Medan Trip (2017) AKA Palah’s Best Friends Trip

BY Palah Chingu

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31/3/2017 ( Bad Luck and Uncertainty)

One of my dreams that I managed to accomplish is to bring all my best friends in a trip together. Aside from the original ‘3 chinguz’ as stated in the wordpress consists of Ruby and Fatma, I’ve another 3 bestfriends (Min, Ika and Jib) whereby I met them during my bachelor and master degree study. The trip was impossible at first but we made it happen. We encountered so many challenges. I swear to God, I was pissed off. Our flights got cancelled a day before and Air Asia did nothing except emailing us the cancellation in the middle of the night. Besides, Min was already having a bad feeling over this trip as she missed the bus to Kuala Lumpur in the first place. She’s a bit superstitious over certain things and she’s not wrong though, we got the cancellation notification that night. Ika and I were worried that we may detain at immigration due to our student loan issue (PTPTN). There are so many cases of PTPTN borrowers failed to pay back their loan and blacklisting them from going overseas is one of the methods used by the institution to ensure the debt is paid. I just quit my job at that time and my loan was overdue for 3 months. Ika, on the other hands, just started paying it back after she got a stable job. In addition to that,  Jibah suffered diarrhea and she’s not yet recovered from it.

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1/4/2017 (From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Medan, Indonesia)

Air Asia did bring us to our destination but their customer service is so frustrating. The care line for call is only for certain flights and in order to get another flight, we had to contact them via a live chat. I don’t really sleep that night especially after reading that our flight got cancelled last minute. I woke up early that morning and try contacting them using the live chat right away. Internet connection has been testing my patience past few days and on that fucking morning, it began again. Jibah and I tried to contact it until one of us get through Air Asia. After one hour, we managed to reschedule the flight and the trip was back on. I was spamming the shit out of Air Asia Facebook Page for their unprofessionalism (I knew I was being petty but man that feels good though). We didn’t inform Ruby regarding the cancellation but it was funny on how ruby found out about it. It was indeed chaotic morning and fatma called her sister to rant about this shit. Her sister then posted it on facebook and since we already knew each other for more than 9 years, we do add each other certain family members. Ruby read the post and felt pity about the cancelled flight and realized it in a split second that was ours. We regroup back in Jibah’s house and get ready to go to KLIA 2. I was feeling uneasy but in my mind (if I did get detain), my plan is to stay back in KL for few days and return to Johor right away. We were satisfied with the replacement flight as all of us got hot seats so thank you Air Asia for that. We arrived at Medan Airport around 6.30.

 

There’s another setback I face right away after landed. I was so excited that we’re finally made it there safely so I took a few pictures. I forgot that immigration area is a no go area for photograph. I got called out and my passport was taken by immigration officer. The funny thing that I was so afraid I got detained in Malaysia’s immigration office but I didn’t but when in Medan, I got held up. The officer was so harsh and the treatment I got with other tourists was so different truth be told; maybe because they are Caucasians and I am Asian. As an Asian, I did recognize that we do have the symptom of idolizing white people. I don’t want to prolong this matter so I apologized few times saying I was overexcited and the rules skipped over my head. He was not satisfied with that answer if I was to be honest but he let me go with a warning. My mood was spoiled a bit due to that situation. We bought a sim card so that it’s easier to use GrabCar Service. We used GrabCar Service to our hotel right away. The night was approaching and all of us were so tired. We faced so many things on the first day and we just want to have dinner and sleep afterwards. We stayed at Hotel Kesawan for 4 nights in Medan. The hotel was okay (it was old hotel and they have all basic facilities) if you were to go out whole day and only come back just to sleep. Some people might be a little picky about where they are going to spend their night but luckily, all my best friends were not really fussy about it.

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Medan Kualanamu International Airport (Inside)
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Medan Kualanamu International Airport (outside)
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Finally arrived at Hotel Kesawan, Medan 🙂

2/4/2017 (2nd Day in Medan, Indonesia)

 Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang

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Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang

We found out that our actual ‘supir’ outsource the service to another ‘supir’ and we ended up being hauled to the place that we didn’t even want to go. Heed my warning, if you go to medan, make sure that you will not facing this kind of experience. Besides, if you’re using ‘supir’ or tourist guide when you are traveling to Indonesia, make sure to be firm with them regarding your list of destinations. They get a big tip by the owner if they bring tourists to their place. This park is not in our itinerary at all. We felt angry when he brought us here. All of us already discussed before doing our itinerary. We said no to any animal’s park because we can’t bear to see they are being confined in a small space and can’t even move their body. To cut short, this is horrible experience so don’t go there. The entrance fee was so expensive and the place is not very well maintained.

 Velangkani Medan

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Velangkani Church By Fatma

This is a beautiful church. If you are in medan, put it in a must visit list. The architecture of this place is heavily influence of Hinduism and Catholicism. It was so colorful. There is no mass when we arrived as it was Sunday. That’s a relief so no awkwardness to walk around and enter the church. The interior is breathtaking. Some ceilings and walls of the church are filled with bible scripture. I do want to point out that they refer God as ALLAH. It’s similar to us in Islam. Meanwhile in Malaysia, certain group of Muslim is fighting to ensure only Muslims can use ALLAH word. We never visit church in Malaysia and not we that we don’t want to but coming from a very conservative Malay Muslim society, it was too controversial. The close proximity of Islam and Christian religion shared made it hard to do so. We did visit Buddhist and Hindu temples but never had we got to visit church. We did visit this place so we guess we can cross visit the church off from our list.

Istana Maimun Sultan Deli

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Sunday is not the right day to visit this palace. It was packed and you can’t even appreciate its exterior beauty and interior design. There are traditional performance held outside Istana Maimun and you can sit there just to enjoy it (they prepared few seats for tourists). You can even try the traditional malay attire as there are few businesses cater for it is set up in the palace. If you go there during weekend, there is high probability you may see many couples poses and take pictures in the attire.

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Ayam Penyet Cendelaras Station (Lunch)

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We had delicious ‘Ayam Penyet’ here. If you’re nearby, don’t skip this restaurant.

Museum Negeri Propinsi Sumatera Utara

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If you’re museum goers and love history, we suggested spending for about an hour here. They covered many historical aspects in Indonesia. The place is big but some of the section, they didn’t turn on the AC so prepared to be drenched in sweat like we did.

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Vihara Gunung Timur

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It’s the largest Chinese Taoism temple in the middle of Medan. The temple design is made to face Babura River as Chinese believe it will bring a good luck. Our trip did need a lot of luck at that time for sure so we stopped by. Haha. This temple consists of 80 deities and considered as one of the famous historical sites in Medan. Don’t skip this temple because it has magnificent exterior design.

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Tjong A fie Mansion

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This place is so close with our hotel. This mansion belongs to a Hakka merchant name Tjong A fie. He was a very successful businessman and a very rich man in Medan long time ago. This mansion is an embodiment of his wealth, family and history. We have a tour guide while visiting the mansion and he told us the history of Tjong A fie . The mansion is spacious and filled with lots of antiques that has been preserved for tourism purpose.

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Restoran Tip Top Medan (Dinner)

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The food was okay but it’s a bit overpriced. We saw high ratings given by past customers and decided to try it. Their homemade ice cream is delicious though but this is strictly my opinion as some of my friends hated it.

3/4/2017 (Third Day in Medan, Indonesia)

Maha Vihara Maitreya / Vihara Cemara Asri Medan

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It is referred as Vihara Cemara Asri because it is located in a housing complex of Cemara Asri. This Buddhist temple has a huge hall for praying.  We spotted 3 big statues in the hall. We strolled around the complex for about an hour before we resume our journey. In a nutshell, this temple has beautiful garden, captivating paintings on the wall and spectacular statues is displayed at certain parts of the temple.

Kolam Bangau Cemara Asri

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This was not in our itinerary. We passed by the lake accidentally and decided to stop by. The lake is enormous. I’m sure this lake specifically for Egrets / Storks as I couldn’t spot any other species at all. They can fly and come back whenever they want. At the end of the lake, there’s a birdhouse for pigeon nearby the lake.

Masjid Raya Al Osmani (Old Mosque)

IMG20170403111851This is an old mosque and it was built in 1854. The structure of the mosque originally only using wood material but it has been going through several restorations. However the original architecture remains. The Combination of green and color make it look radiant from distance away and beautiful up close. We took time to gaze the beauty of an old design and wandering around the mosque. Its 20 km from Medan City but since we came from Vihara Cemara Asri, the journey was quite far. The road condition didn’t really help so this is not a smooth journey to begin with. However, you could see the Medan countryside. One trend that cannot be ignored is there are many small mosques hidden away among the houses. You can see it while staring at window while enjoying the journey.

Barkah Rumah Makan (Lunch)

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This is quite delicious lunch. All the dishes served here is a traditional Medan dishes.

Museum Perjuangan TNI

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We don’t know how to describe our experience in this museum. We wanted to explore and read it by ourselves but we got invited to the briefing room. We sat in the room for about 1 hour and listened to one uncle dissing our asses for not knowing our roots and ancestors. I can’t speak for all of us because Min did not enjoy that at all but I thought it was hilarious. We managed to do a short trip to each section in the museum. This musem is a reminder of how Indonesian army fought against imperialism and the journey to independence. There are lots of antique collections in this museum to commemorate the past.  If you are a history enthusiast, visiting this museum is a must (but you better decline the invitation to be in the briefing room).

  • Kapak Bukan Sebarang Kapak,
  • Kapak Membelah Kayu,
  • Orang Batak Menjadi Melayu.

– By Random Uncle at TNI Museum

Masjid Raya Medan Al-Mashun

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This mosque was completed in 1909 and one of the oldest mosques in Medan. If you can seen in the picture is that the mosque has an octagonal shape and has wings to the south, east, north and west. That’s what makes the building unique in architectural aspects. The influence of Morocco, Turkey and Middle Eastern style can be seen on the building itself. What a stunning Mosque!

Wajir Seafood (Dinner)

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Delicious, cheap and fast was how our dinner went that day which is pretty rare for a restaurant. Unfortunately, only Fatma, Ruby and I went to have dinner there. The rest were exhausted and decided not to join.

4/4/2017 (Fourth Day in Medan, Indonesia)

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In order to reach Lake Toba, we began the journey around 7.30 am. We arrived there approximately around 12.30 pm so it took us about 5 hours. When we are planning this trip, we contacted ‘Supir Ridu’ to book for his driving service. Only on the 4th day of our trip, we managed to meet him. He is an easygoing and kind guy which is one of the reasons people recommended him. If you choose to use his service, be aware that he loves to bring tourists around Lake Toba and Brastagi area only. We are a bit disappointed as he asked other ‘supir’ to drive us around on second and third day of the trip because we choose to explore Medan city first before heading to the Lake Toba.

Gereja Katolik St. Fransiskus Asisi Berastagi

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We can’t enter the church unfortunately. It was closed at that time. We just admired the design and architecture from the outside. It is heavily influence with Batak Karo cultures and heritages which is why it is so unique looking. Batak Karo is a name of the tribe of local people who lives around the area.

 Lake Toba

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I will let the picture speaks for itself. What a beautiful lake!

– Seafood Restaurant Nearby Lake Toba (Lunch)

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Lunch on that day was an A plus ; it has fresh seafood, great lake scenery and of course, my amazing friends.

Sipisopiso Waterfall

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One of the spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen in my life. In order to reach the waterfall, we have to climb down more than 600 stairs (correct me if I’m wrong) just to reach the place. The thing is climbing down was easy though you have to be extra careful on the cracked and steep stairs. The problem was at that time we are not sure whether we had stamina on climbing up back 600 stairs. Min, Fatma and I agreed that we’re going to do about 150 stairs only which is a quarter of the journey. Ika and Ruby planned that they were going to do for about 300-400 stairs while Jibah decided just to stay back. You can still see the view of Sipisopiso Waterfall from above actually but I wanted to see a close up just a little bit. It was worth it. I almost died climbing up but it was so beautiful.

Brastagi Small Town (Having a coffee break)

We only stopped by solely for a Coffee Break in Brastagi Town. We don’t have time to tour around as we’re rushing to arrive at Medan city before 8.00 pm. I don’t even have time to take picture around the town. If you’re planning to go to Medan, make sure you spend the night around Brastagi or Lake toba. That’s the only regret we had as we’re not doing extensive research while planning this trip. Most people who came here spent 2 days in Medan City and 2 days in Brastagi/Lake Toba.

Wajir Seafood (Dinner)

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We came back for a second time together with our supir. Again, the service is top notch and the food is incredible. Fourth day of our trip was fun but exhausting.

5/4/2017 (Last Day in Medan, Indonesia)

Pajak Ikan Medan

I’m having flu that morning so I didn’t join the rest to do some shopping. The price at the market is not that cheap compared to Bandung. Besides, there are always some people following you asking you to buy their things even though you already say that you don’t want it. Please be extra careful as they could be a little harsh and extra pushy.

Pt Gramedia (Book store)

A security is tightened around the mall. We had to go through scanners before entering the mall. That’s the first time for us actually. In Malaysia, we only did that at the airport. Pt Gramedia is quite big. Of course, we’re overjoyed. To be honest, We’re not that familiar with Indonesian Literature but who the hell cares. We bought few books and heading back to hotel by grab car.

Off to Medan Airport

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Our flight supposed to take off around 7.30 pm but of course (classic Air Asia) our flight got delayed. We waited for about 3 hours until the plane arrived. The journey was a nightmare. The weather is so bad. This added to a list of unfortunate events we encountered in this trip. Are we that unlucky? Should I say am I that unlucky? I mean life always find a way to fuck me up somehow so I kinda used to have one bad moment at least every day. However, my best friends didn’t really deserve this. The turbulence occurred for about 10 minutes. Certain passenger in the flight didn’t help much though as they get panicked and said prayer loudly in the situation. I don’t mind the prayer but the way they chanted it loudly rendered others felt uncomfortable. It was scary. I held min’s thigh and forgot that my grip was strong. Of course after that flight, I got mocked by min for being a scaredy cat. Well, I fear death. The trip officially over after we dine at Old Town Restaurant for some midnight snacks. We still got shook over the turbulence incident after we landed in Kuala Lumpur safely but still grateful that we made it safely.

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Side Note :

  • Credit to Jibah and Fatma (some of the photos in this review are taken from them)
  • Pocket Money for the trip is well spent (despite having miscalculation of tourists entrance fees and failed to include parking fees for every place that we visit)
  • If you are planning to come to Medan, find a hotel that includes breakfast. You are saving time as you dont have to go far to find meal in the morning.
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Bintulu, Miri and Bandar Seri Begawan Trip (2016).

By Palah Chingu

“I take a picture, but it’s not about who is in the picture or the background of it. It’s about the memories and meanings it holds.” 

Kayla Davis

Date : 3 November – 7 November 2016.

Destination : Kuala Lumpur -> Bintulu ->  Miri -> Brunei -> Miri – > Bintulu -> Kuala Lumpur

*(this time we brought along other chinguzzzzz to join)*

GUA NIAH, SARAWAK

A freaking long walk is a must before we finally made it to Niah Cave. I almost died twice. This is why you should exercise, people. Once you arrived there, the feeling is indescribable. Along the journey, be prepared to immerse in magnificent view of forest and river (and cricket’s sounds too)

CHINESE TEMPLE BINTULU, SARAWAK

Not really in the plan of place we want to visit, but what the hell, right? An enormous temple, i must say and it is well preserved. It is so beautiful and peaceful at the same time. Be sure to drop by if you are around.

KAMPONG AYER, BRUNEI

The first place we visited when we reached Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. The boat took us around for about 30 – 40 minutes just to see around Kampong Ayer (Water Village if its translated in english). This is one of the main attractions if you are in Brunei. Brunei currently building the bridge to connect the people who lived there with their mainland. The school, mosque and even cafe are all built on the water. The boat ride is surely enjoyable (for me) but i’m not sure about the rest. LOL

We Nerds love history. Hence, a trip to museum is an obligation. We visited some museums, centre and mausoleum in Brunei. We also drop by to the only  chinese temple in brunei (if i’m not mistaken, forgive me if i’m wrong). The location, unfortunately is all over the place. We literally driving around and got lost too many times to find the museum . No camera is allowed at most of the places we go thus enjoy the picture of us at the entrance only.

(Side Note : No entrance fee to all of these places).

– Brunei Technology Museum

– Brunei History Centre

–  Brunei Maritime Museum

-Teng Yun Temple

– Raja Ayang Mausoleum

SULTAN OMAR ALI SAIFUDDIN MOSQUE

If you are driving around Bandar Seri Begawan, you cant miss the grand view of this mosque. During Night, the lights all around the mosque just enhance the architecture and structure of this worship place. Its just mesmerizing.

TUSAN BEACH, SARAWAK

We intend to come here and wait until the ocean glows (there are planktons presence detected that can make the ocean lights up in blue color). Unfortunately, none of us had the stamina to wait after long hours of driving and staying in car. The beach is pretty much hidden. Fatma is a hell of a driver. Driving there is quite challenging with the road condition and the absent of light, lets just say it doesnt make things easier. However, the sunset view was unforgettable.

TANJUNG BINTULU BEACH

Last stop before we went back to Kuala Lumpur is this beach. It is incomparable to  Tusan Beach but anything with amazing view is worth seeing.

 Side Notes on the trip :

Do not go to Brunei on Friday. They shut down all the business from 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm. We are so hungry that we even chase the delivery guy thinking that his restaurant might open at that time. Of course not, silly. ALL BUSINESS is OFF for 2 hours. What we do for 2 hours? We played ‘Jutaria’ game. (We didnt do the research properly, thats why we stranded  there for 2 hours without food. They put all operations on hold  for 2 hours due to Friday Prayers).

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Long hours of Driving means a lot of sleeping in the car. A LOT.

However, Fatma (The driver for this whole trip) and i (a good company, obviously, duhh) are really enjoying this long driving (well, what else can we do?)

TOO MANY PHOTOS (SORRY GUYS)

I’ll be back with more reviews on other trips that we threechinguz did. Adios!

A MONSTER CALLS – the story of a son and grief

by Ruby Chingu

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What is it all about? 

The story of a son and grief.

Prior to watching the movie, I had no clue what A Monster Calls is all about. A friend wanted to watch it and out of boredom, I tagged along with him. What I did not expect was to almost bawl my eyes out, crying and had tears streaming down my cheeks by one and half hour into the movie.

It struck a terribly personal chord within me, the movie, this supposedly children’s movie about imaginary monster and fairy tales.

Oh, children films. I look down on you no more.

It tells the tale of Conor, a young boy whose mother is dying of a terminal disease. To say that his life is pathetic is an understatement. Our Connor has no friends, gets bullied in school, teachers do not give a shit about him and has a strained relationship with his grandmother, a strict blunt elderly woman. Worse, he has been suffering bouts of insomnia or sleep deprivation – he would be visited by the same nightmare each time he closes his eyes. He finds solace in drawing (don’t they all?) dark figures and characters, living in his own world.

In front of his house was a gigantic yew tree, an ancient tree located at the top of the hill. One fated night, the tree turned into a monster (more like a walking wooden figurine, to be honest), came to his house and declared (in his commanding Liam Neeson voice) that he would be paying Connor four visits – he would also be telling Connor three tales and wanted the latter to tell him the fourth tale. After a few times dismissing this experience as a delusion, Connor began to accept it as a reality. Now, the stories told by the monster – I initially thought it would be the usual good vs bad lot – prove to be so much more than that. Each of the stories were of good characters who ended up doing evil things. They were of death, power, retribution, faith and so on. That the line that separates both good and evil is indeed blurry after all, showing us how complex humans can be.

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I was mind blown right away.

The climax of the story is when it was Connor’s turn to tell the fourth tale. I was a bit confused at first – now why would the monster want Connor to do that? What tale was he talking about? Only when Connor finally confessed it that I was like – whoahhh! Damn!! This is dark shit! But beautifully written shit! But dark, nonetheless.

Clue – All of Connor’s struggles go back to the most important person in his life.

Why I love the movie –

  1. Writing, pace and overall tone

The director did not shy away from making the film dark right away. Despite it being a children’s film, there was no effort to make it all rainbows and unicorn, as if saying – some childhood can be dark and this is one of it. Dark does not mean bad, though. Dark means reality, strength and character.

The shots of the vast English countryside contributed greatly to the mood. The music is often dramatic and stretched, an indication of Connor’s heightened emotions as his mother was nearing her death.

2. Acting 

Connor is played by a young actor, Lewis MacDougall, who is so on my radar. Lewis’s big intense eyes expressed the conflicts he kept suppressed in him so well that he needed no words to convey what he felt. Connor’s life is all about being someone he is not out of necessity. Connor is a young boy in need of his mother’s love yet he has to wake up every morning, prepares his own breakfast, does the family laundry and takes care of his own self while his mother is fighting cancer. He also pretends to be calm – at school, he barely says a word. Yet deep inside was a boiling heart filled with rage, grief and sadness.

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And the mother – the spiritual core of the story, I’d say – is none other than Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Star Wars – Rogue One). The final scene where she looked at the monster in the eyes as her son hugged her on her deathbed is profound. That was when my heart screamed, “you can see him! You know him! Good God, did you send him?”

3. Grief, Bereavement, Loss, Acceptance and Strength

Watching this film in the cinema was indeed an emotional journey for me. It wrecked me and, I’m quite sure, other audiences who have experienced loss. Connor was the avatar used by the director to relate to us these emotions that bind us together. With his mother battling cancer, he is not only robbed of his guardian but also his childhood, sense of security, happiness and trust (for he has an asshole father who left his mother and visits him only a few times a year). However, at the end of the movie, Connor learnt to accept all of these struggles instead of fighting against or denying them.

I believe that the monster is a form of his mother – a being created by her to help him deal with her pending death and the guilt that comes with the desire for all of his sufferings to end. In a way, his mother is telling him, “It is alright to want the pain to be over, Connor.”

Deep, people, so deep.

 RATING: 4/5

Because it deserves it. It is a great watch. It teaches me to not underestimate the experiences of a child and the power of everything between good and evil.

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

 

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By: Fatma Chingu

Warning : Spoiler ahead!

My Rating : Frustratingly good

My thoughts:-

I finished reading this book when I was on my flight back from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur. And yes, I brought along Murakami with me during my solo travel to Korea recently. A wise choice for a company? Lets just say I regretted that choice.

First and foremost, I would explain briefly the story.

The story was written from the first person’s view. The narrator is K, a school teacher who lives in solitude and befriend an eccentric aspiring novelist named Sumire. Both of them meet whenever they can and Sumire would call him up randomly at the middle of the night to talk about herself and all her problems.

For whatever reason, K becomes used to her and developed a crush on her.

Turns out that Sumire met Miu, a forty-something business woman and she fell for her.

So there we go, a love triangle. But the focus of the story shifted when Sumire mysteriously disappears during her getaway with Miu in a small Greek island. The concerned Miu called K to the island in hope that somewhat the situation improves, in whatever way.

K spent about 10 days on the island, cracking his brain to find any clue on where Sumire could be. That is when he found the drafts of a story Sumire was writing right before her disappearance.

The drafts, there are two of them were named Document 1 and Document 2.

Document 1 is mainly consists of  her inner thoughts, the changes she experienced since she met Miu. Personally, I read it as rantings and its all over the place (in which I have to re-read to digest what exactly she is writing). She also talked about her suppressed sexual desire for Miu.

In which, later in this book Miu told K about Sumire’s attempt to engage her into sex but ended in vain. Sumire ran away the next morning.

Document 2 on the other hand is the most interesting part of the book (at least for me). This is the part when I get most absorbed into the story. Surprisingly it is not about Sumire. It is about Miu.

Apparently Miu has gone through a traumatic-life-altering experience while riding a Ferris Wheel many years before. She was in her 20’s and the fun fair was closing at that time. She was the last person to ride it and while she was on it, she was left alone hanging because the person in charge already left (he was visibly drunk).

Therefore, she has no choice but to wait for help. Later she saw something that she never thought possible.

From the Ferris Wheel, her room is visible. In some way, though may be in pure logic you could not see from such a distance (my assumption is the fun fair should be around 5 km radius, well just my guess no solid proof), she clearly saw herself having passionate love-making with the guy she dated before-whom she dumped because he is too overwhelming for her to handle.

Her brain was unable to compute the sight she saw before her eyes as the scene playing in front of her eyes. How on earth it is possible that she is having passionate love-making in her room when she was aware of her entrapment in the Ferris Wheel?

That was the last thing she remembered. And when the rescuers found her, her hair was all white and she was covered in blood. Even the paramedics and rescuers were puzzled with that scene. What happened to her all night?

Thus that confusion leads to her being indifferent to anything else around her. She became numb. In short, she changed.

She lost interest in sex. Which (might) explain her rejection towards Sumire when Sumire wants to make love to her.

What happens to Sumire?

After ten days, still no clue on her whereabouts. Therefore, K just went back to Japan afterwards.

In the end of the story, K and Miu returned back to being strangers. At the traffic light K has described that when he saw Miu in her car waiting for the light to turn green, she seemed occupied in her own mind , ignoring K who was watching her intently from the side. Since Sumire is missing in this puzzle, both K and Miu are unable to reconnect and remain as separate pieces.

So that is the story in a nutshell. Lots of details are missing but yeah it has been months since I finished reading this book.

MY THOUGHTS

The storytelling is engaging as the story progresses in a rhythmic tempo. Like listening to an orchestra. At first it seems bearable and very entertaining. As the song goes on, the scale goes big and heavy, making you feel its too much to handle. At the end, you will be left confused of what just you experienced. You will sit there staring blankly into space, trying to recollect your balance.

Murakami has relentlessly used metaphors in his lines. Honestly I reread the same line for a few times because I just simply do not understand the meaning. Somehow I think he is playing a mind trick on me by placing the mismatched picture to lay down the details.

Ambiguous line between the reality and imagination.

Throwing doubts on my own interpretation.

Because of that, the story lingers around me for quite some time.

Literature of Murakami is eccentric. He does not intent to satisfy people by his stories, he just writes them on whim. This is a great quality of course because he provides us an escape into his unique storytelling. In all honesty I am new to his works, thus making it fairly difficult to adjust.

Sputnik Sweetheart is a story about unrequited love. All three characters stand in one line, each looking at the back of the person and unable to make them turn back.

In my mind, I pictured them to be in this order;

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Murakami seems to fancy the idea of loneliness and the dark side of loving someone while being alone. What a weird theme to have.

He enjoys the fact that he could celebrate the loneliness in his story (this is purely my personal opinion) and pushing it forward in his stories. On the bright side, he embraced the weak and vulnerability of human emotion by turning it into the main idea of his stories. That is my thought after reading this book.

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Would I recommend this?

Yes. But please make sure that you are prepared to be confused.  Despite that, this is a fun book to read and you might want to reread it again.

Trust me, you will get addicted to be mind fucked.

P/S :- This post took me months to complete. Pardon the incomplete content.

 

 

 

My Norwegian Wood Experience (Spoiler Ahead)

by : Fatma Chingu

Its been ages my fellow readers~

Now I am gonna breakdown whats transpired from my journey through Murakami’s novel, Norwegian Wood.

First, I am going to confess that I don’t fancy the idea of reading a Murakami before. I am skeptical of course because Ruby loves him and I know I can never read anything that Ruby likes (sorry Ruby) since her taste is a bit “heavy” for me. In my defence, she loves to indulge herself in deep, philosophical, history kind of material (Palah too, just she is more interested in topics like ecosystem and Middle-Eastern issues) while me yeah, K-Drama and shallow things are more to my preferences.

How did I ended up reading a Murakami?

Simple, I just randomly bought one during my trip to Miri. It just so happens that I was strolling around the bookstore and saw Norwegian Wood. I got curious of course not by the title but because its Haruki Murakami. I thought “How fucked up his book could be? I should put myself to the test,” and there you go! My first Murakami.

I even posted that on my Instagram. A moment to remember heh?

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Now moving on to the reading part.

Well the story consists of the main character’s monologue and his views. His name is Toru Watanabe.

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In his head, he is the most normal guy. But for me as a reader, he is a mess. There might be people who thinks otherwise but I really think he is not a normal guy. Who can be normal with all those tragedies happening around you? Lost a best friend who committed a suicide and crushing his best friend’s girlfriend who he only meets years later who ends up disappearing after a one night stand?

And yet he considers himself a normal guy. Optimism.

He eats alone, basically he enjoys solidarity.

“Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment. ”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

He could not even bothered to make friend with anyone but a guy, Kazuki. Kazuki is a smart guy (with similar taste in literature as Toru) and he is a major playboy. He takes Toru around to sleep with girls every now and then. Sex is just a physical activity, its healthy-for both of them. Love and sexual intercourse are different circles altogether, they does not overlap.

Let’s face it, humans are beast. Not bad of Murakami to have that in the story right? I am pretty sure lots of people could actually relate themselves to that. Fair comment.

What is a story without a heroine?

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That girl who runs away after one-night stand-Naoko.

Strangely I am invested in her character the most. At first, she is just a sad girl but as the story progresses, she is depressing as hell. She got her scars embedded deep inside her as she has been through a lot since childhood and experience suicides from two people she loves. She is damaged and beyond repair.

But I rooted for her.

Until the end.

And its not enjoyable.

 

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Midori, the second girl. She is a bright character (at least she jokes around more) in this story. I like her character, a lot. Confident, brutally honest and lewd.

She talks a lot about herself with Toru but I noticed he has not opened up about himself with Midori. Somehow Toru is not that open with Midori but the good feelings is still there. I am pretty sure that Toru is drawn to Midori not because he wants to, but because Midori made herself someone who Toru could be attracted to. Now that’s girl power.

Halfway through the book, I was forced to stop reading and called Ruby. I feel like I have been consumed by the story. Suddenly I feel depressed myself.

Well to sum the conversation between Ruby and I about me being engulfed in the story (too dramatic of me apparently), Ruby advised me to treat the book as a literature, instead of a door to my subconscious mind or any window to my soul-that kind of self-realization shit.

That moment I realized this is not a romance fiction. This book is all about growing up and becoming a young adult and as one, I can relate to the struggles of being conflicted about responsibilities not just in terms of physical beings but also the chain of relationships with people around us. Being a young adult means you are in power of your own words and action. If you choose to end your life, that’s the end for you. But for the people you left behind? Their time still runs and the hurt from your passing remains until their time is up. Unfair right?

“Only the Dead stay seventeen forever.”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

What I like about this story is each character represents the different approaches in life.

Toru is someone who choose a safe path, being very cautious and kind to the ones he loves and just follow the flow. And the flow is not necessarily good. Have a stand for god’s sake.

Naoko is the pessimist. She has been been beaten up in life and instead of fighting more, she chosen to go down and drown herself in sorrow. In a way we cannot blame her for being miserable but life does not end at will unless we decided that way, right? She is just a sad character, and I always wishes she could be the other way around.

“No truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning.”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Midori is fierce, non-nonchalant and takes risk. Her effort to pursue Toru (set aside the fact she was dating someone else in the process) and outwardly confessed to him makes me want to applaud her. She is not someone who succumb to negative energy of events. She does the opposite. Like when her father dies, instead of being a potato and locking herself away in despair, she went out to a vacation with her boyfriend to cheer herself up.

“I don’t care what you do to me, but I don’t want you to hurt me. I’ve had enough hurt already in my life. More than enough. Now I want to be happy.”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Midori is clear with her feelings. To be honest, that’s a trait to be jealous of. For me at least. Compromising own feelings to avoid any unnecessary conflicts (be it work or personal life) proven to be a poison instead of a remedy. Truth to that. And in the end, Toru chosen her. Who wins? Everybody.

Who said being honest does not pay off?

To sum up the book experience, it is a complete literature and Murakami has impressed me with his style of writing. He makes me feel things, vision the scenes and empathize with the characters. Norwegian Wood is a story filled with truth, at least for me.

“Which is why I am writing this book. To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I’m made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them.”
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Fun facts :

His readers have been speculating that this story actually happens to him, and the main character was inspired from his personal experience. At the credit part of the book he quickly dismissed that by saying his real experience will only produced 14 pages. It was that boring.

And it has a movie version. Warning ahead, some scenes are absent. So keep an open mind before watching the movie if you read the book first.

Just read the book before watching the movie.

Be fair to yourself.

P/S: This is my first book review. So be open minded okay? Haruki’s fans might have a different opinion from mine. This review might be not be gory-ly detailed but I am writing this quite sometime after I finished reading it. So some facts might be inaccurate. But the quotes are from Goodreads so… they are the exact ones. /laughs/

Click on this to read Ruby’s review on another Murakami:

https://threechinguz.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimage-haruki-murakami/

Till next time!

Kapoor and Sons (2016) – Raw and Real Family Drama.

By The Gorgeous Palah Chinguz

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Rating : 4/5

Seriously i didn’t expect anything in this film and it turns out to have everything ; emotional journey, Great assemble of casts, strong plot and extra points for having fawad in the film. He’s such a Bae. I swear my head just wanted to explode because I can’t brain how wrong I am to think that this will be another cliche Bollywood film. A lot of spoiler will be discussed later on as I can’t hold myself any longer. I need to get this thoughts out of my head as soon as possible.

Homosexuality and the society’s acceptance.

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Rahul Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Tia Malik.

You’re kidding, right? It’s 2016 and we never had a fair share of bollywood films that tried to view homosexuality in a positive way. We mocked gays in the film and always portrayed them as too feminine and flamboyant person. Homophobic much? I get it that our parent’s generation might not accepted homosexuality and their takes on it will be it is not normal. How about our generation? Us? Millennials? Didn’t we saw that changes is coming? The cultural change can be done but it starts with us. With the right mentality, education and open mindedness, we can help them to feel that there are nothing wrong with them. It pains me to see how Fawad portrayed Rahul Kapoor , the perfect son, the successful author and the entrepreneur but still hiding in the closet. He pretended to have a girlfriend and all but deep down wishing that his mother will see right through him so he don’t have to pretend anymore. It was tiring living a double life and be a person you don’t want to be. Up to the point, he even said to his brother, Arjun Kapoor, that he’s willing to surrender his place of being the perfect son in their family to Arjun.

I wont drag my religion into it. Not to be defensive about it actually but i do believe what  you do and whom you choose to love is personal choice. It can only be between you and god. Simple as that. Fanatics, fundamentalists and conservatives might argue differently but let them be. They have no other job aside from being religious police.

Parent’s favourite child.

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Rahul Kapoor and… his father’s broken car.

If you can’t figure out whose your parent’s favourite child, that means you are the one. If you can, then it’s real. Don’t cry, your parents are human too. They make mistakes and these are one of their mistakes that we have to make peace & move on eventually. Of course they keep saying they love your siblings and you equally but ……. I think you can figure it out. Sunitha Kapoor and His husband, may not vocally said that their favorite son is Rahul but all acts pointed it was him. In this film, Arjun Kapoor is the innocent victim caught in this parents’ disease (as I called it).Sidharth Malhotra’s performance as Arjun Kapoor is not bad at all. There are moments which you could feel how unfair his parents treated him. Rahul drove and accidentally damaged the car yet their father get angry at Arjun. Rahul’s room remain intact when he’s gone but Arjun’s room being used by their mom to escape from her problematic marriage. Both of them are struggling authors but yet their mother choose to save Rahul’s career by sharing Arjun’s idea to Rahul. That’s really fucked up and no excuses could make up for it. Sunitha has her own reasons to do so , I guess but it was totally unfair.

Infidelity in MArriage.

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Harsh and Sunitha Kapoor reminiscing their fun memories.

I may not support polygamy but i know that there is no such thing as monogamy. People fell in love but they also fell out of love. When you get married, you not only need love to strengthen the relationship, you also need tolerance and compromise. I am surprised how many people didnt realized this and yet they wonder why they are not happy in their marriage. The question arose is how much longer can you tolerate and compromise, to what extend can you tolerate and compromise because for me if you tolerate and compromise too much, you’re going to lose yourself. Marriage is good for some people but if its begin to make you feel dreadful and despised it, then fucking leave. Why they bother to stay and try to save the marriage is beyond me. Rajat kapoor totally nailed the character of Harsh Kapoor ; Intense father and grumpy husband. Ive seen Rajat in his best performance especially in Ankhon Dekhi but this role also worth noting too. This is second time Ratna Pathak played Fawad’s mother and their chemistry never cease to amaze audiences. Fawad will always be the favorite son on screen, I presume especially in bollywood. What are the causes of infidelity in marriage? I just cant seem to place it mainly on the major cause.

Whenever I said Men wanted to be with younger and prettier wife, thats not necessarily true cause ive seen before whereby husband cheated on his wife with someone older/uglier than his wife. Is it because of unsatisfying and repetitive sex or lame bed skills? Could it be one of the causes of husband/wife betraying their own spouse? In this film, it was obvious that the feelings is not there anymore. Harsh Kapoor was having an affair with his colleague until he quitted his job at the bank. His wife knew the affair and thought it was over. She still taunted him occasionally but never in a million years thought that her husband is continuously meeting her behind her back.

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Overall, this is one of the good films that i’ve watched this year. Bad prediction from my side but i was satisfied the way this film turned out to be. Rishi Kapoor is amazing as a grandfather in this film. He is mischievous and playful. Rishi Kapoor take the acting to the next level by wearing prosthetic to portray someone 20 years older than his own age. Im sorry i didnt write much about him though.

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Short Getaway to Kuala Sepetang, Perak

by Ruby Gege

All hail the weekends, people! Palah and I decided that for our second weekend getaway, we would go to Kuala Sepetang. Where the hell is that? You may ask. Trust me, I asked the same question two years ago. Hahaha.

Kuala Sepetang is a small town 16 km away from Taiping. It is not much of a town, really, but a highly-functional fishing village. It used to be quite busy as a mining area and was formerly known as Port Weld (fancy name, eh?) It is known for its great seafood, fishing village that looked pretty much the same since Merdeka days and its riverside tourism (boat ride, eagle-sighting, dolphin sighting (if you’re lucky) and some fireflies stuff, too). Since I am not a fan of nature, my purpose was mainly to enjoy the scenery and fresh air, aside from going to the Matang Museum and Mangrove Forest walk.

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Sepetang can be quite tiring. Thus, Palah and I (joined by our master nappers, Jeep and Fatin) decided to stop by Ipoh and spent the first night at Palah’s family home. We headed to Kuala Sepetang the next day, which took us about one hour.

The first place we went was Kedai Makan Yut Sun, a superb kopitiam in Taiping. For the past 2 years, I have been having an intense love affair with this establishment. We orded the best food to have there – kaya and butter bread, chicken chop with rice, Roti Seremban and kuey tiow. The coffee there, I tell you, is one of the best coffee in Malaysia.

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Palah looking absolutely serious and Fatin choosing what to eat.

Afterwards, we headed to Matang Museum, which is situated between Taiping and Kuala Sepetang. Rich in history, it tells the history of a powerful Malay nobleman, Ngah Ibrahim, who ruled Larut (together with Matang and Selama, the districts had Taiping as their capital). During his rule, chaos reigned as the Larut Wars were happening between the clan of Hai San and Ghee Hin, two Chinese secret society based in Malaya during that time. Come the intervention of the Perak Sultanate and the British colonial government, somehow Ngah Ibrahim found himself punished for opposing the British rule. A complex history at that time, to be sure.

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Matang Museum, also known as Kota Ngah Ibrahim

The building itself is beautifuuuul! The fort surrounding the building is actually the original fort of Ngah Ibrahim’s mansion. The house is also quite intact. When we went in, the officers of the museum were quiet but cordial to us. The exhibitions in the museum are also praiseworthy. They have different sections – the different types of miners (Chinese and Malay), the Japanese rule, the replica of offices of Malay noblemen and British officers. Aside from that, the museum also offers lots of knowledge about important historical figures that our mainstream society has seem to have forgotten about.

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Jeep smiling with the vintage background. Looks like a painting, does it not? The wall, I mean, not Jeep.

The outer side of the museum, of course, is highly Instagram-ish. It is a good thing that they did not alter or renovate the paint so much that the building retains a nostalgic and historical feel.

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Where art thou, Captain Speedy? Here’s to me fantasizing myself as a Malay princess 200 years ago, and Jeep ignoring my antics.

A few hundred metres from the main building is the house of Captain Speedy, who was Ngah Ibrahim’s officer. Sadly, though, the building is not open for visitors so we could only get to take a picture outside the house.

Then, off we went to Kuala Sepetang. The first place we stopped by is the Mangrove Forest Reserve. Since I am not much of nature’s lover, I’ll just say this to you – it is quite an amazing place for you to take a nice long walk. In the forest. Literally. Surrounded by a gazillion trees. Palah went cray cray with her love for greeneries. Haha. According to Palah, the Mangrove Forest here was actually declared as the best mangrove forest reserve in the world! Not bad, Malaysia, not bad. Sometimes, the country does make me proud!

There is also a small jetty at the end of our walk. We rested by the jetty for a while. Palah embodied her role as a serious inspiring photographer, taking a picture of what-not.

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After spending some time there, we went to have lunch at the famous Mee Udang Mak Jah. The mee udang there is soooo delicious! It is spicy, soupy and has lots and lots of fresh prawns.

After lunch, we went to our hotel, the Happy 8 Retreat, which is right by the river. It is a nice place to stay, though can be quite tiring as it has no elevator and our room is on the (God forbid) 3rd FLOOR! So, lots of climbing for us fat people! The staffs are quite helpful and friendly, most of them seem to be local people. We took a nap, rested and basically enjoyed our beds and air-conditioner. However, if you guys are serious coffee or tea drinkers like me, I would suggest that you bring your own supply of beverages since they don’t supply it a lot there (like… only one packet of instant coffee for each room).

Finally, after resting and before dinner, we went on a boat ride! I can’t really remember the name of the boat service company (Palah does, so you guys can ask her) but it is situated not more than three shoplots away from our hotel. After our phone call, she came to pick us up right away and took us to the boat. Imagine, only four of us and the aunty and the boat driver and the aunty’s son. The boat ride cost us RM 80 but it is totally worth it. We get to see the fishing village in more details! The houses in each side of the village – the one by the river and the other side which is literally… houses on the river… like… floating).

Come the next day, we did not do much. We rested all morning and drove to Ipoh to visit our friend, Ika. She is teaching English at a centre there and we lepak-ed at Plan B, this high-end food chain from KL. I am so surprised to see how Ipoh has changed in some certain parts. People are trying to be more hipster (kinda like Penang) and that annoyed us a bit. Of course, the food, though, is still alright.

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Jeep and Fatin, possibly over-whelmed by the over-hipsterness of Ipoh…

Of course, we would not want to leave Ipoh without going to a museum. First, we went to the Darul Ridzuan Museum but left extremely disappointed as most sections of the museum were closed for renovation. Determined to never give up, we googled and finally found Ho Yan Hor Museum. The outer look of the museum is very pleasing – blue in colour and homey-like. We did not know what the museum exhibits but the staffs there are extremely hospitable and friendly. Ho Yan Hor is a really famous herbal tea brand in Malaysia created by a pharmacist/tabib/healer decades ago. Due to his hard work, he managed to spread the fame of the tea nation-wide.

After saying goodbye to Ika, we then returned, quite reluctantly, to Kuala Lumpur. The short trip to Perak was short indeed. But it was lovely as hell. So guys, if you are looking for a place to visit which does not require lots of planning or money to be spent, we think Kuala Sepetang is the place for you. If you have more days to spare, you can actually stop by many townships on your way there ie Kuala Kangsar and Teluk Intan as well. I’m sure they have lots of interesting things to offer there as well.

That’s all for now! Bye bye!