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…



25 thoughts on “Kota Bharu: Odyssey of the `Holy Grail’ Package

  1. Hope your fever dah okay.Selamat Maal Hijrah to you and your family.Semoga tahun ini your hopes and expectations will come through.
    Semoga kesihatan you bertambah2 baik jugak.

  2. Mat,
    Did you buy the kettle already? If you haven’t I have a spare one that I could give you.
    Anyway I still want to meet you today in Pasir Mas as I want to give something to you.
    If you are still online, please reply as I will be ol forat least a few minutes more.

  3. @mamasita
    Sorry about your comment, Datin – it got caught in the Akismet spam folder. I think it’s the second time with yours; and with Mat Salo too. I’m trying to figure out why – Might it be because of the Yahoo email address? (MS had used this one too, I think). But the sending has nothing to do with Yahoo Mail…

    Thank you for your kind wishes. I wish the same too for you and Datuk Ariff. I hope that for Datuk, the government or/and party will learn how not to waste scarce talents, potentials and resources and place people like him at where they are really supposed to be at.

    “Hopes and Expectations” – There’s a lot of these nowadays, and they seem to be higher too, thanks to some of the people here especially.

  4. Hey AHmad
    Happy New Year to you and family.
    Perhaps you should keep yourself busy with some art, photography, friends, etc
    I will be in Pasir Puteh for a convention, maybe you can join us in Jan.
    Take care + God Bless.

  5. Jed Yoong
    Mamak Penang

    Thanks for the kind wishes. I wish the same to you all too.
    Keep myself busy, Jed? Haha! I already am right now. I’d say things are quite well balanced – or at least better than previously, definitely.

    MP, Rocky Bru had posed a similar question for Muharam, and now another one from you. I can’t honestly answer right now for my mind, self and soul are in turmoil right now; fighting and struggling “to make things right”. Am left physically and mentally exhausted since “the calibrating” started at noon earlier. But this is a good thing – I’m looking for answers…

  6. Sdr. Mat, that’s a compelling read indeed.

    I felt I was “with you” all along your KB Odyssey, being very familiar with the landmarks and what not. Looking forward to Part 2.

    I wish you great success in 2009 and beyond. As usual, you have my support.

  7. @KijangMas
    What an honour to have you visit this blog and leaving a comment, knowing how busy you are! Thank you very much. I had missed your comment when I logged off to prepare for “something” in the morning. Was only aware of this comment when I checked the Inbox at 6PM.

    To KijangMas and everyone else – I’ll try to write the second part as soon as possible; and this is something that I can’t say for sure “when”. I also have to write a Post at “Cendana Blues” – something to advice “Piggy Singh” on about “fighting”. Then there’s that matter of “writing something for Friday”… I hope everyone can understand my time constraints and commitments.

  8. Hola Bro Cendana,

    For whatever reasons, reading your post did triggered me but I guess by now I can still control it. Still it goose-bumped me hand never the less.

    It’s now a few minutes past 12. Happy New Year, Bro. I wish you peace, prosperity and much joy in 2009 and beyond.

    Greetings and lots of love from Kuale Kangsor.

  9. Happy New Year, bro!

    2008 has been really great with you coming back on the scene!

    dunno if you realized it but, in your inimitable lantaklah style, you sure did a lot to heret silaturrahim between blogs. :D

  10. @mekyam
    I have a noon deadline to send `something’ in, and there’s only four hours left. However, when I looked in my Mozilla Thunderbird Inbox just now and saw a line marked in red (Tagged as “Important”) and saw who it was, I simply MUST reply to it right now.

    I hope you folks won’t feel slighted with my show of favouritism here:-P I’ve not even replied about something to ArahMan7 yet despite him being “my fellow traveller”. Have to mention here that Mekyam, like Sherry Nor-Jane, is my sister, and as such has “super-special status”. Maybe not by blood and legalities, “but they are my sisters, regardless”.

    She’s someone whom I had known through the Internet since 2001. Plus she’s THE FIRST to leave a comment at this blog; although she did not realise she actually knew me at that time!

    Do you know how I feel when I read that first line, Mekyam?!…this coming from you, someone who is one of the most respected “commentators” at the Malaysia-centric blogs. I’m extremely honoured – it makes all the hours spent writing (which is okay) and the occasional pain (when I look inside too deeply and realised unresolved issues) ALL WORTHWHILE!

    “lantaklah style”…Oh, so that’s what it is then?:-) Honestly, I don’t have an idea of “what style” I’m using or having – I just write. Hmm, that means it *is* “lantak” then Haha!

    BTW, and this is no kidding you: I’ve already written a bit about the second part in Windows Live Writer, and by coincidence, it has YOU too in the title. Here’s a preview: I had tentatively named it Kota Bharu: Arep, Gossip Lounge & Mekyam. Haven’t gotten to the part about you yet. I had stopped towards 2PM to fully concentrate on the noon deadline… with breaks at Facebook.

    Well, have to continue with the work first…

  11. @ArahMan7
    I’m sorry if the sentences had done that. Actually you were in my mind too when I wrote them; of realising the very real possibility you’d *think* about `good times’.

    That’s how everything starts with – THINKING about it, which then results in self-manipulation of heavily discounting all the negativity. And fooling oneself yet again with “once in a while of using IS OKAY… Can easily control it”.

    That was EXACTLY my thinking in 1993 that had led to the RELAPSE, which became a lot worse than the addiction during the late teenage years. And the downward spiral and eventual COLLAPSE. It’s this one that we must emphasise, NOT the “Occasional heroin is great. Is okay actually, not much money will be spent if just once a week … sure can control; now that I have the EXPERIENCE”.

  12. Hi Mat,

    Salam Perkenalan. My first time here.

    Thanks for sharing with us your Odysssey. It gives me an idea about KB. I’ve never been to this part of Malaysia.

    Here, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year (hope it is not too late).
    May happiness, good health and good fortune be always on your path.

  13. hej! ahmed…just blog hopping from arep…interesting postings…hope not too late to wish you a happy new years (hegira & gregorian) and may you have great and blessed year ahead with great love, joy, happiness and great health…cheers!

  14. @danialma
    Thanks for visiting and the kind wishes. And you too.
    No, it’s not too late; definitely not, for there are SO MANY days still left in 2009 and also 1430H. Quite a lot of days to do a lot of things actually…

  15. @zazaland
    This name sounds familiar.
    Ah, I know – you’re from the Demi Negara blog!

    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. And the kind wishes too, I wish the same to you. Sorry if this acknowledgement is a bit late – had seen both your comment and by danialma on the first day itself. However, had to rush here and there on the Internet, and could only reply to them now.

  16. Salam,
    I’m writing a book on drugs of abuse (in BM) together with a few other colleagues. We are hoping the book can be a simple reference textbook for students who are taking a course on Drugs of Abuse. I came across your page when I searched for street names of Morphine. I was wondering whether you can provide me other Malaysian street names for the opioid drugs eg Heroin, Codeine and others. Do email me, I welcome any input. Thank you in advance.

  17. (This is the reply sent to the email of “Leena”)


    This is regarding your question about the street names of various drugs.

    Before that, I’m going to mention something since I’m assuming that you and the others on this project haven’t actually used drugs or been addicted; especially to what is termed as “hard drugs” (as opposed to “soft drugs” like cannabis/marijuana/ganja).

    Opiates: opium, morphine and heroin especially.
    The withdrawal from any of these three, especially if the user had consumed it for some time, is hellish. Theoretically, based on the textbooks, the withdrawal from heroin is worse than morphine; and this in turn is worse than opium. That’s assuming that these substances are pure or close to that. In reality, this isn’t so: the purity of drugs on the streets is inconsistent – usually on the “low” end of the scale.

    At present, and since at least three decades ago, it’s extremely difficult to find the very famous opium (the cause of war between the Manchu government in China and the British). You won’t find people smoking it from the Chinese-invented pipe in Malaysia.

    Heroin is supposed to be more powerful than morphine. But on the streets, this isn’t so. Morphine is common in Kelantan and Terengganu, and from my previous experiences, was purer than the heroin sold in the west coast. One needed only to use one-third of the heroin to get the same effect. I don’t know what it is right now – either morphine or heroin. Okay, as to your question – take note that these are the street names in Kelantan and might be different elsewhere.

    Morphine: No one calls it “morphine” – neither addicts nor the law enforcement officers. The most common is “Pok Teh”, since it is whitish. It’s also a pun on “Pak Teh” – an uncle in some states, as are Pak Long (eldest), Pak Ngah, Pak Lang, Pak Su (youngest). Usually, between addicts, the term used is “Ubat”.

    Heroin: In Kelantan, to distinguish it from the legendary and much-sought Pok Teh, the term used is “Brown” (regardless of the colour). There was one highly regarded grade of heroin found in Johor at one time – “Kuning Karat” (Rusty Yellow, which is close to brown).

    Methamphetamine: It’s the “Pil Kuda” – The most common term is “Buah”. Personally, I have never heard of another name for it – it’s either Buah or Kuda.

    I hope this is of help to you.

    Mat Cendana/cendana287

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