It was Friday and we knew we had to make a stop somewhere for the Friday prayer so we decided to leave the family at around 11:00 am, headed for Gunung Jerai via the old trunk roads.
I’ve heard some info of this place but not much useful relevant info on the net. But through the website, we thought that the Regency Jerai Resort looks good, reasonable but had no idea how it will be. Many people had described going to the peak but no one had been there recently. We also know that we could drive up there for about 30 minutes to reach the resort.
After stopping for solat Jumaat along the way, we stopped at Sungai Petani for lunch. Everyone wanted to try the original Pelita Nasi Kandar since everyone was already starving. We then continued our journey and finally reach at the foot of Mount Jerai at about 3:30 pm. It was a nice entrance and a small park with an office of the Regency Jerai Resort was there (gave me a confidence boost) plus some vans (a mode of transport to the Resort if you decide not to drive up)..so far first impression was good but not so sure of driving up, furthermore it started to rain heavily!!
I was still skeptical about driving up so I decided to talk to the van drivers to gain more information. It was still raining but I decided to drive up because it was getting dark due to the cloudy condition. With tawakkal, we drove on.... overall acceptable road condition and safe to drive but the car must be in a very good condition. There were small and winding roads, so tight that only one vehicle can pass through safely at 2 stretches, a few corners turning 320 degrees and on rainy days, you get water rushing down through the road and the rocky surfaces. It was a challenging and scary drive for a first timer to the mountain.
The distance of 12 km takes you 30 minutes to cover and it will bring you to the resort (although the peak is higher by another 200m) and we will see a Forest Department office just before the resort. We saw many people walking, jogging or cycling up and down the mountain.
When we reached the resort entrance, it was almost dark due to the rain and our first impression was....Wow! This is not a bad place at all....and it was very cooling, misty, cloudy and windy when we checked in. I was already impressed with the place, entering it 2nd anniversary this December.
It was fully booked (there was a Group having business function) and we got an executive room facing some open space which we could not see anything except for some spots of lights way down below, although we booked for a bigger room but we had to settle for this one due to some confusion. A bit tight for 5 big people like us!!
The compund is not too big and too small, just nice, located on the north face of the mountain facing northwards, about 78 rooms all together and there is a house for the new King under construction (what a place to relax and wind down). The rooms were cosy and nicely designed with unique bathroom.
It also has a open air restaurant called the ‘Puncak Kedah Restaurant’...the only place we can get food up here. We had our excellent dinner at the restaurant, perhaps the best restaurant at 1000 m above sea level. Although Thaqif ‘tergolek’ on the way in, due to the wet condition, we had good fun enjoying a few games of pools after dinner before we called it a day.
Earlier in the evening, I called mom to check out what’s going on in Krai and she told me that my dad will be taking a bus to KL tonight to visit his brother in hospital.
Our plan tomorrow was to take a tour exploring the historic sites of Lembah Bujang, the city of Alor Star and the seafood at Tg Dawai and Pantai Merdeka. We were also thinking of extending our stay until Sunday and making this resort as our base for accomodation. Everybody agreed to the idea.
DAY 5 : 17 Dec 2011 Saturday – Beatiful but Sad
I suddenly woke up very early in the morning...took a look at the watch and it was 2:45 am. I looked outside the room into the air...it was quiet, calm, serene, misty, cooling... peaceful.
I went back to bed and suddenly 20 minutes later, Dada was looking for the watch on my wrist...I put up 3 fingers (indicating 3:00 am) to her surprised!! She asked, “How do you know?” to which I replied “I did the same thing a few minutes ago!”, and we went back to sleep....
We woke up for Subuh at about 6:00 am and saw that there were many missed calls at around 5:00 am on our mobiles....we knew something must have happened and true enough my uncle had passed away. I immediately recalled my 2:45 am incident and I thought ... was it connected somehow? We recited surah Yasin after Subuh for him.
I was feeling very sad, the family was sad, we just lost an Uncle in less than 48 hours and we have yet to recover from the shock and sadness. Now, we lost another uncle who was very dear to us to cancer. Both of them were 61 years of age, what a coincidence. We lost a family dentist, a very nice man and a very close uncle to me, who respect and trust me...of which I highly valued. He likes our choice of local Kelantanese food and enjoys eating our home cooked food. The nurse realised it when she came for a check at 4:00 am and found he was no longer alive, Ira (her daughter) was sleeping in the room but he did not bother to wake her up to tell her of his departure, he knew she needed rest, she had done all she could to look after her dad throughout his last days.
So our plan had to change drastically and while we were planning for our next move, many calls keep coming in asking about the demise of my uncle. Normally we would be the information center for anything that happen in KL but little they knew that we were the furthest among them all!! The family had to depend on the responses from they Pak Lang, Pak Ngah and Tok Jae to help manage the situation and they did really well, a great job done.
We could not still drive down as it was still dark, misty, cloudy and windy and I need to be confident enough to drive down the winding steep roads. We had to wait for the weather conditions to improve.
Those in Kelantan will be flying into KLIA later in the day and that includes Abah because he missed his bus last night! Can you believe it?? Anyway Pak Ngah would be taking care of them.
While waiting, we had our nice breakfast at the one and only restaurant and afterwards, we took a walk around the resort. Suddenly the weather improved...less mist, less clouds and less wind....and you could see what’s down below...the sprawling green paddy fields, Alor Star in a distance and the sea to the west side. The view was just simply awesome and breathtaking....this is the only mountain in Malaysia which is close to human civilization, so when you’re at the top you don’t only see jungles and hills, but a very different view.
With the improving weather and better confidence level, we drove down and sped off to KL, breaking the speed limit most of the time, stopped at Tapah for rest and arrived at 2:00 pm, at Masjid Saidina Umar in Bukit Damansara. The jenazah has already been solatkan and was about ready to be brought to tanah perkuburan Islam at Bukit Kiara.
Shahizan was holding the edge of the kain kafan and he was about to close it when we and a few others arrived...so we had the opportunity to see his face, kissed him and recited some prayers. I could not hold my tears when I saw his face for the last time. I felt very sad to lose a very dear uncle. When we were busy preparing to go to tanah perkuburan, Pak Su started to create problems, not happy because he did not get the chance to accompany the jenazah on the van until tanah perkuburan, this is another thing that he likes to do and need to be given the first right of refusal (the other one is taking photos with bride & bride groom during wedding ceremony).
So, while we delayed our departure to talk to him, the van and the others have moved on to the Tanah Perkuburan Bukit Kiara. When we arrived a bit later, the burial was almost completed. Pak Su was left behind with mom and Pak Teh to negotiate with him and he later asked to be brought to the grave to sprinkle some water....they did that and he was ok after that.
By the time the burial was completed, we got everybody to join us for a late lunch at our house in Gombak Setia, we’ve already told nenek to prepare lunch because we thought everyone has been busy and must be feeling very hungry as each one has been busy since early morning.
The night came to a close after another tahlil at Masjid Saidina Umar at Bukit Damansara. By then, everyone had accepted the fact that Dr Ismail is gone forever and we will have to move on. One thing he told me the last time I visited him was to ensure that is grandson be a learned person on Al-Quran.
What another hectic and sad day and we were back in KL a day earlier than schedule....from the beauty of a mountain top to the reminder of a 6 feet deep home, a place in between dunia and akhirat.
Al – Fatihah...