My English Teacher - My Role in Her Breakdown

on Sunday, June 29, 2008

I am sure we all have our favorite teachers; they are the ones who somehow filled us with wonder and inspiration about learning and help develop our zeal to excel. Well, my English teacher for Form 1 to Form 3, Mrs. K, was not one of those teachers. (Form1 to Form 3 corresponds to ages 12 to 14).

Instead, I felt that she understood teaching and English in a very narrow context and did not at all encourage her students to wander far from what she perceived as the official playing field. This was particularly the case when it came to creative composition or essay writing. For me and two others, which she would refer to as the Brat Pack, creative composition was an opportunity to be, well, "creative". This was, to Mrs. K, out of bounds.

My two other Brat Pack members were James and Charles. James was a quiet individual, what the girls might call the dark and brooding type. He liked to play the misunderstood teenager but he also had a sharp wit that sometimes came across well in his writing. Charles was an anarchist at heart and loved roughing it up with authority figures like Mrs. K. I completed the trio. At that time, I was reading books and novels somewhat ahead of most of my classmates and my mind was roiling with new ideas and concepts that I did not learn from school. In retrospect, I know now that I was still a dumb kid but at that time, I thought I was smart. Also by this time, my Hippie tendencies were already manifesting and I tended to spiritualise things and to make everything into a search for inner peace.

Well, to Mrs. K, we were pretty much the unholy Trio. Creative composition would be the weapon of choice and our classroom was to be the battlefield. She just did not like the style of our writings. I was always too metaphysical for her taste. James was always too dark and Charles just too weird. She would often single the three of us out and we would be made to stand in front of the class. She would tell everyone that we had submitted the worst compositions from the previous assignments and we would be forced to read our compositions to the class. It was her way of teaching the class what was unacceptable composition and was meant to be a form of punishment by embarrassment to us.

In this aspect though, it was a complete failure. I was quite shameless and did not at all mind reading in front of the class. Charles reveled in the opportunity to demonstrate his defiance of authority openly. James just became darker.

I remember one composition assignment was to write an essay about "The Building". Mrs. K instructed us to describe the building, its building materials and its function. It was to be a descriptive composition.

I decided to write about a young boy who liked to slip up to the roof of his apartment building to catch the sun-rise and at the same time feel at ease with the sounds and smells of the market stalls setting up in the street below. As you can see, very much in line with my "seeking the inner peace" phase. I did describe the building and its surroundings but only in the context of how it affected the emotions of the boy. (Mrs. K's Verdict : Out of context. Essay was supposed to be about the building and not about a boy or the nearby market and what's with all this touchy-feel-y stuff. Do you need to see a counselor?).

James wrote about an incident in the building, a suicide attempt, and how the occupants of the building reacted while the ambulance staff prepared to take the victim away. (Mrs. K's verdict: Out of context. It should be about the building, not about its occupants. And why a suicide attempt? Why are you so dark? I am making an appointment for you to see the counselor.)

Charles wrote about how the building's location near the path of a political rally was ideal for the local traid gang to use as a base to try to carry out the assassination of a local politician. However, the police found out and sent in some special police commandos but their presence was accidentally revealed and that resulted in a running gun battle between the crooks who were trying to escape and the police. As the fight raged along the stairwell, numerous building residents and a number of sub-plots get caught in the crossfire. (Mrs. K's Verdict: What?!?!?! I am not even going to bother with the counselor. You watch too much TV and are beyond hope!)

At the end of Form 3, we had to sit for a major national school examination. In those days it was called the LCE or Lower Cambridge Exam. There were two English papers that we were required to take. Mrs. K boldly predicted that none of the Brat Pack would score a distinction(highest category) in either English paper. In fact she predicted that we would barely pass. Something even possessed her to say in front of the whole class that she would eat her own shoes if any of us scored a distinction in English.

As it turned out, the three of us were the only students in that class to score distinctions in both the English papers. Ecstasy! Vindication! Jubilation! None of us ever really went up to her and challenged her about eating her shoes and she never raised that subject. In fact, she positively avoided us the rest of our days in that school.

And that is my story about my English Teacher and my role in her Breakdown.

It's Dragonfruit

on Thursday, June 26, 2008

The answer to the question in the last post is Dragonfruit. The picture showed a field of dragonfruit plants being cultivated near the coastal area of Sepang in Malaysia. I like to thank the male readers for their imaginative contributions and suggestions which included specially modified rubber trees to mutated space aliens. My personal favorite was Mark's suggestion.

"This is a bootleg photo of the harsh conditions plants in plant prison experience. Locked down in their individual units only to have the breezes and light of day for succor. OH to be free!"

If I had a prize to give out, it would have been for your creative suggestion, Mark.

The ladies seem fixated on it being aloe vera plants. This was quite close to the truth as it is in fact from the cactus family. It is however a pitaya or a dragonfruit plant.

As the pictures show, the pulp can either be white or red. This strange plant is a actually a native of Mexico and South America but is cultivated widely also in South East Asia. It is touted as a health food which is rich in vitamins, roughage and anti-oxidants. All I am saying is that it makes a weird looking fruit drink and if you have too much, your urine can turn pink!

What is This?

on Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dear Readers,

What is this? Your wisdom is needed to help explain this picture. My own immediate thought is that this is a picture showing the use of illegal "alien" labour to make cheap tires.........but I could be wrong. I look forward to reading your suggestions and thoughts on the matter.

Your Lazy Blogger,


The Young Squirrel Chant

on Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Malay culture is a rich and romantic one which has interwoven into its fabric, threads of Thai, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Arabic and even Western cultures due to Malaysia's position along the ancient sea routes of trade.

A personal favorite of mine is an art form called "Dikir Barat" which is widely practiced in the state of Kelantan. It is widely believed to have been introduced to Kelantan from adjacent southern Thailand. "Dikir" means a prayer or a ritual while "Barat" means west. Indeed Dikir Barat is a style of singing which is accompanied by an almost ritualistic chanting and southern Thailand lies to the west of Kelantan.

I even joined a club to learn how to sing Dikir Barat when I was in school but alas, that was many moons ago and I am no longer able to remember enough to sing it. However, I thought you might like to hear how this art form sounds like.

I have chosen a song called "Anak Tupai" which might not surprise you means, "Young Squirrel". The song is about a young squirrel with a bushy tail and empty stomach wandering about in search of food and enjoys the fruits from people's orchards. The people set a trap for it and eventually poison it. The squirrel's parents go looking for it and find it dead. Not a happy ending for the squirrel I fear but the song does talk about how man doesn't spare each other from violence so therefore, it was too much to hope that they would spare that one squirrel.

Enjoy the two video versions of the song. I should also mention that this is not in the formal Malay language but the colloquial dialect of the Kelantan state.

The Gentleman Gangster

on Thursday, June 19, 2008

When I was growing up, each neighborhood, community or village was the territory of one criminal gang or another. They were busy with their various illegal activities which often took the form of syndicates running illegal gambling syndicates, smuggling alcohol or other contraband (drug trafficking was not yet rife) and the occasionally demanding protection money from businesses.

The strange thing was, these gangs often saw themselves as guardians of their territories or communities. For example, they never robbed from their own community. If anyone tried to rob a member of the community or break into a house in the neighborhood, you could even count on the local gangsters to help in capturing the culprit and almost certainly beating him up. They were strangely protective in that way. Sure, they made their money from criminal activities but they took care of their neighborhood and protected it from outsiders. In fact, a common way to address a gangster was "Tai kor" which meant big brother and indeed they were our big brother.

When I first started to work, one of my early jobs was to follow a team of health and medical officers to rural villages and to test the microbiological quality of their well water. I also had to carry out a survey and ask the home owners some questions on their attitudes and habits with regards to health issues. Some of these places were located in "New Villages".

"New Villages" were villages that were formed primarily of Chinese that were forcibly relocated by the British military into locations that could be guarded against Communist guerrilla activity during Malaysia's struggle with the Communist Insurgency of the 1950's and 60's. The gangs there grew very protective of their villages from any outsiders.

Anyway, before venturing into these New Villages to carry out our door to door medical survey and well check, we had to get permission from the police and the local political party officials. Our team leader was also smart enough to know that we also needed to inform the local gang of our purpose and get their permission too.

On one occasion, we failed to meet the local Tai Kor and get his permission. After we had visited a few houses, the gang obviously learnt that there was a group of people moving around in their territory. As we were walking down a lane between the houses, our team of five were accosted by ten armed men. Five were in front of us and five behind so there was no chance of escape.

I remember thinking that I was too young to die. My group leader bravely went forward to meet the gangsters. The leader of the gangsters wanted to know why we were bothering the women in their homes while their husbands were away at work. My leader hastily explained our purpose and said we were here to help improve the health of the people. After a few more questions about our equipment and about our survey, the gangsters seemed satisfied that we were not a threat to their community but their leader slapped ours hard on the face for failing to show proper respect and asking their permission before going into the community. Then they let us go. Needless to say, once we got out of that lane, we took the rest of the day off and never finished the survey.

Anyway, the gangsters of those days had a code which was in their own way strangely chivalrous and if you were a member of their community, you could count on their help if you were in trouble.

I say this because today's gangster is no longer a gentleman and no longer follows a code to help those in his territory or community. Sadly, a recent incident reinforced this point. A young man returned home at 3 am after finishing work as a restaurant worker to find his mother suffering a serious asthma attack and having difficulty breathing. He left her with an older brother and ran out to the main road to try to flag down a car to try to get her to hospital. The first car went by without stopping. The second car stopped. There were four men inside and they offered to take him to get help. Instead, they took him to a cemetery 300 m away and beat him up and stole his handphone and money. The unconscious man was discovered by neighbors. Both he and his mother were sent to hospital. He suffered several broken ribs but his mother passed away as a result of the delay in getting her treatment.

What kind of person/s does this? Not rendering help during a medical emergency and instead robbing the helpless and causing death. The Tai Kor's of old would not have stood for this.

What Did You Want To Be?

on Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Do you remember being asked that question when you were a kid? Perhaps you even had the misfortune of having to write a homework essay on that very topic. Do you remember what you said then?

I seem to recall, at least in Malaysia, the choice was fairly straightforward. There were only a few career paths that our parents had tried to indoctrinate us towards since an early age. The number one most popular choice of parents was for their children to be a doctor. Being an engineer was a close second, with lawyer third and so forth. Children being children, we had our own set of priorities. Movie Star was our number one choice.

As we grow up, it is said that our priorities change as our world view changes. I seem to recall that my very first venture into the realm of "what I want to be when I grew up" was quite simply to be rich! I wanted to be a millionaire. It did not matter how. The details were not important as long as I was filthy rich.

If I sound shallow here, please remember that I was only a small kid at that time. Of course, as I grew older and more matured, I refined what I wanted to be. Yes, I grew to realise that wealth wasn't everything. That was when I decided that I would be a rich and famous movie star. After all, what is wealth if you weren't famous and had people watching you flaunt your gazillions. Still later, I would further modify this to be a rich and famous movie star but one who was still humble and remembered his old friends from the old neighborhood. Kind of like how J-Lo is still Jenny from the know(sarcasm). Actually, I was more influenced by the wisdom of one Linus van Pelt (Peanuts by C. Schultz) who once declared that he wanted to be a rich and famous but humble country doctor.

I guess sometime after that, I was brainwashed by teachers who kept insisting we learn little sayings like "money can't buy happiness." I was impressed with the efficiency of their brainwashing techniques. That started me on the thought that what I really wanted to be was a psychologist and play around with people's minds. I remember telling my brother that I wanted to go around in a white coat, give people electric shocks and inject them with medication. That's when he explained that you need to be a psychiatrist to treat patients with electric shock and drugs. When I found out that psychiatrists had to complete medicine first before they take up psychiatry, I lost interest. It seemed like too much hard work and study.

Around the time when most of my friends were slowly changing their targets in life from being cowboys, firemen, astronauts or soldiers to doctors, engineers and bankers, I too decided to drop psychology and psychiatry like a hot potato. I was still interested in tinkering with the mind but decided that being a scientist was a lot quicker way to get to play around with the brain. My new goal was to be a rich and famous, Nobel Prize winning but humble scientist.

My parents were alarmed and recruited my extended family and some friends to kidnap me and do an intervention to remove these deviant thoughts from my young mind. At the end of the treatment, I was reciting the mantra...."I want to be a doctor".

So off I went and in due time studied and applied for medical school. Despite good results, I failed to gain entry in the first round. I was given a second interview at some Universities and one offered to consider me for the next year intake. I mulled it over but I decided to take up an offer to study Biochemistry instead. I was very glad I made that decision. As soon as I did, I realised that medicine was never what I wanted.

Biochemistry, however, still opened the possibility of pursuing my long cherished dream of playing around with brains. Mwahahahaha! Of course in the presence of polite company, I would explain it as an interest to understand the inner workings of the most complex organ, the brain.

Reality intervened and I realised that back home in Malaysia, there was zero research in the field of neurobiology or neurochemistry. It was more practical for me to study oleochemistry due to Malaysia's love affair with oil palm, our golden crop. In the end, I settled on Microbiology as there was still a lot of diseases ravaging the country. By now, I had given up on the idea of being rich. Being famous in microbiology is also not all that great cause about the only way you become famous is to discover a new disease and have it named after you. From then on all who suffer the disease and the medical students who have to study the disease for their exams will curse your name as in "The doctor told me that I have that @#*%#@! disease."

My career path took another twist when I went into environmental conservation. That started as a temporary post but has now taken up most of my working life. That being the case, I guess I really don't know what else the future holds. However, I am hoping it will come full circle and make me rich and famous. Yeah, a rich and famous but humble blogger.

Tales from the Forest

on Sunday, June 15, 2008

The equatorial rainforest in Malaysia is said to be the oldest forest in the world. It is a wonderful place busting out with life in a myriad shapes and forms. It can also be a disorientating and scary place. Even hardened scientists who visit the interior regions regularly seem to have lost their veneer of rationality and have given at least token acknowledgment to the traditional beliefs of spirits of the forest. The following is the tale told by one such scientist.

Our story is set on the slopes of Gunung Ledang, the fabled mystical Mount Ophir of legend. A young forest officer was leading his team in the forest to do an inventory of trees and tree species in the low foothills of the mountain. They had been moving around from camp to camp for over two weeks, doing the inventory as they went along. This is hard and relatively boring work which was compounded by the ever suffocating high humidity and heat.

Once they had finished their task, the forest officer decided that for a bit of recreation , the whole team would hike up the trail to the beautiful and cool summit of Gunung Ledang. The team was enthusiastic and they set off. All these men were fit and made good time up the mountain; stopping along the way only briefly to admire the beautiful stands of hill bamboo and for a quick dip in one of the streams.

As they reached higher up, the young forest officer felt very good. He began to pick up his pace and soon overtook all his team members and continued at that pace and began to leave them behind. Even as the gap between him and his team grew, he would stop once in awhile to exhort them to hurry up. Some of the team were men with many years of experience in the forest and the young officer felt elated that as their leader, he could show that he was fitter than the rest.

Soon he had lost contact with the team as he surged on upwards. However, within about 100 metres from the summit, suddenly he felt a sharp pain on his right leg. Thinking it was a cramp or a pulled muscle, he sat down by the side of the path and started to massage the leg. Even though the pain went away, his leg felt strangely weak and he himself felt incredibly tired.

He sat there trying to catch his breath but he was too tired to move. Eventually, his men came by and passed him one by one until all had gone on to the summit. Still, the young officer was not able to move. Eventually, after setting up camp, some of the men had to return down the mountain to carry him and his equipment up to the camp. The young officer could not understand why he felt so weak and tired. After a quick dinner, he just crawled into his tent and slept.

The next day, he woke up and found his strength fully rejuvanated and he was none the worse for wear except that he was profoundly embarrassed that his men had to carry him up the last 100 metres. The trip back down the mountain was fairly uneventful but all the way down, his right leg felt unusually hot especially around the inner thigh area.

When they reached the bottom and made it to their vehicles, he decided to take off his trousers to examine his thigh. To his surprise, he found a large mark on his inner thigh that looked very much like the print of a hand with the fingers and thumbs all fully extended. The print seemed to be impossibly black. One of his senior team member, a wizen and experienced forester, also saw it and immediately placed his boss into the jeep and drove an hour to a nearby village.

At the village, he brought his boss to see the village bomoh or spirit medium. The bomoh looked at the mark and in a voice that sent shivers down both their spines said, "Anak, anak, puteri jumpa adik sombong sayang."

The young officer was profoundly changed by what he heard. He returned to the city and the mark remained with him for over two weeks before it finally faded away.

And what had he heard that had changed him? The bomoh had said "Son, son, the Princess found you to be proud, my love."

By this the young officer felt that he had been taught a lesson in humility by none other than the mythical Princess of the mountain. Squirrel's Believe it or nuts!

Best Song

on Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I was visiting poetikat and she had this innocent looking little meme. Just 7 simple questions and she asked her readers to leave their answers in the comments. Being a simple minded squirrel, I readily followed the instructions. Imagine me typing away on the keyboard to obey poetikat's request, all the while singing a little "tra-la-la-la-la-la" tune from the Smurfs and you should get a sense of the emptiness of my head at that time.

Question 1: Name? Boy, that was easy. A no brainer.

Question2 : Age? That was a bit harder. Involved some mathematics but I am good at maths from counting nuts in my larder. A bit harder on the old noggin, was the debate about whether to tell the truth.

Question 3: Favorite book? Poem? Song? Oh, boy. Gears in brain begin to grind and make awful noises. Book? Can't even remember what books I read last year. Poem? Isn't it good enough that I read poetry once in a blue moon? But to expect me to remember the title and the poet's name, is quite unreasonable. Song? Well, maybe that is more manageable. After all I have all these "tra-la-la-la-la-la" tunes in my head. What is my favorite song?

As it happens, it was not such an easy choice. I mean I love music and there are so many songs that I like. My IPod is full of songs. How do I choose my favorite.......the best. I had to think and think and think and I think I sprained a muscle in the brain.

Finally though, I settled on this song which was written by Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid and was first sung by Bonnie Raitt in 1991. It was a big hit for Bonnie, making it into the Top 20 in the U.S. Pop Charts and Top 10 in the Adult Contemporary Chart. She was asked to perform this song in the 1992 Grammy Awards. The song is " I can't make you love me".

Why did I choose this song? I thought that the words and song were quite unique. It is not about candy canes and rainbows or sloppy sugary romance. It was about the painful, raw and lonely emotions of unrequited love. Yet it was not a blues song which almost elevates suffering on a podium and in doing so trivialises it. This song stands tall by being just very simple and honest. Sad but real. The pain is so strong but life goes on.

In the video below, Bonnie is accompanied by Bruce Hornsby on keyboards.

After I made the choice, I did some web surfing to learn more about the song and found to my surprise that others thought highly of this song too. In an interview, Phil Collins names this as the song that he would have wished that he had written. In 2000, the MOJO magazine invited top songwriters to choose songs along the same criteria and compiled the top 100 songs as chosen by songwriters. "I can't make you love me" came in at number 8. I feel that I have made a good choice.

Here are the top twenty songs. I wonder what is your favorite song and if you agree with the songwriters' choice.

1. In My Life - The Beatles
2. Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
3. Over The Rainbow - Judy Garland
4. Here There And Everywhere - The Beatles
5. Tracks Of My Tears - The Miracles
6. The Times They Are A Changin' -Bob Dylan
7. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
8. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
9. People Get Ready - The Impressions
10. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - The Righteous Brothers
11. Yesterday - The Beatles
12. I Say A Little Prayer - Dionne Warwick
13. God Only Knows - Beach Boys
14. Something - The Beatles;
15. Every Time We Say Goodbye - Nan Wyn; Ella Fitzgerald
16. Fire And Rain - James Taylor; The Isley Brothers
17. Moon River - Andy Williams (Henry Mancini)
18. Stand By Me - Ben E King
19. Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles
20. Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers

So, whatcha think?

Monday Blues

on Sunday, June 08, 2008

Arrrgggggh! Where did the weekend go? Let's see. Had a work related dinner on Friday night. Had to wake up early on Saturday and attended a World Environment Day work related event until 4.30 pm. That was fun involving senior executives of a large multi national company chaperoning children from a home of abandoned or abused children as they went on a nature treasure hunt in the jungle. Still, it was tiring. Saturday evening was spent preparing for church as I was scheduled to lead part of the worship the next day.

Sunday started early again as I prepared for the worship service with our church's team of young musicians. Church service was from 9 to 11.30 am. Church is always a refreshing time of meeting with God but this week it was a bit more stressful since I had to prepare for the worship and song-lead. Went to my office to sort out some work. Went out for lunch with my niece and her husband. Went shopping for groceries. Slept until dinner and now I am blogging.

It's been a busy and tiring weekend which I had very little time for myself. And now, Monday is just minutes away and it will be a very busy week. Hmmmm. Got the Monday Blues....big time.

I wish I had more solitude time this weekend.

Wish I was here...........where everybody knows my name and the drop of amber gold hits the spot.

Or perhaps here .......... where I can feel the refreshingly cool water on a warm day. A balm for body and soul.

The Princess of Gunung Ledang

on Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Malay culture has many interesting stories that have been handed down over the centuries. Some of them are based on historical events and others are more in the form of legends. Sadly, many of these tales are not well known to the average modern city dwelling Malaysian and are perhaps today found only in the libraries of academicians and in the memories of some elders in the remote villages.

However, there are still several enduring legends which are still relatively well known. One of them is the legend of the Princess of Mount Ophir or as she is known in Malay, "Puteri Gunung Ledang". Puteri means "princess" and Gunung Ledang is the Malay name for Mount Ophir. The legend was recently made into a movie and a musical which has greatly helped to keep its magic alive in the people's consciousness.

The legend dates back to the 15th Century at the height of power and prosperity of the Kingdom of Melaka. The Kingdom had grown rich and strong by being an important port of call for trading vessels plying the profitable marine trade route between India and China. In recognition of the power and importance of the kingdom, Sultan Mansur Shah received from China a princess bride and he had another princess bride too from a nearby Kingdom in what is now the island of Java.

Yet this did not satisfy the growing ego of the Sultan and his desire for recognition. Since he considered himself superior to the surrounding kings and sultans, he wanted a queen that no other ordinary king or sultan could possess. To the horror of his advisors, he declared that he wanted to marry the Princess of Mount Ophir.

Now there are many stories about the origin of this Princess and many of them ascribe to her mystical powers and claim her to be more than a mortal being. She lived on the top of the tallest mountain (Mount Ophir) in the south of the Malay Peninsula. It is said that her court consisted only of women that could appear and disappear with the mists on the mountain top and that could become pregnant by the power of the wind that blows there. It is also said that she was protected by tigers which were actually jungle peoples with the power of transformation. The Sultan believed that he had been chosen by God to be the sultan and having the Princess of Mount Ophir as his queen would give legitimacy to his claim of divine appointment.

He called on his most trusted warrior, Hang Tuah, who is a legendary warrior in his own right, and sent him on the mission to secure the princess' hand in marriage for the Sultan. Hang Tuah and his men went up the mysterious mountain and after some adventure, found the Princess and her court and conveyed the Sultan's desire for marriage.

The legend tells of how the Princess really does not want to marry Sultan Mansur but in recognition of his power decided not to embarrass him by saying no. Instead, she tells Hang Tuah and his men to tell the Sultan that he must first provide a suitable dowry. She requested the following; a bridge of gold and silver from the foothills of Melaka to the top of Mount Ophir, seven trays full of the hearts of mosquitoes, seven trays full of the hearts of mites, a bowl of water wrung from dried areca nuts, a bowl of tears from virgins, a cup of the Sultan's blood and a bowl of the blood of the Sultan's baby son.

When Hang Tuah heard this, he knew immediately that these conditions would never be fulfilled and felt that he had failed the Sultan. Rather than face the Sultan in disgrace, he threw his magical keris (curved dagger) Taming Sari into the Duyung River and vowed never to return to Melaka unless the keris floated to the surface. With that, some stories say that the mighty warrior that had kept Melaka safe from her enemies, faded into the mists of time.

Nevertheless, the Princess' dowry demands are delivered to the Sultan. The legend says that the Sultan was so driven with his desire to claim the Princess' hand, he actually sets about fulfilling the dowry conditions. He actually builds the golden bridge and collects all those wonderful items. However, when it come to collecting a bowl of blood from his infant son, the Sultan realises the baby would die in the process and finally realises that he is not able to make that sacrifice.

The legend tells how this mad endeavour had bankrupted the Kingdom. The Sultan himself was a spent man and withdrew himself more and more from the real world. In this manner, the mighty Kingdom of Melaka was fatally weakened and finally fell when Hang Tuah was not there to defend it when the Portugese fleet attacked in 1511.

Although this legend may sound fantastical to the modern listener, it is actually hard to tell myth from truth as it is so well woven with historical events and actual physical locations. Elements of the story are also found within the texts of serious historical records written by the conquering Portugese and even the Arab and Chinese traders. Believers will tell you that final definitive proof is still available in the form of the remains of the golden bridge now hidden by the jungle and Hang Tuah's keris lying at the bottom of a dark pool of water on the Duyung River. Squirrel's Believe it or Nuts.

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