Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Sungai Besar Fishing Town - 12 Jan 2014

I have no clue where is Sg Besar before the trip. I thot it couldn't be that far cos it's still in Selangor. Together with my boys, I went with my friends to their hometown. It's a small, quiet fishing town, home to mostly TeoChew fishermen. The drive on a Sunday morning was very relaxing and a good getaway after a crazy week. 

Very scenic driving on the west coast and we passed by many small villages, paddy fields, interesting roadside stands and some cottage industries. There're familiar names like the Kuala Selangor town, Sekinchan, Tg Karang, and some homestays eg Kampung Haji Dorani in Sabak Bernam. I was worried by then cos we've not even reached Sg Besar, and it's already 150km! After another 15 minutes, and we're there! It took us about 2 hours in total.

Fishing boat coming back with bountiful catch!

Spending time at the jetty to watch fishing boats back in late morning.

 Locals looking for bargains and fresh produce from the fish landing area. 

Choice pickings of fresh seafood from the sea

Pomfrets, garoupa, kurau, selar, ikan kembung, tiger prawns, eels, stingrays, etc

One of the fishing boats we visited. This day-boat has lesser impact on the environment.

Free to explore the boat!

Used for day fishing, fishermen can also spend a night on this boat and use sonar technique to track the fish. Once they identify the location, they will drop the net to scoop fish up as it passes through schools. They fish less area and make less tows, thus lesser impact on the environment.

A worker mending the nets, and at the same time, giving us a crash course on the types of fishing techniques employed here.

Look at the size of the nets for ONE fishing boat. Can you imagine the impact from hundreds of boats?

A fishing trawler with a wide-mouthed fishing net dragged by the boat along the bottom or midwater of the sea. It can spend days out in the sea. Big or small fishes, all will not escape from the net. This technique has a negative impact on the environment.

A popular seafood restaurant. Business was good, so be prepared for a long wait.

The mangrove mudflats were their playground.

Observing the mangrove habitats - the mud skippers, hermit crabs, the shells, even the tide coming in....

Weight training to catch cockles!

Picking up the plastic bottles for recycling.

Out of the blue, there's an old man in a motorized wheelchair doing business with the boys.

Don't do this when the tide is coming in!

An idyllic life where a father taught his sons to fish on a Sunday afternoon.

City boys at the mangroves

Shaky and uneven wooden planks as boardwalk to test their fearlessness

Xian Wei passed with flying colours!

Besides fishing, Sg Besar is also known for birdwatching. 
We'll bring daddy here next visit!

Monday, 27 January 2014

My Musings - 27 Jan 2014

Finding calm in turbulent times

My first post in 2014. It has been a very eventful start. Since the first day of the new year, I have been in and out of hospital. My aged father was admitted at a critical stage and within the next day, he went through an operation to remove the lower portion of his colon. Upon discharge, there're many follow-ups in hospital and arrangement of post-operative care. I would say this is a precious time, to reexamine many areas of my life, with a fair share of ups and downs. 

Some important lessons that I learned from this experience:-

1. Perception of government hospitals
I've a negative perception of government hospitals, from years of experience bringing my parents for check-ups and admission to such places. Most of the outpatients have to wait for a year for an appointment to see a doctor for a consultation lasting less than 10 minutes. The whole process usually starts as early as 7 am. The waiting hours are long, the waiting area is overcrowded and this definitely has an effect on the quality of service and attitude of the staff. In recent months, all government hospitals are seeing a surge of patients, partly cos of the rising cost of living. Most affected department is the A&E. It's like a 'pasar malam' atmosphere, and you see patients with drips in the waiting area cos of a shortage of beds. I believe this situation is not unique to Malaysia only. I've developed such an adverse reaction to government hospital. 

A butterfly or flower depends on our attitude

But over the course of 3 weeks, I see something else. I see there're doctors and staff working selflessly, long hours, even on New Year's day, and in pathetic conditions. I see the surgical team working with such urgency to ensure my father got immediate medical attention at the A&E, I see the doctors and surgeons engaging in serious discussion, making calls, reading reports and making decisions at wee hours, performing the operation at midnight, I see them taking time and care talking to the family. I see the physical condition of the ward and the facilities and the no. of patients waiting to be attended to. I see the strain on the nursing staff. I see them cleaning up the poop and pee, changing the gowns from bed to bed. I see the stoma nurse spending hours caring for my father's wound and guiding us how to change and clean the stoma bag. She seemed not bothered by the smell and filth and carried on her duties professionally. I see a pregnant physiotherapist still working with patients. I see caregivers standing by their loved ones, aged parents caring for their sons, wives for their husbands, grandchildren for their grandpa. 

I didn't see the shortcomings and constraints as overwhelming though they are still real and happening. I no longer have the phobia of going in and out of a hospital - the kinda adverse reaction every time I go for a hospital visit. I appreciate the medical and nursing personnel, for continuing to serve and not giving up. I spend a lot of time behind computers, chatting with friends in the social media, until I've lost so much reality of what's happening to real people, and forgetting real needs. I realise that so much could be done with the time every day. 

2. Post operative care
This is an area that is most lacking and under-developed in medical care. We went home with little information and counsel on how to care for my father with stoma. The 1st week was most depressing. My aged mother is the primary caregiver for my aged father. This is a disastrous combination. We need good quality home care nurses, experienced stoma nurses (cos not all nurses know how to deal with stoma) as well as counsel for emergency esp during weekends and public holidays, a helper for my parents at home, patient transport services for my father to the hospital for follow ups and help to do shopping for essential things. The timing could not have been worse with my husband overseas and schools have reopened. We've to respond and deal with unexpected issues and crisis, and hands-on training to care for the stoma.

Overloaded but keep going!

Living in the city, we are chasing after certain lifestyles and more privacy, we plan for our children and holidays, etc. But these few weeks in somewhere like ground zero, I am living moment by moment, not knowing what will happen next, and going back to basics in most situations. It's not all gloom and doom and I tried to make time to do things with my boys, even a day trip of more than 150km per way to Sg. Besar fishing village, baking and cooking, house cleaning and swimming. My emotions were like a roller coaster and I count my blessings for the ongoing support and prayers from friends and relatives. 

3. Check your tyres!

Walking on thin ice

I ran around so much each day, and there were many days the weather was bad and rainy. Thank God for His mercy even at times, I was plain foolish. I overlooked checking my car condition and my front tyres were both bald. I was filling petrol to get ready for the day trip to Sg Besar the next day, when - a divine intervention - a car tyre salesman approached me. Only then I realised about the condition of my car tyres. At the workshop, I realised my brake pads were in bad shape too. I was this 'close', and this was indeed a good lesson to remember!!

There's always a landing place even in unfavourable conditions.

Everything happens for a purpose though I've to spend the New Year and first few weeks in and out of hospital. The experience changes the ways I look at many things and a reality checkpoint of my life.
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