Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A WEDDING IN THE COUNTRY


Another couple decided to celebrate their union in a traditional country way, framed in the lush greenery of Uluhati. A rather closed family affair the celebration saw guests from far away Singapore and the Phillippines. For the occasion, Uluhati was transformed into a fairy tale land of sorts complete with fireworks as the grand finale. Though held in the midst of November, the weather generally held itself, albeit a slight occasional shower. 





The Serambi transformed for the Henna Ceremony (Berinai)
The Balai readied for dinner



 
Transformed into a fairyland




Fireworks in the paddock

Monday, November 28, 2016

Environmental Camp - MPSJ

HOME FOR THE NEXT 3 DAYS
On 25 November 2016 we were again honored to receive a group of youths at Uluhati. This time it was organised by Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya (MPSJ) or the Subang Jaya Municipal Council as part of their social corporate responsibility program to increase the awareness of urban youth on issues concerning the environment and the rural socio-economic landscape.

ICE BREAKING SESSION
Over 3 days 2 nights they had a packed itinerary which involved discussions revolving around environmental activism, green prototyping, sustainable living mixed with a good dose of outdoor experience.

Their outdoor experience began immediately upon arrival when they were shown their tents which were to be their accommodation for the next three days and two nights. To further drive the point home their first dinner was self cooked in typical camping style.

BRIEFING BEFORE THE TREK




The first half of the next day was devoted to the outdoors, beginning with a hike in the hills of Hulu Langat, whereby they were shown the flora and fauna of typical Malaysian tropical jungle, their traits and uses. 

This was followed by an introduction to and practice at rubber tapping, a particularly significant episode as most young people nowadays would have no experience in this activity. Many would be unaware of the heat, humidity, mosquitoes and insects besieging the rubber tappers as they go through their rounds everyday to make sure that we get our continuous supply of rubber as raw materials for our industrial machines. The youngsters were also informed of the issues surrounding this activity, the effect of weather (drought and rain) and the economics of the crop. Given current prices some may surprised that their monthly allowance may exceed the income of the rubber tappers.

TAPPING RUBBER


Another new experience for many would have been fishing with the traditional Bertam rod. This rod is made from the rib of the Bertam palm which is easily available in the jungle, provided one knows how to identify them.

FISHNG WITH BERTAM RODS

GETTING TO KNOW LAYLA AND NORM
Then of course, there was the usual horse-riding experience, a unique activity at Uluhati. All-in we think they had a great time at Uluhati.

EARLY MORNING MISTS

COLD MISTY MORNING AT ULUHATI

BBQ NIGHT

DINNER AT THE BALAI

THE DEVOUT COMMUNING WITH THE LORD

HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD TIME
Thank you MPSJ for allowing us to share our way of life with the young ones.

Monday, November 30, 2015

TADIKA INSAN KAMIL FAMILY DAY 22 NOVEMBER 2015


Wide open spaces, congenial weather, creative and innovative activities plus great camaraderie between everyone, these are the ingredients for the makings of a great family day.

70 adults and children, well actually all children, spent half a day at Uluhati for their family day in late November 2015. Despite incessant rain the days before, their event was blessed because the rain held off until everything was over at about 5.00 pm when everyone has gone back.

This particular group was highly creative in the planning and design of their activities which makes for some interesting shots as seen below. As usual pictures are worth a thousand words.




SHARING SOME QUITE FAMILY MOMENTS BEFORE THE MADNESS BEGINS. PICNIC BREAKFAST AMONG THE TREES

BALAI LAID OUT FOR THE LUNCH

LET THE GAMES BEGIN




GRANDMAS AND GRAND DADS WATCHING FROM THE KEDAI KOPI

DRESSING UP DADS - TIME TO GET EVEN

INSAN KAMIL FASHION STATEMENT

LUNCH - TRADITIONAL KAMPONG OF COURSE

MEDALS GALORE

PRIZES WON
Thank you Insan Kamil. We enjoyed having you

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

DEEPAVALI MUSINGS

Its raining again. There goes my plan to do some outdoor chores. Its Deepavali again and my mind drifted to certain encounters with some strangers and some not over the years.

I remember my trip to Bali in the early 1990's. Back then I was stationed in Surabaya, East Java and my portfolio also covers Bali, an assignment which I took great pleasure in executing. It was then still rather "original" for the lack of a better word. On one of those trips I had my parents along who happened to pay me a visit. I cannot say that my mother enjoyed the trip very much.

She was totally disoriented by the fact that the Balinese looked exactly like Malays (well ethnically they are Malays) and they wear traditional Malay attires, kebaya, samping tanjak and all,speak Malay or Bahasa Indonesia, but were blissfully paying homage to various idols and piously carrying roasted piglets on their heads to their temples. Welcome to the world mum. I guess she prescribed to the standard Malaysian definition of Malay, i.e. people who speak Malay, follow Malay customs and are Muslim.

Anyway, that's beside the point. I had chance conversation with our tour guide who is a Balinese Hindu of course, and I asked him about Hinduism and its various pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. His reply was not something that I had expected. Contrary to what I had always believed Hindus, according to him believe in only one God. Now that was something.

What then of Lord Vishnu, Ganesh, etc. Who are they? Well, according to my guide, these are nothing more than personification of the various attributes of God. So if someone wants a particular attribute he would focus his attention to that particular personification, etc, etc. If that is the case I told him, some people, like me for example, might think that these personification are multiple Gods not just attributes of the one God. Malangnya bagitu Pak (unfortunately, that is so), he replied.

I then told him that Muslims have 99 names for God, each name describing a particular attribute or essence, but none of these attributes have been personified and as a result we have never confused these 99 names with the one single God. He nodded and acknowledged the similarity in the beginning and the divergence in practice between Hinduism and Islam. Very enlightening and enjoyable discussion.

The next incident was when I went to the wedding of my daughter's teacher. God, that was years ago when she was just a little girl with pony tails, and now just last week she nervously broached the subject of her boyfriend whom she wanted me to meet. Must be serious. I don't like him already.

Anyway, at the wedding, a typical Hindu wedding, I noticed a couple of things. First was the circumbulating of the sacred fire. Both Bride and Groom each holding one end of the "thali" went around the fire. I stared at them for a long time. This circumbulating action looked very familiar, similar to the movements Muslims make around the Kaaba during the Haj. Later I asked one of the learned Muslim teachers about this circumbulating movement. He explained to me that the action of going around something is one of the earliest physical form of worship. Hmmm, interesting.

The next thing I noticed was the attire of the Hindu Priest. He was wearing nothing more than two stitches of cloth, one wrapped around the body and the other around his waist. Except for the Gold trimming the cloth was of pure white. Then it hit me. It looked just like the Ihram, the attire male Muslims wear when they do the Haj.

The third thing which suddenly lighted up in my head was the name of the Priestly Caste. They are called Brahmins. My mind went on overdrive. Could Brahmin be the shortened and adjusted version of Ibrahim or Abraham. Now this is where pure speculation takes over. Could it be that thousands of years ago some students from India traveled to the Middle East and understudied Ibrahim or Abraham and later returned to India and are known as the students or disciples of Ibrahim, and gave birth of the Priestly Order called Brahmins.

No, no, I am not trying to be smart or cute, just musing on this very wet day. Still it is something which has been pricking at the back of my mind all these years. Maybe someday someone will be able to connect the dots, if any. After all, Hinduism is so old that it predates Islam, Christianity and even Judaism. And it will not be the first time that something grew out of something. Buddhism for example grew out of Hinduism.

And NO, for the diehards, I am not making the case that Hindusim and Islam are the same. It is just that through the thousand of years of human social intercourse ideas and practices gets passed on from one region and one group to another. Afterall the Quran did say: "And we made you men and women and from you we raised various tribes and nations, so that you may learn from one another"

I think the point to remember is not so much to seek out the differences but to find common grounds. When we seek out differences we will find conflicts, when we seek out commonalities we find friends.

How we choose to see God is our own individual choice(Surah Al Bakarah 256), for if God had wanted so He could have made all Man Muslims (submitting to Him), so He said in the Quran. But if He had done so, i.e made all Man submit to Him willingly or unwillingly, then the essence of Man disappears. Because then he is no longer able to exercise his capacity to think, reason and decide, i.e. the exercise of God's special gift, given to no other creation but Man. The gift of intellect. It is by using this special gift that Man would be able to reach the stars and be in the company of angels or descent to the lowest abyss of decay and have maggots for friends, thereby proving to himself his individual worth, and be held accountable for his deeds. Cause and effect, maaa!, basic science.

The rain still has not stopped, but I will stop here with something to ponder:

"The blind and the seeing are not alike
Nor are the depths of Darkness and the Light

Nor are the shade and the heat of the sun

Nor are alike those
That are living and those
That are dead. God can make any that He wills
To hear; but thou
Cannot make those
to hear who are in graves"

Surah Fatir, verses 19-22

Salam and Happy Deepavali to my Hindu brothers and sisters



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PETRON ECOTOURISM DAY TRIP 24 October 2015

LOPO FALLS - END OF TREK
Faced with the current turmoils in the petroleum market, 37 staff from Petron decided to put off everything, at least for a day, and head off to the hills, literally.

Arriving at the promised time of 7.30 a.m. the started the day with a hearty good old fashion kampong breakfast, i.e. nasi lemak with teh tarik, fortifying themselves for the tasks ahead for the day. By 8.30 am everyone was loaded onto the cattle truck (oops!) for the first destination, jungle trekking. It never fails. The lorry ride is something which gets everyone squealing and shouting. I mean, if they are kids, I would expect that. But these are serious young executives who arrived in their fancy cars in the morning. But when they saw the Langat Express, our two lorries, the seriousness disappeared and they asked, "are we getting on that?". "Yep, I said, over here we do it our way". Immediately the serious executives become young boys and girls again. Ok, there were a couple of grey haired young boys too. And they were shouting all they way to the jungle. If it was a month ago, people would have mistaken them for human sacrifices of the Ide Festival.
LOADING UP FOR THE DAY

GROUP PHOTO WHILST EVERYONE IS STILL LOOKING GOOD

LOAD UP!

OFF TO THE MARKET
Anyway they conquered the trek with minimal problem and found the waterfall at the end of it. On the way they crossed 3 crystal clear streams. The trip up took 40 minutes. They way down also too took 40 minutes, which surprised me for while, because I thought going downhill should be easier and faster. Then I figured that it might be easier but not faster because you have to be careful as you descend. On they way down, Mat Brone, our local James Bond, should them a thing or two about how to survive in the jungle and to trap animals, to the "ooohhs" and "aahhs" of the captive audience.

Legend has it that the trail was once used by Communist Terrorists during the Malayan Emergency of the 1950's and 60's. Beginning from the foot of the Main Range there many routes which takes you into Pahang, Perak and Negri Sembilan. However never ever go in without a guide

AT THE ENTRANCE





From the jungle it was back to their fun ride, lorries again and off to the rafting point. The look on their faces was something to behold. I don't think they have seen so much bamboo in one place and some were seen trying to condition their minds very hard that they are getting into the crafts. After much shouting and confusing instructions, between the Peron staff, me, the Orang Asli, Orang Asli and the Headman and the lorry drivers (why were they involved?) everyone was nicely sorted out to their respective rafts and their attendant Orang Asli steerman.


GETTING SORTED OUT

WAITING FOR SAILING ORDERS

YES, WE ARRIVED IN ONE PIECE
So off they went. The Petron Armada was made up of 18 forty footer rafts. For some moments they looked like a bunch of Bugis pirates slipping up not so quietly up the Klang River with orange life jackets. Serious, minus the life jacket and with a bit of imagination you are transported back 300 years ago.

An hour later you see the rafts slowly appearing around the bend at the end of the journey with passengers either grinning from ear to ear or with drooping eyes as the rising sun and the easy motion of the rafts slowing lulled them into drowziness. And quite a few too were asking, "when is lunch, ahh?"

They got back at 12.30 pm with a kampong lunch laid out for them. No invitation required. Judging from the minimal leftovers the food must have met their expectations or they were just so hungry. But comments later confirmed the former.

It was a packed morning, but I think they had a good time. The schedule went almost like clockwork. Some commented that the jungle was wilder and less "manicured" than FRIM's (sorry FRIM), and of course for many it was a first time on the lorry, because many years ago when they asked their mother permission to ride, the standard answer was, "you mad ahh!, that one for carrying vegetables only, you know!". And of course the bamboo rafting was new to almost everyone and the traditional kampong lunch was the grand topping for the day.

We are glad to have been able to take their minds off the bothersome oil market for the day. Thank you guys. Come back again.