Monday, October 5, 2009

Alor Setar, A Picturesque City

For pictures of this entry, kindly click here.

Having been to Alor Setar countleess times in a previous working life, I found out to my dismay, is a wonderful city and one which is quite picturesque too. I used the word 'dismay' as, though I had my camera with me, I was not mentally prepared to take real shots, thinking of quick snaps only as my presence there was more towards Emak's favour rather than myself. It was on the first morning while accompanying Emak and her sisters did I notice what I had never before.

As the ladies went into Pekan Rabu, a red-hued building caught my eye and at once, my thoughts were of the Stadhuys buildings in Melaka. Off course, the one in Alor Setar is not, but it led me to wishing that I had more time for myself as quite like many new cities, AS has a nice mixture of old and new buildings within it.

I have little doubt in mind that many a young people would not give the old buildings such as the one in Jalan Penjara Lama much thought, due to the years of neglect it suffer. However, the fact that it is in a neglected stage and yet still standing strong, is proof of the quality workmanship and materials used, apart from the simple architectural design of buildings from past era; a time when more than half the present population of were not born yet, as the tree still growing beside the building may testify. Very few places may still have such building, with Brickfields in KL coming strong in my mind.

Rivers snake through this city lending a soothing effect to both, inhabitants and passerbys. But off course, only if one is willing to look. And it is here that I found a Chinese Temple on a riverside complete with it's own jetty as well. Also present was a small twin-oar boat which acts as a ferry between the 2 banks there, helmed by a middle-age man who was kind enough to keep his boat steady for me to take pictures. In between anxiety and a left arm still throbbing with a dull pain, I wished I had brought my tripods along as well as ample time to focus my shots. Not to be outdone, the Malay houses within the neighbourhood of Dr Roziah and Encik Johari's house, too caught my attention.

As I was taking shots, the owners of the house came back and thought I was a goverment-sent quantity surveryor, measuring their land for acquisition. However, when I told him that photography is my new found hobby, they were delighted and with pride told me the age of the steps to the small verandah of their house. And within the fenceless ground of their compound, I found a playhouse which was almost hidden by the shrubs there. In Melaka, structures outside the house would be called 'kui', and is meant for keeping gardening equipments beside being a small silo for paddy. Sadly, 'kui' in Melaka has dissapeared not only from the grounds they once were, but also from the minds of many people.

On the 2nd afternoon while the ladies were resting, Encik Johari took me to Gunung Keriang. He mentioned of a Paddy Museum there, and almost at once I was not too excited about it. However, when he mentioned of the mural-like painting which the previous State Goverment commissioned to a group of Korean artist, I became eager.

The museum is a 4storey building with an almost circular top floor where the mural can be viewed. Stepping into the viewing area, one may be reminded of a section of Universal Studios, US, where visitors lean against railing to view a 360 degrees film projection of the US landscape, taken from a flying craft. At the Paddy Museum however, visitors are seated while the floor revolves slowly to allow visitors a supposedly panoramic view from the top of Gunung Keriang. It was while taking shots of the mural that Encik Johari kindly told me that Gunung Keriang, as told by a legend, is the remnants of a large ship, quite like the legend of Tanggang. Another interesting story Encik Johari mentioned was with regards to the mural itself.

Supposedly, while painting the mural which took more than several months to complete, the surrounding areas experienced the loss of many dogs and cats, which several people attribute the loss to the Koreans who are known to include dogs as part of their diet. Dog meat, after all, is a delicacy in South Korea.

Soon as the painting was completed, the Korean noticed a figure of a lady in the mural, one which they insisted were not by by them. Fearing some supernatural powers revenge or whatever, the Koreans gave some money to the villagers there to say prayers (do'a selamat). The outline of the lady can be seen in "The Lady' picture, where the actual site can be seen in 'Actual Image'; a thought to ponder on, eh? Like, why couldn't the former State Goverment commissioned local artist to paint the mural?

Anyway, the Paddi Museum was the only sight where I could take some real shots, though one or 2 may be somewhat blurry due to the revolving floor.

Oh, do take notice of the food and the Mothers' Reunion as well.

The Nasi Daging was very filling and tasty, and I was really looking forward to it. However, on the accounts of the ladies fearing a rise in their Blood Pressure, Makngah had to use chicken instead of meat. Part of the recipe and cooknig of the Nasi Daging, was prepared by Encik Johari who requested yours truly to create a blog for him which he will later fill with recipes. Kindly do visit him when he has done so here.

As for the Mothers' Reunion, well, the ladies were well tired by then and could not even force a smile on their faces.

Looking back, I have sort of made a vow to myself to return at a later date and compose my shots better, insyAllah.