#atozchallenge: New short story published

I am delighted to announce that the third short story I have ever written, entitled LOST AND FOUND, was selected for publication in the May 2016 issue of Eastlit. Interestingly, my short story was categorised as creative non-fiction. Hope you enjoy reading it.

Eastlit May 2016 Cover Picture: Apocalypse by Graham Lawrence. Cover design by Graham Lawrence. Copyright photographer, Eastlit and Graham Lawrence.

Launched on October 26th 2012, Eastlit is an electronic English Literature Journal focused on creative writing, English literature and art specifically from or connected to East and South East Asia.

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You can read my short story by clicking here. You can also click on the following screenshot to read it:

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#atozchallenge: Mesilau Highland, Kundasang

Kundasang is located at the foothills of the famous Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in the state of Sabah, and also in Malaysia, and there are many beautiful and scenic places to be found there. One of my favourite places in Kundasang is the Mesilau Highlands, or the Mesilau Plateau.

 

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Scenic views on the winding road snaking up to Mesilau

When I went there, I felt I had been transported into an ideallic postcard-perfect countryside. It is such a lovely place that I would like to come back again in the future.

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The rolling countryside is dotted with farm houses and plots growing a variety of vegetables

The most scenic spot at Mesilau is probably the place where the Desa Dairy Farm is located. With the feathery drizzle bringing in a thick mist, I thought that perhaps I had been transported to Scotland. 🙂

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Mist descends onto Desa Dairy Farm as a feathery drizzle starts

Visitors can view the milking area behind a glass panel, and sample the variety of products produced by the farm, which are for sale there, such as fresh milk, yogurt, pudding, gelato, cheese, etc. I tried the gelato (RM5.30) and Toma cheese (RM8 per 100g wedge), and liked them. The farm produces Toma and Camembert cheese, but only Toma was available that day. Toma is a soft or semi-hard, mild Italian cow’s milk cheese. This is the first time I have come across it, so I had to try it. 😉

There is also a sort of petting zoo, but with only calves and goats. Visitors can feed milk to the calves and grass to the goats, for a small fee. It was a hit with the visiting children.

Here are some photos from Desa Fairy Farm:

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If I stayed in Mesilau, I would probably be happy and contented like these dairy cows too 😉

Other articles I wrote about Sabah:

#atozchallenge: Lofty Kundasang (Kota Kinabalu, day 2)

I went to Sabah for 4 days in April, and was lucky enough to visit Kundasang, which is located in the Ranau District of Sabah. It is a valley with a town that is 6 km
away from Kinabalu National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and 12 km from Ranau town. It has a cool climate and strategically situated at the base of the famed Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia. 

While waiting for my luggage at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport upon arrival, I spotted two racks lined with leaflets and brochures, and to my delight, found a leaflet advertising day tours by Mizume Tours.

Before dinner, I called the number on the leaflet and Sam answered promptly. I was delighted to discover that they had a confirmed day tour to Kundasang the next day (Sunday), and a day trip to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands on the following day (Monday). I quickly booked my spots for the two tours. Payment would only be made when the tour van picked me up in the morning.

The van went from hotel to hotel to pick up their participants for the Kundasang day tour on Sunday morning. Even though I was staying at an apartment, they came to pick me up anyway, which was very nice of them. Two other couples came on the tour. One couple was from mainland China, but worked in Hong Kong. The other couple came from a lesser known part of China, which I cannot recall now.

The name of the tour was the ‘Kinabalu Park Tour’. The journey from Kota Kinabalu town to Kinabalu Park took 2 hours, and on the way, our first stop was Kundasang Market, where we had a grand view of Mount Kinabalu. It is said that at any time, there would be clouds over the peak, and today was no exception. The view was beautiful, and visitors took group photos and selfies with the fantastic view. The haze was polluting Kota Kinabalu town, but thankfully it disappeared when we went to Kundasang.

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View of Mount Kinabalu

The market was divided into different sections. There was a proper market with stalls selling all kinds of local produce and foodstuff (shown in the photos below). Then, there were a row of shops and a long house selling all kinds of crafts and souvenirs.

I saw local delicacies like tuhau and bosou. Tuhau is pickled wild ginger, which is usually prepared in either of three ways – pickled fresh tuhau, spicy sambal tuhau, and serunding tuhau. Pickled tuhau and sambal tuhau are traditionally eaten with rice. Serunding tuhau is dried and usually comes mixed with peanuts and eaten as a snack.

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Pickled tuhau. I bought one container of this.

Bosou is preserved fish, a delicacy made by the Kadazan-Dusun people. The most common fish used is the ikan kepayang. Sometimes, raw meat brought back from hunting expeditions is used in the preparation of this delicacy instead.

 

 

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Bosou
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Vegetarian bosou

 

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Different types of rice cultivated in the area are on sale in the market

 

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Handmade bird cages
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Traditional jewellery made from seeds
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Traditional necklace made from beads
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One of the friendly people selling their foodstuff at the market
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The long house selling handcrafted items and other souvenirs

Other articles I wrote about Sabah:

 

#atozchallenge: Kota Kinabalu (day 1)

It all started with a restaurant opening. Somebody I know is opening a restaurant in Kota Kinabalu. Why don’t I go and check it out? Then, one thought led to another. Since I’m going there, why don’t I go for some sightseeing? And to make it more fun, why don’t I buy my plane tickets without booking a hotel or getting a tour? Never try, never know.

I used to plan trips for the benefit of the people going with me, but since there’s nobody coming along this time, there’s no planning required. I thought some general ideas of where I wanted to go would be sufficient, for a start. In 2016, I wanted to try a different approach.

Let’s see where the wind blows

So, I bought my AirAsia round trip tickets, and hollered, “Hey, I’m coming!” I slept through the entire 2 and a half hours on the flight like I wanted to, and upon arrival, woke up blurry eyed, and with tussled hair, followed the trail of passengers to the designated luggage collection conveyor belt. While waiting for my luggage, I spotted two racks lined with leaflets and brochures, and to my delight, found day tour advertisements. I put the precious leaftlets into my backpack.

I decided to ditch the RM5.00 airport bus in favour of the RM30.00 taxi, because I had to wait 45 mins for the bus. I came all the way, didn’t I? Can’t be late! The taxi ride to Imago Shopping Mall took 30 mins, and I got there just barely 2 hours before opening. Just enough time to shower and change into something nice. 😉

Before I went down to the restaurant, I called the tour agency with the day tour advertisements, and was delighted to discover that they had a confirmed day tour to Kundasang the next day (Sunday), and a day trip to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands on the following day (Monday). I quickly booked my spots for the two tours, and went downstairs to dinner. Only the smothering haze lingering outside the shopping mall dampened the spirits a little bit.

Food, glorious food!

The restaurant opening was worthy of its own reality show, because it looked really exciting. I was to stay in the apartment which functioned as the owners’ home, as well as the office and second kitchen. Lots of people were busy going in and out and doing lots of things from early in the morning to late at night, till past midnight. This is all they’ve been working for for the past few months, and it came together at last.

The restaurant is called ‘Tavern Kitchen & Bar‘, and specialises in western and local food, and some unique creations inspired by the traditional food and ingredients found only in Sabah. The decor is modern and fresh, with interesting murals and decorative artwork covering the walls.

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Murals and artwork covering the walls
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A collage of strikingly colourful doors and windows decorate one wall
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Comic art with Sabahan flavour

I was the first to arrive at 6pm, and the walk-in customers slowly trickled in. Since I was first, they processed my order first, and my food arrived soon. I ordered the Coconut Mojito, Hinava Squid Ink Pasta, and the Apple Tuhau Crumble (pictured below). I thought the food was delicious, tantalizing fare for the taste buds, and wrote about it on my food blog, in an article entitled ‘Hinava Squid Ink Pasta‘.

The bar is located right outside the restaurant, and was fully stocked for the evening. As hungry visitors began to flood the mall in search of dinner, the restaurant filled up with couples, friends, and families, waiting for their hot meals.

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The busy bar outside

I was informed by my host that a live band would be playing at 8pm, and sure enough, they were a hit with the crowd. Their vocals and synergy was spot-on and the audience loved every thrill and every guitar rift.

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Popular live band belting out their repertoire of music

While I was listening to the band, a waiter recommended that I should try their signature cocktail, called ‘Sumandak on Fire’. ‘Sumandak’ means ‘beautiful girl’ in Sabahan, and sure enough, the cocktail literally lights up the room like a beautiful woman. The drink is a showstopper, as you can see from the slide show below. It is warm from the blue flames, and sweet as a lady should be, yet laced with a generous dose of mystery.

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I will write about my adventures in Kundasang and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands in parts 2 and 3 of my series on Kota Kinabalu. 😀

Other articles I wrote about Sabah:

#atozchallenge: Jesselton Point

I went to Kota Kinabalu for the first time from 9th to 12th April 2016. While I was there, I went to a few places, like Kundasang, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Manukan, but Kota Kinabalu itself has interesting places too.

Today, I would like to share some photos I took at Jesselton Point, which is the KK jetty where people get on boats to go to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Islands. I boarded a boat to go to the islands there too.

There are a lot of shops selling food and snacks there too. I tried a dragonfruit popsicle from a small shop there, after I returned from the islands, and it was very good (see photo above). It costs RM6. The brand name was ‘Popstale’. It was manufactured by Ju Xiang Food Industries Sdn Bhd, DBKK No.3, Lot 15, Pusat Perindustrian Ngee Lum, Lorong Burung Keleto, 5.5 Off Tuaran Bypass, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Tel: 088 440 818. www.juxiang.com.my).

Other articles I wrote about Sabah:

#atozchallenge: Inspire

Inspire

It is good to be inspired
To be helped and supported
But sometimes it would be nice
To return the good deed
Or pay it forward, twice
To be inspired is marvellous
But to be an inspiration is a gift

Khor Hui Min
18 April 2016

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Source: http://www.scottygirldesign.com/blog/2014/3/19/scrapbook-inspiration-quotes

 

 

#atozchallenge: Hot air balloons

There is a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Putrajaya every year, where hot air balloons from all over the world converge to mingle and show off to visitors in one central location. The event is called the Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and 2016 marks its eight year.

The balloons were inflated twice daily – first at 7am and then again at 6pm. Besides viewing the many balloons on show, visitors lined up to buy tickets for the tethered balloon rides as well. There was also something called ‘cold inflation’, where visitors were given the opportunity to explore inside the balloons.

After sunset, the event called the ‘Night Glow‘ began. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw it. The pilots ignited their burners to light up the hot air balloons against the backdrop of the black of night. The launching area was transformed by the blinking psychedelic ‘giant light bulbs’, all synchronised to the sound of music. From afar, they might have resembled monstrous fireflies. 😉 The night finally ended with a bang, with a fantastic fireworks display.

Here are some photos I took at the 2nd International Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2010, on Saturday, 20 March 2010, between 6pm and 9.30pm. Click on the Flickr slide show to see them all.

Night Glow: Balloon from Germany (on right)

 

#atozchallenge: Growth and a great attitude

G for ‘Growth and a great attitude’

Thoughts about the link between personal growth and atttitude today led to a short poem on the subject. 🙂

Dawn of a New Day

A day dawns in uncertainty
Its journey shrouded in mystery
Do we fret, or do we take it head on?
Do we linger in the doorway with doubt
Or square our shoulders, take a deep breath
Walk bravely out onto the sun-kissed path?
Be full of positivity and possibilities
A positive mind ignites happy thoughts
Happy thoughts lead to a smiley day
The contrary leads into dark and dreary bog
Which would you prefer, sunshine or bog?

Khor Hui Min
15 April 2016

 

#atozchallenge: Freedom

F for Freedom

Today, I would like to share a poem I wrote about freedom. Freedom means different things to different people. To some, it is being safe to walk and travel anywhere they please. To others, it is the absence of tyranny, and also the right to freedom of speech.

There are unfortunate situations when bullies come into power, and take away the freedom of the masses. They take advantage of their position to gain material wealth and other benefits at the expense of others. History shows that when this happens, the oppressed will one day rise up to dethrone the oppressor. However, when the oppressor is finally removed, and the leadership position is then vacated, will that enable another individual of a similar mindset to fill the position? Would that lead down the same road again, or would there be a worst outcome? How can we be sure that there are safeguards put in place to prevent the occurrences of oppression and tyranny? That is something to think about for today…

 

What is Freedom?

What to you is freedom?
Being born to be free?
Eternal singledom?
Free to be you and me?

What is it do you seek?
Does it mean we can speak
Speak up for the weak
The downtrodden and meek

Does freedom mean being tough
On those who once bullied
The right to be rough
On tyrants, now sullied

Is it right to deny
Others their freedom?
It is right to defy
Rulers of the kingdom?

To be free; without chains
Permits not tyranny
Greed damages and maims
The biggest irony

Khor Hui Min
15 April 2016

 

#atozchallenge: Edgar Allan Poe

E for Edgar Allan Poe

Today, I would like to share a poem by the famous writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). An American writer, editor, and literary critic, he was most well known for his poetry and short stories, especially stories of mystery and the macabre. He has been credited as the inventor of the detective fiction genre and also regarded as a contributor to the emergence of science fiction (Stableford, 2003). He was also deemed as the first well-known American who tried to earn a living through writing alone, leading to a difficult career and financially difficult life (Meyers, 1992).

To find out more about Edgar Allan Poe, you can read his brief biography at Poestories.com

Dream-Land

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1844)

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE — out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the dews that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters — lone and dead, —
Their still waters — still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead, —
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily, —
By the mountains — near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever, —
By the grey woods, — by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp, —
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls, —
By each spot the most unholy —
In each nook most melancholy, —
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past —
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by —
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth — and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
‘Tis a peaceful, soothing region —
For the spirit that walks in shadow
‘Tis — oh ’tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not — dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.

 

References

  • Stableford, Brian (2003). “Science fiction before the genre”. In James, Edward; Mendlesohn, Farah. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 15–31. ISBN 978-0-521-01657-5.
  • Meyers, Jeffrey (1992). Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy (Paperback ed.). New York: Cooper Square Press. ISBN 978-0-8154-1038-6.