It was a month buzzing with happenings at the Global Peace. A thought of a runaway from the city to rejuvenate came to our minds!
Taqinah suggested we could check out her uncle’s place- a quiet and peaceful place on an island. Checking out some pictures on Facebook, Nina was excited and so were we. We booked our day and a half there in the next couple of days. What is life without runaways yeah. Before we knew it, the day came and we were on our way up to Perak.
The journey up North was full of stories, laughter and music, making the drive a fun one, with Nina being the DJ playing beats from spanish, to english, to God knows what. Great!
The main house at the Sukasuka Lake Retreat
Upon reaching the place, we were already beginning to unwind a little more. A little piece of land, with very humble and warm, peaceful and inviting. Reminded me a little of how my grandmothers place used to be when I was much little, minus the lake. With healthy chickens running around. Well, driving over floating bamboos and wood was something I had not imagined of doing. That is what you have to, if you decide to drive over to the island across the land. “This has survived the worst of floods,” Azman told me. You will know who is Azman in a bit.
After reaching, we decided to check-in and say “hi” to the owners first, Pak Cik Aziz and Mak Cik Asiah. They had a little boy, Azman who spoke in a cute British accent. Apparently, that is what became of him, growing up there meeting people from different parts of the world. British seem to have stuck around a little more for him. Also, we had a surprise, Taqinah’s uncle and auntie were not at all aware that her nieces were two of the guests who were coming. They were obviously expecting 4 French chicks, when only one was. Well, hello! They were surprised alright, and could see the joy from their faces when embracing their nieces. It has been ages since the girls went back to the uncle and aunties island. After all the warm embrace and hellos, we had to unload and change our clothes for a Malay wedding of a nearby villager.
The chalet we stayed
At the wedding
Obviously, the wedding lunch was a good Malay lunch. However, to be honest, even though I am a Malaysian, it was awkward eating at a wedding of someone I did not at all know. Having said that, we, more like the Auntie Asiah and Uncle Aziz and family have an invitation, extended to us. So, all is well.
The bride and groom looked super grand in emotions. You could see how happy they were from their faces. To add on to the attire of the day of the newly weds, the groom had a cute wooden keris, a wooden Malay sword, tucked into his clothing at his waist.
This was Nina’s first time at a wedding, ever, and what more, a Malay wedding. She was really excited. It was a more exciting lunch because Nina decided to eat with her hands for the very first time. Her left hand, being her primary hand stopped her not. She loved it, and the rest loved watching her do it and teaching her the ways around it. “The food feels more tasty,” she said.
Thank you, Taqinah for switching clothes. I could fit into mine-not.
At the coconut stall for some coconut water to soothe under the sunny weather
After the lunch, we had to fill the fuel tank and we stopped for some coconut drink where we found new friends- two brothers who were super shy. Their coconut stall is by the road, so was a place they called home. After some hi’s and hello’s and warm chat, we learnt that the boys were living there with their father who was away at the moment working at another place. While their mother was back Taiping, another district in Perak, undergoing a baking course. They have a sister as well, who lives with the mother and goes to a school there. The boys had a fish. We hope they are doing alright. We were really shocked by their condition of living. One can be aware, but seeing it and experiencing it first-hand is in itself really something. Every time, feels like it’s happening all over again.
LATE NOON AT THE MUSEUM
Us in front of the Archaeology Gallery of Lenggong
We continued our journey, with Azam as the tour guide to the Lenggong, Museum. Yes, the Lenggong Museum. The days of me wanting to be an archeologist just flash backed. I was excited you can safely say. We met The Perak Man lying safe and sound in a glass box as the picture in our history books. No picture of The Perak Man of course, due to ethical reasons, else you will be of course seeing him here. It was surreal to see it in person.
The rocks at the museum site
Walking out and further in and up in the compound, we were led by Azam to this staircase that was leading to a tower. On the way to the tower, the was this circular space with rocks, from quartz, alluvium, Toba ashes, suevite, lawn basin, granite, lawn rhyolitic tuff and limestone. Yes, stones are fascinating, I kid you not.
THE CHILL EVENING
The view from the dock
Earlier evening was spent by the lakeside, just enjoying the view of the lake and the trees. The haze was not as bad as it was in the city at the time. Sitting down on the hanging rattan egg chair was what I enjoyed doing, by the lake, by the edge of the wooden dock.
Suddenly Taqinah said, “Archana, get up slowly from the chair.” I freaked out. “What is it?” I asked. Then Nina, freaked out, “Don’t turn, just walk away fast.” I almost cried. It sounded like I had a snake over my shoulder. I quickly leaped and ran away from the chair. Then I learnt that there was this cheeky frog right at my shoulder. This little fella was huge.
Chilling around, we then decided to go off for a boat ride on the lake. Azam continued being the guide for the day, and now our boat-rider. The kid is around 12 years old. We trusted him of course. He knew his way around the ropes and wheels. We were excited to be going around the lake.
Us with our boatman
We were off in the lake. It was really sad seeing the haze taking over the beautiful nature. It was a heartbreaking sight. All the greens were polluted by the sight of grey. Initially load and cheerfulness turned subtly into silence. It honestly felt like the trees were dying to me.
The hazy sight
We then decided to check-out another island that is also owned by the family, suggested by Azam. It was a little further in. Apparently, after bad flood that hit the place last December, it wounded the island. Ever since, they have not cleared and checked the place. Warning, warning! Anything can happen. It felt like we were on a spontaneous adventure. Obviously we were up for it!
When we reached, it was obvious to us that the island was abandoned for some time now. Nevertheless, you can feel the kind of serenity, being further away from the mainland. We wandered around. There were new mammal occupants in the main hall- bats, that flew away upon receiving sudden visitors. Walking further in, there were buffalo dungs every here and there. Then we learnt that the island had buffaloes. Azam was making his observations to mark the changes in the island, and to also take this opportunity to assess the condition of the island. He realised that the place had been trespassed. There was a bed at the hall and some cigarette buds and bottles. You can see that the boy was determined to get the island back together, if not as it used to be, better than ever. We didn’t stay too long on the island.
The Sukasuka Lake Retreat Chalet on the other island
Coming back from the island, we decided to layback and take some downtime chilling. Nina went for a quite meditation, Taqinah had her Ninja move on, I have no idea what she was doing, while Insyirah decided that we could feed the fishes.
The family reared Tilapias. Of course, Azam just new everything about the fishes as well. Apparently these fishes have a lifespan of 2-3 years, till they are sold off to be served as meals. Insyirah had a good time feeding, while I had a good time watching the fishes swim around in swirls. If there was one challenge in terms of feeding, it would be to not fall off, or through the railings and wood pieces you walk on, with the pail of fish food.
Insyirah and Azam feeding the Tilapia fishes
I then spent the rest of the evening sitting by the dock once again, this time around not on the hanging rattan egg chair. I had a great time with an unexpected chat with Uncle Aziz, who has been an employee of IBM for 15 years. He comes from Information Technology (IT) background, but have over the years been involved with trainings, workshops and talks, basically HR-related matters which was mostly related employee relations and organisational development. Eventually, he had developed his passion in farming, agriculture and now into eco-tourism. A man of the nature, spiritually.
We spoke about so many things very passionately, out of which one was regarding the young people of today, which also had myself and the girls included, about the reality of children’s upbringing and a materialistic world.
“Opportunities are right here, ” uncle said. He shared about how there are opportunities everywhere your eyes sets. He helped the comprehension of his stretching out examples from real life situations, even from his rich life experiences. Uncle Aziz was a man full of optimism, wide vision, and nature-centeredness.
This piqued my centring of nature and family. He also instigated my boundaries that I may have unknowingly set-upon myself. It was a great conversation to remember and to absorb wisdom from.
It was sundown by the time we ceased our conversation.
TRADITIONAL MALAY DINNER
Shower and dinner time! After a warm bath, we wore Malay female sarongs, that had been given, with a top for a traditional Malay dinner.
It was a hearty-meal. With both vegetarian and gluten-free dishes for Nina, and non-vegetarian dishes for the rest of us. There were dinner rules introduced before the dinner. One important one that I remember is that y
ou cannot say “no” to more rice or dishes offered as a sign of being polite. Somehow, we all ate more than usual. Myself, I had three plates of rice with the dishes.
After dinner, we served with corn with coconut milk dessert. It was perfect for the tastebuds and tummy after the sumptuous meal.
After the bowl of dessert, we went out in the dark for a night walk led by Azam around the place. It was a practice to ease the digestion of food, and to also see sleeping fishes. Yes, sleeping fishes!
All of us freaked out. Well Nina and I screamed, grabbing each other in the dark and looking for Taiqinah and Insyirah, only to in a little while later learn that what Azam meant was snakeheads, a species of fish. This spices of fishes are also know as ikan Haruan. What a reliever. Azam had a snakehead himself, in a huge claypot, right outside the main house.
Walking back to the main house, we had a glimpse of Tinkerbell, kidding, a firefly! Earlier on, there was one in the house. It was so beautiful.
According to trustable online sources on animal totem symbolisms and meanings, firefly signifies self-illumination, passion, guidance, freedom and positivity.
“… we need not burn ourselves out in the pursuit of our goals. The process should be natural, free-flowing, and jovial so as to not extinguish our guiding light.”- http://www.sunsigns.org
The main house at night
After the walk, we had some congkak lessons and competition over tea and coffee. Congkak, a Malaysian traditional games that utilises a wooden piece with seven fist-deep holes and two larger holes on each side, handcrafted with design and marbles.
Insyirah and Azam playing congkak
We were suppose to be sleeping already. Somehow, suddenly we became awake after going back to our chalet. We starting talking and laughing out loud about life, work and everything in between. And men. And introvert-extrovert interactions and communication. As we were talking, Nina was trying different ways of wearing the sarong.
Falling asleep was a ludicrous affair. After a couple of screams and sweat over some insects and animal visits, we were fast asleep, outside our mosquito net. Only the next morning, Nina told me that the lizard that she saw in the room was not a house lizard but a medium sized monitor lizard. Well, it fled off and out of the room after the scream. Nope, Taqinah nor Insyirah came to the rescue. They were already dozing off.