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Last week I visited the Buddhist temple in Jalan Pudu. While I visit the temple often and normally join in the chanting session in the evening, I never meditated there. The praying hall is normally visited my many people so it is not convenient to meditate there.

That day while I was there, and while waiting for the monks to start the daily evening chanting, I decided to sit in half lotus position and started meditating.

It was a long time since I meditated, say about a year ago was my last meditation session. So I least expect anything great to happen or to experience something extraordinary.

Little did I expect this time when I meditated, it was the greatest half an hour of my life. It was totally serene, tranquil and I was fully at peace. Even the chanting started afterwards, I did not stop meditating and continued in deep meditation.

I could not describe how the half an hour session feels like but great experience only comes when you least expected it……

Being an award winner of the Selangor Youth Award is truly rewarding. Little did I know, after such astounding experience in SSEAYP 2003, I still have a chance to experience something similar this year!

This trip to Solo, Indonesia – specifically to Sragen village – is fully sponsored by the Selangor government. More than 30 participants join the trip, including the Selangor Exco YB Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil.

The father of Selangor Menteri Besar came from Sragen, so when we went to Sragen, we were treated like grandchildren getting back to hometown. Slightly pampered, I would say, we were treated like VIPs.

The flight via AirAsia took only about 2 hours to reach Solo airport. As our flight was very early, we reached there at about 8 am. Upon reaching the airport we were greeted by Sragen government officers. We did not have to fill up our departure card. Just 20 minutes wait in the VIP room, we then have our passports returned and directed to a bus.

Eeeoooo eeeooo eoooo went the siren of the police car. Then the van that carried Datuk Abdul Rahman, followed by our bus. Behind us, an ambulance trailed. On our bus there were government officers from Sragen to make sure we were comfortably served. Bapak Bambang guided us to sceneries we saw along the way to Novotel Hotel.

After breakfast in the hotel we then visited Bupati Sragen (government representative of the district), Bapak Untung Wiyono. As we entered the visitors’ hall, a poster greeted us with a smiling face said “Local people buys local products”. Upon entering the first few steps of the hall, we found the same person on the poster standing right in front of us, that was Bupati Bapak Untung.

We were given a short feast of various delicacies from Solo – ranging from crackers, fried eel, sweet delicacies and dumplings. (Wow I didn’t know is that difficult to describe food!) Then we were given a short briefing about Sragen and how Bapak Untung ruled the area. Exchanging of gifts entailed and then to lunch. During lunch we were entertained by singers. Bapak Untung, a chief police, a chief army and Datuk Abdul Rahman each sang songs to entertain the crowd.

That day, we were sent to visit Batik centre, organic rice mill, Sragen training centre for youths and sight-seeing. Each of the places we went, we were eating and eating and eating as food was served. When we reached the hotel to refresh ourselves, we were all very full. After having a bath we then were escorted again to a village for dinner. On the bus, the government officials who accompanied us even prepared some sweet delicacies for us just in case we were hungry on the way to dinner.

Dinner was served. Porcupine satay was among the dishes – yes this is the first time I am taking porcupine. Songs and music accompanied us the whole evening with youths from both countries taking turns to sing.

Back to the hotel, we were all tired and slept like pigs.

The next morning, we were brought to visit more places – from rattan furniture centre and pomelo farm to a man-made dam. We were taken around the dam on boats. Along the way towards a floating restaurant, there were many parts meant to rear fishes. We ate fish (obviously) as our main dish that afternoon.

Then, in the evening we were on our way to Yogjakarta. In Yogja we had Ayam Goreng Ibu Suharti for dinner. Then it was free and easy. I went to the pub downstairs in the hotel to enjoy songs from the live band.

The next morning was shopping spree and after lunch we were sent back to Solo. In Solo, we have a night’s rest and then flew back to KL, bringing along with us crackers, batik and souvenirs from Solo and Yogjakarta. Datuk Abdul Rahman brought back more than 80kgs of souvenirs from our many gifts exchange sessions in Solo.

The trip is very meaningful to me as I have learnt new things, met new friends and gained new knowledge.

Solo will be a place where I will visit again – hopefully for homestay for a few months to learn the culture there and the delicious food there.

Add some pictures here later, but here is a photo of my room mate and I, with Renny from Solo. Notice the background….. a bed filled with goodies to bring home!!!

Sitting beside Anita Sarawak is an honour. What more to be interviewed by this elegant and charming lady! Anita Sarawak is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever met. Being at this age, still keeping in shape is difficult.

This time I was invited as one of the panel speakers on the topic of organ donation. Being an organ donation activist (a title I start to call myself from today onwards), this is truly an honour. I am not attached to any organisation or clubs focusing on organ donation. In fact, I can find no organisations in Malaysia dedicating to organ donation.

However, as an individual active in various youth activities and being members in many organisations allow me to get involved and start promoting this noble act of donating organs after death. My enthusiasm in organ donation starts when I first read about it and pledged as early as when I was 13. Moved by a story of a young pledger and articles written by monks about the joy of giving, being a Buddhist, that messages push me to sign to pledge my organs.

I have organised various organ donation campaigns and worked closely with the National Transplant Resource Centre. Coming a long way in giving suggestions to improve organ donation rates in Malaysia through my few articles published in news, I feel that Malaysia has grown much in creating awareness regarding this issue.

While blood donation may take about a decade for people to accept the fact that blood donation is a norm and could help save lives, I hope that organ donation will take a shorter time in this technology advanced age.

More can still be done in organ and blood donation. As an individual, I call upon all interested people in this area to help me in the quest of promoting organ donation. Please find my contact details in this website and contact me for further actions in promoting organ donation.

BERSAMA ANITA – ASTRO RIA 7th may 2006 1pm – watch out for Hoong Ling on air!

Kehadiran saya sebagai jurulatih di Kem Bina Negara, Ulu Sepri menjadi satu penghormatan untuk diri saya. Tidak diduga saya dipilih menjadi jurulatih dalam Kem Personaliti Menjulang TNB atas jemputan Biro Tatanegara Jabatan Perdana Menteri. Inilah julung-julung kali saya menyertai kursus yang disediakan untuk para eksekutif dan tenaga sokongan TNB.

Penglibatan saya dengan BTN bermula awal sejak dijemput sebagai ahli panel Bicara Siswa. Bicara Siswa merupakan satu rancangan TV mahasiswa, yang diudarakan melalui TV1 secara langsung dari Angkasapuri. Dipengerusikan oleh bekas Ketua Pengarah BTN, Datuk Nordin Kardi, Bicara Siswa menjadi pentas perdebatan topik-topik yang menarik dan memperlihatkan pandangan mahasiswa dalam isu-isu negara yang dibincangkan. Saya cukup bangga diundang untuk memberikan pendapat saya sebanyak dua kali untuk mengupas topik “Demokrasi: ala Malaysia atau ala Amerika” dan “Pembahagian Sama Rasa atau Mengikut Kesesuaian”.

Setiap kali menyertai program-program BTN, darah Bangsa Malaysia dalam diri saya mengalir deras. Bersama BTN sahajalah, isu-isu kenegaraan dibincangkan, sejarah negara diperkaya dan isu semasa diperkemaskinikan dalam diri saya. Barangkali perbincangan tentang negara sukar dibawa ke kedai kopi, apatah lagi bersama rakan-rakan dalam umur 20-an yang jarang menyentuh isu-isu sebegini. Kali ini kem dilaksanakan di Kem Bina Negara, Ulu Sepri, Rembau, Negeri Sembilan. Pagar biru yang menyambut kedatangan saya akhirnya membuka tirai yang mengunci alam semulajadi yang begitu luas dan saat itulah saya tinggalkan segala apa dalam minda saya. Satu jejak kaki sahaja di bumi seluas 64 ekar ini, hati saya sudah terpikat nan keindahan dan kehijauan kem ini.

Saya terus disajikan masakan kampung Negeri Sembilan. Rasa bersalah kalau makan banyak dan soal menjaga badan, segera saya ketepikan. Penyakit gastrik dan ulcer yang menjauhkan sambal pedas dan kari dari meja makan saya sekian lama, kini dilupakan sementara.

Keselesaan kem ini membuat saya terlupa sejenak saya sebenarnya jurulatih dalam kem ini. Menulis pantun, tiba-tiba ilham tercetus. Biar pantun ini menjadi penutup coretan saya hari ini.

Sunyi sepi menyelubungi malam,
Semut, serangga merayap pulang,
Ulu Sepri indah tergamam,
Menjulang personaliti TNB gemilang.

Pagi menyinsing jadi pengganti,
Kicau burung, merdu sentiasa,
Cabaran mesti terus dihadapi,
Bersama penggerak tenaga Malaysia.

So what, gitu loh….

Indonesia, HERE I COME!!!

Indonesia is a great experience for me. I fly to Jakarta for business trips since January, with more than 80 of my business partners. I knew I have nothing to fear of since I have been there before. News from mass media about bombings and riots exposed Indonesia as a dangerous country to visit. On the way to airport and even in the air, my business partners were still doubtful about the security of our destination country. However, my mind was clear and I knew it wasn’t that bad. And all of us knew we must go for the sake of the business.

Stepping down was great. Although we were welcomed by frowns of those immigration officers but it was later unveiled, the smiles of the 250 millions Indonesians. Never judge a book by its cover, never judge a country by its news and immigration officers.

As we were ferried by a Kijang to our hotel in Central Jakarta, we passed by “Apartemen Teluk Intan”, which is still under construction. “Wow, that was great! My hometown Teluk Intan is even in Jakarta!”, I told myself. The huge bold letters, measuring about 15 feet tall, decorated the construction site. It made me feel just like home.

The traffic was really bad. The vehicles are not even crawling, most were stagnant for a long period of time. We finally reached Aston Hotel Sudirman, a five-star serviced apartment, after about 2 hours drive. Imagine, coming to Jakarta from Kuala Lumpur is only 2 hours!

As we ventured along the cities, we realised that Indonesia has so much to offer. “Selamat Datang, bu!”, the waitress welcomed us with a warm smile. The variety of food is astonishing, even the Pizza Hut there offerred extended menus than it is in Malaysia. Any food, French style, Japanese style, Italian style, you name it, they have it. The fact that Indonesia itself has so many provinces, trying the food of each province can be endless. Food can be found everywhere! In the food court, shopping complexes and even the road sides are filled with food stalls. Food in Jakarta is a little expensive but in Bandung, we had grilled fish, grilled squid, grilled prawns with rice and a drink for only less than US$3. Specialties like Pucuk Waluh and their ginger drink called Bandrek were still in my mind.

We were addressed as Bapak (Mr.) or Ibu (Mrs.) or Mbak (Miss) or Mas (Boy). Most of it is almost the same with Malay Language in Malaysia but Bahasa Indonesia has a very smooth accent that is comfortable to the ears. Different provinces have different dialects just like Malaysia as in Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan dialects are slightly different.

Indonesians are basically friendly people. They smile a lot and treat foreigners really well. They tend to make friends and develop relationships before we can start to talk about business. However, Indonesians are hardworking lot, mainly because of the crisis that they have been through and the huge population in Indonesia opening doors for stiff competitions. Most people really work hard in order to be recognised or to be successful.

In this place you can see the filthy rich and the poorest of people. Walking into Plaza Indonesia, a plaza almost filled with branded stuffs, you can see how the rich Indonesians spend their money to pamper themselves. On the other hand, it is always sad to see children who lived under the bridges, holding umbrellas during rainy days. They scout around for by passers who need the umbrellas. Once a person took an umbrella to protect him from the rain, the children will just follow behind. All drenched, the children patiently wait for tips from the person who reached his destination dry. Sometimes as we were stuck in the traffic, we can see children with a tray of newspapers or other products. They knock on car windows to sell their products everyday.

In a foreign country, I came to appreciate how much better we are in our own country. There is no place like HOME. Although the food is a variety, I still miss our Asam Laksa and Nasi Lemak.