Note: Please click any image for a better view.
As 2006 ends, the Muslim holy day of sacrifice (Eid Adhha) falls on the very last day of the year. As usual we make the trek home to be with family members, except that home is somewhere near Ketereh, almost 500km north of KL, just 50km shy of the Thailand border.
The red line snaking up the peninsula is the actual GPS trace of our 8-hour road trip.
And this is my other home, where my elderly parents live. Some 16km south of Kota Bharu, the capital of Kelantan state, this village in the huge Kelantan River delta is literally surrounded by rice-fields.
Supposedly the north-easterly monsoon season now, but look at the blue sky. When I was a kid, the whole place would be drenched, with the dark, brooding sky dropping water for days. Global weather gone awry?
In the kitchen at the back of the house, some clan members feast on brekky chow …
… while outside the window confused banana trees await the monsoon rains.
Typical set-up in a Malay house in rural Kelantan. Nothing fancy, but comfy.
I’ll dispense with the ritual of animal sacrifice on this Eid occasion, but hey, I’ve been invited to a wedding reception of the eldest girl of a second cousin. This surely sounds more interesting, so let’s go.
In a village about 10km from my place, a grand occasion is taking shape. It’s also lunch-time.
Gaily-wrapped gifts from guests piling up on the table at the entrance to the marquee.
Arrival of the happy couple in traditional garbs.
Up close. Cream is the theme colour of this get-together.
The Master of Ceremony and his girlfriends, patiently wait for the couple to arrive at the high table at the other end of the marquee.
And there they are, finally seated and attempting to have lunch.
The bride and the groom bring a set of gifts each, to be exchanged, and these creamy maidens are looking after the bride’s offerings.
Another view, for good measure.
While on the other side, the groom’s goodies are under the watchful eyes of some multi-colour former maidens.
The disc MP3 jockeys, equipped with state-of-the-art gear to provide entertainment, also double up as PA engineers.
The ladies are especially colourful, I guess like their sisters in Rajasthan.
Colours of various shades and hues here …
… and here too.
Just two left to guard the bride’s mementos.
And not forgetting, some serious Canon gizmo on display. Makes my 400D look like a dinky point-and-shoot digicam!
Wishing the groom and the bride well and a happy life together, I leave and decide to see the countryside.
There is a good network of metal roads crisscrossing the huge expanses of rice-fields in the delta.
I love being among the rice plants. I was born and bred here. This is where my roots are, metaphorically of course.
Northern winter now, so migratory egrets are aplenty, seeking warmer pastures. These birds flew all the way from northern China, maybe further.
Cattle Egrets are of course always hanging around cattles. As the clueless bovine chomps on the grasses, the earth is exposed, and there are crawling, wriggling goodies down there for the birds to peck on.
The delta is full of picturesque rivers, like this one, Sungai Ketereh. Lotsa fish.
And tucked in the forest at the edge of the rice-fields, a piece of history - the tomb of a 17th century ruler of Kelantan - Raja Abdullah.
Raja Abdullah’s loyal descendants still come here to offer prayers. I’m told my family also came from Raja Abdullah, and many people living in this area are relatives of ours.
I gaze at this beautiful tree next to the tomb - Raja Abdullah’s only constant companion all these years.
I finally make my way home, as the sun drops down the horizon. Spending time in my village in Kelantan has always been good therapy.
> THE END