…….The World Without Boundaries

Getting Nostalgic at Teluk Cempedak

Written By: jipp - Sep• 10•18

My job required me to travel to the east coast recently, to Kuantan to be exact. It is a town that is so nostalgic to me, as it is the town that I had spent two years of my life trying to pursue for – well, to put it simply – a better life. Coming to Kuantan at the young age of 16 – alone, because my family couldn’t afford to come with me – it was my very first trip out of my home state.

Somehow though, I felt like I had anticipated it all, and that it was just meant to be and things just fell into place in no time at all. I still can’t believe how I did it, or where all the guts came from, but I just did it. And that one trip had definitely altered the course of my life forever.

It would be my third time coming to Kuantan since I said goodbye to it on my last day at school more than 20 years ago, and the emotions were still there, although not as intense as they were when I first returned. I didn’t go to my ex-school this time. Instead I went to Teluk Cempedak, a beach that was just as nostalgic as the town of Kuantan itself.

I remember how I used to go there a lot when I was still schooling at MRSM of Kuantan which was not that far from the beach itself. As a Catholic among the mostly Muslim hostel mates, I had the privilege of being allowed to go out to the town twice a week, while the rest were only allowed once.

The reason? I needed to attend the Sunday mass. I remember how the school guard would hastily hand the log book to me when I told him that, without any further questions at all. I guess asking questions when the reason was to go to church would make him feel bad and disrespectful.

I’d usually go to church and before I returned to the hostel, I’d take the bus to Teluk Cempedak to spend a few hours at the beach. I had always been fascinated by Teluk Cempedak. I remember how I was so wowed by the big brownish-greyish boulders that graced the beach.

There was already a walkway along the shore that led up to another beach where there were more and bigger boulders. Back then it was still wooden, and now it has been replaced with iron walkway. It is much easier to walk on it now, and is much wider than I remember it was back then.

Perhaps the only challenge now is the existence of so many monkeys (whose presence in those days I can’t quite recall). I guess they are so used to having humans around and walking past them now, although they can be quiet intimidating. But seriously, I’d like to say that they are part of the attraction of Teluk Cempedak. They really are.

So the now iron-walkway led me to the other beach, which is now called Teluk Tongkang. I walked across towards the end corner of the beach, which was my favorite spot in the whole of Teluk Cempedak. The landscape is dominated by a stack of giant boulders which was a combination of brown and grey in color.

This part of Teluk Cempedak never failed to wow me every time. I mounted one of the boulders, and was instantly taken aback by how struggling I was in doing it, when back then it didn’t even break me a sweat. I guess age really is catching up with me now. Some things are better off being swallowed in in acceptance, no matter how bitter they might be. Heh.

So there I was, on top of the giant boulder, the very same boulder that I’d go to to enjoy the beautiful view of Teluk Cempedak when I was 20-plus years younger. Quite true to its name (Teluk means bay in English), the beach spans out into a curve that forms a bay. I was so glad that the forest that separates Teluk Cempedak from the township area of Kuantan was still very much preserved and I remember how I used to go hiking to that very forest and enjoy the view of the whole bay from there.

It was on this boulder that I’d put my backpack to be my pillow where I’d rest my head on while enjoying the beautiful view of South China Sea. Being away from the family at such a young age, it was not quite easy for me. Knowing that on the other side of the ocean was Sabah where my whole family was, I’d like to think that whatever little words that I said would make it across to them.

Of course they never did but I just needed some comfort at that time so it was alright (that they didn’t). LoL. I remember how the sound of the ocean would lullaby me into a nap sometimes, and would be woken up by either the cooling breeze (temperature drops as the sun goes down) or the presence of people in the vicinity. Then I’d go back to the bus stop and catch a bus back to my hostel.

So Teluk Cempedak would forever be nostalgic to me. They are just so much memory of my younger days that is entwined to it.

  • Share on Tumblr

The Two-year Mountain

Written By: jipp - Aug• 13•18

After months of lazy reading, I finally managed to make it to the final page of The Two-Year Mountain, a book that I bought at Kinokuniya of KLCC for RM53.95. To tell the truth, I find it quite difficult for me to stay reading – not only this book but other books too – and my mind will start going to somewhere else if I’ve been on a book for more than, say, 15 minutes. In fact the only time that I find myself really doing it is when I am in the toilet when I have stay put or I’ll never get my business done in there. Lol.

So The Two-Year Mountain was written by an American author named Phil Deutschle (I wonder how it is pronounced) who left everything in his home city Philadelphia to join a voluntary program called U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer to Nepal back in 1977. It was a program intended to send volunteers to remote schools in Nepal, mostly for educational purposes back in those days when Nepal was still so struggling to run its own educational programs.

I really like how he chronicles his experiences to details. He made me feel like I was with there with him and the fact that I’ve been to Nepal makes it even easier for me to imagine all the things that he was trying to channel to his readers. He was sent to a remote village called Aiselukharka, which, according to the simple map provided in the book, is located to the East and a little bit to the North of Kathmandu. He stayed with a family and the way he described his first hello with this family was so heart-warming.

Of course the book is dominated by his experiences teaching at the school – on how he had to face the school children who were so curious about the outside world, and how he had make do with the very limited facilities and how he had to be very very creative in carrying out some of his tasks especially when he needed to make the school kids understand what he was trying to get across to them.

It’s quite obvious that in the first few chapters of his book centered around his struggles to cope up with the cultural shock, the feel of loneliness and of course the frustration and anger that he had to deal with almost on a daily basis. I mean, you are from a first world country (luckily it was back in the late 70s when even America was not as advanced as it is today) and suddenly you were thrown into a very remote area in a third-world country and we are talking about Nepal back in those days.

I can imagine how – two years is such a very long time. There was one time when he was asked by the Corps to fly all the way to Bangkok just to get a dental treatment because they couldn’t get him the suitable treatment in Kathmandu, or even anywhere else in Nepal. The way he describes it, Nepal was still very much way behind in term of infrastructural development. Imagine how even today Nepal still has a long way to go that even to reach the villages in the remote mountains is still very much challenging, and he went there about 40 years ago.

Somehow I really wish I was there in Nepal during the time he was there because it sounded different, so unspoiled. Even traveling to Kathmandu back in those days were not easy, at least from where he came from. From his home city Philadelphia, he had to fly to New York before crossing over to London, then on to Frankfurt, then to Tehran where he was arrested for slipping out of the airport terminal to escape the constraints of the airport building, then to New Delhi before he finally made it to Kathmandu. That alone was already one hell of a journey but of course it did not stop there. Traveling to Aiselukharka the village he was to be based in even by land had also proved to be just as challenging and physically demanding.

One of the best things about this book is way the writer intermittently chronicled his life at the village and his ventures to the mountains. He’d go climbing a mountain during his days off and most of the climbs he did on his own. I don’t exactly remember how many mountains he climbed all throughout his stay in Nepal, or at least those that he had written about in the book, but it was quite a number. I can really imagine how he was deep in the mountains all by himself, and how he had to figure out how to face and tackle a challenge that came his way every time. Towards the end of the book he actually wrote about how he almost got killed while descending from one of the climbs.

The last chapters of the book were about how he returned to Nepal and the village after more than 30 years. He felt like he was coming home and he was overwhelmed by the transformation that took place while he was ‘away’. Since he really wrote a lot about his life at the village and I followed them from chapter to chapter, I couldn’t help but feeling a little bit emotional, probably just as emotional as he was when he returned to the village and met the family that he was living with 30 years back. One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do was to go living in the mountains of Nepal – probably for a few weeks – and this book really really inspires me to do just that.

  • Share on Tumblr