Thursday, September 29, 2005

road to terengganu

This morning, I send off Yati and the kids plus another van-load of wedding paraphernalia and another car for Mak and Ayah to Kedah. It was to be a wedding for Yati’s niece this Friday.

Traveling, short and long distance for the kids has become quite a norm. They have after all been traveling since babies. The first two Alia and Amir were born in KL and transported to Kedah on the seventh day. Atin and Alan were born in Terengganu and enjoy the grandmother traveling from Kedah to look after them. When Yati was completing her degree in Penang, Alia stayed with Wan in Kemasek and traveled by bus to KL almost every fortnight. She was in a way growing on the road. Because of the nature of our work, we travel often. The kids took every opportunity to join us, ‘ponteng sekolah’ sometimes to be in their other ‘house’ in KL. I guess when they were younger, hotels were a house too. After all it’s better than the actual home, room service, swimming pools and dining at the coffee-house included.

My earliest memory of travel was by bus to Kelang, staying at a Singh-friend of my father. I was not even in school then and my recollection of the trip was the breakfast. They, the Singh family eat chapatti like tons of it.

Then there was the trip sending Aki and Che’ to Haj. We were packed in Ayah Su’s Volkswagen for a day long trip to KL, staying at the Asia Hotel (external shared toilet, thin striped towel and ‘orchid’ soap bar) in Chow Kit and early next morning departed to Port Kelang. The Kapal Haji, the crowd, the pilgrims and the well-wishers were a sight to behold. The flashback was of the sight of man walking up the gantry, bales on the shoulders, cargoes of wooden boxes winched up the hull, teary-eyed, sobbing people, people, people and people. And then suddenly in all the commotion there was the ship siren followed by azan from the ship-deck. The silence was stunning. The ship slowly departed and all around was sobbing. That was in 1968. Thirty years later for my umrah in 1998, the travel was by a Boeing 777 direct Saudia flight to Jeddah.

The road to Terengganu would soon be a full highway. A dream we had been kept waiting for over twenty years, two prime ministers and three ‘menteri-besar’s away. But then the opening of Karak – Kuantan section has improved the travel tremendously. It’s now 5-6 hour unlike previously ten for a slow-sleeping-often stopping driver like me. But it comes with additional cost of toll-charges and speed fine. Ah so-what!

The link to Terengganu was once a snake-beaten winding, nauseating excuse for a road. Somewhere along Karak-Bentong section was through the ‘communist-area’ the Polis Hutan’s roadblock were a familiar sight. I went through it like six-times a year every school holidays and only in my fifth-form year the engineering marvel of the day – the Karak-Bentong Highway was opened, courtesy of Malaysia-Thai Development, the construction company. Those on the old MCKK school-bus to the Piala Perdana Menteri in SMSAS in Kuantan in 1980 will recall how we chugged along the highway. We even cheered when the bus manage to overtake any poor soul for it was to be its last trip away. Pak Cik driver was given a treat by the other school bus drivers to a memorable farewell dinner and retired soon after. The bus was soon replaced by a new air-conditioned coach. And best of all that year we won the Piala Perdana Menteri.

On the long journey to KL and back, my children would normally sleep a peaceful slumber in the Carnival. When they wake-up hungry and bored there are all the R&R to stop and refresh. They would like never believe that it was once a long and a sluggisshly slow winding road to Terengganu.

1 comment:

naxeri said...

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