We had planned for the trip as far back as November. I initially thought I couldn’t be bothered to go back. My recent trips to MCKK did not bring out any sentimental feeling about the building or the town, though it’s always a pleasure to meet the teachers who have become good friends over the years. My attachment currently is to the boys we are helping, not so much to the school. So given the busy schedule, the chore to drive all the way to Kuala etc. etc. – most of us wrote off the idea of going back earlier on.
Until it dawned on us that it is an historic event that we should not miss. After all we were a part of the school as much as anyone else and we have earned our right to be there as much as anyone else. Once a few people made up their mind to go back, it wasn’t long before the rest followed.
In my group – which was referred to by Bobo as “The Nerdies” since most of us were in Science 1 – were Allen, Fazurin, Chamat, Jita, Suri and initially Bobo (he didn’t want to be in my group but he had no choice, as he planned to travel from Terengganu with me). Later on, we joined “forces” with the Klik Utagha, who decided to stay at the hotel we were staying (of which I will write about a bit later).
Travelling arrangement and lodging were arranged from November onwards. Fazurin had to delay his holiday trip to Bali in order to catch the celebration, after much persuasion.
FROM SHIRE TO RIVENDELL
I decided not to drive this time around, having been driving to and fro KL for the past few weeks. So the initial plan of driving in one car from Kerteh to KL with Bobo and the rest of Kerteh guys had to be abandoned. Luckily Bobo did work something out at the last minute, so he drove with his wife to KL and would join Mpro and Co. from there onwards.
I decided to take a bus ride to KL, so that I had some time on my own and hopefully (which was later proven an ill-thought proposition) could do some readings. As I reached the bus station, I saw Byn (Hazizi Hassan, Deputy Headboy Class of 2001) already there. As there was only one bus going to KL at that hour, I supposed he was on his way to KL for the celebration too. He did not recognise me initially (maybe I have put on another 10 kg since the last time I saw him), but it didn’t take us long to recognise each other.
An hour before we reached KL, we had a non-stop chat which must have annoyed other passengers. I have met Byn before – being the only junior from Kemaman who still lives there – and we have had teh tarik session, so it wasn’t that difficult to catch up. He was also in UKEC in the UK for a while, so there was more than enough common ground.
THE FELLOWSHIP TRAVELS NORTH
When it comes to the question of “who would be late”, Fazurin’s name always came top. Somehow being passionate about Malay language and culture may also mean the “jam Melayu” habit might rub off to you as well ha ha (though I am sure he would disagree with me). He had improved a lot since he started working, but the reputation stays.
About an hour before we were supposed to meet at KLCC, SMS began to circulate (I can tell it originated from Chamat) that Fazurin might be late – to which I hurriedly sent SMS for him to get his butt out of Bukit Kiara immediately. In the end, it was I who was late since I got stuck at Pan Pacific signing some papers – a topic which Fazurin no doubt would use over and over again to get back at me.
By the time we left, it was already about 7 pm.
Fazurin, Knoe (Class of 93) and I were in Allen’s car, while Jita, Chamat and Ska (a late comer) were in Suri’s car.
We had planned to gather as many CDs as possible from the period that we were growing up for a karaoke session. My car had Fazurin, a master karaoke singer – so I did not expect to get a quiet sleep during the ride anyway.
Allen and Fazurin actually bought new CDs just for the ride to Ipoh. Since Allen was driving, he got the upper hand in choosing which CD we would play first, which obviously was his. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately ha ha), the original CD that he bought for RM30++ jammed after the first few songs. I was laughing throughout because there could only be 2 possible reasons why it jammed – whether the original CD was faulty or his CD player did not work. Either way it was his. It turned out later that the original CD was faulty – Allen vowed not to buy any original CDs ever and to join my ranks in supporting the CD “copyright” (a polite name for CD haram) industry ha ha.
As for the list of songs, I’d rather not share it here, for fear of incriminating ourselves or disclosing how old we are to the rest of the world.
AT MINAS TIRITH
The hotel was suggested by Bobo and Suri. I had never heard of Grandview Hotel, however since Bobo and Suri had vouched that it was a new hotel and the room was OK, I did the booking in November. When I called them for booking, the amoi was surprised that I did the booking 4 months in advance. According to her, that was the first time it ever happened – which prompted me to suspect this must be a “cho-kia rumah tumpangan” equivalent to Tin Hiong that we once stayed in KK, let alone that the rate was really cheap.
But luckily Suri and Bobo were right (lucky for them too otherwise I would go on and on about it forever) – the hotel was new and nice and cheap, but..... (there’s one big BUT which might explain all).
Grandview Hotel is actually located in what can be called Ipoh’s red light district. It’s very close to COCKMAN ROAD, which is full with prostitutes waiting to be picked up at night (they sure know how to pick a name for a prostitute’s street ha ha). About a few streets away was the meeting point of the “mak nyah” of Ipoh – so after a while I began to understand why Suri and Bobo were really excited to stay here.
The hotel was nice enough that I didn’t have any complaint given the rates – but the sights of prostitutes sitting on the pedestrian walk, wide open (if you know what I am talking about ha ha), waving at you – was a new experience for me.
Later on that night I brought them to Medan Gopeng where once I had a nice steak. That was one of the biggest mistakes I did during the trip – for the food was really crap e.g. ostrich steak which tasted like a stale chicken wing, fish fillet the size of a fish finger, beef steak which was actually a badly burnt small piece of meat etc. etc.
For the dinner on Saturday 26th, Suri brought us to Cockman Road’s KFC, which he said offered the best chicken in Malaysia. I had my usual snack plate and did not notice anything great about the chicken there – I think Suri tasted a different chick altogether and got confused it with Cockman’s KFC.
THE MYTH OF MIDDLE EARTH
There were too many warnings and dos and don’ts that were issued to the group (which Fazurin referred to as “BN’s scare tactics”) so that we could have a smooth trip tomorrow.
One of which was that KK food outlets would be full tomorrow, so we had to eat quite a lot that night in order to prepare for it. Initially some people refused to eat since we just had our KFC at Tapah (it’s a custom; we must stop for KFC at Tapah. We met Champ and his wife there), but after taking into account the warning on full restaurants, every one had a second helping that night.
The next morning, it turned out that there were ample spaces for everyone at all the food outlets and we managed to secure prime seats at Rahmaniah – so much for “all the restaurants will be full so you’d better eat tonight”.
Another famous myth which turned out to be untrue was that the road will be jam packed the next morning and we had to walk for kilometres to go to koleq. We were advocating of leaving at 5 am, but in the end we decided to “take the risk” and left at 6.15 am after Subuh.
By 6.30 am Pyan and Picca were already there and we were told that the place was deserted. By the time we reached KK at 7 am, there was no jam or congestion to be seen anywhere. In fact, we managed to get a VIP parking space reserved at Ridzwaniah – so much for “all roads will be closed and jammed by 8 am”.
THE BATTLE OF THE PELENNOR FIELDS AND OLLIPHANTS
We arrived really early (due to the myths) and there were not many people yet there at 7.30 am. I had to go and meet Cikgu Umi first to pick up 6 sampin(g)s for some people who could not locate their sampin(g)s anymore (I also became the standard measurement size for sampin(g) – “if it fits him, it fits us” kind of thing).
Since the place was still empty, we went for breakfast at Rahmaniah. I supposed they were ill prepared to accept the number of crowds that day, so breakfast was really late. By the time we finished, a large group of later days old boys (I guess Class of 2002++) were already congregating in front of Rahmaniah. Looking at them made me feel really old – because they spoke, they dressed and they behaved differently from us.
We then walked to Padang Big School, where the real event would be held. I did meet a few people and got the shock of my life to meet a few people whom imagine differently all this while ha ha. Anyway......
Our batch booked a tent besides Class of 62’s tent – but it wasn’t long before we slowly left the tent to converge on the field, paying no regard whatsoever to other people with our cheers and loud jokes.
The worst joke was when Chibix when to greet his late father’s batchmate in kopiah, to which the whole batch shouted to him a few tents away “main jambu....”. I wonder what the pakcik in kopiah would have thought – “ni siamang mana pulak bising-bising ni..”. Class of 90 was nearby, but they were relatively quiet and more civilised compared to us.
The greatest shock of the day was seeing Taufik after all these years. He had lost weight that when he came to see me whether I still remembered him, I really thought he was from the Class of 90. We had a nice time catching up with each other and I was really glad to have met him, since he was one of the 2 best friends I had when I was in Form 1, although we parted different ways after that.
Azrin Madin was also there, all the way from KK (bukan KK Kuala Kangsar).
The real ceremony was short – we waited so long for the Rulers to come. When they were all there, the ceremony proceeded smoothly and I have to say it was a sort of anti-climax as suddenly all was over. If there was any consolation, I’d say the declaration was worth the waiting and wrote off any inadequacies elsewhere – but declaration will remain a declaration without any meaning, unless those parties in a position to do something about it take actions that suit the gravity of the declaration.
The inclusion of olliphants was grand although it all happened very quickly that we did not really feel the impact – or maybe we were too busy making noises.
It was all over by 12 pm and too quick I might add – the only casualty by then was our skin. I should have used a sun block to avoid sun burn, which featured prominently on my face for the next one week.
MOUNT OF DOOM
After getting hold of whatever souvenirs left, we adjourned to Smash’s house. Everyone melantak as if it was no one’s business and we had a long chat with Smash, always eager to welcome us. He was with us at our batch’s tent throughout the ceremony. We then left for Ipoh.
That night, after a short tour of Cockman Road he he, we drove back to KK to have a glimpse of the Garden Party (Shahrol was a committee member). Unfortunately, the downpour started earlier on and they had to cancel the whole celebration by 10.30 pm.
But they did continue with the fireworks show, which was really weird since we were all gathered under the tents listening to the fireworks.
I spent the first hour with Haqqa, Bucks and Helman at East Wing’s Common Room. The boys were watching TV and were looking after Haqqa’s little siblings.
We did toy around with the idea to take the big banner on the lamp posts, but couldn’t be bothered. In the end my big belly won the battle of will against sentimentality.
JOURNEY BACK TO THE SHIRE
The next morning was uneventful (or so we thought). We woke up, said good bye to the hotel, the prostitutes (they were no where to be seen) and Cockman Road and headed south. I travelled with Allen in one car, Knoe joined Shahrol in Shahrol’s.
At Tapah we met Pojue (Class of 2004, ex debater) while we were having ice creams.
We originally thought it would be fun to convoy with Pojue, but he was driving at 90/100 kmph (biasa lah baru sebulan dapat lesen!). After a while we decided to abandon Pojue and sped off towards KL.
The plan was to meet at Knoe’s place before we headed home separately, but that was not meant to be as Allen and I became the sitting duck for a very silly accident. We were waiting at a junction when a car in the opposite direction did not stop where it should and rammed an oncoming motorcycle. The motorcyclist flew and landed on Allen’s windscreen, his leg all broken. The motorcycle hit Allen’s car’s right side, before the stupid car came crashing in head on. We were OK, but the car was totally wrecked.
Allen had to spend the next 6 hours at a police station to give his statement, since it was most likely going to the court.
Frodo Majid was not at all hurt throughout the journey, though he was quite shocked. He has since recovered and did not have any plan to sail to the West.
The olliphants had a huge erection while walking and this was captured on camera – presumably Miss Thailand was riding the olliphant (you would too if it were you ha ha).
More pictures here.