quiet highway, passed through several housing areas and shop houses plus a little Malay kampong. Finally when we reached the hotel that I have booked online, the meter registered just one ringgit short of 25. So the fare for the ride was that sky high. I thought he must have driven round more than a half circle roughly 240 degrees round. After paying him the extortion-like exorbitant fare I asked him if there was a shorter way. Sheepishly he admitted there is. I asked why he had not taken that route. He said that road 9later I found out to be a highway) is always congested. With that he drove off hastily perhaps he felt a little guilty that he had fleeced an elderly. But I thought that must be his day! I hope he could sleep well that night. I did.

The next day, I called Yip Fook Khim my buddy since school days. I have seen him at least five years before this day. His voice was loud and clear, probably very excited that he would meet me. We were eager to meet again after several years. At 10.00 am sharp Fook Khim arrived at the hotel lobby. There we met. After the lapse of five or six years, he still looks almost the same energetic and agile guy. His physique has changed a little bit; like he has shed some weight.

Fook Khim drove me out along the highway to Tebrau. It is the way to Ulu Tiram where another Mesian stays. Who could that be? He is Chan See Phong our buddy. As there were many roads and highways, we strayed. Finally Fook Khim managed to find the way and reached See Phong's house No. 8A.
 Mesian Member In Johor
See Phong came out to welcome us in. He has sunglasses on and looks thin. Why? It was cataract surgery he had undergone. He is recuperating from the operation. Later we heard that he had lost some weight making him looks slim. No, not really thin! But he was in good spirit to meet us. We sat down and had a most friendly chit-chat like we were back in the old days. From his missus, we come to know that See Phong sometimes could lose his memory. That is why he dares not travel far. The familiar things that we dealt were about health. I admitted I am high on several things: hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar level. Then they mentioned of several other herbal remedies other than the normal western medicines. They never suggest to drop the western medications but to supplement the medicines with well proven herbs. Warning: even herbs taken must be of the correct dosages. Wrong dosage will certainly cause damage.

Fook Khim mentioned of several herbs which he often takes. Papaya leaves for example. He pounds and grinds them and then drinks the juice on the rock. The juice would help in fighting various ailments.

See Phong's missus cut in and said the papaya juice is best for gastric problems. Drink the juice and stomach ailments would be gone. She quoted proven cases one and two. It is also good to clear the system and even may help to treat cancer too. Yes, on mentioning that dreaded modern disease they suggested Sabah snake grass. That herb is the enemy of the oncologist.
 Sabah Snake Grass
Later See Phong brought us to the back of his house to show the various herbs growing about. There was the Sabah snake grass, the black-faced general herb, the sweet chrysanthemum. Of course the Sabah snake grass is well-known for treating cancer. The black-faced general herb I do not remember what it is used for. Anybody out there can give some enlightenment on its uses? The sweet chrysanthemum is the sugar stand-in for diabetes patients. Fook Khim plucked a leaf from the plant and let me taste it. It was sweet when I chewed it. See Phong gave him some papaya saplings for planting.

See Phong's missus served us tea, coffee and cake. Thanks for the food and the beverages. Mrs. See Phong also hails from Bentong and is a very good housekeeper. The house is spic and span.

After bragging for an hour, we drove over to Bukit Ulu Tiram for another visit. It was raining. In no time, we saw Zabil waiting. He was waving by the roadside to direct Chan See Phong, Yip Fook Khim, Chan Suy Sang, Zubir and welcome us in. Zabil? His real name to all of us in MES is Zubir. We entered a well furnished and well-kept house - Zubir's little castle. His missus greeted and treated us to lunch. There was a variety of Aidil Fitri delicacies. We were fed until we could not take in anymore. I ate and drank so much that I have to use the host's toilet.
 Aidil Fitri Spread
OMG! When I was busy in the loo, a call came from William Joo. So while I was emptying my digestive system's waste, William Joo promised more food for me to taste. What more, his call from far away Kuala Lumpur! He invited me to his upcoming house party a few days away. I passed William's call over to Zubir. They seem to know each other and chit-chat for a long while. We continued savoring the Aidil Fitri pastries. We talked of all and sundries till we thought it was time for us to bid our host and hostess adieu.

Fook Khim drove See Phong back to his house. We waited until our buddy had entered his residence safely. Then we drove off back to Johor Bahru. Fook Khim took me into a bank as he had some business to do. He had worked for the whole of his career there. Afterwards we had tea and noodles. I met his friend and we had a short chit-chat. Finally Fook Khim chauffeured me to the Larkin bus terminal. I boarded an executive coach and waited for an hour before it pushed off for Kuala Lumpur.

On arrival at Kuala Lumpur, I landed in a strange yet posh bus terminal. I presumed it is Pudu Sentral. It was so posh and spacious that I was a little dubious. Where was I? Ask around! No, I am a KL guy. Shy! I groped around and found the LRT train. After boarding it, I realized the route it went was strange! What? A new LRT train line? Soon the train ride terminated at the terminal terminus of the line.
 KL TBS Terminal
Then only I realized the posh place where I boarded the train is not Pudu Sentral, but the LRT and south-bound bus terminal. It is the terminal called Terminal Bersepadu Selatan at Bandar Tasik Selatan. No wonder it looks so different! It is opposite Desa Petaling where I have my dwelling!! So I took the reverse train back to my home station.

Those who come to Kuala Lumpur by coach from the south; remember you won't reach Kuala Lumpur when you disembark. It is in Bandar Tasik Selatan at the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (short-form TBS) which is about 20 km away from the city. It's posh and trendy. You see and enjoy some luxury. From there you have to board the local KTM or LRT or ERL trains or buses to KL city. Not difficult; quite easy.



1. We had the usual "floor show" for them after lunch. Kooi Jong and Dave both had mixed feelings about seeing the chicken swallowed whole, an experience they said they'd never forget.

2. Our "Carnival Party", tonight was just the best party we've ever had, and we managed to get rid of all the left-over prizes. Stalls started running out of prizes by about 10.00, but we kept going until everyone was finished. My job was to serve food from a tray hung around my neck, the kids seemed to like being served by the Principal for a change.

3. During lunch Ting Wen came driving up with Will Weiss, a Peace Corps P.W.D. worker. While we were visiting, Ann Short came driving up with another Peace Corps worker - Barbara Contessa from Connecticut who is a nurse in Kuala Trengganu. Then Don came by, and it looked like American Day in the Hostel.

4. I went to the tailor this morning and got measured for some new trousers. It's been almost five years since I got any new pants, and they are beginning to wear out. He (the tailor) was shocked when I ordered ten pairs, but I told him I wouldn't be back for five years.

5. We went to the circus this evening, thoroughly enjoying the performance. The animals didn't amount to much - a few monkeys and chimps, four small elephants, one very old lion, three tigers, a big bird of some sort, two zebras, and one sick camelcc We went "back stage" and invited them to come see our snakes, and they sounded downright excited. (The snakes our mentor kept as pets were: a cobra, a kukri and a python. The python swallowed the chicken whole as described in excerpt 1 above)


Birthday Cake - Green

AUG 10
AUG 11
AUG 14
AUG 14
AUG 14
AUG 15
AUG 16
AUG 20
AUG 27

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