Voice of Malaysia (VoM)
, in its Internet only transmission, featured during the month of August a promotional programme entitled, The Essence of Malaysia
. Listeners were invited to submit a short essay on any topic related to Malaysia. Participants fortunate enough to have their essay presented on air received special souvenirs from VoM.
Yours truly was lucky to be one of the featured listeners. The Voice of Malaysia souvenirs included: a water bottle, note pad, hand towel, pewter/wood business card box, cap, small tote bag, key chain and two pens. Albert Ng, VoM and TRAXX FM Producer/DJ, personally delivered these items to my home. They were given in exchange for the following essay entitled, Poetic Malaysia.
I also recorded a promotional spot for Voice of Malaysia when I received these souvenir items.
Some people love to take snapshots of the places they visit. I have a habit of keeping a journal and jotting down poetic, almost haiku-esque descriptions of the places, people and things observed in my travels. While holidaying around Malaysia, over the past 25 years, my imagination has been captivated more than just a few times.
On one such trip to the Cameron Highlands in central Malaysia, I stopped by a Boh tea estate and was so impressed by the acres and acres of undulating green hills and valleys, shrouded in a mist, I wrote the following lines:
a misty valley
steeped in green tea
steams from my cup
On another occasion while passing through the eastern Malaysian state of Terengganu, I noticed some colourful and decorative fishing boats resting along the shoreline of the South China Sea. Batik sarongs and fishing nets were lying about randomly on the shore. Fascinated, I scribbled down this verse:
caught in batik
the fisherman’s colourful haul
netted from the sea
Aside from Malaysia's various industries and scenery, the country is rich in multicultural traditions, thus it is not unusual to celebrate Malay, Chinese, Indian and other ethnic festivities. On one particular Chinese New Year, I observed scraps of red firecracker paper scattered below a small shrine, hung just outside a colonial-era shophouse. The remnants of the exploded fireworks, set off at midnight the day before, lay about the sidewalk. In my mind it looked like so many brilliant blossoms from a flame-of-the-forest tree, so I noted:
blossoms carpet the ground
in firecracker red
Suffice it to say, Malaysia is a country of myriad colour, and her flora is no exception. Trees, shrubs and flowers are always abloom. The national flower, the hibiscus, is just as ubiquitous. There are many shapes, sizes and colours. One particular variety of hibiscus that especially caught my eye resembled a paper lantern, thus it was that I wrote:
red hibiscus blossoms
dangle amid a tropical garden
filled with paper lanterns
The wildlife is just as varied and can be observed in canopy walks at Taman Negara and other national reserves. Or, sometimes you can get lucky and glimpse a bit of wildlife in a neighbouring kampung. I chanced one day to see a colony of monkeys in a huge tree while waiting for a train. They leapt and crawled from branch to branch with the greatest of ease like trapeze artists. So amazed was I with their dexterity, I jotted down these lines:
nimble limbs weave
their way through a green canopy
monkeying with the trees
Before I bid adieu, I would like to leave you with one last poetic image of Malaysia. It is her glorious sun-drenched skies. Whether in the highlands, paddy fields, islands or urban centres, Malaysia's sunrises and sunsets are absolutely splendiferous. They are an inspiration for living each day, and so I leave you with this parting thought:
the sun kisses
and smears the morning sky
a passionate red