Weekend Entertainment from Alor Setar, Kedah

January 15, 2011

Alor Setar, Kedah Darul Aman

For Your Weekend Entertainment

The Alor Setar Tower

Dr Kamsiah and I arrived in Alor Setar  on Firefly which landed on schedule at the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport. It was indeed a very pleasant flight. The weather on route was great and Alor Setar is also enjoying good weather after the heavy rain and flood last month.

View from across Sungei Kedah

We are here to spend the weekend to celebrate the 83rd Birthday of  the most revered The Sultan of Kedah, Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia (DYMM) Al-Sultan Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbudin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah. May DYMM Al-Sultan enjoy continued good health and happiness and guide Kedah Darul Aman towards peace, harmony and prosperity. Amin.

As you know, Alor Setar is the town where Mongkut Bean, Tean and I grew up. It is the administrative capital of Kedah and a nice place to be because the cuisine here, especially Laksa and Mee Pak Abu  is excellent.

From our hotel room window on the 17th Floor of Holiday Villa, we can see the majestic Gunong Jerai in the distance and beyond this wonderful landmark is Penang. Gunong Jerai lords over the seemingly endless paddy fields and Muda River and its tributaries and dominates the skyline of Kedah. I was born in Guar Chempedak, near Gurun, at the foot of this Gunong, three scores and ten plus  one years ago.

Dr. Kamsiah and I will visit some sites where I used to roam as a kid . Hopefully we will be able to meet some of  old friends. We plan to visit the famous Pekan Rabu where Mahathir used to sell pisang goreng  when he was a boy many moons ago. This market place is bustling with activity from dawn to dask.

Missing from this area  are two cinema theaters, The Empire and The Royal, where Bean and I used to watch movies starring Jeff Chandler, Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper, James Dean,  Maureen O’ Hara, Esther Williams, Doris Day, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

We will also make a visit to the Siamese Temple, Jalan Wat Siam, not far from Mongkut Bean’s homestead in Jalan Kanchut.  Our Thai brother and fellow Malaysian, Tean Rean will be happy to hear that. And the new Temple in Jalan Telok Wan Jah is very impressive.

For this weekend entertainment, Dr Kamsiah and I would like to play for you songs of the 1950s and 1960s when Alor Setar was rural town, a sort of Peyton Place (Grace Metalious wrote a novel of this title). We will start with Dean Martin because he was popular with the teenagers of this quiet town when he sang That’s Amore and Volare in the 1950s.

Dean Martin

And we can’t resist play this favorite Dino number here. It is titled “I have but one Heart”. Here it is and you will understand why this tune is special.

The favorite female vocalist of those Alor Setar days was Doris Day and her pillow talk movie starring Rock Hudson. We will play two tunes from her. The other popular  lady of song of that era is none other than Rosemary Clooney.

Doris Day

Rosemary Clooney

We wish you all a good weekend. Please take a good rest before you resume your hectic routine on Monday, January 17. Cheers.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican


57 thoughts on “Weekend Entertainment from Alor Setar, Kedah

  1. ….used to sell goreng pisang …- Din

    Wrong usage in Bahasa. The correct phrasing is PISANG GORENG for “fried bananas” because the adjective is after the noun in Bahasa as opposed to in English.

    “Goreng pisang” would mean “frying bananas”, and it is bad gramma as… to sell “frying bananas”.

    Very common mistake by careless by english educated Malaysians when talking and writing in “rojak english”.

    Another careless usage by English-educated Malay speaking Malaysians is: “lain-lain hal”.

    I see plenty of bastardised Malay used by educated Malays on Face-Book. The spell the way they speak. E.g. Kerja became “keje”. “Betu” became “betoi”. Spoken colloquial Bahasa should remain as SPOKen not as written. You don’t do that in English language or in more advanced languages.

    The educated Malays themselves are murdering the language so fast on Facebook that Bahasa Malaysia will become Pidgin Malay in 20 years time at the way the Malays write on Face Book.

  2. correction

    Very common mistake by careless English educated Malaysians when talking and writing in “rojak english”.

    I see plenty of bastardised Malay used by educated Malays on Face-Book. They spell the way they speak. E.g. Kerja became “keje”. “BetuL” became “betoi”. Spoken colloquial Bahasa, in my view, should and must remain as SPOKen not as written, so that the language remains pristine in WRITTEN form. You don’t do that in English language or in more advanced languages.

  3. Din,

    I’m overcome by nostalgia just at the thought of you and missus spending time in this sleepy hollow of the ‘50s in the heart of the country’s rice bowl. Wasn’t that what Kedah was referred to in the early days? Where’s the picture of the legendary Wat Siam and those Thai beauties on whom you frittered away your hard earned dollars (as our currency was then known) at a job which was later to serve you well and made you into the corporate guy that you were working for giant conglomerate Sime Darby? My place of abode as a young boy was located along Lorong Sena parallel to Lorong Wat Siam all within a stone’s throw of each other. I believe I have nephews and nieces who are half Thai still living along Lorong Wat Siam.

    The Empire and Royal theaters are gone?? That’s sad. The legendary Pekan Rabu where my mom would take me to do her shopping for traditional Malay kueh unobtainable elsewhere has turned into an ugly monstrosity of a building. I wonder if the government quarters where your matron mom lived next to the GH, keeping a tight leash on her son in case he got swallowed by spirits that stood guard at the Tokong Hindu, are still standing. What of the amusement park adjacent to Rex Cinema where you spent time fleecing a few dollars from much older players at pocket billiards in that hall when you were not in school and playing hooky? I remember watching Thai boxing.

    I believe Rose Chan hasn’t made the scene yet at the time and U.S. President Nixon has yet to learn the intricacies of ping pong diplomacy from her. U.S. State Secretary Hilary Clinton today would do well to resurrect the ping pong diplomacy now that China has become a major player.

  4. Frank,

    Thanks. I have corrected that. I agree with you about the bastardisation of the Malay language. In this instance and others, mea culpa.

    Mongkut Bean,

    I always feel good whenever I visit Alor Setar (we call it Alog Setaq). It was a place where the kerbau, the work horse of the paddy farmers, used to roam. Most of them have retired and have been replaced by the Kubota ploughing and planting machine. That should make the SPCA people happy since they have agitating against the mistreatment of the kerbau by our farmers for years! Thanks to technology and mechanisation of rice production and double cropping farmer income have risen. Today only a few of these kerbaus are left for us (Tean, Tok Cik, you and I and others who care to join) so that we can still take that sentimental ride into the orange coloured sunsset, flash, bam and alakazam the pokker dot sky.

    The Masjid Zahir, the Clock Tower, the Balai Nobat and the Balai Istiadat, the High Court Building and the PWD building are still there. I will have to visit the Rex Theater and Amusement Park area to see whether I can recognise them.

    Talking about Rose Chan, the legendary stripper par excellence, I remember watching her wrestle a python. It was a class act, so I thought and later that night when I returned home, I was disciplined by my Mom because her permit to enable me to go out late on Friday evening did not include a visit to a strip show. She knew what I was doing. Probably someone saw me and reported it to her. Alor Setar was a small town and everyone knew everyone. Yes, it was a kind of Peyton Place.

    Well, my Mom was very conservative. Of course, I did not say that to her to her face at the time. Otherwise, the punishment could have been worse than a slap. A dictator like her would not have tolerated an affront or broach any dissent. Now you understand why I love Freedom.–Din Merican

  5. Have a great time. Are you receiving award from Tuanku?
    If you see Dr Mahathir, say hi for me.
    I have a friend who resigned from a good job to take over over his dad’s songkok business in Pekan Rabu.

  6. If you see Mahathir, please say hi for me and tell me to enjoy his retirement and talk less in public about politics. The more he talks the more the country becomes divided, not united.

    Orang Melayu kata: Cakap banyak mulut jadi busuk.

  7. correction

    If you see Mahathir, please say hi for me and tell HIM to enjoy his retirement and talk less in public about politics.

  8. Haha Frank. You gonna see and hear him for a long time yet.
    Ref his blog on bersara. He said he will stop only when he dies.
    He will make sure he’s got a big voice in the coming GE.
    Have a nice day dude.

  9. Din Merican returned to Aloq Setaq on Tuanku’s birthday?? Are you receiving some award you’re not telling? Tuanku’s mother was my late grandmother’s younger sister.

  10. Din,

    Do you remember seeing this Jane Russel movie at Rex Cinema in the 50s? It was the first underwater kiss I saw. After that I never looked at the fish in the same way again.

  11. So a datukship is waiting for you, Din? Well, done, bro. You deserve it after all the hardship you have gone through. Nothing is better than to be recognised by one’s own sultan and state.

    Come Sunday, our bloghost will return home a dato’ and his wife, a datin. Let me be among the first to congratulate you, Dato’ Din Merican. Hope I am not wrong.

    Had my fair share of attending investiture ceremonies at istanas during my service days. Donning my ceremonial dress with braids, medals and a sword is not something I look forward to. But in Din’s case, it just a black baju Melayu with a tengkolok or a songkok.


  12. Alamak Abang Din balik Aloq Setaq ka? Awat tak bagitau awal sikit, tidak nak kirim beli kopi cap kapal terbang merah 2 kilo. Tau la kopi kat KL ni mana ada yang kaw kaw mcm kopi kita. Itu Kopi Ismail guru Quran kat Aloq Merah, dekat jalan pi Anak Bukit pun boleh tahan juga.

    Abang Din dapat Datuk ka? Eh bagus la tuuu! senang kita nak panggil Datuk Din dan Datin Kam. Ni dok panggil Din rasa tak beradap pula pasal kita ni orang muda dan Abang Din dah tiga suku abad dah.

    Kerbau kita macam mana.
    Awat lani budak budak Kedah pelak sangat ha. Tok Kadi dok bising kata banyak sangat kes anak dara dok bunting tak dak bapak ni?

    Lok lak betul depa dok pi buat kerja kat atas highway malam malam lepas tu campak bayi tepi longkang. Zaman kita dulu benda dajei macam ni tak pernah dengaq.

    Awat lani pasal harga getah sekerap naik 7-8 ringgit sekilo depa dapat duit tak tau nak bawa pi mana ka? Dengaq kata ramai juga yang mati kena Aids pasal dok pi tibai kat Dannok.

    Yang ada duit satu hal. Yang tak dak duit dengaq kata nak beli nyior pun tak dak. Ikan tamban tergeliat dan ikan kembong pun mahal sakan kata. Minyak masak pun tak dak langsung. Apa dah jadi dengan “kemajuan konon”. Kemajuan apa jadah kalau orang muda mudah asyik dok mabuk daun ketum dan pi Dannok saja dan minyak nyiok nak goreng teloq pun tak dak!

    Bang Din tolong bagitau Uztaz Azizan sat kat budak budak muda jangan dok control sangat. Kedah bukan negeri Taliban. Biarlah budak budak pi ramvong ka, joget ka sama. Masa Mongkut dengan Din Muda dulu ada ramvong, joget, menora, mak inang, boria tapi tak pernah dengaq pun kes orang buang anak. Budak budak sekarang mana nak melepas geram depa kalau jabatan Agama asyik dok mengendap saja.
    Mengorat kat taman tak boleh!
    Dok dalam panggong wayang pun dok pi kacau.
    Minum tuak dan beer jauh sekali la.

    Zaman kita dulu, Rose Chan pun boleh cari makan, tapi Mongkut tak rosak pun. Boleh jadi lawyar, pi dok nuuuu, New York nuh.

    Tolong tengok tengok sama Din no. Tak larat nak berletiaq dah.

    Mongkut dok kecut telok kat New York, hangpa dok enjoy atas belakang kerbau.

    Tok Cik@Tok Hentam dok asah keris dia la kot, nak pi tikam sapa kat kulim pun tak tau.


  13. Bro Din,
    It must be a Tan Sri nothing less. Datoships is well below your status.


    At states level only Dato’. Only Agung can confer Tan Sri. Thank you for your kind remarks __ Din Merican.

  14. Awat lani pasal harga getah sekerap naik 7-8 ringgit sekilo depa dapat duit tak tau nak bawa pi mana ka? Dengaq kata ramai juga yang mati kena Aids pasal dok pi tibai kat Dannok.” tean-rean

    Hello tean,

    Hang dok cakap bahasa Kedah nanti anak muda Cathy di Australia tak paham atau pun salah paham.

    Nanti dia tanya kenapa hang pi sampai Danok hanya nak tibai orang??

  15. ”Kemajuan apa jadah kalau orang muda mudah asyik dok mabuk daun ketum dan pi Dannok saja dan minyak nyiok nak goreng teloq pun tak dak.” tean-rean

    Takpa. Kalau tak boleh goreng teloq, goyang teloq pun cukup la. What’s the difference between frying eggs and swinging eggs? One costs money and the other is free.

  16. “Zaman kita dulu, Rose Chan pun boleh cari makan, tapi Mongkut tak rosak pun.” tean

    Depa tak tahu dulu Din Merican peminat namboq satu Rose Chan. Dia selalu dok depan sekali hisap rokoq Rose Chan sambei main ping pong — tak jadi apa pun. Dia jadi ketua koporat di Sime Darby. Tapi sekarang ni dia dah pencen dah la. Dok rumah jaga Dr Kam.

    Sultan bertitah “Tak pa biaq beta bagi dia gelaran datuk dulu”. Nanti next year kot dapat lah Tan Sri.

  17. “Tok Cik@Tok Hentam dok asah keris dia la kot, nak pi tikam sapa kat kulim pun tak tau.” tean

    Keris Tok Cik dah tumpoi. Sebab banyak sangat dia dok tikam. Tapi hang heran, dia hanya dok tikam anak mami.

  18. Hampa ni tak ada lain kah nak borak. Asek asek pasai anak mami. Aku nak tikam anak mami kah, anak Iban kah hai aku lah.

    Anak Kedah dah tak laku sebab tu si Tean dok asek ke Danok aje. Baru baru ni ke Sitnok nak touch base dgn kerabat-kerabat dia konon. Tapi dari Sintok dia konar ke Danok pula.

    Ni kawan kita dapat datuk tak belanja mi abu kah? Mentang-mentang dapat gelaran kita semua dia lupa noh. Kerbau pula dia lepas di Kota Sarang Semut. Apa kehai ni?

  19. Datukships?? Useless.. the value is a dime a dozen. In fact less. You throw a stone in a crowd of 10, it will hit the head of one Datuk.

    What should you do to get a datukship?? A taxi driver can you all the answers. It is so cheap that it is on sale on a the bargain floor.

    Tan Sri-ship??? Offered to UMNO-lackeys.

    A Tan Sri-ship has nothing to do with national service. It is a payback for service to UMNO-BN.

    You throw a stone at a Tan Sri… 10 out 10, he is an UMNO-BN -lackey.

    DYMM Tuanku Sultan and Kedah honored my Mom and Dad who served in Kedah Medical Service. I am just the beneficiary of their good deeds. my late mother was awarded a BCK for her loyal service. It took a generation for this recognition to come.But it is never too late. Dr Kamsiah and I are grateful for this award.—-Din Merican

  20. So Din got Datukship. Why are you not telling us still?
    My posting early this morning was acah-acah je.
    Tembak saja, But betui ya.
    Congrats is in order. From what I read about you, It’s long overdue.
    Must we call you Datuk or just Din still.
    Wow with the new prefix, nak masuk UMNO tak?
    No, Pak Abu, not interested in any political party. I just want to remain a responsible citizen.

  21. Tean dok tibai, Tok Cik dok tikam. Din dok buat apa??

    Mongkut Bean,

    Din akan mengadap DYMM Sultan Kedah di Istana Anak Bukit esok (Januari 16) pagi jam 9. Dr. Kamsiah bersama saya. The Empire Theater is now a shopping arcade. The Great World Amusement is gone replaced by a shopping mall and the Rex Theater is now a disco and karaoke lounge. The Balai Nobat and the Clock Tower are still standing and upright. But Rose Chan is no longer around. You should make a visit to Alor Setar. –Din Merican

  22. White Palace behind Royal Theatre too gone?? I would go there in the 60s to enjoy cucoq udang. What about Nasi Ali over the bridge, near the wet market?

    Say hello to DYMM. His maternal grandfather was my great grandfather. i will be a dato next month — a grandaughter.

    A class mate with a ‘Tan Sri’ lamented to me not too long ago. The title has made him poor as everywhere he went they asked him for donations. When he landed in the U.S. and at the airport, his name came over the public address system asking one Mr Tan to report to the desk. He didn’t respond because his name is Zainal and not Tan (as in Tan Sri). Over here Dato is a hispanic first name. So better get used to being called Dato …. lol.

    Anyway, congrats for the award!

  23. Please don’t forget to put up the picture of the presentation of the award by DYMM on your blog come Monday. You owe it to all your fans here.
    Okay, Mongkut.

    DYMM Tuanku and Kedah Darul Aman today (January 16, 2011) honoured my late parents who, as you know, served the state’s medical service. My late father also played hockey for the state. He was born in Kulim, Kedah but was educated in Anderson School, Ipoh because as an orphan he was raised by his Uncle, the Dato Panglima Kinta of Perak.

    My mom was a Penang girl of Ceylonese parentage. She received her education at the Penang Convent. Me? I am a hardcore Kedah man, born in Guar Chempedak at the foot of Gunong Jerai, Yan. The rest is history…Wat Siam, Bakaq Bata, etc. The award is also for all of us in civil society. I am humbled.–Din Merican

  24. Now Din, you are a Datuk. A deserving one for an anak Kedah. Glad it is the Govt in Kedah is under PAS during which you get your Datukship.

    How do you like to be called now? Malay culture demands that we address you as Datuk. Datuk Din sounds OK. DD – informal and nice(Datuk Din).

    Even Sakmongkol was reverently addressed as Datuk Sak by his commenters. There must be some way to distinguish your datukship from the rest of the dime a dozen datuks (tcommercial datuks that can be had for $$$$ and UMNO-BN datuks).

    Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh served the nation. No Tan Sri-ship? Corrupt Khir Toyo and alleged criminals like Ling Liong Sik made a Tun. Criminals became Tan Sri-s and Datuks.

    There should be new type of Datuks called Datuk Panglima. How about Datuk Panglima Din Merican.
    No, Frank. It is just plain Din or DM. Nothing will change although they make me a Dato'(Kedah title is known as Dato’). I write as before. Thank you for your kind remarks.–Din Merican

  25. A quick check with genealogy tells me

    Mohd Tajudin (Din) Merican is your first cousin once removed’s husband’s second cousin once removed.

    Now it is

    Dato’ Mohd Tajudin (Din) Merican


    Datin Dr Kamsiah Gulam-Haider Merican

  26. Din

    Are you a datuk – the most honorable one for every men – a datuk to your cucus? How many do you have?
    That’s the one we want to live long enough to see.
    Lots of grandchildren.
    It’s the badge of pride of every grandpas, not the medals on your chest.

  27. Gosh I missed all this entirely. Wow. for once a title based on MERIT!!!REVOLUTIONARY for M’sia that is. So deserving. Well done DD and Datin.( as in Dato’ Din ). May the country recognise more of those who sacrifice, teach ,educate and stand on their own merit .

  28. Mr Bean

    Yeah man. Maybe Din can take over JJ’s place.


    You mentioned Datuk Panglima Kinta of Perak is your dad’s uncle.
    If you mean Datuk Wahab, then we are related.
    He was my great grandpa.
    That explains why I am in UMNO since both sides are UMNO people, just like many other Malays.

  29. That explains why I am in UMNO since both sides are UMNO people, just like many other Malays.- Pak Abu

    What is so grandiose about being UMNO people.

    UMNO is a pariah political party sucking up the life blood of ordinary hard working Malays trying to earn a decent living.

  30. Frank

    Did I mention anything about grand being in UMNO?
    Haha pariah accepted for UMNO but protested in Interlock.
    Double standard indeed.

  31. So nice to see good old Alor Star town in your post here. The Telekom tower is just a stone throw away from my house in Jalan Kanchut , next to the Methodist Church. God bless our beloved Sultan as all Kedahans respect and love their Sultan dearly. Never miss the Zam Zam nasi lemak when you are in Alor Star , the taste is truly one of it’s kind.

  32. Happy belateds to HRH. Would HRH and other Malay royals endorse the below 3 items :

    1) Freedom from Apartheid/Fascism
    2) Freedom from Religious-Persecution/Religious-Supremacy.
    3) Equality for all ethnicities and faiths in all aspects of policy, Law and Constitution.

    ;to begin the critical amendments to the Constitution towards equality and emancipation of the minorities?

  33. Kepada rakyat beta.

    Beta tak di benar masuk campor dalam soal politik. Tugas beta adalah sebagaimanan yang di janji dan yang di benarkan mengikut Perlembagaan Negri Kedah dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

    Untuk penjelasan seterusnya sila tanya Dato’ Din Merican, seorang anak Kedah who has distinguished himself in the affairs of the state. Dia adalah seorang diplomat dan akan terus jadi seorang diplomat. I have granted him the privilege and the honor that comes with a Kedah datoship and his views on this issue will be my views.

    Sorry. Beta dah lupa bahasa Melayu sebab lama tak cakap.

  34. Mr Bean, you are getting there with the royal language.

    Instead of “I”, use “Patek” and always start with Ampun Tuanku, beribu-ribu ampun…”

  35. I couldn’t have asked for an even better blog. You are ever present to supply excellent guidance, going on to the point for simple understanding of your target audience. You’re really a terrific pro in this subject. Many thanks for currently being there for folks like me.

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