Wings to Fly

Travel teaches toleration – Benjamin Disraeli

When reading this quote for the first time, it’s understood that travel teaches us to tolerate with the things we don’t know and would be experiencing for the first time in another place. But then, this morning I woke up and I had this in mind – it teaches me to tolerate myself when I’m put in situations, of consequences I’ll be facing and most importantly, to lower down my expectation of myself to be who I see myself to be rather than who I will become.

Confusing? Totally. 

Lately, I’ve come to realised that I have put myself in such an “unrealistic” expectation of myself and for every time I don’t meet that standard, I would berate myself for it. So what does this have to do with traveling then?

I’ve been reading, learning as much as possible and revising what I’ve forgotten to prepare myself for my upcoming backpacking trip to Europe and as minutes passes by, I’m no where closer to where I see myself to be. It’s ridiculous to think that I’m running against myself. For what? No idea really.

So, even before I step foot in the aircraft, travel has taught me this:

1. To take my time in learning what is needed
2. To accept that you can never be too prepared
3. Enjoy
4. Live
5. Anticipate

I know at the end of the day, I’ll make do with what I have while traveling but I’m not sure why this time around, this trip makes me push myself hard to be more prepared. All my other trips has never been like this, not even my last backpacking trip to Europe. I’ve always been that girl who just have what’s needed and the rest will fall into places.

When have I changed and become an entirely new person?

When technology made it more accessible to travel I guess.

To be honest, this would be the first time I’ll be traveling with a smartphone that has all the apps I need and even then I’m not sure if I want to use it. I have to agree, the apps and information made available out in the cyberspace are only meant for us to use it as best as we can but I feel as if I have this “need” to know it all.

Let’s go back to basic. A month in Europe all requires me to bring 2 pants, and 5 shirts, a cardigan, a jacket and one pair of shoes. A book, some music, camera (yet to fix the comatose dlsr) and a lost soul. Everything else, I will have to reconsider. I know I’ll be bringing my trusty o’ Sony Eriksson phone from the past to last me through the trip. 

Reading back what I’ve written here just opened my eyes to who I need to be when I leave in  17 days. For some reason, I feel so much lighter on my shoulders now. 

I’ve never been ready in any of my travels and I came back happier than ever. Therefore, this trip shouldn’t be any different yet it is. 

Close an eye and take a leap of faith Dian.

Home is Where the Heart is

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. – Maya Angelou

There are many reasons why people like to travel – see the world, meet new people or even to start fresh. Whatever your reason is, go for it. Maybe for some of us, we can only go so far, but even then, I would definitely encourage all of us to go out. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 10 minutes walk out to the park or moving to another country. The point here is so that you’ll have a broader mind to understand how the world works. 

I for one find travelling therapeutic. 

It’s when I find myself in places where I don’t feel so strange or out of place that I know I’ve finally arrived. Finally have a place to call it home. That’s when I know I can just be myself, away from things I don’t have to deal with at the moment. 

Rolling down the hill in Ludlow, anyone?

A running away scheme sort of. 

I understand myself deeper when I travel, emotionally and spiritually. Maybe because I get to put reality on hold. Able to explore the possibilities of what I could do, much like an idea of what my alternate universe would be like. 

You would say it sounds like a soul searching path.

In a way, yes.

Breathtaking view of Jaipur
On a more direct approach, I’m searching for that home feeling. Places that has a sense of belonging to me. Safe to be me.

I remember when I was in Jakarta when I discovered that home feeling. It wasn’t the first time I was away but it was certainly the first time when I didn’t feel like an outcast. I suppose it has a lot to do with the people there. They don’t judge you on your looks or status. You are human, much like them. What separates the good ones from the bad is the character.

Oddly enough, I don’t feel the same here. I came back feeling dumbfounded for a few weeks after that. Never thought there is such a feeling. Ever.

Perhaps some people may think I’m not patriotic about my own country. On the contrary my friend, if you know the work I do, then you will know me better than that. I just don’t know what went wrong. Either I was born in the wrong century or so happened to be an alien. Either ways, I find difficulty adjusting despite living here all my life.

Hanging out in Bingen
I guess different people have different strokes?


What I know is, since then, the places I go to, I have moments of being at home. At ease. And that’s my motivation to explore and be away. Often, this feeling occurs when I’m in old cities. It could be because I have an old soul..or associate the feeling with the books I’ve read while growing up. 

Old cities makes me feel home. There I’ve said it. 

Ludlow reminds me of The Secret Garden, Montserrat of Indiana Jones and Hardy Boys for Haarlem. 

It’s kinda like exploring my own mind actually. Things I’ve only read and imagined actually existed in some parts of the world. 

Cozy looking house in Haarlem
I’m still looking forward to the day when I find the place that reminds me of the movie My Girl. That would be the ultimate home I’m sure.

Why do I feel this way? While growing up, these are the places I wish to have, to run away to; just a place to call my own. To be honest, I’m still finding my way in this world. Most of the time, I create this place in my head to go away. Now that I have the means, I search for these places. More often than not, I usually stumble upon those places.  

It’s interesting to know that I feel home when I’m away.

Travel helps me manage my tendencies. Keeps me grounded and gives me a peace of mind. Overall, it teaches me to be receptive of Mother Nature, Him and people in whatever condition. 

An endearing moment at Lakeside
In a lot of ways, I can go as far and say that travelling save me from many things. 

Mein Freund in Bingen (Part 1)

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. – Henry David Thoreau

I will forever look back to this day on how I decided to take my 14kg backpack to Mainz.  It’s a journey I’ll always remember about one of my most eccentric friend, Farah.

The trip started while I was lounging on Nad’s couch in Tooting; I received a surprised message from Farah saying that she was able to spare time for us to come over. It was really a no brain-er visit this one because UK and Germany isn’t that far and while we’re at it, we decided to do the entire Benelux (short for Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg) before we head to Frankfurt.

I remember we rushed from Centraal Station in Amsterdam to catch the train to Frankfurt. We were always rushing when it came to trains. With heavy bags and all, I think we were lucky to get pretty good seats. Some of which were upgraded along the way. So on the way to Frankfurt, I managed to keep in touch with Farah and she had instructed me to get a connecting train to Mainz where she’ll be meeting us that night.

With a discman and Valentino Rossi’s autobiography book to keep me company .. I’m reminded that there was a reason why I wanted, no..needed to be in Germany.

Prior to my Europe trip, Farah and I had been keeping in touch via emails. I had such fond memories of us writing long emails to each other, talking about anything and everything surrounding us. And in that moment I knew that I had to see her. Had to talk to her. For what reason, I’m not so sure.

As far as I know, Farah is one of the most brightest person I’ve ever encountered. So bright, she’d give you a run for your money when you speak about philosophies and theories. I call her a genius. She of course will deny till she dies. But that’s who she really is, one who need not have to study, do homework and still manage to pull off a pretty amazing result. With a glance through, she could tell you the gist of it. For many years, I admire her talent. While she has her own temper to tame, I think it’s what makes her all the more interesting. She’s kooky yet funny. Sarcastic as hell but also down to earth. There are a lot of things about her that’s amazing which she’s not really aware off.

Anyway, so as we got off from Frankfurt and heading to Mainz, we met Farah and she then led us to another station, one where we would be heading to her home – Bingen. She said it’s a very small place. A very small place I find very charming indeed. However, that realisation only occur the morning after.

To think I was thousands of miles away from home, we were approached by other Malaysians in the train that night. Who would’ve thought? Then an Indonesian came to us and had a chat, sharing with us his 20+ years of staying in Germany and how he miss being back home. I thought that was a nice touch to my first visit here. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to strike up conversations with other people. People we might not even see tomorrow but is more than happy to fill you in for present.

It’s the one thing I love about being in Europe. Just the feeling that you’re able to make someone’s day by greeting them. As much as I would wish the same thing could happen in Malaysia, it’s not in our culture (I guess) to do it. At least not in the metropolitan areas. Everyone’s so hung up about their own world, there’s no time for other things.

The best part about it all is that, Farah said “In my years of living here, I’ve not met other Malaysians in the train!”.

When we got off the final station, we met with one of her housemate who happened to be dropping someone off. So hey, we got a free ride back! The best part was, her housemate was driving my first car – the VW GTi MK2. It’s a legendary car that one and boy, was I happy to jump in and be in the car with the sunroof opened!

Just recalling it right now is already making me smile. Oh how I miss Bingen.

The thing about Bingen is that, you could sleep on the road and you don’t have to worry about getting hit. It’s so quiet yet wonderful at the same time. We all bunked in Farah’s room which is the attic. This was when she shared with me her little escapade – out of the window, seating on the rooftop and be captivated by the view in front of your eyes. The best part is, you could even lay your head and look at the sky. No one will noticed.

It’s these moments, this kind of hide outs I’ve always loved doing since I was a kid. I love having a tree house, love having a secret garden no one knows..I just love having a place where I can call my own. And that was her space, her little corner of the world where no one else can take it away.

This was also the time when I discovered how fast internet could have been! Although Zoel had told me many times before when he lived in Stuttgart, I never actually knew how fast he had meant. The noob that I am. There’s a Malay word for it, “Jakun”.

Once we’ve settled down, refreshed ourselves.. the host slowly pulled out a box in front of me. I wasn’t sure what it was until she reminded me of a certain purchase I made a month before through her. Slowly, I unwrapped the bubble wrap..making sure I didn’t ruin it, lo and behold..it was the XJ200 scale model I’ve been hunting for someone’s birthday. Why did I put so much effort to look for this? It’s a rare piece and now that I have it in my hands, I was beyond happy. I knew I owed Farah big time for troubling her. And till this day, I couldn’t thank her enough.

See, that’s who Farah is. When you “get” her, she’s the kind of friend who would almost do anything for you without so much hesitation. But if you don’t, hey it’s your loss really.

Oh! And she even bought a bag of gummies knowing full well I had mad craving for it while I was in London. She actually managed to sourced out for Halal gummies somewhere in town and.. wouldn’t you know it..I happily ate them away πŸ™‚ It’s a simple gesture but it meant so much to me.

Just thinking about it all over again making me miss her quite a bit too. What with the kind of lives we’re living today; she’s still there in Bingen where I believe is where she belongs and me in KL. So we have small window of opportunity to catch up but somehow we’ll make sure to drop a word or two saying “hey things are good. It’s heading somewhere bla bla bla”.

Maybe I’ll drop her an email after this. Just because πŸ˜‰

So the next morning, she took us out for a walk. As usual, it’s a must to go to the supermarket and get what we need. If you want to stock up food for travelling, always head for the grocery shop. Especially mineral water. You’ll save heaps I tell ya!

I remember being greeted by the cashier in the morning. How could one survive in Deutchland without speaking German? Eh, pretty alright I might say. Farah taught me a few words in German and I used ’em all the time. I had a lot of positive feedbacks too.

One time when I was in Farah’s room sorting out stuff, I accidentally cursed in German. Instead of asking what happened, she said “WHOA! Did you just cursed in German? Cool!”.

Yeah, that’s my friend alright. She was the one who introduced me to the word – Idiosyncrasy. Apparently, that’s how she describes my stories.

After our trip to the supermarket, we head off by foot to the ferry on Rhein River.

Rhine is the 12th longest river in Europe

Our next destination? RΓΌdesheim am Rhein.

We didn’t know what the itinerary was since we left it in Farah’s hands to bring us around. I didn’t do much read up about this place to begin with so when I came, I had no expectations. So when we got on the ferry, she told us a little bit about this UNESCO World Heritage Site winemaking town. This place has a lot of events going on through out the year. One that’s most known for is the Wine Festival which happens third weekend of August every year.

We took the cable car up to the top of the hill where we can witness the picturesque view of Rheingau landscape. There’s even a hiking trail from the bottom of the hill and one can also pluck the grapes when the season comes. Too bad when we were there, there were no fruits.

Some of the views I remember from many years ago


Grown ups can have fun too! Uluhati Edition.

Sometimes, in the midst of living; you tend to lose yourself along the way and having said that, it’s the only thing I could say about myself. I’m not sure what it was but I did. I had lost pieces of myself while fighting, caring and growing up. I miss writing, be it poems or stories and I really miss creating art the most.

These are my tickets to escape, my secret garden to hide out.

When I stopped doing it, I felt as if I’m a ticking bomb. The past couple of weeks had been me suffocating only because I didn’t know I was repressing so many emotions inside.

Today, I found the urge to write. No, actually I started writing a month ago..continuing a story I’ve abandoned. Slowly, eventually.. I’ll get there. Just like everything else.

It’s been a challenging year so far. What is only about 2.5 months since we started 2012 to others, it felt like I’ve been in it for 11 months. I’ve discovered so many things about myself. Forcing me to grow up a little bit more, if not be more responsible. And I won’t lie, it has been quite a challenge. Mentally and physically.

So one day, last month, the day I’ve been waiting for had arrived. There’s this gem in Hulu Langat, Selangor I went for a recce with a colleague prior to #TSDayOut called Uluhati. This little haven made me feel like I was revisiting a place in my mind that has not been attended for many years. It’s like a ranch. A beautiful one.

So yes, finally got to share this place with others (thanks to Farhah who’s been telling me about it months before) and I was really excited about it. We stayed over at the longhouse in Uluhati with the rest of the crew, Syidi came along too. In that brief moment, it felt as if we were on our way to “balik kampung”. Despite the fact that Syidi and I only just got to personally know each other last year, it felt like we were all going back for Raya.

While Uluhati is only 40 minutes away from the city, I think it was my perfect getaway from everything. Honestly, it did felt like I was on a paid holiday. The bbq served by En. Shaipuddin and his wife were just beyond words. There were grilled lamb (which En. Hafeez happily gorged down a few), tilapia, mushroom soup, garlic bread, chicken, fries…oh it was endless.

We weren’t ready for a feast but there it was, a celebration under the stars with laughter.

I couldn’t have painted a better picture of that night. There were no mosquitoes too. So that’s a definite plus. After a couple more plates of dinner (that turned into supper)..we played Chinese Poker and Bluff at the veranda as the wind whisper in our ears until 2AM. Retiring our bodies and minds on the comfy beds.

The next morning, we woke up to a cool breeze. So cool, I had the fleece blanket wrapped around me like a burrito. Just like waking up in the kampung, listening to feet stomping, alarm ringing and roosters crowing. The only thing that came to mind was “not to bathe in the cold natural water from the hills”. I’m a chicken cat like that.

Once again, ever lovely Riznida Eliza (En. Shai’s wife) made us Nasi Lemak and some toast bread. Oh it was good to be back with Mother Nature, even if it was just for a while. While waiting for the other #TSDayOut participants to arrive from Bangsar at the river; we got to see the sun rise overlooking the Titiwangsa Mountains.

Rasyidi beautifully captured the morning sun at Uluhati


Did I mentioned that there are goats, deers, chickens, turkeys, dogs and cats roaming freely around this 2.8acre land? There are horses and ponies too! More about that later.. for now, we have to be at Langat River for bamboo rafting.

It’s an adventure day, a great outing to get everyone out from the comfort zone and explore together. Each raft had one raft guide from the local Temuan tribe. Technically, we’re in good hands because these people can survive in any parts of the world.

Little did I know I was up for a bit more adventure than anyone thought. And was very much unprepared for it too.

There were 20 rafts, 2 passengers plus one guide on each raft..going on a cruise along the river which took about 2 hours. If there was anything you should try in Selangor, and not wanting it to be too hardcore.. it would be this activity.

Half way through the journey, looking at the houses, little kids watching us city people doing what they do on daily basis..I realised our guide was slightly inexperience. But that’s not going to stop me from having fun tho.

That’s Salina, enjoying the breathtaking view

The first incident happened when our raft (Salina and I were paired up together) were stuck in between huge rocks in the middle of a very rapid current. While the young guide was trying to repositioned the raft, it was easier if we got off the raft and helped as well. From one thing to another, he had some difficulty and the raft floated even further away. Torn to save us or the raft, we all thought it was best if he took care of the raft first. However, if we made any kind of small move, we are sure to fall head first and that’s not good idea when I was holding my dslr.

Seeing as Salina was frozen in her spot, I had to do the one thing I never thought would come in handy in my life. I fell backwards and body surfed along the river knowing that I’ll grab the raft when I arrived at the end. My only reason for doing it was to actually my camera first and I knew I can’t stand any longer with the kind of rapid pushing us from behind. Salina took a leap of faith and did what I did.

What luck, Syidi & Aida were there to see how the incident unfold.

Thankfully, we both were at Kuala Kubu Bharu last November for white water rafting and The Paddlerz suggested that we should do body surfing as part of the activity. This is when you allow yourself to float in the river face up.

Who knew such trivial activity had the potential to save lives?

Truth enough we arrived where our raft was at, except that my thigh had hit a massive rock underneath which resulted in muscle cramp due to the shallow river. Which made it worst because I couldn’t support myself.

It may have looked like I was a klutz (and I am one) but this was just one of those where an accident just happened and all you can think about is saving your life (and the camera). I was pulled out from the river like a helpless body, walked a little bit on the river bank to sit on the raft. One of the guides told us that the river should be much more calm from here onwards.

Where the first incident took place before I body surfed.

“Good. If it was anything like that again, I don’t think I could save myself again because of the cramp.”

The camera was fine, miraculously! And we continued on our journey admiring the view. I had mentioned to Salina that our guide was actually lucky to have us because of the experience we had prior. Had it happened to other people, we’re not sure what it would have been.

I spoke too soon.

Our raft got caught in between two massive rocks and stronger current. This time, I knew I will have difficulty to move away from the situation. True enough, the guide had to literally pull me out of the water and pushed me up the raft. It’s during this struggle that my camera took a dip in the river before I managed to lift it again.

I got on to the other raft, the one where Tok Batin Andak, the head of the tribe was on while Salina went solo with the young guide.

From then on, I resolute to enjoy my scenery with my eyes and not behind the lens.

Sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? Oh well, things happened. All we can do is do our best to avoid getting hurt. And I don’t regret going on this adventure even if it had put my camera into comatose.

It’s what I needed. A moment to wake up to feel like I’m still alive.

The best part of the journey is still yet to come. When we arrived at the end point of the river, there was only the Mazda pick-up truck and all 6 of us sat at the back, going all cowboy right up to Uluhati. It felt almost like going on a roller coaster, what with the corners and steep hill we had to go through.

It was truly a fun time.

Minutes later, I saw everyone’s enjoying the cozy long house and greenery. It was also the first time the rest were introduced to this place. And while waiting for our next activity which was the blow pipe demonstration, we were welcomed with the yummiest home cooked food. It was so good, I didn’t even think of taking photos. (All photos after this are from the iPhone)

The long house with the picnic benches. Love.

What I like about the food is that, it reminded me so much of Negeri Sembilan’s food (where my dad came from) and I just love the fresh bite of the pucuk paku. If it was Pucuk Paku masak lemak cili api, I’d prolly grabbed the entire bowl πŸ˜‰

About an hour after lunch, we were all listening to Tok Batin Andak explaining the entire process about blow pipe. We certainly enjoyed his brand of humour. The kind of accidents that had happened while were quite scary, he made it priceless.

Tok Batin Andak and his many funny tales

While I don’t remember my experience with blow pipes when I was in Kuching decades ago, it was a good thing I get to experience it here. Tho, Syidi did mentioned that this particular ones are heavier compared to the ones in Sabah and Sarawak.

Yours truly’s target..was anywhere but the target point. Some are elephant hunter and one could be a rabbit hunter. It all depends how good you are at blow pipe.

My favourite part has to be when the participants were submitting their photos for the photography competition. That’s when you’ll get to see all sorts of shots from different eyes. Things you might’ve missed or taken for granted, this is when it’ll open your eyes (and mind). We even get to select the winners under a tree with En. Din. It can’t get anymore authentic than that.

I’ll come back again.

When everything was over, Aida and I hitched a ride with Syidi to Bangsar. Considering how hungry we were at that time, we joined Cal and Farhah for.. neither dinner nor lunch at G3 Kitchen Bistro.

The rest of the day was left dead.



So here I am.
8 months later. I am so sorry.
While it seems like I’ve abandoned Wanderlust Theories, I really haven’t. In theory, it has always been in my mind. It was just never translated from brainwave to words. 
And that makes a lot of difference unfortunately. 
It’s not that I don’t want to write or that I had lost interest in this; I just went away discovering myself and then (hopefully when I’ve figured it out) share my theories about whatever I’ve been experiencing. So this entry is dedicated to everyone who’s been reminding me to start writing (David of MalaysiaAsia, Fie, Alid & Wilson of PlacesandFoods) and those who happened to read this. Seriously, I can’t imagine why anyone would read my rants but yeah, do know that every reader is special to me πŸ™‚
Life has been quite the roller coaster ride; physically and (especially) emotionally. The thing is, I realized I haven’t set foot in an aircraft since My Selangor Story started and I *think* I have forgotten what it feels like to take off. 
Dramatic right? I know. But it’s the truth. Really. 
Honestly, I do miss flying away to places I deem my escapism. It could be the schedule or something else. Somehow, I just never got around to getting onboard. I have sent and picked up people to/at the airport many times tho..
However, I am having fun doing what I never thought is possible. 
Not in a million years.
Then again, I have went on a trip with Johan Farid Khairuddin (or affectionately known as JFK) and Fie in his Cessna around Selangor & Kuala Lumpur back in April. That was probably the closest thing to flying I suppose? ‘Twas amazing!
When I said “I’d like to make Selangor as part of my journey”, I never thought that my feet will be planted deep in the ground of Selangor! It’s so deep, I feel like I’m the information counter for all things Selangor sometimes. Not that it’s a bad thing actually πŸ˜‰ It’s just that, this experience, this job (if you may call it) has truly changed my perception of traveling. 
I’ve learned so much about myself as much as I have been researching about Selangor every single day. A journey I’ll forever cherish. 
Perhaps this quote by G. K. Chesterton said it best – β€œThe whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”
And in some twisted kind of way, maaaaybe that’s what He’s trying to tell me; that as much as I love traveling wherever, whenever, it is something else to discover your own country (or in this case, state).
I can’t imagine thinking back that I’ve been to places, seen faces and listen to stories which I wouldn’t be able to do without being part of Tourism Selangor. People who would just take me out and show me around Selangor as if I’m a foreigner. I can’t say how thankful I am for having such awesome people supporting my dream.
The best thing is that, my friends are now even more excited to go on an adventure in Selangor with me like they’ve never been before. That alone I think is an achievement itself.
It has been a humbling and cool journey thus far.
One I keep learning and growing from experience to be a better person. 

Here’s a big hug to everyone! Muah πŸ™‚

In Waking Up To A Dream

They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. – Oscar Wilde

There are millions of nonsense going through my head, it’s like a hurdle on it’s own just to wake up from that place. And I have been stuck in this dark hole for a bit. It’s as if I live in two worlds. 

Then, as I was watching Nat Geo’s Word Travels episodes, it got me thinking (eh doesn’t that happen all the time anyway?) .. in today’s world, we’re more open, more connected to this travel world that I used to remember it was one of those very exclusive/ very lucky people only get to experience. Now, there are more mediums allowing all of us to participate in this worldly adventures; even if it’s at the comfort of your homes.

Which I find very inspiring.

I always kept thinking that being a travel writer or of anything similar to that notion is a one in million kind of job. That it is probably easier to get a PhD for paleontology than to get your hands in travel writing. 

But now, that’s not the case. I have been lucky to meet people who in one way or another have invested in this what I nearly called impossible dream of mine and not to mention Him, who writes this in my book. Indeed, it always starts from you. If you want it bad enough, work for it; the universe will conspire to help you too.

Of course journalism has it’s own levels of appreciation. Like art. 

One can make something out of trash and calls it art. One can write about a place and calls it a travel experience. 

Everyone can be anything they want, create the dreams they see themselves living in. But what sets each and everyone apart is the substance, the personality one carries throughout the journey. And growing up in a society that doesn’t read, it makes that task much harder so to speak. 

Which comes to my next point.

For as long as I’m doing this because (and only because) I love it, then my intentions will always serve it’s purpose. To share with the world about what I see, do, speak, think and touch. Certainly, it’s always nice to know that someone out there among billions of people in this world reads my idiosyncrasies  and make effort to comment; I think I am still in the right place for doing this with the right mind frame and intentions even if I don’t get high traffic. 

I’m a romantic at heart, and I mean romantic in a way that, what I do, it’s something personal and I have to do it because it means so much to me.

Perhaps there’s to many “me” in this post. Although I feel uncomfortable putting myself in the spotlight, this one is exempted. Well, if I’m not doing it because I love it, it would just be another thing someone else is doing isn’t it?

So yes, I’m now revived to be back to write after hiding in the dark. And it feels good too.

I also agree with what Oscar Wilde had said as it is better to live the moment, embrace it and then look back as one of the pages you have made the most in your life rather than brooding about how a moment will have to pass. Because it will.

Therefore, live it.


MySelangorStory Goes Off The Record

Despite it being 24 hours since MySelangorStory results were out yesterday at Delicious@Marc Residence, I still can’t really form sentences to describe the whole event.

So here I am, sitting and fingers ready to type but the brain just does not want to cooperate. Still blank.

Still staring.

What did I end up doing? Recording myself using iSight for the first time. Hah! I may not know how to word it but I managed to say a few words (more like a thank you speech) regarding the MSS.

// KK and Chia Li, I dunno what possessed me while recording it and slipped my mind, I ALSO WISHED YOU WERE THERE WITH US. I’m so so so sorry!! //

Oh! I must not forget.

For everyone, and I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU..

Thank you so very very very very very very very much for being part of Wanderlust Theories and MSS while I was on this amazing journey. If it weren’t for you, I will never know what it feels like to be a winner, what more a Grand Prize winner.

Holy crap!

Instead of telling that to myself. It is much easier to accept the reality by knowing that this win is everyone’s win too. I only made up possibly 1/4 of it. The rest are you readers, supporters, friends, acquaintances, sponsors, organisers, partners and people I don’t know. Ok maybe that’s 1/8.

Yes, this win is ours. Not mine, not his, hers or theirs. We won this together and I hope I’ll do a good job being Tourism Selangor’s ambassador for you guys as well as other unwritten conditions I’ve yet to be made known of.

Perhaps it is time for me to step out and buck up everything I can be. Perhaps, this is my way of making the better version of myself. Honestly, it could be anything.

One thing’s for sure. I’ll do my best to make it as fun and awesome while never lose sight of reality. This journey is only just the beginning that we made together. One I hope I’ll have the support from all of you to guide me through this unknown path I shall walk through.

For without any of you, I would never see this coming. Actually, I never saw it coming yesterday.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for everything.

As I was staring blank earlier, I came up with this which will forever be embedded in my mind.

In darkness you find light. In weakness you find faith. In downfall you find you.

Don’t give up for what you believe makes you, you.

And before I forget, here are the other well deserved 7 winners for MSS!

Chen Tian Chad (First Runner Up)
Thristhan Subramaniam(Second Runner Up)
Nicole Chua (Msxeroz) (Most Creative Blog)
Iman (Eyriqazz) (Most Interactive Blog)
Dylan Phuah Zheng Dong (Best write-up)
Norman Ng (Best Video)
Firdaus Feeq (Best Photos)

Truthfully, all 26 of us are the winners. We’re all in our own league and each one deserves a win just as much as the rest of us. So part of my win is also dedicated the rockstars of MSS2010 πŸ™‚

Took this from Tian Chad. Sorry!

Bravo! We are awesome!


TΓͺte-Γ -TΓͺte

 It took me half the day to decide whether or not to publish this entry purely for links to my previous entries for MySelangorStory. I went back and forth and finally made up my mind. While the MSS Campaign is still running until end of this month, it’s probably good to have a directory for all 11 (I actually wrote that many!) articles for the MSS tour. After all, sometimes when one have to scroll to the bottom of the page to no end can result to the person skipping the whole thing altogether. I think it will be a convenience for Wanderlust Theories’ readers πŸ™‚

So here it is!

MSS Day 1 – Introducing the Colourful Insanities, Part 1 (read / vote)
                    – Like Qings and Kueens, Part 2 (read / vote)

MSS Day 2 – Certified Knockers, Part 1 (read / vote)
                    – Very Insane Personas (VIP), Part 2 (read / vote)

MSS Day 3 – The Root of the Matter, Part 1 (read / vote)
                    – The Light Root, Part 2 (read / vote)

MSS Day 4 – Concrete Desert (read / vote)

MSS Day 5 – The Medicalis, Part 1 (read / vote)
                    – Devil May Care, Part 2 (read / vote
                    – Guten Nacht, Part 3 (read / vote)

MSS Day 6  – The Beginning (read / vote)


Hidden Acrobats.

Just when you think life is all about routines and schedules, just take trip to Pulau Ketam (Crab Island in English) which is situated at the other end of Selangor. Take my word for it, this is one trip that’s worth your time and soul.

It’s been a long time coming this one. Me and my ultimate gamer friend Hafiz had planned this trip for a very long time and finally got our heads together to go last Saturday. It’s usually the last minute plans that works for me, I just don’t know why.

Quite surprisingly, not everyone knows the existence of this island here. Which adds an air of mystery even more to this little place.

We decided to start early (what with the unpredictable weather and all), as early as 8.30am and instead of driving to Port Klang like we would to any other place, we decided to throw ourselves out there with the locals. That means, ditching the car at KL Sentral parking lot, take the KTM train to Port Klang and the speed boat from the jetty to the island.

I always believe to get the best stories, one should be a part of the society, which means taking the public transportation. Taxis, buses, trains, .. you name it. These are gold mines for great inspirations!

KTM ticket from KL Sentral to Port Klang is RM8.60 per way and it takes about an hour to reach to the last station (depending on the train speed, it’s inconsistent).

Be prepared to stand because every train is usually pack with passengers. On average it’s pretty cool inside, unless if the air condition is down .. that’s not going to be a pleasant ride. While we were inside, I was happy to see many of the passengers were reading to kill the time. There were many printed materials on the panels for one to read too. Jokes were among the most common one you’ll find in the train.

When we arrived at Port Klang, armed with very little information about our destination, we came up with a strategy – to follow this particular traveler who we assumed was also going to Pulau Ketam. Hafiz who did his research prior to this trip had mentioned that on average, there are many photographers who visit the island for some photography sessions. I guess last Saturday wasn’t in their plans.

Soon as we got out of the station, we saw this building with big sign “Jeti Pulau Ketam” and immediately headed for it. Much to our chagrin, that wasn’t the place we were suppose to take the speedboat/ferry to the island. We managed to ask one of the lady staff and she instructed us to walk on the other side where the actual jetty is located.

So here’s how you get to the jetty from the train station:

As you walk out of the train station, turn right where you’ll see an empty land with blue panels blocking the sea view. Keep walking until you’ll see an opening/entrance with the ferry/speed boat sign board. Then make a left into the entrance and go straight ahead. Voila!

Apparently there are two ways to get to the island, you get to choose either a speed boat which takes 30 minutes to arrive for RM7 per way or the ferry. And the boat ride ends at 6pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays; 4pm on weekdays.

No worries as the attendants are friendly and the seats inside are comfortable. You could even watch WWE matches throughout the journey. Along the way, you’ll see many fishing boats, villages and mangroves. Something you won’t see while you’re in the city, that’s for sure.

The salty air is one that you have to get used to and when you do, in an instant the air smells like normal. So for the very sensitive nose, this one can be a challenge for you but hey, it’s au-naturale. Can’t beat that!

When I found out that photographers who visit this island love to take black and white photos, it just doesn’t register in my mind. Why? Because everything about this island is just so colourful. It’s vibrant colours from one person to the other, one house to another. So it makes more sense to capture the lively spirit in it’s original state.

I knew people in this island are used to tourist going in and out of their territory but I didn’t know they were as friendly and warm. The first person to talked to us was Miss Na, who was on her bike and dressed in vivid colours. She probably represented Pulau Ketam to the core.

Oh yeah, besides walking, your only other mode of transportation here is bicycle. That’s RM5 per bike for rental πŸ™‚ But we preferred walking, just because we wanted to experience this area without missing a spot. Besides that, you might wonder if there were crabs around the island since it’s named after this creature and I’m glad to say yes, they were crawling sideways everywhere on the sand. Heck, I got to see salamanders crawling too. Not too excited for that one actually. :/

I love the wind. It was breezy. It was also hot. But not as humid. Or maybe I was to stoked about being in the island for the first time? You’ll be the judge of it when you get there.

If you feel like staying for the night or more, there’s only one hotel called Sea Lion waiting for your presence. And it’s just a short walk from the jetty. About 2-3minutes? If you’re a fast walker, you could even do it under one minute πŸ™‚

Only been there for a few minutes and I already loved the things I experienced. Not only was this island quaint and charming, it’s full of character. You can find good food (naturally) here, that is a sure thing.

Don’t forget to bring long lenses as well, you might never know when it comes handy. Actually you’ll need at least two types of lenses, then you’ll be satisfied with what you capture.

As we walked deeper inside, we discovered the many little things that were not around in the city anymore. Those old school junk food I used to buy when I was a kid can be found here. Such a joy! I was ecstatic to find my childhood chewing gum, Marukawa’s Fusen Gum, that still costs 10 sen per piece, fish/prawn crackers and fried ice cream πŸ™‚ It’s like a mini food land here.

Cheap yet very good food land.

You might be surprised when you enter the island, it seem quiet and lonely but when you get to the market, you’ll find the rest of the population hanging around there. I cannot stressed out how friendly these people were while we were there. It didn’t feel like a Malaysian thing (sue me for saying this but I’ve always grown up knowing the unfriendly people) and suddenly it felt effortless to put on a smile or say hello. In fact, you can wave all you want too. Which I did and was reciprocated πŸ™‚ Hey, I really like it here.

If there’s one thing I could say to describe Pulau Ketam is that, it’s a kampung life, a much more basic (not to mention super bright) kampung life than the ones on other parts of the country. How basic is basic? I realised as we were walking along the path, many houses didn’t have big furniture like sofa or coffee table. There’s cabinet but I think that’s one of the necessity ones. Then I wondered why and figured it’s probably due to the fact that it’s hard to bring it in. It could get to the jetty but the rest of the way, you’re on your own carrying it in the narrow streets.

Besides these things only takes up more space and it’ll only feel crowded for them. Therefore, they apply the minimalist concept, which I highly agree. For convenient sake, that is.

As we were exploring, we found a few attractions that one could never missed out on. There’s a Buddhist temple and a very pretty police station with mountain bikes parking outside. It’s possibly the prettiest police station we’ve ever seen. For the Muslim, the surau is called Balai Islam (I initially thought it was some Muslim station) when it’s a community hall instead. So I learned something new.

From my observation, I find that the community here are very tight. Just about everything in this island involves the community. They were the ones painting the buddhist temple garden or have a chess club for people to play.

Now, that’s one thing the city lacks and could learn from. I’m pretty sure everyone knows everybody here too.

It was so easy to be ourselves and take in the peaceful mood Pulau Ketam exuded. The docks were available for anyone to chill out and simply experience how simply life could be. That was what I learned from this trip. To simplify our life is to know what’s essential and what’s not. In reality, we could do so much without the things we have now but because we were so consumed with materials in this world, many a times we are blinded by it.

I love when a place I go strips down my belief to it’s core and show me the importance in living. And I like it the way Pulau Ketam is; secluded, mysterious and charming all wrapped in one. I wouldn’t want it any other way, and hopefully it will remain the way it is.

I thought I’ve seen it all while I was in Delhi with a small motor vehicle crammed with half dozen people. I didn’t know we have our own version of acrobats too! πŸ˜‰ Amazing eh?

As we walked further inside, we were welcomed with an array of dried fish. I’ve not seen this one before, I mean the process. I’m so used to the after product that it didn’t occur to me to know how it looks like before it was fully dried. The smell was overwhelming the first few seconds, and then eventually I got used to it.

It is a kampung life this one.

But we could only do so much walking for 3.5 hours that we needed to get something to eat. And behold, the best seafood in Selangor..well one of them. I like to believe to enjoy the best crabs, one should go to the island of crabs to be feasted πŸ˜› So yes! 

This chili crab is 1kg for RM40! Ours was RM48 for the extra weight. Look at that! I’m drooling as it is. Bah! For that price, you can’t get it anywhere else in the city. Yeah baby!

We wanted to order deep fried battered squid and butter prawns but..we decided to devote our life to the crabs instead. And wouldn’t you know it, Fish gave up 1/3 of the way. Thank god I’m a massive crabs fan (especially since I don’t have my braces on anymore)..so I managed to wipe it clean for the two of us! That was some hearty meal alright. Possibly the best. It’s just finger lickin’ goooood.

Thankfully, we still have space for dessert and I promised that we would eat the fried ice cream before we head out back to reality. So we did!

If you grew up to Japanese comic Doraemon, you might recognise the look of the fried ice cream looking like Dorayaki. Only instead of red bean paste, it’s ice cream πŸ™‚ It’s just yummy! While walking back to the jetty, we managed to witness people unloading things from the boats.

To watch them work with smiles on the face as they sing song or make jokes was a breath of fresh air to me. I’d love to apply that to whatever I do. It shows the spirit they have and it was such a precious moment to capture.

On the way back to the train station, we found a lady selling fresh steamed corns πŸ™‚ Oh yes, this has always been one of my favourite street food to purchase. I grew up going to night markets for this! And now, after so many years, I finally get to relive it. Walking while indulging in the sweetness of the corn. Yeah, the perfect end to our trip indeed.

I love every minute of it.


A Medieval Fairy Tale Affair

While writing for MySelangorStory for the past week like a train determined to send it’s passengers from one destination to another, I felt a certain surge of aware. I was in the zone, relieving the journey I was in and rather than feeling the stress going up to my head; I was enjoying writing instead. I could say I work best under pressure, but it also has a lot to do with the fact that I was writing about my traveling experiences. It didn’t feel like a chore. If anything, it was like a therapy in it’s own remarkable way.

That was also why I started Wanderlust Theories earlier. To recapture the sights, sounds and touch of my journey.

MSS was like the force to continue my passion and a reminder of what I love the most.

So today, I decided to write about Ludlow, Shropshire, England. I had a few places to write about, somehow Ludlow piqued my interest to start this early morning with.

I remember having a cuppa with a cousin who’s been living in London for most part of his life and when I told him about my trip to Ludlow during my Euro backpacking trip, he had this big question mark on his face; one I saw coming long time ago.
“Of all places? LUDLOW?!” was all he said.
See the thing is, I’m an easy traveler. Because I live to travel, you throw me anywhere in the world; I’m sure I’ll bound to find something outstanding about it. That’s how much I love traveling. I won’t deny I have a romantic idea about traveling – meeting new people, learning new cultures and going out of the box but that is because that’s what I have been experiencing, what I have been implementing in all my traveling. 
Therefore, I held Ludlow like I held the bull’s horns. I went and I had the time of my life.
Since I stayed in Tooting, London for a few days with a friend before heading over to the rest of Europe, I found out a very old friend is living nearby. Well 3 hours nearby. Puan Khalijah, or I’m more familiar with calling her as Puan K but told me to address her as Khalijah or her novelist name Iris Ixora, is a family friend since I was in diapers and was my tutor for 6 years before she went to UK to pursue her masters. I never heard anything from her after that. 
Five years later, I got to know she was in Ludlow and so happened to be free while I was figuring out what else does UK has to offer. 
At that point, I was bored of London (possibly because it reminded me too much of Kuala Lumpur). I needed to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Called her up, bought the next ticket at Waterloo Station to Birmingham and Shrewsbury and off to Ludlow! There’s a detailed travel route to get to Ludlow here. Check it out!
To be honest, when I heard the name Ludlow, I wondered what it was about. Never heard, read or seen this place before and that was enough to convince me to go. What’s a curious cat to do when it’s curious? Investigate!
Meeting Khalijah (she requested me to call her by her name but after knowing her for so long, it’s not a habit that’s easy to be chucked away) at Ludlow Station around 4 in the afternoon, we walked to the city(a medieval one) within minutes and the entire surrounding was a 180degrees opposite of what my stay in London was. I would say it was the perfect anecdote during that time.
Ludlow is a medieval area where the buildings remained the way it was 500 years ago. The sad news was that, I had missed out on it’s 500th year celebration the day before; much like how I missed the GLBT festival in London that happened the day before I had arrived. I guess lady luck wasn’t on my side then. Would’ve made an even bigger impression to my backpacking experience with those events.
There was this weird craving I had throughout the journey. I wanted to drink soup so badly. Good homemade yummy chicken broth with fresh herbs and vegetables (most importantly celery). Just thinking about it is enough to make me drool. Slurp.
So when she asked me what I wanted her to make for dinner, I instantly requested for soup. A whole big pot of super duper yummy soup! She was surprised at first as she expected me to say along the lines of Malaysian food but the only thing I crave while I was there were soup and pasta. No idea why.
A good thing too that I could go without rice while I’m away.
We stopped at the nearest Tesco on the way back and it was pretty neat because the layout in Ludlow did felt medieval; quaint and original the way it has been. Thank god I didn’t have a trolly bag to drag on the cobble stones as it would’ve made the journey difficult. I even managed to post some postcards to some of my friends along the way too πŸ™‚
Obviously, being the biggest chocolate fan in the world, the first thing I went to check out was..the chocolate aisle. Lo and behold how cheap these yummy goodness were! I was contemplating of buying everything there (Wait till I go to Belgium..that’s another story) but managed to hold myself back. The only thing I bought was probably car magazines.
So off we went to her flat. This was yet another godsend place I tell ya! Since her flat is on the first floor, the smell from the chocolate shop below us was just too tempting not to try. Heck, that particular shop even make it’s own ice cream!
It’s like a devil’s place this one. I freaking swear it was. Every time I enter and exit the flat, it’s all I smell. -____-
Her house was a different case altogether. See, I’ve known her since forever and to be able to meet her here, now in a different perspective was quite a shift for me so to speak. I was 21 and in a way, we’re more friends now than just a teacher-student relationship therefore the things we talked about were relatively more matured? Then again I’ve always had a different relationship with her.
As you can see, a BIG bowl of Cadbury roses were laid on the table for me to see (and eat) and next to it were big bowls of strawberries and cherries. Up to that point, I’ve never been to a place with that many chocolates and berries waiting for people to eat! Such a brilliant idea!
Then I found out, she did it because she remembered those were my favourite. Aww, I was on cloud 9 that very moment. Couldn’t stopped myself from smiling ear to ear and .. munching those delicious tidbits.
You can imagine what a big dork I was πŸ˜‰
To enter this spectacular home was like entering a castle. A bathroom with jacuzzi and LCD screen? What?! I’ve never been pampered with something this luxurious. We finally catch up with her new life after she left Malaysia for UK. Things are definitely looking up for her since πŸ™‚ She deserves all the good things that’s coming her way. With a new family by her side, I think it’s more than she had prayed for πŸ™‚ Oh wait, publishing her own novels too.
I’m very much happy to see her this way.
While she was cooking the soup I was craving for (this reminds me of my younger days when she used to cook for fun with her other daughters at her old place back in KL), I wandered around the place, asking a lot of questions about Ludlow and how she was able to pick this place among other places.
So we started chatting about how she and her husband, Jeremy was charmed by Ludlow and when they went to visit the showroom(which is this very house), it simply took their breath away and he gifted her this flat as a present. I had gathered that they live in many places around the globe. 
I finished the pot of soup in the end. Heh.
Ludlow being a very quaint city, I expected nothing less. We walked during the late afternoon and I got to see where her first book took place. There was this cottage house down the river and she pointed out how Ludlow has been an inspiration for her to write her book. She’s an accomplished Malay writer indeed and I’m happy her dreams are finally coming true, one by one. So it was a nice personal tour this one.
Then she told Jeremy about our presence in their house and he was excited to meet us. He flew all the way from DΓΌsseldorf the night after and came together with his son, Ben who was on the other side of England. I didn’t expect such a warm welcome from her entire family and loved every moment of it too. I had a long (albeit funny) debate with Jeremy about needing visa to go around EU that night when the rest were having fun laughing at us by the fireplace. Cozy and charming, this is my seventh heaven.
During the day, the first view I get in the morning from the window was the square.
With the crystal blue sky to start my day, I couldn’t imagine being in a bad mood while being here. Personally, Ludlow is like a page taken out from a fairy tale book. Really. The hill overlooking us and the panoramic view were divine. Made me want to roll myself over with a herd of sheep. 
It was that captivating.
Yup, I’m a sucker for a place like this. A place for me to escape.
We walked further and went to the other side of the river, where they had boats to go around but when we were there it was closed. We ended up throwing rocks and decide who could throw the furthest. Obviously I lost.  Yet another way to release myself; things I could only imagined, actually came true.
Sometimes it feels good to have some places that never change with time. A place like Ludlow. Around the world, we have cities with tallest buildings, making it feel like concrete jungle. To have something like this, mother nature in all her glory was truly a breath of fresh air. I always imagined myself walking in the woods having to grow up with Mark Twain and Hans Christensen; this was a gift I will never forget even today as I write this again. It’s as if it had only happened yesterday. 

So beautiful. So untouched. So calm. It’s just so Ludlow.

We entered a mansion of a famous poet (I think) and as usual, it’s not Dian if I didn’t trip and fall. I did and I captured this in that brief moment. An accidental shot it was and it is still one of my most favourite shot of all time.

My other favourite things to do is picking up fresh flowers without a care in the world. It’s so cheap, I’d buy flowers everyday! Unlike in KL, buying flowers is like a luxury. The fact that I could pick up any freshly squeezed fruit juice was another thing I love. You could drink it and know it’s 100% natural juice. No doubt about it. The aroma of fresh pastries running across the pathway charmed me even more. There was this lady who made one of the nicest fruitcake I’ve ever tasted with homemade marmalade jam. Oh boy.

To top it off, there was this part of the hill which overlooks the entire area that Jeremy loves so much, he usually makes a point to walk into the woods and up the hill to this particular spot.

It was also by the river further down the hill where I caught this photo of this boy before he jumped around to throw rocks (apparently it’s everyone’s favourite past-time?)

Yeah I had a lot of fun getting to know this new old friend of mine.

By the time moon and stars came up to shine, the entire place turned silent. Everyone’s getting some good quality family time indoors. So did we with indian food to fill our tummies. That was the first time I was introduced to Chicken Vindaloo. Something the Brits love I think? Outside, it was so quiet you could hear the sound of a pin falling to the ground. Infact, I could lie on the road and pretend to be the only human in the world and don’t have to worry about getting hit by a truck. It’s a peaceful deadly night.
The stars! Oh what remarkable creation God has made of you!
There were too many stars, I didn’t even bother to count (obviously I could count stars with my fingers here). It was beyond anything I have ever witnessed before as I observed Ben capturing the night with his camera patiently while the rest took in the view like it was the best thing they’ve ever seen.

Later, we chilled by the fireplace, another experience into my book. There’s no need for television or computer to be entertained if I have a family like them. Like any good storytellers, they shared many amazing stories, painting a picture of who they were/are. Warm and cozy does not even fit them any close. 

Oh, there’s this brown leather chair by the window I fell in love with, which I got to know later is Jeremy’s favourite go to chair. 

The people in Ludlow are an awesome bunch. I could go up to any random person and smile. Say Hello. Ask random questions. They treat you like any other local and it easily made my day everyday I was there.

At this point, the bell ringing from the church behind the flat has become my morning call. And as much as the duck feathered duvet were a calling to bed, I couldn’t spend any longer knowing it was my last day in Ludlow. I woke up, got out of the room and realised no one was awake. I took the house key laid on the counter and made my way out to the market square outside. It looked festive, like they were celebrating life everyday with music, laughter and smiles.

I was as happy as clam walking down each stall, looking through at the things they were selling. Old records, food, clothes, books, more food.. and then I remembered it being my last day, I had to get something for the awesome family who had welcomed me to their home. Then I saw this really joyous lady preparing her table and I inhaled the best thing in the world – double chocolate fudge brownie cake.

I bought some for everyone of course πŸ™‚ Guilty as charged. I couldn’t help but talked to the great bake too. She was very friendly and happy when I greeted her. It took her since 4 in the morning to prepare this delicious sin. And was more than happy to share it with others. With gold in my hand, I spotted a drawing of a black kitten which reminded me a lot of Khalijah’s cat she adored so much. It was done in charcoal if I’m not mistaken. With one artwork on one hand and brownie another, I could say that I was the happiest person on earth. 

Then I received a text about breakfast being served.

Went up and presented my gifts to them πŸ™‚ It’s the least I could do really.

So that was my little fairy tale story that will forever be plastered in my mind. A place I’ll make a point to visit again (not to mentioned a little magical chocolate factory situated nearby in Birmingham :P). It was a great trip, despite it being a last minute one. A trip I needed to shake myself up.

Ludlow, thank you for having me around.