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People & Places: Walk My Journey
People & Places: Walk My Journey
People & Places: Walk My Journey
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People & Places: Walk My Journey

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Many dream of breaking routines and pushing boundaries for that once-in-a-lifetime experience: taking buses, traveling around Turkey in the thick of winter, or crossing Siberia on the Trans Mongolian Express, or enjoying a campfire under the desert stars on the edge of the Sahara, or watching a bullfight in Madrid. "People & Places: Walk My Journey" is part travelogue and part personal memoir. Some of these journeys were geographical ones while some were inner journeys, inspired by the writer's recollections of people who she crossed path with. The essays were intended to give the reader a feel for the place.  They were written in a vivid emotive narration and storytelling style that would transport the reader back to the journey, as if he was there himself, travelling with the writer. These journeys are told in 22 essays, some of which are:

  • Romance on the Trans Mongolian Express
  • On the Edge of the Sahara 
  • Kyoto- A City of Gardens & Temples
  • Discovering Tunis & Other Gems
  • Unforgettable Istanbul
  • Paradise of Sorts
  • Flying Wau Bulan 
LanguageEnglish
PublisherHusna
Release dateJan 22, 2021
ISBN9781393942269
People & Places: Walk My Journey
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    People & Places - Husna Kassim

    About the Author

    Husna Kassim is a chemist by discipline with an MSc in Analytical Chemistry & Instrumentation from Loughborough University of Technology, United Kingdom.  She has an overall work experience of 32 years in various fields. She spent 29 years in Research &Development (R&D) work, nine of which were in agricultural chemistry with MARDI and 20 years in the oil & gas industry with the national oil company, PETRONAS. She was Head of Product Development Group while at PETRONAS Research, managing various research projects while her own specialty area was biofuels research. She is now fully retired and has been doing what she loves most – travelling and writing. 

    Her experience in R&D work has kept her well-grounded for her non-fiction writing stint. Her first travel book "A Train to Catch", was published by Partridge Singapore in 2016. Since then, she has been actively writing on her travel blog https://www.storiesfromtheeast.com/. She is on www.facebook.com/Kedahlass/ as Authorhusnakassim. She also started a Facebook group called Writers Inside Us, a gathering of like-minded people who love poetry, non-fiction and fiction stories and published books as indie authors.  She wrote an article "Putrajaya, the Smart City" for Malaysian Airline System MAS in-flight magazine, Going Places August 2019 issue. She won third place for Jasmina Awards 2019, for My Malaysia category for her article "A Kind of Paradise. She was a member of the editorial team and contributed essays toward the book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives", published in January 2021.

    Table of Contents

    About the Author

    Table of Contents

    Acknowledgement

    Dedication

    Introduction

    CHAPTER 1

    Walk My Journey

    ROMANCE ON TRANS MONGOLIAN EXPRESS

    A PARADISE OF SORTS

    UNFORGETTABLE ISTANBUL

    KYOTO – A CITY OF GARDENS & TEMPLES

    ON THE EDGE OF THE SAHARA

    WEEKEND ESCAPE TO LANGKAWI

    DISCOVERING TUNIS & OTHER GEMS

    FLYING WAU OVER PANTAI CAHAYA BULAN

    ON FOOT IN ANTALYA’S KALEICI

    EL TORO, THE BULL

    COLOURFUL ANDALUSIA

    PUTRAJAYA, THE SMART CITY

    BACKPACKING IN LANGKAWI

    KEDAH CULINARY & HOSPITALITY

    CHAPTER 2

    We Crossed Paths

    FROM HERO TO ZERO

    THE RELUCTANT POLITICIAN

    LIVING ON BORROWED TIME

    TURK ON THE STREET

    THE BEDOUIN I ONCE MET

    LITTLE RED PILLS

    3 GENERATIONS LIVED HERE ONCE

    YESTERDAY WHEN I WAS YOUNG

    Acknowledgement

    Husna Kassim owes her deepest thanks to the many people who made this book possible: her nephew, Syed Sobri Syed Ismail; Dr Jasmina Kuka, co-founder of the Jasmina Awards that promotes active ageing in Malaysia, who has given  Husna and eighteen other senior Malaysian story-tellers and poets, a push into serious writing; Julie Goh, the editor of MAS in-flight magazine, Going Places for taking chances on her writing; and to friends, Wan Faridah Wan Jaafar and Zainuddin Yusof who had dedicated their time to edit parts of this book and to Mohd Yusof Daud for his financial contribution towards the publishing of this book. Lastly, Husna is deeply grateful to the one friend who has always been supportive of her writing efforts throughout her struggle to find her place as a writer.

    Cover design by Ili D. with resources by Wirestock from Freepik.

    Dedication

    Husna dedicates this book to her children, Yusrina Aleia, Dr Nuraina, Mohd Hafiz and Muhammad Hakim; son-in-law Imran; daughter-in-law Leena; and her eldest granddaughter, Sophie Imaan, who has developed a love for writing at a tender age of six years old.

    Husna also dedicates this book to the late Nor Rohaya Rahim, a niece who was 42 years old when she joined the realm of the Beloved on 4th October 2020.  May her soul be embraced by the Ever Lasting Mercy of Ar-Rahim, Ar-Rahman and Al-Wadud.

    Give the kite time and give it line. A travelling soul, is like a kite in flight – she gets to experience a new view on life

    wau 1

    The design is of Wau Bulan. The kite’s intricate design was crafted by the all-time master of traditional kite making, Pak Shafii of Kelantan Kite Association.

    (Image of Wau Bulan, Courtesy of architect, Abd Aziz Shuaib)

    Introduction

    Ask any traveller about her most memorable journey and she would probably tell you that it is all about experiences and the small moments you allow yourself to have. These experiences are shaped by the sense of the place she visits and the people she meets. The sense of a place is the same reason why we feel we belong in some places and not in others. In any destination I first arrived at, I found my vision and hearing meshes together to create an unforgettable impression of the world around me as I walked down a street.

    But travelling through a place and writing about it, involves planning and effort. When writing travel pieces, travel writers are advised to seek the unconventional, according to a writer, Adam Hochschild. How one travels makes all the difference to the traveller seeking the unconventional. Some of us travel as a tourist, getting on and off airplanes and tour buses. While others choose to be travellers, getting to know people and their practices, and discovering new experiences as they find their own way. I choose to be a traveller. 

    Travel brings on new experiences and memories, allowing a traveller to break routines, pushing his / her boundaries, and meeting new people from all over the world. In seeking the unconventional in my travel experiences, I ended up taking buses around Turkey in the thick of winter; enjoyed a campfire under the Saharan desert stars in Douz, Tunisia; took the Trans Mongolian Express across Siberia; watched a bullfight in Madrid, and many other once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

    My travel itch started way back in 2014. Morocco was a destination on my bucket list for that year, but I ended up going to Tunisia instead due to visa problem. I visited Tunisia at a time when the country was still reeling in the shadow of the Arab Spring. The beautiful Mediterranean town of Sidi Bou Zaid witnessed the start of the Arab Spring when an unemployed university graduate set himself on fire in 2010 out of a frustration of not able to find a job. 

    During that period, Tunisia was one of those countries where a higher level of education meant a decreased employ-ability especially for women. We travelled to Douz, an oasis and gateway to the Sahara, and then to Matmata, a location where scenes of Hollywood film Star Wars were shot. On the Edge of the Sahara and Discovering Tunis & other Gems captured the unique people we met while in Tunisia and their everyday lives.

    In September 2015, I took the Trans Mongolian Express from Beijing to Moscow via Ulan Bator. It was a tick off my bucket list and a journey of a lifetime.  The Trans Siberian Railway spans two continents and crosses seven time zones.  The most interesting of the three Trans Siberian routes and recommended by many travellers, the Trans Mongolian Express covered 7,622 kilometres of stunning scenery and changing landscapes. I travelled with a group of old friends on the K3 train. It took us six days to complete the entire journey but I remembered the excitement building up, as the Trans Mongolian Express K3 train started pulling out of Beijing Central station in Dongcheng District, traveling westwards towards Moscow Yarovslavskiy Station. During this six-day journey, captured in Romance on Trans Mongolian Express essay, I met a couple, who tied their knot in Beijing, then travelled all the way to St. Petersburg to spend their honeymoon.

    A year later, we travelled to the heart of Japan – Kyoto. Kyoto is home to many cultural landmarks and historical sites. It is one city worth visiting, well known for its beautiful Japanese gardens, temples and its culture of courtesy and manners. For two weeks in September of 2016, we travelled around Kyoto. The two weeks of moving about the periphery of the city, cycling on the streets, and stopping over for drinks at a small café, left me briefly absorbed in their way of life. Kyoto’s history and tradition are tangible and accessible on many levels and going about Kyoto meant coming face-to-face with that heritage on a daily basis. Glimpses of that traditional life surfaced with every step we took: the old wooden entrance gate, a sweeping temple roof, a traditional wooden restaurant, a zen monk wearing a traditional kasa straw hat, walking past me in Kinugasa Hill. Kyoto - A City of Gardens and Temples captures glimpses of Kyoto’s historical past in the midst of modern living in North Western Kyoto. 

    Despite having travelled extensively, Malaysia remained my favourite holiday destination. Shimmering blue waters, fine white sandy beaches, sunshine on most days, swaying coconut trees, and friendly kampong folks describe my two favourite sea-front destinations in Terengganu and Langkawi. Rich cultural diversity, an endless spread of food choices and cheap places to stay are some of the best descriptions I could think of that signify Langkawi Island. However, A Paradise of Sorts narrates my fascination with two kampongs in Terengganu. Spending time in these two beachfront kampongs was like a dream assignment for a writer: a paid- holiday to conduct research on a destination – relaxing, peaceful, soaking the landscapes of the wetlands.

    Malaysia, not only has beautiful beaches but some of the most colourful people I know. One colourful Malaysian is a childhood friend who became the first woman Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia for a brief period of 22 months.  The Reluctant Politician essay/ interview is a narration of how her brand of leadership helped her manage a party of mostly masculine membership for two decades. She had her ups and downs being married to a charismatic student leader, and holding the forte for a husband whose life-long ambition was to become a Prime Minister. 

    From Hero to Zero is an essay written by a university friend, a consultant cardiologist, a passionate endurance rider, who started competitive riding at a ripe old age of 46. The essay was about his 160-kilometre ride at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain. He started off as one of the top 40 riders in the first three circuits, riding alongside the likes of the Maktoums of Dubai, a father and son team, on million-Euro champion horses. During the fourth circuit however, his horse stopped in its tracks and died from multi-systemic failure. He was one of two riders investigated for "abuse

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