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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gone rural

After submitting our projects on Monday morning, we boarded buses (3 of 'em in total) provided by the school and headed off to Kampung Sungai Batu Besi in Merbok, Kedah for our final studio assignment of this semester. The kampung (Malay village) was quite remote to my surprise, as all the bus drivers had failed to locate it. It took them several wrong turns before we finally arrived at our destination.

The narrow lane leading to the village was in a very pathetic condition. The bus literally jolted as it sluggishly rolled through the bumpy road. To one point, we felt like as if we were on a roller coaster ride. No kidding!

Some sort of village community centre

I think this was my 1st time ever visiting a wholly Malay kampung. Quite an interesting experience as I'd never thought of visiting a place like this before. It was exactly like those kampungs you normally see on TVs and newspapers - rustic, rural and tranquil. The village was also bordered by the Merbok River which nourished the region and provided the villagers with an important source of income.

A village man eking out a living

It was truly an eye-opener to learn how the villagers live their lives out of their measly monthly incomes. The majority of them was poor, undereducated and had lotsa children. 6 to 8 kids in one family were a norm rather than a surprise.

There was this breathtaking mangrove swamp where occasional ecological studies were carried out by our university graduates. See the pics above? You certainly can't go wrong with their unique root systems!

Ain't that just beautiful? ;)

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Today's the final day of the 15-day long Lunar New Year celebration. And that also means my blog header will reverse to the old one by tomorrow.

How many angpows have you guys collected thus far? :D I'm quite satisfied with my achievement, though the more the better! :P Keep 'em rollin' in next year!

So who's gonna toss lokams into the sea tonight? angie? may? rinnah? Or DD? :P



Addendum @ 3:24AM: The village name was written incorrectly and has been corrected.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Ratatouille celebration

The French Provençal stewed vegetable dish? Nope. The Walt Disney animated film? Quite close. I mean, it's finally the Year of the Rat! Well... To be exact, we still have several hours to go before we finally bid farewell to the Year of the Boar. It'll take another 12 years before we get to see the cute piggies dancing on the greeting cards again!

Took a trip to Pekan Cina, Alor Star's quaint little Chinatown this afternoon because mum wanted to buy some snacks here. I always get to pass this cultural enclave but it's been months (or was it years?) since I last paid here a visit. Most of the buildings here were built in pre-war times and many Chinese merchants settled here and established their family businesses. The most prominent landmark is the tourist observation tower built just a couple of years ago on the banks of the Kedah River, occupying the site of a famous hawker centre renowned for its char yin yong/sar hor fun, which had since relocated elsewhere. The unusual thing is that the place was relatively quiet despite the arrival of the Chinese New Year.

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I bet some of you have already noticed my new blog header. It's solely for this festival, baby! Hope all you guys like it. :)

And here's wishing everyone a very prosperous Chinese New Year! May all of you get showered with great health, wealth and happiness! That sounds cliché, but who cares? :)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A tale of Orang Minyak

A few days ago, the whole university was shocked by the news of female students being raped by an intruder in late nights, widely believed to be an Orang Minyak (Oily Man), who was said to be on a raping spree for 44 fresh virgin girls in order to achieve the invincible level in black magic. This news had even made it to the local dailies, a proof of how serious and alarming the cases had been. The WiFi networks within the campus area were cut off, believed to be the works of the authorities for fear of this news being spread to the whole nation through the web. There had been reported cases in nearly every female-inhabited dormitory within the university campus, and they were said to be even more rampant in those dorms with low human and traffic flows when darkness falls.

As an immediate response to this, there was a sudden commotion among the girls here, leading to a mass exodus from their dorms to safety. Female students had been packing their things and moving out from their rooms to either stay with their friends at rented apartments or spend some safe nights in a hotel. Safety wise, money wasn't a real concern during this crucial period of time.

But all these were nonsense! Rumour has it that students were paid by certain groups to spread this false news. Hmm... Interesting. I gather it had something to do with the university's internal political strifes.

Whatever it was, let me just tell you the most hilarious part during the whole duration of this commotion. Since the cases we'd heard so far involved only Malays with the exception of a Chinese girl, thus it was said that the Orang Minyak (a Malay by default) would mostly target the Malays (Muslims) since most Chinese consumed pork. My female friends were so worried of being victimized that they decided to make bak kut teh 肉骨茶 their dinner! And one of them even asked for my clothes so that she could hang on her door as a prevention against the Orang Minyak, whom according to my friend, was afraid of the scent of a male body. Liddat also can? *faint*

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Despite having promised to post the December results last month, I was too occupied with my assignments till I had no time to tally the points. That explains why we have a Dec-Jan edition here. And please give a heartwarming hug to all the new chuppers who made it to the charts (you know who you are)! :)

What? No idea of what I'm talking about? Click here. We'll let the Chairman himself do the explanation to you. ;)

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Yes, I'm home again for the holidays. Upon my arrival here last night, I saw this on my table...

A greeting card from angie! My 1st for this Chinese New Year. Thanks so much! That's very thoughtful of you. ;) Lotsa mouseys on its cover, a sure sign of the Year of the Rat. But I certainly do not like the idea of them building their nests here! Who does, right?