PART11. Hysteria and hallucination while learning Silat

Later in the week Guru Azlan took us and the harimau group into Quantan. We parked by the huge mosque where people were going for afternoon prayer. Hundreds of people walking up to the mosque the call to prayer booming over a loud-speaker. I have become very fond of this call as it gives your day some structure. Especially in the morning when you hear that haunting voice speaking a foreign language. It reminds me which chapter of the day I am in.

Quantan state mosque


We were going to visit the Malaysian cultural office. Guru Azlan took us into a building and up the stairs into a long conference room with a table and chairs. We sat down and were brought a curry meal and fruit. After eating a projection screen was put up beside us and a young Malay man stood up looking very nerves and he was sweating profusely. The young man began to narrate the slide show which was shown on the projector. The pictures were of old Malaysian paintings, artifacts, temples and people doing Silat. Unfortunately his English was very poor and none of us could understand what he was saying.


I was suddenly overcome by the unstoppable giggles. The visit to the Malaysian cultural office had been unexpected and everyone was so austere and formal. The young man kept speaking is a shaking voice with abominable pronunciation. The harimau group didn’t know what was going on either; some of them couldn’t speak English very well. They just sat there looking confused but trying to be polite.

 My hysteria seemed to infect Vin and Lian which only made it worse. I tried so very hard not to laugh audibly and I had to clutch my mouth tightly to stop it coming out. Of course as anyone knows this just makes things so much worse and the odd snort or quiet giggle slipped out.


It only got worse as after the speech we stood up and shock everyone’s hand which took about 15 minutes and then we took pictures with the president of the Malaysian cultural office and we were told by Guru Azlan that now we were all trustees to the art of Silat and the royal palace. Then we shock hands again.


At the Cultural office in Quantan. Lian far left, Guru George,President at the Cultural office, Guru Azlan, Vin, Tim

Vin and myself trying hard to control our giggling

Myself and Lian have got it under control for the moment but Vin is finding it hard


 I tried so hard not to look at Vin or Lian but they too were finding it hard to control their hysteria and in fact some of the harimau group were infected now and they too were added to the list of people I tried not to look at.


Looking back now I wonder what the people at the office must have thought. I do feel ashamed that on this occasion which was meant to be so significant I was in such a state.


We left and went to a TV and radio recording studio where we performed the lock 3 form on a large stage next to a tall glass window. A camera crew surrounded us and filmed our performance. After that we all walked up to the second floor and met one of the radio hosts who asked Guru Azlan to feature on his talk show. Guru Azlan and Guru George the instructor of the Harimau group went into the studio and so did Vin. I was so relieved to be away from Guru Azlan for a moment as I was just dying to let out my laughter.


I suppose the seriousness of being at the Malaysian cultural office had made me nervous and an attack of the giggles had followed. Now that Guru Azlan was out of ear shot I let it all out. Tears came to my eyes as I laughed uncontrollably. I laughed even more when we started listening to Vin speaking on the radio when the host asked him what he thought of Silat. All I can remember is at one point Vin actually said ‘’ I feel like I am Silat’’ and that was enough to send me off again.

Vin is Silat! our room in Quantan



We spent the next few days training and on the last day we went to the hotel which the harimau group was staying at. It was a huge 5 star hotel with a luxurious swimming pool, much more desirable than the green one at our resort. Guru George and his students invited Vin, Lian and myself to train with them. They taught us their own style. The harimau Silat has movements which imitate the actions of a Tiger.

The swiss garden resort in Quantan where Guru George and his Harimau students stayed

The moves are extra low, involving sweeps executed on the group. Whereas Guru Azlan teaches locks slowly Guru George teaches them quickly and aggressively. One particular set I enjoyed involved grabbing your opponents neck smashing it on your knee and turning them around and biting their Adams apple or nose. Guru George even imitated spitting out the mouthful.


We practiced next to the beach by the hotel. Another move I was most impressed with was a kick I had never seen before. It was similar to a low Thai boxing roundhouse kick but instead of kicking the side of the leg you cock your leg and drive it into the front of your opponents leg and when you make contact you extend your leg and slice across theirs. I was practicing with one of the better harimau students taking it in turns to kick each other. It became unbearably painful having him drill his shin into the front of my leg again and again.


It was a breath of fresh air to train outside and with a more relaxed atmosphere and I felt I got to know some of the harimau people more in that short time than I had over the few weeks we have been training with them.
Guru George told us about a man who came and challenged him at his school. He was very rude and insisted that Guru George fight him, He accepted the challenge and the man came at him with a baton out of the blue and Guru George kicked him in the nuts so hard it split his scrotum open then Guru George grabbed his neck and broke it. He now has a court case on his hands.


It was sad to say goodbye to the Harimau group and we exchanged emails and they invited us to go and train with them some day. When we were walking to the car park Guru Azlan recognized one of his friends who practiced Silat and there and then in the dark car park he gave us a demonstration of his forms. There were similar to the Lian padukan forms, quick short strikes but this man looked like he was about to explode. With tense shoulder and holding his breath be machine-gunned through the moves as if his life depended on it.



That night I had a waking dream that Guru George and some of his students were attacking me I could clearly see them even though my eyes were open and I was conscious. I was lying down and I began to kick and claw at them, defending myself and I got to my feet and defeated them. For a moment I stood and looked at Guru George and he looked at me. He was smiling.


It was only the next day that I realized what a strange hallucination it had been. I have always been subject to sleep walking. When I do it I feel fully awake and my eyes are open. I can move my body but I cannot really see what is around me. The real world is there but it’s weak and far away and hallucinations crowd my vision. I remember one worrying time in China when I was sleep walking, I knew that I had to go out. So I came out from under the mosquito net and walked to the second floor window and opened it. I was already half way out of the window when Sarah woke up and asked me what I was doing ‘’I am going out’’ I said matter of factly. Thankfully Sarah didn’t let me go out.

My waking dreams almost always are connected with what I have been doing the day before although a frequent and incredibly annoying reoccurring waking dream involves me taking all the sheets and pillow covers off and then trying to put them back on again. I will sometimes fully wake up holding my sheets amidst a mass of blankets and pillows.


So our time with Guru Azlan had come to an end. We packed our things up from the resort and he drove us to the bus station. We said a sad farewell to Guru Azlan and got the long chilly air con bus back to Penang Island. It’s been a very good experience. Meeting new people, trying out new styles getting to know Lian and Vin better. Swimming, eating, sleep deprivation, holding my breath till my head hurts and shaking a lot of hands.


PART361 More about Arika and visiting the seaside

Thursday, 5th, May, 2011. In the afternoon I walked to the library to read comic books. I met Arika the Japanese girl who was going to live with us but decided to stay elsewhere reading cooking magazines when I entered the building “ hello Tim I am looking for a place to stay do you have anywhere to stay?” she instantly asked me with a winning smile.

Arika is a most interesting being. When I first met her, her quirky complaining was rather charming and unusual but after a few weeks of constant moaning and me watching her methodically alienate everyone she came into contact with I soon lost interest. I would like to think that I am a patient person and I did my best to be friendly and helpful. But there are just some people who have a professional knack of make you not like them.

 About a week ago as we were leaving work I saw Arika walking home. I joined her and began listening to her complain about the old woman in the camp site who was bullying her. I tried to cheer her up and told her she should go to the Mt Ruapehu interview, she knew nothing about it and after some persuading she decided to go. I asked some other friends if they could give her a lift down and I arranged for her to go down at the same time as us.

When we met her in Ohakune near Mt Ruapehu it was in a hostel. Sarah and I were there to buy a discount card which works in BBH and BnBs in New Zealand. Arika was talking to the owner. We went up to her and said hello and I told her the directions to the place where the interviews were taking place. Then we bought our discount card and left. A few hours later we see Arkia on the street and she says she got a job after talking to the interview people.

Skip a few days later when we arrive back from our interview trip and I see Arika for the first time since meeting her in Ohakune. “I am so annoyed with you Tim, when you came into the hostel I was asking for a job there, I was so close and you came in and ruined it for me”

Now I may have been way off the mark but I was expecting more of a “Thanks for giving me the info about the interview and arranging a lift down for me”. No such luck. I looked down at her smiled and walked away. I washed my hands of her.

So back to the library and Arika without even the token formalities of starting a conversation she was trying to get me to help her. When I tell her I don’t know any place where she can stay she sighs and looks at me as if it’s all my fault. I still find her fascinating, she is obviously a very intelligent girl, and just from talking to her you can tell she has a sharp mind but at the same time she is so socially retarded.

Her attitude is so peculiar; I cannot even get annoyed at her. I left her alone and after an excited browse I found a DC graphic novel, on the way to my seat I also found a large photograph book with many black and white pictures of Maoris. The pictures were of that stiff austere fashion, where people pose as if for painting, looking so serious. The Maoris with their tattooed faces, bush cloths and spears looked like other worldly characters. Living in a completely different world.

Just when I had fully entered and settled into the DC universe, head craned, back curved as I almost dove into the comic Sarah entered the library and told me that we were going to the beach. “Oh yes” I said and put the books back and we exited the building together and got into Josephs car and with Robbie and Iano we drove to Papamoe beach.

When we arrived we parked and I got out of the car and skipped onto the beach. The waves were wild, a ghostly ocean mist hung over the water and it crept onto the beach. The sun was going down and the beams of deep red light reflected on the wet sand, Mt Monganui more of a sharp hill than a mountain was visible in the distance. We walked together testing the frigid water and we met up with Sebastian and Kala on a large rotten log further down the beach.

After a brief sit down I decided to go swimming. Robbie joined me and we ran down to the sea and entered the fray. The waves were very big. Or at least big for me. Surfers zipped past us or struggled to get back out to sea after a run. I fought the waves with all my might, sometimes jumping into them, other times digging my heal into the sand underfoot and bracing myself against the breakers. This was fun but so tiring, at one point I jumped into a wave at a very creative angle and was pulled off balance and underwater. I tumbled in chaos for what seemed like an eternity and eventually after grazing my left buttock on the sea bed and hanging onto my underpants with my left foot I reemerged into the air. After realizing that you cannot beat the sea (seriously you really can’t) I tried a more adaptive approach to play. Diving under the breakers as they came for me and jumping up and riding over the smooth towering waves. The glittering light, the epic waves and the brisk lively water transported my to paradise and I let the sea push and pull me.

I kept an eye on Robbie who seemed to be having a lot less fun than me. I swam toward him and he said in a whisper “ I have hurt my leg” he was just bobbing up and down, the waves slapping him in the face, he would go under for a frightening amount of time and reemerge gasping wide eyed. I grabbed him under the arms and began to swim with him back to shore. We were not far out but there was a mean current ripping our feet, we were only up to our shoulders but with Robbie who I was fast realizing couldn’t swim and the waves constantly exhausting us with their assault I began to wonder if we were in trouble. At one point we went through a point where the sand bed slopped down and became deeper even though we were moving inland, I was underwater tip toeing fully submerged arm stretched upwards my hand cupping Robbie’s arm pit keeping him afloat. For some reason I heard my Dads voice in my head “if your ever at sea and someone is drowning don’t try and save them they will drag you down, it’s incredibly hard and tiring”

I remembered that you cannot beat the sea so I relaxed and floated to the surface and began to slowly swim to shore, telling Robbie to do the same. In no time we were back on land. Robbie’s injury was in fact an old sports injury, I think his knee was sprained or something. After dropping Robbie back on shore with our friend I went out again and rode the waves, every moment as the sun set the view became more and more breathe taking. I became tired again and swam back in and covered myself in sand with the help of Sebastian and Iano. The light disappeared almost as if someone had turned it off at a switch and the tiniest slither of a moon was visible, the Milky Way a belt of light arched over our heads our friends now black salutes in the pail night.