Wednesday, September 28, 2016

IDIOSYNCRASIES ~

'Ntah ape-ape lah.. Muslim tapi tandas takde paip!"  squawked the lady in her 50's. That was not the last time I heard someone complaint about how things are different from the way it is back home. Another country is labeled 'Tak best!' or the least would be 'Biase je..' because one failed to appreciate the difference of culture or even ignorant to why are things done differently in another country.

Well, personally I was also, sometimes, surprised by the difference but the things I encountered didn't really annoy me. Instead, I found it pretty interesting and some are even amusing and very pleasant to remember. here are some of my favourite

1. Everybody wants to sit on the 'Throne'

During our safari, we opted to camp instead of staying in a luxurious lodge to save budget. To me, the campsite is very decent; equipped with a dining hall and a clean shower facility and toilet. The queue for morning shower was not very long because it seem like most of the people there only take shower in the evening while Ray and I stick to our twice daily shower routine. But the toilet queue was snaking long!



 That morning, I went to the toilet before starting our Game. There were still people queuing for their turn to use the toilet. I saw the squatting toilet was vacant and walked myself there. Then I heard one of the Londoner that we chatted with the night before exclaimed, "Oh my God! I don't wanna die with this full bladder!!!" That's when I stopped and asked, "Would you like to use this one first?" pointing to the squatting toilet. "It's okay. I want to enjoy my throne" and we laughed.

We spent 3 nights there. And throughout that, I noticed only me, Ray and another Singaporean girl used the squatting toilet. The rest, who were westerners, sanggup queue panjaaaaaaanggg to enjoy the throne...

2. Preciousssssssss bog roll

My staffs sometimes asked me how did we cope with toilet that has no water outlet in oversea. Well, we always have this 'botol hikmat' with us and get some water from the sink before we enter the toilet. And the toilets abroad never seem to run out of toilet papers. So, everything was sufficient for istinjaaaakkk~

I just find it funny that when traveling in SEA, I'll be relieved to see the toilet but it's the opposite for the westerners. I was once offered a toilet roll by this European guy when I said, "I need to go to the washroom"
When I told him I don't need it because I have some tissues with me, he breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Pheeeww. This is actually my last~"

3. Spoon please~

When we were in Croatia, we went to a popular halal food restaurant at the center of the city. It was a fancy restaurant that was dimly lit but the price was actually reasonable. I ordered a local delicacy which I don't remember its name. But it was rice plus chicken with gravy that made it taste like butter chicken. When my food arrived, I tried to eat them with fork and knife (which were the only ones prepared on the table) and my attempt was to no avail

I called up the waiter and asked for a spoon. for  a moment, his eyes scrutinized our food and asked back with a puzzled look on his face, "May I know for what?"
"For my rice.." I answered in confusion.

His curiosity didn't stop there. When we entered the restaurant, he and 3 other waiters were standing near the entrance where there was a small bar. But after I requested for a spoon, these waiters stood at a far corner that could be easily seen from our table and we actually noticed their furtive glance.

"Aku je ke rase dorang tengah tengok macam mana aku makan nasi pakai sudu?"
"Kite pon rase.. Obvious sangat kot.."

And I still can't figure out how they can eat rice with fork...

4. "WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO IF YOU DON'T READ!!!!?"

I think it was a wise decision for us to hire a car transfer instead of using the normal public bus to cross between Montenegro to Bosnia. Although our bags were searched because the border officers were not familiar with Malaysian passports, we get to see the bay of Kotor from a hilltop and passed many beautiful villages along the way. We chatted with our friendly driver and even stopped to buy some Bosnian cherries.

Our driver was 3 years younger than us and at that time he worked 5 different jobs! Most of them were free lance and being a driver for the hostel was only to fill his pass time. Me and him had a lot in common in terms of hobbies; both of us scuba dive and enjoy outdoor activities very much.

"So, what else do you do? Do you read?"
"Yeah.. I read.. The three of us read.. Among the few Malaysians who does.."
"Why do you say that...??"

"Well, there was a study saying that Malaysian read an average of 2 books per year.. I read an average of 6 books per year at least.. That's good enough~"
"I read at least 12!"
Our driver went silent for a moment and startled us when he cried,
"WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO IF YOU DON'T READ!!!!?"

" Amboi.. die tak boleh terima kenyataan ade orang tak membaca kat dalam dunia ni hahaha"


5. This is halal~~



I really love meeting Muslims all over the world. It amaze me how we look different, speak different language but is united by one faith. But, there are times that our differencesares a little hard to brain or digest... That you can't help to make face; a 'whateva~' face..

Like when we were in this halal restaurant in Amsterdam. We ate quite a lot there, since we still have a lot of spare money towards the end of our Eurotrip. I went to the toilet before we leave, while the rest of my friends went to the counter to pay their food. And when I went to the counter after that, after I paid, suddenly the cashier who I presumed the owner of the restaurant suddenly raised a glass of beer and said, "THIS IS HALAAALLL~"

I was of course surprised because I wouldn't noticed the beer if he didn't do that. Rupanya, before that my friends stared at his beer and made faces hahaha

Monday, April 11, 2016

#1 April 2016

Bismillah...

Tersentuh...

After a few soft knocks,  I twisted the door knob and walked myself into the room without waiting for a permission to come in. The guy on the first bed gave me an impassive look and went back to looking at his phone. I moved to the next bed which was hidden behind the orange curtain.

There he was, sitting on the floor on his prayer mat. His hands raised in prayer. I paused and waited for him to finish. We chat a little. I asked him where is he staying,  who is coming to get him,  is he working or still studying and talked about my stuffs; the drugs...

It's easy to judge based on what is briefly written in one's social history. But,  I realized those few lines doesn't define his whole life. That's just one of his mistake that have made him ended this way. Watching him pray moved me. He is facing many uncertainties; he knows very well what he is put on is suboptimal. And there is chance for failure. Perhaps,  I wouldn' t know if that one particular prayer that I saw is more sincere than the hundreds that I've done.

Terasa...

When I was a kid, some kids teased me because my parents got divorced. It happened when I was very young so none of the other kids' parents were divorced (yet). My parents tried their best to raise me lovingly despite living separately. I never felt deprived of love at all in my entire life and I think I grow up just fine..

But,  I guess even at this age being someone who has a complex family tree is a taboo. I just dont understand and I feel it's unfair to be judged by what's not even my fault to begin with. Just because my family went on different courses in life, doesn't mean we are bad people. That was our fate,  that was our test. What matters is we went throught it just fine~

I almost ask,  "Do I look like I'm someone who was raised in a bad environment and surrounded by bad people...?" but I held my tongue because I haven't seen the person in front of me for months and I was happy to see that person.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Gokyo Ri: Part III

Bismillah..



It took another 20 minutes hike from the check point to reach Namche Bazaar. Surprisingly, it looked more densely populated than Lukla. When we arrived, the entrance of the village was crowded with women and children doing laundry in a flowing stream. We  went directly to the teahouse to put our bags and have lunch. Luckily there was internet connection there that evening. We haven't been contacting anybody at home since the day we arrived in Lukla and SJ wrote on my timeline "Mane korang ni? Dah 3 hari takde citer.." so I posted a pic of us having early dinner at the teahouse




We spent the rest of the evening strolling around the village, looking for stuffs that might be useful for the rest of the trek. After all, Namche Bazaar is the last point to shop. I got myself a pair of knee guards because I left mine at home. Bijak bukan!? Bijak membuang duit~

As we wander into every nook and cranny of the village, we met a very nice family from Canada. Ada ibubapa, anak-anak dan atuk nenek ok! They only hike up until Namche Bazaar and will be going back to Lukla the next day. They did the hike just to have a feel of it since atuk and nenek are too old to hike until the base camp. Aku harap cucu aku bawa aku hiking begini satu hari nanti..Mudah2an masih larat hendaknya~

We stayed for two nights in Namche Bazaar because on the 2nd day of our arrival was the acclimatization day to avoid from getting altitude sickness as we move to a higher altitude each day. Basically, this means that we have to go to a higher altitude on the acclimatization day and then go back to Namche Bazaar to sleep. This method allows our body to get used to the high altitude that has less oxygen. So on that day we hiked to Everest View Hotel early in the morning.




There were many people going there for acclimatization. Some went very early in the morning that we met them on their way down when we were only half way up. Tapi.. Yang bikin down sebenarnya budak pergi sekolah. There is a primary school in Namche, but the secondary school is located in another village. According to our guide, the school is situated somewhere in the middle of all the other villages in the Khumbu region for convenience. So everybody in this area goes to the same secondary school, I presumed. The school kids' pace were slow but consistent so they didn't take as much rest as we did. "Kalau aku jadi dorang ni, mesti aku selalu ponteng!" RA exclaimed.


We didn't get to see the Everest on that day because it was too foggy when we reached the hotel. When it was time to descend, I started to have a throbbing headache that worsened when we reached the teahouse. I knew it was one of the sign and symptom of altitude sickness aka AMS (Acute mountain sickness). I tried to counter it by drinking a lot of water but that didn't work. It was the worse feeling ever; felt like my body was about to shut down. I've never felt so uncomfortable in my life before. I took out my medicine only to find that the amount of dexamethasone that I took before leaving the office was not enough for the whole AMS regimen and I chose to take Diamox instead. I slept and only woke up for prayer and dinner. 

That night I woke up several times to pee because of Diamox. And guess what, the teahouse actually switched off their water pump during off season and the tap water was running very slowly. And this tap was actually located outside the toilet, near an opening that was only covered with plastic and I don't know why on that fateful night, the main door was not closed at that hour. So there I was, shivering as the chilly Himalayan wind gnawed my skin while waiting for my bottle 'hikmat' to be filled to the brim~

And actually even at ~3440m we could already feel the thin air. Even a simple activity like solat felt laborious, I had to take a deep breath when I rose from sujud. Mula lah rasa oksigen nikmat terbesar yang tidak dapat dilihat oleh mata kasar~ syukur~ syukur~

Hello Abang Sudan~ (^^)


And after Namche Baaar... that was where the greenery start to be replaced by alpine shrubs and meadows and yeah everything seems to become more and more surreal as we go higher and higher...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Gokyo Ri: Part II

Bismillah..

Actually I'm quite pissed that I accidentally posted the incomplete part 1 but past is past so let me just continue with our story...

We arrived that morning in Lukla and met our porters at the airport. They were very young. Songer was 19 and Jolopuru was only 16. They were shy at first and our communication with them was quite limited due to language barrier. But after a few days, all of us got along very well and started to tease each other. They taught us some Sherpa words and in return we taught them some English and Malay words. Jolopuru wished to be a guide in the future and he was working hard to improve his English
.





On the first day we walked from Lukla to our first stop in Phakding. We went up and down some hills but they were not too steep and since we were only at about 2800m above sea level, the oxygen level was still okay and I was not that tired. We reached our teahouse in Phakding before sunset. It was off season and I remember there were only about 5 hikers spending the night there.




One thing that stuck in my mind about this place is the chef looked like Radhi OAG!!! So we were actually staring at him while he was cooking in the kitchen. There was an opening that they use to pass food from the kitchen to the waiter and we could see him clearly through that opening hahaha



Well, due to lack of research before the trip, we were not aware that heaters are not available inside the rooms. And what makes it even colder at night is that the walls are made of plywood. And yes, this applies to all lodging including the one in Gokyo. Luckily we were provided with a super thick sleeping bags by our tour operator so the sleeping bags were the only ones that had kept us warm. So, TIPS!!!!!!!!!!!! Make sure you have a sufficiently insulating long john for comfortable night sleep and also to keep you warm while indoor.


Since it was low season, to my despair at that time, there were no wifi and to MR's despair there were no bread too! They don't bring up bread at low season and they only have this home made roti which taste good anyway hehe





The second day, I would say is the toughest of all the days because we had to trek from ~2400m to ~3400m where there is a big village called Namche Baazar and it was all climbing up and up and up all the way. At this part of the journey, I couldn't afford to wait for my friends because I easily get tired if I don't keep up with my own pace and we were separated. I was walking with different people on my way up. You won't get lost because the footpath is very clear.




The first part of this leg had one of the most beautiful scenery. At ~2500m everything was still green and the trees were still tall. There was a rapidly flowing river on our left and we were walking on rocks as we head to the suspension bridge set on a hill. The suspension bridge was exactly the one featured in 2015 Everest movie. Everybody uses this suspension bridge; and when I said EVERYBODY that includes the yaks and the donkeys. There's a weight limit of course, so we queued with the other hikers as we wait for our turn to cross the bridge.

It started to drizzle in the afternoon and I quickened my pace in hope to find a small village or something to get some shelter if the rain gets harder. But there was no other village in between and finally I found the check point hut where I waited for my friends for about an hour or more. I chat with a hiker from Norway who was actually on his third trip to the Everest Base Camp. He showed me his climbing permit and said, "Look. Here it says 'Once is not enough'. You have to believe that."


And it was here where I met si kacak panas, Sudan, who was a guide and also the founder of his tour company. We talked about Go Pro and he recommended some other nice treks that I might try in the future. He gave me his card and it is safely kept in my drawer until this very day lalalala~


Monday, February 22, 2016

#1 February 2016

Bismillah~

So I'd accidentally posted my unfinished Gokyo Ri post. There was some problem with the internet connection on the night I wrote that, so I just left the window opened as I waited for the last pictures to be uploaded because it seem to take ages. I don't know why blogger automatically published it... Hurm whatever~

I've been talking with a good friend about blogging. He used to blog actively like I do but stopped for years and currently he is trying to start writing again. We talked about 'writer's block'. He described his as a huge wall that prevented him from putting what's in his mind into words. Almost similar to mine. But he overcame it within a few days because he'd forced himself to write and write for the first few days and slept very few hours until he got his rhythm again. I was shocked at his determination that I asked, "Ko sure ka ko bukan depress sebenarnya??'

That's why I'm doing this numbered monthly post now. Just to get myself to write whatever crap that is on my mind so I can get my rhythm again and hopefully  I can start with fiction again~

I think, turning 30 is a big deal. I mean, yeah it's just a number. I refuse to feel old. But I think it's a good starting point to really think seriously about life. It doesn't mean that I'm saying no to having fun or anything but, when I discussed this matter among friends, we all agree that we are now looking forward to simple things that gives happiness rather than meandering on fruitless activities that falsely translate into fun.

I'm starting to think about, if I'm not yet meant to have my own family, then why not give my very best to the family that I always have. I'm currently looking for a nice design for my room at mom's house. I'm looking forward to move there by next year that I'm actively preparing to hand over my jobs to my other colleagues. Yeah.. Labuan is a small island with not so much entertainment... But seriously, turning 30, fun can be found in simple activities with the people that matters~


I'm starting to list down the things that I always wish to do and used to love doing too. When thinking about my 20s, it was all about trying new things and challenging myself. I'm not saying that I'm being less competitive or anything. It's just that, I just want to focus on the things that I really love and polish the talents that I always have. For instance, the love for writing and I'm going to get my book published! Yes I will!


And at 30s, taking care of one's health and beauty feels like a responsibility. I can't deny that this body feels a little bit different than when I was younger. But the key point is, DO NOT ENCOURAGE IT TO ROT!!!! I've been doing regular exercise without fail for this first two months, I'm drinking more water, I'm strictly adhering to my beauty regime and toning regime and I'm trying my best to eat healthy with some cheat days on special occasions of course. And yeah, I'm a serious netball player now~

So I'm going to take a sewing class.. Continue practicing my writing.. Continue with my globe-trotting.. Keep my wonderful OCD life as organized as I can.. And am looking forward to many other mysteries in life to be unraveled~

You see, with all these wonderful things in life to cherish, I just have no time to waste on someone who dawdles and dillydallying about marriage.. I want someone who wants to be part of this wonderful life. Someone who is certain of what he wants; like Minato kun~
 "Awak... tolong tepi sikit~"

Hahaha

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Gokyo Ri: Part I

Bismillah...

I've been looking back at all my travel posts only to realize that I'm like 3 years behind.. When we started traveling in 2012, I was determined to write all about our travels in this blog.. You see, I used to have a diary back in high school. The thing about my diary, I only wrote the things that I want to remember so mostly are pleasant things that make me laugh. So on our last days in high school, I read what I wrote to my friends during prep; the meaningful events that we had since form 2 until form 5. Some of the events had totally slipped my mind and the diary helped me and my friends remember those beautiful moments that meant so much to our friendship. Same goes to the posts in this blog, it's for me to read in the future and to remember~


Today I'm going to write a little bit about our trip to Nepal in September 2014. Well, I'm the one who is obsessed with mountains in the group and I've always been obsessed about the 7 peaks. I would like to conquer them all but for now my wish is only to get a glimpse of the peaks with my naked eyes..

So, initially, I thought about going to the Everest Base Camp because I thought that would be the best place to view the peak. But we changed our mind after hearing about Gokyo Ri from SJ's uncle during her wedding. The Uncle and his wife told us about the base camp being  crowded and not so clean and recommended Gokyo Ri instead where there are 3 lakes there and it offers a very nice view of many 8000m peaks. We did our study and decided "Gokyo Ri it is!!!!!!!"

At that time, I just got transferred to a new setting for the umpth time. As usual, I was busied with managing and adapting to the new setting and I had to somewhat juggle between 2 roles so I didn't have time to train. The only training that I did was climb up from level 4 to 7 as much as I could and use the stairs to go down from level 7 to ground floor every day haha But actually, after we've finished doing it, I think jogging would be adequate. The trek is not that steep. The real challenge is actually the thin air so what you really need is a very good pair of lungs.. Cewah!


As usual, I was the one who searched for the tour company. I always love to use TripAdvisor as my guide and emailed all the companies with good reviews for quotation. And eventually, the one who gives the cheapest price will be selected. And Alhamdulillah~ setakat ini choice aku belom pernah lagi mengecewakan~




The total of our trip was 16 days. We didn't do much on the first day since we arrived late afternoon. At Kathmandu airport, we were welcomed with flower necklace by Puru, the tour manager. That afternoon, we just walk around to look at what stuffs we want to buy before flying to Lukla. I think it's best to buy the hiking stuffs there since you can find everything you need there and the price is very cheap and the quality is good too. I got myself two pairs of wind stoppers, a wind breaker, a hiking pole that I didn't use at all, a water bag and some other useful stuffs for only USD 80. To this day, I still talk about my amazing wind stoppers~ They are so comfortable and they kept me warm~ I might have not made it if it weren't for them~ sob sob~



We spared the second day for shopping and eating and depart to Lukla on the third day. We prayed hard for our flight not to be canceled because there were no flights going to Lukla for 5 days prior to our departure due to bad weather. Alhamdulillah, the weather was good that day and we flew to Lukla on the first flight that morning.




I knew that we were going to go on a small plane but the plane was smaller than what I'd imagined. I'm 1.54m tall and I have to stoop when moving about inside that plane, There was a stewardess inside. She came to me and hand a tray full of sweets and cotton balls. I wondered why the stewardess 'serve' cotton balls. And then during take off, I saw the locals who took the cotton balls snugged the cotton balls into their ears as ear plugs! Eureka! So that's what they are for!!!!



I read about hikers' terrifying experience boarding the flight. But our flight was fine, no turbulence at all so I was enjoying the view peacefully from my seat. But when we landed at the Lukla airport, I actually freaked out looking at how short the runway is and the fact that the runway is not flat but leveled to a few degrees~ So when we landed, the plane was actually climbing a slope.. Bole bayangkan ka??



There, we met with our potters, Jolopuru and Songer who are sherpas! Lukla is one of the big village since that's where the airport is located. We only stopped here to get our climbing permits and buy some water before we start off. There are a lot of stores selling equipments but this is not the last spot where you can get them. But bear in mind, the higher you go, the higher the price of each item. We set off to Phakding after all things were ready.. Tapi memang sakai2 la kan di Lukla tu