Azwa Safrina revisits Kuching at 5

The first time we took her, Azwa Safrina,  to Kuching was in 2014 when she was 2 and we brought her again in 2015 when she was 3. On both occasions she was too young to comprehend what Kuching was all about. Since I had an engagement with Pustaka Sarawak on 12 July 2018, I decided to bring Azwa and her mum to Kuching again and we stayed from 10 to 13 July 2018.

Her first visit to Kuching in September 2014

Her second visit in November 2015

Us here in Kuching in 2018 … Azwa’s third visit

We took AirAsia and this time round, I went dirt cheap … no food ‘cos it’s a short trip, no check-in luggage since we have 3 persons x 7 kg of carry-on and no seat purchase. All in all, it worked for us and would from now on will be our family’s way of travelling unless its winter travel.

We left on 10 July 2018 at midday and landed safely at Kuching International Airport. Suraiya or Sue (my eldest) got hold of Grab to take us to the Waterfront Hotel which is in the vicinity of the Merdeka Plaza and the Old Courthouse. This was our first time at the Hotel and it was worth the price. The fact that Merdeka Plaza is just next door and attached to the Hotel, is a definite plus since food and window shopping is within reach.

We spent our first afternoon at the Mall and at night we walked to the waterfront area, took a boat cross the river and had dinner at My Village Barok. Again this is my first time here and I was definitely impressed with the décor and the food. Both Sue and I had nasi goreng ayam getuk. It’s fried rice and a tasty piece of chicken … I think getuk means smashed.

The next day, we had breakfast at the Hotel and walked across the bridge and then explored the Old Courthouse, the Indian area  and had lunch at the Mall. The Hana Bridge crosses the river and walking on the bridge is quite an experience. The view from the bridge itself is magnificent. The Old Courthouse is now the Sarawak Tourism Complex. We went through the numerous galleries and were able to understand a bit more about Sarawak and its people. In the afternoon, we set out to search for the cat statutes and walked from the Hotel through Jalan China to one cat statute and then walked on to the second cat statute.

Her first contact with the cats in 2014

She has grown but the cats are still the same in July 2018

Sue caught sight of a shop selling ice cream gula apong and had that for tea. We then walked back towards our Hotel and stopped at Jugra Tower for Azwa’s haircut. We then decided to have dinner at Top Spot for our mandatory seafood dinner. We ordered only 4 dishes this time – prawns in batter, steamed fish, sweet sour crab and lemidi  – and as usual, it was sumptuous.

Azwa and her mum at the famous statute of the cats in 2014


With the same statute in 2018

Her first ever haircut by a hairdresser was in Kuching in 2014 and it was a nightmare for us

Another haircut in Kuchin in 2018 but with a more relaxed Azwa

The Sarawak Libraries Colloquium was held on 12 July 2018 at the Waterfront Hotel. I was invited as a panel member and was there the whole day. Sue and Azwa went swimming at the Hotel’s pool. Later on in the afternoon, we explored the Mall again and spent some time watching Azwa running and playing at Padang Merdeka.

On 13 July 2018, we had breakfast at the Hotel. We finished packing and then went to the Old Courthouse Cafe for coffee and cakes. We then used the Grab service to take us to the airport, boarded the plane and landed safely at KLIA2. All in all, it was a nice trip and we hope to visit Kuching again.




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Meeting friends from way back

In 1964, I enrolled and attended the Methodist Primary School in Kuantan, Pahang. My class was the first room if you enter the school compound via the entrance opposite the Methodist Church. My classroom teacher then was Mrs. Mahalingam. However, I only spent one year there and I had to leave the school ‘cos I was selected to enter the Express Programme. So, in 1965 I enrolled and attended the Sultan Abdullah School. My class was called Express 2 and I only left the School in December 1968 from Express 6. What this meant is that the Express class students did their primary 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in 4 years.

In January 1969, the girls from the Express class were enrolled at the Methodist Girls Secondary School in Kuantan. The boys went to a school that was in the vicinity of Sekolah Teruntum … the name totally escapes me at this point in time. I was placed in Form 1S and the group of us not only had to adjust to being in an all girls school but we had to learn how to sew and cook. The cooking classes were okay but I was rather traumatised in the sewing classes ‘cos my classmates from the MGS Primary School and the Assunta School could sew but not me and my friends from Sultan Abdullah School. We had to cut and sew our white apron and yours truly, to the horror of the homeroom teacher, drew her lines with a pencil instead of a tailor’s chalk. The first question the teacher asked me was “Are you from Abdullah School?” and when I said “Yes”, she smiled ever so sweetly and taught me how to use the tailor’s chalk. I think her name was Mrs. Heng … to me she was very tall and very fair and always wore beautifully coloured mini dresses … yes, the teachers do wear mini dresses then … no issue here.

I stayed in Form 1S, 2S and 3S and in 1971, whilst in Form 3, we all took the L.C.E. (Lower Certificate of Education) Examination. L.C.E. is a national examination and once the results are out, we were streamed into the Science or Arts stream. I opted not to do pure science but went for additional science instead. Pure science meant you had to do Biology, Chemistry and Physics as individual subjects. For additional science, we did Science and Additional Science as individual subjects and History. Both streams had to do Mathematics and Additional Mathematics also as individual subjects. I could not fathom Additional Mathematics, so I decided much earlier on to drop this subject and picked up Health Science instead. The streaming meant that the class of 3S was split up. Some opted for Pure Science and some opted for the Arts – a wise move when you think of it. We were not well guided then in our choice of which stream to follow. It was natural for us to accept whatever was given to us. A month later, I was offered a place at Sekolah Menengah Teknik, a school specialising in technical studies where most of the students end up in the engineering faculties. I did want to go but I had to get my priorities right – mathematics and physics were not my strong subjects and I would be a “late entry” student who needs to really catch up. So, I declined the offer and stayed in Forms 4 Science 2 and 5 Science 2. In 1973, all of us took another national examination, the M.C.E. (Malaysia Certificate of Education) and when the results were out in 1974, we said goodbye to our secondary school days.

From here, we began charting our career path. Some of us used the M.C.E. results to undertake diploma courses at local universities, some went on to Form 6 and some joined the workforce. I enrolled and attended Sultan Abu Bakar School in Kuantan in 1974 and here, the Express Class girls finally  met-up with the Express Class boys. I definitely remember Wong Siew Kee, Lim Tian Siew, Mohd. Sabri and Azman Abas from my Express Class days. I was still in the company of my classmates and schoolmates from MGS Secondary School – Lim Lay Kin, Yap Chui Nyuk, Yap Shew Mee, Jayamalar, Radin Fatihah and others. I decided to do the Bio/Chem combination and was placed in Form Lower Six Science 2. I did enjoy my school days then but I had difficulties catching up and so applied to do Veterinary Science in UPM and Fisheries in ITM. I attended the interview for UPM but failed miserably when it comes to identifying seeds … yes, the panel gave me a whole bunch of seeds to identify and I think I only got one correct. So, it was instant rejection from UPM but I was accepted into ITM Shah Alam to do a 3-year Diploma in Fisheries. Why did I choose Fisheries? Well, it was a new programme and I wanted to try something new. So in July 1974, I registered in ITM Shah Alam and from then on I hardly kept in touch with my friends from school.

Some time in 2016, I managed to catch up with a few of my old school friends and finally on 26 August 2016, those who left MGSS Kuantan in 1973 met up in Kuantan at Zenith Hotel. Some of our teachers who taught us from way back were also present. We also found out that some of our teachers and friends have also left us. All in all, it was a memorable and happy occasion for me and we kept in touch through the various social media platforms.

The class of 1973 with some of the teachers who taught us then

With friends from way back

With Cheong Yoke Kum, Leong Lee Suan and Tan Bee Kim – classmates

With my English teacher, Mrs Vicky Chan. She introduced me to Tan Chee Seng, my pen pal from JB.

We were in Forms 4 Science 2 and 5 Science 2

On 18 March 2017, some of us met again at the Swiss Hotel Kuala Lumpur. We met again on 26 November 2017 at Cititel Hotel Kuala Lumpur and we met yet again on 23 July 2018 at Cititel Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Those present decided that whoever wants to meet up can always send us a message and whoever’s available can come.

18 March 2017 at Swiss Garden KL

26 November 2017 at Cititel Hotel KL but I came late and missed the main event

22 July 2018 Our last meet-up at Cititel with only 7 of us but Yap Shew Mee dropped by to say hello

Seven of us catching up

Personally, I do treasure these meet-ups. These friends were an important part of our life – important ‘cos we were at that stage of our lives when we were adopting values and going thro’ the different phases of growing up. We spent so much time together then and these are the friends who rallied around us when we had our share of teenage problems and issues. We broke rank with them to pursue our education and career and take care of the family and now that we are free from those, we seek our friends from long ago to renew broken ties. There are some of us who did keep in touch and I truly value them. So, thank you to all my school mates being being there for me then and now.



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Getting back to reading … small steps

Whenever I tell someone I’m a librarian, he/she assumes that I love to read. Yes, I do but when I was working I did not read as much as I want to. But please don’t get me wrong. I do read but mostly scholarly articles, chapters in books and books. Reading novels was a luxury then and I only read novels when I travel whilst waiting for my flight or onboard flights.

Over the years I accumulated a number of books. I normally buy them on my travels, during book fairs and book sales. I amassed quite a collection and each time I buy them, I tell myself that I will read it one day. And of course that one day comes when I officially retired on 28 May 2017.

So, what have I read so far? Not as many books as I want to – only 9 to be exact – from 1 June 2017 until 31 December 2017. Here goes:

  1. Cantik Itu Luka – Eka Kurniawan. Jakarta: Gramedia, 2015.
  2. The Shadow of Me – Azlena Abdul Hamid. Kuala Lumpur: Kalsom Taib Publishing, 2017.
  3. If I Stay – Gayle Forman. New York: Speak, 2009.
  4. Theodore Boone: The Scandal – John Grisham. London: Hodder, 2016.
  5. How Starbucks Saved My Life – Michael Gates Lee. New York: Avery, 2007.
  6. Suleiman The Magnificient – A. Teyfur Erdogdu. Istanbul: Rumuz Publishing, 2017.
  7. Life in Harem. K. Erhan Bozkurt. Istanbul: Keskin Volour, 2010. Translated by Stuart Kline.
  8. Micro Malaysians – Anwar Hadi (Editor). Petaling Jaya: Fixi Novo, 2017.
  9. Joseon’s Royal Heritage: 500 Years of Splendor. Seoul: Korea Foundation, 2011.

As you can see, I read all genre since I don’t have a particular author that I read. I use to read John Grisham’s work but the last one, Pizza Man, took such a long time to finish reading it. His works are good but you really need to focus on what you are reading since all his works are law related. I still have 5 more books to finish up and hopefully I can get to read more and hopefully I can identify a genre or maybe an author I like. However, my choice of books is highly dependent on the font size. I totally skip books with small font size and I grab books with large font size.

What am I reading now? The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by Kyung-Sook Shin. It is translated from Korean and published in 2015 in New York by Pegasus Books. The setting for this novel is Jeju Island and the author is a Man Asia Literary Prize  winner. But most importantly, the font size is large. My other constant read is AlMumayyaz. So, 9 books in 7 months … an accomplishment for me.


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October 2017 – it’s a wrap

OCTOBER – Knowing or unknowingly, I registered for the My10K@UPM Farm Run and roped in Amelia as well. But bear in mind, I do not run but walk. Was it a good walk? Yes and no. Yes – I was walking along a new route in UPM and the weather was good. No – my timing went out the door and I was dead tired as a result of no training and no exercise.

Done … every one who completes the run gets a finisher’s medal

However, the highlight of October was my holiday in Yogyakarta with Sue and Azwa from 3 to 6 October. It was unplanned but since I had to deliver a presentation at Rapat IPI for PPM, I decided to go for a short holiday with my girls. We stayed at Hotel Ibis Yogyakarta at Jalan Malioboro since this was meant to be a foodie holiday and there are loads of eateries here. Azwa loves going on the plane and she takes to it easily. She adapts well to hotels and tries her best to try the different food a place has to offer. Her only requirement is that we have to allow her to play at any playground that we come across and luckily for her, almost all the malls here have a playground. We came back happy but I was definitely not rejuvenated but that’s another story.

Presented and capturing moments with my Indonesian counterpart

She loves doughnuts

With Camar

My first ever visit to Taman Sari

Apart from that I had four meetings, a wedding and a birthday party to attend. But, the highlight of October had to be the birthdays of Sue or Suraiya on 9 October, Amy or Mimi or Amelia on 7 October and Sue’s husband on 10 October.

Happy birthday

The last weekend was spent indulging Azwa with Halloween celebrations. As a family, we don’t celebrate Halloween but I feel its important that Azwa enjoys the best of all cultures.

Happy Halloween

Sugar overdose

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September 2017 – it’s a wrap

I designated September as a stay-at-home month since I needed to recuperate after my back-to-back travels which involved a whole lot of walking. I was also nursing a badly bruised thigh which resulted from a fall on the first day of my Turkey trip. There were six meetings, two lunch dates and a wedding lined up in my planner. I attended all but one, I think. Hectic but it kept me up and about for September.

A long overdue lunch date with friends

The next big do for me was the Persidangan Perpustakaan Se Malaysia held from 12 to 13 September. This conference involves Malaysian libraries and librarians. I made my so-called stage appearance – moderated two sessions which went quite well. This conference gave me an opportunity to meet up with friends, colleagues, past and present students. All in all, it was an exhilarating experience.

Day 1 – led a discussion on TN50 with the President of PPM

Day 2 – moderated a session on IFLA WLIC 2017

The next day I attended a one-day conference titled MyNext and it was all about how to manage an event.

With colleagues at the MyNext Conference held at One World Hotel

And before I forget, this is also the month when Malaysia celebrates her Malaysia Day on 16 September. Malaysia was formed on this day in 1963 when the Federation of Malaya together with Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia.

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August 2017 – it’s a wrap

August is an important month for Malaysia. We were declared as an independent nation on 31 August 1957 and this year we are 60 years old and coincidentally I was born in 1957. It was also a busy month for me or rather I can say the busiest month for me so far and there were also a lot of firsts for me. On 5 August 2017, Amelia treated me to my first ever concert at Stadium Negara as my birthday treat and the artiste is my fav artist as well – Sheila Majid. It was a mind-blowing experience – the stage, lighting, sound system, accompanying band and definitely the artiste herself.

Our seats were quite high up but the screens were good enough for me

The light works were spectacular

The concert has ended but the audience were still glued to their seats

In order to get to the concert venue, we decided to park our car at the Ara Damansara LRT Station and took the LRT all the way to the Pasar Seni Station and we then switched to the MRT line. This was a first for me and I was quite impressed with the interior of my last station which was the Merdeka Station.

You change from the LRT line to the MRT line at this station

The five principles of the Rukun Negara and me

The Malaysian flag with the first Prime Minister of Malaysia who cried out Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka on 31 August 1957

I also got to ride in a Grab car for the first time. By the time the concert ended, we could still catch the MRT line to the Pasar Seni Station but the LRT has shutdown for the night. So, the next best alternative is the Grab car service.

Another big event for me is the farewell given by the University of Malaya on 7 August 2017 for me and the previous vice chancellor, Tan Sri Dato’ Professor Mohd. Amin Jalaluddin. It was more significant to me since it was held at the UM Art Gallery – my home turf. All in all, it was a memorable moment for me and never have I felt more appreciated since I it’s where I have been earning a living for more than 26 years.

This photo sums up my feelings – outgoing VC, acting VC, outgoing Chief Librarian and the Registrar ~ Photo courtesy of University of Malaya FB

My last speech in UM and thanking all those who have stood by me ~ Photo courtesy of University of Malaya FB

With friends and colleagues who I’ll definitely miss and the youngest there is my Amelia ~ Photo courtesy of University of Malaya FB

My colleagues from the Dept. of Library & Information Science, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology of the University of Malaya hosted a farewell lunch for me at Armada Hotel on 10 August 2017. I have worked with some of them but only for a short time from 1999 to 2007. The food was good and the company was as always, excellent.

My friends and colleagues from DLIS – thank you for all your support

Next on list was something which I will never do whilst in full-time employment i.e. travel overseas back-to-back with only a day separating my arrival and departure. From 14 to 24 August 2017, I travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Prague via Dubai with a group of volunteers for IFLA WLIC 2017. From Prague we took a bus to Wroclaw in Poland, the venue for the conference.

Roaming the streets of Prague before boarding the bus to Wroclaw

Reporting for duty at IFLA WLIC 2017 in Wroclaw

All in all a good experience

After staying at home for a day to touch base with my daughters and granddaughter, I left for a trip to Turkey from 26 August to 3 September 2017. This was a trip with a travel agency with more than 36 unknowns except for my sister, Nor Edah Nasir. We left for Istanbul via Tehran and we came back to Kuala Lumpur via Tehran as well. The trip was tiring since it involved getting on and off the bus and in and out of hotels but it was an enjoyable trip. I get to see and experience the culture of Turkey and enjoy basking in the history of Turkey. Most importantly, I celebrated Hari Merdeka and Hari Raya Aidil Adha in Turkey with new found friends.

Aidil Adha prayers outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul



p/s: The photos in Poland and Turkey are just teasers. I will definitely write about them.

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July 2017 – it’s a wrap

I attended five meetings and surprisingly only fulfilled one wedding invitation. The most memorable event in July was the Retirement Farewell given to me by PPM. It was held in conjunction with PPM’s Jamuan Hari Raya. I was indeed touched by the attendance of those whom I have been actively involved with in PPM but at the same time saddened by the absence of colleagues who could not make it.

Delivering my thank you speech

Receiving a beautiful present from the President of PPM

I also managed to meet up for lunch with friends from my secondary school days at MGS Kuantan. We actively communicate on Whatsapp but it was good to put a face to a name. We also took the KTM Komuter from Shah Alam  to Seremban – a first for me – for dinner at another one of our  friend’s house.

Me and my schoolmates from MGS Kuantan anxiously waiting for the train

With the same group of friends from my school days attending a wedding in Putrajaya

Towards the end of July and moving into early August, I drove down to Kuantan with Sue and Azwa. I had to attend a meeting at the Pahang State Library and at the same time one of my siblings came down with something and I had to see her before I leave for my August trips. Along the way, we stopped at my cousin’s house in Temerloh to meet my one remaining aunt who is my late mum’s youngest sister. We also stop by the Temerloh Hospital to visit my cousin.

With the Board Members of the Pahang State Library Board

Towards the end of July and moving into early August, I drove down to Kuantan with Sue and Azwa. I had to attend a meeting at the Pahang State Library and at the same time one of my siblings came down with something and I had to see her before I leave for my August trips. Along the way, we stopped at my cousin’s house in Temerloh to meet my one remaining aunt who is my late mum’s youngest sister. We also stop by the Temerloh Hospital to visit my cousin.

All in all, a very good month after the slow month of June. So. let’s end this with a pink hibiscus. Hibiscus or commonly known as bunga raya is the national flower. They are predominantly red but I have see white ones, orange ones and finally a pink one.

Our national flower = hibiscus or locally known as bunga raya.


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