15

The Light Root

Motion sickness is a very uncool thing to have when traveling. It is the enemy to any traveler!! Having said that, it’s pretty obvious I was one of them. So how did I combat that devil while going through another 3 hours to Sabak Bernam?

Sleep. (Prays to God no one took picture of me sleeping in the bus)

I had to force myself to sleep, which is unfortunate because Gilbert, our resident driver drove along the coastal road (that explains the extra long hours journey) and I missed out on the many paddy fields scenery throughout the journey.

Pfft.

So anyway, when we finally arrived at Sabak Bernam .. we were dropped off at the Dorani Home Stay. The event I was patiently waiting for because home stay being home stay, it means all of us will have to stay with our foster families!

Secretly, I was also waiting for this moment because with the kind of treatment we had given by Resorts World Genting, I wouldn’t know how some of them would react to this. Wanna know why? We’re literally put in the middle of a kampung (village) area so far out from the city, our only option is to adapt.

Oh yes, I was soooooo looking forward to this stay indeed!

It has been like what? A decade I believe since my last visit to this place (or was it Kuala Selangor?).. one day my dad drove us to a place similar to this during raya to visit someone. I couldn’t recall who or where but I knew it was in Selangor and the house was built around the paddy fields. Imagine the look on my face at that time when I saw the long lushes green paddy fields. Wished I took a picture of that.

Anyway, back to MySelangorStory..

as we got down the bus, we were welcomed with kompang and bunga manggar. Now, this particular custom is usually associated with Malay weddings or something more formal. Naturally, I thought we were going to a wedding 😉

Boy, we were celebrated alright.

On top of that, we’ve got the youngsters performing a traditional dance called Kuda Kepang. And wouldn’t you know it, yours truly with 5 other girls and 6 other guys were taught to do this dance too.

During this perfomance, I was sitting next to Alid and he told me about the cult life of this particular dance back in Java where he lives. He explained to me in detail the rituals done such as eating live stocks alive and other mystical related things. It was pure gore to know where this dance had originated from. This dance was then introduced in Johor back in the days and the story behind this dance was based from the battles illustrated from the Quran. It was one of the methods used to attract people to Islam long long longgggg time ago.

However, considering we all are humans. We tend to misinterpret things.

As Alid and I discussed further of this dance, it reminded me of another traditional dance called Ulek Mayang, which in certain part of Malaysia is made into a cult dance that has a similar effect to the one in Java. What kind of effect you might ask? One can be possessed by “something” even without one’s knowledge. Actually many of our dances which originated from Java have their own stories to tell, one many of us might not be ready to hear.

If you want to know more about it, make sure you’re spiritually strong to absorb it 🙂

After Kuda Kepang, we were introduced to the Barogan dance. It’s a folk dance based on Nabi Sulaiman a.s life as he could talk to animals. When I saw this dance, it immediately reminded me of the Barong dance from Bali. Do not be mistaken with these two dances, although I must admit there were characters/parts that were similar. Barong is a mythical character and is wrapped around Hindu characters. When I compare both of the dances, I can see how even the most trivial things in life has it’s own history background. I couldn’t think of anything better to learn history than to watch these dances. And I was lucky to be able to watch two different dance with similar traits from different cultures.

It simply spoke volume.

Got me thinking how come some of us could act so low against other people. After all, we came from the same source.

As soon as the show was over, we were all teamed together for the home stay program. Nicole and I were room buddies again! Our foster sister who met us was Kak Ani.

Now, this was when the conflict occur. See, I’m 25 and I look nothing like one. Kak Ani is also 25 and she looked matured for her age. Because she was referred to Kak, automatically my brain was programmed to call her that yet I couldn’t comprehend it. How did I managed to fix this glitch in my brain? I made myself assumed she was born in January, a month earlier than me so that the title fits. Problem fixed!

Thank god our bags were able to fit in her Wira which were loaded with plates (we later found out that she does catering) when she initially wanted to send us one at a time. Oh no no, we made ourselves fit in it rather than making her go back and forth.

Since my dad’s kampung in Kampung Sega, Rantau is the perfect image of what kampung life is about, with wooden house to add.. I was at ease being here. Only this time with paddy fields to envelope us throughout our stay.

The moment her car was parked next to her house.. I saw THIS.

What one earth was that? That my friends is how ketupat (packed rice) looked like when it’s boiling in a pot.

YES FOLKS, my (yet another) dream is about to come true..or at least I made sure it would. Being the person that I am, I asked Kak Ani if she could teach us to weave ketupat. When she said yes, I swear the sun was shining with me. No kidding.

Can you imagine the (already silly) smile that she managed to carve on my face? Sorry, no photo of that tho 😛

We quickly took our bags and went into our designated room. Chucked it at the corner, went out and met Kak Ani’s mum, Puan Haliwati.

Maybe God was having so much fun that he decided to amp the mood one notch higher.

Why?

There on the floor laid a bundle of palm leaves calling us out. Sheesh. Talk about temptations.

Yes, I also managed to pester Kak Ani’s mum to teach us this dying skill. We were told that Denise and Wen Yi had to stay with us because their foster mum could not make it in time for their stay. Both of them were also just as excited when they went into the living room where we were diligently trying to weave two strands of the palm leaf.

They say the more the merrier right? This certainly fit the description alright. Even Kak Ani joined us weaving.

Now, considering we never weaved a ketupat. It is understandable to see how difficult it was for us to do it. We sat there, Denise even recorded grand master (our foster mum) weaving and still couldn’t get it right..until 2 hours later. Yes yes, two incredible hours to weave TWO ketupat. How productive is that? Despite it all, we were very very very very very verrrrryyy proud of ourselves for getting it right (of course with lots of help!). Kak Ani confessed, she too had only started weaving a few weeks back during Raya. But for a beginner like her, the ketupat took form in mere 30 minutes. -_____-

Even the one I managed to weave looked like an alien. :/ Oh well, I’m still stoked the fact that I finally know how to weave a freaking ketupat! Hip hip hurray!

Hats off to two of our most awesome masters for being very patient with us through the whole session. Of course we weren’t spared with the witty remarks of having very stiff fingers.

Well, this brought me back to my first few weeks of my guitar lessons. Boy, that was some torture. But I’m sure, if we get to weave more often, we’d manage to pull off a ketupat in 30 seconds (like our foster mum). I think.

During our short stay, I managed to listened to both mother and daughter communicate in Javanese. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the company of one before so this was yet another cool discovery. We were also told of their family background from Java. They were apparently royalty descendant but something happened in Java so Kak Ani’s grandfather ran to Malaysia instead.

In just a few hours, my brain was already busy retrieving facts.

After that grueling session, we were served with kampung food which they had cooked for us earlier.

There’s one dish I never tried before which is called Pejari and this was cooked with eggplant. It’s a certain dish that tasted sweet but I wasn’t sure how it was cooked even though it was already explained. Not bad at all.

Right after dinner, we had to rush to see the Firefly at Kuala Selangor.

In one of my previous post, I had mentioned about being able to do many things listed in my to-do list. This was definitely one of them. I think it has been 5 years since I wanted to check this place out but never got around to do it.

Now that I was able to, I was pretty damn excited indeed!

This is yet another dying breed. So to protect this species, we were not allowed to take photos with flash or make too much noise. Fireflies love mangrove area and the only way to see fireflies, we have to sit in a boat.

Before we got into the boat, I had learned yet another lesson in life.

To set the camera settings to Auto so other people who aren’t familiar with it could take our photos. So this was what happened when I didn’t set it to Auto. Let’s just assume it’s an artsy fartsy thing ok?

One boat can only fit 4 adults. If I’m not mistaken, it’s RM10 per person. So Citra, Victor, Spectre and I got to share this once in a lifetime experience together.

I already knew about this particular fact – that it is hard to take a photo of a firefly with a steady hand or tripod (in a boat no less). So I wasn’t so disappointed with the outcome, I much rather enjoy this moment I have watching with my eyes instead of behind the lens.

This little amazing godsend creatures are something I tell ya! When you have a glow on your finger moving about, you won’t remember anything else but the little fella. It could just zen you out in an instant!

See the yellow/green glows in the photos? Those are the magical creatures. I really don’t know why every firefly preferred to hang out on my steel strap watch. What is it about this texture that they like so much anyway?

Be careful not to pinch them. They’re very delicate. Killing one of them is like killing one of your own family.

Since Optio P80 doesn’t have long exposure, I managed to record a video of my experience 🙂 A short clip actually.

 
Amazing isn’t it? The feeling I got when a firefly lifted off from my finger was nothing short of magical. I just felt like one of Disney princesses in the old movies. Yeah that was a lot of fun indeed. We were laughing sitting in the boat as we did our best to attract the fireflies. 
After the boat trip, we were briefed about fireflies in the auditorium room. See, I never told anyone about what I discovered when we entered the Firefly park which was sponsored by TNB. You see all these artworks plastered all over the park? These were the very work I had to help Erman, my Art Director in my first advertising company 5 years ago (who is also my mentor, one of the few people I look up to). That very year, TNB was going all out with campaigns regarding fireflies, spreading across Hari Raya, Deepavali, Chinese New..everything from tv commercials, press ads to billboards. This was his brainchild from the very beginning and I was very lucky to help him when I did my internship and then absorbed in as a permanent employee. 
Every firefly brief by TNB was strictly Erman’s, up to a point we ended up calling him Man Firefly. So to actually see the real work being displayed for the public to see (and hopefully appreciate) was an added bonus to my visit. Didn’t know it was still there after 5 years! And it still looked just as good as it was first printed. Bravo Man!
We left the park around 10.45pm and was immediately told by Mr. Hafeez that there was a surprise waiting for us. Turns out to be Satay Hut at Tanjung Karang. The effort we Malaysians make to get good food. It didn’t matter if we had to drive to the other end of the world, if it’s good, it’s worth going for.
They were delicious indeed. Succulent. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. But I’m a beef satay fan and I’m sure the beef must’ve tasted delicious. This place supposedly serve satay twice the size compared to the normal satay. There’s another place synonymous with satay in Selangor too. It’s in Kajang.
I don’t know how we managed to finished two rounds of satay but we did anyway and was also late to arrive back to our foster family. We arrived at Sabak Bernam around 12.30AM. We apologised to Kak Ani for waking her up so late at night to drive us back.
Our Saturday was an eye opening experience indeed and I enjoyed every minute of it too.
With tired mind, body and eyes, we slept on our queen size bed at the same time wondering what Sunday will offer us next.
Day 3 Part 2 comes to an end.
If you think this post deserves a vote, vote it here at MySelangorStory Day 3 🙂
4

The Root of the Matter

The weather in Genting Highlands reminded me a lot of Haarlem during summer. Except, it’s a tad more humid. The best part of sleeping at night over there is the fact that I don’t need the fan or air conditioner to keep me cool. All I need to do is open the windows and let the cool breeze breathe in my hotel room. Something I often do back in my house when the temperature goes down. Maybe that’s why I felt a lot like home in First World’s hotel room. Or it’s just a combination of everything. I will probably never know.

But what I know is that, every trip I make, I’ll always discover something new about myself. Every time I walk out of an experience, I bring with me a new theory.

I never quite explained how Wanderlust Theories came about. And I think the above sentence pretty much explains it. Theories in life are meant to build our character, hopefully strengthen our principles and eventually nurture a deeper faith between you, life and God.

So spending my first ever night in First World (usually I’ll stay in Awana because my dad loves to golf), awaken the kid in me – to simply be me, enjoy whatever comes and ultimately have simpler beliefs.

Waking up to this view was unbelievable to say the least.

To have breakfast with this view every morning is even more incredible! But that was exactly what we did the morning after. We were treated to World Club Lounge breakfast which I was told is where the very special people are invited to eat.

Well, what was it that I usually say..? Live the moment? Yeah might as well live it while we were given the chance.

This was the lounge we had our breakfast and I had experimented with the Panoramic settings in  Optio P80. There is something unusual about the photo but I shall not reveal what it is 😛 Anyway this setting captures three parts of the view you have in mind and then it will stitch all 3 into one picture in less than 30 seconds. A handy tool I might add, if you don’t feel like doing it manually 🙂

I suppose if you have all this modern techs to help you out, might as well use it. Depending on it is a different story.

Oh look who woke up as early as we did just to see off? A certain french speaking mime. I think Charles is from Cayman Island. One of the islands in the french colony. Also, Kak Zara has a secret crush on him 😛 Haha just kidding Kak Zara.

With that, another page flipped over regarding Genting Highlands for this trip. It was really thoughtful of Resorts World Genting representatives like Mr. Philip to send us off as well. Of course, we’re not bidding adieu just yet (since we still haven’t spend our points)..so we’ll make a return. Possibly a whole group of us again, who knows?

Mr. Philip and Dato’ Anthony Yeo had recommended us to visit Chan Swee Caves Temple. We were told by Dato’ Anthony Yeo when he was giving out his speech the day before that this particular temple was build on a very difficult platform, therefore back in the days men could not use any machines to help build the temple. So they had to do it manually.

Why did the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong chose this spot to build something on a difficult terrain? Apparently this is the area most strategic to view Genting Highlands. There you go!

Yeah, see how fun the MySelangorStory bunch are? 🙂 I really love this shot at the entrance to the temple. They either had really strong coffee, slept really well or running on reserve energy tank. Whatever it was, I love them all the same 🙂

Visiting this temple again finally put the curious cat in my mind to rest. Why? All this while, I’ve been having this image in my mind about standing at a chinese temple somewhere high up but I couldn’t remember where this place was. Imagine how annoying it was to recall a memory half rendered for more than a decade! Then it hit me, I had visited this temple when it first opened back in 24 March 1994 with my family who then brought a foreign friend along. This was that place I’ve been trying hard to recall.
A major “AAAAAHHHHH” moment right there you bet.
There were many beautiful statues standing tall around the area; unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore every part of this place. It’s really huge. You could even walk up along the pathway to the top if you have enough stamina 😉 A must see place in anyone’s itinerary.
I’m sure there are some of you who wondered why were we in Genting when our tour is about Selangor. Well, Genting Highlands is divided into two between Pahang and Selangor. So there is one part of Genting which belongs to Selangor. One trip to Genting Highlands from my place behind the zoo takes less than 45 minutes (ok, depending on how fast a person drives), that’s how close it has become since the old days.
You don’t get THIS in any other place, because many of us have forgotten about Mother Nature 😦 We have to go to places like this to be reminded what we have lost or is about to lose. So sad.
Now that we have finally put a full stop in our Genting pit stop, we went to sleep (well most of us; some took this opportunity to take pictures of those sleeping) for the next 1.5 hours to Rawang. What is there in Rawang?
This.
Hutan Lipur Kanching. 
They might as well renamed this very day’s itinerary to “Bonding Session with Mother Nature” 🙂 There are 7 levels to this waterfall, it’s so high up, you’ll be proud to conquer the top without feeling like your knees are melting. Ehem, we only went as high as level 3 and most of us (including moi) were obviously not in shape to go all the way. Nonetheless, the view was breathtaking. The water was refreshing and cold.  It’s all you need when you see a waterfall.
Because this is Tourism Selangor territory, Mr. Fazly briefed us the do’s and don’ts while being here.
He’s been working hard to make sure we are good in our space. So the only other thing he reminded us not to do was not to feed the monkeys. For the obvious reason of course.
I guess one of us couldn’t help but did it anyway 😉 Hafiz oh Hafiz. Good thing it didn’t follow you home.

We ate at the campsite where the tents were. Happily eating our chicken from KFC, then came these rascals trying to take the food away from us. What the monkeys didn’t know (we didn’t either) was that, in Nicole’s past life, she was a monkey slayer. So she pretty much saved the day for us. Swatting the monkeys with a rolled newspaper, kung fu-ing the monkeys. Amazingly, it worked!

One thing you should also know is that, these monkeys love drinking Coke too. If only they know how to hold the can right side up… erm, if there’s a colony of ants roaming around the grass at Kanching, you’ll know who caused it. *Looks at Hafiz*
Apart from that, if you do plan to come to Hutan Lipur Kanching, do remember to wear proper footwear. It would be a bit ma fan(tedious in English) to take your shoes and socks off and then put it on again.
Ok, that’s the end of Day 3 Part 1. Part 2 will see us embracing our roots. Happy Saturday people 🙂
And don’t forget, if you like this post enough to vote, just go to MySelangorStory/The Root of the Matter website and browse through the days. Arigato gozaimas!

6

Very Insane Personas

It’s my first bus ride up to Genting. All motion sickness aside, I saw things that I will most likely never get to spot while in the car. Usually I’ll tag along with the rest of the Lotus Club members for a drive up, zigzagging along the sharp corners and bents. One time it spun on wet tarmac up on a hill there somewhere. That was some kind of insanity.
This time, MySelangorStory journey to Genting Highlands may not be as exhilarating with the engines roaring away behind my ears but I assure you, this ride is just as mind-altering. No money in the world can buy this experience. So seat back and enjoy the show I mean entry ;).
Let the spectacular story begin, part deux.
The moment we arrived at Genting Highlands First World Hotel, we were welcomed like Very Important Personnels. But I like to think it as Very Insane Personas (What? It’s true!). Every Senior Management from Resorts World Genting made effort to be there with us at the entrance. We were all aware about their tight schedules but to know that the Senior Management actually took the time for us made the trip even sweeter than ice cream. Even Tabby and Allie walked with us!
Ok I know, why is a 25 year old getting excited over two oversized mascots? To be honest, I’ve watched game show hosted by Genting every Saturday on TV3 more than a decade ago and the closest I’ve seen them (if it weren’t for television), it would be the statues placed in front of Wisma Genting at Jalan Sultan Ismail. So it’s been, you can say a childhood dream of mine to see them. Being able to take photos with them was enough to fuel me to jump over the moon I tell you! 
I must admit, I have a 200 year soul in a 25 year old body with a 5 year old heart. Err.. does that make more sense? Nevermind.
Oh did I mentioned YB Elizabeth Wong was also there to have lunch with us? 🙂
We were then ushered over to Maxim’s Club for our much awaited luncheon. Boy were we glad to see the food… the desserts were so appetizing, it’s a sin.
  
Don’t you just feel the love we were embraced by Resorts World Genting? Sigh. Never in a million years did I saw this coming..ever. Seriously.
Both Dato’ Anthony Yeo, Senior Vice President of PR & Communications and YB Elizabeth Wong gave a speech each, telling us how Genting first started off as a dream that came to the late Tan Sri Dato Seri Dr. Lim Goh Tong. 
See, every place we go, everyone we know will somehow have a story to tell; whether it’s about themselves or the events they’ve seen. Everyone has a story worth listening to.
By a stroke of luck, 7 of us were picked to dine with Dato’ Anthony Yeo and YB Elizabeth Wong. Lady luck must be in a good mood as of late.
Oh. And each of us were given an all day pass to outdoor/indoor theme park,  10k worth of WorldCard points (RM100), RM100 worth of Holiday Card, One night stay at Superior Deluxe with View in First World Hotel, VIP Access to Dazzle and breakfast buffet at World Club Lounge. Indeed we were spoiled rotten. My jaw literally dropped when Mr. Philip announced it to us. Resorts World Genting, you sure know how to welcome your guests. Hands freaking down baby!
Back in the 90’s when Genting wasn’t what it is today, things were much simpler. There’ll be butterflies hanging on the wall of the souvenir shops but today, they have Galleria where guests can learn the history behind Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Lim Goh Tong’s vision. A remarkable visit.
Sooooooo…..with RM200 in our pocket and a pass to make use of, there’s only one place we planned to go. That’s right. Theme park!
After 5 years, I have finally come to terms that as much fun and exciting theme parks are, I am just not really a big fan of them. I love theme parks but not so much when it comes to extreme rides. How did I know this? It went all the way back in London when a friend told me upfront that it’s not worth it for me to spend money to any theme park since I don’t go to all the rides. 
Perhaps it’s the society we are brought up in, everyone loves theme parks. Everyone enjoys the fun feeling that comes with it. In away theme parks are usually associated with letting loose and to some it goes as far as freedom. And as we grow up, some of us would love to be part of that society rather than being different.
Being a non-conformist, I therefore will have to bare the consequences of missing out some of the happiness that theme parks bring. 
I do however enjoy bumper cars 🙂 Just anything not scary basically. Haha.
True, you can throw me into the track doing stunts with a car or a muddy slope with an ATV, heck throw in some dangerous waves for white water rafting – I am scared to death about roller coasters (and horror rides). I’m totally cool being hit hundred of times with a paintball rifle but I can’t for the life of me bungee jump.
I did reverse bungee and paragliding tho 🙂
Indeed, I am a weirdo and I’m proud of it!
  
This ride caught my eyes for it’s very colourful ceiling 🙂 not brave enough to go on the ride.
TV Selangor also joined our crazy journey and recorded many events we weren’t sure if it’s a good thing for others to watch. Afzal makes half of TV Selangor, the other is Imran. They’re always there wherever we turned our heads 😛
I like to observe. Participating in this feels like my heart is being snatched with bare hand. Ouch. When the theme park closed at 7pm, we went to the top of the hill and took scenic photos of this wild resort. I don’t remember it being this colourful at first. I must have not been here for the longest time.
The schedule for the night was for us to meet up at The Pavilion by 8.45pm for the Dazzle show. It has the circus feel from outside looking in. In reality, it’s like an auditorium.. sort of.
There we were briefed regarding this VIP access we were given. Never before had they granted any special pass to guests for their shows yet we managed to get this one time only opportunity to take photos during the Dazzle show. At first we were allowed 15 minutes to snap but Mr. Philip then allowed us to take throughout the show except for a few shows like Statue of Jerome Murat, The Invincible Man & Hand Shadow. 
Apa lagi (Malay for what else)..we took our cameras and snap snap snap snap snap like there’s no tomorrow.
What’s Dazzle! about? It’s a 60 minute show with several different segments to entertain us including the Statue of Jerome Murat from France, award-winning magician Ernesto Planas, Sonny Fontana the hand shadow master and Duo Presto, the quick change illusion act. We were given front row seats and Spectre, who sat beside me was picked by Ernesto to take part in his magic show. Hehe, dude looked clueless but everyone had fun! 


When we had to sit in front, my heart was beating so fast, it felt like it was about to jump out of my body because I knew one of us will be invited to be part of the show. As much as I love the unknown, I am just as nervous about it. 

All this could not have been possible if it weren’t for Resorts World Genting support as well as Tourism Selangor, MySelangorStory and Amelia. 


We even got the chance to meet Charles Gluck who was the mime behind Statue of Jerome Murat, even if it were for a brief moment. French really trademarked the art of miming.

After full day of doing all kinds of activities, we finally head back to our own rooms. You read that right. All 26 of us were given individual rooms to stay. Madness!
Excuse the mess in the photo below but among the many hotels I’ve stayed, this is one room I really felt like home. Maybe it’s the warm lit room, perhaps the mustard colour featured wall (which many pointed out when they visited my room). I dunno. All I know was that, I was really really reaaaalllllly enjoying this room all to myself. It’s cooler with the view of the theme park outside too. And all this for free. Oh wow.


Even Sheepy loved it 😛

So how shall I sum my day in Genting? Only one photo can speak for me.


🙂 That’s it folks. That’s Day 2 Part 2. If you like this post, head over to MySelangorStory and vote it. 

What could possibly be better than this on our Day 3? That’s for me to know and for all of you to find out!