The Backstreet Boys Sepak Takraw Championship

Behind the wall of spectators, is an exciting game of sepak takraw. The community organises some informal events for the special day of Eid.

Fittingly, one of the events is Sepak Takraw, a favourite sport played here on Sundays. Sepak takraw is a kind of foot volleyball played with a woven rattan ball.

Some historians believe the Burmese ‘Chinlone’ artform (single-player takraw-style kicking) was derived from Cuju (catch ball), a form of military exercise from ancient China circa 3rd century BC.

Given that it is a public holiday today, many of the migrant workers are not just here to support their teams but also to catch up with fellow villagers from home. It is serious competition for the teams and just as serious socialising for the supporters.

Public holiday breaks are fewer for them as not all holidays are recognised by their employers. Many workers may also opt to work overtime for additional wages.

This ‘village’ consists of 90 percent Muslim migrants from Myanmar and because it is Eid-ul-Fitr, there is a festive and cheerful atmosphere all round.

Back to the game; Tekong Karin passes the ball to Obai who scored with a tumbling somersault. The third (hidden) player is Tun Tun Min.

Seeing the crowd’s enthusiasm and the thunderous cheers form both sides, I asked some of the spectators who’s playing who? They replied “Sama Kampung” or “from the same village”.

Having witnessed their skills and passion for the game, I am not surprised their countrymen back home are moving beyond village championships. Myanmar won the Gold for men’s doubles in the recent SEA Games.

Next: How I was inducted into a Rohingya Rave Party.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f9, 1/400 sec.

The Wall

He made another turn into yet another dodgy back lane and I can hear a roar this time. Around the corner, was a wall of people, several in traditional Burmese longyi sarong. They were watching something.

Hameed turned to look at me before assimilating into the crowd. As we both panted and try to catch our breath, he shouted: You go ahead and enjoy watching. Don’t go asking strange questions again, OK?

I gave him a silent thumbs-up sign and pushed my way gently through the crowd. Everyone allowed me through, with some urging those in front to make way. Maybe because I was the only outsider or they understood my curiosity.

Strangely, and probably by co-incidence, the men were mostly dressed in red, blue and white: the tri-colours of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma flag used from 1974 to 2010. I have questions.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1250, f9, 1/250 sec.


I spent a weird but wonderful Hari Raya with the Burmese Muslim community in KL. It started with me visiting my Rohingya friend Hameed for Eid.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t home when I went calling. His housemate suggested I take a walk in the neighborhood, and I should find him.

So off I went walking and ran into this old cock by the kerb. When I asked whose chicken is this, people became nervous, agitated, turned away or bolted. Strange, right?

Finally, one brave guy whispered from my back: What are you doing???

It turned out to be my friend Hameed. Haha.

Hameed: You are late. We gave your food to the cats.

Me: Is this your cock?

Hameed: No. This is a fighting cock.

Me: Cock fighting is illegal in this country, you do know?

Hameed: Why do you think that guy is cracking his knuckles?

Me: I noticed.

Hameed: I think this cock is retired. So chill, man.

Me: Ok. At least, you guys didn’t eat him.

Hameed: Maybe, we’ll eat only one of its drumsticks later.

Me: Wow. You are appreciative of the cockerel winning a few fights?

Since I am outnumbered, like 1000 to 1 here, I decided not to pursue the matter further.

Abruptly, Hameed said he has a championship game to go to. Before I finished saying the non-abbreviated WTF, he ran off. I followed him. More mind blowing stuff ahead.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 5000, f9, 1/400 sec.

Sun, Moon And A Star

Selamat Hari Raya.

Warmest wishes to Muslim friends and followers in Malaysia and from around the world celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr.

Sunset photographed at a mosque in Gombak yesterday.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 50, f22, 1/8000 sec.


Historically, the Minangkabau people of Sumatra were of a migrating (merantau) culture. Many left home to start new lives in other Indonesian cities, as well as at regional countries. Soon, Padang restaurants were everywhere.

But there was one problem when they wanted to take food along their long journeys through rivers and oceans. Refrigerators weren’t available in the 16th century.

So the enterprising Minangkabaus came up with Rendang, a form of drier curry meat. The special recipe used a combination of spices and cooking methods that resulted in a dish that will last when stored for weeks at room temperatures.

There are now, of course, many regional and different adaptations in both dry and wet versions. The rendang curry, be it chicken, beef or mutton, goes very well with lemang.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 2500, f13, 1/160 sec.