on't we all love home cook meals even though they dont muster that same contrasting flavours like Nando’s?

And have you ever wondered why exquisite cuisines never make the cut in comparison to a simple plate of Nasi Kandar? What is it then that makes all of us proclaim “Home cook meals are the best.”?

I do have a theory, is it only so because the latter is one meal we do not need to look through a menu. Making us going perplexed on which one we should order. After a stressful day, the notion of eating out is stressful as well just by thinking where to go, and then what to order. Home cook meals are stress-free meals. If our strings are on the same cord here this should look pretty familiar to you:

“Oh look, something new, looks good.” (But what if it doesn't actually appeal to my taste buds?)

“This platter has everything I want.” (But what if I can’t finish it?)

“I’m so gonna try this today.” (But wait, the last adventurous finger poking on the menu didn’t end well)

And then you ordered what you had the last round just to stay safe. Knowing exactly how it’ll taste like, establishing an expectation that when fulfilled that you can't go wrong. But when it doesn’t taste as good, you'll be in utter disappointment because you have prior expectations.

Basically what could’ve be‍‍‍en a great lunch session became an ordeal. You went out for lunch to relax, but you came back with even more stress.

The beauty of home cook meals is that we have zero expectations. And this, is the exact sensation I felt after our little excursion.

Yes, NO PLANS. None. (Okay except the part where we planned to have no plans at all.) The goal was simple - we’re going out this weekend. Where? Not sure. To do what? Maybe something. Who’s car we’re using? Let’s use somebody else’s car? A few phone calls later, it escalated into somebody else’s camera, somebody else’s bicycle and then the realisation that we needed a bike rack, hence somebody else’s bike rack it is.

Life’s too short to plan

words by BOBBY ANG | photography by AARON LEE

So now we have the new Countryman that belongs to MINI, a camera that belongs to Nikon, a bicycle that belongs to Specialized, and a bike rack that belongs to Thule.

A few days later, it’s time to prepare for tomorrow’s outing. That’s when we started searching YouTube for tutorial videos on the camera, the bike and of course, the racks. You see, we have a grasp of what we want to capture, what we want to talk about and what the idea and concept is, because‍‍‍ the 26th of August is MINI’s 58th birthday, and 31st of August is Malaysia’s birthday. And when you look at a brand like Nikon or Thule or Specialized and MINI, these are all companies that are specifically making products that contributes to the creation of ‘People are awesome’ videos on YouTube.

But we’re not pros. And that became part of the beauty.

You see, if we were the likes of Aaron Chan, the preparation process will be some super serious affair. Everything will be click-clack tick-tock tap-tap “Done!”

To us, we want Malaysians to know that you don’t need to be good at something to try give it a go. Having the urge t‍‍‍o attempt something new is a more beautiful process than being good at something old. Moreover, whatever we do, the most important thing is to seek happiness while at it. A few of us goofily installing some bike racks, clumsily fumbling around makes for a great 30 minute memory than a pro guy muscle-memory-ing the bikes into place and then went looking for the next location to punish his bike. Many are like us out there, we don’t have the physique that glares magazine covers, we don’t have the skills to pull a wheelie either, but we’d love doing these sort of outdoor activities, and all it takes surprisingly, isn’t determination, but the notion of fun and memorable moments.

Confused? Well let’s just say a relaxing day out with a few friends exploring around and posting up some photos or videos on social media later as memory is a more appealing encouragement than some theoretically achievable six-pack abs that may be the result of increase metabolism rates. It’s the same as picking up the phone asking a few friends to come out to chill and have dinner is a more appealing prospect than asking them out to replenish their carbohydrates and protein intakes along with some fermented wheat. Get it?

We rolled out of Kuala Lumpur barely after sunrise. Fitting the Specialized bike up on those Thule racks make us wonder if it’s even possible for a single person to do it, as it is way harder than it seems. And we also wondered, aside from Thule, are there any other roof rack makers out there as we’ve never really seen other prominent brands. Like MINI, there just isn’t a parallel line to be drawn towards.

The rails of the MINI Countryman too amazed us, not in this respect of a bike that weighs barely 20kg, but the notion of remembering that I once put my 97kg body inside the sleeping tent that was mounted on top of the Countryman, and as I was amazed with its sturdiness, I was even‍‍‍ told that‍‍‍ it is able to take twice my weight. Talk about hearing this good news from a person who understands ESP, ABS, TCS but not BMI.

With the foldable MINI bicycle stuffed into the boot, we head off - barely having any idea where we want to go, but roughly knowing we want to have fun today.

As we drove past the Royal Air Force Airport at Jalan Sungai Besi, I can’t help but wonder just how beautiful Kuala Lumpur’s skyline is from this vantage point. With the trees that were next to us blurring into a veil of green shade and the sun rising from behind us, the reality of knowing this scene will no longer be there before my 6 year old son sign up for UPSR exams is saddening, as the entire airport - a legacy rather than a relic - will be demolished to make way for the huge Bandar Malaysia project that will connect a high speed railway from Singapore all the way to Bangkok and many other countries in Indochina.

The shimmering sun that reflects intermittently off the glass facades from far away further builds up the sense of nostalgia as I can already feel how it should felt like losing this beautiful scene I grew up with. This is perhaps, the feeling of how a colossal RM160 billion worth of gentrification on a national scale feels like, as it seems China has ‍‍‍bought up 60% of the entire development. Life’s short, but the changes to ourselves aren’t as alarming as our surroundings, whatever we want to do, wherever we want to go, it’s now or never I guess.

As we drove past the increasingly busy city-bound MRR2, we look toward the mountains on the eastern side and thought, let’s head there. Yupe, we spoke about Janda Baik, we spoke about Kuala Kubu Bahru, but let’s head there - that mountain there - yes, I have no idea what name it’s called or if it even have one, but I’m sure some roads will lead us there. True enough, you know you’re going up some elevation of sorts when you’re able to see further and further away into the horizon. And after about 30 minutes of driving, it seems as though we’re in Pahang if not for our wandering eyes to notice the entire skyline of Kuala Lumpur is just behind us.

What a beautiful sight, around us are back roads with some random road side stalls, helmet-less motorcyclists barely reaching the legal age to ride, but ahead of us is the immense concrete skyline of Kuala Lumpur, the twin towers standing ever so majestic, and the KL Tower seemingly marking from a distance away telling everyone that the central business district of KL isn’t confined to that of the visual sphere of anyone standing on the world’s highest double storey bridge. Barely 18km of driving distance away and here we are, in the lush greenery as if world’s apart. It probably took us the same effort of driving from the basement of Pavillon shopping mall to the exit on a weekend, perhaps even lesser. Yes, that’s all it takes and we feel as though we are already hundreds of kilometres away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

As for the Countryman S, it waited ‍‍‍patiently for us to make it spool its turbos and sing the song of its people, that nice sound of its engine making a raw distant rumble that’s always audible and reacting immediately to our right foot, but never once rude nor coarse. Akin to that of the sound of an english rugby player running up towards the line, his teeth gritting, determined and grunting, but in svelte Kingsman suits and one that brushes his hairline back after he stood up form an intense touch down.

"ThE Countryman s' engine sound is akin to‍‍‍‍‍‍ the sound of an english rugby player running up towards the line, his teeth gritting, determined and grunting, but in svelte Kingsman suits and one that brushes his hairline back after he stood up form an intense touch down."

"Life’s short, but the changes to ourselves aren’t as alarming as our surroundings, whatever we want to do, wherever we want to go, it’s now or never I guess."

Taking a right turn instinctively - this is genetically proven as 90% of humans are right handed - we tend to make a right turn unknowingly more than the left when we’re given a choice on the road and not knowing where to go. Within 1 minute, it proved to be the right choice as we literally saw crystal blue colour waters on what appears to be a dam on our left. It is such an amazing sight that they are postcards worthy. With the sun’s ray glittering off the surface and the trees rolling by as we drove past, it forms an unbelievable sight. As I roll along adorning the beautiful nature that surrounds us, I saw a steep gravel road by the side of the road to my left, shrouded by the trees beyond that, I have no idea where that leads to. “U-turn” somehow, a voice from within or above or whatever just urges me to see where that leads to. It certainly helps when I know the Countryman S has a taller ride height being a crossover. It doesn’t have 4WD or off ‍‍‍road tyres, but the balance of the car and its great suspension and weight distribution means it should be very easy to deal with my sh‍‍‍enanigans.

As I returned to the road and slowly inch down, I was gobsmacked. It is unbelievable. What struck me wasn’t just one thing that’s cool, it is an entire scenery akin to those drawn on rural oil paintings. Mountains at the back, some coconut trees, a beautiful lake, a bridge, and small houses littering around. It is just a scene that is unforgettable. As I drove in, parked the Countryman on an empty patch of beautiful lush green grassland, a small stream is just beside us, a small bridge, a bigger pond ahead, and just an absolute stunning place that seems to await our little adventure and sets the stage as a finale.

A quick check on Google Maps revealed an unconventional truth for what seems to be an amazing adventure. We are only 27km away from the fringes of Wilayah Persekutuan, yet another 20km will bring us across the border of Selangor into Negeri Sembilan. Can you believe it? We took our bikes out, and everyone began wandering around on their own as the place is just absolutely unbelievable. From afar we saw some locals watching us with a smile on their face where they must be wondering “Ah these city folks, so ‘kampung’. Saw a lake and went batshit.” Then there’s that unbelievable scene, a Malaysian flag, waving ever so gently, and next to it a coconut tree, a Proton Saga, and a few locals going about their daily lives, and ahead of them, is a beautiful waterfront adorn with the natural lush on the fringes of the forests. Puts a great contrast to what we city dwellers love - Desa Park City’s Waterfront with its man made everything that everybody loves to go, but in no way is that able to replicate the serenity of this place.

This mini adventure truly opened our eyes as to how much treasure are hidden in plain sight of us, and if we were to just live that weekend the same as we would've been, we wouldn’t have stumbled upon such a gem of a place. It’s just amazing, and I’m pretty sure it will become a day I will never forget, and will always be a story I will bring up during mamak‍‍‍ sessions, showing the beautiful photos we took, talking about the bikes, the car and the whole adventure.‍‍‍

"All we need to do is just to gather a few friends, hop on a car and ‍‍‍off we go in seek of adventure - be it a small one, a mini excursion if I may say."




The thing about cycling, is that you will quickly realise that there are many roads that you never knew were slopes - became one all of a sudden. What was nothing more than a pathway to the junction ahead - a bygone to a decision we had to make ahead - suddenly becomes the subject of challenge in front of you. Cycling makes you feel everything that are just meters ahead of you seemed‍‍‍ important, y‍‍‍ou live in the now when you’re cycling. As my 97kg weight is more susceptible to the earth’s gravity pull, I decided to bestow the opportunity to ride those beautiful bicycles from Specialized and MINI to my lovely colleagues while I do the hard work of documenting them from the cushion that flips out from the false floor of the Countryman S.

The fresh air, the nice photo taking opportunities, the downhill rush, the joy of just standing there, doing nothing but breathing deeply, inhaling and exhaling while looking at the skyline makes me feel just so ‍‍‍blessed that I was born in this beautiful country. Most of the time we only get to see and conclude the big picture from afar isn’t it? Come to think of it, the notion of going out and do something that isn’t heading to the mall or cinema isn’t that difficult, it’s just a common association by many perhaps fro‍‍‍m pictures or videos of extremely well built athletes going on the extreme that suggests to us mere mortals that it isn’t for us. But contrary to popular beliefs, there’s less hassle, less traffic, less of every effort to make it happen. All we need to do is just to gather a few friends, hop on a car and off we go in seek of adventure - be it a small one, a mini excursion if I may say.

Our two day weekend brings us a surprise‍‍‍ as we aimlessly pass Kampung Hulu Langat and drove through a road called Sungai Tekali which features some beautiful long winding roads and extremely smooth tarmac. If we were to be local residents along this vicinity, we’d be wondering why the city folks who spent‍‍‍ millions in high end luxury apartments around KLCC can accept those porous road conditions down town. Arriving at a crossroad, we saw a discarded makeshift signboard that says “Kawasan Tanah Runtuh” (Landslide Prone Area). Ok that’s ‘encouraging’ we thought. Nevertheless, the sky’s just so bright, the day is so beautiful, the company, the car, the mood of happiness just doesn’t suggest we should be wary of anything just yet. “It’s too beautiful a day for fate to make us cherish life i thought, we’re already embracing and cherishing it.”

You see, these experiences wouldn’t have been possible were if not for companies that understand they have a certain responsibility to instil the essence of exploration to humanity. Those hashtags of #AddStories or #IamNikon might look like marketing covfefe to many, but in truth, they truly know and care for their product’s role in enabling us to explore, to go further, to make stories, create memories, seek adventure, and live our lives now, and live it fully. Because when we cultivate a sense of now, a sense of appreciation and a sense of exploration, that’s when these qualities will help us in our daily lives, be it our work, our relationship, how we drive on the streets, and how we stop for pedestrians or how we help our neighbours. It all makes perfect sense, these companies don’t just sell products, they serve for the betterment of mankind, of Malaysians to be better.

And perhaps this is the message, along with the 58th birthday of MINI and the 60th anniversary to our independence day, the message we’d like to send, go out there, seek adventure, add stories to your life, for the betterment of everything - and you don't even need a plan to begin with. Just head out.