4

Hey Cherating, Love is a Balancing Act.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

Royal Botanical Gardens

When I was in Melbourne last June, Nuds and I were walking at the Royal Botanical Gardens. It was the perfect place I wanted to end this trip of mine, one I followed his suggestion without any question. As we were walking aimlessly, there was a question he asked me which still rings in my ear today.

“Do you think you’ll migrate out of Malaysia?”

Given our history, growing up together, this question has been in everyone’s mind for years, in fact decades. Five years ago or even before that, I would have answered yes in a heart beat. Without thinking at all, I knew that would be my answer. No freaking doubt.

But as decades go by, I took a minute to digest. I know whatever answer I give, he’s one to never judge me. Who knows me inside and out.

“Maybe when I’ve got nothing else to give to Malaysia, I will.”

He gave me that boyish smile of his, like he knew what my answer was.

Melbourne Park

Then, last Wednesday when I got the chance to go on a firefly tour in Cherating, Pahang.. what I’ve prepped myself up for two decades turned it’s table with one humble man.

While sitting in a small room listening to this exuberant person, I was convinced he’s heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Or at the very least, must have studied with a Japanese. Everything about him, the way he speak, his body language and intonation, everything just reminded me of how a (passionate) Japanese would act. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s been learning with a firefly expert from Japan, Prof Ohba Nobuyoshi the past four years.

I’ve not been in a room with someone as animated of a character like him, this firefly whisperer by the name of Mohd Hafiz. He sure puts a smile on my face that night, just seeing him explaining about his love for non-syncronised fireflies just lifts my spirit that much higher.

Here’s a video I managed to capture, and at the right time too. Do ignore the last few seconds. Sorry about that.

I’ve always relate back the experience being around fireflies as a magical experience, the closest feeling to what Disney tends to gravitate to. This time around, with Hafiz around, that experience just got elevated 35364 times more!

It’s in the way he waves his wand red torch light that he’s able to speak with fireflies, requesting for them to go where he wants them to go. Who would’ve thought that there’s such study about firefly communication. Each flicker, wave means something. Ah, it just felt like I was in a different world – one we Malaysians are blessed by this fragile spirits yet we never knew much about.

Apparently, this particular firefly “language” he speaks is only meant for the non-synchronised fireflies – fireflies that are able to live in any mangrove trees (which are deem as the tougher breed) and they don’t flicker in the same rhythm. The ones we’re used to in Kuala Selangor are syncronised fireflies (Photinus Carolinus)- they huddle together in one group and in one specific tree. For obvious reason, they all flash at the same time, same beat. How did he know this? He experimented it and came to this very conclusion.

Pretty neat research isn’t it?

On top of that, he’s recognised by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) which is an important status I might add.

So, what’s so awesome about this experience that you’ll need to go to Cherating, to be more specific – Hafiz’s? The thing is, only Hafiz gets to command for the fireflies to come to him, and they’ll flicker all around you. He’s capable of getting these little ones fly to where you are and be surrounded by them. Other similar tours just point to the firefly at the tree. That’s the special part.

Because the mangrove area is only seven kilometers, we took a boat which could fit in about eight people. That’s probably the only thing that I wish we could do better. Although, one boat can cost up to RM30,000; too big of an amount to spend right now. Honestly, despite Hafiz mentioning that Cherating’s mangrove area is a small one .. just being out there in the dark in the boat for seven kilometers per way is one I felt so happy about. In Kuala Selangor, you’ll prolly get a kilometer north and south but that’s about it. This one, it really felt like we were on a mission. One helluva adventure I might add.

Unfortunately, my trusty TG820 is incapable of taking any photos of the fireflies. I accepted that fact and captured those moments in my mind instead. You’ll just have to go there to know what I’m talking about.

Hafiz Cherating Firefly

You know how animals have wicked instinct about Mother Nature and what’s to come? Hafiz told a story about how he was in a boat with a passenger who wanted to check out these fireflies and his magic powers. When they were in the mangrove area, he tried calling out the fireflies but they refused to come to him. I wish I could demonstrate to you the way Hafiz narrates his story. It’s so fascinating. Anyway, so they (the fireflies) told him it’s going to rain heavily in a few minutes (when fireflies are hiding under the leaves and didn’t want to come out, it means they are shielding themselves from rain) but his passenger didn’t believe him, said the sky is clear, there’s no rain. Hafiz was adamant, if they were going to be out there in the dark any longer, it will be a big problem. So he turned around. Lo and behold, rain poured heavily the next minute just as they were nearing the jetty.

That’s probably when his passenger knew how special Hafiz is. He should, I hope.

I know what you’re thinking (or maybe not), where’s that heartbreaking part I’ve been talking about?

When we got off the jetty after an hour of awesomeness, I was determined to have a chat with the firefly whisperer. I don’t know what aura he has but it’s very alluring. It’s even more exciting to know that he also does other activities if you’re a nature person. The mangrove cruise we got to experience the morning after is another must do. I’m not a fan of reptiles or amphibians but just being here with them made me feel at peace for a short while. That I was doing my best pushing the thoughts about not taking action in taking care of our environment, ’tis too shall pass.

Sigh.

I can’t tell you how amazing I felt being out there with nature. It just felt so right, so wonderful..I swear my heart could’ve exploded with glee.

But..everything just went downhill from here on, the moment I hear his stories. Albeit they are not bad just for someone like him, I wish I could do something, help making something better for him.

Hafiz Cherating Firefly

So this magician, this whisperer we got to know for mere hours is actually from Myanmar. He ran to Kuantan in the 1980s when Myanmar had a major political conflict. At first he and his friend went to Thailand but found it difficult to learn Thai to survive so they decided to extend their journey to Kuantan where they worked in a local restaurant for 20 odd years. It’s from there that he learned Bahasa Malaysia.

Don’t be fooled easily, Hafiz is as bright as they come – B.A. in History from Rangoon University and a degree in Civil Engineering from Singapore. And after 25 years of settling here in Kuantan, it’s unfortunate that he couldn’t get a Malaysian Citizenship despite all his effort in keeping our eco system balanced. To know that he couldn’t go to a firefly symposium in America next year because of his refugee status just shattered my heart. It’s not that he hasn’t tried to appeal, it sounded like he has may times but things just falls apart along the way.

The thing is, he discovered his love for fireflies purely by accident. It was when he decided to take the boat out for a run along the river that he realised his hidden talent. That’s when he made a point to study about fireflies and make his place as part of a research center (well somewhat). He even held a dialogue with other firefly experts from around the world at his little corner of the world, discussing about everything and anything revolving around fireflies. Right now they are researching on a particular chemical from the fireflies.

Can you imagine the kind of mind-blowing, earth changing things that could happen if he is being supported by the right channel? The fact that he’s not even Malaysian to begin with and fights for our eco system is something I just cannot swallow. Purely because, here is someone who’s never seen fireflies, chose to be in Malaysia because of the incident back home yet we who inherit all the wealth and peace take our environment for granted.

The things is, it’s not just fireflies he’s fighting for. This man here even went to the sea and saved a lost Tapir. A friend of his called him up one day, telling him about this Tapir in the sea. Hafiz knew Tapir cannot survive in water and so, he took his boat to the sea, threw the rope like a cowboy and brought the Tapir back to the land. Blessed his pure soul, it’s people like him that makes me want to fight the good fight in Malaysia. There are still so many souls out there doing what he does, fighting for our future but are neglected just the same.

Hafiz Cherating Firefly 2

From what I gather, people all over recognised him for what he does and loves but we don’t recognised him as one of us. Yet you get stories like Bangladeshis who come to Malaysia with an identity card (IC) in hand. It just doesn’t make sense, not by a mile. Makes me so angry that I want to help but don’t know how. Politic world is not one you want to get your hands dirty but if no one cleans it up, what we have today is history tomorrow.

On top of that, he only charge RM25 per head for the tour. For something this amazing with someone with heart of a champion, I wouldn’t mind paying RM40 because at least I know that extra money will go into his research. It’s times like this I wonder to God, why would he put these brilliant spirits in this situations. I dunno. I’ll pray better things will come for all the hard work he’s put into. The fact that he goes out with his team three times a week to clean the river is beyond admirable. It’s no wonder the mangrove is spotless.

You know you have so much respect for yourself when everything you do, you do it with respect.

“I tried passing this knowledge to my brother-in-law, everything I know but in the end if you don’t have the heart, it just doesn’t work.” Mohd Hafiz bin Abdul Majid said when asked if he trains other people.

Cherating Mangrove

When I go back to Nuddin’s question and I think of heroes like Hafiz, I feel like I have a responsibility to do here. At least for now, until Malaysia couldn’t tolerate me anymore. If all the good ones go away from their nest, who’s going to defend? And therein lies so many questions in my mind, uncertainties, dreams and hopes.

I guess as a dwarf, I can only take it one day at a time and hopefully a little piece of what I do in life makes Mother Nature feel a little bit better. Also for the rest of us who depend on her to be healthy.

Side Note: Anis wrote an awesome piece about Hafiz for News Straits Times yesterday. You should definitely read The Magic of Hafiz and The Fireflies. And if you wish to check out other activities in Cherating by Hafiz, check out his blog and facebook fanpage Hafiz’s Cherating Activities.

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11

Cherating, My Heart Breaks For You

Cherating Haze

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” ― John Lubbock.

Throughout my entire journey in Cherating and Kemaman, I was struggling to keep the voice in my head quiet. There’s that unsettling feeling burning inside me, one I don’t know what to do with besides going on for the ride. I guess the voice of reason can’t be in silent when the ground we walk on is shaken.

We woke up on Thursday morning, a very early one at that in hopes to catch the sunrise at Cherating Beach. Honestly, the last time I remember attempting at doing this was back in Bagan Lalang, Selangor (2011). Before that, Sanur, Bali (2009). Otherwise, I wouldn’t be bothered by it. Yet on this trip, I was determined to do so. Don’t know why.

The moment we unlocked the door, my body stiffen. “Who the heck burns rubbish this early?!” I grumbled to Anis, still half awake then. Thinking it was still too dark, we took a slow walk to the beach. Still hoping, praying in fact for a good morning.

With our cameras in tow, we looked up and boy, the sky was anything but happy. Very moody actually. Slowly as time passes by, it got brighter and the photo above was the view that welcomed us. So, all that effort to catch the sunrise were put to rest when we realised it was haze all this while. It was the answer to my early morning mystery.

No wonder I woke up with rash all over my body that morning.

You would think, it being September and all, we’d be done with haze (for the year at least) but sadly, this one looked pretty bad. So bad, it continued to crawl right up to Legend Resort‘s swimming pool area. Not exactly the kind of morning you’d wanna wake up to and suddenly I got a text from Nigel;

“Just woke up. Doesn’t look like we get to see the sun today.”

You got that right buddy.

Legend Resort Cherating

And there I was, trying to figure out what I was feeling. You see, this dwarf here is sensitive to fragile things. I get so easily affected by anything – people cutting down trees or an injured animal lying helplessly. And the only thing I could do is pray for their well being, our well being. Here’s the thing, once upon a time, people kept telling me not to be too sensitive over things and I would get so repulsive because it only meant that I was not good enough. But as I grow older, I found a way to slowly mask these feelings..just not enough to have control over it hundred percent.

The thing is, it’s not that I want to be sensitive. I’m just built that way.

Having said that, when I’m greeted by such scene in front of my eyes, I have nothing but sadness and anger for Mother Nature. Here she is sacrificing herself for our benefits and all we’ve been doing is constantly raping her. I feel so ashamed, so dumbfounded because this is not a problem we’ve only just stumbled upon; in fact it has been at least 15 years since our first introduction to this filthy air YET nothing has been done to solve the issue. If anything, it had gotten worst by the year.

Where have we done wrong (or done nothing at all)? How can we face this right in the face and settle it? All we’ve ever done is complain that the weather is too hot, too humid..just not the way we wanted it to be. Never about how we can make it better. The thing is, global warming is one enemy you never want to mess with. It comes in different shapes and forms, and once it strike, it takes the entire place down without a warning. Take Europe for example when they had the cold wave last year. So many homeless people died on the streets because no one expected the weather to go as low as -39.2°C. That’s all global warming’s job and why did it happened? We keep on cutting trees like we change clothes everyday. Worst in fact.

I admit, I can be very intense when it comes to things I care deeply. Nature falls into that for some reason and when people ask me how my trip was, they were shocked when I told them I felt heartbroken for three days. “Your feed seems to say otherwise” is what they said. Which is true, I had fun but more than anything, deep inside, I was broken into pieces discovering the sacred part of Malaysia. The most beautiful yet so very fragile side of Cherating and Kemaman are under fire because of greed. Greed to develop land for their own pocket. We don’t realise this, not until it’s too late that what we have in Malaysia is perhaps one of the most richest resource in the world.

By right, we should be one of the richest country with strong economy.

Cherating Mangrove Cruise

Alas, that wasn’t the case. Not when the mentality keeps on feeding with money that can’t be brought to the grave. Much less when the earth has nothing else to offer, and then what?

I had a good session with several eco warriors who don’t even know they are fighting tooth and nail defending Mother Nature but deep in their hearts, it’s all they want to do. Listening to their struggles and quest to keep our nature together is not for the faint of heart. These are the heroes, storytellers I want to talk about in my next post. One is a firefly whisperer and another is a turtle ranger guardian. I’ll even throw in a bird lover too.

So you see, deep in Cherating lies all this secrets, her magic is not about the activities you can do but the people who help nurture and preserve the way she deserves to be. These are the kind of people we should be encouraging to live and prosper. The kind that sees the importance in loving Mother Nature for who she is and not just for what she can give you. We don’t have to go far, take LYNAS for example. It’s in Kuantan for god sake, or rather in the works to set up there. If Aussies ’emselves don’t want anything to do with it, why are we freely accepting this darkness into our territory? Again, money talks but we have 23 million voices and so far only one million has spoken about taking action against LYNAS in Kuantan, Pahang. They can tell you it’s safe, it’s not going to do any harm but truth is, it’s all bullshit. The first thing to get affected would be our ecosystem, the wild animals and their habitats. Then the locals and the rest of the world.

Why should we care so much about our environment you say?

Well, for one, you’re breathing, drinking, eating and sleeping well because of Mother Nature. Imagine if there’s no trees – there won’t be any oxygen. No clean water, no more food but processed ones and landslide happening every now and then. Can you live in that situation? Truly believe you could with those bugging you?

Cherating Beach Storm

Even when there’s a storm coming, she was able to take my breath away.

I think we need to be more aware and dedicated to taking care this environment of ours like it’s our own children. For now, do take a minute or two to Take Action! Stop Lynas. If we are not defending our rights, who else gonna do it?

This is my story, a prologue if you will to get the right message out about protecting our environment. This trip has changed so much in me, fueled my hunger to fight for the good cause even more. Therefore, I’d like to thank Anthony for inviting me on this trip. I just need to draft out the other two stories about this heartbreaking journey of mine. Someone has to write about the unpopular topics and it might not bode well with some people but let that person be me.

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0

Travel Reminder: That Skin of Ours

Travel Reminder: That Skin of Ours

This coming from that girl who once upon a time never bothered to care for her skin amd grew up after last year’s trip.

It’s not that I’m not bothered..I just felt like it’s cumbersome to carry so many things and do it all the time.

So after 1.5 weeks trotting around Europe last year, I realised I had red streaks across my cheeks. Make that a few streaks.

Thinking I prolly overdid on my Posie Tint blusher, I opted without it after that until I met a Beauty Assistant who stopped me at Westfield. See, I choose to not care as much about my face but I’m a big fan when it comes to body shower and lotion. Then he pointed out my red streaks and explained how it happened. In medical term, it’s called Telangiectasia Rosacea.

Those red streaks were a result of broken capillaries, which is what happened when exposed under the sun or in extreme weather without proper skincare to protect the skin. Which also constitute to me having very dry skin on my legs in the process.

I think that was the point, the point when I realised I could do something about it or walk away and continue being ignorant about my body.

That’s when I knew the need to exfoliate and moisturise.

The Beauty Assistance was from Ukraine and spoke pretty good Malay (I guess there must be a lot of Malaysians around that area) which got us to talk a lot more after that 🙂

One of the biggest things I’ve learned from my recent travel (and there were many life changing ones) is the importance of having good skin. Before, I may think it takes too much effort to keep up but it’s a whole lot more inconvenient when your skin acts up when you’re away. It’s great if you don’t feel any pain but if and when it does get worst, by then it’ll be almost too late to get it back to normal. You could but it won’t be as flawless as before or at least not anytime soon.

I was lucky to be in a continent that produces a whole lot of skin products in the world so it was relatively easy for me to find what I needed. Plus, I got it cured before it got worst.

What if you’re in a place that isn’t? Then what?

These are my essentials for my Australia trip in 2 days time. Had a lot of thought about these..not because I want to have the most flawless skin any human can have but because I remember 18 years ago when I was in Australia, the weather was so dry and considering the ozone layer is thinnest down under, skin get exposed to UV even more.

That was 18 years ago when I came back with sunburn and such. Today it might be just as intense or slightly more.

Like our body, our skin too needs to be constantly hydrated. Water plays a big role so does the food we take.

And it’s so important to listen to your body, inside and out. Because I know my skin is (hyper) sensitive and dry, (unfortunately) only selected products are acceptable for my skin.

Before I go scatter around looking for a cure, these are my happiness – SKII Facial Treatment Milk, Obey Your Body Facial Scrub, Closet Mixologist Cleansing Oil (made of apricot kernel and lavender oil), L’ocittane Shea Butter Lip Balm, Shiseido Perfect UV Protector SPF50 & Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Creme (hand and feet).

Indeed, my collection of skincare and makeup has grown tenfolds since Europe. Maybe because I’ve grown up, grown to understand why I need to take care and listen to my body. I’m girly-fied! *gasp*

Oh well..

In a way, I prefer to roam around without worrying that I’ll be in pain.

Do remember to at least have your sunscreen with you when you go out. At the very least.

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To Fall in My Sleep: Personal Thoughts

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world constantly moves faster than you last remember, it’s as if time is high on ecstasy and yet here we are ever ready trying to catch up.

The trick to actually catching up with the world and life is that you should take a breather. Know when to do so, where to do it and who to do it with and for some unknown reason you’ll know you’ve got it all figured it out.

Maybe that’s why I love taking a drive in the early morning (it used to be late night too but it’s becoming quite dangerous as we move forward). At times, taking it with someone else but it’s always about the drive. About the sensation of just moving, going anywhere the road may take us.

Sunset in Kuala Lumpur

A lot of the times I think of myself as a loner of some sort or at the very least socially inept person. Then I read this post from facebook and it all just made so much more sense about myself, answers almost every freaking thing I’ve been wondering about myself.

GuideToUnderstandingTheIntroverted-87361

 

I tend to worry about how others would react knowing that I do like my space and I don’t mind people not coming to me, making themselves more awkward trying to make it less awkward by talking to me. It’s ok, that if you don’t feel like talking and I don’t want to talk.

Maybe it’s the experiences I’ve got myself into in the past that made me this way. I used to be this person who makes sure everyone is ok. Everyone I know feels comfortable. In some twisted kinda way, I want to be liked so much, I put myself out there for them only to get a few burns in return.

I went into recovery mode, reanalyse myself and see what was the core issue considering the web I’ve spun and got stuck in. Slowly, I discover doing things on my own gives me a certain kind of fulfillment that I’ve never felt before. Then eventually, that needing everyone to like me feeling disappears.

Learning to make your own energy is important, it’s kinda like a survivor’s number one must have swiss army. When the going do get tough, that’s when you’ll have to dig deep..at times deeper in fact and then magic happens. Perhaps, this thing I’ve been building up might not bode well with many but those who do – I’ll go to the end of the world if you need me to. That’s just who I am and that’s also kinda my weakness I try to shield away.

This week has been a week of reawakening about the shortcomings I have in me that I need to work on more. Things that are not impossible to overcome and achieve, things that if I overlook will be the death of me. So, while it’s been a bittersweet week, a heartbreaking one at one point; I got out of the funk in 10 minutes after brooding. Back on track, back to making things happen. I’m thankful for these shortcoming I have, more than ever, it’s becoming my compass right now. Adjusting to the wind and heart.

So maybe there will be a new adventure coming in the next couple of months. But for just this short frame of time, I’m going to take a break from life in reality and go away for a bit. 6 days to go before I get to go Sydney after 17 years since my last visit.

Life is life. Not taking it seriously can be a waste but taking it too seriously can also be a jeopardy. Find your balance, find where you heart sings and dance. That’s the place you’ll know you should have your feet stay grounded.

 

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Zack Arias & A Sense of Charm in Photography

No matter what I do, I’ll have to inject some art bits in it. Maybe if I can’t do it bluntly but I try to add an art point of view here and there.

To me, art is the essence of life. The x-factor to the things we do on daily basis. Maybe you might not see it that way, but horning your skill, even by sweeping the floor, getting a certain routine formulated .. that is art too.

But I’m not writing about art.

I wanna talk about my fear of going up to people and asking their permission to take photos of them. I have done in the past, sometimes just to challenge myself. And I find joy in knowing that people don’t mind actually. However, I’m still intimidated to go up to people.

Watching Zack Arias doing his thing like it’s no big deal is an inspiration I hope to harness in June. There are two reasons for this,

I: I’ll be heading down under for a break but also to finally come back from the dead in taking street photography with my new sidekick.

II: Enrolling myself for 3 days street photography workshop with Chemat (a living legend in Malaysia) in Penang for Obscura Festival.

So, either ways, I still have to get down on my knees and work on my photography. I’ve been told that Chemat is one guy who takes no-nonsense. Which is good for me but I better know my shit!

I like that Zack Arias isn’t intimidated by people and people are just as fond of him. There’s that connection, that extra zing to capture because he makes them comfortable. Something I want to work on from now onwards.

In a way, it helps build my self-esteem which once upon a time was almost non-existent.

But activities like this, people like him, friends I have make me want to be better for myself. Build myself up because I deserve it, because He obviously has a plan for me for sticking around this long despite me not knowing what it is.

So I think, everything is planned out the way it should be. Just received my new sidekick and it’s time for one heck of a bonding session baby!

8

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 🙂

Took this from Tian Chad. Sorry!

Bravo! We are awesome!

6

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 🙂 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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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! 😉 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 😛 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 🙂 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 🙂 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.