Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cuti-cuti Malaysia….. Kalumpang Resort & Training Centre

The Chalet at KRTC

The week had been pretty hectic so the invitation for a weekend getaway at Kalumpang Resort & Training Centre (KRTC) was very much welcomed. I had no idea what was waiting there but the prospect of being closer to nature was good enough to entice me to jump on the bandwagon.

We left Manjung at about 11.15am on Saturday. The 170km drive was pretty much uneventful. We made two stopovers to buy guava at Bidor and the famous “pau” at Tanjung Malim….and we were hard pressed to reach our destination as quickly as possible once the constant “Are we there yet?” started barely one hour into the journey.

We arrived at the junction in Kalumpang leading to the resort shortly after 1pm. According to the resort’s website, the place is about 2km from the junction. The road was narrow alright, at times we were forced to stop on the curb to allow the incoming car to pass through.

We were the second group to arrive after Kak Shida & her family. The resort was made of various types of bungalows and chalets nestled in between rocks and trees alongside the Inki River. At the first look it felt like being in a kampung (village). The buildings blended fairly well with the surroundings, with ayam kampung and cats running around. I even saw some Rajah Brooke butterflies flying comfortably among the huge heliconia plants found abundant in the area. The main attraction, the Inki River itself was nice and clean with lots of rocks, big and small, scattered throughout. We quickly changed and made our way to the river which was less than 50m away. I was really starving and the sight of nasi lemak, sambal sotong and ayam masak kicap was just overwhelming, so the river just had to wait a little longer. The twins wasted no time in getting into the water allowing Lin & I to really enjoy our late lunch. After finishing my second helping of nasi lemak, I was ready for all the fun. I discovered that the water was very cold despite the scorching heat…..unbelievably refreshing. The rest of the family group arrived a little over an hour later; my parents in laws, Kak Yan, Shera, Ijan & Haikal. More swimming and playing in the water until it was time to prepare for the family BBQ.

 The twins really enjoyed themselves

Fun on the first day

Natural jacuzzi

I wondered if the chalet was going to be sufficient to cater for the 13 of us. However, since this was a family get together, I was sure we’d be able to somehow work our way around it. That evening Kak Shida & Abang Pedi managed to acquire the chalet right next to ours at a special rate, thus solving the accommodation challenge.

The weather was nice when we had the BBQ. The BBQ menu consisted of stingray, chicken, squids, prawns, crabs and sausages. We also had fruit & vegetable salad and leftover nasi lemak to complete the meal. Ohh yes, food was abundant for everybody to enjoy. Hjh Azizah never lets anybody go hungry when she is around. Everything was nice, and I particularly enjoyed the stingray, the crab and the squid. Everybody hit the bed shortly before midnight. Farzana decided to try the upper bed of the double-decker……it worked well for her as she was fast asleep within minutes, but not for her over-worried parents. Fearing that she might fall down due to her lasak nature of sleeping, Lin decided to accompany her up there.

After all the effort, the tent was only useful for about 10 minutes...sighhh:)

It was an early rise for everybody, with me being one of the last ones to leave the comfort of my bed at about 7.30am. While my mother in law was busy preparing breakfast, I took the family for a quick walk around the compound. We saw the workers gathered together for a session of “poco poco” before starting to work…..that was original.

You have to know "poco poco" to work here....I do not qualify obviously

During our morning walk

The children hit the water again right at 8.30am……are you guys not cold? Then again….children will always be children. The adults slowly gathered around to have breakfast by the river bank, while the children continued to splash around in the water. Breakfast was bread, egg salad, scrambled eggs and sardines plus some left over BBQ. Perfect!!! Watermelon and all sorts of nuts were the later additions as we spent the whole morning there chatting, munching and swimming. The adults, including my mother in law (…way to go!!!) decided to join the children in water slightly later in the morning. It was fun all around…..

Everything is fun here

 The twins love photo opportunities

 The adults watching the kids while chitchatting & munching

Everybody "berendam"

We got out of the water at about noon. Then it was a super quick process of packing up to check out of the resort. Everybody was super efficient…..seasoned traveler you have to say. We bid each other goodbye and made our way home, my family back to Lumut while the rest to Shah Alam.

The Aziz Clan all set to go's been great fun

Another short and sharp break but was definitely worth it. One interesting idea came up during this trip. We decided to initiate a “vacation fund” with Lin unanimously being appointed as the Coordinator. Ha..ha…a quick vote…cadangan dibuka, cadangan ditutup tanpa sebarang bantahan…kecuali yang empunya diri. Well done Lin for accepting the appointment. Everybody is to contribute a fixed amount of RM50 per head monthly and the collection will be used to facilitate a family vacation later in the year. Let’s hope there’s more Cuti-cuti Malaysia news in this blog as a result of this initiative.

My overall view of the resort – It is a nice value for money place. The chalet was very basic but when we spent 90% of your time outdoor all that we needed were a clean bathroom and decent beds. The highlight, the Inki river was marvelous, and clean. However, I just think that the workers should pay just a little more attention in cleaning up the trash, and not so much of the leaves. The place is generally clean, much cleaner than any public picnic areas I’ve seen. However, I think it’ll do the resort more good if they could pay a little bit more “detail” attention to the upkeep and maintenance of the place. I’d love to come back…..definitely, that’s my overall verdict.

They were spent....all the way to Lumut like this

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Simple Definition Of True Friends

My true friends are out there. They know who they are. Maybe they are ordinary people to others, but to me they are really special. I know I can always TRUST them, and they know they TRUST me. I know I can always RELY on them, and they know they can RELY on me.

My true friends are not always physically near me, but I know that I am placed somewhere special in their hearts. Some of my true friends don’t talk to me that often, but when we do, it seems like not a day has passed since we last met.

When they need help, my true friends will know that I’ll do my best to render assistance. But when I can’t, they’ll understand it’s not because I do not want to. My true friends will not do things to harm me. My true friends will not put our friendship at stake for a little personal gain. I know my true friends will never ever stab me in the back.

I know I can let all my guards down around my true friends. I can just be myself. I don’t have to pretend. There is no barrier in our conversation. Time flies when I talk to my true friends. Of course time flies when you have fun.....and being with true friends is obviously a lot of fun.

My true friends are human, they have flaws. I am also flawed. We do disagree on things. We have different opinion about things. Even some of our values are different. But we don’t pass judgment on our shortcomings and differences. I accept my true friends for who they are, and they like me for who I am.

My true friends are closer to me than my blood relatives. I do have true friends amongst my blood relatives, but blood relation alone does not spawn true friendship.

I have true friends from my childhood days. I have true friends I just recently discovered. One fact is common, true friendship doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to develop.

Sadly, some are my true friends no more. And that’s sad. I don’t really know when true friendship sets in, it’s a developed feeling. But when it’s gone, I know it right there and then. And that’s sad. But sometimes it’s probably for the better. I can live with that, and I hope they can to. C’est la vie.

True friends are definitely HARD TO COME BY. I am truly blessed to have these guys I can call true friends. Thanks all of you my true friends.....may our special bond last forever. InsyaAllah.

"No lapse of time or distance of place can lessen the friendship of those who are truly persuaded of each other's worth."

"Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart."
"Friendship without self interest is one of the rare and beautiful things in life."
~James Francis Byrnes~

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sinopsis Khutbah Jumaat 22 Jan 2010

Khutbah hari Jumaat hari ini menyentuh isu berkaitan ciri-ciri rumah yang baik. Saya berpeluang mendengar khutbah ini semasa pergi menunaikan sembahyang Jumaat di Masjid Desa Bayu, Manjung. Antara aspek yang saya ingat adalah seperti berikut:

1. Kita hendaklah mencari rumah dengan lokasi yang sesuai. Seboleh-bolehnya rumah hendaklah dibina sendiri namun di zaman ini kita mempunyai banyak pilihan untuk memilih rumah bersesuaian yang dibina oleh pemaju.

2. Seelok-eloknya kenali jiran sebelum membuat keputusan membeli atau membina rumah.

3. Rumah hendaklah sentiasa dalam keadaan baik dan bersih. Hiasi rumah dengan perhiasan yang sesuai. Tanamlah pokok-pokok yang sesuai di halaman kerana membantu mengurangkan habuk. Tanamlah pokok-pokok bunga mengikut kemampuan dan kesesuaian.

4. Banyakkan berzikir dan beribadat di dalam rumah yang didiami. Rumah yang sentiasa dihiasi zikir umpama rumah yang hidup, dan rumah yang tidak dihiasi zikir seumpama rumah yang yang mati.

5. Gunakan rumah sebagai lokasi bagi mengadakan aktiviti berfaedah. Sekiranya berpeluang gunakan rumah secara sukarela sebagai lokasi bagi aktiviti komuniti dan kejiranan setempat.

6. Adakan majlis makan dengan menjemput jiran tetangga dan anak-anak yatim.

7. Sediakan rumah saiz yang sesuai untuk ahli keluarga, tetamu serta asingkan bilik anak-anak lelaki & perempuan.

Khutbah yang short & sharp. Kandungan yang simple tetapi mudah difahami di semua peringkat. Saya suka mendengarnya dan berharap lebih banyak khutbah seumpanya menghiasi mimbar hari Jumaat di masjid.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I’m Gardening?? Really??

When we moved into our new home in June 2009 we knew we didn’t have enough fund left to do up the outside of the house. Now, 6 month later finally we got a chance to do something about it. For a start, the small land area at the side of the house the size of about 40 ft x 3 ft. underwent a makeover this weekend. The rest of the area will have to wait till time permits, and ….when the budget is available.

First, with the help of 3 of my rugby boys, we dug up about 1 ft deep of the land as I expected it to be spoiled with construction waste. I was absolutely right, and it was a real challenge for the boys to finish the job. Finally, at almost 8pm on Saturday, after 3 hours of hard labour, we managed to replace the useless earth with fortified organic soil.

Early on Sunday, I began to plant the combination of flowers that we had purchased the day before. Nearest to the wall fence, we planted a row of Sepit Udang (Heliconia), mixed colours of Bunga Siantan (Ixora Plant…heh..heh…just found out the scientific name for it), Bunga Puding (no idea what it’s called in English) and a few other plants which I don’t have the slightest idea what they’re called either in Malay or English (found one in Laman Impiana, it’s called Pentas Lanceolata) …..and I wish to be known as a gardener??? The next row is a mixture of a shrub type plant called Cuphea Hyssopifolia (also looked it up in Laman Impiana...thank you) which bears either purple or white little flowers. Finally, the plants are bordered by a row of small white pebbles up to the edge of the drain.

The results….. here you are. I like it, Lin and the kids like it too. I also notice now that our little garden only gets about 2-3 hours of direct sunlight as it is sandwiched between the house and the wall that separates us from the neighbour’s. Furthermore, it will also get drenched by rain fall coming down directly from the roof. Fitting a gutter for the roof is still out of the budget at the moment. So just have to see if the plants are strong enough withstand the monsoon downpour later.

The overview of our little garden

Heliconia and Bunga Puding

This is called Pentas Lanceolata

Bunga Siantan (Ixora Plant) in red, yellow, orange and pink

The walkway to the garden tap

The leftovers of my work

I know it’s still a long way to go. Hopefully the garden will turn out well….as well as those I see in Laman Impiana magazine. I can just imagine now…the family having our tea and goreng pisang under the porch while staring at our little DIY garden. That’ll be just wonderful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Am A Happy Camper...A Great Birthday Weekend

I had a great birthday celebration this year. For a start, I received countless birthday wishes through email, Facebook and SMS. Made me feel great that some people actually spared a little of their time to wish me great things on the special day. The customary birthday card from the family was equally touching.  Lin & the kids also organised a "miniture" birthday party at home on Friday for me.

I'm 39 today....!!!!

I even had an earlier birthday celebration at Rahim’s house on Jan 1 together with those of us in my “Navy Rugby Circle” celebrating birthday in January (Navy Rugby Circle: guys on my 7’s team during the glory days – Rahim, Azmanor, Man Damin and Wan Zarihan aka Yin Yin and their families).

Early celebration on Jan 1

Things started off pretty ordinary in the morning of my birthday. We spent the whole morning at Manjung Hospital for one of my daughter’s appointment. We left for Klang Valley after Friday prayer, specifically to celebrate my special day. Well, actually we left only after I took a short nap so it was more like late afternoon.

200km later, we arrived at TGI Friday's at Subang Parade in a great mood for my birthday dinner. The place was lively, it was Friday nite afterall….you’d want to be at a lively place. Friday nite at TGI Friday's was just perfect. We had buffalo wings and nachos as appetisers. For main course I had New York strip and Lin had Sirloin steak. The children had chicken fingers and spaghetti marinara. We also ordered Chocolate Oreo Mint Crunch (Irresistible velvety, chocolate-mint custard covered with crunchy Oreo® cookie crumbles), Strawberry Parfait (Delectable, creamy-rich vanilla custard crowned with a juicy-fresh strawberry) and and Snickers Treat (Decadent, sweet chocolate custard covered with chunks of chewy Snickers bar) ~quoted from TGI Friday's menu~.

The nite was rounded off with the TGI’s staff singing me happy birthday. They actually asked me to sing a song first, but I didn’t think I’d want to change the otherwise lovely dinner into an unforgettable disaster, so I passed. Sorry to disappoint all you my fans. A big cup of vanilla ice cream covered with whipped cream courtesy of the restaurant was the substitute for my birthday cake. Thanks to my wife for arranging the whole thing, though the secret plot was accidently ruined in advance when one of the staff came to the table and asked Lin, “Is it for him?”.

My birthday fiesta continued on the next day with a trip to RGT Technology Sdn Bhd, No 2 Jln SS7/16 Kelana Jaya. I bought a CG12 48 degree wedge along with some other golf accessories. A great shop for golfers. Game on........

CG 12 Product Description
The CG12 combines classic wedge design with advanced manufacturing processes. On each CG12 wedge, the grooves are milled to maximum conforming dimensions using a proprietary CNC mill bit to create envelope-stretching geometry. To improve shot consistency, the new groove geometry was coupled with an innovative plating process – making ZIP Grooves Cleveland Golf’s most consistent, precise and visible wedge technology to date.

We then made our way to Sunway Pyramid. After buying the movie tickets for Alvin and The Chipmunks 2, we went for lunch at Mr Teppanyaki. I had Beef Teppanyaki which was lovely. The beef was tender and juicy but with the teppanyaki being prepared only 10ft away from where we sat, all of us ended up smelling a little bit like “teppanyakied meat” when we left.

The movie turned out to be okay, nothing spectacular. The kids are never Alvin’s fans anyway. They enjoyed it, but based on their lack of enthusiasm to speak about the movie afterwards, I’d have to assume they didn’t rate the movie in the same league as the Princess and the Frog they saw a few weeks earlier.

We spent more time shopping after the movie, and with the kids asleep it was easier to move around. We got an alphabet bead necklace for each of the twins. It was “Zana” for Adik and “Hana” for Kakak, and they really love them. More shopping till we got really tired and the children became a bit cranky. We decided to rejuvenate our spirit by having some drinks and cakes at a place called Fullhouse Lifestyle Store and Cafe. You are supposed to feel right at home here, literally. A posh English home as the concept I guess.

Finally, we had dinner at at Pappa Rich kopitiam where we were joined by my mom and my sister. I had dry curry noodles which was heaven. I’d definitely come back to this place. We went home to my in-laws’ well after 11pm. I was tired but fully content with the experience we had throughout the day.

I woke up surprisingly early the next day (Sunday). I made my way to Shah Alam Lake Garden fully motivated to complete at least 30 minutes of jogging. Unfortunately, my knees had a different idea. They were really in pain as a result of the previous day’s activities. As a compromise, I did brisk walking for almost an hour to burn all the wonderful calories my body had accumulated from the birthday pampering. Lunch was simply awesome, with masak lemak rebung as the main attraction...yummy. Still a little room for indulgence to round up the brilliant weekend. We ordered Domino’s pizza, one large Extravaganzza and a regular Pepperoni which became our dinner when we arrived back in Lumut.

Yes, I had a great birthday weekend.

What a better way to offset all the fun than having to go to the office that Sunday night and worked until 1.30am. How about then having to wake up at 4.30 to shoot off to KL to present it....and eventually arriving back in Lumut at almost midnite on Monday. won’t let it dampen my spirit......I am 39 years old and I am still a happy camper. Yeah......and Alhamdulillah.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

I am turning 39 years old in a few hours. It’s another year that gets me closer to being 40. I have been thinking a lot about this magic number. “Life begins at 40” can be construed in many ways, and guys have many jokes about this which I obviously am not at liberty to disclose in this forum. I don’t think I’m scared of turning 40, and I don’t wish to have a mid-life crisis when the time really comes, knock on wood. I would like the word “reflection” to be the theme of my celebration for this occasion. I would like to reflect on how I’ve lived my life and to reflect on what kind of life I’m living and I would like to reflect on what kind of life I should be having beyond 40.

What should I wish for my birthday this time? I could wish for world peace…hah..hah, too cliché. Since we still don’t have world peace despite many contestants of beauty pageants wishing for it, I don’t think leaving that out of my birthday wishes will make any difference. A good birthday wish for a start must include good food, so where do I wish to go for my birthday dinner? TGI Friday’s seems to be the preferred choice of my family members. Since I’m the gender minority here, I don’t think any argument for the dinner location will go my way… know I’m exaggerating but since I’m never too fussy about food, I think I’ll go with the popular choice. What do I wish to get for myself as birthday present? I’ve known what I want for quite a while now, since I began playing golf again a few months ago. My golf set is good, it has to be, as the option of getting a new set is completely out of question, and out of budget. What missing is good Pitching Wedge. So I think I’ll treat myself to this iron club. Oh, how I look forward to not having to rely too much on a Sand Wedge for my short game. Mind you though, I got an “Eagle” with that SW, and it helped me many times to get out of difficult situations involving really tall obstacles. So let’s hope that my game will further improve with the addition of this new club in my golf bag.

My other wish is for my knee to feel better. But I know I must do a bit more work if I were to improve my present condition. I know I need to strengthen my quadriceps and other leg muscles to stand any chance of getting rid of the pain completely. So I’m wishing that I’ll be able to find more time to work out. As of late, I’ve been pretty successful in neglecting the need to exercise. Although I break a sweat when I’m doing rugby coaching and playing golf, these activities really do not meet the minimum requirement for good physical and cardiovascular workout. I hope my other commitments and occasional lack of self-determination will not deter my comeback attempt at exercising more regularly.

So I’ll be 39 shortly. I’m thankful to God, Alhamdulillah, for blessing me with such a wonderful life. I hope and pray that I will continue to be blessed as I embark on a new chapter of my life and I wish for His continued guidance so that I don’t stray from the right path. Amin.

Happy 39th Birthday to me.

At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit; and at 40 the judgment.
- Ben Franklin -

Monday, January 4, 2010

Permata Makan Orang Lumut/Manjung

Ini salah satu tempat makan favourite saya. Mula dari masuk Navy, dan seterusnya lepas kahwin seluruh ahli keluarga jatuh cinta kunyahan pertama. Dan boleh kata semua yang berpeluang merasa penangan Ah Choon pastinya akan datang semula. Mangsa terkini adalah abang saya dari Penang yang berpeluang melepas dendam di restoran ini.

Restoran ini yang dikenali sebagai Restoran Choon Fatt, tak silap saya dibuka pada tahun 1984 (menurut interview tak rasmi saya dengan pemiliknya) pada ketika Pangkalan TLDM Lumut baru dibuka. Pada ketika Lumut, Manjung dan Sitiawan masih lagi merupakan tempat "jin bertendang" restoran ini yang memulakan operasi di Yacht Club di dalam kem merupakan lokasi ter"mantop" di kalangan pegawai TLDM. Saya mula terkena mantra Ah Choon pada tahun pertama mula bertugas dengan TLDM iaitu 1993. Restoran ini selalu menjadi pilihan sekiranya ada jamuan semi-formal seperti jamuan perpisahan, kenaikan pangkat dan juga meraikan pelawat.

Menunya yang saya selalu order tak banyak berubah, dengan menu wajibnya ikan stim dan sotong goreng tepung. Ikan yang saya suka adalah senangin, gerut-gerut ataupun jenahak. Untuk anak-anak saya pasti B&W Japanese tauhu. Kadangkala kalau nak yang ringan sikit, pilihannya adalah samada nasi goreng, kue teow kungfu atau bihun goreng, setiap satunya begitu simple tapi tak pernah tak habis kalau makan.

Kalau tengok kedainya memang tak banyak yang menarik. Ah Choon yang berseluar pendek dan t-shirt sendat menutup perutnya yang semangat.  Mejanya pula kosong dan hanya ditutup table cloth merah untuk pelanggan yang ramai (round table).  Anak-anak saya dah terlalu selesa di restoran ini sehingga memanggil tuan punya restoran sebagai “Atuk Ah Choon”.

Kalau sesiapa yang datang ke mari, jangan lepaskan peluang merasai legasi yang merupakan kebanggan bagi mereka yang claim orang local di sini. I’m hooked, you will be… me.  Oh ye, baru-baru ini restoran dia buat uplift sikit tukar signboard, kini dikenali sebagai Restoran Ah Choon.

Berikut menu istimewa yang kami bedal semasa abang saya datang berkunjung baru-baru ini.

From bottom (clockwise):
Sotong goreng tepung, kangkung belacan, B&W japanese tauhu, stim jenahak, oyster egg, stim senangin.
Chicken with dry chilly 

The Clan before the feast ((clockwise from far left):
Farhana, Lin, Farzana, Sarah, Amani, Kak Yatimah Miho & Abang