Sunday, August 26, 2012

The RM37 journey Part III - The Kelantan Match Factory


Years of traveling has taught me to use local transportation in my host country.

When I traveled to the remotest Indonesian town, I was presented with a dilemma. I can walk to my destination, or take a ride on a rickshaw for Rp1,000 (then it was RM1.00). Being the cheapskate that I was, I would excuse myself and told them that I would rather walk (for the exercise - yeah, right!) than get someone to cycle me and be parted with my rupiahs.

I was stingy and for short distant, I see no reason for using their services.

Later on as I grew older, I thought, "Hey, I was there on business trip and benefitted my company and myself from doing business there, so I should be giving back to the local economy. Afterall, how much do you think these rickshaw drivers would earn in a day? Most likely, on a good day, Rp10,000 and they are probably supporting a wife and a few children with my fare."

I did not feel like I was a big boss who needs to be driven and chauffeured around.

It is about giving back to the local economy - stay at mom and pop's motel, eating at local restaurant, or warungs, and use their becaks!

Kelantan Match Factory
Taken from internet without permission

So upon arrival at Ismail Petra Airport, I took the cab to Ridel. After the small talk about the weather, I was eagerly telling the driver that I used to call Pengkalan Chepa and KB home and have not been 'home' for nearly a decade. He was equally eager showing me the PC junction and other landmarks, and how they have changed over the years - Maahad, for example.

Then suddenly he asked me, "You remember Mancis cap Lada?"

Yeah, barely.

"Ni, kilang dia - Kelantan Match Factory," he said as he was making a left turn for Ridel. "Ni dulu towkey besar. Oghe pertama dalam Kelantan yang ado kapalterbang sendiri! Bombadi.

I presume he was talking about Bombardier Aircraft. I did not bother asking if I got it right with the aircraft. It is not important.
Taken from internet without permission

The building itself, while not really in dilapidated state, is not in a state where I would call it a landmark.

I think I still remember mancis cap lada and of course it would state Kelantan Match Factory on its cover. Unfortunately the memory is not vivid. I was a non-smoker when I was in school (or even today), so I would barely use matches unless I was in the kitchen, which would not be too rare in those days.

But I do remember them. For sure.

"Sekotak dulu, berapa harga? Lima sen?" I asked him.

"Betul, mulo2 lima sen, kemudian naik sepuloh sen," the cab driver told me without putting into context the year it was that cheap.

"Boleh dia pakai kapalterbang, jual mancis harga 5 sen," I commented, in amazement.

I don't know about the economics of matches then. Or even now. It is a wonder to me that such 'petty' and el cheapo stuff would enable its owner to own and fly a private airplane. I have been running an oil and gas consultancy firm for many years now, and I thought that while we do high-end engineering consultancy, I am still nowhere near owning a Ferrari, let alone have a private plane.

I do have a private plane pilot in Arif though.

If only I can afford a plane - a single engine will do, preferably a twin engine. But a Bombadier Executive jet would top it. Hahaha, wishful thinking on my part!

But I have to change profession first.

Now, what shall I do for a change? May be selling kayu api?

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