Sometimes when you revisit a place close to your heart, you’ll get overwhelmed with emotions. Surprise and nostalgia are some of the things you’d felt.

A few days ago, I revisited such a place; the first Sekolah Agama (Malay for religious school) I went to. Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah is located within the compounds of Kebun Bunga DiRaja, also known as Istana Gardens.

Along with the two emotions I mentioned earlier… I was also saddened by the state of my alma mater. The school building still stood; but like many buildings in Johor Bahru, it is left decrepit.

The picture below shows what used to be the school canteen. I distinctly remember buying gula tarik (literal Malay translation is pulled candy; made from palm sugar) and kacang sambal (peanuts mixed with hot sauce) from this place.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Canteen (by azmeen)

After taking some photos of the canteen, I turned and faced the main school building itself. I barely contained the tears that began to swell my eyes… composed myself and took a photo of the rear facade.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - School Building (by azmeen)

Although it is technically the rear entrance of the school, it is the most often used by students. This is because it is nearest to the main road. For more than two years, this is the entrance that greeted me every afternoon from Sunday to Thursday.

During my time here, Johor was still observing the Friday to Saturday weekends.

As I stepped inside the unguarded compound, I immediately recalled the fun times I had in this place. It never occurred to me back then that this place is ancient… it was constructed in 1858!

As old as the building is, it’s architecture is simply breathtaking. This made me wonder why the authorities left the building to rot. Surely this place is worthy of being gazetted as a heritage site.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Broken Stairs (by azmeen)

I explored the place further and soon found the class I had studied in. The door has a broken panel but it still clung to its frame by the sturdy hinges.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Class Door (by azmeen)

I peeped inside and was greeted by an unfamiliar sense of emptiness. You see, during my days here this class can pack up to 40 students… it’s large compared to the classrooms of modern school buildings. I can still imagine my friends reading books and reciting Quranic verses in here… whatever happened to them? Do they know the state of our beloved school now?

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - This Used to be My Classroom (by azmeen)

As I continued my trek within the school compound, I wondered how long this building will last. I doubt that it would be demolished as technically, it’s still on royal palace grounds.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Classroom (by azmeen)

I might as well snap as many pictures of the place as I can… at the very least, I can share them with my wife and son. That’s when I decided that I absolutely must write something about Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah and post it on my blog.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah (by azmeen)

The picture below pretty much sums up the desolation of this place. Compare it to the thriving and healthy trees in the background.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah (by azmeen)

As I went full circle around the building, I came to a place that I’m unfamiliar with; the front entrance. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always used the rear entrance to get to class. I couldn’t recall a time when I actually went to the front entrance. The gate was massive as you can see below:

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Front Gate (by azmeen)

As I wrapped up this visit, I took another picture of the rear section of my formerly glorious school. Just hoping that I can see it restored to its former glory in my lifetime.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Front (by azmeen)

If you love old architecture, you should give Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah a visit when you’re in JB. I have no idea how long the place would last… but looking at its current state, I don’t give it much hope.

It is near the car park entrance of Istana Gardens and is quite a popular spot for wedding photography. Check out Wikimapia for its exact location.

My Brother’s Wedding

On Sunday, our family held a kenduri kahwin (wedding reception/banquet) for my brother, Azlan and my sister in law Fadila (yes they own blogs too… way too many if you ask me!).

Sensing the opportunity to get some hands on wedding photography experience, I got the green light from my parents to be the photographer for the event.

Bride and Groom Arrival

Bride and Groom Heading to Reception

The bride and groom arrives along with escorting entourage.

All smiles!

Smiling Bride and Groom

It’s smiles all around from Azlan and Fadila.

Flying flower petals: In your face!

Flower Petals Thrown at Bride and Groom

My grandma literally throwing flower petals at my brother and sister in law!

Time for food

Wedding Lunch

Also known as makan berdamai in Malay.

The happy couple

Bride, Groom and Flowers

Close up photo of Azlan and Fadila. This photo is taken after the event is almost over.

The happy couple (2)

Bride and Groom Posing at Garden

Full length photo of Azlan and Fadila.

What do you think of the pictures? Would you hire me to take your wedding photos?

From last Friday to Sunday, PIKOM PC Fair came to town. On Saturday, I decided to check out the wares on sale. It wasn’t a case of casual booth-hopping. I was actually looking for a specific equipment; a fan and heatsink combo for my aging (but still useful) Athlon Thunderbird processor. The processor may be old, but it runs on the still pretty common Socket A architecture.

So there I was, just in time to see the doors open for the 100 or so early birds (not really that early since the fair starts at 11:00 am). Surely I can find the heatsink of my dreams, right?

Well, sadly that was not the case. There were probably over a hundred readily built PCs on sale. There were probably just as many notebook computers as well. However, it was never my intention to buy any of those products.

I then saw booths from a couple of famous PC component vendors and decided to check them out. They have everything from processors, RAM, video cards, casings, portable hard drives and the ever present USB thumb drives. Hell, you can see hundreds of USB thumb drives wherever you’re looking during PC Fair. So prevalent were USB thumb drives, they probably should use it as a mascot!

As I went booth-hopping, it dawned on me that the odds for me to find a vendor who has a heatsink for sale was as much a me being struck by an 8GB USB thumb drive.

I then took a step back and looked around me. I noticed that the prices for hardware that remotely interested me was about the same as retail. I found it hard to find any component that was priced below market rate anyway. Motherboards, RAM modules, VGA cards, hard disks… all sold at retail prices!

So were there no deals at PC Fair? Sure they were; for mice, keyboards, headphones, combo card readers, printers… basically items that techies like me couldn’t give a hoot about. I concluded that PIKOM PC Fairs are not targeted at people like me. These PC fairs are probably used more as a way to offload excess peripherals (especially USB thumb drives).

Perhaps it’s better to rename this event to PIKOM Peripheral Fair… and use a USB thumb drive as the mascot!

As for my heatsink? I got one from Landmark IT Mall just across the road. Bleh!

Hutan Bandar is one of the rare places of green tranquility in Johor Bahru. It spans over 32 hectares and is maintained by MBJB (Johor Bahru City Council). Translated to English, Hutan Bandar means “City Forest”. In the deeper parts of Hutan Bandar, you would literally feel disconnected from the hustle and bustle of JB. It’s a really strange, yet calming feeling to have, especially over the weekend after a full week of corporate battles and mental drain.

Some of the facilities available at Hutan Bandar are:

  • Lots of lush green flora.
  • Seven scenic lakes.
  • Children’s playgrounds.
  • Jungle Trek.
  • Exercise facilities.
  • Camping site.
  • Children’s swimming pool.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken during my last visit to Hutan Bandar.

A Japanese style bridge leading to the main pathway of Hutan Bandar.

A Japanese style bridge leading to the main pathway of Hutan Bandar.

View of the lush greenery near the biggest lake in Hutan Bandar.

View of the lush greenery near the biggest lake in Hutan Bandar.

Stone dolphins spouting water at the children’s pool

Stone dolphins spouting water at the children’s pool

Paved pathway to the playground and jungle trek.

Paved pathway to the playground and jungle trek.

Full size images are available upon request.

All pics shot with my trusty Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX5 digital camera.