THE MESIAN-MESSAGE NO. 148, MARCH, 2014.
THE 5TH EDITION SPONSORED BY HARBANS SINGH
HERITAGE CITY HERE WE COME
We proceeded to Malacca arriving in the heritage city by noon. Daughter Min drove us round. Then we checked into the traditional hotel called BABA HOUSE.
Driving round the Malacca city, we saw what is called the MENARA TAMING SARI. We took a ride to the top. From a height of 110 meters we looked down on Malacca city and far out to sea. There before our eyes are panoramic views of the skyscrapers and low buildings of all types, colours and shapes. We had a bird eyes' view of the whole city as the disc-like platform revolved round on its ascent and descent. We even took in the Straits of Malacca sea view. It was a fantastic experience.
Finally we went to a little cafe by the bank of the Malacca River. We sat there and had tea and coffee. We watched many boats cruising up and down the river. The passengers were tourists taking the cruise for fun. We decided to take the cruise the next day.
Evening came and we went for a spin in Jonker walk a street length of hawker stalls. This is the equivalent of a Chinatown.. It is a night market for hawkers and shoppers. We stopped at a drinks stall and downed young coconut water to soothe our throat and cool down our body that was hot and sweaty. It was here that I came upon a stall selling ear candling material. I was told that ear candling is done in some of the reflexology salons. So we entered one. I had both my ears candled. It purportedly will help our hearing of which I am lapsing.
We went to take the boat cruise on the Malacca River. The boat with about 30 people took us past some showcase local indigenous houses. There were several low bridges that the boat passed under with the roofs of the boats almost scrapping the underside of the bridges! I remember the undersides of bridges are decorated with wall art in part of China. Yes, in Kuilin Guangxi. On a slab of concrete by the river bank, we saw a monitor lizard baking in the sun. According to some locals and frequent visitors, that reptile has been there since young. Now it has become a grown-up iguana.
The cruise lasted three quarter of an hour. It was relaxing, enjoyable and a little educational.
We had lunch at the Garden Cafe at Dataran Pahlawan complex. The food was good. Evening crept into night fall. We proceeded to the famous Stadhuys area where there was a sort of carnival mood in the air! The main attraction was the blinking of lights from the fleet of colourfully decorated trishaws. Tourists like us were bargaining and boarding trishaws for joyrides. We bargained and board one. It was 200 meters ride for RM20. Exorbitant indeed! Had we been fleeced? Anyway, it was joyride or pocket-wise.
Today our plan was to go for the Duck Tours. The tickets are at Rm38 for an adult and RM27 for a senior citizen. It was 10.30 am. Our tour was at 1.30pm. There was nowhere to go save for loitering and sitting in the park. Yes, we sat waiting for three hours. Many people were at the park.
Finally it was time for us to board the amphibious bus for heading to the seaside and then go into water. The amphibious contraption is a tall vehicle with huge tires. It was driven through the street to the launching pad on the beach. The in-house tourist guide explained in brief the history of Malacca starting with the first sultan Parameswara. He never mentioned the Dutch, the Portuguese and British rules. His story was way off the tour.
At the beach, the vehicle got into the water. The tires stopped rolling. The propeller fan at the rear took over. The boat now sailed away into the water. It sailed for about 500 meters and then turned back. That was all about the land and sea tour called the Duck Tours in Malacca. And the boat failed to go up on land! It tried several times to go up on land but in vain. In the end a pick-up truck came and towed it onto land. The driver said this type of incident does not happen often! When we returned to the starting point, forty five minutes had passed. We spent only about 15 minutes at sea. For that there was nothing to see!
The amphibious bus was a modified war vehicle used by the USA soldiers in the Vietnam War. The discarded vehicle had been sold for millions of dollars for use in many countries in the tourist industry. What a spin-off from the Vietnam conflict. Now the vehicle is turned into something of benefit and to the Duck Tours operators: profits.
After a late breakfast, we packed and got ready to set out to go back. Where were we? In the heritage city - Malacca. We had concluded our visit there and we will go back home in the capital city today.
Before we pushed off daughter Min the navigator set her GPS for Seremban. Why stopping at that in-between city? I have arranged to meet somebody. Who is that somebody? He is a commander, a ship engineer who whose line of work or enterprise is to build liners. Huge ships for the high seas.
We entered Seremban town. The navigator took us round and round yet our meeting spot was not found. We never realize there is a Seremban 2, where Tony Wong my buddy had chosen our rendezvous. We called him. He came and led us in. For the first time, I met and introduced myself to Ir. Tony Wong Sin Futt. He led us to a big restaurant. But I told him we need not dine in style. We just could have something simple; just to have a bite. So he led us to a place for beef noodles. The food was delectably and deliciously good. We have not eaten the kind of noodle before; no, not in the ordinary food stalls nor in the top restaurants. Yet the shop is an ordinary place but the crowd was huge and overwhelming. We waited for quite some time to be served. Everybody gave the food the thumb-ups. Thank you very much Cdr. Wong Sin Futt.
MY JOY, MY NEW TOY
I drove down to Ketari. I veered the car beside the Ketari mosque to enter the territory of Bentong Punjabis. The roads were narrow but tarred. I asked around. I knew the number of the house, but two ladies told me the houses are scattered and the numbers were not in order. I could understand this because houses in this Bentong Punjabis Village as they called it are not built in rows.
What was my errand there? To get a gift of a bicycle that Harbans Singh had told me. Why for me? It had been donated by somebody. Most people do not ride bicycle nowadays as a means of transport save for pleasure and sport. The least people nowadays ride would be a motorbike! I wanted it for pleasure and joyrides.
So I drove round and round. I made a phone call. A lady directed me. Soon I was at her gate; she waiting, I waving. The response was right. I walked inside. Sure enough just outside was parked a shining new bike. They just said I could have the bicycle. For free? Yes, but I felt shy. So I fished out some red packets and offered them with the excuse that it was the Chinese Spring Festival season! They gladly accepted. A man in the house helped me to load the bicycle inside my jalopy. Off I drove to first giving my new bike a maiden ride.
Oh boy! My Joy, My New Toy.
It arrives like it drops from the sky.
Back at home I tried riding on a bicycle since umpteenth years I have not been on the saddle of one. Not bad, I could still manage. Then came the uphill slope and I found it so hard to pedal. However, it is good exercise after years of stepping on the accelerator. Good sport. It is so pleasurable joyrides on this new toy of mine. Thank you buddy Harbans; you are so mindful and kind.
HOW IS OUR MENTOR'S BIRTHDAY DO?
It was the 16-02-2014 Sunday. When I stepped in the residence of Dato' Ted Miles, three guests had arrived. They were two men and a woman. The woman sprang me a surprise. Only three days before she had called. She said she would be down under so she would not come to celebrate Dato' Ted Miles's birthday. She had got a free trip to Australia, she had said. Yet today the 16 of February she was here in front of me, facing me.
Lee Kim Thye is a very busy lady. In fact she told me she had to cancel an appointment with her bishop to come to Bentong to attend two birthday parties. Accordingly to her it is better to please two sides than one. More appropriately, she was hitting two birds with one stone, right? Done. She came to Bentong to attend her sister-in-law's birthday do and to call at our mentor just to wish him HAPPY BIRTHDAY too. Yes, she called at our mentor, for no sooner after my arrival she bade us a hasty farewell and she was gone to attend to her other heavy schedules. One of the men also left with her - her brother. "Bye, busy lady."
Then was left Aamir a second generation Mesian the son of Sulaiman Hassan. His long tresses and overgrown face indicate that he is some sort of an artiste. Sure enough he is a lecturer of music. He seemed to be so familiar and helpful around. When somebody rang to ask for approach road guidance to Dato's house down the road he ran. Later he led in carload of the mentor's friends, a Gary and his family and a young Malay lady. The entourage immediately filled up the sitting room and their chatter-boxes began to work.
A little later, Lu Ah Ngan came with her son-in-law and daughter in tow. With only us around, the lunch started as the care-giver Lai Mei knew that we were famished. With our mentor seated at the head of the long dining table we helped ourselves to a buffet lunch treat.
During our dining, a gentleman walked in and introduced himself to our mentor. He looked a stranger to me, as during our past meetings he had never been seen. Later I learnt that he is Liang Ha from Perting. He was an old boy of MES but left to continue his Forms 4 and 5 in Sulaiman School.
After schooling, Liang Ha had worked in a tin mine.. Then he left for the Lion city down south and worked for some time in a factory. But his love for his home town, Bentong, pulled him back like a magnet. Back in Bentong he left for the jungle to be a lumberjack. For the next 30 years he spent most of his time in the wilderness of the Malaysian jungle living with the trees and animals. Of course he had company for he worked for a timber extracting company.
During our chitchat I quipped in, "Have you met many wild animals and experienced strange things in the jungle?"
"Oh, yes! An elephant I have met. Then there were panthers, monkeys and bears. But because of the felling of trees and the noise of our machinery most of the animals ran away". I asked if he followed taboos when living in the jungle. "No, the important thing is we were there with a pure heart and we never hurt anything that we came across", said Liang Ha empathically.
"Have you ever been lost your way in the forest?" I inquired. His reply was again an empathetic "Nope, we must use light as a guide. No matter how little light there is there is some shadow or silhouette. At the start of your jungle trek just take note of the shadow. To find your way back look at the time and the direction of the shadow." he said.
Then John Chinniah walked in; it was never too late as he had faith. His faith: if there is a will there is a way. At the last moment he found no one to chauffeur him up from KL. He just hopped into a KL-BENTONG bus and in about an hour he was here. He even pulled another Mesian in a Paul Muniandy who had never come before though the latter lives here in Taman Siantan.
There was a lot of powwow, brouhaha and chatter in a barrage of telling one another's life experiences.
We had a modest yet enjoyable birthday do for Dato' untainted by too much ado. We hope you were there too.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN MARCH
||TEH BOON TAN
||LOH KOK KEONG
||JOHAR B. ZABIDIN
||LOH FOOK CHENG
||A. KRISHNAN ARUMUGAM
||HJ. TENGKU PUJI
||ABU HANIPAH MOHD
||ZULKIFLY M. ESA
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