cousins

West Malaysia 2008: Cousins, Cousins, Cousins

vacation2 083Thanks to the largesse of the Malaysian government, I was able to bring my family for a one-month vacation at the end of last year. We brought the whole family, and our maid for good measure, and the nine of us went gallavanting from my brother-in-law’s in Tanjong Malim all the way to the Langkawi Archipelago, with stops all along the way. Believe me, when you travel with six small bladders, you stop. All. Along. the Way.

Vacation December 2008 - Tanjong MalimActually two of my brothers-in-law live in TM now, and all together we had 17 little cousins carrying on with each other. VacationDEC08 - Tanjong MalimHighlights of the stay there included a trip down to the Slim River for some splashing and thrashing. One kid got swept off down the river, but hey, that still left us with 16. Kidding! Kidding! Dinner times were also epic, with cousins queuing up for their rice like it was a school canteen. [Tanjong Malim photoset]

Masjid Jamek Tanjong MalimI was in TM for Friday prayers, so Atin my BIL and I took the shabab down to the Masjid Jamek Tanjong Malim, a pretty old mosque with some unfortunate later additions which hide the original structure. There was an old poster on the wall showing the silsilah or genealogical tree of the 25 Prophets named in the Quran. We can assume that there were many many more prophets sent by Allah over time to farflung nations whose bloodlines and tribes are unknown to us, but seeing the Judeo-Christo-Islamic lineage with all the dots connected like that, all cousins one to the other, is very cool. I’ve had my eyes out for one for awhile but haven’t yet found one for sale. [Masjid Jamek Tanjong Malim photoset]

decemeber08 029From Tanjong Malim, we zipped over to Bagan Datoh where my wife’s ancestral village lies, to celebrate the Eid Al-Adha, Hari Raya Haji, or Feast of Sacrifice. My mother-in-law had put in for a share of a cow, so Atin, the boys and I went off to observe and collect her portion. vacation1 011The slaughtering took place, like everything else in Bagan Datoh, in a coconut stand, which was flooded from heavy rains. Shortly after, a niece, the eldest daughter of my recently departed half-brother-in-law, was married, and we trooped off for her reception. The bride and groom looked lovely if a little out of place in their wedding clothes as they stepped through the coconut trees around her mother’s compound. She is only the second of my nephews and neices to get married. Any child of theirs will make me a grand-uncle, which in Malay family terminology would be datuk, or grampa. I can hardly wait. [Bagan Datoh 2008 photoset]

vacation1 015Actually if it was just a beach we wanted, we didn’t have to go all the way to Langkawi. Perak has a beautiful beach at Teluk Batik, not far from my Mother-in-law’s home town, so with all the relatives gathered up for the holidays, we headed off for a day on the sand. Teluk BatikBy this time, my sister-in-law had come by, with her kids too, putting us at a nice even cousin total of 20, give or take. It was a lovely sunshiney day at the beach, so we camped under a ketapang tree while the younger generation played in the surf. Nobody sunbathes in Malaysia – except for mad dogs and Englishmen, as someone famously said. The sun is just too strong. The sunlight filtering through the large ketapang leaves made for some lovely photos though. [Teluk Batik photoset]

Langkawi, Chennai BeachA trip to the island paradise of the Langkawi archipelago was next on our itinerary. The last time I’d been, KakNgah, my second, was just a month old. We had stayed in a small one-room beachfront chalet with my mother-in-law, which was just as romantic as it sounds. VacationDecember08 - LangkawiThis time, we splurged for two rooms at the Lanai, a hotel with a pool and beachfront. As it turned out, the hotel could have been in the middle of Borneo for all it mattered. The kids would not leave the pool. The weather being as it is here, you can swim all day long and never get cold. The hotel was crawling with other kids too, including a French muslim family on an extended holiday. They didn’t speak much English and I speak even less French, but the man had a sweet smile and a brother is a brother; soon the kids were splashing along with their newest cousins. The wife and I did persuade the kids to visit the beach, though we had to bury them up to their necks to keep them there. [Langkawi 2008 photoset]

VacationDec2008: Cameron HighlandsYou spend too long on a tropical beach and pretty soon you don’t ever want to leave. We cut the trip off after a few days and made our way back down to Tanjong Malim. My mother-in-law had always wanted to visit Cameron Highlands, the premier tea-growing and horticultural center of Malaysia, located up in the Titiwangsa Range right on the border of Perak. She’s never been, despite it’s nearness, so we took advantage of the new, straighter road up there and put together a day trip. Previously on the old road, the curves and switchbacks were enough to make half the vehicle retch, but the new road is smooth, faster, and less lurchy. We stopped at some flower gardens, strawberry farms and a tea estate, which was spectacular. [Cameron Highlands photoset]

Masjid Tanah RatahAlong the way, we stopped for lunch at the Masjid in Tanah Ratah, one of the small mountain towns that make up the Cameron Highlands. Masjid Tanah RatahPerhaps due to all the tourists that visit, the masjid had a very nice rest area attached, with a kitchenette and mats on the floor for picnicing. The masjid, like everything else in the area, was perched up on a tiny plot of level land (Tanah Rata means Level Land) on the side of a steep hill. That lent itself to fresh breezes and a nice view of the town. The masjid itself was clearly heavily used by the community, with massive outdoor cooking pits, five-foot-wide cooking basins, and tall winding stairways cut into the hills to connect it to the neighboring community. [Masjid Tanah Rata photoset]

Vacation December2008 - Heading HomeAll good things must come to an end, and so it was when we packed our bags for the return home. KakUda, the sentimental one, was particularly morose. The parting was made less gloomy by my mother-in-law and both Tanjong Malim BILs, Long and Atin, accompanying us to the airport, where we were met by our reclusive second BIL, Nyah. An army travels on its belly, as the saying goes, and thus it was that buckets of fried chicken perished at lunch time to feed the cousinly horde. With that, we were off to Kuching where Atin and his seven have promised to visit us at the end of the year. Since it has taken me a good four months to put this together, it means the kids don’t have too much longer to wait. [Goodbye at the Airport photoset]

Vacation December2008 - Heading Home

West Malaysia Vacation 2008 Photocollection

Extra Bonus: Monkey Business at the Airport