Last Friday morning, Uncle Paul, Peter and I went out for breakfast and then took the old winding road from Bayan Lepas to Teluk Kumbar and then to Balik Pulau. It has been a while since I have been around there. I think it must have been as long for Uncle Paul since he does not come back from Melaka as often.
Development is slowly creeping up to what was once an idyllic fishing village in Teluk Kumbar. High-rise apartments and housing estates are cropping up all over the place. Fortunately, the plantations after Teluk Kumbar still retain their greenery. Nutmeg and clove are still being cultivated. And the durian trees are already fruiting.
View of Gertak Sanggul in the distance.
Peter took a left turn somewhere between Teluk Kumbar and Balik Pulau and drove up the hill on the cemented track. He had heard of a restaurant serving Thai food on the hilltop and wanted to have a look. The journey up took a good twenty minutes across durian orchards and chicken coops housing several hundred chickens each. There are several telecommunication towers just before the summit.
As we came to the top, it was bare. Trees were cleared and there was little foliage to shade us from the blistering sun. We were greeted with several chalets built atop small boats resting on stilts and the restaurant which overlooked the Straits of Melaka and the fishing villages and durian orchards of Genting and Balik Pulau. The other side of the peak commanded the sweeping view of Teluk Kumbar, which was once a small fishing village dotted with attap-roofed houses but is now being gradually replaced by towering concrete apartments.
The flooded paddy fields of Genting.
The view up there was simply breathtaking. The photographs that I took do not do justice to the splendid panorama that spread out across as far as our eyes could see. It is unfortunate that the operators of this small resort chose to adorn the structures there with garish colours and ornaments which spoilt the natural scenery somewhat.
After having taken in the extraordinary sights we never knew existed, we made our way down. The track down was extremely steep and hair-raising. From where we were, we could see paddy fields being prepared for cultivation and the steeples of a mosque rising up from the flatlands of Penang?s hinterlands and the hills of Balik Pulau. Later, we were told that recreational hikers frequent the track during the evenings and on weekends.
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I am afflicted with blogger’s block. For one week now I have been sitting here, staring at the screen, wanting to write something but could not. The words just would not flow out. There are many topics that I want to blog about but they remain as mere ideas. Trying to verbalize those thoughts is like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.
Instead of writing, I am posting a photo that Wuan took at the Tan Kongsi in Beach Street, Penang. This ornate design is a ventilation hole. There are two at the front entrance, one on each side of the wall. Most Chinese temples have these built into the walls to facilitate the circulation of fumes from joss sticks and the air inside the building.
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Books are good companions when one is alone. They are easy to carry and store. I cannot remember the last time I read a good book. It must have been like one decade ago. I cannot even remember the title of that book anymore.
Whenever Wuan and I go shopping, we would invariably be drawn into bookshops, mostly to browse. Coffee table books have the nicest photographs. These are a delightfully pleasing not only to the eyes but to the mind as well. We also like books on flowers, gardening and recipes.
We were shopping at the Bukit Jambul Shopping Complex when the Popular Book Store beckoned. Wuan had wanted to get the Nonya Flavours cookbook which features a mouth-watering array of the most delicious Peranakan food. These recipes are the amalgamation of inter-marriages between early-Chinese settlers and Malay women in the Malay Peninsula, namely the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. It was going for a 20% discount. So she grabbed it. Wena blogged about that book here.
Then Wuan came across some books by Ernest Hemingway. I have never read any of his works and it was selling at 70% off the list price. The bargain suckers that we were, we took two ? The First Forty-Nine Stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The three books have been lying on my sofa for more than one week now. If only I can peel myself off the computer and begin reading.