Archive for June, 2005

Connecting…

June 29, 2005

Jun_holidays_f_2

It’s back to school and it’s another challenging semester ahead of me! But can’t really complain – I’ve had a fruitful June Holidays. Lots of time catching up with loved ones.

My Imoto
My dear sister left on Monday – and yes I cried 😦 It’s hard for me – especially knowing it’ll be 6 months to a year when I see my best friend again. In 100 days to be exact, she travelled from Perth to Taiwan – Osaka – Tokyo – Canada – Detroit – New York – England – Singapore – Hainan – Singapore – Perth. She went sky-diving in New Jersey too! Man – even though I’m 7yrs her senior – I sometimes feel like the little sister – cos I swear I learn so much from her! She’s back in Perth right now and will be zipping off to Canberra ANU to do her honours for a year – all the best girly!

Mr Le
We finally caught up with our dear friend Mr Le! Just when we moved into his territory he’s just about to relocate to HK 😦 Anyways he treated us to pizza, salad & lasagne at Whatever (Keong Saik Rd) it was so yum, but more importantly it was good spending time with him – we’ll miss you Truong – but don’t worry we’ll come and see you in HK – that’s a promise!

Speaking of loved ones… I’m hoping to have a segment on my blog where I feature family, friends & aquaintances & get them to share a piece of themselves – be it their jobs, their travels, their life experiences – struggles & joys – anything really!

……

Before I go – read this – my sms/telephone conversation with Navin yesterday:
A: "Boo – have you eaten the sandwich I made you?"
N: "I’m about to, (pause) Boo it’s mouldy!"
A: (exasperated) "What do you mean it’s mouldy?" I just brought the buns last night – it’s fresh!"
N: "But it’s a bit whitish on the bottom."
A: "That’s the flour silly!"
N: "Oh…"

This is his 2nd mouldy mistake since the blueberry cheesecake incident last year. The boy mistakened my half eaten cheesecake slice from Cedele Depot as mouldy – thinking the blueberry was mould. Gawd – that’s the best part of the darn cake!!!!! ARGH!!!!!!

Going back to the Hainan Roots (Hainan Island, China 12-19th June 2005)

June 22, 2005

Coconut
Illo by me, coloured in by Bo Gee 🙂

I’m back from my trip to Hainan with my mum & sister. I’m choked, as it was a trip like no-other – an important visit in connecting the past to the present; understanding my maternal grandparents brave voyage from China to Malaysia then Australia then back to China and learning from my relatives that sometimes simplicity is gold.

Before departing for Hainan, I honestly didn’t expect much – I kinda expected it to be just a reunion with grandma & a time of bonding with my mum & sis, nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t realise it’d be such an impressionable experience for me.

………..

Hello Ah-Poh!
After a 4hr plane ride, we reached Meilan Airport (Haikou) at 7pm and were greeted by our cousin Bo An. An hour later we reached Grandma’s abode – where she was eagerly waiting for us at the front porch. It was good to see her so healthy and well!

Fascade_of_house

Welcome to the Simple Life
The house we stayed  at was very spartan. The main living area was tiled, with a few antique-looking furniture. The rest of the rooms were raw concrete & had pink ‘cartoon’ clothed curtains as your enter.

There’s no basin for washing hands – instead there was a large barrel with a scoop. The toilet & bath were situated a few metres outside of the house. For bathing – there was a small galvanized bath with a scoop. Toilet wise – it was a regular ceramic toilet – except that you’re suppose to dispose of your waste paper in the bin, not the toilet bowl – it took some getting use to for me 😛

Kitchen

The kitchen too, was located outside, but at the front. No microwave or stove, but bricked walls with a portable heating device.  Out the front & the back were hammocks to laze about & on the sides of the house were entry points to the dense village/bush areas.

In general, their house is a stark contrast to our ‘modern day living-conditions’ for instance they own probably a few mirrors – just enough for peeking at the face, whilst we have mirrors from floor to wall. Whilst we simply flick on the heater switch to the shower – they boil the water . It makes you think do I really need to buy another serving platter?  Do I really need to use 1/2 a metre of toilet paper? Hmmmm….

Familiar Faces
Along the walls of the living area were many old photos of grandma & my late grandpa, photos of us kids in our much younger years & photos of the relatives currently residing at the house. And beside the photo collages were charcoal-drawn portraits of grandpa, his father & mother.

Seeing all the photos, helped me have a clearer ‘picture’ of things. Back in Perth – I’d always hear of grandpa sending money back to Hainan , grandma talking about this Bo-something…. And now the puzzle started to take shape….

Firecrackers

Firecracker  Frenzy
As described by Ands when she visited Hainan, whenever we visited our relatives and our ancestors’, our cousins would ignite the firecrackers. Deafening – it’s to inform the villagers & the ancestors of our arrival.

Visitations
On our first day we visited grandpa’s ancestors & then his tomb stone. Grandpa passed away in 1996 aged around 91. A few years prior to his departure I vividly remember him telling my mum that he wanted to return to Hainan and rest there. True enough he got his wish. A peaceful death – he was at a relatives wedding and experienced a heart-attack at the table. To the misfortune of the pregnant lady present at the wedding, it seems she had to abort – due to ‘auspicious’ reasons.

Grandma_bopoh_1

Bo-Po (grand-ma’s elder sister aged 96) came by the house on a motorbike accompanied with her nephew. It was soo cute seeing her converse with my grandma – too old sisters catching up.

Dads_rellies

Later in the day we also visited dad’s relatives . One of the couples were both teachers & they showed us their classrooms which was a km away from the house.

Sanya_1

3-day tour of Hainan Island
On the third day we set out on our 3-day  package tour of Hainan. Our cousin’s wife Bo-Ta joined us – it was a well deserved break from her young family and from the farm.

We visited countless factories selling anything from jade, tea to coconut products *yawn*. We also visited a few gardens and temples – after a while they all look the same!

The highlight was suppose to be Sanya Beach – which is supposively described as the ‘Hawaii’ of the east. I beg to differ. We paddled a bit, whilst mum & Bo-Ta lay on the hammocks.  But it’s nothing compared to what the beaches in Australia & Malaysia have to offer!

Back to The Simple Life
After a tiring 3 day journey on the road – we were so glad to return to our village.  Infact the next 3 days would prove to be probably the most memorable of the trip.

"Introducing the Family….."

Bowah

Bo-Wah the Frog Boy
After learning a new Hainanese word – ‘Gup’ (frog) from Bo Wah – who’s a frog farmer, we decided to check out his workplace. The gups were rather gnarly and very muddy black.

Frogs

They were kept according to either sex or age. Our cousin’s role is basically to breed, feed & tend to these creatures & has been doing this for a year or so now.

Bopo

Feisty Bo Poh
Inspired by a photography exhibition of old-aged locals we saw during the tour – I was determined to photograph grandma’s elder sister.

She may be scrawny & wrinkly but she’s such a feisty lady. Hesitant to pose initially, she soon warmed up to the camera & was deeply moved that 2 young-things would wanna visit her, let alone photograph her.

Axe_bopo

Aged 96, you’d think she’d be immobile or bed-ridden – but this lady still chops wood for her cooking! With the axe half her height & weighing 6kgs, she skilfully balanced it between her legs & demonstrated how she chops wood. AMAZING!!!

Bo Poh is such a character or strength & endurance. She’s a living example of where age is no obstacle!

Bota_buffaloes

Bo Ta – Wife, Mother, Farmer
Another woman of strength & worthy of praise, is my cousin’s wife. Aged 35, she has 2 handsome boys – Bo Zhi (10) & Bo Gee (6), she takes care of the house as well as the fields opposite the house.

She took us for a trudge into her work territory – the fields. We donned the straw farmers hats, whilst she carried her basket & axe

Bota_agnes

We met one of her 2 buffaloes – which are used to plough the land. And she showed us the various crops she grew.

Crops

You can’t help but admire how tirelessly she works both on the fields and her duties as a wife & mother 🙂

Gma_boan

Grandma, Grandma
On the 2nd last day, we decided to get grandma to spill her life story so that we could archive it on video. She shared with us how her marriage to grandpa was arranged, and how they traveled on a steamboat from Hainan to Malaysia – more pieces in completing the puzzle.

My grandma aged 91, has really lived an amazing life, whether she realizes it or not. She’d lived in China for about 20 yrs then set off after getting married to Malaysia where she and grandpa owned a coffeeshop & raised my mum & uncle, then migrated to Australia in the late 1970’s not long after I was born & when my parents also migrated to Perth. With trips to Detroit, Michigan, Malaysia in between – she’s definitely well traveled compared to her relatives who’d be considered affluent to even travel within China.

As my sister observantly noted – she’s made a full circle just like my grandpa – she’s now back where she was born, where she feel’s at home 🙂

Boan_family

Bo An – the King of his Castle
Lastly, but not least – Bo An our 31yr old cousin, a very content King of his humble abode & surroundings. He’s such a country bumpkin, it’s not funny. When we visited Haikou – the city of Hainan – he seriously couldn’t recommend any places to eat – preferring the chicken rice of Ben Sioh or Wee Bian (the local town areas). As the caretaker of my grandma – he does such a fine job – he shows such genuine care & love for her that it puts us to shame! But seriously, he’s a man who’s content with his simple life in the village – a man who’s amiable, trustworthy & respected amongst his community. Oh yea – he’s a great motorcyclist & he can still climb coconut trees too!

Nina_boan

Nina_boan_ag

The Magical Journey to the Kelong
On our last evening, Bo An took us on his motorbike to what I thought was suppose to be a beach. We rode past farmers & their buffaloes, fishermen tending to their nets, salt lakes, until finally – we reached the kelongs (fishing village). It was a beautiful scene…. We walked down to the shore where he showed us some tiny crabs with claws as big as their bodies & some oysters clustered together.

Cows

Fishnet

Kelong

Chickens

On the way back, we were greeted by a troop of chickens – such a photo-pretty site!

Fisherman

We also met with a fisherman – whom we had a friendly conversation to on his rickety shelter. He was practicing his English whilst we our Hainanese.

I seriously miss traveling on the motorbike through the ‘sticks’ (villages & bush) – passing by scenes of farmers & their buffaloes and villagers strolling with their billy goats. Bo An was such a skilful rider – he was able to dodge the wet muddy tracks, with up to 3 passengers behind him (Bo Gee, Nina & myself).

Lost in translation?
During our week’s stay in Hainan, I can proudly say I survived language wise. With our grandparents staying with us in Perth – us siblings were able to understand and speak some basic Hainanese. The first few days, were a bit tough – communicating to the relatives – having my mum around helped of course.

But, there were also many occasions where we were left on our own with our relatives – forcing us to attempt to converse or stay mute. Being mute aint my thing – so I persevered! And yes there were many hiccups & lotsa laughs at my horrid attempts of speaking Hainanese – but you know I did I pick up a few words – gup (frogs) & kit – wen (married) hee hee. I reckon I’ll be able to return to Hainan without my mum next time *wink*.

Family

Hainan take-aways
Coming back home, I think I’ve experienced 3 major lessons…

I’ve learnt how leading a simple life can be so beautiful – hence I’ll try to etch the ‘less-is-more’ principal to my memory each time I’m tempted to buy another accessory or shoe!

I’ve learnt to better appreciate my upbringing and appreciate the risks & sacrifices my grandparents made on their voyage from China to beyond, as well as the risks & sacrifices my parents made.

And lastly, that life’s not to be taken for granted – whether it’s our job, our family, our homes. We can all be Kings of our Castles if we appreciate what we have more.

Out & About

June 9, 2005

Collage_2

Tini & I met up for eggs + toast along Keong Saik this morning & we both agreed that – it’s actually possible to have a relaxing & enjoyable holiday in Singapore… (We’re both guilty of finding adventure & fun everywhere else but Singapore :P)

Here are a few things I’ve done this week that you may want to do too:

  • Have a drink at BFD (besides East Coast Park Mc Donalds) & listen to the live band (Thurs – Sun Nights)
  • Explore Erskine Rd, Club St, Amoy St (bring along your camera)
  • Eat Italian at Boat Quay (Pasta Fresca)
  • Check out the Esplande Arts Library
  • Enjoy the view & cool breeze at the Esplanade – it’s a really nice place for solitude or a romantic night out. The Glutton’s Bay has also relocated there so you can eat cheaply or have supper there

Plug, Rave, Die Die Must Try!!

June 9, 2005

As a resident of Chinatown/Jalan Besar area – it’s my duty to plug the following:

C_spice_3

1) Fabulous Brownies & Muffins @ Chocolat & Spice
A: Blk 1 #01-18 Tanjong Pagar Plaza (nearest MRT Tanjong Pagar)            
T: 9276-2110

I stumbled across the strong chocolatey aroma yesterday morning after posting some mail. I bought 1 brownie & choc-chip muffin. The brownie was to-die-for!!!!!  It only cost $1.50 & it’s NYDC standard – it’s sooo gd you can go sans-icecream!!! I’m DEFINITELY going back, prices are reasonable, considering its cafe standard & they have a wide variety of flavours! 🙂
* I just tried their Blueberry muffin & Blueberry cheesecake this morning & afternoon – they’re equally sinfulecious 😛

2) Cheap & Good Acupressure (Chinese Massage) @ Liao Ning Chinese Therapy Centre
A: Blk 4 Sago Lane #02-117 Singapore (nearest Mrt Chinatown)
T: 6323- 5118
Hrs: Daily & Public Hols 10.30am – 10pm

Run by a friendly Chinese National (with 20yrs experience in Public Hospitals), she offers massage & foot reflexology. Pricewise its cheeeaap $10 – 20min (massage/foot reflex); $25 for an hr of foot reflex and $35 for an hr of massage. She and her staff are very skilled and strong – so you’re guaranteed to leave totally satisfied. But be warned there’s no spa ambience & they talk amongst themselves whilst they massage. I’ve frequented the place 4x’s since stumbling it a month ago, Tini & Ols have also visited and are satisfied customers.

3) Mani & Pedi @ Fitness First Plus Capital Tower
A: #09 Capital Tower, 168 Robinson Road
T: 6536-5595

Belinda, the nail expert does a speedy job of M+P & throws in a massage too. She’s been in the business for 20yrs even though she’s only 30 something. She uses OPI & makes anyones nails sexy! (Speaking from one who has ugly nails :p) As she is a freelancer, you have to call Fitness First to make an appointment.

Aside from great M+P, Fitness First is a great gym – if you’re thinking of signing up for a gym membership & money aint an issue you should consider FF. The George St branch – is the newest addition & the facilities are swish; the layout & concept is very open spaced AND there’s an infinity swimming pool with breath-taking views of the Esplanade, Boat Quay, The Fullerton etc etc. It’s especially gorgeous at night 🙂

Horse Riding In Jb

June 9, 2005

Tini_horse

Went horseriding with Tini & Mildred on Tuesday at the @ Riders Lodge. I’m not a horse fanatic like Tini or Ols but I thought it’d be fun to try, especially since its the hols.

Whilst Tini confidentally rode her horse within the paddock, Mil & I were given basic instructions on how to get the horse to ‘walk’ by kicking the belly with the heel and saying ‘walk-on’; how to stop by pulling the reins & saying ‘woahh’ & how to steer the horse by pulling the reins & kicking the horse.

Once we mastered those instructions we were taught how to ‘trot.’ That was real tricky & scary… You have to practice standing up and sitting down whilst the horse accelarates his speed. Now it may seem easy – but trust me – it aint! I was fearful of falling of my horse! After some scolding from my instructor for not standing up enough & for just bouncing on my horse’s back – I finally got into the correct rhythm 🙂

If you’d like to try horse-riding @ Riders Lodge, you should put aside 120rm – costs about 80rm for an hrs ride, and you need 40rm for bus ride & arranged transport to & from the Lodge.

The 2A1 Class outing to China Town

June 2, 2005

2a1

My dear form class 2A1 dropped by Chinatown yesterday for our class outing. We had a little wander along South Bridge Rd, then ate lunch at Maxwell Markets, followed by a stroll down Keong Saik Rd and finally my house.

After a sweaty tour of Chinatown, I mixed up my killer mocktail and served some popcorn & chips and played ‘School of Rock,’ for the kids.

It was a pleasant afternoon & I am grateful for such a lovely form class 🙂