Kota Bharu: Odyssey of the `Holy Grail’ Package

A decision to go to Kota Bharu yesterday: Quite a few things happened … `normal’ for many people perhaps, but which have made enough impact on me to warrant a post. If anything, they were yet further demonstrations of “How God Works”; if we care enough to look out for and see them as such.

Among other things, I met with another blogger – Arep, a young Finance Ministry officer based in Tawau, Sabah; and just back from two months in Belfast, UK. Yes, many readers here might not know Arep and his This is me personal blog. However, he has his `fans’ and his own blogosphere circle. Tonight, he won’t be in Kelantan anymore for he will be leaving for Tawau via KL. Like prolific and promising The Gossip Lounge/Ted is Fabulously Single writer `Ted Baker’, who is also 20 years younger than I am, Arep too is a very important person to me and this blog…

144px-PinkfloydThewallcover 140px-Pink_floyd_the_wall As some people are already well aware of, I’m the type that likes staying at home and do introverted types of things – the Internet, reading, listening to music, writing, thinking… This isn’t really “bad” I’d say – unless if one goes overboard and totally secludes himself … like the character in Pink Floyd’s double-album of The Wall, as an extreme example.  And I’m well aware of becoming one, for I “was almost like that” once; right until Aug 2005 when I was detained and forced to be with others.

But yesterday (Sunday 28 Dec), `something’ inside me told me to go to Kota Bharu; regardless of what happens. Actually, I needed to go there to personally pick up a package that someone had sent a few weeks ago. It was supposed to be “express delivery”, since it was sent through a well-known courier company. Unfortunately, that’s now how things work in Kelantan.

CAPTION: Click on the `bricks’ for Wikipedia’s entry on the “music album”. The `scream’ on the right is about “the film”. Here, Boomtown Rats singer and “We Are The World” kingpin Bob Geldorf had played the character “Pink”. BTW should anyone find the VCD or DVD of this film, PLEASE inform me at cendana287ATgmaiDOTcom, okay? – I’ll bank in what the disc is selling for, plus the postage for Pos Malaysia to deliver it to my house. Thanks in advance.

I’m not going to mention the company, because the sender has forgiven the tardy service. But just a bit of advice for you folks here: If you’re sending to Kelantan – and especially if the receiver lives outside the centre of towns – make sure it’s through Pos Malaysia only.

This isn’t the first time that these courier companies have let me down. It’s ironic that David R – my American friend living in Seoul, Korea – could have his letters and packages delivered to me within a week over the past 10 years. When Pos Malaysia then takes over the delivery from the very fast and efficient Korea Post, there have not been any problems.

I’ve had all the things sent by him from Seoul reaching me without any fuss; either to here in rural Kelantan, the centre of Kuantan in Jalan Gambut (but of course) or “deep beyond an oil-palm estate and bordering a jungle that is Pusat Serenti Gambang”. Once, I had a letter sent by ordinary air-mail reaching me in four days! Only once did I not received something from him – and it was due to him not knowing that I was in Pengkalan Chepa Prison at that time (BTW David R follows this blog regularly – he prefers to email any comments direct to me).

Back to this package: For various reasons, I had to cancel my previous plans and intentions to go to Kota Bharu – something would somehow prevent me from doing so. And yesterday might have been yet another cancellation, for there were two valid that would have stopped most people (and me too, definitely)from undertaking that 17-mile trip – heavy rain AND fever.

However, something inside told me to go, regardless; come what may… And am I glad I did so!

I had already planned to go from the previous day. I knew there was a book and a CD inside the package. Even though the sender didn’t say so, I also knew they “were very important and relevant to my life” – of things that the sender obviously felt would help me… I had also interpreted the fact that “so many obstacles” had appeared from Day One, that `had conspired’ to prevent me from getting the package, as this: “Whatever things that we only gain with a lot of difficulty, tend to be very precious; as opposed to things presented on a silver platter”. It’s also a lesson in mind power, and “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. So, regardless of the heavy rain, and regardless of the sudden fever that resulted in a headache, nausea and my body aching and shivering, I made the decision to go… 

What a tough journey it was; from the start at 2.40PM until the end when I reached home at 8.10PM; especially when there were traffic jams. But reach KB I did. And then it was a long walk in the rain from the bus-station to the area near the Muhammadi Mosque/White House Restaurant. But nothing can stop a person when he’s determined – at 4.45PM, the package and its precious contents were finally in my hands…

I had planned to take the 5.30PM or the last 6.15PM KB-Pasir Mas-Tanah Merah inter-district bus that will stop right in front of my house (RM4.20 fare). But I had to buy an electric kettle first – something I had intended to get for months (but couldn’t/didn’t). At present, I’d boil water at my wife’s house nearby; usually twice a day.

There are also a few good reasons for this arrangement – my turning up there means “I’m not dead”, among other things… However, it’s quite an inconvenience; especially when I feel like having a Maggi Curry instant noodles at 3AM but not having any hot water. Or a hot-water bath, which is quite nice during this season… So, 6.15PM bus then.

I was quite aware of that area as I walked back – the area behind the former Bank Negara Kota Bharu branch. There was the first floor shoplot unit where I used to work from the last quarter of 1996 to early 1997. It was a period when I was heavily addicted to morphine, and also taking it by IV. Occasionally, my regular pusher from Morak, Tumpat (near to Kbguy: It’s me.. just me ‘N’ us area of Wakaf Baru) would come and deliver morphine or heroin; if the purchase is at least “one lork” (plastic tube of perhaps 2 inches long, diameter of a candle and, for some unknown reason, tends to come with a yellow cap).

A `light’ user who has the discipline could, theoretically, be supplied for one month at least on the basis of “one dose” daily (In reality, that’s not how things work out; light, medium or heavy – you can’t control usage, period). With me then, at the most it would last five days.

From 1993, this high-purity morphine used to be RM60 in Golok, Thailand; RM80 just across the river in Rantau Panjang; RM120 in Pasir Mas; RM130 in Kota Bharu; RM200 Besut; RM300 Kuala Trengganu and Kuantan (maybe). In 1995, it went to RM80, then RM90 in Golok. Then, towards 1996, it became RM150. Occasionally, there would be “putus” (disruption) in supply, and prices went to a ridiculous RM1,500 in Golok for a few days! Many users would suffer withdrawal (which is a good thing actually – if they keep at it and not consume again at the first chance). It’s unfortunate that Malaysia was too conservative and hardlined then – not allowing methadone, buprenorphine (subuxone/subutex) that would have allowed addicts to come off heroin/morphine or/and stay off.

Theoretically, gram-for-gram, heroin should be more potent. However, the stuff in KL (reddish/pink or brown) and the “kuning karat” (rusty) of Johor Baru were of low purity; unlike the legendary “pok teh” (whitish) `Kelantan’ morphine. Weight for weight, the Kelantan stuff was at least three times stronger than the west coast’s heroin – just take my word for it. So was the pain of the withdrawal…

[As an aside, I heard from a few people a couple of months ago, who were also on supervision, that the current price in Golok was RM600. Adjust it accordingly to the places mentioned] Have to stop talking about morphine here – Frankly speaking, talks and thoughts of it create “desire” and “longing”. And that is how people slip, lapse and relapse – when thinking and remembering “how great it felt”. And conveniently forgetting “the many hardships”, of course…

Back to the “Kota Bharu Odyssey”: I stopped at a coffeeshop near Hotel Temenggong first – a place where I usually had breakfast then. It was also my first visit since 1999. I was very hungry, but the sad memories of heavy addiction in 1996/97, and the troubles that had caused, killed my appetite. I could only manage two karipap with the Nescafe “O”, and a cigarette – RM2.40 (RM1.60 in my village). But the precious “Holy Grail” was already in my hands – now it’s time to brave the driving rain, find the best deal for that intended electric kettle and go home.

arep_blogger_beach_240 At 5.08PM, my cheap Nokia 1208 handset (presented by my elder sister last March) vibrated, with the “Reed” tone. My first thoughts were “Sherry and Nazmi” who – with their three children whom I regard with no less affection and connection than as my own nieces and nephews – were on their way back to Kuantan from KL. Or maybe it was a friend from Gambang. Or the package’s sender. Or the senior editorial consultant. Or Mohd Zawi. Or my father… The screen said, “Arep Tawau“.

Now I was aware that he’s back from the UK, and that he was busy with his sister’s wedding. It was a courtesy call (very nice, thoughtful and respectful of him) before he leaves for Tawau again. He was surprised that I was in Kota Bharu too! Arep, whose house is in Melor, on the outskirts of KB leading to Pasir Puteh, was at Tesco; near the Kelantan River and Sultan Yahya Petra bridge.

It was raining heavily, time was short (remember the 6.15PM last bus) and I had not bought the kettle yet. But deep inside me, I wanted to see him! I had very good reasons for this, which will contribute towards my peace of mind…


KL Rocks! Full circle with Rocky Bru

I finally have the time and inclination to write the concluding post – more than one month after the event. Ironically, it also had to do with this trip to KL last month – it has resulted in my having less time for other things. However, I’m not really complaining, for there have to be sacrifices in whatever new situations that we choose.

Ahirudin Attan, or better known as Rocky Bru – Some people might say Raja Petra Kamarudin is the Number One blogger in Malaysia with his Malaysia Today; some say it’s Tun Dr Mahathir. But to me, despite the fact that he certainly wasn’t the first, Rocky is the person who had made blogging mainstream. Tun Mahathir was probably also inspired by Rocky’s blog when he started CheDet.com earlier this year.Rocky_Facebook128

But anyway, there’s something that I’m indebted to when it comes to Rocky. It was he who had introduced me to almost all of the fine people here, either directly or indirectly, when he wrote a post about this blog. During idle moments, I’d lie down and wonder how things and life would be like right now had I not known a few of them – particularly people like Sherry Nor Jannah and Nazmi (By coincidence, a SMS came in from them at the very moment I typed that line!…their family are at Tanjong Lumpur, Kuantan having ikan bakar). This one alone warrants a post – at least. So, another time about it.

As for Rocky: There he was at Bangsar Village; the man himself! And with him was also Nuraina Samad, of the 3540 Jalan Sudin blog! Yes, that’s what had happened on 19 December 2008 – my meeting four well-known bloggers in the space of two hours!

The sensation of meeting them in person is something I’ll remember. He’s a lot bigger than I had imagined – the “rugby player” size who could overpower me within five seconds, should there be the need to. However, unlike “rugby-sized people who tend to be so”, he definitely wasn’t the boisterous type. Instead, Rocky’s voice was soft, and coupled with his mannerism – despite the `rugged’ clothes – left in me the impression of “cool, gentlemanly and cultured”.

And Nuraina, Maria Samad’s younger sister, and both daughters of the most well-known and widely respected journalist, the late Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail … she was just as pretty as in the pictures (Unknown to Nuraina, she actually `knows me’ from the mid-90’s). They were about to leave Bangsar Village, but we still managed to have a chat of around 15 minutes; which is long enough considering that we were all standing.

Cyberspot Nov 28 Among the things that I still remember was our mentioning Zorro Unmasked (Bernard Khoo); especially his “anti-Rocky post”. And to think that both (plus their supporters and sympathisers) were “on the same side” once (See “SoPo fractured” in the Malay Mail). And this is precisely the reason why I avoid mentioning things that smack of politics here.

To his credit, Rocky just shook his head and smiled – not uttering anything negative against Zorro despite the harsh criticisms that he had received, plus downright abuses by anonymous readers at the blogs.

It was there that I finally found the opportunity to personally thank him for mentioning this blog at his high-traffic site. I had had some reservations, plus fear too, when I first discovered about it; for I realised that I could no longer be anonymous and remain in the shadows as I had previously. Well, Rocky made the decision for me; and fortunately, all the things that have happened since then were positive, definitely. This I thank God for.

I was also encouraged and flattered when he mentioned why he had written that post: “Your experiences are too important not to shared… You have a lot to tell people… Your blog is a significant addition to the blog world”. The words may not be verbatim but otherwise are accurate enough. And I was also relieved to know that my decision to start this blog four months ago was the right one.

There was something that surprised Rocky; and especially Nuraina – she actually `knew’ me. Or at least my name.

We went our ways after that memorable chance meeting. I could have gotten a taxi but Mat Salo decided to send me to Sentral and wait for the 8.30 PM train back to Pasir Mas. It was raining heavily, and I was quite embarrassed that he treated me like a VIP by insisting that I wait under the sheltered entrance for him to come back with the Toyota Land Cruiser. 40KB-Klsentral

It was a really enjoyable ride from Bangsar to Sentral, as I take in the sights of the city while chatting with Mat Salo After years of living in rural areas – with the exception of a three-month stay in Kuantan at the end of 2006 – KL sure looked nice and welcoming. I even entertained the idea of “maybe staying in KL one day…”

We parted ways at the entrance to Sentral. Words were simply not enough to thank Mat Salo for all that he had done that day (and still after that)…

300px-Klsentral It was around 3PM-plus, and there was still a few hours left. But I knew that would not be a problem at all for I had already planned to explore the terminal. It was a marvelous place; certainly something for KL/Malaysia to be proud of. Things looked so clean and systematic there, with the areas I went to looking very well maintained.

It was with some regret when I spotted a few huge banners declaring it to be “a Celcom 3G area”. If I had brought along the laptop as intended, I would have experienced what “3G mobile broadband” was instead of the GRPS 53Kbps that I was getting at home (BTW am getting EDGE at 128Kbps now, thank goodness. Had just downloaded the 65MB Apple iTunes & QuickTime file which took less than 2 hours).

However, I decided to adhere to Sherry Nor Jannah’s caution about the possibility of losing it, and followed her advice of bringing a book instead. And I was glad.

shakirah_legacy I was already happy with how things had gone – all the unexpected bonuses that came about through Mat Salo. At 7PM, I received a SMS from another person who has become as important as Sherry and Nazmi – Shakirah. Now this is someone whom Malaysian Tigress had introduced me to at Facebook who has a lot of wisdom and experiences to share. Beside Sherry and Nazmi, she was the other person whom I had kept updated through SMSes since the previous night. Well, Shakirah mentioned that she was coming over to Sentral to meet me at Starbucks…

I didn’t know whether she was serious, or whether she was just teasing me, knowing how extremely shy and nervous I am (I later found out that she was serious, and that she was at KLCC). I wasn’t psyched up to meet anyone else; so, fainthearted that I was, pleaded that “we’ll meet another time; because I’ll be coming this way again soon“. Like Sherry, she has a good understanding of people – of me particularly – in not insisting on this. She understood… Thanks, Shakirah!

As I boarded the train at 8PM (the system was like an airport), the senior media consultant I had mentioned somewhere called. She was surprised that I was going back the same day – and expressed annoyance that I did not consider staying at her place for the night, which would have given me the opportunity to look around KL for a whole day. Yes, I knew she was honest and sincere with that offer – she’s the type of person; as people like Kak Teh, Puteri Kamaliah etc might attest to.

Well, it was another 14-hour journey going back to Pasir Mas. However, it certainly wasn’t “back breaking” but quite comfortable actually. Even if the fare by flight were to be the same, I’ll most likely take the train with the sleeping berth should there be the need to go there again. It was indeed a memorable trip to KL, thanks to the people involved. Not just the ones I did meet but also the people who I didn’t – people who had supported and encouraged. THANK YOU, TO ALL OF YOU.

Membuat ku terpuruk rasa ingin mati

This is supposed to be the fourth and last part of the “KL Rocks!” series after the last interlude. However, I’m going to post this totally unrelated piece which many will be puzzled with. Please forgive me for this indulgence, but it’s something that’s heavily on my mind right now.

And since this is a “personal” blog, and I don’t have to answer to any editor or newspaper for writing whatever that comes out here… :-)

It’s something that I had finally realised last night – of something missing in my life … MUSIC.

Yes, I’ve essentially been without that for almost two years. Ever since I was discharged on 18 December 2006, I have been living without music. And one of the reasons for that is because I don’t have the equipment. Yes, I do have a hand-me-down cheapo Pensonic – the one-tinny-speaker kind that I rarely switch on due to the atrocious sound. I’ve been using it to hear the news on occasions; or for “some sound” when it gets unbearably “kesit” (silent and lonely) here.

A series of events the past 24 hours has combined to lead me to this realisation – I need to have the music in my life again.

It had started with Kak Teh’s post Yesterday Once More. Then there were those chats on Yahoo Messenger with a very good friend in Setiawangsa, and with Nazmi and Sherry Nor-Jane in Kuantan (it was Sherry doing the typing, but with everything else too, the other half who is usually more reserved is also involved).

As I was about to shutdown (it was 2 am), I turned on the tinny radio and tuned in to Sinar FM. Usually, I’d listen to Suria FM – had become a fan since its COO Engku Emran (Erra Fazira’s husband) had started a blog. However, I couldn’t find it; so it was to my second favourite station. And it was here that I heard this haunting song again, with these stirring lines:

Harusnya takkan ku biarkan engkau pergi,
Membuat ku terpuruk rasa ingin mati,
Derita yang mendera kapan akan berakhir,
Hanya engkau yang mampu taklukkan hatiku


I had known only a few lines – those four. A search quickly turned up a few interesting results; including the full lyrics AND a YouTube video of the song at a blog named Wahaza Extra. Usually I wouldn’t even attempt to download something like this – not with my puny 53Kbps GPRS connection. However, I just have to listen to it again! And guess what – I managed to get EDGE at 128Kbps; so the download took a reasonable 13 minutes. If I can get this speed regularly, I won’t have to think about Streamyx anymore:-)

Well, I have been listening to this song over and over; paying special attention to those four lines above. The full lyrics are as follows:



Ku cuba redakan relung hati,
Bayangmu yang berlalu pergi,
Terlukis di dalam kenangan,
Bebas bermain di hatiku..

Cerita tentang masa lalu,
Cerita tentang kau dan aku,
Kini tinggal hanya kenangan,
Kau abadi di dalam hatiku..

Harusnya takkan ku biarkan engkau pergi,
Membuat ku terpuruk rasa ingin mati,
Derita yang mendera kapan akan berakhir,
Hanya engkau yang mampu taklukkan hatiku

Cerita tentang masa lalu,
Cerita tentang kau dan aku,
Kini tinggal hanya kenangan,
Kau abadi di dalam hatiku..

Harusnya takkan ku biarkan engkau pergi,
Membuat ku terpuruk rasa ingin mati,
Derita yang mendera kapan akan berakhir,
Hanya engkau yang mampu taklukkan hatiku

Aku cinta ooohhh..
Aku cinta ooohhhh

Well, Thanks for reading this post. The next one will definitely be the last part about the KL trip. Unless if “something more important” comes up:-)