Thursday, 31 May 2012

Snapshots: Shawls & Scarves

Over the years one will inevitably 'collect' some 'fashion accessories' out of interest, vanity or sheer necessity. Shawls and scarves feature in many a woman's wardrobe. 'Scarves are pieces of material worn for ornament or warmth round the neck or, by women, over the shoulders or hair'.  'A Shawl is large piece of woolen material worn round the shoulders or head of a woman, or wrapped round a baby'. (Both definitions are from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary). Selendang = shawl, or rather selendang = scarf? Okay, enough semantics already, here are some snapshots (and stories) of my collection.

Some woolen shawls bought at Tie Rack, every time I passed through KLIA. Airports are 'cold' right? (Actually this is just an excuse to acquire shawls).

Some more of the same as the above, except the white and the dark pink are the only real 'Pashmina'* in my wardrobe. I also have several cotton shawls/selendang in most colours of the rainbow.

My wedding selendang - white lace. I guess it is an antique piece now! Once a bit of it was dragged through a street in Kota Baru when it got caught in the car door. (I was in KB to attend my brother's wedding). Luckily the selendang survived.

This is a Batak woven cotton shawl bought in Sumatra in 1976, (though M keeps saying it is actually a piece of 'long', or kain basahan the Iranians wear in their public baths. Excuse me, I don't think so!)

A woolen lace shawl I bought in Greece. It has been in storage for a long time but now decorates one of my bedposts because it has proven too 'itchy' to wear over the shoulders! Any remedies for this?

A rather 'loud' Kurdish silk shawl that is so big that I also use it as a tablecloth sometimes! The blue background is electric! I bought it in a street of Kermanshah, Iran from a Kurdish lady.

A Thai tie & dye silk shawl acquired during one of the Conferences attended in Bangkok. The colour is a purple pink with gold motifs.

A very sheer Chinese silk scarf with butterfly motifs. Acquired during a visit to a silk factory/shop in Beijing.

A shawl made of natural pineapple fibre and embroidered with little beads and pearls. My Filipino good friend gave me this, thank you very much. Its an exquisite treasure!

A blue/white batik Habutai silk scarf bought at the Ubud market in Bali. But you can find these aplenty in Malaysia.

A pink/grey cotton & wool shawl, bought in India last year. The motif is traditional paisley and flora.

A Spanish embroidered shawl from Madrid. I received it as a gift from a close family member, terima kasih daun keladi, kalau boleh, bagi lagi! (Bad translation: Thank you Caladium leaf, If can, give more!)

*Pashmina is the cashmere wool of the under-hair of the Himalayan mountain goats native to the Kashmir region.

Friday, 25 May 2012

A Reunion, a Celebration

A 'Thank you' carrot cake (CNB 2012)

Yesterday we had a special lunch date at midday. With our ex-Principal (of TKC/KTK; Tunku Kurshiah College/Kolej Tunku Kurshiah), Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Asiah Abu Samah, no less. There we were 16 of us - Pah, Zaleha, Nik Esah, Nik Mun, Ras, Rody, Jan, Siti Ropiah, Jahara, Ajit, Rosnah, Karimah, Raja Nor, Daratul, and Rod's daughter representing her, and moi. Some of us had not met with Cik Asiah (as we knew her then) since we left school, which was a very long, long time ago! As Rosnah quipped, the last time Tan Sri Asiah knew us we were sweet 16. Now we are ... sweeter 61!  Ahh... how time flies.

Sharing a light moment (2012)

At the Puteri Restaurant (in Sungai Penchala) the food was good and the ambiance okay. But best of all was the congeniality around the tables as we sat together reminiscing about old times at the boarding school in Seremban. We mostly thought then, that Cik Asiah was a strict Principal, but now she assures us that she has always had a lenient and fun side as well. Actually those who had her as the Malay Literature teacher did see glimpses of this side of her, as she read with us from Hang Tuah, Salah Asohan and Atheis. Good literature always brings out the more emotional side of anyone, agree?

We are all ears (2012)

Together we remembered the teachers and recalled incidents memorable about them - Misses Sinha, Vaughan, Bergen, Black, Ellis, Laing, Cik Safiah, Ustazah Amrah & Ramlah, and others. We also recalled the 'naughty' things some of the girls did (not to be repeated here, lest they be given 'black dots'!). In short, it was nostalgia all round. But all too soon, all good things must end. At about 2.30 pm, we kissed cheeks and said our good-byes, with assurances to meet up again together with our beloved ex-Principal.

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect! - Owens Lee Pomeroy

Friday, 18 May 2012

My Sabah: Tawau

When travelling by the national airline from KLIA to get to Semporna, Tawau is the gateway airport. One can easily dismiss Tawau and go straight ahead to Semporna, doing the same on the return trip. But then Tawau has an interesting history. In the 1980's, it was once the cocoa capital of Asia, and Tawau district the world's third largest producer of cocoa beans (after the Ivory Coast and Ghana). The fishing industry still remains important, with tiger prawn farming contributing to the export trade, especially to Japan.

The Tawau Mosque (CNB 2012)

A part of Tawau town (CNB 2012)

Anyway, Tawau is also the third largest town in Sabah, after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. From Semporna, we did not have much time to spare before our afternoon flight back to KLIA, so for us, it was straight to the town's central market in Tawau Lama or Old Tawau. In the market, we made a beeline for the dried fish stalls on the first floor. There were loads of dried anything (edible) from the sea - all sizes of prawns, all kinds of fish, etc.

The Tawau Central Market (CNB 2012)

Dried anchovies, prawns, etc., etc. (CNB 2012)

Dried fish, fish and more fish (CNB 2012)

Keropok  Amplang - crackers (CNB 2012)

We left the Central Market with plastic bagfuls and cardboard boxfuls of dried everything (I think the plane had to be deodorised after our flight landed at KLIA). Still, there was more shopping to be done - this time at the HS Crystal Wholesale shop in Jalan Masjid. But pearls (mainly from the Philippines) are the main attraction.

The traffic at the 'Eagle roundabout',  just outside the market
(CNB 2012)

Some interesting old wooden shops in Tawau (CNB 2012)

Some more interesting old shops (CNB 2012)

Pearls galore at the wholesale shop (CNB 2012)

Finally heading for the Tawau Airport, we stopped at an eatery nearby for lunch - sup payau. I know the word payau as something to do with taste (not so great), but this sup payau is actually venison soup.  The taste? Certainly not payau, but quite delicious!

Bibiq Corner that serves sup payau (CNB 2012)

Rice and sup payau (CNB 2012)

At the Tawau Airpot, there is ample opportunity to buy more Sabah souvenirs - the T-shirts here are most reasonably priced, the frozen seafood quite plentiful in choice, and do not forget the plush soft toys (monyet Belanda included), and cocoa products from Tawau itself. I bought some 3-in-1 cocoa packs here since we never made it to the Cocoa Museum or plantation. Maybe next time ...

Tawau Airport (CNB 2012)

Adieu, monyet Belanda. (CNB 2012)
22 April 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The 19th Regatta Lepa, Semporna

One of the best times to visit Semporna is in April, when the annual Regatta Lepa is held. The 19th Regatta Lepa this year was held between 20 - 22 April, and we were glad to be able to witness it again (after our first experience last year - do read my blog entry of  17th December 2011).

The Regatta Lepa 'celebrates the proud heritage and unique lifestyle of the Bajau community'.  The waterfront is the venue of the Regatta and a procession of colourfully decorated lepas compete for the 'most beautiful' title. The water festival also showcases other activities such as boat tug of war contests, and boat/kayak races. This year there was also an interesting mock 'pirate kidnap and police rescue' operation.

Two lepas await in the bay (CNB 2012)

More lepas in the bay (CNB 2012)

The flotilla of lepas sail in to be judged (CNB 2012)

A colourful lepa sails in (CNB 2012)

More colourful lepas (CNB 2012)

Red and yellow seem to be the favourite  colours (CNB 2012)

An Igal dancer performs to the music of the kulintangan
 on board a lepa (CNB 2012)

Sambulayangs topped by parasols (CNB 2012)

The Lepas that have won 1st, 2nd and 3rd places (CNB 2012)

The boat race (CNB 2012)

The kayak race (CNB 2012)

The women's boat race (CNB 2012)

The boat tug-of war (CNB 2012)

The pirates have struck & the police go into action (CNB 2012)

The Regatta Lepa is not just a water festival, in fact the whole town of Semporna has a carnival atmosphere, what with the various concerts staged, and so many stalls set up to promote or sell products and services to the population and visitors that have certainly swelled manifold.

Ratu Lepa contest on Malam Maglami Lami (CNB 2012)

Bajau Igal dancers in their colourful costumes (CNB 2011)

Bajau 'playboy' in a colourful wig - popular
during the Regatta Lepa carnival (CNB 2012) 

'Peace', 'Pistol' & Pink candy floss - children
 love carnivals alright! (CNB 2012)
20-22 April 2012

A Mangrove Tour in Semporna

It was serendipity - we went on the Mangrove Tour because we just inquired what there was to do in Semporna apart from walking the town and climbing Bukit Tengkorak (Hill of Skulls). The staff at the hotel front desk whipped out a piece of paper and showed us the tour programme courtesy of the Semporna District Office for visitors/tourists during the Regatta Lepa period from the 19th to 22nd April 2012.

In the morning we climbed the Hill and in the afternoon we opted for the Mangrove tour/River cruise, in search of riverine wildlife, especially the elusive proboscis monkey.  We were driven from Semporna town to a village, Kampung Tunggulangan, 20 km. away. Before getting to the jetty via a wooden walkway in the mangrove, we see many long-tailed macaques feeding on bread on a platform especially built for this purpose. I think visitors will not be too disappointed with the river cruise if no proboscis monkeys are sighted, because at least another type of monkey has been spotted.

Macaques on the feeding platform (CNB 2012)

We get to a hall at the jetty for refreshments and washrooms (if you have to go), and then collect our life jackets before going on to board our boats.

Life jackets all ready for pick up (CNB 2012)

A in the boat, our guide with binoculars (CNB 2012)

A relaxed me on board (AB 2012)

The boats go very slowly in the two rivers that we traversed - the Sungai Tohok (Tohok River) and the Sungai Buaya  (Crocodile River, because there are crocodiles in this river. But we did not see any, sheesh...). The boatman is ever alert for any signs of animal life in the mangrove trees on both sides of the rivers.

The verdant green mangrove trees (CNB 2012)

Upside down doubles of the trees (CNB 2012)

The tranquil waters of Sungai Tohok (CNB 2012)

A bend in the river (CNB 2012)

Suddenly he revs up the boat engine for quite a while, and just as we were wondering what the heck ....(?), a beautiful Brahminy kite appears in the sky above. The boatman throws some chicken skin into the water, and the eagle elegantly swoops down and scoops up the 'food' before flying off, to no doubt enjoy its meal somewhere. (I have seen this before in Langkawi, but it still never fails to fascinate!)

A Brahminy kite resting on a dead tree (CNB 2012)

A Brahminy kite in flight (CNB 2012)

Sunset at the estuary (CNB 2012)

We spot some more macaques in the trees, before we spot the elusive proboscis monkeys, or monyet Belanda (Dutch monkeys, for their large noses and pot bellies), as the locals call them. Three sightings were of single males/females (too far to spot whether they had the large pendulous noses of the male or not). Then just as we were on the way back, quite near to the jetty in fact, we spotted a whole family of them! This certainly made our day. (Note: The Proboscis monkeys have other monikers - the 'flying Dutch man' because they seem to fly from tree to tree, also the 'red chili' - though I'm not telling you why. They are also both arboreal (living on trees) and amphibious because they are able to swim from island to island.)

A monkey silhouette in the trees (CNB 2012)

A lone Proboscis monkey spotted in the trees (CNB 2012) 

The family of proboscis monkeys probably 'bedding' down
 for the night (CNB 2012)

The very serene boat cruise, broken only by excited whispers of animals being spotted and cameras clicking, is a gem for Semporna eco-tourism. Hopefully, instead of heading straight out to the Sipadan islands, tourists would discover the Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise first.

19 April 2012