Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dungun sans Mak

The morning air was cool to the touch as I made my way to the beach; one lonely soul clad in a simple blouse and a sarong, with headscarf all askew at a careless angle. I could feel the gritty sand enveloping my naked feet in a warm embrace as I sauntered down the sloping shoreline.

The sounds and sight of the gentle waves rising and ebbing in the near distance were hypnotising, and in the far horizon, an orange ball emerged from the foot of the sky, its glow suffusing over the calmness of the morning.

It was the dawn of innocence all over again. I was back home in good old Dungun, to all things good and familiar. How wonderful it was to inhale the breezy, slightly salty 'udara' Dungun once again, how refreshingly crisp the air.

Nothing much had changed since 13 months ago when I was in Dungun last. Nothing, except that Mak is gone. Two simple tombstones in a serene graveyard facing the sea were all I had of her now. I could feel the tears welling as I quickened my pace to the edge of the water.

It was ironic that I had come home to nothingness on the homefront. Even Mak's single-storey bungalow is currently unliveable, for lack of attention. My sister Idah who lives in Kuala Lumpur and holds the keys to the house had confided that the once spick & span dwelling was in disarray.

I had expected to lodge overnight at my other sister's house next door to Mak's. Unfortunately, she had taken the opportunity of the mid-term school break to visit her working children in Kuala Lumpur. As it were, we were like two ships that passed in the night.

An annoyed thought temporarily crossed my mind; someone should take responsibility about Mak's house. Pay somebody to look after it, or turn it into a family retreat, or rent it out, or even sell it and divide the proceeds, whatever. Just don't let it rot. Don't let the memory of Mak die with that house.

The trip to Dungun was to be a speedy one, just an overnight stay. I was back in town to attend the 50th anniversary of my alma mater, Sekolah Menengah Inggeris Dungun (now renamed Sekolah Menengah Sultan Omar) and to once again regroup with classmates, schoolmates and teachers I had not met for 35 years.

Accomodation in Dungun and the vicinity was booked solid during this period, for the anniversary clashed with the school term break. But we managed to find a place to stay for the night - Ulek Beach Resort - a beautiful albeit slightly pricey resort fronting the Dungun beach.

It is located in Sura Hujung, just next door to the Dungun Golf Club and a few metres away from UiTM, Dungun campus. In Dungunspeak, that's prime location and as far as amenities go, it's worth the money.

Built in the standard style of an East Coast lodging house i.e. individual chalets inter-connected by a series of cobbled pathways, its traditional architecture blends well with the kampung surroundings and it has (almost) all the facilities of a town hotel. A standard unit (called Teratak) is priced at RM288/nett per night; breakfast for two included.

Traditional touches include tempayan (earthernware jar) and gayung tempurung (water dipper) placed at the foot of the stairs leading up to each chalet, a wakaf (open-sided resting area) and a perigi (well) by the side of the swimming pool, and water-filled takar (clay pitcher) on each table in the dining area.

One outstanding feature is that each chalet has a jacuzzi although Pak Abu and I didn't even have time to indulge ourselves in it. We arrived past 10pm Friday and checked out at noon the following day, immediately after attending the Reunion at the school hall.

If at all I have a teeny-weeny grouse against the resort, it is that our request for a late checkout (to 1.30pm i.e. after Zohor) was denied. The excuse given was that they were expecting a large group that afternoon and didn't want housekeeping to be held up (by ONE late check-out??)

[Because I am a graduate of a hotel and catering school, had offered hotel development and management as my thesis, and had worked in a hotel before (Subang Merlin, in the mid-1980s), I'm not easily 'kelentong'-ed about hotel management vis-a-vis housekeeping.... *smile*]

We told them that since we checked in at 10pm, and that was eight long hours later than the standard check-in time of 12 noon, at least honour our simple request of wanting to perform solat Zohor first before leaving.

Sorry, said the guy-girl combo at the front office counter adamantly, with a stiff smile. In the end, we did the necessary (and had lunch as well) at The Kelab Desa Rantau Petronas in Kerteh which has reciprocal arrangements with our home club, the Royal Lake Club of Kuala Lumpur. Oh, well....

(Next: DESSian Reunion)

Footnote: The hotel we stayed in, in Coleman Street, Singapore, apart from offering first-rate service, also provided late checkouts (ours was to 5pm) to their guests to accomodate those catching a flight out, so they didn't have to while their time unnecessarily at the airport lounge. I think that's as good a selling point as any. We know we would be repeat customers there.


Kak Teh said...

Puteri, Mak has gone back to the house where she yearns to be, but I was told she cant even remember it anymore. When I go back soon, I want to see her at the doorway, sitting down folding the clothes or watching repeats of the afternoon drama. Pray for me that she will be there for me.

Kama said...

Rest assured she will be, Kak Teh. She'll wait for you. Just don't take too long to come home, that's all.

Naz said...

Kak Puteri,
What can I say....I know all too well the feeling of returning to the *basecamp* these days. My father is no longer there .. only Mak and bibik. Approaching it everytime after arriving in Msia was like travelling back in time. Each time, my Mak would come all the way out to receive us, to hug me and my kids. I dread the time when my arrival would mean having to unlock the door myself. I truly dread that...

somuffins said...

Salam.. After reading the top 3 comments, I feel so sad, sedih and pilu. Kebetulan at 3am this morning I was glancing old photos of my childhood home, all demolished and now the area has turned into a highway.. :-)Sad!

MrsNordin said...

Some hotels do that. When we want to check in at 2pm, the rooms are not ready yet and we have to wait, sometimes for 2-3 hours. But when check-out time, they can't wait to make us leave. And that annoys me so much!

But that's a nice chalet. Perhaps we'll check it out the next time we're in T'ganu. Thanks!

edelweiss said...

Kak Kama...

cantik pulak ulek resort. Insyallah next trip nanti...dok sana.

I went back to Sp for kenduri last month and again yesterday. it was a short trip... i was born and live there till i was 17. ada satu rasa yang tak buleh nak gambaqkan bila balik sana...rasa rindu ...segala rasa ada.

Pootz in Boots said...

I am so sad that I do not have the home I spent most of my life growing up in, anymore.... My arwah Maktok's house/land has since been sold off and the buyer had it demolished immediately thereafter... I was crying profusely when I saw bits of my bedroom walls ....... sigh....
On another note, Mutiara Hotel JB is the best when it comes to check in/out - they offer a 24 hour stay i.e. if you check in at 10.00pm, you will only have to check out by 10.00pm the next day. Now that is value for money!!

Oldstock said...

Salam Kak Kama,

The first pic of Dungun beach is oh so familiar.

This Ulek beach resort must be spanking new. But pity for the inflexibility in check-out time... it's sure a big minus point in my book.

Salt N Turmeric said...

Kak Puteri, you made me want to go back to Dungun!

Kama said...

Naz - It's perfectly understandable because you live so far away and don't hv the luxury of "popping in' at will. Still, the fear of the inevitable remains..

Somuffins & Pootz - it's traumatic to lose one's childhood home. It's like erasing one's memories. The house I was born and raised in, in BUkit Besi 22 miles away inland from Dungun was also torn down with the closure of the iron mine. There is nothing left now for they had turned the entire area into an oil palm plantation.

Mrs N & Oldstock - memang the resort cantik sangat. But this is one thing I dont understand about employees of upmarket lodging houses - attitude prblem. Senyum pun susah, let alone being friendly.

The staff at another resort, Mayhang Sari, a couple of minutes ride down the road were a helluva lot friendlier and accomodating. We stayed there last year. My sister even held the wedding reception of her daughter there. We would have gone there again tapi dah fully booked.

Edelweiss - balik kampung is always a bittersweet experience kan? half of you teringat kat rumah sendiri, the other half wants to remain longer..

Farina - you orang Terengganu ker? wau..sekapong kiter..

_deli said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

On my tempat jatuh lagi dikenang...


Sesekali pulang
Kembali ke rumah kelahiranku
Aku disambut penuh meriah
Mak Cik Jarah setia menanti
Tanpa Acik Ta’in di sisi
kerana kembali kepangkuan Illahi.
Tetap aku dirai bagai menteri.

Pulang ke telapak
Diulang semula bicara lama
Sememangnya seronok mendengarnya
Si sinilah kehidupanku bermula
Di sudut dapur jeritan pertama
Bahagian belakang kami menumpang
Menanti ayah menyiap rumah
selesa sebuah seluas kelengkang
Sepelaung jauh bertentang arah
berselang madrasah.

Di telapak tanah
Kampung Pasir Puteh, Batu 8, Labu
Tidak seperti dahulu
rumahnya satu-satu
Kini di sekeliling banyak berselerak
Rimbunan pepohon semakin menjarak
Dingin redup tiada nampak.

Di tanah tumpah darah
Getah di darat bertebang sudah
Sawah di baruh berganti banglo
Setangkai padi tiada di tanah
yang meliar renek dan jarak
Anak sungai yang dahulu seenak mandi
kini sedalam buku lali.
Rumah sebuah
Rebah musnah
Yang teguh gagah
Memori indah
taman melawati, kuala lumpur
3:00 ptg,
29hb. Ogos 2008


Kama said...

Deli - what a beautiful poem...:)

Salt N Turmeric said...

I bukan orang ganu but i went to itm dungun. kat sura hujung tu lah. :)

TATA said...

Kak puteri,
Jangan jual atau bagi sewa rumah tu. kalau tak nanti jadi mcm TATA, balik dungun dok tahu nakmg mana. rumah mak my sis bagi sewa kat orang, so bila balik dungun balik umah my sis kat sura tengah (near mayang sari) but my hubby n kids dok berapa selesa sebagaimana balik umah mak. mereka kata tu umah kakak bukan umah orang tua, very sad bila dengar mereka kata begitu.

One more, setuju dengan pootz in boots, mutiara JB is the best hotel. Boleh check in 10 pagi today and check out 10 pagi esoknya but food dia untuk 2 3 hari tu sama je, tok tukar menu.

sewa tenda said...

thank you very much