Monday, 25 April 2011

Here And There

Quite a few things happened in April. This is one of them.

Sini Sana
Sini Sana: Travels in Malaysia

Sini Sana: Travels in Malaysia had been in the making for a while. My first contribution to the collection was months ago, before I joined MPH. They needed to know one thing: Is it "Taman Overseas Union" or "Taman Oversea Union"?

Of course it was the former. The area was named for the now defunct Overseas Union Bank, which was merged with United Overseas Bank in 2002.

Since then, Sini Sana had gone through several rounds of editing, and was finally in bookstores this month.

The stories are mostly postcard vignettes of the authors' most memorable times in Malaysia. All the authors - except perhaps, Lee Eeleen - appear to have found something new or fascinating about the country, even those who were born and are living here. Ghost stories. Trips to the past. Monkey business, elephant business, culture shocks and even a touch of forbidden weekend romance.

Zhang Su Li explores the past and present in her home state of Perak, sharing stories with an old lady at an Ipoh kopitiam, and drinking tea with a prostitute above a shophouse in Kopisan, Gopeng. She also travels to Kedah's Bujang Valley and its ancient Hindu shrines and meets a street urchin who fancies himself a Hindu god.

An island getaway off the coast of Terengganu does little good for Sarah Cheverton, who is haunted by desires stemming from the need to fill the gaps left behind by a breakup. A theft at the chalet where she and her friends are staying sours the trip. Can anything be salvaged from it?

FD Zainal takes us back into the past to his father's old fruit orchard on a hill in Kelantan, where he, his brothers and his dad lived the sweet rural life. Learn how to pack for a NS camp-style rural outing, the best places to swim in a river, and how to (not) chase away errant bull elephants that arrive at your doorstep.

Robert Bradley encounters various subspecies of a different kind of animal in his walks up Bukit Kiara: the urban KLite, and their myriad worldviews. The athletic Lee Yu Kit and his entourage, meanwhile, climb a mountain and find themselves out on a limb when a storm hits.

At the Lake Kenyir Resort in Terengganu, Damyanti Biswas finds peace until she starts getting acquainted with the flora and fauna and her fellow jungle tour mates. Marc White immerses himself into culture at the night market in Overseas Union Garden and an Indian barbershop, and Jason Moriarty dives headlong into a boat ride to a beach and tangles with an octopus.

There's more, of course, but if I go on I might go into spoiler territory. All in all, you really get a taste of what it's like to go sini sana (here and there) in Malaysia.

Sini Sana: Travels in Malaysia is edited by Tom Sykes and Tan May Lee, and published by MPH Group Publishing. Each copy is currently priced at RM35.90 and can be found in all major bookstores.

Sini Sana: Travels in Malaysia
edited by Tom Sykes and Tan May Lee
MPH Group Publishing
225 pages
ISBN: 978-967-5222-82-5

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  1. Great that this book finally made it. Sorry to have put you to the OUG trouble, but I assure you that if you go for a drive down old Klang Road you will see road signs for Oversea Union Garden. Of course that doesn't make it right, but ask anyone who lives there any they invariably drop the S as well. thanks for your work - look forward to reading the other stories.



  2. You're welcome, Marc. Glad to be of service.

    That's the thing with this country. Stories, and details, fade away under our noses until one day... "Why was this place called OUG again? And what does 'OUG' stand for?"

    Congratulations for the book, and have a good week ahead.


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