Thursday, September 24, 2009

The journey back home for raya!

It’s that time of the year again when practically the whole Kuala Lumpur goes home to their respective ‘kampong’ or hometown, irrespective of race or religion as practically everyone wants to take advantage of the extended weekend as Raya this year falls on a Sunday. That means for those working in the cities that have Sundays as a weekend, they get two extra days off!

This year, my hubby, son and I went back to Kota Bharu for raya. We have actually gone back to Kota Bharu for the last 2 rayas too, but not on the first day. We have been celebrating the first day of raya for the last two rayas at my in-laws’ house here in Kuala Lumpur, and then we would take a flight back on the second day of raya.

So, this year, I persuaded with my hubby to celebrate raya in Kota Bharu on the first day to make up for not being in Kota Bahru on the first day of raya for the last 2 years. I know it will make my mum very happy, but, at the same time, I know that my MIL might not be too happy, but, I guess, we can’t please everyone at the same time.

So, next year, it will probably be back to alternate years, as has been for the last 17 years of our marriage with the exception of the last 3 years. I think it is only fair.

Anyway, instead of taking a flight like we did for the last two rayas, this year, my hubby decided to drive, for two reasons. One, we wanted to avoid the big crowd as much as possible what with this H1N1 flu still lingering around. Even the government is encouraging people to avoid the public transport as much as possible to contain the spread of the flu.

The 2nd reason why my hubby decided to drive is because he wanted to try out the new Lebuhraya Pantai Timur (LPT) as it is said to be a smoother drive as opposed to the usual route via Grik. He decided to break the journey into two with a stopover in Kuala Terengganu as he figured out it will be less stressful than driving 7 -8 hours straight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu.

There is a 3rd reason. I want to show off to my son the airport that his mummy and her design team designed. *grin*

We started out our journey at about 9.00am on Friday, 19th September. The traffic was relatively mild with no jams at all along the way. That surprised us as we thought that with the school closed a day earlier on Friday, everyone would start their journey on Friday too.

Since it was a relaxing journey, we made a lot of stops along the way to take in and enjoy the sights along the way. We also wanted our son to experience the way of life first hand instead of just reading them from books or getting information from the internet.

Our first stop was at this row of stalls selling Lemang, a mix of glutinous rice and coconut milk put in a bamboo and cooked over fire for many hours. We bought 5 pieces to bring home to my mum and sister.

My son was initially unperturbed by the sight of the Lemang being cooked but immediately got excited when he came across the Otak-otak, a mixture of fish paste (usually mackerel) and spices which includes the chillies, garlic, shallots, turmeric, lemon grass and coconut milk. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf that has been softened by steaming, then grilled or steamed.

Otak-otak is one of his favourite snacks! See the excited look on his face? LOL! *wink*

We bought enough for him to snack on after the breaking of fast as we had already made bookings to break fast at the hotel where we were staying.

The stalls were also selling some pickled items, but we didn’t buy any, although I am a fan of anything pickled. But, this time around, I didn’t feel like snacking on pickles.

After buying what we wanted, we headed on our journey. As we approached Kuala Terengganu, we noticed stalls after stall along the road selling Air Nira, a fermented coconut water, and it got my hubby curious as he had never before heard or tried Air Nira.

After passing by several stalls, my hubby’s curiousity got the better of him and we stopped for him to buy a bottle to give it a try.

We also bought some other things as well like fish crackers and sago chips for snacks later.

We finally arrived in Kuala Terengganu at about 2.30pm and checked into Primula Hotel Kuala Terengganu.

Primula Hotel will always bring sweet memories to my hubby and I as this was the place that our love first blossomed some 17 years ago. *wink* We came here for work, but cupid decided to get to work too by bringing our hearts together at this very place! *smile*

Oopppps! I am suddenly getting all romantic and emotional! LOL! *blush*

Our room was facing the sea. I think all the rooms in Primula are facing the sea, only how good a view you will get. We got a good one this time, and I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to take in the great view and started snapping away from the balcony.

After a much needed rest, we decided to take a stroll along the beach as we waited for the breaking of fast.

After breaking fast, we took a drive to the airport so that I can show to my son my piece of work that has taken me away from him almost every other Sunday for two years as I attend meetings and oversee the works on site.

I know that I am biased but I must say that the design of this airport is beautiful with so many fine detailing, but the contractor did a lousy job and did not do justice to the lovely design that my team and I had worked so hard to come up with. Despite several complains for the contractor to do good, it just fell on deaf ears as this contractor feels that he is ‘bigger’ than us. *sigh*

When we came back to the hotel, my son wanted to snack on the otak-otak which we had bought earlier. Seen here is my son enjoying his favourite snack.

We had sahur at the hotel at about 4.00am, and went back to sleep so that my hubby will be more rested for another leg of the journey.

We left Kuala Terengganu at 10.00am, and arrived in Kota Bharu safely at 2.00pm.

Coming up next, the breaking of fast at my mum’s new condo!

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