Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Additional bus that didn't add up

I waited and waited for the bus. Then it came.

As I stepped into the bus, the man checked my ticket and asked me to go to the ticket counter. At the counter, I was informed that the evening bus had been 'postponed' (they carefully avoid the word 'canceled') to night because there's not enough passengers. I was furious but managed to keep my temper checked.

I said they could have told me earlier and not waste my time waiting. I don't want to go on the night bus. I don't know whether they were truly honest, or they were scared that I might be an undercover reporter (I had my DSLR hanging on my neck), they gave full refund.

A series of events later, I decided to scrap the idea of traveling and opted to watch a film instead!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the road again...

It's the third day of Syawal in Malaysia. Syawal is the month where Muslims celebrate the completion of a month of fasting. As Muslim calendar is lunar based calendar, it may differ slightly between countries. For example, neighbouring country Brunei celebrate 1st Syawal on Monday, which means today is their 2nd Syawal.

Syawal aside, I had thought being still in the 'heat' of Aidilfitri, everyone has gone back to their respective hometown. This morning, I gave the good people at KTM callcentre a call and ask is the ticket going up north, for noon today, still available. The friendly lady replied yes - second and first class. Satisfied with the answer, I packed my bag and got ready. I had wanted to go to the railway station 11.30 am. Unfortunately, my lift didn't came at the promised time. So I had to resort to ride my bike to the station. By the time I reached the station, the ticket had just sold out. Bummer.

I've already packed my backpack and paid for the parking. So, as much as I hate travelling by bus during festive season, I decided to walk to the bus terminal, pay what I consider as an exhorbitant bus fare, and, now, sit at a fastfood outlet surfing the net using my notebook, waiting for the bus.

Quite frankly, I much rather take the train, eventhough journey by the railroad takes considerably more time compared to the highway. You can call it some sort of paranoia or phobia since I was in secondary school. Though, thankfully I've never been in one, there's too much road accidents during festive season.

So, pray for my safe journey.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf zahir & batin.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The quest for "Kuih Raya"

While Malaysians are very familiar with the term "kuih raya", I'll spare my occasional oversea readers the agony of guessing what it is. It is a term to broadly describe cookies and pastries served during Eid Mubarak (and possibly on other big festival day). Yes, with Eid Mubarak less than a week away, festive mood is in the air.

While some opt to make their own "kuih raya", most working class people who has little time left for anything else, opt to just buy "kuih raya". The "kuih raya" could be found in all major shopping complexes and shops. And the variety is endless. Just point, pick and pay. I did just that over the weekend. Instead of buying it at a normal shop, I got the chance to tag along to the source: the cookies factory!

The factory is located in a rural area about 2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Nearest town would most probably Sungai Pelek, Selangor. It is sort of a cottage industry. Owned by one of the villager, the factory employs local housewives. They came in the morning, work for few hours, went back to prepare lunch for their family, and then return to factory in the evening (optional).

Good thing about buying cookies straight from the factory is that occasionally you'll get a freshly baked, warm from the oven batch of cookies. Why not 'hot'? Because they let all cookies to cool down before packing. And people who buy cookies here, buy them in bulk. By bulk I mean a van full of nothing else, but cookies. Since all cookies are sold in non-descript containers, you are free to put your own label and sell the cookies as your own. And they sell cookies all year round.

How to get there, I've no idea. I fell asleep throughout the drive. But I do have the coordinate. So for GPS buff out there: N02 40.973' E101 31.866'