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Tuesday 30 December 2014

The Long, Long Drive back to Kuala Lumpur

We’re leaving for Kuala Lumpur today. It’s been raining incessantly all of last night, but has since subsided. We left at around 9am and an hour into the drive the rain resumed, with a vengeance

About 2 hours into our drive and 110 kilometers later along Jalan Kmpung Nyior (Dungun to Paka trunk road) we encountered flash floods, and the roads were inundated with what appeared to be knee-high flood waters. We braved our way through and made it to the other side of the ‘stream’ and proceeded make our way to Kemaman.

We made a pitstop at our old favourite haunt, Kedai Kopi Hai Peng for a late breakfast.

We then continued our journey and found our usual route to Kuala Lumpur, the Lebuhraya Pantai Timur (LPT) closed since massive flooding had rendered the expressway impassable along the Chenor - Temerloh – Lanchang route. The old trunk road connecting Kuantan to Temerloh was submerged as well.

taken from a facebook page

We were advised to take the alternative route which was to head to Gambang first, then head south to Muadzam Shah, then west to Bahau before heading to Seremban before finally heading north to Kuala Lumpur.

Reaching Muadzam Shah, we stopped at a petrol station for a biological break while filling up our car with petrol in anticipation of the long detour ahead.

We reached Bahau at about 3:00PM and had a late lunch at a restaurant in Batu Kikir which was oddly called Tikey Corner. I couldn't help suppress a smile at the name and imagined its waiters and waitresses having a having a go at tiki-taka soccer while serving us.

After our meal, the car developed problems and the gear could not shift up. We were stuck at a low gear and could only travel at about 30 kilometers per hour.

A kind soul suggested that we try a workshop (Jit Sing) nearby. After almost an hour the mechanic at Jit Sing came to the conclusion that the car needed its entire gearbox replaced! We could not help but wonder if the flood waters we encountered at Jalan Kampung Nyior earlier this morning had anything to do with this?

Jit Sing unfortunately did not have a gearbox at hand, and despite calls made could not procure a set from the surrounding area. After much discussion we decided to tow the car back to Kuala Lumpur to our regular mechanic.

The tow costed RM550, while we had to take a taxi back to Kuala Lumpur as well which cost another RM110. This experience has taught us a very precious lesson: never underestimate Mother Nature's powers, and never assume knee high flood waters won't do serious damage to your vehicle.

What a way to end the year!

Monday 29 December 2014

On The Way Kopitiam

141 Jalan Kampung Cina
20100 Kuala Terengganu
Coordinates: 5.333417, 103.132749

Its our last night here and we thought we’d spend it in Kampung Cina. We settled on a rather upmarket looking cafĂ© overlooking Pulau Warisan that boasted local cuisine. Curious to see what they had to offer, we scanned the menu and placed our orders.

new (to us at least) establishment

quire a lengthy order

as we waited

assortment of beverages

Brendan had the Chicken Chop (what!?); Cat tried their Fried Squid with Rice while I sampled the Fried Rice with Mackerel. We threw in orders for the 1Roti Paun and 2Keropok Lekor Rebus for good measure.

1little butter buns (literally?)

2steamed fish sausage was the closest translation I could find

Brendan's Chicken Chop (sheesh!)

fish crackers

rice with squid fried in spicy sause

fried rice with mackerel

roti pa-ong

keropok lekor rebus

The verdict? To be honest, if this had been a cafe that we tried in Kuala Lumpur we'd be more than happy to give it our collective thumbs up. But since we've had the real and authentic dishes the past few days, the dishes on offer here was a little off the mark.

And since the entire meal cost us more than RM50 it hardly qualifies as the everyday food for the everyday man.

My Alma Mater(s)

My Primary (Elementary) School
Sekolah Kebangsaan Sultan Sulaiman II
(SK Sultan Sulaiman 2)
Jalan Engku Sar
20300 Kuala Terengganu
Coordinates: 5.323481, 103.140269

My Secondary (High) School
Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Sulaiman
(SMK Sultan Sulaiman)
Jalan Sultan Mahmud
20400 Kuala Terengganu
Coordinates: 5.300345, 103.163802


Growing up, the schools I went to were simply called “SS2” which was my primary school, and “SS” which referred to my secondary school. Malaysia modeled its education system on the British, so we had no in between ‘middle’ school. From the ages of 7 to 12 I went to a primary school, and from the ages of 13 to 17 I went to a secondary school. Simple, right?

So, in taking a walk down memory lane let’s start with SS2, shall we?

despite the rather lengthy name...

its still SS2 to me

its the school holidays, which explains it being quiet

this school hall was after my time

while this was here since the 70s

its still just SS2 to me

I sense that although things look the same it somehow feels different at the same time. Can’t seem to put my finger on it.

the wooden building is gone

Ah, I get it now. In the photo above do you see a concrete structure to the right of the main gate. When I started schooling here aged 7 my Standard 1 class was a wooden building (which doubled as the old school hall) where that concrete structure now stands. I remember vaguely being sick and vomiting in class, and feeling faint all at once. I slept while waiting for the school to call my Dad to come pick me up, and the next thing you know the entire class was vacated. I guess the stench of my vomit was pretty vile!

We’re heading to SS next.

school assembly every Sunday morning

just as I remembered it

my Form 1 block

walkway leading to the main blocks

view from the other end

walkway to the Form 1 block

Located along the bustling Jalan Sultan Mahmud road although on the outskirts of town this was (and still is) one of the premier non-boarding schools in the state. Apart from trying to achieve academic excellence, SS also strived to be the best at all local school sports events as well.

no, my camera was not over saturated

the school is painted in this yellow/orange hue

my Form 5 block

it was a dark and soggy day

hallowed grounds

another view of my Form 1 block

the girls dormitory

the 'astaka or pavilion facing the school field'

the basketball cum volleyball court

someone needs to give it some tender loving care

Again there’s this sense of familiarity but strangeness as well, as though you’re back in the place you used to live but it doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. I guess with age the brains gets fuzzy sometimes.

I sometimes reminisce about my school canteen, and my daily menu of Mee Goreng with Keropok Lekor. The photo above is of the canteen I always speak so fondly of.

our ginormous field (and the wall at the farthest end)


Our school field is HUGE, and can accommodate two soccer matches at once. And I have a confession to make. Do you see the wall at the farthest end of the field? That’s the wall we jumped over to sneak out of school to play truant! (Brendan, pretend you didn't read this).

Gerai Ani

Jalan Sultan Omar
20300 Kuala Terengganu
Coordinates: 5.323665, 103.141817

Right across the intersection of Jalan Sultan Omar and Jalan Sultan Omar there is a row of ‘Gerai’s and ‘Warung’s (both basically means small food stall) selling all manner of Terengganu dishes and cakes.

Gerai Ani!

where all manner of local delicacies are found

among Cat's perennial favourite, the Laksa Asam

and cakes that defy description

found only in Terengganu

Our favorite has always been Gerai Ani, somewhere in the middle of these rows of amazing stalls. I pay particular deference to this stall since it sells what in my honest opinion to be the best 1Paung Pulut or 1Kuih Bom  in town. Cat on the other hand loves the local variant of the 2Laksa found here.

1minced fish with cocounut wrapped in glutinous rice ball and deep fried
2spicy noodle soup consisting of egg noodles with prawn or fish, served in spicy soup; based on sour asam (tamarind)

this is what I came for

the Mee Goreng goes well...

with the Pulut Paong and Kereopok Lekor

Cat's Laksa

and lunch is served

These used to be my sample breakfast growing up in Kuala Terengganu before going to school. Speaking of school, right after this we’ll be visiting my primary (elementary) school just a stone’s throw away.