Monday, April 30, 2012

Our World: In Borneo

In many old premises in Malaysia and Singapore with Chinese connections, they often have arches with Chinese architecture. They have famous people penning the calligraphy.  This one was erected in the 60s, and at the school I taught in Binatang, called Kai Chung school. This view is taken from the school.

Sense of propriety, justice, integrity  honour. The words are written by a famous Calligrapher Yu Youren (于右任) from Taiwan in the 1960s.

In 1963, Sarawak and Sabah n and Singapore joined Malaya to form Malaysia. Bahasa Malaysia became the official language. One side is taken from the road.  The new words just say the name of the school.

忠 Loyalty 孝 Filial piety 仁 Benevolence 义 Righteousness

My ex student Francis wrote this words for me this morning. I verified with him, Francis, did you write them? Wow! just to confirm, how come the 4th word on the arch has a XIN, heart next to the ear, and yours has a different word. One of the Chinese virtues taught to students is humility. Francis said he hasn't done calligraphy for 30 years. What a great job he has done.

  • Chen Francis I wrote this morning, both words are correct.


    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    Sunday stills: Beauty or the beast

    Don't you think these are beauties? The water engineer disagrees, and want to get rid of my wild flowers. The mothers of these beauties reside in a patch of untended land next to my old house. When they are in bloom, they are so beautiful. One year, I had pots of tomatoes and chillis plants in my garden. The mothers sent seeds over, knowing I had been appreciating them. They grew in my pots taking over my cultivated tomatoes and chillis.  I took care of them, when blooming, the purple flowers are so beautiful. But now, I have been spending too much time on the computer, the flowers dry up and I still think they are beautiful and can be used as dry flowers.

    One man's meat is another's poison.

    Verbena bonariensis is a tall and slender-stemmed perennial. It can grow to 6 ft (120 cm) tall and can spread to 3 ft (90 cm) wide. At maturity, it will develop a woody base. Fragrant lavender to rose-purple flowers are in tight clusters located on terminal and axillary stems, blooming from mid-summer until fall frost. The stem is square with very long internodes. Leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate with a toothed margin and grow up to 4 in (10 cm) long.

    Sunday Stills-Beast or Beauty

    I must say I really enjoyed last weeks challenge. It was interesting to see which challenges people chose to honour Ed with. If any of you has an idea for a new challenge or wants to revise one of the old ones please leave a comment :)
    Sara from Punkin’s Patch suggested this one and I didn’t really know how to title it ;) Take something bad and find a way to make it look good/find some beauty in it – at least photographically. Like an invasive weed, dusty cupboard, scummy pond, flies…
    Here’s something I think is beautiful…..but I hate them growing in my lawn;

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

    Sands Manukau:Using your loss to support others.

    Sarah Numan stays at home - "I run Sands Manukau 24 hours. I have 3 angels, Hope, Noah , Willow and 5 living living."  What an incredible women.

    Next fortnight, on May 13rd will be mothers' day. To most women, it is a day of joy, lavish gifts and eating out. To me, for 24 years as a bereaved daughter and mum, Mother's Day is a difficult one. First my mum died and when other people enjoy themselves, I think of myself who didn't spend much time of my adult life with my mum because I left home at 19. Barely 20 months past, when my baby Andrew died. 

    In 2007, my church, Mt Albert Baptist Church had some one pray that Mothers' Day. She prayed for those who had lost their mums, and for those who had lost their children. I felt solaced and felt that she was praying for me. 

    On this Mothers' day, do give a thought to those bereaved mums. 

    There is a group of wonderful women and men in Sands Manukau. Like me, they are belong to the club of bereaved parents. Because they themselves had gone through the pain of losing their babies, they understand and are better to comfort other parents. These ladies do a lot more than other chapters. 

    Mid last year, Television One producer Glenna Casalme contacted me to do a documentary of my book and me for the Baby Loss Awareness Week. It was to be screened in October. Glenna had googled me and invited me for coffee and asked if I was interested.

    It is a documentary on how we can make people more aware of bereaved mums and dads and hopefully our sad experience will improve the sad statistics. She said she as also filming Sands Manukau.

    The documentary, " It's OK to cry" came out on Oct 9th to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week: 9-15 Oct 2011

    I watched the Sands ladies and became friends. I chat with Sarah and Annie and follow their activities closely.

    Ka Pai to the Committee: Annie OChen, Sarah Numan, Sonia Prasad, Lisa Wood, Heather Clark,  and Josie Apelu 

    Sarah  makes  these angels with pink and clear crystal. She will be adding blue, green and purple next week. The wings are silver metal. The crystal (Schwartz) are the head. She spent 2 hours and made 70. She also makes the angel key rings and makes  up the Inkless Hand Footprint kits. Leonie, another member is involved by telling her about the shepherd hook bookmark part and ordering them .
    They are $8 each with all money going direct to Sands Manukau. 
    Leonie Kirwan:  Baby Loss Awareness (NZ) made these last year and having been seeing Sarah a lot lately organising the Sands National Training, She told Sarah about these angels and how to make them. Leonie told me, "I have lost more than 2 bubbas we lost Williams twin @ 16weeks and I have had several miscarriages. I get a lot out of writing too and am heavily involved in Sands (Im the chairperson for Sands NZ and run my own group with Nicki)"

     Someone bought 2 of these from Trade Me and said they were for Mother's Day.  What a great idea. Please share around and lets give all those mums out there a lovely wee gift. $8 each and available through Sands Manukau page or Trade Me.

     Annie, Sarah in the middle, and Sonia. These two photos taken during their community service day at Botany.

    Contact Info

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Firday Shoot out: Time

    My Sister Rose gave Sam this Made-in-Switzerland cuckoo clock. It's cuckoo can be heard in the neighbourhood. Our friends kids like to come up to our house to see the cuckoo come out of it's house. They would count the times the bird cuckoo and feel very dejected if they came up too late. (We lived on the third floor)

    We didn't bring it over to NZ, but took in over to Sarawak to give it to Nicol, Rose' grand daughter.

    Still having problem, using an old post.

    April 27: Time Town Clocks, Passing Time, Time Stands Still

    link to Mr Linky at the Friday shoot out link below.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Take me home

    In 1999,  the 5th formers of 1971 Methodist Secondary School in Sibu, Sarawak, organised a reunion 28th years after they left school. It was the first time we had invited our teachers from USA, UK, and Australia to celebrate with us. It was also the first time many of us met. I was privileged to host our American Teacher Miss Jackie Fries to stay with me in Singapore. It was an excellent chance to know her better as an adult than when I was a 15 year old.

    During the function, my classmate, Martin Ho, from when I was 6, sang John Denver's song. Take me home. Miss Fries felt very emotional, we all felt very emotional when she told us that she grew up in West Virginia. It was like Martin has special vibes.

    In 1974, I had a gap year after my 6th form before I went to Canada. I went to a small town , then called, Binatang, now changed to Bintangnor. I had great fun living and teaching in Kai Chung School. Though I could never even walk in Miss Fries' shoes. She had traveled all the way from USA and lived in Sarawak for many many years, my experience was a miniscule of Miss Fries. I was there for 20 months.

    With the magic of Facebook, some of these students found me, despite a gap of almost 40 years, and  and a change of name. Their messages evoked a lot of memories. Sadly, 4 of my colleagues had died. Here are some of the photos they sent me. This is from Francis, a typical Chinese village home in the Rejang River basin.The house is reminiscent of my grandparents' houses.

    This is for the Save the world meme:

    Houses then had stilts, and no running water or electricity. The stilts were because the Rejang River tended to flood. Though my grand pasents houses were not in a flood prone area. It was also to keep the house cool. The jar evoked many memories of children raised in the town, but of their grandparents' in the country. The jar contained water, and at that time, we didn't wear shoes. In this case, a small tin container was attached to the rim, and you scooped water to wash your feet before you went into the house. You didn't need to dry your feet, as by the time you walked up the steps, your feet is dried. My grand dad Chan's jar was different, no, it wasn't the big salted eggs jar. It was much smaller. The opening was bigger, so we got inside and rub our feet or in the case of th eyoungsters, we did a jiggle and dance. We had great time, even washing our feet. I know, because my siblings who now live all over the world relish such minor things which our children can only imagine.

    Francis, Jenny and Mag are organising their own reunion. I wish them every success. This song is for all the students who now live all over the world, and even to those who had left the little town. Take me home.

    Almost heaven, West Virginia,
    Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
    Life is old there, older than the trees,
    younger than the mountains
    growin' like a breeze.

    Ref.) country roads, Take me home to the place I belong.
    West Virginia, Mountain momma, Country roads take me home

    All my mem'ries, gather round her,
    miner's lady, stranger to blue water.
    Dark and dusty, painted on the sky,
    misty taste of moonshine
    teardrop in my eye.

    Rit: country... Take me home,

    I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me,
    the radio reminds me of my home far away
    and driving down the road I get a feeling
    that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Outdoor Wed: Auckland Domain

    Saya and Kay
    With Kay under the Gingko tree. I told them, in New Zealand, the Kiwis call it the Chinese fruit tree aka the smelly tree.
    I wonder why Kay wanted us to stand so far away, you can't even see our faces.

    I met Kay and Saya at the entrance of the Auckland Domain. Kay had a big camera, and I showed my little camera. I asked if they wanted to take photos of flowers. Kay and Saya have come to Auckland for 5 days from Okinawa. Kay wanted to take the photo under the Gingko tree. I took them to the Winter Garden.

    I gave them my card, and Saya wrote her email address. We have had made friends this way, just starting with a hi. My grand pa used to say, "No need to cut some grass." meaning no effort at all.

    30 over years ago, the water engineer and I met a mother, and her 10 year old son and 9 year old daughter.. We introduced ourselves, and we even took them home for a home cooked fish dinner. The boy was happy to have a home cooked meal after traveling for a while. When we took them back to the hotel, she told us to wake at the lobby. She came down with a beautiful dress, a silk bag and a special bangle.

    My World Tuesday: Auckland Domain

    Here is Paul holding an old "Pelican"
    The Auckland Domain is one of my favourite places in Auckland, This is the Winter Garden, and I love the green houses that houses the flowers. I was lucky that Paul was there and he gave me a quick lessons on the names of the names.

    I was attracted to his plant which is about 8 inches long. Paul explained that it is commonly called Pelican flower or Dutchman's pipeThe smell, it reminds me ot the Rafflesia in Sarawak.  When it is a bud, it looks like a Pelican. I should go back and take more photos.  Thank you Paul.

    Reader Wil, this is for you. 
    When I heard the name, I thought to myself, I must tell Reader Wil.
    Here is from Wikipedia.

    Aristolochia grandiflora, or Pelican Flower, is a deciduous vine with enormous flowers that emit an odor that humans consider unpleasant but attractive to insects. The plant is native to the Caribbean, and has been introduced to Florida in the United States as an attractor of butterflies.

    Detail of Pelican Flower with pollinators

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Sunday Stills-In Honour of Ed

    It’s Ed’s birthday on April 18th………..this next challenge is for him. It’s a potluck photo of your choice of one of his past challenges.

    These are not exactly pets, they are farm animals on an exhibition farm for the tourists. In New Zealand, we often hear that kids keep a few lambs as pets. Later they come home and find that onr oh  it is on the dining table. Someone just told me this today. Some kids accept this as a matter f fact, some get very upset.

    For the third anniversary of Sunday Stills, Ed suggested pets…..the very first challenge.

    Saturday, April 21, 2012


    Santa, I want: 1 a barbie doll,
                          2 my little pony.
                          3 Lego
                          4 a tutu skirt
                          5 paints
    Wait, how many things am I allowed?
    Wait, how many more am I allowed? I haven't asked for my sister, mum, dad and my best friends.

    Santa, " Hurry up kid, I am not an hourly paid labourer, I can't go home until all the kids have gone."

    Happy birthday to this kid who protects her privacy, she will turn 24 next month.

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Friday Shootout: Rule of thirds.

    April 20: Rule of Thirds Post shots from town that use the Rule of Thirds as a compositional too.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Thursday Challenge:

    SPRING (Rain, Puddles, Boots, Umbrellas, Sunny Days, Leaves in Trees,...) Thursday Challenge is a place for photographic fun and learning.

    Gum boots aka wellington boots are now fashion statement.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Our World: Old wooden boat in Borneo

    To the children growing up in Sarawak, Borneo, along the 350 miles long Rejang River, "Sing Hai Ching" will give a pang of nostalgia. These river queens used to ply up and down the river, picking up passengers and goods. Unfortunately, they were forced to retire and give way to the aeroplane looking type of express boats. This royalty  is now relegated to pick up goods from Bintangor to Tanjong Manis, a tiny town at the sea.

    To me, there are great memories as well as not so good ones, which make me dislike water journies. But as you read from the thread from Facebook, it is great that people remember the good times.

    Sibu town is 90 miles from the sea, my paternal grandparents lived 5 miles up the river,  my maternal grand parents lived up in Durin which used to take hours to reach. Then when my dad returned from England in 1959, he taught in Kanowit Government Secondary school. I went in these double decker boats a lot of times. 

    We shared it with the natives with their fighting roosters, machete aka parangs, and dogs. The boat went chucg chug chug, expelling a lot of unburnt engine smoke, and I would get a headache. The men upstairs operated their "floating Casinos". We learnt not only the games, but also the flowery obscene language of all races of Sarawak. The space is stuffy, full of smoke because they shut all the windows. I guess, they didn't want anyone to know they were gambling illegally.

    My Ah Tai, my mum's grandma had one of these double decker ones, plying up and down the Rejang River, from Durin to collect unpolished rice to polish in her mill. Then in Durin, she had her mill. We were very proud of her.

    I paste some of the threads of some of the Kai Chung students and teachers of Francis's Facebook. Francis kindly let me post these two posts.

    • Jenny Yau-Peng Chew Chen Francis, still plying? or was it one of the old photos? would be nice to pay a visit!

    • Chen Francis Still plying, but carrying food & ration to Tg. Manis instead of passengers . The photo was taken this morning at Bintangor.

    • owned by my classmate's father before

    • ..lets go this one if they ply us from Sibu to Bintangor

    • Ann Chin  Courting couples can sit right one top. This happened when we had school trip up to Kapit. The BF and GF were on top of the boat, the naughty boys were teasing them.

    • how to get to the top? no thanks, at the edge not too bad, pretend to be the titanic will be cool!

    • I am all for it.Wow after all these years she/he is still plying I am totally impressed.....

    • Haha!a slow boat to China! I think I need  to bring my sleeping bag and portable loo!

    • hehehe, me too...maybe they no longer ply passengers across because most people are driving these days and it is only an hr drive or less.

    •  If you are coming to our reunion we will go on it again and make it part of our  itinerary.
    • Sure, would be nice for a visit.

    • have you not been on these boats before, you don't need your portaloo. They have a box like toilet at the back. There is no roof. We used to sit at the Rejang river bank at my grand pa's place. We look at the boats ply up and down Rejang River. The box comes up to a man's chest, ad we could see the man standing there. Woman squat, so you don't see. There is no need to flush.
    • .too detail Ann! I don't remember going into one of the toilet on the boat

    • You don't need to go to the toilet just to Binatang, but if you go for long trips to Kanowit or Kapit, you need to go, When you need to go., even if there are boys sitting on the roof and can see you. That is why I don't really like boats. even now.

    • , I have been on one when I was real little and that boat belongs to Anthonias's dad

    •  I remember those cubicles of these boats.

    • Rejang River could be swift, need life jackets. I guess the spare tires hanging from the boat can be used as swim ring....ha ha

      According to the boat owner, it is around 60 years old

    • That was not the original boat. The one I recalled when I was in lower secondary was very different. The owner might have upgraded a few times though retaining the name
    • Ann Chin In those days, there were no life boats or lie jackets. If there were, chances were they would be stolen.

      The Reunion of Kai Chung School, aka Lau Peng Yu, July 7, 2012,  is initiated by Jenny Yaw Peng and  Mag Yaw Lee. Francis is doing his part as a local here in Bintangor, knowing that a lot of our long lost friends & ex-teachers are coming back to this beautiful small hometown. 

      Please contact on their Facebook: