Writing about a Malaysian lakeside vacation


For me,  vacations have always been about fun. But my trip last weekend was serene, tranquil. Not “fun”, but regenerating.

Writing about a Weekend at Lake Kenyir

Writing about a Weekend at Lake Kenyir

Day 1

A short flight from KL Friday afternoon and we are in Terrenganu, a quaint Malaysian city. A drive through the city and acres of palm plantations later, we are at our resort by the Lake Kenyir, our balcony overlooking miles of blue, and swathes of green. I love it when I get to be at a place where there are more trees than people.

(I’ve put in a YouTube of a slideshow of the pics, but they’re a bit grainy, I’ve been stingy on pic sizes!)

Day 2

I wake up to balmy sunlight through white curtains. Stepping into the balcony, I fall in love with the place all over again. A hearty breakfast later, I settle down to laze, undisturbed, enveloped only by the sounds of lapping water, a distant bird-call or two (my husband spots black and white horn-bills, but I only hear them honking from time to time), and the incessant chirping of a thousand invisible crickets. Palm trees, tall tropical vegetation everywhere, with ferns and creepers galore, the play of light and shadow on the grassy slopes of the lake, the susurrating of lake breeze through a million leaves. Nap-time.

Writing about Lake Kenyir, Malaysia, water trees and sunshine

Writing about trees, water, sunshine

A fishing trip in the afternoon on the enormous lake, a lake which was born when a whole host of rivers were dammed up and the waters gathered to form the biggest artificial lake in Asia. Tree trunks–dried, old, moldy–stick out of the water like eerie monsters, skeletons of the nature that has been destroyed, standing in mute memorial of the jungles drowned to create this lake.

A sleeping trip for me, while the husband attempts, unsuccessfully, to lure fish. The very silence is music to my ears.The wrong notes are the small live bait, pink-white fish, a little longer than my fingers.

They are picked up and hooked, right down their middle and carried, writhing and flapping, to be “cast” into the water, again and yet again, till they go all limp and are thrown away. I am selfishly thankful, for want of a better phrase, that the soft little bait-fish cannot scream, or their agony would break the afternoon stillness over the waters, shatter it into a million tiny pieces.

Day 3

More of the same in the morning, but almost imperceptibly different. The lake turns blue, green or aquamarine and a dozen shades in between, depending on the quantity of clouds in the sky. This ensures that no two days would ever be entirely the same by its shores. Kenyir is like a moody woman, gorgeous, unpredictable.

A lake cruise in the morning, the sun nuzzling the nape of my neck, the lake breeze lulling me again, but I’m not asleep, merely comatose in an orange haze. I part my lashes from time to time to peer at the blue and the green skimming past, or the blue and green approaching, but it is all too much of an effort. When I’m taken to a herbal island and shown Tongkat Ali( a sort of herbal Viagra), and Kacip Fatima (the female equivalent), I’m still drowsy. I sleepwalk through the whole routine and get back to the boat to dream some more.

Writing about Kenyir lake, sunshine

Writing about Kenyir lake, sunshine

We go to one of the 14 waterfalls that grace Lake Kenyir, and the road to it lies through tall, looming tropical jungle, strewn with leaves, red leaves, yellow leaves, leaves the size of my palm, and leaves big enough to form a small umbrella. Creepers and trees in tumbled profusion, stuffy, sticky heat and the omnipresent crickets calling through semi-dark jungle. The waterfall itself is a delight, cool flowing water, noisy yet soothing at the same time. Fallen logs from behemoth trees, small fish in still pools, mossy stones and grassy, slippery banks.

A moment of panic when the boat would not start. A moment that stretches into an hour, as the boat drifts over muddy water almost too shallow for it to tread. Visions of eating bugs, caterpillars and snakes from watching that stupid show Man vs Wild, where a good-looking guy teaches you survival tricks. (The hubby just adores that show.) Thank god they turn out to be merely wild visions, and a rescue boat arrives, dragging us back over the blue waters.

Day 4

Morning is another laze-fest, and I crawl around in bed as long as possible, take pictures, write, sleep. I drag out the seconds, stretch every minute, battle the hours. I do not want to go back to KL, but a ride back through the rain is inevitable. The anti-climax hits us when we realize we’ll be home only by midnight. I dive back into the book I’ve been reading, and surreptitiously take pictures, like this one:

Sleeping woman at Terrenganu Airport

Sleeping woman at Terrenganu Airport

Tranquil vistas at Tasik Kenyir

Tranquil vistas at Tasik Kenyir

Back in KL, Lake Kenyir seems far away.

But then I’ve always had a calm, peaceful lake inside me, a crystal pool of blue waters where all the stress, grief or anger in the world does not reach. I draw back into this lake each time the world is too much.

And Lake Kenyir is not that far, either.

Writing about posting regularly, or not


Lately, I’ve found that writing and reading take up most of my time, and leaves almost none for blogging. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing.

Good, if the stuff that comes out in my writing is up to scratch. Bad, if it is the opposite.

I guess only the coming weeks and months will tell.

Writing about Rain, Writing, Home


Writing when it is raining outside is such a joy. Specially when it is the kind of rain that pours down in Malaysia, in torrents, clouding out everything from miles around, darkening the sky so you have to switch on lights in the afternoon.

Writing about Rain, Writing, Being at Home

Writing about Rain, Writing, Being at Home

A friend of mine who is stuck in traffic in KL town just called me, and said I was so lucky, I could curl up at home with a book if I wanted to. She certainly wouldn’t mind, she said.

I know I’m lucky. I don’t have to go out to work, I can be writing in my pyjamas and nobody would be the wiser. I can lie back and take a break on a rainy afternoon, go tinker with the aquarium or place some of the plants in the balcony so they can take a shower, even get wet before heading to the shower myself.

Being able to stay at home doing exactly as you please is one of the blessings of a freelance career, or of a writing career in case you are not too worried about the bills.

But paying the bills is a big part of who we are, especially in these financially difficult times. A time which would perhaps someday be known as the Second Great Depression.

So, rain, poetry and writing for the sake of it is all very well, but I need to get down to work if I want cash. Which I do. So, back to work.

See you all after the weekend, I hope it is a relaxing one for one and all!

Writing about Pleasure, Writing, Agony


Writing is always a pleasure. Even when it is an agony, it is a pleasure.

When you are a little rusty, like I am now, the agony often becomes acute. I know what I want to write about, I know it will come out if I just switch off the TV, focus myself and put pen on paper.

The agony and pleasure of writing

The agony and pleasure of writing

Instead, I watch the US election debate, talk to a friend or two, practice my Italian a bit.

Prevarication. Procrastination.

All aspiring writers fall prey to it, those who come out the other side actually become writers. I must remember that as I go back to my writing, to the pleasure of writing, to the pleasure-pain of not writing, to the absolutely essential daily exercise of my writing muscles.

Writing, here I come.

Writing about living without internet


Writing about life, age, no internet

Writing about life, age, no internet

Back to blogging. Back to internet.

I had expected to heave a big sigh of relief, but instead came to realize a few things:

It is possible to live without internet. (for short periods at least?)

There is a whole world out there which knows nothing about the internet, and it does not affect their lives in any way whatsoever. (This includes my parents.)

Your blog attracts visitors, whether you’re writing or not. (Hurray for search engines.)

It is possible to miss people you’ve never seen or met. (Includes nearly all my blog friends.)

Playing with your dog after a whole year beats browsing the internet.

Aging parents grow older each time you see them.(You need to call them, see them more often.)

For those interested, here is a slide-show from my trip.