A Travellerspoint blog

The Incorporeal Entity

Devoting Reverence to “Datuk” – The Soul Entity

sunny 35 °C

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The organizer for this group, James, has been reminding me that this island Pulau Lalang, is an uninhabited island. He further told, this island may appear uninhabited by any settlers, but there are inhabitants of another form of entity, living in the land of the island. They are incorporeal entities in nature, unseen in any substance but appear with an intensity of energy, a spirit of souls that capable to subsist by taking charge as a master of the land on the island. What? That sounds a little eerie.

Adding to the belief of nature-worshipping, as the island is widely known, its land is the formation ground of the spirit of incorporeal entity. They are worshipped by the fishermen gathered from the mainland and the spirit of souls are regarded as “Datuk”, a very convincing title of due respect paid to the entity. Anyone who wants to come to drench in the island, there is a strict rule to obey. People are refrained or prohibited from making contact with any food that contains the substance of pork. In short, only halal substance is permissible to be brought to this island.

What if we do not go along with the embodying mythology of permissible rules? Would anything happen to us? Is it mere a myth? There is no answer for it. In any case, though we may not want to overwhelmingly react by paying ritual homage or worship them, with exercising a little sensible common sense, it will lead us away from unwanted trouble. Whether you believe it or not, you better not be recalcitrant. A few common taboos you should not do. You don’t pee at any rock that has unusual formation, you wouldn’t want to cut any trunks that grow in a very alien form neither would you want to be pompous with a mouthpiece of teething philosophy intending to cynically contempt the existence of the incorporeal entities. If you deliberate break any of the above, you are looking for trouble yourself, not a cause by anyone.

“Ahu, would you like to join us in paying homage to the spirits of Datuk?” asked James, “We are going to burn some frankincense and paper effigies as an offering of due respect to the soul master of this land”. I declined his call very politely. I always act against to incline paying any homage, especially the ritual aspect of burning paper effigies and paper currency as many people do in the worshipping rituals of the pagan belief. Through the influence and the propagation of Islamic and Christianity teachings, I ought not adore or ever unduly devote to the soul entities in any carved image. In the teaching of Islam, these incorporeal entities do co-exist with human beings. Though these incorporeal souls do exist, the muslims are strictly refrained from devoting any reverence to the incorporeal souls and shall live exclusively away from attaching to them.

At the bay of the shore, there is a huge boulder. The configuration appearance of this boulder is very unusual in such an alien outline. Scientifically, it is formed by the weather after a long years of abrasion polishing caused by the rain and wind. People alleged that they could sense a mass lease of energy radiating from the boulder. Many people particularly the fishermen from the mainland come to worship and make devotion to this boulder, hoping to seek a fortune. Everyday, there are people coming to the island, wanting to change their life from rags to riches overnight through this kind of worshipping, hoping to draw some lucky numbers and expecting a wealth to drop on the laps falling freely from the sky after seeking indulgence from the incorporeal master.

When there appears a mystical power and awe in mystery with the quality of being unexplained, like the mythology of energy of the boulder, people would contemplate without hesitation to seize and grasp the mystery power, without considering the consequence of going against the religious teaching. All they do is only hoping to seek a great fortune from it. How awful human beings are.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 10:20 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Yahoo! Going to Island

A trip to Pulau Lalang, Perak

sunny 34 °C

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Yahoo! We are going to the island – an uninhabited island leaving us an immense room to reach out to the sky without limit and basking under the charmingly hot sun on the endless sandbed spread over the pristine long shore, by the line of the horizon in which the blue sky meets the deep turquoise sea, I would want to dip into it. This is hopefully a true belief that I have been expecting. As I down counting the date, I strike the digit on the calendar one-by-one till I reach tonight. We are departing tonight, finally.

In Facebook, by the click of the cursor, there are 22 followers giving a nod of their acceptance. I am one of them. No, I beg to differ, it’s two, to be exact. I may need to insert the name of another buddy of mine, Zul. He may not have been verbally confirmed to me of his going to the island when everytime I ask him, inexplicitly he confirms himself in disguise. He says, Insyaallah.

I have longed not experienced such a stimulation of high spirit with a gushing adrenalin flowing in my body. I love to go island, I dreary miss the sea, swim and snorkel. At 9.00 pm on the Friday night, I drive the car heading to Zul’s home in Puchong Perdana. I thought he is a simple carrier. Beyond my expectation, his preparation is a little running out of proportion. Over the floor, there are bags full of crockery units and cooking utensils and plenty of food items feeding in the grocery bags. We do not need that much of food for a three-day-two-night camp. I counted, one, two, three, four and another two more bags on the floor. He is over prepared, and obviously he is running a little clumsy and awkward leaving only a little space to manoeuvre with those grocery bags. Though I may need to appreciate him for his preparation for two of us, as for me, I have never keened to draw align with the label of being called clumsy. It’s distasteful and honestly a big aversion for me.

We need to meet the group members, altogether 22 of us in Setiawangsa before departing to Bagan Datoh. Who are those group members? I have no idea, other than the organiser James, I met others only in disguise through the Facebook. At twelve midnight, finally we arrived at Setiawangsa.

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Driving to Bagan Datoh takes us around three hours. We had a stopover for midnight refreshment at a small town situated by the edge of the coastal road. By the time we arrived at the jetty of the fishing village located deep into the mangrove shore of Bagan Datoh, it is already half past three in the wee hour. It is my first experience setting off to the sea from a jetty of a fishing village. We walked on the wooden planks of the dilapidated bridge built above the mangrove swamp very carefully before setting foot into the fishing boat. Inhaling breath gets distasteful. As strong fishy smell penetrating the nostrils, our breathing gets very suffocating as if caused by the stench of the degradable rotten fish. After loading all our packs and belongings onto the deck of the fishing boat, we, all the 22 of us crammed to secure a position by sitting on the horizontal floor at the hind deck of the fishing boat. Our situation is no different from a bunch of runaway illegal immigrants trying to reach the shore of an island. And the boat puffed-off slowly into the sea in total darkness. Because of a little groggy, I laid down on the platform next to the heavy anchor and dozed off tiredly.

In less than one and a half hour, the boat arrived at the shore of the island - Pulau Lalang. The shore of the island is shallow, it requires the boat to drop the anchor at the deeper bottom of the sea measuring some distance away from the shore of the island. The fishing boat is then moored by the heavy anchor. Another smaller craft is used to deploy us together with our belongings to the shore.

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We begin to unpack of baggage. When the sun rises, some members seemingly turn excited to capture the best photo they could of the red rising sun emerging from the horizon of the endless seabed. Whilst some seem enthusiastically dredging for live oysters from the sea rocks, others begin to erect the tents brought by them. Zul and I take the first step to prepare food. What is the menu for breakfast today? It’s Sambal Pedas Nasi Lemak. We may have liken hot chilli, but the shredded chilli paste cooked in the hot boiling oil releases a very pungent hot aroma that inevitably penetrates into our nostrils. It makes us puffing several cough.

The day is long. For the three days, other than spending time in cooking and enjoy eating our food, the rest of the time is spent on swimming and sun basking. Sun basking? Yes, I mean a proper bask under the scorching sun until I turn tanned-brown. Many people may find basking for several hours a non-sobre pursuit, but I enjoy the bask. Laying on the beach on the sand while reading a book that I like is greatly a thriving pleasure.

Over the three days in the island, the weather was very promising. It was sunny and never overcast, except for the final day. Our hope was almost all crystallised as it only rained in the morning on the final day before our departure to the mainland. But never mind. I have had enough of sun bask on the first two days. Our tent was wet from inside as the water dripped through the flysheet into the tent. The foam mat and my sleeping bag were wet too.

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How do I rate this trip to the island? It’s a two chapter of composed assessments.

Firstly, it is a wonderful trip as I managed to get enough of tan. I was overly-tanned actually. In fact I had sun burn over certain parts of my body. Had I not applied sun oil on my body, I would get a chronic burn causing by the ultraviolet screen of the sun. That showed how hot the sun was.

Secondly, it is about the cleanliness of the beach. You would be shocked unless you are a chronic litter bug. If you are a hygiene susceptible person, you will tumble down from the chair as you take notice of the shore. The sea bed is spread with mounding plastic bottles and other form of garbage. Only one word to describe – it is very dirty! There is no pristine shore, only dirty beach here.
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Posted by Quah Khian Hu 12:04 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Airport Security

Going to Jakarta

sunny 33 °C

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I believe you do encounter before such a misconception - what can you bring and what you are strictly refrained from putting into your luggage bag when you check yourself at the immigration counter before the departure hall in an airport. Having been travelling for multitude times by air and ever frequented many airports in many countries, I must manifest that I am still travel in a dark, as I am always are, as to what rules laid out by the airport security police.

Rules of security while one gets access into the airport and particularly before granting an entry into the departure hall are varied to a great extent. Ever since the 911 incident in 2001 and followed by various intense horrifying suicide bombings heard over many nooks of the globe in the ensuing years, because of the fear for suicidal terrorist attempt that may cause destructive death to the public, the level of security measures enforced over the airport in many countries especially those with high risk of exposure to terrorists, have reached an insensible state. This frivolous, super tight security measures make travel less thriving and perturbed.

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How much liquid can you contain in a bottle and carry them in your luggage? I am always confused by the airport security rule and bemused to the effect. The day when I was in the low cost carrier terminal LCCT before checking into the immigration counter, I bought a bottle of mineral water. That cost me dearly RM10.00 for a tiny bottle. Obviously, I could not carry the bottle of mineral water in hand across the security checkpoint. That is an international law, well understood. So, I stowed it into the luggage bag. At the screening conveyor belt, I was instructed to remove and leave the bottle behind. I was not allowed to carry along the bottle even keeping them tightly in the luggage bag unless I purchase the bottle drinks at the inner store after the security checkpoint. How ironic the rule is. Does it mean that the drinking water purchased at the stores in the airport is exposed to possible manipulation that cause a possible threat of turning it into an explosive? I had been umpteen times carrying drinking water in bottles, stowing them in the backpack and succeeded checking through the security inspector and including the electronic screening machine. At one point of time in Egypt, I even carried four 1.5 litres of drinking water in the bag. I went passed the security check without any hassle.

When you meet one security inspector who wants you to remove your shoes, that is common, but including your socks, that is insensible already. The removing act is not finished. Then you are required to pull out your waist belt, draw out your shirt that is nicely and neatly tucked into your trousers and unbutton your shirt for magnetic scan. Then, you remove your wallet, unbutton your trousers’ metal button bar. After all the non-sensible thorough inspection performed over your body by the immigration inspector, you appeared being “bodily ransacked” or maybe perceived almost being “raped” crudely with no rebuttal. What a poor guy you appear to be then. I was one of those poor guys of sacrificial victim at the expense of the fallacious rule at the checkpoint in the airport of Delhi. That was a total clumsy experience happened many years ago.

On the returning trip to Kuala Lumpur at the Jakarta airport, the security inspector instructed me to remove the shampoo I stowed in the luggage bag. I was told that the content of shampoo has exceeded the limit of liquid content that one is allowed to carry in the hand luggage. Do not ask me how much liquid content is allowed to be carried in the hand luggage. Sometimes, liquid content is totally not allowed to be carried in the hand luggage at all in many airports. But this bottle of shampoo was carried by the same airplane all along from Kuala Lumpur into Jakarta. Ironic isn’t it?

Oh, never keep sharp items like scissors and blade in the hand luggage. They will be confiscated at the security checkpoint. Even the little nail clipper is considered sharp. Next time, I must try out with many more items and see how sober the security rules getting on.

Hmm…..perturbed by the rules!

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 20:06 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Coming To Malaysia

Woon With His Girlfriend Visiting Malaysia

sunny 35 °C

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This morning I had a chat on the MSN with Woon. It has been quite long I had not been chatting with him on the MSN. It is either I do not log on to it or he has been away from the link for too long. I get to know that he is taking a flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur this afternoon. Coming to Malaysia? Yes, this time he is coming to Kuala Lumpur with a dearly person. Unlike the previous few times, he came to Kuala Lumpur by himself for work. He was solo then. But now he is no longer solo as he is attached to his girlfriend, Touk.

I find acquaintance with him when we were traversing in the trip to Mount Kinabalu in 2006. We settled down in a sleeping quarter in Mesilau. He was with a group of Thai friends and I was accompanied by another friend.

“We are leaving to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur tomorrow morning. We will stay in Melaka for 2 nights, coming back to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning”, Woon spoke to me on the phone. He managed to conveniently find a local prepaid mobile card. All he paid was as low as only RM5. I told him we have to meet up before his return to Bangkok.

I deliberately wanted to bring and arouse them with some delicacy delights. As you know, Malaysian delights are an infusion of melting pot. Apart from food, I thought visiting Putrajaya is worthwhile as this Federal Administration City is no way less dramatic for him to play his skill with the shutter and aperture. Furthermore, it is situated on the way leading to the airport.

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That Sunday afternoon, I told Woon that we were going to Little India of Brickfields for lunch. I wanted to savour some Indian cuisines with them in this new colourful façade with the backdrop of Little India. The principal outward of the entry to the Little India has been recently uplifted, it turns out to be very colourful and attractively promising.

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Of the charm of typical Indian shops and restaurants setting along the main street of Tun Sambanthan, the unleashing smell of pungent spices and natural fragrance of flower garlands hanging on the stalls, there underlies an inconspicuous draw back. Garbage is seen underlying in the five foot way. Garbage is scattered along the back yard of the old quarters too. It is definitely not a scene worthy of notice.

I know there is a tendency that Woon and his girlfriend may not have liken to relish the Indian cuisine. It is through my experience when I was travelling to Kashmir with several friends of Woon a few years ago. Indian cuisine may not have the power to vigorously stimulate their physical desire for food. During the trip in Kashmir, they carried along packets of dried, minced meat and fish mixed with horribly hot chilli to counter for the strong tasting substance that you cannot find in the Indian food. The chocking hot and burning chilli paste is to relish as appetizer before the meal. That was how hot they eat.

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I ordered several typical Indian kitchen such as Dosai, Chappatti and Puree. “I’m not sure whether you have tried these delights before”, I asked Woon and further told him, “Of the three sets of Indian kitchen putting on the table, I recommend you the Puree”. We ate the Indian delights served with curry and chatney and mint sauce. I gave a thumb up for finger licking good. I do hope Woon enjoys the same. “We are going for another round of food after this meal. So, keep your stomach half filled, ok?”, I told Woon and Touk.

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On the way to Putrajaya, we turned into Puchong searching for a very authentic meal – the Yong Tau Foo. We were very full after the meal.

Woon told me he likes Melaka. That is the reason he goes to Melaka for the second time. I asked, “How do you like Pulau Pinang?” He replied he has not been there yet.

I am trying to get to understand the faculty of perceiving and liking by the Thai backpack travellers over the spot of attractions in Malaysia. Among all the more popular destinations in Malaysia, the Thai backpack travellers have a very concentrated interest in several destinations in Malaysia. Melaka, the UNESCO historical city obviously sits on top of the list, a must go city, follow by Cameron Highlands where they chill themselves out in the lush greenish tea garden while enjoying the mesmerising view of the undulating hills. Then, the Taman Negara in Pahang which has plenty of wildlife and camping grounds comes into the list before they choose to exhaust themselves in traversing into Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.

Pulau Pinang is not in their list ever. Pulau Pinang offers an equivalent historical attraction and cuisine delights if not more than what they could find in Melaka. It is nearer to Bangkok if you compare the distance with Melaka. However, Pulau Pinang remains a destination neglected from the travel list by the backpack travellers from Thailand. Also, Langkawi is not an island for them to take a convenient hop as they perceived there are beaches in the region such as Phuket and Krabi that are more lively and pristine placing in the turquoise waters. People of different country have their very own travel favour. What Malaysians favour for may not be liked by the Thais and what the Thais like, we may not like.

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That evening, we drove to the international airport KLIA. At the departure entrance, we stood at the arcade seeing Touk walked into the departure hall. As her feature diminished into the crowd, Woon and I relieved ourselves from KLIA. I sent Woon to the low cost airport LCCT. Woon travelled home in Air Asia while his girlfriend Touk sat on a separate airline.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 22:19 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Talk No More to Me - Shut Up!

A Visit to Delhi

rain 31 °C

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Eddie has come home from United Kingdom last week for a break in conjunction with Good Friday holiday season. He has no intention to return home to Malaysia yet and begin a new life in his home country. I remember on his departure day to UK, several friends and I were disorderly sad to send him off from the airport. Of course, his mother was incorrigibly sadden to leave her only begotten son, who would seek for a new life 12 thousand kilometers away from Malaysia. That was seven years ago then.

A few nights ago, Eddie with another friend and I had dinner together. Half munching the chicken rendang in the mouth, he began his usual story telling, “I have just been to Sri Lanka last month. It was a two-week trip.” “How do you like Sri Lanka?” I deliberately deride a jest and further state, ”You must have liken your trip in Sri Lanka as you favour for India, don’t you?” I laughed but he did not. I know he had a frivolous experience when he was travelling in India some time ago. He and his several confrontations with the con-artists and touts were an outrage for him but I find it amusing. That is the reason I deliberately made his confrontation incidents in India a perceptible object of derision. I know he bears a malice to New Delhi. He has so much to tell about New Delhi. And I laughed at him again amusingly.

The day when Eddie and his friend arrived in New Delhi, as he stepped out from the airport, he was already besieged by the touts offering a ride on the cab. There were too many of them. It was pretty troublesome to reject each one of them. Imagine if you need to decline, or rather to reject the offer besieging around you, it may take you a while to do so. Imagine, each time when you step out from your hotel, you are besieged again by the driving touts. When they get to you again and again effortlessly, by the time you dispel away the final one, you are already half exhausted. I’ve been to India twice. I was not besieged by the touts as Eddie had. Why is Eddie so infamous making him the heartthrob of the touts? All because when he was asked, “Where you from?”, he relentlessly replied, “From UK”. The dollar sign as if quickly marked all over on his forehead.

Now, he has learned a lesson. He had learned not to expose his identity relentlessly when he was asked. Eddie proclaimed there on, he tended to be rude as he only responded selectively to the greetings from the locals, of which many of them are con-artists. In India when you walk like a tourist, you will attract someone expressing enormous interest in you. These people say sweet greetings to you, make a very warm friend with you and finally, even bring you to shop for no charge. When you decline, they will come to you persistently again and again to bring you the good news of alleged good bargain. By the time you dispel away the final one, you are fully exhausted.

Until one point of time Eddie was frustrated, “No…I am not buying anything, not riding any cab too!.” He uttered with frustration.

Let me tell you the climax of their story. On the day leaving New Delhi to the airport, before riding on the cab, they made payment at the hotel counter. “We are already exhausted with the frivolous negotiation with almost everyone we met, creating nonsensical outrage as there are some who turn disparage on us asking for more on the price they fixed”, claimed Eddie and they further instructed the registration counter, “No more pleading for a hike in fare half way through the journey. Please, tell the driver”. In a non-thriving mood, they boarded onto the cab.

The cab driver started the engine and began to talk to them. The driver appeared to talk sweet to them and as expected half way through the journey, the driver pleaded for a hike in fare. “No, no, no, you have to pay more”, repeated the driver. In anger, Eddie instructed the driver to turn back to the hotel. They abandoned the cab at the counter of the hotel. Now, both Eddie and his friend have a new set of rule to instruct the counter, “Fare is fixed right here! No more negotiation. Please ask them to shut up! No more talking to us”.

Really, the replaced cab driver was muted to total silence all the way from the hotel to the airport. Of course, there was no more fare hike half way on the journey. Amusingly, I have not encountered any tourists this far, like Eddie and his friend demanded for a cab driver to shut their mouth totally. I laughed in big convulsion after listening to his story.

India is very huge, India is very colourful. Of the many frivolous incidents and less earnest encounters, we can find plenty of warmth in the people of India, that definitely includes the people of Delhi too. There are plenty of intuitive tactful locals in India for us to encounter and befriend. Being twice visited India, I fall in earnest intense for its diversity of colour and finding a serene calmness in its disorganised livelihood. I love India – hopefully the trip in this coming August to India turns out to be a fruitful one.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 18:19 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Noble Silence for a Moment

Seek and Thou Shall Find

semi-overcast 30 °C

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The rhythm of the Chenda drum is beating loud and almost piercing the ears. With the cylindrical wooden drum resting on the lap, the drummer beats the drumhead with resonant vibration in thriving groove, a very classical Indian groove. Each stroke of the drumstick hits through the pulse of the drum as he rejoices the drum beat. As the drummer rejoices, his head shakes sideways, his expression dances to the tune of the classical Indian groove.

Sitting side by side to the Chenda drummer at one corner of the prayer hall is the only trumpeter, holding tight to the very old brass instrument made of wood. His lips are closed, as he blows air through the air column inside the wooden trumpet. A microphone is placed at the tip of the trumpet, making its trumpet resonance louder through the speaker.

In the fusion of the drum beat and trumpet blow, the bell rings. The bell of the temple is mounted high in the bell tower, swinging from side to side as the pulling rope is pulled by the bell man. The pivotal metal clapper continues to hit the bell while the drummer beats and trumpeter blows. It is time for dusk prayer, another day is ending.

Rising beside a furniture warehouse, there situated this Hindu temple. This temple is situated adjacent to a housing area, erected along the main road of Puchong.

The Swami in this Hindu temple perform their daily routine, a very solemn and thoughtful prayer every evening. The evening prayer is performed very earnestly, begins at 6.30 p.m. The entire prayer takes an hour before the Swami finally offer blessings to the devotees. The Muslims are called upon for prayer by the Azan, whilst the Hindu have their temple bell rang.

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If you ask me what is special about this temple? My answer is, nothing special and it’s just an ordinary Hindu temple as we see elsewhere in Malaysia. But regularly I go to this temple. What do you do in this Hindu temple? It is a long story.

Long story short, I have not learned to meditate through a proper spiritual coach but I was told meditation brings a calmness to our crowded mind or sometimes putting a rest to the ill thoughts that boggle in our mind. I have not been practising any meditation. All I do is sit alone, sit with no talking, sit without having mobile gadgets around, sit with a restful mind (of which I always try hard but failed), sit when the stomach is not full neither it is growling and I sit when I feel I like to sit.

Sitting alone, merely sit at one corner in this temple brings some calmness to the mind. Once a spiritual guide hailing from Thailand told me, we have too much of thoughts boggle in the mind. We need to untangle them one by one. It’s only through a moment of noble silence. I really love to practice noble silence as I do not favour to talk much, not a talkative person.

Sitting quietly in this temple gives me a spiritual shoulder to rely on. When I am upset, I reveal the sorrows to the guardian deities of the temple and brave myself to the frontline of the problem. When I am delighted of certain events, I give thanks for the pleasure.

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. I believe in it, that’s the reason I always sit at the regular spot, in the corner of the prayer hall by the "Hanuman".

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 08:59 Archived in Malaysia Comments (2)

Ready to Leave Home Again?

Finally my new international passport is renewed

sunny 34 °C

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My international passport is expiring this coming October. The passport has a remaining six months life span before it is expired. I could not travel outside Malaysia using this passport anymore beginning from now as the common international immigration rule states that in allowing for a person to travel using an international passport, it has to be valid for at least six months counted on the day of travel. If I had not returned home to Malaysia from Albania in May last year and proceeded the journey longer, I would need to return home by now to renew my passport.

Today is Tuesday but I wake up late, very much later than usual. I raise from bed at 11.30 am. Today is a working day but I am not reporting to office as I have taken a medical leave. My eye, the right eyeball was stung by an insect yesterday evening when I scrolled down the car window. I was on the way leaving the office at that time. Being stung on the eyeball, it is extremely painful and the eye excretes tears to the irritation. Since I am not working today, might as well I take the opportunity to renew the expiring passport. If I do not pay a visit to the immigration department today, I may not be able to confirm the air ticket for the working trip to Jakarta by end of this month.

I accelerated the gas pedal of the car and within less than half an hour, I arrived at the immigration department of Shah Alam situated in Kompleks PKNS. I suppose I would not be able to reach any personnel on duty at the enquiry table. If I am lucky to find one, I suppose he would show me a "tidak kisah" attitude, half-heartedly and quarter-willingly to entertain my enquiries. Then I need to dance to his tune, otherwise he would speak severely to me as if I have offended him for I ask too much. But I am totally wrong. Very wrong expection.

Let me tell you this. The service of the public sector in this department is astounding, at least for now it has metamorphosised and transformed from a slow public system to a faster speed service. If you do not believe me, go and test them out yourself. I queued, took a photo snap, queued again, submit documents and pay for the charges of the new passport in less than 40 minutes. All done, and collected the new passport one hour later. Not forgetting, the charge for a new international passport is hefty, RM300 for five years.

Do you still remember an imprint on the first page of the passport? Yes, it states "This Passport is Valid for All Countries Except Israel". Does it mean that the Malaysian independent travellers (other than the pilgrims) are single-sided prohibited by our government to enter into Israel, whereby the Jewish authority does not impose such a restriction? Or is it a mutual restriction imposed by both our government and the Jewish authority?

When I was in Cairo, I learned a trick. I learned this trick from several Japanese backpackers whom I met in the guesthouse. In order to sneak into the Jewish state, firstly, never get your passport stamped by the Israelite immigration officer when you are about to cross over to the Jewish state. Secondly, tell the immigration officer of the Jewish state that you desire to return and visit the neighbouring Islamic states in the northern Africa and Middle Eastern region. Again no stamping on the passport. Thirdly, unless you have two copies of passports carrying two series of passport numbers, then you may want to forgo one of the passports for immigration stamping.

How do you cross over if you denied the Israelite immigration officer from issue a stamp on your passport? It's simple. All you have to do is to get them to stamp on a distinguished copy of travelling documents. Then, by telling them that you desire to return and visit the neighbouring Islamic states, they are completely aware of the protocol and know what to do. Of couse you need to pay more for such an illegitimate request. These Islamic states will deny your entry into their countries if they spotted an offical stamp that ascertained you have previously accessed to the Jewish state. No stamp, literally means you have not gone to the Jewish state despite you had just been there this morning.

I nearly set foot into Israel when I was on the road. I planned to sneak into the Jewish state two times but both failed. When I was studying Arabic in Cairo in 2008, I told Mak Ngah and Abi that I wanted to set foot in Israel while I still live in Cairo. The distance between Cairo and the Jewish checkpoint is within short reach. However, I did not make the trip a reality. When I was in Athens in 2010, I planned for the second time to reach Israel along the way travelling south to the African region. However, I did not make the trip a reality again. For the coming third time, I must make the plan a reality.

Our international passport issued in 90s was not valid for travelling to South Africa too. South Africa was ruled by the Apartheid regime during that time. The ruling was oppressive and only white people had full political rights and other people, especially the black people were forced to live away from white people. The black people were treated in an unfair way and not giving them the same freedom and rights as the white had. The prohibition as stated in the passport has been lifted then.

With a new passport in hand, I do not have to vigorously examine the passport anymore everytime when I cross border, worrying no empty page is available for immigration stamping. Almost every page of the old passport has at least one stamp imprinted on it. Now I have 48 new empty pages, valid for another 5 years till October 2016. The immigration officer may now have the luxury to stamp on any page as they like and create a new mess on the new passport as they did to my old passport.

Oh, I must tell you this. I had not come across any independent travellers carrying more than one passport of the same issued country. I met a German guy in Cairo. He showed me his passports. He has an ownership of two passports issued by the German immigration department. Both passports are valid. It contravenes the immigration law isn't it?

With a new passport in hand, am I ready to leave home again? I have just begun a new job in Bangi two months ago. I need to work at least for another year to save some bucks in the pocket. The answer is no, not for now.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 00:22 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Any House for Sale?

I Choose to Sell the House Without Regrets

sunny 33 °C

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The weather was good that afternoon. I put on a pair of the running sneakers and set off from the gate of the house. Running in the housing estate above the undulating road on the hill was exhaustive. I began to run at the flat road, followed by running down and up along the steep slope until I reached the hilly top of the housing area again. To maintain the fitness, I need to keep to the momentum and run for a distance of 7 km. I have not been running for a long while since I went for travelling in July 2009. The last time I put on this pair of running sneakers was in Croatia, that was the time I jogged on the hilly trek before I left the beautiful country and continued the journey to Albania.

My shirt was soaked in sweat as I was on the way running home. I stopped at the gate of a house. Everytime when I passed by this house, naturally I have a strong of sense of affection for this house. I rang the door bell and waited for repsonse from someone in the house. An elderly Indian lady approached at the door grill, half sneaking her face from the grill wondering who had arrived at their door. I asked "Aunty, is Padma around?"

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She gave me a second look. I knew she could not recognise me, but I was sure she is Padma's mother. Later, another younger lady approached when aunty called her. This younger lady was feeding a baby in the arm, and she uttered, "Ah, you....". And she smiled to me. She could not remember my name. So did I. "Padma is upstairs in the reading room, let me call him". I went into the house, "How are you Padma?" and I greeted affectionately, "How do you like this house?". Padma grinned as he stepped down from upstairs.

I have not seen Padma since the day I handed over the ownership of the house to him, that was almost one and a half years ago. I get to know Padma through a property agent. It was April 2009, when I finally decided to dispose the house I previously owned. I went through a topsy-turvy state whether to retain the house or otherwise. At that point of time, I had already left my previous job in a construction company in Klang. In my plan, I wanted to go travelling and I desired to make the trip a longer journey than the previous two trips.

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In the state of topsy-turvy, I made a difficult decision. If I dispose the property, I for sure would not be able to purchase another house in future at the price I paid for this property. Furthermore, the property market in the region of Klang Valley is seeing an escalation boom, for each property it's never be the same price as yesterday. A property agent advised me, "Wy not you keep the property by refinancing the entire loan and you get to travel still?".

I quit the job to travel, means I do not earn anymore income in the pocket. No matter how the refinancing of loan is arranged, I still have to disburse from the pocket every month to settle the installment. It's still a financial burden to me. Secondly, when I am not around in Malaysia, I have no one to maintain the house for me. You know, keeping the house clean is one problem and to maintain its "Chi" in the property is a daunting task. I don't bother about "Chi" flow and particularly for an empty property such as my house. I do not believe in it. However, when you listened to someone telling you about something you do not believe, you can afford not to bother about it. When you repetitvely listened to several people telling you about the same occasion, unless you remain steadfast to your stand, otherwise it may wobble your firm belief. If I choose to believe in the flow of "Chi" as alleged, that means I must get at least several people to live in that house to build its "Chi" harmonisation. Otherwise, it would bring no good to me to live in the property as alleged.

Thirdly, I'm living single still. "Do you need such a double-storey for yourself to move around at home?", asked a friend, "Then, why do you pruchase this property in the first place?". I was quite perturbed with such a statement. I have not regretted for I purchased this property. I reckon that I do not actually need a double-storey to live in either.

Recently, I received many calls from several property agents enquiring the availability of porperty in that region for sale. The agent further stated that the property could fetch a very attractive price. I was astounded by the opening price. I told them the property was sold one and a half years ago before I went for travelling. If I were to sell the property now, it is a fortune in making. I sold the property in the midst of leaving for travelling, that is the reason I did not make gain from it. The agency fee I paid was hefty, it was around 4-5% of the selling price.

It is the opportunity cost of that I need to forgo. I needed to choose whether to stay put with a stable job and retain the property or manoeuvre in the freedom to travel compassionately through the wide continents. Finally, I chose the latter. Again, I have not regretted.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 12:23 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Malaysian Mosque – A Symbol of Living Friendship

Search For A Malaysian Mosque In Nova Breka, Sarajevo

semi-overcast 22 °C

Malaysian Mosque in Nova Breka, Sarajevo

Malaysian Mosque in Nova Breka, Sarajevo

Two days ago, I was morally elevated and emotionally uplifted after reading an article published by the press of Sarajevo. The article was written in a very effusive way in ardour, expressing a deep emotion of the local folks yearning for a more robust spiritual restoration in Bosnia particularly in the recent time after they had long succumbed to the wreckage of societal haemorrhaging caused by the war in the 90s. Before reading the article, I had not known that Malaysia was able to play more than a little role in contributing to the restoration of the once destructed spiritual institution which was completely destroyed during the war time.

It was an eye opening for me to know that there are several mosques constructed by the Malaysian authority in elsewhere of Bosnia, apart from a few already towering in Sarajevo. There is one mosque constructed by the Malaysian authority situated not far from the centre of the old town, around 6 km to the serene and undisturbed suburban neighbourhood called Nova Breka, Sarajevo.

After reading the article, I planned to search for it - the Malaysian Mosque.

Rising above the tranquil neighbourhood of Nova Breka, Malaysian Mosque is the symbol of living friendship between Bosnia and Malaysia. Malaysian Mosque was built with a cost of RM1.8 million featuring a typical Malaysian architecture, built by the Malaysian authority in honour of the friendship for the people of Bosnia. The wooden door and its frame to the main entrance of the mosque were extracted from an evergreen teak wood. They were intricately designed and brought in from Malaysia. The arcade, especially the main entrance of the mosque, was designed as such of a duplicated specimen look like another National Museum which we see in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian designer of the mosque had wanted to introduce the Malay architecture into the structure of the mosque.

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As I was about to step into the mosque, I came face to face into contact with the Imam of the mosque, Elvedin Klisura. Being so young at 33, he takes a great pride to assume the role as the Imam of Malaysian Mosque.

“I’ve been to your country before”, Elvedin told me. He added, “I attended several forums in Putrajaya two years ago. I met your former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the forum. He is a leader of great vision and far sighted. He shared many of his invaluable views with us on the restoration and reconstruction of Bosnia. Dr Mahathir is a great role model to us”.

Imam Elvedin further added, “Oh, Dr Mahathir is in Sarajevo now attending a national business forum. Are you aware?”. I nodded to imply that I was aware. Then he added, “He uses to come to this mosque for prayer with the community here. Your prime minister Mr. Abdullah Badawi had also been to this mosque in 2007, in honouring our request to officiate this mosque”.

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Living in a muslim country in Malaysia, ironically I had never gained access into the prayer hall of any mosque other than the Putrajaya mosque due to the strict religious rule and restriction as observed by our local muslim community. Let alone having a permission to climb up into the balcony of the minaret. Unlike many muslim countries like Egypt and Turkey, I even had been able to sit back in the prayer hall for reading. Of course, we need to heed the rule of dress code. When I travel abroad, greatly I have an affection to look for a mosque so to take a rest by its arcade. Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo was one of them.

After hearing lengthy from the Imam while sitting rest on the delicate piece of Persian carpet that was knotted with Islamic motifs, I was brought to visit the minaret stood by the mosque. The high slender tower is as tall as 8 floors and has a balcony from which several loud speakers were installed. Standing at the balcony above the dome, I could see an eye-soothing view of the undisturbed neighbourhood of Nova Breka. Very serene and tranquil indeed.

Malaysian mosque is indeed truly a symbol of living friendship between Bosnia and Malaysia.

Nova Breka - suburban neighbourhood

Nova Breka - suburban neighbourhood

Nova Breka - suburban neighbourhood

Nova Breka - suburban neighbourhood

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 03:39 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (2)

Tun Dr Mahathir In Sarajevo

A Surprise To Meet Tun Dr Mahathir In Sarajevo

overcast 21 °C

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Bascarsija Landmark

Bascarsija Landmark

Coming from across the pathway of Bascarsija old town (pronounced as "Bas-Char-See-Ya") I saw a group of people with Asian feature looking astoundingly conspicuous, emerging from the drove of local people whom were strolling in the market of the old town. They were walking closer towards to same direction I was heading to. Judging by their charisma as they walk, they appeared to be someone special and obviously worth a notice. They possibly carried some rank in the society too. A VIP was walking in the middle between a few consort gentlemen. Several bodyguards were escorting the VIP taking charge for the safety of the VIP.

Guess who was the VIP?

The VIP was our Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad!

It was completely a surprise to meet Tun Dr Mahathir by chance in Sarajevo. I was flabbergasted. I was awestruck. Being 12 thousand kilometres far away from home and having met a respected leader of the home country in this Balkan land of Sarajevo, was definitely a wild thrill of fascination.

Walking next to Tun Dr Mahathir were Tun Dr Siti Hasmah and several of his delegates from Malaysia. I caught a glimpse of one young delegate and made a reaffirming statement, stating it with a solidarity pride “Malaysia! Delegates from Malaysia?”. Obviously they are Malaysians. He only responded with a smile.

Noting a say, Tun Dr Mahathir with his endless charisma is not any ordinary populace leader. His name carries a definite weight in Bosnia. “Dr Mahathir” is such an admirable name in Bosnia and the local folks look forward to receive him as a guest of honour. He is generally admired by the local folks in Bosnia as much as he is being liked by the large Malaysians.

When I stood by him to take a photograph, I remembered he asked me a question, "What are you doing here?". By his words and gesticulation, I could translate that he knew I am a Malaysian too.

This time visit to Sarajevo, Tun Dr Mahathir has his official forum to attend. He was scheduled to attend the "Sarajevo Business Forum 2010" organised by the minsitry of Bosnia, where he would sit as a distinguished panel along with the president of Bosnia Haris Silajdzic. Of several guests, Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey was present in that business forum too.

Tun Dr Mahathir is one of the ever best friends Bosnia has had. He began to build an acquainted friendship with Bosnia since the 90s, at the time when the ethnic war had erupted in the land of Bosnia, causing a heartbreaking societal haemorrhaging that had killed thousands of muslim civilians in Bosnia. He has been very critical with his voice in lamenting the powerhouses particularly the United States for not taking an effective action in deterring the brutal ethnic cleansing from killing more innocent civilian muslims in Bosnia. His voice was loud and very audible calling the powerhouses to lift the arm embargo against Bosnia. He made it clear that there was a need to supply weapons to the unarmed Bosniak muslims for self defence and protect themselves against further attack by the Serbs. At one pint of time, the international press had made a report that of the only several muslim countries that supply weapons to Bosnia during the ethnic war, Malaysia was overtly reported as one of the suppliers. How true was the report, nobody knows.

Since then the critical voice of Tun Dr Mahathir, very overtly had won him a gratitude and great admiration by the people of Bosnia. In the ensuing years after the ethnic war, Dr Mahathir took a continual pursuit to extend a lending hand to Bosnia in many ways in the reconstruction process of the country. Apart from holding hands together in the spiritual restoration of Bosnia, Malaysia too taking part in the physical reconstruction of the city of Sarajevo. One of the many projects Malaysia played a role was the construction of a business centre called Bosmal Business Centre.
Bosmal Business Centre - far view

Bosmal Business Centre - far view

Bosmal, a joint venture company between the entities of Bosnia and Malaysia made a success in constructing the Bosmal Business Centre in the region of Hrasno, Sarajevo. Bosmal Business Centre which was completed in 2009, has 2 blocks. The main block was constructed with 29 floors encompassing 4 levels of commercial retails, 307 units of luxury apartments, 400 units of car park and a helipad on the 29th floor. Till now, the Bosmal Business Centre still boasts to be the tallest building in Sarajevo.

That afternoon, I walked all the way from the old town in the city centre of Bascarsija to Hrasno, holding up an expectation to see for myself the Bosmal City Centre which is deemed a pride of the people of Sarajevo.

One thing you may be interested to know. I was told by the manager of the Bosmal Business Centre that Dr Mahathir favours with his full support for the project endlessly. Whenever he pays a visit to Sarajevo, he would stay at the apartment suite in Bosmal Business Centre instead of any hotel in the town. Needless to say, he had his meals over the restaurant in that business centre too. That shows how much he supported the brainchild of the Bosnia folks in due of the reconstruction of Sarajevo.

Bascarsija Landmark

Bascarsija Landmark

Bascarsija Old Town

Bascarsija Old Town

Bosmal Business Centre

Bosmal Business Centre

Bosmal Business Centre

Bosmal Business Centre

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Posted by Quah Khian Hu 01:33 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (3)

Reading All The Way

Search For Books In Mostar (Bosnia Herzegovina – Mostar)

rain 20 °C

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I found two heart-tendering books displayed on the shelf of a bookstore situated by the estuary of the historic Stari Most of Mostar. After flipping through several pages, I decided to buy them. Having an affection to know more of the content, I took them to the counter for payment. Each book cost Euro 25. Quite expensive.

The first book, "At the Gates of Jahannam", compiled an anthology of the live testimonials of Bosniak men whom were detained in the concentration camps during the war period of 90s. These victims were brutally tortured and many were massacred by the radical Croat troops – the Ustashas. The Ustashas were armed with weapons to the teeth in contrary to the Bosniak men who were not defendable as they barely held any weapons. In the concentration camps, these Bosniak men were brutally killed and tortured to death by the Ustashas. One of the chapters that made my hair stood was the incident of a Bosniak inmate who was severely beaten on his arm by the Ustasha deliberately to crush his arm. The arm was almost broken into two pieces, leaving the bone piercing out from the flesh yet still sling on the arm. It was extremely atrocious.

"I Beg Them to Kill Me", is another living testimonial telling the true story of the brutal torture and suffering of Bosniak women during the societal haemorrhaging that occurred in the 90s. The writers of this book, almost all women, whom are muslims took the audacious courage to unveil their testimonials. They bravely revealed the crime committed unto them by the warlord Serbs – the Chetniks. The crime, which was systematically committed, are now exposed through this book for the public to judge.

They narrated how hundreds of Bosniak women, young and old were rampantly raped by the warlords one after another and barbarously tortured by the Chetniks. During that time, the warlord Chetniks were unusually a boastful troop, very powerful that it was solidly backed by the local Bosnian Serbs and the other Serbs encroached from the neighbouring state of Serbia.

These Chetniks were particularly extreme nationalists, whom had been deeply infused with an extreme nationalist ideology lead by an ultra nationalist yet very influential Serbian politician, the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

In this book, it was also narrated that the Serbs unduly took revenge for their communal hatred against the Bosniak muslims. Why did the Serbs greatly hate the Bosniak muslims? One of the reasons that causing the hate and consequent lead to the ethnic genocide was, in the veins of many Bosniak muslims, there was Turkish blood flowing in them. When Islam was introduced by the Ottoman in the Balkan region, many Bosnians embraced Islam through inter-marriage with the Turks. As a result, there are many descendant of Turks among the Bosniak muslims. It was a long convoluted history.

The Serbs were aroused by their ultra nationalist political leaders reminding of their suffering when the Serbian territory fell under the rule of Ottoman empire for almost five centuries. The resentment and hatred towards the Turks of the Ottoman empire has never receded.

On Saturday 11 March 2006, the Slobodan Milošević was found dead in his cell while being tried for war crimes at the ICTY in The Hague, which caused a stir. He died only months before the verdict was due for his four-year trial. Many doubt that the immediate cause of his death was a heart attack. Slobodan remains an icon of great Serbian nationalist deep in the heart of the Serbs till today.

After reading these two books, I have given one of the books to my sister when she returned home from Shanghai last year. I wanted to share the true story behind the heart wrenching massacre and ethnic genocide of the Bosniak people with her from the book. Another book, “I Beg Them To Kill Me”, I think I will bring it along with me during this coming working trip to Bangkok. Maybe, Kitty would like to read it.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 01:51 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (7)

Ultra Nationalism

The Days of Societal Haemorrhaging (Bosnia Herzegovina – Sarajevo)

rain 19 °C

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As Masideh moved around tending to his gardening work, I followed suit. When he moved towards the enclosed ground situated behind the house, around two feet away from the hind room, I noticed some neglected boulders laid abandoned on the soil of the yard. These boulders are laying haphazardly in ruin, appeared to be neglected and unattended for at least a very long time. They appeared to be some kind of marble stones carved with Arabic texts. I approached closer. Yes, those marble stones are tombstones. A mass assembly of ancient tombstones, but already ruined and further decayed caused by the abrasion of rain and wind over the years.

I pointed to the tombstones very sensibly while looking at Masideh. He was impassive as he showed no emotion. But he uttered, “Many Bosniak muslims died during the series of war in the past in protecting our territory and defending the religion. They were martyrs who upheld to defend Islam and were honoured to be buried over the vicinity here”.

Masideh began to show me more of the tombstones that were erected on the ground in honour of those martyrs. He added, “There are too many of them, everywhere you go, you would cross-head with at least some graveyards. You may come across many more graves of whom the death were killed during the genocide in the 90s”. “From the structure, size and shape of the tombstone, you are able to identify the social status of the deceased person”, he added.

Is the hostel built on a graveyard then? That was the question immediately sparked in my thought. I did not ask further.
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In Sarajevo, endless white marble tombs are commonly seen spreading over the hillside, mountain slope and including aplenty in the housing neighbourhood. There are endless cemetery grounds in Sarajevo. In the 90s, Many Bosniaks were brutally killed during the coarse of societal haemorrhaging. Most of the victims were buried in mass graves. Many of these mass graves have not been found and revealed to public. It remains a mystery till todate.

Standing on high ground over the hilltop, Masideh pointed to northeast, which is the direction towards the mountain range of Sarajevo. "Crossing over that mountain is Republika Srpska (Serbs Republic)", said Masideh. In expressing his relentless anxiety in anger, he exclaimed with a raising voice, "Crazy! Crazy! Many people are still crazy with their ultra nationalist ideology! These people are the crazy politicians!". He further exclaimed that a person who accedes to be an ultra-nationalist poses a great threat to the society, in the society of Bosnia that makes up of three major constituent people, the Bosniak muslims, Serbs and Croats.

An ultra nationalist politician may anytime resort to act extremely towards anyone whose ethnicity, religion or whatever belief does not fall under a common ground with his belief. “The Chetniks (Serbs) held a very strong spirit in their nationalism hoping to unduly redraw the political boundary of Bosnia by force. This was not acceptable. So they resorted to ethnic genocide”, exclaimed Masideh in disgust. That was what precisely happened when the late Slobodan Milosevic held power.

"I am a Bosniak Muslim. My sister married a Serb. We had no problem living in harmony till the break of societal chain caused by the furious Chetniks who tend to be ultra nationalists!", said Masideh.

Serbs Republic now forms approximately half the land carving out from the ground of Bosnia ever since the Dayton Agreement was signed in the 90s. This Serbs Republic which was formed within the land of Bosnia, is an autonomous region, predominantly an inhabitant neighbourhood to the ethnic Serbs. Years after the ethnic war, the societal harmony between the Bosniak muslims and Serbs may have gradually receiving its norm but political dealing among them remains a scene to expect.

Over in Malaysia, we have one ultra nationalist politician too. We can’t agree more to associate him, Ibrahim Ali with an ultra nationalist of his type. Oratory he is very audible in presenting himself to the local press. He has been frequently crying fowl for his alleged resentment against people of different ethnic origins in Malaysia. He stokes sensitive communal sentiments but yet he is not apprehended. His nationalist sentiment is always ridiculous and declassed frivolous. He is such a megalomaniac politician you could find in Malaysia.

Without doubt, nationalism promotes patriotism to a certain extent. But inevitably, ultra nationalism aligns to extremism. Do not excessively promulgate nationalism - a hazardous ultra nationalism is the root cause of political extremism!

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Posted by Quah Khian Hu 23:29 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (3)

Occupying A Hostel - All By Myself

International Hostel Rating (Bosnia Herzegovina – Sarajevo)

rain 19 °C

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The colours of tranquility of the flowers charmed the little wooden hostel situated in this lovely city of Sarajevo. I stood on the soil of the shrubbery, looking back into the wooden hostel – I must say, though it is dilapidated in condition, but it is still bearable.

The little house is situated above the slope by the little hill at the edge of the city. That morning, I spent several hours watching Masideh digging the ground and tending to the soil before putting flower plants into it. Masideh loves to do gardening during this time of spring.

Masideh is one of the hosts to the hostel. He is in his late 50s. He has been very long suffered an anguish from the ailment that caused him to undergo an operation in the hospital recently. As a result, the deformed part of his internal organ was removed. After the operation, his daily activity is restrained to only light physical deed and could not strain for hard work. Otherwise, he will suffer an intense internal pain.

When I met his wife that morning, she made a remark very obnoxiously, expressing her anger to me, “Do you remember seeing the two Australian girls sleeping in the room next to you?”. I was caught off guarded by her obnoxious gesticulation. She continued by raising her voice a little, “How could they rate badly, in all aspects of the hostel badly, the lowest rate of all”. Then she asked me, “Is the hotel dirty?”. I was honest. I said “No”. “Is the reception counter not functioning?”, she exclaimed. I responded, “No, you are always standing by the reception counter attending to the guests”.

Later I found out from Masideh that the Australian guests, other than had rated the hostel very badly, they also left a derogatory remark towards the hostel on the online web of the chain of International Hostel. I suppose this hostel may not have been rated as such inferior and worthless before. Otherwise, his wife would not have jumped high.

The online hostel rating and survey exercise responded by the guests play a very critical part in doing the marketing work for the hostel. Particularly for the hostels and motels in Europe, they are closely linked to the chain of International Hostel, where majority of the potential travellers and guests would search for hostel through this chain. If you rate them badly with worthless remark, you tend to degrade the hostel. In Malaysia, of course there are local hostels that are linked to this chain. And for the rating, we couldn’t be bothered much, unlike those hostels in Europe. The moral of the story is, when we rate a survey, we have to rate them with facts in tact by avoiding offence. At the same time we try to win goodwill by saying or doing the right thing. It is an art but difficult though.

Sarajevo is a city found by the valley of the charming mountainous range. Infact, in 1984, Sarajevo had once hosted Winter Olympics on the four mountains that surround the city prior to the eruption of the heart wrenching ethnic war. Sarajevo is a gorgeous landscape in its nature by itself as the lushy green valley sits in the foothill of the mountains with a stream straddles through the valley in the middle of the lowland. The housing residence are plotted on the undulating earth, that requires a vigorous walk in ascending the steps before arriving home. If you have not been to Sarajevo, it leaves you a room for your imagination to run wild.

During this time of mid spring in Sarajevo, tourism is less active. The peak season will come only in the later months of summer. At this time, you are unlikely to cross-head with massive droves of tourists, as you may have seen in the more popular destinations such as Vilnius, Krakow or Velliko Ternovo in other parts of Eastern Europe.

For many days, I have been occupying the entire house here, all by myself.

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Posted by Quah Khian Hu 23:03 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (2)

Here Comes Spring, It’s Lively Again

Watching The Flower Buds Blooming (Bosnia Herzegovina – Sarajevo)

overcast 19 °C

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This morning, “Masideh” directed me to the shrubbery of the cultivated ground attached to the front yard of the hostel. He was tending the garden where the stunted trees and shrubs are planted, while clearing the scrub plants from the soil. He pointed and made a remark, "Look carefully at the emerging young twigs. Look at the sprouting flower buds. They are aplenty now".

The first day when I arrived at the hostel, the plants were barely nude. No leaves, no lively green and of course no flower buds. At that time, the snow was still lingering to the plants. Today, the buds are sprouting everywhere from the stems. The first ray of shine returns the plants to its life. Blooming buds are opening into flowers of various colours, I would say it is a blossom of perfection. The flowers attract swamps of bees and insects flying leap to the colourful petals. They are attracted by the essence of the nectar. Seeing the bees buzzing around the flowers as they feed on the nectar and gather sweet pollen back to their hive is definitely lively. A sign of life in return – when I left home, it was summer in 2009. After a three-month stale winter, here comes spring.

I greatly dislike winter. Winter is over, finally. I’m totally enthralled to see the blooming flowers.

Life returns. It is spring!

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Posted by Quah Khian Hu 23:31 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (2)

Reaching Bosnia and Herzegovina

Come Visit Mostar – The Stari Most, Old Ottoman Bridge of Mostar

overcast 18 °C

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Ever since I returned home from Albania in May 2010, I had not been updating the travelogue. Now I am trying to build a habit to write at least one event within a week of things happened during that time. I have a tendency to forget the more details of the overland journey that I had crossed before. I do not have a habit to write a diary in the tiny booklet. So, memory wavered, it wanes through a very short life span.

Bosnia in itself, is a little word by the alphabets but its name is no anyway minuscule. Instead it was once a high profile country that triggered an alarming attention of the community worldwide. It was all for the cause of brutal ethnic genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of muslim Bosniaks.

On the way through the Eastern Europe, I did not miss any chance to reveal in jovial mood to other travellers that my next station, a must visit was Bosnia. That was my benchmark, I could not leave Eastern Europe unless I have succeeded to reach Bosnia. I had been down count the days, hoping that I would arrive at Bosnia soon. I was very much inspired by our former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad by the foreign policy he established, as he extended heavily a hearty attention and open arms to Bosnia during the genocide period. He extended a very congenial friendship to Bosnia and wanting to help the way he could, particularly during the time of Bosnia war in 1992 to 1995 – brutal ethnic genocide years. Though we may be appeared to be a small developing country, but our voice to the powerhouses through Dr, Mahathir was strongly audible.

I still remember, during the ferocious genocide period, Malaysians were struck with a crushing emotion and shattered heart to watch the suffering of our muslim associates in Bosnia. Malaysia later decided to open its door to welcome the genocide victims to seek shelter over in Malaysia, whom were made up mainly of the Bosniak muslims. Under the rescue mission, Malaysia brought home several thousand of Bosniak victims and placed them under the care of the local community. Many of these victims were young students. At one stage, these young students were placed to study under the local university, of the prominent one was International Islamic University. Later, we often watched these Bosniak students appeared on the local TV screen as they were interviewed by the local press. However, in late 90s, these Bosniak associates had gradually returned to their homeland, leaving very few staying behind in our country now.

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I would want to recommend Bosnia to you if you intend to travel to Eastern Europe. Years after the war and while reconstruction of the country is still pervasive, Bosnia is somehow still being tainted by its wound of war wreckage to a little extent. But that should not hinder you from visiting the country. Try not to be overwhelmed in excitement as you would be assured to charm by the beauty of its nature. The country has plenty to offer. You would be charmed by its picturesque scenery and awed to flabbergast by its tranquil mountains and thrilled by its serene river flowing through the valley. And of course it is too lengthy to describe more. See for yourself in Bosnia.

Below are some quick facts of demographic and history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia is home to three ethnic "constituent peoples": Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats of 4.5 million people. According to 2000 data from the CIA World Factbook, Bosnia's three largest ethnic groups have the following percentages - the Bosniaks (48%), the Serbs (37.1%) and the Croats (14.3%). 99% of the population spoke Serbo-Croatian. There is a strong correlation between ethnic identity and religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Muslims constitute 45% of the population, Orthodox 36%, Roman Catholics 15%, and other groups, including Jews and Protestants, 4%.

Bosnia was under the Ottoman control till late 19th century when the Turks began to show signs of weakening power in their empire. The Ottoman empire crumbled completely by late 19th century. Post WWII, Josip Tito was made the prime minister of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia through his envision to unify the 6 states of the Balkan - Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Macedonia and Croatia. The Republic of Yugoslavia did not hold on long enough after the death of Josip Tito in 1980.

History:

Ottoman Era (1463 - 1878)
Austro-Hungarian Rule (1878 - 1918)
Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918 - 1941)
World War II (1941 - 1945)
Socialist Yugoslavia (1945 - 1992)
Bosnian War (1992 - 1995)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996 to present)

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Posted by Quah Khian Hu 23:24 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (3)

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