Tigers in Jugra

I visited Jugra yesterday, with two friends. I’ve been interested in this town since reading about it in Malay Magic by Walter William Skeat and I have written two short stories featuring the town.

My interest in Jugra is mainly to do with Puteri Gunung Ledang having supposedly established a second court here. The story is fascinating as well as comic, especially the account of her killing her husband, Nakhoda Ragam (the Singing Captain) who is said to be buried in Jugra.Read More »


The Back of Penang

During my recent trip to Penang island, we went to Bukit Pulau to visit the Saanen Dairy Goat Farm. Balik Pulau is an agricultural town on the south-west of the island. Its main products are cloves, nutmeg and durian.

We took the windy (i.e. lots of curves and bends) coastal road, which, as I was in the back seat, made me feel pretty queasy. However, the scenery was gorgeous. Unfortunately, most of it was seen rushing by, from the window of a speeding car, with my aunt reminding her daughter to ‘Slow down’ and ‘Mind the corners’. I would like to return one day and spend more time looking round.

So, we rushed to Balik Pulau, had lunch, and then hurried to find the farm as it was near closing time. The place smelled over-poweringly of goat (as expected), but I was happy, nevertheless. The goats had either poker faces or cynical expressions. There was one big billy whom I wanted to take home with me.

There were also lots of dogs, cats and chickens. The kittens and labradors were adorable, the chickens and poodles less so.

‘Balik Pulau’ means the flipside (balik) of the island (pulau). It is separated from the commercial and administrative centre of Penang, George Town (in the north-east), by hills. The coastal road has views of the sea on one side and lush green jungle dotted by streams and waterfalls on the other. As we neared the town, we saw some beautiful old kampung houses. Once again, it was all a rush, but I still managed to get a good shot or two from the car.

Everyday is a Winding Road

‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.’ That’s sort of my motto because I like how it reflects my intention to always keep on moving forward, or even backward, in any direction, really, so long as it means not staying in places and situations that suck.

Well, right now I know I’m going to Lagos, Nigeria.

That’s the plan, but there is so much to put into place that I guess I feel lost and a bit directionless, like a headless chicken. Or Mulder and Scully seeking the truth and knowing it’s out there, but not knowing what exactly they’ll find.

So, I know where I’m headed, but it still seems like a dream, right now. I’m on my way though. I am.


From The X-Files, a comic by Josephin Ritschel

Poovar boat ride

Just a quick post about the lovely boat ride on Poovar’s waterways. 

Once upon a time you could rent a boat and have a holiday cruising the waterways. The boatman would steer the vessel and catch fresh fish for your dinner and you could do this quite affordably. 

About twenty years ago, thanks to the increased number of Europeans and Americans visiting Kerala, you had to pay about USD 300 per day for a holiday on a houseboat.

 There are far fewer white tourists these days but I don’t know if the price of such a holiday has decreased.                             

Nigeria calling


My Nigerian journey continues with Noo Saro-Wiwa’s travelogue Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria.

Read my review over at my book blog, Head Shoulders Knees & Toes.