December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

On this last day of the year 2010 I would like to share with you a fantastic Youtube presentation of a very famous Chinese song "Fisherman's Song at Dusk". What lovely women are featured in the Youtube!!
How great their values! And wishing all women in this world a Happy New Year in particular...if you are to hold up half the sky - keep working hard and carry on our great values.....

To all...Happy New Year!!

December 30, 2010

Funeral in RED

My blog is mainly about the Foochows and their way of life for as long as I can photograph and record. I am also trying my best to record events and happenings in Sibu and elsewhere concerning the Foochows. I am doing out of love as a Foochow mother and a member of the community.

Funerals are part of one's life as much as births and weddings. Last week I received news that one of my classmates' father Rev Wong Ding Ming passed away at age 102 (Born 1909) the year my own Grand father got married to my grandmother Chong Jin Soon. By Chinese (Foochow) reckoning of birthdays Rev Wong was deemed 102 years old. Additional two of two years.

Most Chinese funerals are conducted in serious ceremonies with specific death dress code. Cloths in white and black are worn by children and children in laws with paternal grandchildren wearing yellow and maternal grandchildren wearing indigo. There are other colours for great grand children depending on the dialects the family belong to. These colours would indicate the generations the dearly departed had. And bystanders would nod as the funeral procession pass by...The obituary announced in the newspapers would also take into consideration how many generations he or she had left behind.

And because Rev Wong passed the 100 year mark he was given a "red funeral". This was indeed more a celebration of a good life than a grieving funeral. His passing marked the end of one of the most humble Methodist preachers in Sarawak. Many would miss him as a good man of God.

Photos courtesy of Wong Meng Lei.

And it would be good to further research on this topic. But for the moment these two photos will be here as part of a special record of a remarkable long life of Rev Wong Ding Ming.

As far as Sibu 's history is concerned there have been less than 20 Foochows who had lived more than 100 years of age.

My condolences to my school mates Wong Teck Yii and Wong Teck Toh and their families.

December 29, 2010

On the Road to Pontianak and meeting the Kapuas River

It was a great trip for me....from the borderlands of Sarawak and Kalimantan and following the Kapuas River valley to Pontianak. The organisers did a wonderful job  packing  lots of action and interesting sights into our tour. 1200 miles is quite a a distance.We arrived on a v ery wet and windy day on the banks of the Kapuas. It was a beautiful feeling watching the stormy water and the windswept trees. Lots of children were playing happily on the banks unaware and unafraid that a storm was actually brewing. They were happy to be drenched and cooled  by the  first drops of a pelting rain.


I like this...houses are built so near the river!! So owners have boats berthed in the back yard or is it front yard(?) and a car parked in the  yard that is on the landward side...It is a little like the Indonesian version of Mandurah (W. Austrialia) except that houses here cost RM50 000 only or even less if relatives help you build.
Quick photo taken from a bridge.....
View of river along one of the villages....
Besides boats buses like these transport passengers from Putussibau to Pontianak. One can see all sorts of  interesting personal effects on top of the buses.
The Kapuas River is the major waterway connecting the central of Borneo island with its western coast. It is indeed a  large river with width up to 27 meters and it is so many times the size of the Rajang of Sarawak. I heard from my Iban friend that a cargo boat (with draft up to 2 meters)  from Putussibau  (906 km from the mouth) can take a slow journey of a month to reach Pontianak. Sometimes tourists can also book rooms for a month for such a nice slow journey and enjoy the scenery of the river. I might like to do that and read my books and enjoy writing my journal.

 Logging and rafting of timber occur all along the river. Fishing is also common, especially at the Kapuas Lakes and near the river delta.

A typical Kapuas valley wooden house - built as a model in the Kapuas Museum garden (the architecture helps the house to be ever ready for flooding). In this museum in Pontianak you can see so many models of different houses found in Kalimantan on its grounds. Good effort.

December 28, 2010

What are your thoughts at the end of the year?

Will my shop/stall kopi-0 cost 50 sen more next year? Sugar price has been raised by only a few sen....Who are those in authority to control price increase of kopi-o?If I am allowed I will bring my Kopi powder..I will order a cup of hot water...thanks. May I borrow you nice cup?

One of the best schools in Sarawak - SM Sains of Miri may have to be moved? The Deputy Prime Miminister agreed to the move in only a matter of a few minutes!! To Tinjar....Does any one know how far Tinjar is from Miri? There are other considerations too....And of course legal considerations. I shall miss the school when it is moved. The school canteen served one of the best mi goreng in Miri!! Many outstanding students were produced by this school. Some excellent staff too.

Was there any test made to confirm that the foundation of the school was good enough? Luckily no teacher fell to his death like the teacher who fell to his death because termites ate the beams in a Chinese School in West Malaysia. We had Death by Termites....Will we have death by peat soil?

Chasing after degrees.....

With so many frustrated Malaysians not being able to gain bona fide degrees and   earning a great experience living on University Campuses....I suggest that in bolehland....all teachers who are now teaching in primary schools  and having served 10 years in the rural schools in East Malaysia be given a "Degree in Teaching in Rural Indigenous Schools Majoring in Indigenous Languages". this will further  lead to rapid publication of books on Indigenous languages and other related subjects by West Malaysian writers sponsored by the Government. Courses would be conducted in Budget hotels and more KL- KK and KL-Kuching flights to be condoned by MAS...This will furthermore boost local tourism to Mulu and Kinabalu... Habis Cerita. Semua siap...and every one would like to teach in rural areas especially in Sarawak and Sabah. There will definitely be more opening ceremonies and more food for the AJK Jamuan...

Similar degree "Teaching in Rural Primary Schools in Semanjung Malaysia majoring in Orang Asli dialects/culture" be awarded to adventurous teachers who have been teaching in Orang Asli areas. Ten years after receiving the degrees these graduates are qualified to stand for election to represent the Orang Asli. Headmasters can also act as Thesis advisors/supervisors...there you go...multi- tasking...

And now a word about Smart Students Programme in Sabah and Sarawak.........Pupils who are identified as SMART  after a stringent testing need ONLY complete four years in Primary school and three years in Secondary School. At age 15 they can enter a university of their own choice.....all scholarships will be from the PM office. Normally civil servants serve 35 years. These brilliant students can dedicate 50 years of their lives to the government if they retire at the age of  70. Think of how much money can be saved...and how motivated the pupils would be to be smart!! one knew about Dr. Yie 's passing in Miri? He was once our Mayor? No? No? Oh dear...oh dear....memories are rather faulty these days...may be too much food cooked in aluminium cooking pots.....

Just some of my 2 sens worth of thinking.


December 26, 2010

Pastor Law Hui Seng - the longest serving GMC Pastor in the 21st Century!

Pastor Law Hui Seng served our church for 9 years - from the first year of the first decade of 21st century to today. He will be preaching his last sermon today in our church. He will also be a pastor who symbolises MISSION....

Our farewell to him was on Christmas Day - yesterday. We shifted our church gathering to Imperial Palace Hotel to accomodate more people both for Christmas and for his farewell. The faithful congregation did a good job. Hurray!

Pastor is good with the young parents. This child is a Child of God and the Church as a Community has a duty to bring him up ....and may he be like Samuel.
The Sunday School produces the future leaders of the church.
Angels like Lisa are "dropped" by God in our midst. We must not miss that touch of angel dust....
Pastor has a great attitude towards preaching to the "multitudes......" very 2lst Century and very global.

His Vanguards are like Soldiers fighting for Jericho! Intelligent and strong in faith.
He has people who serve with a great smile.
He has strong support from wise men from the East.
A senior member  is always a Proverb 31 Jewel and a glittering gem for the Church.
Ladies in White who are beautiful "door keepers" who open doors to welcome all - young and old with a beautiful perfect 10 smile which warms the heart and soul. Small group works wonders.

As 2010 ends as a year and ends as a DECADE -

I am especially grateful for 9 years of pastoral care and short term mission guidance from Pastor Law...Thank you Pastor Law.

December 25, 2010

My Christmas Dinner

We cooked for ten people when there were only seven of us at home for Christmas dinner. For one never knows who may drop by. We had had our share of "the proverbial uninvited guest" with the greatest of Christian charity results. While we remain simple in our life style we are adventurous in our food preparation.

This year my son came up with his version of Christmas Eve dinner and I came up with a special five spice and belly pork stuffing for the turkey. We tried to use as little sugar as possible.

Red Snapper cooked in a casing of home pounded Bario Salt and Himalaya Sea Salt
Turkey with a whole slice of belly pork as its stuffing - the five spice aroma with the gravy is heavenly. Angels sing!
A sweet savoury bean cooked in this huge pumpkin is very tasty as a starter. My son carefully carved out the pumpkin by 2 p.m. in his preparation.
Greek Salad - easy peasy (no peas though) - prepared by my daughter.

Charcoal bbq leg of wildboarprepared in the backyard (leg was bought from hunting friends who live in Tutong of Brunei.)

Savory rice cooked with black eye peas and some minced pork with lots of onions and garlic and cumin. Lovely taste - unusual family planted  red rice from Tutong too. I created the recipe because the rice is fantastically unique and not found in the ordinary market. It is both chewy and sweet - a cross between the Chou Mi (unpolished rice) and the best of the local rice.

The traditional mince pies - Iceland brand - from Seria of Brunei - easy dessert - so I did not really cook this meal!!

As we ate dinner we prayed in our hearts that all our friends and relatives were too having a roof over their head (Mary and Joseph had to stay in an animal shed as there was no room in the inns) and a bowl of nourishing food (I am sure Mary and Joseph brought their little picnic basket or the registration of their son and their own census) in front of them as Christ was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.

What are your thoughts this Christmas?

Blessings at Christmas for everyone!!

December 24, 2010

Blue Christmas Tree of Miri 2010

My present city of abode is rather quiet in spite of it being the second city in the state of Sarawak.

This year Samling Corporation sponsored the Christmas tree for the city - and had it constructed in the City Fan for the Christmas season.

Last night my son and I visited the site and saw some members of the Miri Photographic Society working hard at their shootings.

enjoy these photos!

Blessed Christmas and Peace and Joy for the New Year!! For all those who love blue ....with love from Miri!!

Winter Solstice Festival In Brunei

 My ancestors would have tried their best to go home for the Winter Solstice Festival for a family reunion. But perhaps I am fated to be a River and Lake Woman making the Four Seas my home. I have to seek a living here and there...and for the festive season I was in Brunei....just to take pictures of the goodies for Hokkien ancestral worship at the Kianggeh Market was a kind of celebration for me.

But I have more to celebrate : two posts for today - as often in Sarawak we celebrate the two important festivals together - The Christian Christmas  (25th Dec) and the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival (22nd Dec).

Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital of an oil rich Sultanate and its population includes a small percentage of Chinese descent residents.

While many of the shops are Chinese owned almost all shops have signboards in Jawi and "romanised Malay". A small temple in the city centre indicates the beliefs of the Chinese and the wet market at Kianggeh also has a few stalls selling Chinese delicacies.

Winter Solstice Festival of the Chinese fell on 22nd Dec and housewives who are too busy to make their own Tang Yuen will buy some ready made dough in the market . Besides they can also buy some Fatt Kow for ancestor worshipping later in the evening.

I have not seen Fatt Kow made into Bao shapes....So I hope Rajang Basin would take a special interest in my posting today!!

This is Fatt Kow made ready for ancestral worship. They can be eaten also.

The pink and white rice dough for the tang yuen or Che (Foochow)

This is Fatt Kow in the shape of baos. I am sure the Hokkiens of Brunei can explain this unique practice.
This is in fact Open your mouth to laugh or Kai Kow Siao. A happy New Year cookie filled with goodness (egg and sesame in a good flour dough and deep fried)

Prawn fritters - a fusion of Chinese and South East Asian cuisine.

It was nice to see all these kuihs in the market. Nostalgia for hometown food and family and friends!!

December 23, 2010

Ikan Sembilang @ Kianggeh Market in Bandar

An early morning shopping in the Kianggeh Market in Bandar provided a good shot of adrenalin!

I witnessed an adult accompanying two small boys rod fishing for ikan sembilang in the small Kianggeh River. Within minutes actually they caught three while we witnessed their excited but nevertheless expert fishing skill which included cutting off the fins which can send "electrical and paralysing tremors" up one's body if pricked. Three in a fishing team is a good system : one hooks a fish. One steps on it and one cuts the fins!! Smooth act indeed.

No lay person not well versed about ikan sembilang should try cleaning this fish when freshly caught!! Be warned. You can have three days of fever and swelling. There is still no known antidote for a sembilang sting in western medicine. You may have to suffer it out.

Their morning act just flooded me with memories of my days of growing up in the Rajang Valley. It was such a wonderful time watching my cousins fish by the river bank. Time and time again I would even have dreams of us running home to Grandma with just two small fish in our pail. Those were really happy and innocent days.
The leader steps on(he has Japanese slippers on) the fish while another clips of the lethal fins.

A strong hand catches the fish under the fins while another boy's hand holds the pliers.

Kianggeh River....

Another fish and another boy steps in to help hold the big fish down.

Same slippered guy steps on the ikan sembilang with skillful pressure.

This guy is happy with his catch and his young friends...four fish in less than half hour. He calls out to his young friend to bring the pliers.

Expert fisherboy with pliers - their bait? Small fresh and live shrimps.

Enough adrenalin for the morning!!

December 22, 2010

The City on The Equator "Pontianak" or Kun Tien

They have driven more than 2000 KM by 8th Dec from Miri - Mr and Mrs. Francis Lim from Miri extremely excited and happy - they received a certificate for visiting the Equator. I took this photo in the evening as they came back laden with goodies.
On 8th Dec we reached the Equator and Pontianak or Ponti as the locals call it at almost midnight! On of the vehicles had a slight accident - knocking into a motor cycle - but with our Pontianak friend's help it was smoothly settled. It has been quite a marvellous and safe road journey so far.

Pontianak is the city on the Equator and that's rather romantic to any one interested in geography.

We checked into the Mercure Hotel which is very comfortable by any standard. At long last - a good bed and some hot showers.  Those who did not expect the humidity and did not bring enough clothes were glad that they could at least get to be freshly showered. I was able to have a really good night's sleep by past midnight. We had been roughing it out and like good Girl Guides and Boys Scouts our group had been in good spirits and cheer.

With Christmas coming we were just happy to see the Christmas decorations in the hotel. And furthermore we were extremely happy to be in touch with our families in Sarawak and in Malaysia...

Before we went to sleep we had some fried mi hoon as room service and we checked our emails using the wi fi.....that's splendid!!

Next day we had several objectives: rest and relax....and a bit of shopping for batik and dried and salted fish.

Breakfast was an upscale international buffet. We took it very slowly and leisurely as holiday makers should do. We went to do some batik shopping but missed out the Equator Monument.

And for the record there's a short description of it from Wikipedia.

The Equator monument is one of famous monuments in Indonesia. The equatorial line is marked by the Equator monument, which marks the division between the northern and southern hemispheres. Its location is in Jalan Pontianak, North Pontianak, about 3 kilometers from city center of Pontianak.
[edit] History

* First monument built in 1928 by Netherlands Geographer.
* 1930 completed, in form of bollard radianly and dart.
* 1938 rebuilt with completion by opzicter / architech Silaban. the Original Monument visible in the interior.
* 1990, returning renovated the monument with making a dome to protect original monument and also making of duplicate of monument of the size five times bigger than its original monument. Its grand opening on 1991 September 21.

Note : The equator monument is not on the equator anymore. The equator has moved slightly south and there is a another line outside the monument, that shows the recorded position in 2005. The position of the equator in 2010 is even further south and in the river, as a GPS device can confirm.

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Three cheers to Francis and his wife Ah Hong.....they are really good adventurers......

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