December 31, 2009

My last 2009 Posting - thoughts at the Miri Bus Terminus

What are my thoughts at the end of 2009?

A bus terminus can generate lots of thoughts especially at the end of the year. It is so dynamic!

May be they can be illustrated by my photos :

"Mom knows best most of the time"...Ask the Simpsons and the Ingalls. Here's a photo of a mum buying tickets for her family.

"Will Sungei Merah be flooded as usual?" I am sure if Dujianyian can arrest flooding 2000 years ago....we can have the technology to do so today to overcome flooding in Sg. Merah in Sibu.

Mothers every where are struggling to raise their children! So fathers need to pull up their socks and work harder. Guys do tell me that most fathers recognise their responsibilities....and I am glad they are serious about their job description. Fathers should be like umbrellas - give shade to their family no matter what kind of weather comes...come rain or shine...they should be there.

And mothers - they have to nurture their children until they themselves are gone from this world...then their job will be done.

So children remember your mothers who have undergone so much to bring you to this world (9 months) - to feed you when you were toothless  - to help you walk - to help you go to school on the first day - and to nurse you when you have your fevers......It is a life long journey...some times the vehicle is a rickety bus and the road is bad like what the Aup Road used to be.

2009 must have been the Year of Mothers (ranging from Obama's grandmother to Aung Sang Sun Kyi to the ordinary mother) who tried their best to meet the credit crunch and the ups and downs of each day....they sacrifice for their family ...they step aside for major decisions to be made....they forge ahead when no one can help them ....they stand before their sons to take the bullets ....and they starve to provide food for their young children....they fight against soldiers to prevent their daughters from being raped ....they work three jobs to help their children finish college..and in their old age they continue to look after their family planting rice mother's work is never done.....what has not been done by mothers?

Happy New Year 2010!!

Sources : Dujiangyan (simplified Chinese: 都江堰; traditional Chinese: 都江堰; pinyin: Dūjiāngyàn) is an irrigation infra-structure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of China by the Kingdom of Qin. It is located in the Min River (岷江, Mínjiāng) in Sichuan Province, China, near the capital Chengdu (成都, Chéngdu). It is still in use today and still irrigates over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the region.Wikipedia

December 30, 2009

Auld Lang Syne : where have the years gone?

The kids were going back to KL soon as we had our fifth meal of the day - at nine p.m. on Christmas Day - another Ngabang to go to...Neil's house.

Here in the picture below is Neil our young man who is all grown up and protective of his mum. The children often met when they were younger - picnics on the beach and pot luck at the weekends. Now that they are 10 -15 years older they have gone their separate ways - to work in different parts of the world.

Neil's mother Sigang and I went back to those early years of the 1990's when we had happy young mothers' time together. Our kids had chicken pox and fevers together. Nina and my son shared the same birthday and they cut their cakes together having a three year old party together for example.

In some afternoons (often wet )we waited for the fathers to buy charcoal and then grill wild boar meat for the evening meal with kids screaming in the background while we ladies curled up in their comfortable living room or sat crossed legged in their their kitchen pounding the mortar preparing the sambal. Sigang and I shared the same tailor (Freda) and we looked out for nice materials for each other. Freda is still our friend although she has long left her tailoring business above the Soochiew Photo Studio in Miri. Somehow we never forsake our friendship with our tailors. (We are friends through thick and thin - through fat and slim).

As I sat in their living room again - so many years have passed since the kids have fever and flu together - the song by Robert Burns rang in my ears....even before the New Year has arrived...and memories flashed in front of my eyes!!
 (Original version we used to sing)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot,
sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


Christmas is always a good time to get together with friends.

Neil used to make good bbq food...he still does.

Now that Nina is a working lady she has acquired some skills in gourmet cooking - local mushrooms grilled over charcoal fire. (Secret Recipe)

Here's the evening's dinner - prepared by the children ....

This is the mum's famous coleslaw...always delicious.

This is the aunt's masak hitam - incredibly good.

Candle lights to give a great atmosphere.


Nice looking Christmas table cloth and the aunties with my two daughters....

Enter the Grand Dame of the Family.......she sure has some humour left.

Sweet Nina and elegant Rachel.

They were just toddlers yesterday!! Leon is a city person now (KL) like all the rest in the photo.

Thanks kids for the memories.....;) :)and thanks to all the mothers who looked out for them and helped them grow up. Cheers to all mothers of the world!

December 28, 2009

Love Letters in the Sand - Mud Cracks and Curls

Do your children ask you why mud peels and cracks up?

It has been hot today and almost impossible to go out to take photos. But a chance came by gently.

In between the thundstorms in Miri I found this beautiful patch of mud already peeling and curling up. I could not wait for the correct light to photograph it or it might even rain again. Took these photos at noon when the sun came out to play for just a little while before the grey clouds loomed up and cast grey and darkening shadows on the land.

Dessication of mud causes the cracks.

Many of these dessicated mud curl upwards.

They remind me of the days when my kids said very interesting  things and ask "strange questions".

" Look Mama -- the mud is making kueh kapit (love letters)!" my son one day exclaimed out of the blue as we walked along the lonely road. And the thought struck me : May be our ancestors were inspired to curl up their thin dough by this natural phenomenon.

December 27, 2009

Disappearing Old Miri : Our Friendly Chinese Hawkers in Tamu Muhibbah

Small businesses in the past could feed a whole family of ten children. And some of the children could even go to university if they could get a scholarship. But most of these hawkers in TAmu Muhibbah are fortunate that their children have made a success of themselves in different walks of life.

This post is dedicated to all these senior hawkers I know and I hope the new year 2010 will bring more blessings to them and their families.

Now in their senior stage they are just happy to pass their time . The tamu is like their day time living room. They have someone to talk to while doing a little of selling. They replenish their stock only once in a while.

"People do come and buy little things : safety pins or a small comb - may be spend like 4 ringgit or 5 ringgit. I am happy for the little business I have."

Like the hawker above I have a relative in Sibu having a similar stall. This 70 year old relative of mine told me this when I visited him at his market stall...."I am selling almost the same things as my friends. What is different is this : I have my own customers who come looking for me in the last 30 years. No change. Life is still the same and I like it. Business is not chaotic like the new businesses of today. I don't think I can operate a coffee shop. That's too difficult...."

This lady in red blouse is my aunt's friend from Sibu. She operates a "general" stall in the Tamu and is always cheerful when I drop by. I always pick up my Tiger Balm and Wellaform (for hair) from her . And I like getting my scissors and little mirrors from her too. In between customers she copies by hand the Chinese Bible.

Giving her support is very important to me because I like spending my money on things she is selling . If I can help it I do not wish to buy goods from large supermarkets which charge me parking fees. Besides it is very difficult to have to queue for a long time behind customers who have hundreds of items in their trolleys. Sometimes the salespeople in supermarkets are rude and they also tend to have their own conversation without paying attention to senior customers like me who may need help. And most importantly I do not like to crush myself between customers who think that the end of the world is coming and they must grab that packet of sugar!! or that tin of Milo!!

I like buying things from people who know me and are very friendly. And besides that their goods may be even cheaper!!

This is a "disappearing business scene" in Miri. They will be replaced by the impersonal huge supermarkets.

December 26, 2009

Miri Christmas Open Houses

Christmas is usually for visiting close friends and family. And  if one happens to be of mixed parentage or what we call "bi-racial descent" this becomes very complicated but interesting.

On Christmas afternoon we visited  my late mother - in - law's first cousin's widow who  already has ten grandchildren from her five lovely daughters. Mrs. Flora Sempurai is a great woman who has been in the working world since she was 15! Hailed from Kanowit she married  Grand Uncle Sempurai when she was only 17. This was how she became related to us! Five years ago Grand Uncle Sempurai passed away after a short illness leaving her to raise their younger children.

The family of Sempurai and a young mother in law of Dorothy's.  Titbits and nice acar made by Mrs. Sempurai herself were served.

Mrs. Flora Sempurai - the pretty Grand good word to describe her : sporting.

The heavy rain kept us in her house for quite a while. But then we had to go and visit the next house.

My own brother-in-law has moved into a new house so we were obliged to make the maiden Christmas visit...even in the heavy rain.

This is red rice lemang (the rice is from Limbang) and is cooked by Aunty Sundai(Mother of Ipis)

But in spite of the heavy rain we were warmly welcomed. We felt really comfortable in the house away from the rain. While the rabbit outside tried its best not to shiver from the rain we were having a good time visiting and talking about old times.

Drinks of any type (Barcadi? Brandy? Tuak? Cap Langkau?) Cap Apeh?) were free flow. And there were packet drinks and tinned drinks too.

After having taken all the titbits and cookies we went into another room/kitchen to have a full meal of pork cooked in bamboo and three or four kinds of curry. But our favourite food would still be freshly made preserved mustard cooked with pork bones (soup) and the lovely leaf wrapped glutinous rice with filling. This is the mustard season in the ulu farms. So there is plenty of kasam ensabi (preserved mustard greens) for sale every where.

A home grown pig was slaughtered the day before and shared amongst the three neighbours. The pig was slaughtered in their garden and divided into three portions to the delight of the three women who live on the same row of semi detached houses in Happy Garden! Part of the pig was put into bamboo and cooked very slowly over charcoal fire  to make a wonderful signature dish called Pansur Babi.

This is the soup made from pork bones and preserved mustard green. sourish but also a little sweet.

This is Aunty Sundai taking out more and more food for us. She has a huge kitchen with high tech  equipment. She cooked all the dishes before she and the family went to Christmas Morning Mass from 8 to 12 at the Cathedral. Iban Catholics turned out full force for the Christmas Eve Masses in Lutong and Miri every year!! Some would be at the church as early as 6 to get a good spot . By midnight some of those standing throughout the service would be numbed with tiredness.

Another shot of beautiful and fragrant ginger flowers and pork stewed to perfection.

Cousins sharing about ten different dishes together. Ipis just got her good PMR results.
May become an engineer like her engineer father.

Nuts of every origin were also served in fine air tight bottles too. And I particularly like the layered Sarawak cakes ( no photos as I know you would be tired of seeing them anyway) which is choking with horlicks and condensed milk. We were also served with sun dried ikan bilis and oil-less plain roasted peanuts.

And then just before we departed from their lovely homes we had group photos taken before another lot of 20 or 30 guests arrive...These photos become our memory triggers later. Because kids grow so fast we will find it difficult to identify them. So before we make another visit we can review our photo albums....Smile...

We made it to two houses only on Christmas day  because of the heavy downpour . Visits like this allow us to have time to share photo albums (the older the better) and talk about relatives and progress in the ulu. Although no gifts are expected we believe that by bringing ourselves and exchanging good tidings are the best we could do. this is quality time with loved ones and getting to know new friends too.

This is Christmas Christian Iban Style in the City - "Ngabang "- or visiing open house.

December 25, 2009

Grace Methodist Christmas Church Service and Christmas Lunch

Grace Methodist Church was full to the brim today and that got me having some Bible verses ringing in my head..."My cup runneth over"..."Ye multitudes....." " Oh come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant....." and the spirit of worship was definitely there.

The hall was dressed up and I kept looking heavens-ward.

The Men's Team led in the Praise and usual singing beautifully and mightily.

The Pastor preached on Love....

The Sunday School showed their talents. (Proud Parents and Hardworking teachers were
at the back....)

Sweet voices of the angels.

A young toddler - clapping and singing away.

My Methodist School friend Robert and his wife.

Julian Anyaw (my friend from Primary One) sharing a joke( Who was more naughty?)

Families from Sibu

Green Christmas-y mayonnaise for the fish fingers.

The congregation having a Christmas lunch

Dr. Roy Wong - very friendly and very firm believer

Christmas decoration

Dasline Sinta - wearing a guitar design tie....

Lina Kana (Sibat) - my beautiful friend....Her husband Alfred is  my late brother's classmate.

My very very long time friend - originally from Sibu- Mrs. Song (my children's piano teacher and a wonderful musician and choir conductor - now in Melbourne) with daughter;Rosie  went to school with my aunts(standing far left) Brenda(red blouse) and Lu Ten Tiong (excellent singer)

Many first time visitors and friends from overseas came  to visit. New friends from Myanmar and Indonesia continue to worship with us. The church was vibrant with life!! The church doors are always wide open to those who wish to worship humbly before God. And we believe in  spreading spiritual holiness in transforming the nation. (

: ) :) :)

And  there are so many blessings one can receive as part of this warm and friendly GMC family.

December 24, 2009

Bless the Hands which prepared the Christmas Eve Dinner

What is Christmas for the children if there is no turkey? Some years we could not buy turkey because the turkey shipment was held up by some obstacles.

This year we managed to get one . Here's the bird ready for the oven.

Just before dinner Flo did the honour : carve the bird. She made the sauce too.

We had a leg of lamb - which was barbequed in the open fire outside. The "BBQ King"
did it singlehandedly. He had balsamic vinegar - mustard - red wine- pepper - and some secret
ingredients to help him turn an ordinary hunk (?) of meat to an exotic dish.

Here's the medium rare lamb

This is the secret recipe : mashed potatoes with butter ;cheddar cheese and fresh milk.

Mrs. Kuntai's ubi leaves.

this Nasi Bryani enough for an army from Sg. Liang's Indian Shop. (with two chickens and 20 hard boiled eggs).

A few bottles of red wine - two crates of beer - ginger beer - 7Up - Cola- plain water and Milo
form the drinks section.

Forks and spoons lying in waiting for the dinner guests and family members

Cheeky little visitor with the loudest voice this side of Borneo!

Little children need to be spoon fed by loving mother and grandmother.

Now time for a little bit of beer and cigarette in the romantic candlelight.

Apoh......just too much food! Ian from Kanowit.

Let's have some bryani and raita....

Excellent turkey stuffing made from "xxxxxx" and foccocia bread.....Finished in no time...

There were too many children  to entertain so some photography was forgotten.....but memories will be in the corners of my mind....Christmas of 2009 is almost over before it begins! Where has time flown?

Christmas Eve in my family tradition is special time for family and and special friends who come from far and near. This year we have friends from Kanowit and Lichok (near Roban) and Idaho! And they helped make Christmas ever more meaningful.

Merry Christmas...and blessings to all...

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