Form 3C2

1976. The year before Hasta La Vista (

I was one of 10 boys in a girls-majority Form 3C2 class at Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

3C2 was a Commerce class. Not exactly a favorite subject among boys at that time. Most of the other boys were, if memory serves me right, in Industrial Arts classes.

Today, 40 years on, our class monitor Abdul Halim Mat Zin started a WhatsApp group, to get us back together.

It has been a long journey going our separate ways. And on the journey we had seen wonderful things being invented – personal computers, mobile phones, dial-up internet, digital cameras, smartphones, always-on internet, social media.

Wise people say there would be no future if not for the past. So looking back every now and then gives us a lot of good.

Members of Form 3C2 1976 Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, Kuala Terengganu were:

1. Engku Adibah
2. Kamariah Omar
3. Mariam Faridah
4. Wan Roziah
5. Jamilah Hashim
6. Noraini Zakaria
7. Safiah Yusuf
8. Hapesah Salleh
9. Rohani Abu Bakar (A)
10. Norlia Ahmad
11. Tg. Marina
12. Faezah Darjab

13. Ramlah Daling
14. Norhayati Zakaria
15. Zuraina Ghafar
16. Azimah Osman
17. Junaidah Abdullah
18. Khalipah Ibrahim
19. Madiana Ismail
20. Salmi Harun
21. Zaleha Ngah
22. Mahani Sudin
23. Rohana Ali
24. Rosiah Mohamad
25. Zarida Zainal Abidin
26. Rahimah Embong

27. Muhammad Muda
28. Nordin Ibrahim
29. Muhammad Awang
30. Maidin Mamat
31. Abdul Halim Mat Zin
C1. Cikgu Muhammad Embong
32. Razali
33. Zulkifli Mohamad
34. Ahmad Ashaari Hj Awang
35. Mohd Fauzi Omar
36. Wan Zakariah Wan Muda

The list was the result of a joint effort by the SS78 Hostel WhatsApp group.

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Reap The Wild Wind / Strange Magic

1970s. Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, Besut, Terengganu.

I was in class at the primary school when my classmates and I heard a thunderous roar in the skies above our school.

Ignoring the teacher in front, we rushed out and gazed skywards. What we saw amazed us. A couple of black triangular things were flying above us, very fast and climbing into the sky. Some time later they came back. As if they knew we were admiring them.

Later we came to know that the things were fighter jets.

And much later I got information that the jets were Mirage III Royal Australian Air Force jets based in Butterworth, Penang.

I had been looking all over the internet for pictures that resemble the silhouette of the jets I saw during my childhood school days.

Only last week I found them, in an unlike place – in a video clip of one of my favorite songs Reap The Wild Wind by Ultravox, a 1980s new wave group from the UK.

I captured several frames from the video, which features a couple of Mirage 2000 jets, which was based on and looked very similar to the Mirage III of my childhood days.

While writing this blog entry, in the context of objects flying high, I remembered a lyric from another of my favorite songs, Strange Magic by Electric Light Orchestra, ELO.

“You’re, sailing softly through the sun
In a broken stone age dawn
You fly, so high

I get a, strange magic
Oh what a, strange magic
Oh it’s a, strange magic
Got a, strange magic
Got a, strange magic”

To me, ELO was singing about an object flying high in a stone age dawn, perhaps referring to speculations that at the dawn of the human age we were visited by extra-terrestrial advanced civilizations.

On a personal note, the magic of the high and fast flying Mirage jets inspired me to make becoming a pilot one of my early ambitions. But as can be seen now, that did not materialize. I am no pilot, haha.

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A short reign for the longest reach twinjet

Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Several days ago.

On my way out on one of Malaysia Airlines’ 56 regional-ranged Boeing 737-800’s, saw this Airbus A330-300, a medium-long haul aircraft.

This was one of the 15 A330-300 in the current Malaysia Airlines fleet. After the retirement of 17 long haul Boeing 777-200, the A330 became the longest reach twinjet in the airlines, although its range of 10,000 kilometers could not match the 777-200’s 12,779 kilometers.

It would be a short reign though, as it was planned that sometime in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2018, Malaysia Airlines would take delivery of 6 new Airbus A350-900, which have the range and efficiency to be used on routes currently serviced by the twin deck Airbus A380 and previously by Boeing 777-200.

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Ms Mary Paul, our Form 5 class teacher

Two days ago, on Saturday 24 December 2016 at 3.52 p.m. I saw a post in my high school WhatsApp group, quoting a short message from Ms Mary Paul, my 1978 form teacher. She addressed the message to SMS Terengganu’s 1977, 78 and 79 batches (English medium) informing that our Additional Mathematics teacher Mr Roger Porkess now lives in Devon, UK, and contactable at a mentioned email address.

Later that day I sent a message to Ms Mary Paul. And I was very happy that she replied. Not just a reply, she mentioned that many of my classmates had contacted her to reconnect and she was so happy to hear from all of us.

Ms Mary C Paul was the teacher who drafted for me a glowing testimonial letter, signed by the school’s Head Master. The letter was partly instrumental in sending me to Australia well ahead of the publication of results of the 1978’s Malaysia Certificate of Education examinations.

I knew she was the one who drafted the letter, by a small code “mcp/” at the bottom left side of the letter. “mcp” stood for Mary C Paul, her name. That was the way we wrote and type letters back then. Very systematic.

I am forever indebted to her for the letter as well as for her teachings and guidance as a class teacher. I wish her well and hope I could meet her again, together with my former classmates.

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Jerteh, Memory of a Bygone Era

The past ten days had been very eventful. It started with my return to Kuala Terengganu to visit my mother. I went there on a motorcycle. More economical that way since I went there alone, could not bring my family along because it was still school term.

The next morning I decided to ride 110 kilometers up north to Jerteh, the town where I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and attended primary school. My intention was to visit my uncle Hassan. And also to meet my long-time schoolmate, classmate and village buddy Baharum, whom I had not seen for many years.

I wrote my intentions in our primary school WhatsApp group. When I arrived at Kampung Raja I saw on the phone that apart from Baharum, another classmate Rehani was also available to meet me. That was great. I had not seen Rehani since we parted ways 44 years ago.

We met at a restaurant in Seberang Jerteh, chosen by Rehani.


A meet in Seberang Jerteh. L-R: Nordin, Baharum, Ramli, the granddaughter, Rehani.

Rehani, living nearby, came with her husband Ramli and granddaughter. Baharum, Ramli, Rehani and I talked of many things, including a plan to have a gathering of our classmates in December.

When I returned to Kuala Lumpur, Rehani messaged me to track another classmate, Zaiki, whom she had not seen also for 44 years, ever since he left Jerteh for a premier secondary school in Negeri Sembilan. I met Zaiki at an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur many years ago. But we lost contact after that.

I did a Google on my phone and found Zaiki’s office phone number and email address. I do not enjoy receiving cold calls, so I would try to give others the privilege as well by not giving them cold calls. In this case the email address made it possible. I wrote an email to him, introducing myself, informing that I was tracking old friends and passed the message from Rehani. At the end of the email I made an apology in case I got the wrong Zaiki.

I then messaged Rehani that I had sent the email, and informed her that looking at the Google search results it looked like Zaiki was a very busy person, so I did not expect an answer for several days.

At the office during a meeting with some business partners from Japan, I checked my silent mode phone, and saw I had a missed call from a familiar number. I checked my Google search results. It was Zaiki’s office number. Several minutes later another call came. It was the same number. Excusing myself and going out of the room, I took the call. It was indeed Zaiki. And he sounded like the Zaiki I knew, and very friendly like before, even though 44 years had passed and he had now become one of the big figures at a nearby university.

For the next several nights our WhatsApp group became very lively. Many other classmates were brought into the group by those already in. We talked about our childhood at Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, our primary school. And about our childhood in Jerteh.

About many things, which I would like very much to write about later –

Cikgu Suzanne/Keith (American Peace Corp teachers), jet Mirage, air batu tepi jalan bulan puasa, air batu abuk gergaji, tanah liat sungai, lastik burung, jebak burung, bedil buluh peleting, laga biji getah, helikopter biji getah, usung pindah rumah, mandi air telaga dengan timba, mandi sungai, cari etok sungai.

(I’ll translate the above topics, in Bahasa Malaysia, to English later 🙂 )

Since were were in a reminiscing mood, tonight I thought I would try my luck again searching the internet for photos of our childhood Jerteh. I had tried many times before with no success. But tonight I found several picture in Facebook, which I’m going to share here.

The original pictures in Facebook were small, between 480 to 960 pixels wide. I used a freeware digital image processing app GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) to increase the size of the pictures to 2,000 pixels wide, enhanced and sharpened them, and put a legend together with a credit to the Facebook page.

Here they are, pictures of Jerteh from a bygone era. Objects in the pictures are no longer in Jerteh, and reside in the memory of my classmates and I, and others of a similar era.


Our school, Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, flooded during the 1966 flood season. This was one year before we entered the school as Standard 1 pupils.



Jerteh Bridge. Infamous for cutting off road traffic from Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu for many days during flood seasons. The buildings to the right were the Registration Department office, where we went to make our first Identity Cards.


Jerteh Bus Station. This site is now an approach road to the new Jerteh Bridge.


Part of Jerteh Bus Station, with the Jerteh Market in the background. Rare items in this picture are the “teksi” (local name for trishaws, now extinct), a Vespa (very chic at that time) and black bicycle.

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Country Honey

The trusty Kawasaki Versys 650 Gen2 at Kemasik Beach. October 2016.

The reliable long-ranger Kawasaki Versys 650 Gen2 at Kemasik Beach. October 2016.

During a leisurely ride on the non-expressway coastal road from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu I came upon a honey gallery in Jambu Bongkok, Dungun, Terengganu.

Galeri Madu (Honey Gallery) at 4°57'06.6"N 103°20'25.9"E (4.951821, 103.340527)

Galeri Madu (Honey Gallery) at
4°57’06.6″N 103°20’25.9″E
(4.951821, 103.340527)



These two honeys were locally produced at the gallery. The hives were at the back, I was told.

These two honeys were locally produced at the gallery. The hives were at the back, I was told.

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The Relay


985 kilometers on the bike’s trip meter.

Some 5 kilometers from home during the return from a 985-kilometer solo ride to Kuantan and Kuala Terengganu, I had a need to honk a car straying into my path.

But then nothing happened when I pressed the horn switch. No sound came out of the twin Bosch BM horns that I had put in place of the wimpy-sounding stock single horn.


One of the two Bosch horns on the bike.

Thinking that I might had, by mistake, pressed the turn indicator kill switch which was next to the horn switch, I furtively glanced at the left handlebar and pressed the horn switch again. Nothing.

For the 4 days that I had been on the road, the horn must have not been functioning. Phew.

Once I knew the horn was not working, I did not dare ride the bike, even though it was only 17 kilometers to office. One never knows when the horn is needed, to alert a car or motorcycle wanting to do close encounters of the third kind, huhu.

Thinking that it might be the horn that was the problem, I bought a replacement. I liked the sound, so I asked for the same model. While at the car parts shop, I also got myself a relay. Just in case.

At home, before replacing the horns I thought it might be a good idea to check the relay first, by replacing it with the new one I bought. That was easier to do compared to replacing the horns.


A jungle of wires and relays.

So I dismantled the bike’s side fairings and exposed the jungle of wires and relays connecting the horns as well as the spotlights. After pulling out the horn relay’s two trigger wires and two power wires, I slipped them onto the new relay’s terminals. Turned on the ignition switch. Pressed the horn switch. And surprise! A loud horn sound broke the morning’s quiet air.


Left – the faulty Hella relay. Right – a new Bosch relay. Same specifications – 12 Volts, 30 Amperes.

So it was not the horns that was the problem after all. The relay was the real culprit. Must remember to bring one as spare on long trips after this. It can be used as spare for the horn as well as for the spotlight relays.


The Hella relay I originally installed with the Bosch horns.

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dsc_0721_reGoing home today, I was among the first to board the plane. Courtesy of the frequent flyer card. Turning right into the aisle I was greeted by a flight crew in the signature green kebaya.

“Assalamualaikum En Nordin. Welcome…”. And a smile.

Eh? How come she knew my name? What had I done wrong?

She could not have communicated with the gate staff who only had a cursory look at my boarding pass 60 seconds ago. And memorized how I looked, the colors I wore and what I lugged from mere verbal description from the gate staff.

Years ago when flying business, I got used to being greeted first name by the cabin crew. That was easier, since they must have known from the manifest and memorized who sat where.

But not this time. Because I was flying coach. A nondescript. And had not even reached my seat yet.dsc_0743_cre

Then I realized that the DSLR bag I carried had a homemade tag with my name printed on it. But the font was small. Nevertheless she must have read my name off the tag.

In the milliseconds all the above happened, I felt wonderstruck of her sharp eyes and observant nature. And felt happy that the crew of an airline that was having a very tough time navigating the aftermath of the double disasters, had taken the time and made the effort to continue giving the legendary service the airline had been known for so long.

My prayers are with the airline. May things get better and may all the trials strengthen the resolve of the airline and its crew and staff. And to emerge better, stronger, faster…

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Australia. Austria.

adventure_that_spans_australia Australia. Austria. Only two letters apart in name. But thousands of kilometers apart on earth.

Australia – I first went to Australia when I was 19 years old, flying in one of Malaysia Airlines last Boeing 707-300. Less than 12 months later I rode a car 3,500 kilometers overland from Perth to Melbourne and return. Then six years ago I rode the intercontinental Indian Pacific train for 4 days and 3 nights from Sydney to Perth, a distance of 4,300 kilometers.





Austria – Less than 2 years ago I went to Austria driving, from its south, from Slovenia. This year I went into Austria’s northwest, driving from Germany.

Beautiful country. All four of them.


A stop over by Lake Bled, Slovenia on the way to Faaker See village in southern Austria.


A group of bikers on a late summer ride in northwestern Austria.


Approaching a village in northwestern Austria.


Northwestern Austria.


Northwestern Austria.


Driving into Austria from Slovenia and from Germany.


Cook, South Australia. Me with one of the Indian Pacific coaches.


I came to Perth via the Indian Pacific train from Sydney. This was the train, stopping for fuel at Cook, South Australia, some 2,400 km from Sydney. Perth was still a long 2,000 km to go.


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Raya in Perth, 1980

1 Shawwal 1400. August 12 or 13, 1980.

That year saw me spending my second Hari Raya (Eid) away from Malaysia. It was August, in the midst of Perth, Western Australia winter. I was in my first year of Electrical Engineering degree course at the University of Western Australia, and living in a 2-bedroom rented apartment on Stirling Highway, Nedlands, some 2 kilometers from the university. My housemates were Mohamad Amir Abdullah from Melaka and Mukhtar Hashim from Terengganu.

IMG_1208_Raya 1980_Nedlands_e

L-R: Abdul Rahman, Mukhtar, Amir, Nordin (me).

This was the morning of Raya in the apartment’s kitchen. A close friend and senior, Abdul Rahman Shamsuddin spent the cold Raya morning with us.

On the dinner table were a tin of cookies mailed by my mum, a fruit cake baked by me, and a “dodol” mailed by Amir’s mother. Dodol is a brown-colored sticky-firm sweet confection made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and palm sugar, traditionally prepared specially for Raya in certain parts of Malaysia, including Raub, Pahang where my wife would hail from. I had no inkling then that the other half in my future life would come from Pahang, because only 8 years later would I first met her. But that’s a story for another time 🙂

After this breakfast, I could not remember whether we went for the Eid prayers at Perth Mosque in the city or to the university’s Student Guild building where ISSUWA, Islamic Students Society of the University of W.A. normally held the prayers for those not able to go to the mosque due to time constraints to attend lectures, tutorials or labs.

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