By Anthony Dylan

We leave 2020 and enter into an unknown 2021. The past year gave us only the full months of January and February which became the only time where norms of the past existed. We have then had 289 days of new normal (due to the MCO, CMCO and RMCO) since 18th March 2020 up till 31st December 2020.

Businesses and work have been affected and how we live have also been adjusted. What seemed a must do for leisure, has become a luxury. Times spent at home have increased and the chance to go out into the outdoors one which is most welcomed and looked forward to.

But people are adaptive and resilient. Many would find ways and new opportunities when the terms are against them. Some however continue to whine and demand adjustments and waivers of responsibilities in the name of survival. Yet, they never put effort to invest in the required adjustments for the future. Attitudes and character show their true selves.

But we all made it this far leaving the year 2020 which has become a historical year. Not one of Vision 2020 for a fully developed nation, but one for a global pandemic. At home, politicians grapple with reputation and allow themselves to show their infinite greed for power.

It is already January 2021. In just over a month, on 12th and 13th February, the Chinese New Year Celebrations would be here. But before that, Malaysia would also see Thaipusam on 28th January. We have been informed by the Government that the State of Selangor (except for a few green zones), Sabah and Kuala Lumpur would have the CMCO extended until 14th January 2020. At all other areas in Malaysia, unless specified would have the RMCO extended until 31st March 2021.

The domestic tourism industry has been kick-started when inter-district and inter-state travels were allowed. However, this is not so much so for Sarawak as the government still has strict 14 day quarantine procedures for everyone entering Sarawak. The only difference is that if you are found negative in the Day 8 swab test, you are allowed to continue with quarantine at home with the same wrist band. Recently, the Sarawak Government has announced that this procedure would continue until 31st March 2021.

My trips in 2020 had been limited to Kuantan twice, Pulau Ketam and a few weeks ago, to Sekinchan. I had to throw away the planned trip overseas this year as well as two trips back to Kuching for the mid year and Christmas. Regardless, we managed to discover the beauty of Sg Lembing when I went to Kuantan and the interesting vehicle-less island of Pulau Ketam. Getting there via boat was an experience in itself. With that day trip becoming my barometer for new short excursions, we also took a half day drive to Ulu Yam to visit the “World of Phalaenopsis”. It is an orchid farm with a quaint café placed by the man made lily pond filled with ducks and surrounded by the beautiful flowers.

Sekinchan was a place we heard so much about. However, this plan was postponed from the earlier weeks due to the ban and restrictions on inter-district and inter-state travels. We took a day trip just after Christmas with some tips for the itinerary made from information gathered from the internet. It took us roughly about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the heart of Sekinchan from Subang Jaya. This route was provided by WAZE and it takes you past a few toll collection plazas.

Our first stop was the ‘Ah Ma House’.  It has a nicely decorated interior filled with memorabilia. An old television and a radio complete the living room setting. The various meat safes behind the cashier depicting the old kitchen heighten the experience. One of the walls is adorned with old confectionary moulds. Before you get confused, this is not a museum but a house with some really cool collection of memorabilia and filled with goodies to purchase. It looks like a house cum tuck shop. At the outside, you would find a yellow vespa and an iron swing. Just beside, you would get folks making the famed kuih kapit for sale. Do get one tin and choose the handmade one. There is another which is machine made but for nostalgia, do choose the obvious. The taste and crispiness was as good as memory.

We made our way up towards the ‘Mango King’ stall passing by the newly harvested paddy fields. If you want to see green fields head out here in March / April and September / October. Otherwise, the golden yellow fields can be seen in May and November. If you come here like me in December, all would have been harvested and some fields are being ploughed to be prepared for re-planting. The Mango King stall has an awesome mango smoothie which is flavoured with bits of asam boi (sour plum).

We then headed towards the ‘Nan Tian Temple’ which we read has commanding views from one of the Pagodas. However, when we reached there, the entrance was closed due to some renovation works. The sky was getting darker as we headed back towards the ‘Paddy Gallery’. The ‘Paddy Gallery’ is also a working rice milling and processing factory. The gallery is temporary closed during the CMCO. More information can be obtained from their website at www.plsgroup.com.my. But by its side, there is a nice paddy nursery called ‘Paddy Fun’ where great photos can be taken. The main walkway is covered with old harvested stalks of paddy. You could also buy Sekinchan grown rice varieties from the shop in the factory.

Our next stop was the wishing tree at Pantai Redang. The road there took us past fishing villages which would make lovely photo opportunities. After walking around the beach area and taking the mandatory shots of the wishing tree, we made one last stop for coffee.

We took the opportunity to visit the famous ‘N.16 Heritage Bus’ café in the middle of one of the paddy fields. It not only has a great nostalgic interior but also has great views of the paddy fields. Do note though that the term of entry is to spend a minimum of RM15 per adult. This is easily done with a drink and a slice of cheesecake. The trip home took us on a longer route as we tried the trunk roads. It was experienced though that the stretch in  Kapar needs some work as it is quite bumpy.

As we enter 2021, let us hope that this year shows us how to adapt further and be more concerned about health safety of the community. It is time to take a different look at what life means to each of us. Do stay safe and best wishes.

God Bless.