Wednesday 18 January 2006

Come sail with me

Reading the comments for this entry I realised how interesting it would be to compile accounts from pilgrims who went to do the Haj by ship all those years. Even those who were in the last batch to go by sea must still be around to share their experience with us. A book project would be ideal. A radio documentary would be awesome! All I remember of my Mak’s first trip by sea (she later went twice by plane), was her stories about how those who died during the passage were just bundled off and lowered into the water. There were stories about how the sharks would snap the bodies. I supposed this is why I am so afraid of the vast volume of water – especially being out there where you can’t actually see any land. Or perhaps it was the dark memories of that night on the beach of Kuala Yan, when bodies of fishermen were washed ashore after a storm.

I have had my fair share of sailing from being on rafts to hovercrafts and the P& O – the QE2 not included of course! It wasn’t as if I have always been scared of the water. It used to be fun, foolhardy even. I had even contemplated being on the boat to accompany Dato’ Malik when he did the 17 hour swim across the channel. In fact, I had already bought my sensible shoes, flask and sea sick tablets for what was to be a very bumpy ride. But in the end, and thankfully, I opted for the wait by the Dover beach for his return. He jokingly said “Kalau Kak Teh tak pi, Malik tak berenang!” Yes, what a headline that would have made! I had actually accompanied him on a much smaller boat during his trial run in Lake Zurich – all of 11 hours!! But more of that later!

In the good old days when bridges still required a few heads to make them stable and safe ( so we were told!), we used to look forward to the visit to our other Grandma’s house in Suka Menanti. Why it was named such, I don’t know. Must research more on this.

Anyway, if my memory serves me right, there were even times when Tok Jam would actually fetch us in her rakit or raft. We could see her welcoming smile from a distance as she confidently paddled the raft ashore. Unlike the perahu, we didn’t have to pay anything of course, and unlike the perahus, we couldn’t sit as we’d all be drenched! It was all so breathtakingly exciting as we watched other children bathing, women beating their washings on slabs of stones, people ‘doing their business’ behind some trees. In fact, everything a girl needed for the inclusion in her homework for the ‘news’ book. (Of course it never occurded to me then that one day I’d be covering the Cross Channel swim, eh?)

On occassions when we had to take the perahus, we had to share of course with other passengers, with their chicken and shopping and naughty children trying to literally rock the boat! We used to be brave enough to dip our hands in the water as the boatman pushed his oars effortlessly across.

It must have been a few years later that Mak went to Mekah by sea and many an unpleasant stories were recounted. And so it must have been with these memories that when I was posted to Penang ( before the days of the bridge) I dreaded having to take the ferries across. I’d be lamenting hard and long every weekend before I could pluck the courage. And it was only a half an hour ride if I am not mistaken. But I used to sit on the bench and cry! If not for the image of Mak waiting for my return on the old iron swing, crab sambal all ready and steaming under the tudung saji, I would have happily remained with Aunty Lucy in Penang.

At the end of my stint in Penang, I had had enough of ferry rides – enough to make me sea sick even at the thought of it. The next one was on the Red Funnel ferry to the Isle of Wight – a lovely little island with its quaint villages of thatched cottages. The first trip was uneventful but during the second trip, we had a lovely surprise as there was The Tall Ships Races – all kinds of ships in all kinds of shapes and sizes and oh so so colourful – they were beautiful and I dared go out on the deck to watch and took some not very good pictures.

This passage across the Solent was okay – especially on a good day and nothing compared to the ride on the Hovercraft which I made with a friend to Calais for a day trip.

We said our goodbyes to our husbands at the train station and took the train to Dover. In the morning, there was no inkling of the turbulent at sea but not long after that it became a nightmare. I remember seeing the sea level tilting up and down from the pothole, oblivious to the other passengers throwing up all around me. Many a times we were thrown off our seats. And this, dear reader, was just right after the Zeebrugge PO ferry the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster which took 193 lives. I thought we were never going to see our husbands again. The trip back was on the P&O as all Hovercrafts were cancelled. Still, we had to hold on firmly to our coffee cups which kept sliding down the table. It was horrible.

I think I have to stop now as I am getting sea sick just writing about it. Will soon continue with more stories – especially the 11 hour boat ride on Lake Zurich with Dt Malik Mydin, and the wonderful seven hour trip on the P&O with six small children and one Sastrawan Negara all in one cabin heading towards Hook Van Holland.


Anonymous said...

kak teh

I will get sick everytime I fly. Nevermind sailing!.
Even naik ginormous ferry yang orang lain kata tak de rasa, but saya still puke sana sini ( every year balik Ireland for xmas, from Hollyhead to Dublin ). It was less than 4 hours, but I coudnt bear. Fly pon sama, so "perak".

Nice one Kak Teh, I like reading your story.

ps : Kak Teh utara kat mana ? my parents kat Kulim. Esok balik sana sat for 10 days.

Anonymous said...

Isle of Wight in the summmer....ahhh the memories *smile*

dith said...

Kakteh- yes a book on the malayan pilgrims' voyage by sea would be an interesting one! When you plan to write these books, do you mean in malay or english?

You sure have endless and glamorous experiences up your sleeves! Even when it's about your fear of sea-ride, there's sure a Datuk or two in it!

What I love about your writings is you have a vast spectrum of reminiscence pertaining to a topic which many people like me who has little experience, can't offer!

From raft river crossings with your Wan to English channel crossing with a Malaysia-Boleh swimmer, splendid indeed!

Anonymous said...

kak teh,

alhamdulillah, so far naik bot ke, hovercraft (langkawai) or feri (penang), tak dela mabuk laut.. cewaah.. eksen sikit..

kteh, were you anywhere, anytime around masa my friend (arwah nini-yang accident kat london along with her two friends, bother n fiancee 14 yrs back), if yes, please habag kat I detail after the incident.. i've leave a comment at Nad's blog on her entry about arwah nuun...

tq kteh... luvvv uuu... muaaahhh...


Ely said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kak Teh said...

Jane - yes, I dont know whether anyone has taken the trouble to document these - It would ake a wonderful radio documentary. I just know it cos I have done one on Indonesian illegal immigrants passage to Malaysia - all those harrowing experience!
rini - nak bali kulim? nasib baik tak payah naik bot! hehe - have a good flight. I was in Dublin - but I took Ryan Air.
Atn - Sharelah smile tu *wink*

Ely said...

errrrm, and then there's Titanic...

Kak Teh said...

rini- terforgot pulak - I am from Alork Stark!
DITH - hehe I didnt mean that it would be a book for me to write. I think it would be interesting and Tabung Haji shd iniyiate this. I'd gladly do a radio docu for that is one that I think works best. DITH , let me explain why I have endless stories - one I am much much older than most bloggers here and with age u tend to experience more I supposed and Alhamdulillah I can still remember those little details like being on the raft with Tok Jam. And throwing in a Datuk or two in my entries - hopefully is not taken by anyone as trying to spice up the stories - for they were truly there. I have been toying with the idea ofd creating entries called "From Kak Teh's Dusty Files" containing all those side stories thatnever got published because newspapers could only publish a certain any of words. Whenever I w go out on assignment - there's always, always interesting things that we can only mention in a line or two in print..thus blogging enables me to air them out. I am sure u too have a lot to offer but you are bound by a code of ethics which would prevent u to reveal more. But I am sure there are ways u can do it.
Noni - very tempting and very interesting. Got an email address?
tee - yes I was at Nahar cafeteria when I heard the news and when I came home, I received a call from my friend who is an uncle to two of them. They were actually on the way to see my cousin who is also a cousin of theirs. It was tragic - really tragic.
onde-onde, I'd love a cruise along the Nile - that would be - ah - awesome!
ely, dont even remind me of the Titanic just when I am getting used to sailing again! hehe

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
my 85 year old father pun byk stories to share...if u nak buat buku & nak interview him...hehe

I remember dulu kalau bilik or rumah kecah je...mesti arwah my mom akan kata....."ish ish ish...macam kapai haji...." hehe...

Sidah Salleh said...

the sea is where my atok sebelah mak's grave is. passed away on the ship -- never got to Mekah.

Anonymous said...

dearest kak teh,

what actually happened, kteh? was road condition the cause of the accident?

for your info, me and arwah, got transferred to st nick's when we're both in std 6, she's from johor and i'm from perlis (abah selalu kena transfer, maklumla orang gomen) and being two strangers at the school, we are best buddies that instance..sigh...

after 3 years at st nick's , coincidently, both of our parents got trasferred to selangor and surprise... also living at the same housing, and we both get to go to the same school..again..there's more to tell but, i guess i've to create my own blog huh.. nanti org cakap tumpang glamer blog kteh lak...hahaha...

anyway, it's been years and i mean yeaarrss that i've stop visiting auntie rozana, but the last time i went there, there she is a little girl (anak kak kartina)and i feel that Allah itu Maha Adil dan Maha Mengetahui..

okey kak teh, that's all for now.. (ooo kak teh ni kira related macam mana ngan auntie rozana?)


Kak Teh said...

PS - Al Fatehah.
noni - I have emailed u.
ladyK - you shd talk to him and document his stories - manalah tau nanti ada orang yang interested. yes , my mother puns elalukata macam tu - macam kapal pecah!
tee - i think there was black ice on the road - very cold at that time. My uncle is married to Dt Rozana's sister.

LifeBloom said...

Kak Teh

Your descriptive style never fails to impress me! I felt slightly queasy after reading your hovercraft episode.

Can't wait for the publication of the memoirs of our sea faring haji(s) and hajjah(s) - it will be a very interesting read!!

atenah said...

KT, sorry YM buat hal lagi, was slurping some maggi while Ym-ing with you then kaput, dono what happen osso. May be God is asking me to go study huh? he he

So we have to communicate via email la for the mean while ok.

Anonymous said...


i'm actually living in kuala kedah. but my great grand ma was from lubok boy. near petronas station. near rumah pak ali.

i was in convent primary from '80 - '85. :P

-cikgu midad-

Kak Teh said...

ailin - wahhhhhhhh bussick?
lifebloom - so many things and so little time?
tenah - never mind - nanti sambung.
cikgu midad - mudanyaaa! by then I dah di London. But let us celebrate St Nicks on our blogs!

Atok said...

i'm too, afraid of a large body of water; maklumlah, tak pandai berenang langsung.

ahhh... suka menanti; from the main road, lalu lorong tepi kilang kopi. then, juz call the perahu operator from the other side. and kg. sg limau, yan, it was quite a walk once we disembarked from the bus at the main road...nun di horizon (with gunung jerai as backdrop). memories of my youth years.... :)

Anonymous said...

kak teh,

it's sure is a small, small world after all.. and all thanks to the kecanggihan cyber world...


Mutiara said...

Those long trip to the holyland. My grandmother too was buried at sea off Srilanka (ceylon then)on the way home. We were all waiting for her to arrive as we did not get news of her passing before the ship arrived in penang.
My great grandma, went on a sailing boat, but did not get to mekah that year as the boat was turned back by the wind.

Kak Teh said...

atok, waaah u were also around that area at that time. Buat apa kat situ - jauhnya mengembara dari Kelantan? Yes, kilang kopi Hj Ismail!
zeed - that must have been so sad and tragic for the family. AlFatehah.
Tee - indeed it is.
mutiara..Al Fatehah. But I cant imagine the emotions, the feelings when you all finally got the news.

Anonymous said...

Perihal seasick sekali waktu from dover to calais. The weather was bad (alasan tuh...hehe)
Kakteh, saya pon st nicks jugak dulu... just during my primary school years lah... from 83 :)

abdullahjones said...

terima kasih kak teh. bila cuaca sedikit panas mungkin saya akan kesana.

Atok said...

yes...baru recall: kilang kopi hj ismail tok guru quran.
and mandi pagi di yan, mak oiii....sejuknya air perigi tepi bendang tu...but it would make one 'terjaga' and fresh.

saya ni suka merantau (a result of tak suka balik rumah).

Count Byron said...

Kak teh : Zebrugge and Herald Free Enterprise with the bow door left open. That sends chill up my spine. English TV coverage of the fatal accident was so large and harrowing.

I am looking forward to your installment on Lake Zurich 11 hour boat ride.. can't wait

Wonderful entry as always Kak Teh. Well done.


KT, I memang selalu seasick.I ingat masa gi langkawi naik fery, ombak bergelora setinggi 5 kaki, taller than the small ferry. apalagi, i puked like there was no tomorrow. masa gi tioman pun mcm tu jugak.Since then, I never go to langkawi naik fery.I akan sentiasa naik flight, but its always Air Asia je la..Itu je I can afford.hahahha..

lieawulf said...

Book project? That would be exciting ;)

saya teringin nak naik hovercraft hehehe.

Nazrah Leopolis said...

i remember my trip on the P&O, i slept most of the time and missed the opportunity to boss around the the chambermaid.

and i always love ur water sports stories, esp about old sailors.

Kak Teh said...

marlinda, st nicks juga? i think we must have a st nicks remembrance day on the blog- what do you say?
AJ - Insyallah will see you - at mawar?
Cont - yes - scary - I can still till remember the media coverage - too graphic.
outri - aha - naik plane lagi syok, kan?
atok, ni mesti maza zaman2 nakal dulu ni!
lieawulf - book project tu semua angan-angan saja lagi.
nazeah - i thought u were the chambermaid - haaha!