Sunday, March 31, 2013

our world/outdoor;Koh Sumet, Rayong Thailand

My Niece took her daughter to Koh Sumet, Rayong Thailand. Looks like she really enjoyed her holiday despite enduring the pain getting her hair into 100 strains of pleats.

If you go to Bali or the beaches in Thailand, there are ladies pleating your hair for a song, and when you return to Austalia or New Zealand, or any where else, people will ask you, " have you been to Thailand?"

Alphabe-Thursday letter T for tombs.

Soon it will be Ching Ming/Qing Ming   (清明节) visiting the graves festival.

 Many Chinese like my uncle and my friend fly across the ocean to do remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. They bring food, wine, red cancles and paper money.  For the Chans, we are Christians, we bring white candles and flowers.

This was not Qing Ming day, it was the day Father's tombstone was assembled. Rose led the family in Kuching. The rest of the family were abroad and could not attend. Henry said the words were slanting. It had to be done again.

Here is Uncle Mark with his youngest son Luke at my grandfather Kee Seng's grave. The other side is vacant , made ready for my Step Grandmother Wong Sam Yin. The grave is at Sungei Aup, the Cantonese cemetery. Every year, Uncle Mark, Luke and my brother Henry would go from Kuching to sweep the tomb. As Uncle Mark, and late Grand were Roman Catholics, they bring flowers and white candles.


Outdoor wednesday: Chicken Dance

This is Easter Monday, but I am thinking of Christmas. Last Christmas, we had Christmas in the park. We did the chicken dance. I will be having a family reunion at the beginning of May. I will get the kids to do this dance.

Chickens are in our roots. Emily, and Morgan can bring their guitars. The star will be big sister with her Harmonica. It's almost 10 years since all 9 siblings met. We will meet in Australia and with the nieces and nephews and the grands, we bring the house down. I suspect Charles will want to do that Korean dance.

Sunday stills: Trains

My sister Helen's kids, Lincoln, Olivia and Thomas went on a train ride. Lucky them.

The train in Malaysia is very long and they leave the station at Keppel Station in Singapore. Then you get off at Woodlands for your immigrations clearance. There are two trains leaving at about the same time, and no conductor to tell you which train to get on. People rush like a stampede. We notice a couple of passengers had got on the wrong train.

The train also stops and leaves the station very quickly. My city sleeker girls realised that before they could get off, the train had already taken off, and they had to stop at the next station.

In Malaysia and Singapore, there is a concept of "Balik Kampong" which means returning home. There are two rushes during the Hari Raya or Malay New year and Chinese New year. Workers jam the trains, buses to rush home for their reunion dinner. Traffic jam on the road is horrific.

New Zealand train is not busy. My friendly conductor Baar, he welcomed us on board and was very helpful. He even helped with carrying a walker off the train.

On the way back, it was after school time. There were two handsome New Zealand Maori wardens. My conjecture is by having two young friendly wardens on board, it helps deter rowdy students. Indeed, the train was very clean and the students well behaved. They were very happy for me to take their photo.

I like the song, if you miss the train I am on.  It was really funny as where I grew up, there was no train.

500 miles [ Peter, Paul & Mary ]

The Next Challenge: Trains

This will be a tough challenge, so to make it a bit easier you can also do train tracks or anything to do with trains……

Friday, March 29, 2013

Remembering the Dead Chinese in SS Ventnor

Available in:

Wreck of ss Ventnor

In a hauntingly beautiful area in Northland 
comes a story of two cultures and a discovery
 that will close a chapter in history. Their story
 began in 1902 when a ship left Otago carrying 
the bones of around 500 Chinese gold miners. 
They were returning to their homeland, but 
tragically the ship sank just a day after leaving 
New Zealand. Woven through the sands of the 
remote Hokianga Coast, the secret was kept for
 more than a hundred years before it was finally 

photo of ssVentnor

Not directly connected to the Kongs and 

Chans, My Mum's brother's wife's niece

is married to a man from China. 

His Great grand grand father

 came to Dunedin to work in the gold 

mines. He died together with lots of other 

Chinese man. The ship that were taking

 their bones back to China for burial sank. 

  The Chinese people were the only group 

of people to pay a poll tax to enter New 

Zealand. From 1881 until 1944, Chinese 

entering New Zealand were legally required 

to pay a tax - initially ten pounds but eventually

 rose to one hundred pounds.They were not 

allowed to bring their women. It was lifted in 

the 1930s when Japan invaded China  and 

repealed in 1944. The Chinese were also 

denied the right to naturalisation for more 

than 40 years.

 Helen Clark officially apologised to the Chinese 

People  in 2002 .She allowed all the descendants 
of those men to come to  New Zealand. Accordingly,
 the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Deed Trust was
 finalised in 2004 which established a community
 trust and a government seeding grant of $5 million.
The role of the Trust is to fund projects which 
encourage understanding of the history of the 
Chinese in New Zealand and to promote public 
awareness of ethnic diversity. The trustees are 
all direct descendants of Poll Tax payers.    

SS Ventnor event
Celebrating Ching Ming 2013 with a memorial ceremony (bai jei for the Chinese, lost with the sinking of the SS Ventnor.

The trip will comprise of ceremonies and plaque unveilings at the three marae sites, and a passenger ferry ride (weather permitting) to the site of the SS Ventnor wreck (10 miles off shore) where descendants of the village ancestors might like to burn incense, and/or other appropriate gifts etc…
Kawarua April 4th
Mitimiti April 5th
Omapere April 6th        Hokianga Far North
Tell/send information to your family and relatives
Expressions of interest needed
Register now for more information, updates, Q&As Auckland
Nanu She Cheong
Lynette Shum
Electronic copy requests
Wong Liu Shueng                                  

SS Ventnor event Celebrating Ching Ming 2013 with a memorial ceremony (

Celebrating Ching Ming 2013 – Far North
Thursday April 4th, Friday 5th, Sat 6th, Sun return to Akld.
Chinese Historical Ventnor Trail
Unveiling of plaques, and blessing of Educational Boards.
Wednesday 3rd April – Everyone will need to be in Auckland.
Thursday 4th April
6.30am – 6.45am Bus to leave Auckland - Fare approx. $40.00 per day ($160) Payment extra
10.00am Arrive at Te Roroa Headquarters – (koha included in event fee) No cell-phone coverage
                      Unveiling of plaque and blessing of education board
11.00am      Lunch – (included in event fee)
12.00pm      Trip to Kawerua (coast where bones and coffins were washed up)
                      Once in a lifetime – need special permission to travel out to area.
1.00pm        Bi san/Bei Jey[1] ceremony – Chinese community and Iwi.
1.45pm        travel back to Te Roroa Headquarters
2.45pm        Planting of Kauri trees in the Te Roroa re-forestation project.
                      Payment extra  $170 per tree but enough people then reduced to $150
                      Trees will form the Ventnor Grove.
3.45pm        Travel to Tane Mahuta
4.15pm        Travel to Omapere
Self cater evening meal in motels.

Friday 5th April
9.00am         Leave Omapere for Ferry from Rawene to Kohikohu (bus and passenger fees included in event fee) car extra.
10.30am      Arrive at Mitimiti – No cell-phone coverage
                      Powhiri – visitors called onto the marae (koha included in event fee)
11.30am      Move up the hill for  unveiling of plaque
12.00pm      Cup of tea (cost included in event fee)
12.30pm      Bi San/Bei Jey ceremony – Chinese and Iwi
1.30pm        Picnic on the beach, no café available (costs included in event fee)
2.30pm        Possible travel to North Head (15 min travel along beach or a lovely walk along the beach)
4.30pm        Return to bus – Briefing for following day
6.00pm        Ferry – Kohukohu to Rawene (bus & passenger  fee included in event fee -  Cars extra
7.00pm        BBQ at Lighthouse Motel for Chinese community (costs included in event fee)

Saturday 6th April
6.45am         Once-in-lifetime specially commissioned Ferry to site of SS Ventnor.
                      Time to light joss sticks, say prayers and return to shore
 Payment $75 1-20 people, $60 1-40people. If there is demand, First sailing 6.00am, second sailing 8.00am  Bookings essential         
11.00am      Signal Station Road – Bi san – joss sticks only
12.00pm      Bi San/bei jey on the sanddunes then lunch/picnic in area.  Time permitting, Exploring the Hokianga – a series of small excursions around and about.  Exact detail (tbc)
3.30pm        Return to motel – dress up time
5.30pm        Entertainment – at Opononi Hall, a surprise to warm your heart (Extra, meal fee)

Sunday 7th April
8.30am         Leave Omapere
                      Kerikeri Markets, Makana Chocolates, Wunderhussen toilets at Kerikeri
12.00pm      Leave for Auckland –
                      Bookings for connecting flights MUST be after 6.00pm Sunday if travelling by  bus.

[1] Bi san is the Chinese ceremony for the Dead conducted at the cemetery.
Bei Jey is when it is in a general location.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

FSO Through glass

Through a glass cabinet in a Thai restaurant.
Through glass, you see lilies for Easter.

March 29: Through Glass

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Save the world: charging customers for window shopping


When I was in University, I was taught the customer is always king.   I wonder how effective it will be for this store to charge for window shopping,  How practical is is? I can always say, I didn't find the item I wanted. How petty!

I can't imagine any shop owners implementing this in Singapore. Window shopping is a favourite past time there.

Here I was guilty when I took these photos, I didn't buy anything.

A specialty grocery store in Australia is charging customers an entrance fee for browsing their aisles.
The owner of Brisbane store Celiac Supplies has put a sign in the window informing customers they will be charged $5 for "just looking".

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Alphabe-Thursday Letter S for seaweed.

 When I was young, my parents used to buy a packet of assorted seaweed, and brew it in a sweet soup. We ate it as a snack at 3 pm. It is supposed to cleanse your blood,and I can attribute it to having very little pimples.

These days, you can buy processed seaweed salad. This packet is not really processed. You have to soak in water before you add the sauces. There are those from China where you can eat straightaway.

New Zealand waters are rich in sea weed.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday Stills: The Next Challenge: Easter

The Next Challenge: Easter

Chicks, a symbol of new life.

Praying Mantis

One the the advantages of living in a jungle within a city state is I got visited by all sorts of rare animals .
In 2004, on separate occasions two of these never seen before golden praying mantises came to my house and created quite a sensation. My friend, a nature society education liaised with an insect scientist. To his knowledge, he had not seen a golden praying mantis and was very keen to study it. But not before I took it to schools to show this to my children and teachers.
All the kids, (local Singaporeon and Interntional ones enjoyed looking at them. The Scientist took the one we named Goldie and later conjectured that it was

mutated from the ordinary praying machine. It adapted to the colour gold from the tree that bloomed golden blossoms just outside my balcony. Goldie was a girl.
After Goldie went to be a science candidate, the kids from the campus were disappointed. Not long after, another came. I fed it with cricket bought from the pet fish shop. The scientist had hope that Magdeline would attract a male and perhaps we could breed it.
Sadly Magadeline didn't survive. I immoralised her in a setting agent. Unfortunately, the agent beached Magadeline of this gold colour.  I thought I will make it to a paper weight encased in resin. Unfortunately it faded the gold colour and I was left with a pale coloured one.

I posted it to the Nanyangconnect website with scientific literature, but they no longer keep the postings on archive.
Subsequently, I had green praying mantises.
***Chrissy and Alicia admiring Goldie. This is an experience they would take home to Canada and America***

Last Friday, a green baby praying mantis came to my teaching space window. I caught it and displayed it in a clear plastic cup. Kids love it.

Save the world: Recycling your rubbish

Auckland City Council provides an annual  inorganic collection free of charge for residents to get rid of large items that would normally not fit in our wheelie bins. This is conceptually a good idea. It also encourages recycling. What is one's rubbish is useful to others.

The city council allows any type of inorganic rubbish that they normally would not collect. So you see old fridges, washing machines, televisions, clothing , toys etc.

When the households put their inorganic rubbish neatly on the grass verge, in no time, scavengers come in vans, truck and take what they can sell or use. This is a good recycling system, except these people have no social conscience.

Hordes of collectors, some traders scour the neighbourhood to pick up what they can recycle. The only thing that is not so good is some of these people have no social conscience, they remove what they want and treat this as a tip, and rubbish is all over the grass area and even on the road, making this a very unsightly area.

When they had done with retrieving what they want, the road is strewed with rubbish as though we had been struck by a tornado.