Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Ninja Golfer went 'amuk'...

I played badly in my first round at the Royal Sumatra Golf Club. I put the blame on the fact that I had not recovered from the jet-lag after returning from Scotland. So to ensure that I would be properly rested for the second round at the Graha Golf Course, I pampered myself to two hours of 'traditional massage' at the hotel and downed a few shots of a local 'brew'.

Our flight was made up of Pak Ali and Pak Sheikh again and Pak Captain was replaced by Pak Norahim. The good night sleep had indeed helped to improve my game as I won the ball-sweep for the first nine. I was not sure what Pak Ali's remedy was, but he played like a ninja-gone berserk! Playing to a handicap of 26, he returned a stableford score of 42! Without his Katana 3, he was hitting with his driver on the fairway. I have only seen Tiger Woods doing that.

Pak Norahim had played with me at least twice during the Yogya tour. In Yogya I was pitted against Pak Norahim and his brother, Pak Nordin, in a game where the seniors were matched against the juniors. And I gave both of them a thrashing! Not convinced at my abilities Pak Captain decided to play me against the both of them again with the addition of another junior the next day. And, again, I returned home with points for the senior team. The joke of the trip was that both the brothers were traumatised by the experience.

The joke must be close to the truth! ....For from the very first day when we were in Medan, Pak
Norahim kept saying that he was worried to play against me on the second day.He had actually 'psyched' himself into defeat! And true enough, nothing was right for him that day and on the the third day as well.

To Pakdokter's delight...he was able to recoup the hundreds of thousands of rupiahs he lost on the first day.( Thanks to 'chaccarat' and thanks to Pak Norahim)

To Pak Norahim, can I suggest that you sign up for a ' program rehabilitasi psikologi dan mental which will be held in Bogor in due course.

Wajah Pakgolfer yang 'trauma'

Medan Revisited...Learning how to play "Chaccarat"

When I was in Scotland Pak Roslan (Staroba Golf Captain) messaged me the invitation to join a group of seven other golfers for a weekend in Medan. Apparently, Pak Ali Ariffin, was not very happy with his performance during the Yogya Golf Tour and wanted to have some practice rounds to make sure that he will make the cut for the next Staroba Pan-Asia Golf Tour.

Pak Ali was a few years my junior in STAR. I remember him as a very athletic person and he excelled in rugby. However he later defected to the Royal Military College.

I understand that like me he too has also retired and has taken up golf seriously. Both Pak Ali and I have not been to Medan recently. The last time we went there must be some five or six years ago. So we were quite excited about revisiting Medan.

However it turned out to be a very 'wet' Medan. The dark clouds and sheets of rain made me feel like I was still in Scotland. We had an early brunch at 'Nasi Padang Simpang Tiga' which was near the airport.This was partly caused by the fact that Pak Roslan's MH flight was delayed by two hours? ( I must say that Nasi Padang Simpang Tiga is highly recommended....much better that what I came across in Yogya)

We teed-off at the Royal Sumatra Golf Club and our flight of four was made up of Pak Roslan, Pak Sheikh, Pak Ali and your goodself. We have heard other golfers playing the 'baccarat' and 'chaccarat' systems and none of us except Pak Roslan understood the rules. We decided that the only way to learn is to practice it...and voila we did. At the end of the day I was down by a few hundred thousand rupiahs and so did Pak Sheikh.

Pak Ali tried very hard at damage control....we had to contend with a very polished Pak Captain. In his enthusiasm Pak Ali sliced his Katana wood 3 into a branch and surprise, surprise...the Katana club broke into two. ( Katana,in Japanese, by the way is a samurai sword...and I had expected the tree to be sliced!)

It was a very expensive lesson on "chaccarat" for the three of us.

Pak Ali Ariffin, with his Katana blade

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Golfing Scotland...

Scotland, the land where golf originated. Every town we visited, we tried to check out the local golf courses. We looked up the Isles of Skye Golf Course (which I posted in my earlier blog) and on our way from Loch Ness to Dundee we stopped to look at the golf courses of Spean Bridge and Fort Augustus.

These were small local courses, very much like our courses in Raub or Dungun for comparison. The golfers were mostly elderly couples ( probably retirees like us) and children. The courses were not busy, the fairways looked friendly but avoid the rough and hazard. I cannot imagine how I can get out of the 3-inch deep second cut of the rough. And god bless you if your ball was in the hazard.

If you dream of playing at Carnoustie or St Andrews, then Dundee would be a convenient town to stay at. It is a lovely clean town with a very easy-going pace. Carnoustie is an easy 30-minutes drive north of Dundee on the way to Aberdeen ( the Kertih of Scotland)

Like some of our own golf developments here, Carnoustie also has its own apartment projects lining the fairways. And reflecting the current global economic climate, many of these apartments were up for 'bank-lelong'!

St Andrews was about 1 hour south of Dundee. And unlike Carnoustie, St Andrews has indeed lived up to its name as a golfing tourist destination. The Koreans arrived before me by the busload and deprived me of the chance to tee-off for my game of golf.

Anyhow, I was very touched by the warm welcome I received from the concierge at the St Andrews Old Course Hotel after I told him that I am a prince from Malaya! He being a soldier who fought in the war in Malaya in the 40's was very happy to meet with this native from the colonies...

The concierge proudly welcoming pakdokter at St Andrews...notice the ex-Calibur in his left hand!

Since the Koreans had booked all the available slots I decided to take up a one-hour 'brush-up' with the local 'pro' at the driving range. And the driving range looked like the stables at the Ipoh Race Course..

With a lot of time left we checked out St Andrews town. It is a pretty university town, reminiscent of Oxford and Cambridge.

The ruins of St Andrews cathedral

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Raena's Graduation Day at Heriot Watt University...

Wednesday was the highlight of our trip to Scotland this time. Raena finally graduated from the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.
Kneeling before the Vice-Chancellor of the university for the conferrment of her degree

a happy new 'graduate'

a happy family

with some happy graduating university friends

and more fellow Malaysian graduates

with happy and proud Malaysian families

After the graduation ceremony everybody was invited to (originally a garden- but for the rain...) a party where 'bubbly', fresh juices and strawberries were served.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008



sebuah tasik

dewi dewa

dan cahaya


sebatang sungai

alun ombak

alir air nya

mengalirlah sungai

sungai ku

ke tasik

puisi nukilan pakdokter di tahun awal tujuh-puluhan ketika menuntut di Fakultas Kedokteran Universiti Malaya.


sebuah tasik
dewi dewa
dan cahaya

sebatang sungai
alun ombak
alir air nya

mengalirlah sungai
sungai ku
ke tasik.

Sunday Sleep-in...

Sunday was a rainy and gloomy day and Dundee turned out quite cold for summer! We woke up for breakfast and I decided to try out Kedgedree, a Scottish dish which I thought was like the fried kippers but turned out to be a Scottish 'nasi goreng' with their version of 'ikan kering'. So this 'fan tung' was very happy. We thought we would do our touring later if the weather improved but like Yoko Ono and John Lennon, we ended doing a sleep-in for almost the whole of Sunday.
Only Nadal was able to wake us up later in the day to cheer him up to victory in the gruelling match against Federer in the Wimbledon's final. Ole!......

Where are the castles?...

We left Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness on a promising bright Saturday morning. I saw that along the route that I had chosen, there will be opportunities to view some castles at Kingussie, Pitlochry etc. Along the way we can see what the Scots do during weekends. Big-bikers, vintage cars and streams of Lotus Elises cruised up and down the country road. At other places, people parked by the wayside and did kayaking and fishing at the picturesque lake.

Weekend spin

It was a long and slow drive along motorways and country roads and our dinner last night at the Fiddlers in Drumnadrochit must have taken its toll on my co-driver and reserved driver. Whatever they imbibed during dinner have made them sleep all the way to Dundee! And the driver, being distracted by the hikers,bikers,easy-riders etc etc, missed all the intersections to the castles......

The highlands of Central Scotland is not as spectacular and rugged as the highlands on the west coast. Anyway it was a pleasure to finally arrive at Dundee and check into our prebooked B & B at Hotel Shaftesbury, located about a mile from downtown Dundee. It is a small outfit owned by a Hongkie with a lovely Chinese restaurant. The front-desk officer, a young Mr Lee, a Malaysian from Ipoh, came to study hospitality at Aberdeen and has settled down here for good. He visits his parents in Ipoh during the Chinese New Year. He said he loves the life-style and the pace of life here. He loves his work, earns enough for his comfort zone and he loves the golf games that he plays regularly. He cannot see himself fitting into the Malaysian obsession with money, money,money.....

The little garden of Shaftebury Hotel, Dundee

At B & B in Dundee

We checked out Dundee that evening. It is a pretty city located by River Tay. It is very clean and for a small town, it has 4 0r 5 shopping malls. Of course this was a delight to my 'Malaysian' family.

Sculptures along pedestrian mall of Dundee city centre

Walking out of church?

As we missed lunch today we decided to treat ourselves to an award-winning Italian restaurant in Dundee, called ' the Italian'.

Raena's starter of baked escalopes

To 30 years of partnership

Sunday, July 6, 2008


The 12-hour flight from KL to London allowed me to finish an interesting book on economics. Steven D Levitt, a 36 year old Professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Chicago admits that he does not know much about economics and neither is he good at mathematics or econometrics! In his view, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but with a serious shortage of interesting questions....
His gift is the ability to ask such questions and by seiving through available data he obtained the answers to these questions
What really caused the decrease in crime rates in the 90's? Answer - the legalisation of abortion! Read the book to see how he came to this conclusion. And do you know that having a swimming pool at home is more dangerous than having a gun? He also showed that some school-teachers cheat to help their students at exams and that sumo wrestlers are corrupt. Levitt supervised Sudir Venkatesh, an Indian graduate in Mathematics from California in his Phd in Sociology and answered the question on why, if the crack (drug) dealers are so rich, yet they still lived with their mothers.
An interesting economics book for a non-economist like me.
Earlier in the month ( of June) I read ' In the Country of Men' by a Libyan author,(Hisham Matar)......which was shorlisted for the Booker Man Prize 2006. It tells the story of life in Gaddafi's Libya from the observation of a child whose father was involved in counter-revolutionary activities. It narrated how it affected their family, his parents relationship and his relationships to his peers. The description of a public execution by hanging ( broadcasted live on TV) of Ustaz Rashid, a counter-revolutionary agent, was so vivid, it sent a chill down my spine. It aroused the same chilling effect as when I had viewed the execution of Saddam Hussein on You-tube.
'Auto Fiction' is a novel by a young Japanese girl, Hitomi Kanehara. Born in 1983, she stopped school at the age of 11 and left home and started writing which she sent to her father who happens to be a literary editor. At 21, she wrote Snakes and Earrings which won her the Akutagawa Prize in 2004. The Japanese edition has sold 1 million copies and Auto Fiction is her second book which has been translated into English.
Auto Fiction is the story of Rin, a 22 year old girl, who, on her return flight from her honeymoon in Tahiti, suddenly developed a paranoid reaction that her husband was having a 'go' with the air stewardess in the plane's toilet. This is the story of a girl with paranoid psychosis, manic-depressive illness and borderline hysterical personality disorder all wrapped up in one. Reading the four chapters of the book is like reading the transcript of a patient in psychotherapy.
Recommended for students of psychiatry and psychology.

Knowle's Bed n Breakfast

I wrote the last post from a free 'hot-spot' in downtown Drumnadochit that I was rushed into finishing it due to limited time. I wish to post a 'special' on Knowle's B & B as I had only mentioned it in passing the last time.

Nestled in a quiet corner up Balmacaan Street, this is a homely B & B run by a Dutch couple, Knowle and Miriam who migrated here 15 years ago. What attracted me first were the many pieces of antique furniture which reminded me very much of home.

And an old vintage Audi car that !

They even have a farm and served us fresh eggs for breakfast from their own farm.

My vegetarian breakfast of fried brie (cheese), corn cake, baked beans, fried egg, fried mushrooms and baked tomato.

Miriam is a certified practitioner of "Aura Therapy' - a complementary art of healing for depression and other stress-related disorders of mind and emotion. It was wonderful to have met this fine couple and their lovely house.

Friday, July 4, 2008

In Search of Nessie...the Monster of Loch Ness

Breakfast today was a choice of a full Scottish breakfast ( made up of sausage, bacon, black pudding i.e. coagulated blood and oats, and eggs the way you like it) or Scottish porridge. As I am a 'fan tung' person, and they do not offer teo chew porridge or nasi lemak here, I opted for the Scottish porridge of oats.

We left our bed and breakfast on a predicted rainy day and had to backtrack along A87 across the Skye bridge again towards Loch Ness. We passed the Eilean Donan Castle which overlooked the Loch Druich.

We pushed on along A87 and passed some pretty mountainous stretch and calm lochs.

We branched out into A887 that took us to Invermeriston which sits by the Loch Ness. We passed by a crystal clear river just before Invermeriston which forced us to stop for photoshoot.

We finally reached Drumnadrochit, where our B&B was located and after some difficulty, managed to find it in a little corner just outside town. What a lovely little B&B it was ! by the Knowle family, Knowle and Miriam. From the window of our study we could see Loch Ness in the distance. The house has many pretty pieces of antique furniture .

We found a nice fusion restaurant at the Loch Ness Inn for dinner and settled early due to the rainy weather. Breakfast was ordered the night before and we settled for a breakfast of smoked salmon on toast as the main course. Breakfast was served in a lovely little corner of the house.

We decided to drive up to Inverness to check out the city in the morning and do a little bit of shopping. Inverness is a small walkable city situated along River Ness. A panoramic view of the city can be obtained from the Inverness castle.

After a light lunch and shopping at the Victoria Market we drove back and stopped at the Clansmann Hotel where we took the one-hour cruise on Loch Ness in search of Nessie!

As the legend goes, in 565 A.D. the Irish priest Saint Columba was at Loch Ness and when his assistant swam to fetch their boat at Loch Ness, a monster appeared from the water with gaping mouth and sharp teeth. Whilst everyone was shocked with fear, Saint Columba made the sign of the cross and said to the monster ' Go no further !..hurt thou not anybody...! Quick ..get out of here..!'

And Nessie has never been seen again for the next 1500 years !