Dini was finishing her SPM exam, her last paper was on Tuesday, 13 December 2012...and we wanted to fetch her. She’s finally completing her 5 years study at MTS Tanah Merah. Tok Abah, Tok Mama and Pak Su diligently visited and supported her through those times, came rain or shine or flood...the food, the rations, the time, the effort, the emotional support....just endless.. and thank you is just not enough....we pray that Allah swt will grant the three of you with the best Jannah.
I’m sure she had gained so much after 5 years, learnt to live independantly, learnt the normal secondary school syllabus...although lacking in all the luxuries of normal Government school, covered the religious syllabus, completed her hafazan Al-Quran and became an Al-Hafizah, travelled frequently by plane or bus or train between KB and KL, met many new friends while bonding closer to the grandparents and the special uncle....and of course fluent with the local dialect!
Anyway, the week before we were in Bukit Mertajam for my cousin’s engagement ceremony, which I had to do some talking. We managed to cross the Penang Bridge for dinner at Padang Kota. The Pasembor, Sotong Kangkung, Laksa Penang and Char Kuey Teow were just awesome. We wanted to spend the night in Penang but after making at least twenty calls to find a room in the island, we just gave up. All the hotels are fully booked and we ended up travelling home that very night! That was after a trip round Padang Kota on "Beca" for RM10.
That is December.... year end school holidays, weddings, engagements, kenduris, annual leaves, travels, hotels, resorts...many happenings which requires time, money, energy and a lot of planning....plus having to cope with the unpredictable 21st century weather.
For us, it has been a hectic year and we wanted just some time together with the family, since everyone is around, a simple holiday...we opted for the exploration of the state of Kedah, the mountains, rivers, cities, beaches, people and the food of Kedah, a place we have seldom been but we believe has a lot to offer to its visitors.
So our journey began...
DAY 1 : 13 Dec 2011 Tuesday – Old & New
After Maghrib, I drove Ibu, Abang and Adik to Hentian Putra, since they were taking the bus to Krai... they wanted to travel differently than most of the normal time...probably bored with my driving! Adik was actually targetting to to be on one of the new Sani Express busses, which comes with individual audio video screen.
It has been a while since I last been to Hentian Putra...it still looks like that but older, a busy terminal for east coast bound express buses, at least now with better communication systems. Looks like the bus terminal have to move to the planned Gombak Terminal as soon as possible.
Furthermore, my uncle, Pok Mae, initially wanted to follow me back to Kelantan since he came down to KL to visit Dr Ismail after he had just returned from Hajj. Dr Ismail, was still warded in SDMC for cancer, and I was worried about his condition. The last time I saw him last week, his condition was really deteriorating and I honestly felt the time was near. So, he was always on my mind and on my radar this few days....because I expect that if anything were to happen, I will have to be there to help the family.
So the bus finally came at 10:30 pm and unfortunately it was not one of the new buses....never mind, they still got on the bus and off they went.
DAY 2 : 14 Dec 2011 Wednesday – On the Road
They arrived safely at 5:00 am and Pak Ngah came to fetch them at the main road. Pak Ngah has been busy travelling up and down from KL to Kok Lanas and Besut to secure the secondary school for Naif. We were hoping for Naif to be offered a place at MTS so Tok Abah could continue with his routine of visiting MTS every other week like what he used to do for the last 5 years.
I had to settle something at the office then to a tailor to make Faiz's school uniform, before I sped off towards Krai at about 9:00 am. Pok Mae changed his plan at the last minute so I had no choice but to drive alone. I was in Raub at 10:30 am when I realised that rear right tyre was flat and had to stop. Luckily it was right in front of a tyre workshop. It costs me RM40 to get it fixed before I could continued my journey northwards.
I came across Pak Ngah and his family near Merapoh, on his way back to KL. I arrived at 3:00 pm, had lunch and did my solat before I could rest a bit.
But then the plans kept coming....Dada wanted to buy some serving plates for TLG, so had no choice but to go to Pengkalan Kubor, because I thought there will not be enough time tomorrow. Furthermore, we wanted to fetch Dini from KB after her farewell dinner tonight.
So off we went to Pengkalan Kubor, brought Pak Su along, tried very hard to arrive there on time, but there were too many machines on the road and too many slow cars! When we arrived, it was 5:30 pm and the gate was already closed....15 minutes ago. It was a good try but not good enough...probably could have been able to make it if the tyre did not give any trouble earlier in the morning.
We went into KB, looked for Restoran Syam at Berek 12, where we were supposed to pick Dini up later that night at about 10:30 pm, we found it and then we headed to Yati Ayam Percik for dinner, it was about Maghrib then. This is one of the best eating places in KB...great for dinner, great for local Kelantanese food....the ayam percik, the nasi kerabu, the pulut ikan masin....colourful and mouth watering.
It was 8:00 pm and we had more than 2 hours before meeting Dini. We headed down to the Red Warriors’ shop to get the latest Red Warriors jersey for Adik and Pak Su. We normally get the jersey from Pengkalan Kubor but since we missed that, have no choice but to get the original one for Adik. We then proceeded to Wakaf Che Yeh (something like night market, which opens until early morning)..wondered around and bought some stuff.
We fetched Dini at 10:30 pm, after saying goodbyes to her school friends for the last 5 years. A few got offers from Darul Quran and many got called for the PLKN starting in January 2012 and Dini has no choice but to report for PLKN at Benum Hills Resort, Raub.
My battery was running so low by that time and we slowly drove back to Krai and reached home almost midnight. I was tired and that was a lot of kilometres covered in a day.
DAY 3 : 15 Dec 2011 Thursday – Next Destination
It was a relaxing early morning after a tiring day yesterday. We were not sure when to make a move, either in the morning through Rantau Panjang or later after lunch? Still contemplating where’s the first/next destination, although we knew we wanted to explore Kedah....and the kids would be asking..."Kita nak pegi mana Bah?”. Had no definite answer to that yet.
I slowly drove to the bank after breakfast and on the way back got a call from Dada saying her uncle, her mum's younger brother had passed away in Parit Buntar earlier in the morning. Innalillah.... It was less than 2 weeks ago when we last met him during his daughter’s wedding kenduri, he was happy though looking weak. The news came as a shock to us and we did not think twice except to quickly pack our stuff.
So we got an answer on the first destination and the kids got their questions answered.
We jumped into the car and sped off to Parit Buntar via Tanah Merah towards Jeli and Gerik, via the East West Highway. We stopped for a break at the Titiwangsa rest area for hot tea, coffee and buns. This must be the best rest area along this route...high in the mountains, cooling and always misty and cloudy. Banding has its own uniqueness but Titiwangsa is classic.
We briefly stopped at Gerik for solat before we continued our journey towards Parit Buntar via Selama (after heading towards Lenggong). This is a lonely winding and hilly road, nice surface and offers nice views of waterfalls cascading the walls of the rocky hills...however I don’t think it’s a good idea to travel alone at night through this road.
Finally arrived at Parit Buntar at around Asar while the body/jenazah was still at the house, so we met the family, recite some verses of the Quran, before he was brought to the nearby masjid after Asar for solat jenazah then on to the ‘tanah perkuburan’ behind the masjid, just a walking distance away. He was buried next to his mum's, what a blessing. So we made it, we had the opportunity to meet him to pay our last respect, a very nice uncle to us. May Allah swt blessed his soul and grant him Jannah.
Again, it has been a tiring long drive from Krai and we needed good rest. Without second thoughts, we rented Melor Inn (the same hotel we rented the last 2 weeks! An expert on Parit Buntar hotels by now!). We had showers, went for a wonderful dinner at the Kari Corner, a very nice food joint at Nibong Tebal that serves Ikan Bakar and Nasi Campur. They are famous for their Kari Ikan Sembilang and Gulai Telur Sotong. Ibu has been craving for kari ikan sembilang when we were here two weeks back but the restaurant was closed. Those food you can not find anywhere other than in Parit Buntar. The night ended with a tahlil at the arwah’s house.
The next morning, we visited the family and waited for Wanie and Barry to arrive from Brisbane, Australia. They just left for Australia just two days back after spending more than a week in Parit Buntar celebrating their wedding. They are now back home to be with her mother in these difficult moments. It was just sad that Uncle Abang Chak, as we fondly called him left us so soon with no sign at all. You will be dearly missed and remembered. We finally said goodbye to them and before we continued our journey to Kedah, Ibu stopped by at the famous "Pasar Kemboja" in Parit Buntar. Still did not want to waste the opportunity to do some shopping...and our journey continues.