Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mabul-Siamil-Sipadan (^^)

Hurm.. Let me think back when did Sipadan become one of my dream destination.. Yup! It was in form four when Z and KA found out that they've met when they were much younger; when KA and his family went for a vacation and had stayed in Uncle Chang's. I recalled them telling me the beauty of Sipadan, the coconut crab (that I didn't see), turtles (that I didn't also except the new babies that just hatched that was kept in a polystyrene box), the colourful fish and the water that has four colours...

So I've waited for approximately 9 years for it to come true. Bravo!!!! Patience is golden :p (tukar sket~)

First and foremost, I want to thank Z for the wonderful weekend. She was the best host ever. The trip was flawless except for no turtles and that was not her fault at all. It was me; the unlucky one :P

So the schedule was actually like this

KK-> Tawau -> Semporna -> Mabul -> Siamil ->Mabul -> Sipadan -> Smeporna -> Tawau -> KK

I took the night flight to Tawau and spent a night in Semporna. We depart from Semporna to Mabul the next evening

This is what Z called 'Floating'. I saw the sign board that writes the real name but then I just can't remember. Maybe she'll tell us in the comment for this post :P This is a very famous place, I presume. Those who visited Semporna will surely have pictures taken here.

We had lunch at this restaurant which I also don't remember the name..
(Haziah, laen kali tulis dalam buku!!Travel blog kunun.. Semua ko lupa.. (-_-"))
They serve delectable seafood!!! We had fried squid, mayonaise prawn and blackpepper chicken.. I miss the mayonaise prawn!!!! Where can I find it in KK???

So, this is Uncle Chang's place in Mabul. We stayed in one of these chalet on our first night. The boat ride was great; the water was surprisingly calm \(^^)/

Nothing much on the first night. We just relax and enjoyed the sunset on the deck. This is the same deck where we gaze upon the stars on the second night. We waited for a shooting star to make a wish. I thought I saw one and wished to see a whale. But then I didn't even get to see a single turtle (-_-")

We departed quite early to Siamil the next morning. Z arranged a Discovery Scuba Dive (DSD) for me. Luckily I'm used to carrying heavy bags during my mountain adventures in the past. The gears are like insanely HEAVY!!!! I had this weight belt strap around my waist. And there was the oxygen tank on my back. I freaked out, of course. I was like as heavy as a hippo with not enough fat to give me buoyancy!

Okay about Siamil, I think it's a beautiful island. We don't really explore the island because the main purpose was to explore what's lying beneath the water surface. So yeah it's beautiful. Nice beach for sun bathing hehe

This is a picture of me scuba diving. This is not at all deep ok.. Y?? Because I suddenly had claustrophobic once I submerged. The fact that I'm surrounded by water scared the hell out of me!!! I went as deep as 3m and when I saw Z's leg on top of me, I realized how deep it was and I just stop breathing :P Another weird thing is that I need to touch the sand to feel 'connected' to the ground.. I don't have such need while climbing, though :P
But then I got use to the breathing and depth during the third dive. I don't have any problem in equalizing too. So, I guess I'll consider taking a diving licence in the future but I won't do this a lot. It's a rather costly hobby and I think it's just tedious to remember all the hand signals and those safety things.

We reached Mabul at 4.30pm after that dive in Siamil. Z then took me for a walk around Mabul for sightseeing. We went into the village and look at how the locals live. They were apparently happy with their simple life. We went into the compounds of the most and the second most expensive resort in Mabul and took some pictures there. I think this picture is superb!!! especially that sun ray from the other side of the island hehe O ya, that night, there was a live band in Uncle Chang's (^^)

So the big day is of course SIPADAN!!!!!!!! \(^^)/
Z warned me about the big big fish and their large numbers. I was quite nervous to be honest hehe The boat ride from Mabul to Sipadan was around 20-30 minutes; depending on the weather. In sipadan, Z and I just snorkel. But it was not the type of snorkeling that I use to do; snorkel in shallow water. This was snorkeling in deep water!!!! Like 5-10m deep, I think.

So these are among the beautiful corals of Sipadan. There were so colourful and they cover quite a huge area of the ocean bed. And you can see tiny fish swimming inside those corals. At a deeper side, we even saw Sharks!!!! White tip if I'm not mistaken. I just froze when I saw one baby shark lazing on the ocean bed. But then after two to three encounters, I got use to seeing them already. The last Shark that we saw was quite huge! Maybe my size or even bigger. From my distance, I saw the shark was as big as the French diver who was diving right in front of it.

I say, this should be my most exciting encounter of all \(^^)/
These guys are like soooooooo fast. I was reluctant to jump into the water when I first saw this huge school of Baracudas. I was afraid I'll be eaten (-_-") And guess what, in mere minutes,while I was thinking whether to jump or not, they were gone!!!! Then, we manage to find them again hehe do watch the videos below

And this is a school of Jack fish (^^) When I saw them, I thought of Nemo. You know, the part where Nemo taught this school of fish to "Swim down!!!" That's them!! hehe This is a very very huge school. And right in the middle of this swarm was this one alpha Jack Fish who is obviously bigger than the other. And once, I saw 3 Jack fish swim out of the school and then suddenly that huge Jack fish went to chase those 3 fish back into the school. Woho!!!!!

Now lets watch the videos!!!! BARACUDA!!!

JACK FISH!!!!!!!!! \(^^)/


P.S. My waterproof camera is Nikon AW100 but I used my Sony cybershot for outdoor pics except those with dates on the right side.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mornings in Jenin

Yup! I just finished another book :) But before I go on with my review, I've a story of my own..

Recently, one of my staff went to Israel for pilgrimage. I was excited to see the pictures. I wanted to see what the land of Palestine have become these days. As I was browsing through the album..

Staff: Saya rasa bagus lagi bha dorang di bawah Israel. Maju.. Yang bahagian2 orang orang Palestin ni semua miskin..

I'm very bad at hiding my facial expression. I think I gave her a frown that says "What da..!!??" I, of course, don't agree with this. Never! The Palestinians are gradually being banished from their own land and this has been going on for almost a century. Just imagine if Sabahans are being exiled from their own land by some intruder.. Owh how sad that would be. Being colonized is a different thing. You're still staying in your own land but have to abide to the rulings of strangers.. But when you're being exiled, you have to abandon your own land and could only live with memories~

But then... Many people are not aware of the issue. They heard from the news that Israel is the bad guy but don't know what it's all about...

Sooooo.. Now about the book... I like it very much!!!

The characters are fictional but the chronology of attacks on the Palestinians are true. The author goes back to the days when there is still Palestine. She described how they'd lived in normalcy; nothing to be afraid of and can just go on with daily living without fear of death.

The story actually tells about the story of a family of 4 generations. The ones who'd lived in Palestine, the ones who have to deal with exile, the ones who have to deal with massacres and the ones who'd survived and have to deal with loss.

Actually, books like this are in a way kind of similar to each other. There'll be fear, uncertainties, longings, rage and whatnot. But the cliche' never bore me because that's the reality; those are the definite emotions that will arise when you're living the life of those in the stories.

The part that touched me most is their unwavering hope to go back to their own land. Like in From Beirut to Jerusalem, the characters in this book are also persevere and very good in reconstructing life.

I also like the author's style of writing; poetic and very detail that you can clearly imagine the how it was before the war and after that.. (^^) If you like Kite Runner, you'll like this very much

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kota Marudu; Mengayau 18 Nov 2011

I always wanted to spend more time with my colleagues after office hours. But having family and school friends around made it difficult to spare time for activities with them. I often miss the outings; may it be due to work or I've already made plans on the suggested date. So for this BBQ, it was me who chose the date and thanks to my colleagues because it was their jubilance that made it a reality.

I've never been to the Northern part of Sabah before. The farthest I've ever been to would be Tuaran and I've no idea of what lay beyond that. So our first destination was Nadia's house in Kota Marudu.

Honestly, in this naive mind I'd imagined Kota Marudu is a very remote place with only a few blocks of buildings, small dusty road with live stock let loose on the roadside, small wooden unpainted houses and condense untouched greenery.

Okay.. I got one thing correct, Kota Marudu is rich with greenery but there were more buildings than the ones I'd imagined and the roads were not dusty and no live stock was let loose. I happened to be fond of it right away. Such a peaceful place it was.

So that night we had a very pleasant BBQ at Nadia's backyard. Nina marinated the chickens and prawns while I'd volunteered to marinate the mutton. Nina's recipe was excellent; the aroma of the roasted chickens and prawns was tentalizing. She really put a lot of effort to make them. You can see it from the perfection of their presentation and taste! I was working night shift the night before, so I just pour the marinating sauce on the mutton and that was it :P

I really love the atmosphere that night. We shared stories about our new working environment, reminisce some memories during PRP and had hearty laughters too.

Rajin kono.. haha

I slept right away after we'd finished cleaning up. I was too tired since I only slept for about 4 hours after the night shift. In the morning, it was Adah and Nadia's turn to prepare the breakfast. Aan and I was the first to reach for the food when they were served.

Kota Marudu was flagrantly hot during the day. I was sweating profusely and just can't wait to get into Nina's car when it was time for us to go to Kudat that Sunday morning. Adah and I were the only one who haven't been to that famous place. It was a shame on me though since I'm a Sabahan...

We reached the tip of Borneo at around 3pm. We's stopped for lunch and prayer on the way.

Honestly, I immediately fell in love with that place. The white sandy beach with the gentle wave hitting the shore; it was pure tranquility. When I stepped out of the car, a gust of gentle breeze was blowing then I noticed that the sound of waves were muffled by the sound of wind; again tranquility.. It was quite cloudy that evening thus there were only some trace of sunlight but still the aquamarine water glistened to its full glory..

We walked towards this part where there were sand stones and boulders. The waves there were more violent than that on the beach. I stood on the rocks to capture some pictures of the waves but later was scared of the waves. But I think I manage to get a good shot here hehe

Some people say, there are times when you can clearly see the point where the two oceans meet; the South China Sea and Sulu Sea. They say, you can see waves from opposite direction clash with each other in the middle of the sea. I didn't get to see that though.

We actually wanted to visit some other places like the Rungus long house and the bee farm, but then it was already late and suddenly it drizzle so we decided to call everything off and head back to our respective places

It was a short trip but I really enjoy spending times with my friends. And.. I love them very much :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Spread the Beauty~

Friend: Hey! How was your Maal Hijrah?
Gg: Good :)
Friend: O.. What's Maal Hijrah anyway? I don't know...
Gg: Hijra is actually the migration of our prophet from Mekah to Madinah to spread Islam. So that marks the starting of the Islamic calendar. So Maal Hijra is actually like a New Year to the Muslims
Friend: So what do you do during Maal Hijra?
Gg: We recite prayers in the evening. Some make resolutions..
Friend: So what's your resolution?
Gg: Wo! haha You wanna know?? Hurm.. to be a better person than I was last year, I guess :P

This brief conversation is the one that compelled me to write this post tonight. The conversation lasted for about a minute and then she was off to settle something elsewhere. Not so much info for her there. But that was the most concise definition of Hijra that I can give her in that short dialogue.

I was aware that dakwah is a resposibility of every Muslim since childhood but I was always having this mindset that I'm in no position to do so. Maybe it was due to my brash demeanour. Others seem to advocate my thinking as well. I was always nagged by the Naqibahs for things I didn't do. My tazkirahs were lame and I know nobody was listening. I was the only one in the prefect board who didn't have any position in BADAR, this Islamic society for students. And I remember very well how my ustaz have to stand beside me before class when the whole class recite the verses that we have to memorize for SPM. That time I refused to recite the verses infront of him. Even as he stood beside me, I stood there with my lips pursed together.

As I grow I learn that there are many ways to contribute in the path of dakwah; and it's not necessarily about being able to convert someone from a non-Muslim to a Muslim. Amr makruf nahi munkar is the most common in my life. But of course I was almost always at the recieving end lah! But what I want to write today is about spreading the beauty of Islam itself..

Recently I was disturbed by news that I know will somehow invoke hatred among religions. I was thinking, what if all of this are not true? then it'll be on us for spreading Fitnah.. but then only Allah knows for He is the All-knowing.

But from my personal experience whereby I have a lot of non-Muslim friends and some are even my best friends, I was never preached. Dialogues between us were always about understanding each others' beliefs just like the one above. I remember one night when I was in form 2, when the lights were already switched off in our dormitory, me and my friend exchanged holy books and we read them as we lie on her bed; me reading the bible and her browsing through a tafseer of mine. So in 2007, there was an interfaith talk in UIA, actually that wasn't my first time browsing through the bible.

Throughout my life, I travelled a lot. I met a lot of people and since I can converse in English quite fluently, so I have no problems communicating with foreigners. I love it actually because that's how I can pratice using proper English without adding any lah and avoid using broken English. They always ask about my faith since it is clear that I'm a Muslim from the scarf that I wear on my head. The most common questions..

Why do you pray 5 times a day?
Why do you have to cover your head?
Why does Muslim accept polygamy?
How you find time to pray 5 times a day?
Why do you fast?

See the pattern of their questions? They are trying to seek the justification of Islamic practice. They know that Muslims practice this and that but they don't know why. And when they understand, they accept it and show their respect. And to some who don't seek to understand, these are the people who ridicule, belittle and say all those bad things about Islam in the internet.. Which finally induce hatred.

Okay.. What I'm trying to say here is..

Firstly, if you hear or read anything that you think provocative and can induce hatred towards another religion, find your facts!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't take it as it is. If it happen to be true, act accordingly. Don't be engulfed by rage because excessive anger will always , ALWAYS bring about regret

Secondly, SMILE~ :D who knows if that beautiful smile of yours can make someone greet you and start a conversation and even ask you about your faith. *That actually happen to us in Bali. We smiled and the American girl asked "Where are you from? Are you Muslim faith?" she didn't ask anything about Islam lah. We were on this very small boat*

Thirdly, Islamophobia has been around for too long already. Those fallacious bad image of Islam is too well broadcasted that the only way that we can prove that we are not as such is by treating each and every human in this world with equal kindness and compassion.

Finally, Islam is beautiful but sayang the beauty revolves only in our Islamic world and doesn't go out beyond that. Now lets spread the beauty, let it radiate all over the Universe (^^) Let all the inhabitants of planet earth know that Islam is beautiful (^^)/ Chaiyok!!!!!!!!!

Okay ini post sempena maal hijra :)