(No matter what, Malaysia remains where my heart and soul lies at the end of the day. And nothing kicks starts the notion than flying on the national carrier whilst having hot delicious nasi lemak for company)
Somehow it was great to fly back on MAS – for a couple of things.
One, it was good to hear safety announcements in Bahasa Malaysia again. Two, they served nasi lemak for lunch which was a sure sign that we are heading back home. And one of the first things that I did once I am back home was to catch up on my sleep. I could not help it – I even doze off whilst I was having conversations. Having a weekend and then thereafter the CNY holidays was just perfect to catch up on a break.
So I thought…
I was made “aware” of a distinct relative who was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. And last weekend, the dreadful news came. The relative had passed away. Being a distinct relative, there was always an option for me to simply opt out from going for the funeral. Further, the funeral was taking place in Johore – a place that was considered “quite far away” to drive (although it was almost the same distance and time to drive up North). The one that nails the urge for not going is that the funeral was taking place on a Sunday (I was working on Monday)
But there was 3 reasons that was prompted me to attend this funeral. First, despite it being a funeral of a distinct relative but he was somehow linked with other relatives who are closer to me. And there will be questions raised in the next family gathering. I had some obligations to them. Second, my father in law who is staying up in Taiping is taking the bus (yes the bus – we did not know, otherwise we would have picked him up half way) all the way to Johore for the same funeral. If he can take the bus and travel for 8-9 hours, then what’s stopping us with cars half way through from attending the same funeral, right? And third, the deceased had the same (well, almost) age as me (and brother in laws). Somehow, that made me to decided to go for the funeral.
It was time for planning for the one day trip to South and it was similar to the trip to the East Coast but with a small difference. We going to use my car as I am going to do most of the driving. It was a good opportunity to test the new tires. And to ensure it is going to be a fast drive down South and back, we decided to leave the ladies & kids at home (we already anticipating massive traffic jam on the way back, so it is best to leave the ladies and the children at home). In the car, would be me and 2 of my brother in laws (one is the substitute driver and another is our navigator – he had been to the house once)
The plan was finalised on Saturday evening (it took some time on the phone with various parties to finalise who was going and who was staying). My brother in law would pick up his wife and his daughter and another of the brother in law in the morning and meet me at my house. He would leave his car and drop his wife & daughter at my house (my wife and my kids will be around to keep them company).
(The trip down South – frankly the time and distance was similar to the trip up North but somehow it was less tiring. Perhaps it was because it has been almost 15 years since I made the trip to South)
We suppose to leave from my house (since it is nearer to the South compared to our 2 houses) at 5 am. I woke up at 4 am and by 4.45 am was all ready for the trip. I had even double checked the car and parked it outside the porch so that my brother in law can park his car easily. I also set the GPS coordinates and locked in the destination. At 5 am, he was no where to be seen. He finally showed up at almost 5.30 am – it was still good as my deadline remained 6 am (assuming we have a 4 hours to drive). The three guys finally left at about 5.45 am.
The journey to Johore was rather a pleasant one and surprisingly is not tiring compared to the trip up North. I hardly fell asleep along the way despite waking up earlier than usual. My new tires, Michelin XM2 was holding well and was quiet all the way. I had checked the route before hand (thanks, Google Map) and had decided to only use the GPS once we had reached the exit of the highway. No speeding on the highway and I maintain to the left lanes whenever possible. We made 1 pit stop at Pagoh for breakfast (a sorry looking nasi lemak with un-reasonable price was waiting for us). Quick breakfast and we were back on the highway and there was still more than 100 km to go before we reach the deceased’s house. Traffic was still sparse and it remained a smooth drive. It took us less than 4 hours including pit stop.
Using GPS is a must when venturing into an unfamiliar place and it was the case here too when we reached the house without getting lost. An uncle of mine who was not using GPS, got lost 4 times in the same area before finally finding the house. Fearing that there will be a big crowd later, we parked the car on the main road, some distance from the house but where I can still see the car from the house. We noticed a large tent outside the house which affirmed that we are at the right place. No familiar faces at the tent in front of the house, so we walked into the house. The coffin was in the middle of the house, surrounded by grieving family members. We said our condolences and prayers and headed back to the tent outside the house. The smell of chemicals inside the house was overwhelming and I started to feel dizzy.
Sitting under the tent outside the house with my brother in law (my father in law joined us soon after – he was tired after an almost 9 hours of traveling by bus) and with a fresh breeze, my head started to get clearer. Not many people have arrived despite the scheduled time for the deceased body was suppose to be taken to the crematorium. It suppose to be at 10 am but soon 10.30 am and 11 am had passed and soon it was showing 11.30 am. I looked at my brother in law and he looked at me – we suppose to leave at 11.30 am if we are going to make it home early. My brother in law went and talked to one of the relatives on the “status” – apparently there were some delay and we have to wait at least another 2 hours for the final ceremony (it actually took longer than that). I don’t blame them – no one prepares for a funeral upfront.
Wait for another 2 hours?
Well, that was our cue to take a “walk” to our car and head back home. Since there was a funeral, there were no “good-byes” and “see you later”. We quietly walked to my car – good thing it was parked far away and near to the house, otherwise our “early” departure would have been very noticeable.
(When things slows down on the highway, just make sure the car has enough petrol and the bladder empty. It was good that the traffic was moving despite the heavy traffic)
We had to head back to the highway, so GPS came in handy again. But before we do that, a short pit stop for fuel and use of bathroom was necessary. As I drove out, I misjudged a junction and took the wrong road. Thankfully the GPS was quick to recompute the route and in fact came out with a route with less traffic (so we could “fly” towards the highway). Soon, we found the toll plaza but it was not the NS toll booth (we mistakenly thought it was the NS toll). It was actually the 2nd Link Expressway. There was no lane for cash but instead all need Touch N Go for access. The problem was I left my TNG card at home and my brother in law did not have one either. Cars started to pill up behind us and when I thought we had a big problem at hand, I remember I had the Tesco loyalty card in my wallet and that came with TNG feature. It even had enough credit for the toll. We were saved!!
It was not long before we reached the actual NS highway and initially the traffic flow was good. We managed to clock 110 km/h most of the route. But once reached Negri Sembilan, the traffic started to crawl. R&R was packed full with cars as well. We made our pit stop at Ayer Keroh for fuel and a very late lunch. We could not find a parking spot but at further up front, we managed to find a spot and had an excellent nasi lemak with a good portion of chicken. There was long queue at the petrol station as well. Then it was back to the crawl on the highway. We finally reached home almost at 8 pm and despite being stuck with traffic jam most of the way (no thanks to road works and a couple of broke down express buses).
Despite I drove to and fro such a distance, all in one day, surprisingly I was not feeling that tired or sleepy. And after the late evening shower, I was still feeling fresh to drive to restaurant near the house for dinner.