September 28, 2009

Operation Squirrel

Caution: Do not read further if you are a vegetarian and anti-animal killing!!


Some photos are deliberately out of focus......


During the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri holidays my family declared war on the squirrels which we have been very fond of until very recently. Lovely pets can become deadly pests.

Firstly one whole tree of longans (already edible) disappeared overnight.

Then my beloved and absolutely faithful mango tree failed to deliver the normal sweet mangoes. Every fruit has a hole in it. Most of my friends have have been enjoying the mangoes since the 1990's.

Then my coconut trees no longer produce enough fruits for friends who drop by for a thirst quenching drink.

And finally my durian tree which is bearing fruit after several years of infertility is losing fruit after fruit. Its blooms were beautiful covering several branches a few months ago and we became joyful like expectant parents. Friends even dropped by and became fascinated by the stages of development.

Our garden became the hunting ground of the squirrels.

Finally enough is enough.

A semi automatic is the selected weapon. At six a.m. in the morning the shooting began. Eleven fell but we were only able to pick up four which were near our garden. The others were fairly deep in the thicket. One or two fell into the river running to the east of our house.

By seven the squirrels were skinned and ready for the table. We had two dishes. One was smoked squirrel which was tasty. The other dish was squirrel steamed with specially selected Chinese herbs.


The lovely durians.


The tail of a squirrel left outside as a warning to other squirrels. Wonder if they know and understand the message.




Various stages of the bbq...skinned squirrels!


Panggang or BBQ squirrel


Bones of the squirrels.



Steamed squirrel with special Chinese Herbs.

The whole of Miri is actually quite sick of squirrels which have been terrorizing the fruit trees. Some action must be taken! They are no longer the cute and pretty animals we used to love watching. When their number is big trouble begins....

We might put up a sign in squirrel language "Poachers will be persecuted!"

Disclaimer : My apologies to all vegetarians for this post.

Sibu News: Lantern Festival October 2009

Sibu people will be having a gala time this Lantern Festival. Thousands of lanterns will be on show for the First Lantern Festival in Sibu.

There will be joy and many festivities. I wonder if Octoberfest (beers) and Chinese mooncakes can mix......



A photo by QT Luong. Terragalleria. Photos of old people on bicycle making a living are my passion. Chengdu.

Sibu Lanterns . Photo by Bengbeng


Photo of Khalid (Abana) my former student. By Bengbeng

A history of Chinese lanterns.....

Until the Sui Dynasty in the sixth century, Emperor Yangdi invited envoys from other countries to China to see the colorful lighted lanterns and enjoy the gala erformances.

By the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century, the lantern displays would last three days. The emperor also lifted the curfew, allowing the people to enjoy the festive lanterns day and night. It is not difficult to find Chinese poems which describe this happy scene.

In the Song Dynasty, the festival was celebrated for five days and the activities began to spread to many of the big cities in China.Colorful glass and even jade were used to make lanterns, with figures from folk tales painted on the lanterns.

However, the largest Lantern Festival celebration took place in the early part of the 15th century. The festivities continued for ten days. Emperor Chengzu had the downtown area set aside as a center for displaying the lanterns. Even today,there is a place in Beijing called Dengshikou.In Chinese,Deng means lantern and Shi is market.The area became a market where lanterns were sold during the day.In the evening, the local people would go there to see the beautiful lighted lanterns on display.

Today, the displaying of lanterns is still a big event on the 15th day of the first lunar month throughout China. People enjoy the brightly lit night. Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, for example, holds a lantern fair each year in the Cultural Park. During the Lantern Festival,the park is literally an ocean of lanterns!Many new designs attract countless visitors. The most eye-catching lantern is the Dragon Pole, This is a lantern in the shape of a golden dragon, spiraling up a 27-meter -high pole, spewing fireworks from its mouth. It is quite an impressive sight!

Sources: a) Photos and news from Bengbeng (My Longkang)
b) Wikipedia

September 27, 2009

May Fang Coffee Shop in Tutong Brunei

May Fang Coffee Shop is well known throughout Brunei.

Many from Miri would also drive up to Tutong just to have its teh c and Kopi c with the kuih like pulut. The pulut panggang from this simple and clean shop has a good reputation and most of them would be taken by 10 .30 in the morning. The pulut will be cooked by 8 in the morning. So one cannot be there too early also. Apparently the first owner of the coffee shop must have made the pulut in the early 60's when government officers frequented the shop and mobility was not that great then.

The Tutong Magistrate's court is just about 200 meters away on the same side of the road..

The other nyonya kuihs are just as good. I like them because they are not very sweet but are tender and fragrant. Perhaps being a corner shop its feng shui is very good. People of all races come here and meet up. And sometimes it is so motivating and cheerful to see good friends smiling and talking animately over a nice "glass" of kopi c or teh c. And then the river scenery is just perfect to make your morning start well.








the pulut comes in two "tastes" : you can have the prawn sambal or the beef sambal fillings. I love both. Most people buy up to ten each time they visit Tutong. But more often then not you come away empty handed.


The Kuih Lenggang is very tender. I used to tell my friends it was love at first bite for me. I do make an effort to go there.


The characteristics of old style coffee shop (kopi tiam) should never be abandoned by our business people.

September 25, 2009

Ice Cream Potong

We used to buy ice cream potong ( or ping tiau) from an alley shop along Central Road. It was always a sneak business because we were not allowed icy food by our parents. Iced items would destroy our stomachs and we had already been educated in the ying and yang of food. But as kids we were stubborn and we enjoyed our sneak food of chendol (dirty) and rojak (uncooked and full of germs) and ice cream potong (could give intestinal worms because the water was not cooked).

But we did not turn out to be pot bellied worm infested kids. We were healthy and full of life and perhaps even brilliant in school. We never told our parents we were eating ice cream potong whenever we had those extra two cents. Only our tell tale tooth ache would give us away.

When I became a teacher trainer I travelled to Sabah very often for workshops and seminars. And there I fell in love with ice cream potong all over again. My luggage would be full of cabbages and other green vegetables from Kundasang and my hand luggage would be a box or two of ice cream potong. Eating ice cream potong was like transporting myself and my children to the world of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and other Disney dreamlands.


I grabbed this photo from jg's blog. Thanks.

My happy boy with his long lasting friends. They are friends in good times and bad times. through thick and thin....and they all enjoy good food and are good cooks

Not long ago I managed to buy another box...and gave a treat to my now grown up son and his friends....ice cream potong.... I have long ago learned more about how our body reacts to different kinds of food. Although ice has become a very important part of our lives we definitely still have to be cautious about the source of the water which makes the ice.

I am wondering what has happened to the family who invented ice cream potong in Sibu...I once even aspired to sell some thermos flasks of ice cream potong if I failed my Primary Six Entrance Examination. However I never fail to pay attention to makers of ice cream potong.

Ice cream potong is that part of my childhood which makes me feel 12 years old all over again.

Sibu News: Literacy Class for Senior Ladies



The Zion Methodist Church has been organising literacy classes for senior ladies.

The ladies get together every Sunday and learn to read and pray together . Well Done!!


Here is a photo news for you from Tony Hii (Premier Hotel and blog owner of http://wwwtonyhii.blogspot.com)

60th Birthday/Anniversary

I woke up to a beautiful non-hazy day - blue skies and birds singing by my window.

I do enjoy the coconut leaves rustling happily in the wind outside .

My four mongrels happy with their status as guardians of the house have been noisily knocking at the door for their breakfast.

It should be a hot sunshine day.

Can you remember the first birthday cake you ever had? I cannot remember really. Birthday cakes only came into our lives when the first missionaries had birthday cakes for their children in Sibu. And I think the first real birthday cake for my extended family was the birthday cake made for Mrs. JB Chong. My grandfather's first birthday cake must be for a birthday he celebrated in Singapore.

Later Cheng Hua Kong started making cakes I think for many families started establishing their own family birthday traditions with western cakes and having dinners in restaurants like Blue Splendour.

My father's 50th Birthday was celebrated by his siblings - he received a huge table and a beautiful handsewn (green) table cloth from his beloved sisters. And Aunt Grace organised a western dinner for him. I am quite certain they had steaks on the table. And I do remember that was the first time our family had mashed potatoes at home. I was only about 9 at that time.(My father married my mother late). My father never saw his 60th birthday. Hence I wish I could have given him a birthday cake...So this is a sort of replacement too.

Many of us with Foochow roots would only remember having mee sua with eggs and chicken for our birthdays. On our birthday if we were lucky our mother would reward us with a chicken drumstick. In big families the better pieces of chicken were always for the grandparents and other elders. The Kutiens had hoong ngang with hardboiled eggs. And the Heng Huas had their Heng Hua Noodles.

As for many of us it was good enough if we could get a hard boiled egg for our birthday. But I always appreciate it when our birthdays were remembered by our mother and we would get at least something quite special. This made it worth our while to be alive! And a year older!

2009 is a good year for people/nations to celebrate their 60th birthday or anniversary.

So I thought today would be a good day to look at cybercakes ....and look what beautiful cakes I found....lovely cakes of different colours with different flowers. And I continue to amaze myself - I still like those little yellow flowers - whether they are roses or tulips or peach blossoms ....or daisies....

To all my friends and classmates who were born in the Year of the Ox...Happy 60th Birthday! One cake for each decade of your life. Let's eat all the six at one time - cyberly that is.......Republic of China is also looking at its 60th Anniversary...and so is Ferrari....



Cake I


Cake 2


Cake 3


Cake 4


Cake 5


Cake 6


Thanks to all those who have made the above cakes...they really are very nice.

Happy 60th Birthday!

May you always be blessed; with walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea/coffee by your side table, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all that your heart might desire. (An Old Gaelic blessing)

(My computer is still down and I am using a friend's notebook to this for you today...you can still reach me at yisawan@gmail.com)

September 24, 2009

Betel Leaves or Sireh (Lou Yeh)



Just along the road to our old wooden house at Kung Ping Road/Brooke Drive in Sibu were two huge vines of sireh belonging to Haji Ibrahim. Every day my Malay neighbours (Hajjah and her in laws)would pluck the leaves for their daily gathering of makan sireh. Other neighbours had their own vines but they were not obviously by the roadside.

This scenario of makan sireh has been in my mind ever since. How nice and relaxing it was for the older Malay housewives to spend time together in their living room eating and gossiping with each other. It was their kind of destressing time or siesta time - without having to pay an astronomical sum for a spa treatment.

I remember the important day when my friend was to be engaged to a rare returned overseas university graduate (at that time most returned graduates would have brought along a foreign wife). The families had gathered together in her huge living room. So many sets of sireh eating equipment were taken out. The future husband and wife were not present in this parents only gathering. And they spent a good morning socializing this way making small talk. Finally my friend was engaged and the wedding day set. I was slightly amused by all the talk and the reddening of the teeth. But I was sporting enough to be with my friend on her important day. We were all hiding behind the wooden collapsible screen between the kitchen and the living room.

Later on in my life I saw lots of antiquated sireh containers (brassware) in longhouses and kampong houses. But the lustre of sireh eating was lost because by the 1970's cancer of the mouth was associated with betel chewing. Well that was that. However many betel addicts continued to chew the leaves.

Nevertheless very few people know how beneficial sireh leaves can be. For the indigenous people,the Indonesians and the Nyonyas sireh continue to be as mysterious and mystical as ever. Recently a group of Iban ladies updated me on the benefits of eating sireh leaves and why they are able to sell their leaves in the tamu very well. These photos are from their gardens.




The betel plant or sireh is a slender, aromatic creeper, rooting at the nodes. The branches of the plant are swollen at the nodes. The plant has alternate, heart-shaped, smooth, shining and long-stalked leaves, with pointed apex. It has five to seven ribs arising from the base; minute flowers and one-seeded spherical small berries. The use of betel leaf can be traced as far back as two thousand years. It is described in the most ancient historic book of Sri Lanka, Mahavasma, written in Pali.

Betel is a native of central and eastern Malaysia. It spread at a very early date throughout tropical Asia and later to Madagascar and East Africa. In India, it is widely cultivated in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Offering betel morsel (pan-supari) to guests in Indian subcontinent is a common courtesy.

An analysis of the betel leaf shows it to consist of moisture 85.4 per cent, protein 3.1 per cent, fat 0.8 per cent, minerals 2.3 per cent, fiber 2.3 per cent and carbohydrates 6.1 per cent per 100 grams. Its minerals and vitamin contents are calcium, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 44.

Recent studies have shown that betel leaves contain tannins, sugar and diastases and an essential oil. The essential oil is a light yellow liquid of aromatic odor and sharp burning in taste. It contains a phenol called chavicol which has powerful antiseptic properties. The alkaloid arakene in it, has properties resembling cocaine in some respects.

Healing Power and Curative Properties
Betel leaf has been used from ancient times as an aromatic stimulant and anti-flatulent. It is useful in arresting secretion or bleeding and is an aphrodisiac. Its leaf is used in several common household remedies.

Scanty or Obstructed Urination
Betel leaf juice is credited with diuretic properties. Its juice, mixed with dilute milk and sweetened slightly, helps in easing urination.

Weakness of Nerves
Betel leaves are beneficial in the treatment of nervous pains, nervous exhaustion and debility. The juice of a few betel leaves, with a teaspoon of honey, will serve as a good tonic. A teaspoon of this can be taken twice a day.

Headaches
The betel leaf has analgesic and cooling properties. It can be applied with beneficial results over the painful area to relieve intense headache.

Respiratory Disorders
Betel leaves are useful in pulmonary affection in childhood and old age. The leaves, soaked in mustard oil and warmed, may be applied to the chest to relieve cough and difficulty in breathing.

Constipation
In the case of constipation in children, a suppository made of the stalk of betel leaf dipped in castor oil can be introduced in the rectum. This instantly relieves constipation.

Sore Throat
Local application of the leaves is effective in treating sore throat. The crushed fruit or berry should be mixed with honey and taken to relieve irritating cough.

Inflammation
Applied locally, betel leaves are beneficial in the treatment of inflammation such as arthritis and orchitis, that is inflammation of the testes.

Wounds
Betel leaves can be used to heal wounds. The juice of a few leaves should be extracted and applied on the wound. Then a betel leaf should be wrapped over and bandaged. The wound will heal up with a single application within 2 days.

Boils
The herb is also an effective remedy for boils. A leaf is gently warmed till it gets softened, and is then coated with a layer of castor oil. The oiled leaf is spread over the inflamed part. This leaf has to be replaced, every few hours. After a few applications, the boil will rupture draining all the purulent matter. The application can be made at night and removed in the morning.

Lumbago
A hot poultice of the leaves or their juice mixed with some bland oil such as refined coconut oil can be applied to the loins with beneficial results in lumbago.

Problem of Breast Milk Secretion
The application of leaves smeared with oil is said to promote secretion of milk when applied on the breasts during lactation.

Afterbirth
The betel leaves are crushed and soaked in water. Women after giving birth would sit in a basin of warm water with betel leaves to cleanse their vagina and also to shrink the birth canal. Discharges would be cleared by such frequent soaking. In fact the Indonesian Government has endorsed this type of after birth cleansing.

Precautions: Cancer of the mouth and lips has been found to be more frequent in areas where the betel chewing habit is widely prevalent. Other ill-effects of pan-chewing like dyspepsia, pyorrhea, cancer of the tongue and cheeks have also been observed amongst excessive chewers.

Other Uses
Aphrodisiac: Pan-supari, especially the pan, is prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians as an aphrodisiac. Partly owing to its deodorant, aphrodisiac, and invigorating properties, pan-supari came to form a part of the ritual with which a wife welcomed her husband.

The betel leaves are chewed together with betel nut as a masticatory. In its simplest form, sliced betel nut is wrapped in a betel leaf, smeared with lime and chewed. Often though, a clove and other spices such as cinnamon and cardamom are added. When chewed after meals, it sweetens the breath and acts as a gentle stimulant.

(Caution : Please consult your own doctor before you chew any betel leaves!! Sarawakianaii)

sources :
a)http://sirehemas.com.sg
b) wikipedia
c) oral tradition/history of Mrs. Ishmael, Kak Aminah and Haji Johari

my email : changyi@streamyx.com

September 23, 2009

Doh Nguong Church and Boi Dee Primary School

Nice to visit this school again.
This is a sanba church which stands through the march of times. A kindergarten is always a strong arm of a Methodist Church in the Rajang River Basin.



September 20, 2009

Today is Hari Raya in Malaysia


Beautiful kerosene lamps made from recycled aluminium tins. An effort of creative youths.(photo by Steve Ling of Sibu)


Bamboo canon - well preserved traditional bamboo art. (Photo by Steve Ling of Sibu)





I live in Malaysia where Islam is the dominant religion. More than half of its population are Muslims. And I grew up at the periphery of a Malay Kampong called Kampong Nyabor in Sibu. In fact my grandfather bought the piece of land from a Malay friend. Abang Koh was truly an Abang (older brother) to my father.

Each Ramadan would make us and our neigbhours very expectant and excited. We had wonderful aromas of curries and masak lemak floating around us. Every few days we would be given some of the food by our gracious Kak (who was never married). We also had some special food sent to our house by Abang Koh's cousin whom we called Aunty. And in return my parents would reciprocate in the Foochow style of reciprocating with aerated water and Sunkists for their celebration. I remember going over to their houses when they made their dodol in their compound and I would stare into the pot as the fire roared away.

Kak had an adopted daughter who was slightly younger than I and she would make the ketupats with her older relatives. Being young and very self conscious I would just watch them make but never dare to ask them to teach me. I was just happy sitting on the wooden stair case and "just watch" until my mother would call me home or my sister would come to pull me towards home. I was a child who loved to "cross home" meaning to go visit the neighbours. I just liked to observe everything around me but it was deemed rather negatively. I suppose many heads were shaking behind my back and I was construed to be a bit of a wild child to many.


This is a display kuali in a Shah Alam Hotel. I love the huge kuali which is similar to Kak's kuali. Such a scene is no longer a commonaly in Sibu today. Every one would have electrical home appliances and dodol is perhaps no longer made in this way!!

Kampong houses then were never locked! If a Malay house was locked up all the neighbours would panic thinking the worst had happened. I still remember Kak one day calling out to her neighbour (Sharifah) that she was going to the market and could she look after her house? She then left without even closing the front door! Absolute security.

Two or three houses came between our house and their houses. In these houses lived Iban families and a few Hokkien families. I remember these houses belonged to Abang Koh who had rented to them for peanuts. Like 30 dollars a room? In those days many families lived in one rented room per family and shared a common kitchen. Stoves were separatly made and tables placed in the kitchen. And each family would have their small kitchen cabinet or wooden food safe(for their bowls and and food). Each of these food safes would have ceramic bowls for the legs.

It was thus so easy for families to see what others had for their meals. Gossips naturally abound. But as neigbhours I remember we more or less respected each other and kept our distances. I remember the grief (and lots of wailing)involved when a member passed away or an errant husband ran away.

However the Malay families were lovely and every evening I would love to see the ladies and the young girls all dressed in white walking slowly and graceful towards the mosque at the end of the road. They were like pilgrims making their holy journey in the growing dusk.

There was a lot of sharing amongst the families in those days when the telephone and electricity supply was not public utilities yet! Furthermore most of the families depended on a concrete tank of water into which the gutters would regurgitate rainwater. I would always remember how we children bathed using the rainwater in our house. It was always so cold. Some mosquito larvae would be wriggling inside the water too. We enjoyed our baths on hot days because the sun was strong enough to heat up the water. And every now and then my mum would use a metal brush to clean the cement walls inside. Tiles of course were unheard of in those days. Later when we had piped water we were happy with the clean water. Piped water was like a miracle to the women of our area!

Even receiving the water bill was a moment of delight. The matriarchs would gather along the road side and compare their bills. And they would talk about how to reduce their bills of $1.60!!

These were the goodies we enjoyed when visiting our close friends:

Marbled cake.




Locally made aerated water still available in Sarawak and Brunei. For this photo I had to buy the two drinks from a special shop in Sg. Liang (Brunei)


But what I liked most in those days were the oil lamps which were specially made by the Malay youths and their fathers. Every family would compete with each other to see how many lamps they could make to line up the road or the ubiquitous raised wooden path to their homes. Some who had the means already had the fairy lights. Some even had fixed light bulbs!

So Raya meant that we could see the whole kampong lit up beautifully and we would cycle to as far as we could (were allowed) to see the beautiful lights. These are treasured memories. My mates were Onn Suut and Amnah who lived next door to each other in Kampong Baru. Abang Ibrahim and Zailani were friendly and cheerful friends. Dora and Halimah were best of friends with me. Then we also has Hapipah who lived fairly near me. We would form quite a formidable bicycle patrol!!

Each Raya in Sibu would always remind my friends and I of our classmate the late Rashid as he passed away suddenly when we were in Form Five. We were completely dumbfounded when someone our age was taken away without explanation. the late Rashid would always be our leader for Raya visiting from Form One until he passed away. Later in life whenever we met up in Sibu we would always express our sadness when we thought of him.

I have learned to make ketupat from a friend very recently and my knobbly fingers are no longer as nimble as a child's ....


To all my Muslim friends Selamat Aidil Fitri.....and thanks for the memories.....

A Good "Hand" and Rearing Ducks in Sg. Bidut



This is Lau Yiing Dee (left) born in Sg. Bidut of Sibu and came to Miri in the early 1990's. He reminded me of a very important Foochow saying " Hor Chui Siok" which means "good hand".

He shared with me his illustration of this Foochow saying. His family lived with his grandmother for many years before moving to Miri. While growing up he had already his home based business of rearing ducks together with his grandmother.



His grandmother would buy a whole brood of ducklings like these and they would be divided exactly into half. He would get half and his grandmother half. They would not select and choose their own ducklings. However when the growth was reviewed from time to time and when finally the ducks were to be slaughtered his ducks would always be much bigger than his grandmother's.

It was not just once but many times. He and his grandmother would always try to rear their ducks in this way. Each partner would rear his/her own. In fact Grandmother fed her ducks better because she was at home most of the time and often she would cook rice and give the best food to her ducks. Yiing Dee confessed that he would sometimes forget to feed his ducks!! But each brood of his would always be bigger than his grandmother's. It became a great family legend.


To the Foochows this is called Chiu Siok (good hand).

And this brings me back to the times of my younger days. I would hear stories of grandmothers who had a good "hand" in raising children. Their children never "cried". But once these kids went back to their mothers they would whimper and cry non-stop!!

Some baby sitters also had good "hands". The children they took care of never got sick. I suppose even with HINI the children would be safe. When I was in Sibu those baby sitters with famous good "hand" were very very popular.

I remember my son's baby sitter (Mrs. Lau Kiing Tieng) a cousin also has a very good "hand". All the babies who went to her grew to be bouncing babies!! Not only that when we visited her not long ago she proudly told us that all the children she looked after have graduated and in fact two are doctors. My son is in his third year at varsity I told her and she seemed so pleased when she heard that.

One lady told me that she has a good "hand" too in raising children. When her grandchildren came to visit her they would sleep very soundly and have a great appetite. They would gobble up everything she cooked. When they went back to their mothers they would be sickly and lose their appetite! They would never give their mother a good night's sleep.

I think it goes across the board. Some people have good "hand" in business and so they thrive and accumulate a lot of wealth. Perhaps other pull and push factors which help them too like opportunities or the right deal coming along. But I personally feel that it has something to do with a good blend of nature and nurture and a lot of common sense in whatever we deal with. And definitely a person with a "good hand" which comes with his nature will be a winner.

Do you believe in Chiu Siok?

September 18, 2009

A Treasure Chest

Yesterday I was given a treasure chest.

What do I have in this treasure chest? Let me count my treasures:

I have a very very great and special family of very exciting and loving personalities which I started 35 years ago.

I have two loving and warm hearted sons-in-law.

I have four sisters and a brother and a superb mother.

I have uncles and aunties and grand aunts and grand uncles who are still around to lend a helping hand as any extended family would.

I have cousins and nieces and nephews and in laws and my children's in laws who are God sent.

I have school mates and class mates and later varsity mates who made my pursuit of education a wonderful and long lasting experience; who paved my life's journey with extraordinary blessings .

I have good friends who come from different countries of the world and have adopted Sarawak as their home. They have special places in their hearts for me as I have for them.

I have teachers and missionaries who shaped my character.

I have a very large number of colleagues who helped me along the way to enable to become more mature academically and the kind of person I am today.

I have a churchful of brothers and sisters who are always praying for and blessing one another.

And I have students who call me "teacher" whenever I meet them at the most remote schools where they are teaching or in so many different places in Sarawak where they work. Whether they are VIP or UP (it is UP UP UP - one told me that he was Unimportant People) they are all people with good hearts. They have made all my classrooms very exciting and memorable. Our shared paths of learning have been rewarding.

Now I am counting on seven girl friends who are like a constellation of stars in my universe in Miri. They are like the rainbow in the sky...adding cheers after a rain and providing hope in time of need. (one is not in the photo last night). I am happy in the thought that there are other constellations in my universe so I am not ruling out my other friends....

They contribute laughter and quick witted banter. They are more than just makan friends. They make me feel like a celebrity all the time and enjoy my presence( without fear or favour). Like the vinegar and the sweet and sour sauce and the salt and pepper (AND CHILLI) we all come together to form something which can tintillate the taste buds of all those around us.....They can be counted on when I have a puncture in a lonely road or I have to rush to the hospital for an emergency.


There are other special friends too elsewhere (cyberspace too) who have helped me in more ways than I can think of or thank them enough.....

And there are
strangers who offered a parking lot when I had a sick child in the car and was desperately circulating the car park in the hospital
neighbours who brought lemang and curry;neighbours who feed my dogs and water my plants when I am away
acquaintances who cheered me on when I took part in joggerthons or helped with a campaign to raise funds for the needy..who lent a helping hand....
ordinary citizens who give way in difficult traffic
angels unaware who have said kind words to me and to one another to make our circle a better one.....

My treasure chest is filled with people's good deeds and kind thoughts. It is also filled with good thinking and saving grace. I want to think that it is full to brim and overflowing with God's love.

My cup runneth over today and every day of my life.


And here are some photos of our getogether last night.....and my treasure chest...

No you cannot find gold and silver in my treasure chest....you can hear laughter and you can feel love and good will....you can feel the warmth of relationship...you can smell that sourish sweat of hardwork that people have put in to make our lives better.......

At this round table we are all equal partners in sharing our opinions and thoughts...

I like to think that this candle light is God's light shining on our earth...and giving us life.

These are layers and layers of goodness contributed by friends and loved ones and glued together by faith and hope and love....I could taste the bitterness of chocolate and at the same time the sweetness of the sugar...Yes we can take what life gives us with courage....

This is the tou hoo....the greatness of the tou hoo depends on the ingredients which are used to bring out a good flavour....we need the collective efforts of friends and relatives..to bring out the best in us.

This is the lotus root...from the depth of the pond a chef can bring the best taste of a simple root vegetable out and help nourish the body....like the lotus root we too can help nourish each other in spite of the lowly muddy pond bottom.

Many of us are like the deer running sometimes directionless in the wilderness. Our sinews are tough and yet when we well marinated we can become a very charming and presentable dish. Definitely our Creator knows what we can do and what can be done for us.

This is deep fried soft shell crabs....there is greatness in softness and gentleness.

An inspiring friend.

A thoughtful friend who chose the meaningful longevity noodles....

A friend who has a heart of gold...she is worth a million carat....

A friend who is practical and hardworking - a role model (she can do everything all by herself and remains a beauty).

A friend who is appreciative and sympathetic with good judgement.

The lady in pink is a friend who stands by you. She is a good teacher and counsellor.

And I would like to make a toast to good friends....cheers....and thanks ...

And every now and then I would to take a peep at my treasure chest and say " the world is good and God is great!" and I thank a friend for sending me a message yesterday first thing in the morning...."there are still good things out there...."