April 29, 2011


What is this popular vegetables that Philipinos plant and eat in Sarawak?

Find out more from me......cheers...

April 25, 2011

Greek Architecture in Sibu

This photo is for all my peers and younger school mates who hail from Upper Lanang Road and Salim area of Sibu. And for those who have moved away from Sibu a few decades ago. You cannot believe it I suppose!! Neither could I when I went to visit it recently with Wong Meng Lei and Yang Yi Fang.

Some of you might have gone to school in your younger days in Ta Goong(in Foochow pinyin) or Thai Chang (in Mandarin pinyin) Primary School -a Methodist community and church sponsored primary school. "Where there was a Methodist Church there was a school"was the general view about Methodist Church in Sarawak.

It is the only Methodist Primary School I know in Malaysia that has a dome and a cross. It sits on a beautiful site which is No.1 Lot along this road and at today's price it is a multi-million project.

What a beauty indeed - thanks to our Foochow forefathers who had the foresight to obtain this piece of land from the government of that time and the present wealth of the local people ..... The Foochow pioneers of the area started the church and school with whatever money their earned from rubber in those days.

This is the new building which is very different from the one that was constructed in the 1900's. From simple wooden structures which were very functional to the present concretised and Greek design!!

SJK (C) = Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina) means ( Chinese ) National Type School. In principle it means a government school which is run according to national educational polices but with Chinese management and Chinese as one of the main mediums of instruction. With the l Malaysia vision many of the Chinese teachers are tri lingual and many of the administrators/officers are Muslims. However the origin of the school would not be forgotten by all the photos and historical records written on the walls.

Government policies on education of the day are adhered to. Christian teachings are only available as and when needed but outside school hours. Islamic Studies have become a natioanl subject for Muslims attending this school and are taught by the certified Religious teachers who are on the government payroll. Moral studies are for those who are non-Muslim. Any teacher who has been trained to teach Moral Studies can teach the subject.

The development of the school continues to depend on the nearby Church and the Management Board.

More will be written about the history of the church and school later....

April 24, 2011

Natural Shampoo from Brunei Jungles

Have you ever wondered how the beautiful maidens of the the Sarawak and Brunei forests kept their hair so shiny and soft before the days of Sunsilk Shampoo?

Writers had often written about their demure personality and their exquisite skin colour and wonderful long and luxuriant hair. Perhaps it was/and still is the jungle secret?

May be it is not such a well kept secret any more if this secret gets out into the cyberspace from many others and myself. Many of the Ibans in Limbang and Skrang continue to use this wood based shampoo.

And then I found someone in Brunei who claims the great properties of the wood. This vegetable vendor at the Jerudong Fish Market told me about the wonderful wood he was selling. Shampoo ! He told me to pound a small piece of the wood and add water and I could make my hair soft and silky.

Organic and natural rainforest shampoo wood.

Close up....

If you are in Brunei Jerudong Market you can get this from our dear man in the vegetable section.....

You cannot get more organic than this!!

April 23, 2011

Passion Fruit/Flower - How did it get its name?

The fruit is called Markisa in Malaysia. To some Chinese the fruit is called Bai Sen or "100 winnings" It is sometimes just called Siang Guo or Sweet Fruit.

In English it is called Passion Fruit.

There is a lot of symbolism attached to this fruit from the Catholic point of you. However many have forgotten the symbolism or many of us never knew the stories attached to the fruit.

In the 16th century Roman Catholic priests said that some parts of the flower reminded them of the passion, suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

 Look carefully at the picture, and you might be able to follow his explanation.Passiflora

The Sarawak Wild Mini Passion flower
 It is said that the flower of five petals and five sepals petallike represented the ten apostles who remained faithful to Christ in his suffering. (Excludes properly Judas, the traitor, and Peter, who denied Christ three times.) Even Christ saw the crown of thorns on the hairlike rays above the petals. The five stamens (male pollen producing structures) represented five wounds Christ means. The three styles, which rise above the ovary, in order buttonlike a stigma, but as a large head nails. They were supposed to represent the nails used in the execution of Jesus...etc

To all my Christian friends...Happy Easter. May the suffering of Jesus 2000 years ago help you to renew your faith in Everlasting Life.

God keeps his promises.

April 22, 2011

Wooden Toy Piano in my life as a young mother.

Thanks to Uncle Lee this little piece of memory came back immediately to me!!  I went to take this photo out of a small 1970's album to find it in very good condition. The toy grand piano is clearly shown. As you can guess my daughter is left handed!!

Perhaps it was reading Benjamin Spock or perhaps toy pianos were the best toys in department store we bought one unit for our first born even before she was able to read and write..

Actually I remember most kids loved the little toy piano they had.  Like most parents I got one wooden toy piano  to help "develop the children's innate musical talent" from a very young age.

We were living in Brooke Drive Sibu and had no real piano at home then. To listen to real piano music we had to visit Aunt Ida who was giving piano lessons. Then slowly my  little girls outgrew their wooden toy piano and took real lessons. We bought a Yamaha later on. However the wooden piano stayed with us for indeed a long long time. Toys in those days were really made to last. I cannot remember when the toy became an old toy and was given away or kept some where to gather dust. With four children memories of those days can be very distorted.

How did my children actually develop their love for music? I suppose they also learned to appreciate piano music because of Schroeder from  the Peanuts......

We enjoyed reading Peanuts together. All my daughters and I agree that in each one of us we do have some characteristics of Lucy ....(pl. laugh out loudly girls!!) I did not get a boy until very much later. Is he a Schroeder or a Charlie Brown? Is he a Linus?

My generation of parents had read Peanuts throughout their childhood and youth  and later made their children read Peanuts and perhaps some composite characteristics did come through. But Shultz did give us some insight to children's psychology and help us in many ways to understand our children better. I really appreciate that.

Today Benjamin Spock and C. Shultz are not as popular as before because of language differences in Malaysia.

I am glad I have found one Youtube of Schroeder and Lucy to share with you. Enjoy!! It is comforting to hear the sound of the toy piano.....

From across the seas - thanks Uncle Lee for this memory shared!!

More pictures of wooden piano from Google!!

We bought a black toy grand piano from Ngui Kee Departmental Store. I think some kid sat on it and broke the legs of the piano. Grandma used to say it was too noisy....But I think the girls managed Jingle Bells .......and San Zi lah hoo....san zi lah hoo...one had no eyes...one had no tail...and they loved to substitute all the different body parts that went missing on the three tigers!! Favourite missing part was the koo chiong...or butt...how imaginative they were!!
I never did see a blue one like this. Can you remember seeing a blue one in the shops?

April 21, 2011

Kueh Chap - A Malaysian Favourite

This posting may cause some debate regarding the similarities in the origins of the Dian Bian Hoo and Kueh Chap.....do they have the same origins?

I am keeping my mind open....and let's see whether my Foochow and Teochew friends will say something different!!

This posting is dedicated to my young school friend Evelyn Fong......as I remember her parents the late  Mr and Mrs.Baughman who showed how kindness and gentle ways could win people over in my younger days in Sibu.....Cheers Evelyn!!

Recipe is for six person (small bowls) or 3 persons (big bowls)
A. Boil the following in a pot with 6 bowls of water or more. Add if the soup seems to dry up!!
2 big bulbs of garlic (or more if you love garlic)
1 thumb size ginger (sliced)
4 tbsp black peppercorn(crushed)
3 tbsp cloves
6 pieces of  star anise
3  cinnamon sticks
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbps light soy sauce
6  black cardamom
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 to 1 tbsp five spice powder
3-4 pieces of dried chillies (soaked)
some pepper

Optional : a knob of b lue ginger - smashed

B.  noodles:
1 to 2 packets of kueh chap pieces thai ones) - prepare as instructed.

C. If you prefer ONLY Vegetarian ingredients - 
for vegetarian Kueh Chap soup - add suitable amount of gluten mushroom and ham to make the soup 
6 pieces of dried mushrooms

D. For both vegetarian and Non vegetarian Kueh Chap
1/4 kg fu chook (soaked and made ready)
1/4 kg fried tou hoo (slice into two pieces each)
1/4 kg bean curd sticks (broken into bite sizes and softened)

E. For non vegetarian kueh chap
1 pork knuckles or chicken body parts (remove skin)
1/2 - l kg   kg belly pork or lean meat or chicken meat3 - 6 hard boiled eggs (without shell)
as much pork intestines and pig ears or more chicken meat  as you like.

F. Chili  sambal
2 chillies 
1 teaspoon belacan
some onions.
Pound well

G. Extra chopped garlic for individuals who may like garlic......


1.For non vegetarian kueh chap -  boil the knuckle ; offals and  meats for as long as you like. (do prepare the pig's ears and intestines well)
2. For vegetarian- boil gluten mushroom and ham to prepare for the soup separately for as long as you like.
3.. boil the dry ingredients in 6 cups of water for 1 hour over slow fire.
4. Add 1 and  soup only of 2 (discard all the herbs etc) together. Add some more water if the soup is too salty.
5. Prepare the toufoo etc.
6. Add the kueh chap (prepared according to the packet)
7. Add the bean curd sticks and other ingredients.

Before serving
1. Place 6 bowls on table. Put meats etc. in bowl. Keep boiling the soup over slow fire.
2. Put kueh chap into the bowls.
3. Give one egg or 1/2 egg per person
4. Garnish with coriander leaves.
5. Prepared chopped garlic and sambal belacan and chillies too.....place in small individual dishes.

 Tasty Teochew Cuisine - Kueh Chap.

According to Records of Traditional Chinese Cuisine,  Kueh Chap was first  found in Ming Dynasty (明朝) History. It was then known not as Kueh Chap, but Officially known as Ding Bian Cuo (鼎邊挫) or Ding Bian Hu (鼎邊糊). It was during the later Ming Dynasty, when the  Teochews developed their own style and taste the name Kueh Chap came about.

During the  Ming Dynasty, Ming Emperor appointed Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) to guard at the Southern China (中國南方)  against the Japanese pirates & Commoner-Armies (日本倭寇). Qi Ji Guang started to worry about Food-supply for the Armies. First, he worried that the Food-supply might not be easy to transport to the Southern Part of China due to mountainoues nature of the area, secondly, he worried that his soldiers might not like the Food in the Southern China.

Unable to rest he went wandering around to think of a Solution. Just as he walked past a Kitchen, he saw an Old Lady who woke-up early to do her cooking for her Family. While Qi Ji Guang peeped into her Kitchen, he saw the Old Madam grounding of the Raw-rice into Powder-form and after the Raw-rice turned into fine Powder, the Old Madam added water into it and make it into sticky-paste form (米漿). When the Wok was getting Hot, the Old Madam scooped a little-bit of the Paste and poured it around the side of the Wok. Once the Paste contacted the Heated Wok, the Paste started to get harden and immediately, then the Old Madam "tore" the dried layer of rice "skin" off from the Wok. After repeating a few rounds of the amazing action, the Old Madam stopped and started to  boil a pot of Water .

Once the pot of Water started to boil, the Old lady threw in Vegetables and some left-over Preserve Meats. Once the Soup boil the Second time, she took the rice sheets and tore them  into smaller pieces and threw them all into the Soup. After a while, the Soup was ready .

The General went in to ask for the recipe from the shocked Old Lady.

The Old lady told him that actually this was very easy to make & keep. As long as the rice flakes did not get contact with any form of Water/humid, it could last  long.  And it was easy because it was a one dish meal.Just add in a bit of Soy-sauce (醬油), Sesame Oil (香油) or Coriander (芫荽) to make it taste better.

 Qi Ji Guang went to his Camp to impart the knowledge to the soldiers (火頭軍). From that Day onwards, the whole Qi Ji Guang's Troop started to eat the rice flakes  with Preserve/Dried-meats.

His soldiers defeated the Japanese invaders and peace reigned in Southern China.

From then, this dish spread around in the Southern China, first was in Hokkien Province Fu Zhou City (福州市) and later, into Teochew City (潮州市). Due to different Areas, the eating methods were different, Today, if we  eat this dish in Fu Zhou, the Soup-base will be White or Milky in color whereas in Teochew, the Soup-base will be a bit darker in color.

In Fu Zhou City, every Year during the Li Xia Day (立夏, before Dumpling Festival), the Fu Zhou People will still have to prepare this dish to honour their Ancestors.



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April 20, 2011


Who would you have as a companion? I would certainly choose my pet dog of 14 years - Boba.

And once some one challenged me about not loving Boba because of his origins - he was a stray puppy born at the door steps of a friend. He might have been born in lowly strata but he is no doubt the best amongst any pedigree in Miri.

My family and I cannot sing enough praises of him ...and each day the list grows longer. I suppose you cannot say that of many humans you know.

How loveable is Boba?

As I look into Boba's eyes I know he will protect my children and I.

Boba is a "clean dog" because he does not get dirty and come home with dirty paws (as you know from many movies).. So we have been saved a lot of house cleaning because when he enters the house he is always clean. no paw marks. thanks. Only a few hairs here and there but not much.

Bobba is a silent listener. He sits and watches TV with us and sometimes we talk to him like an adult. There is no doggy language between him and us. He will always cock his ear and listen to us in that very humble way. And of course he will never "but" us which is a real comfort in these days.
boba does not stray...and is home almost 24 hours a day. He is the most faithful of all the dogs and people I know. We know for a fact too he does not hang out with any Tom Dick or Harry. He is a real home body. Well he has the usual battle wounds and fights when the female dogs in the neighbourhood are on heat...some times he comes home all bloody but his wounds heal well and fast. So no trouble there. Some Dettol does wonders for him. He has some great battle scars to show off. But he is a good and handsome soldier!! We are proud of him. Even grandpa thinks so.

He is born to be a great hunting dog.....and has terrorised the neighbourhood furry and feathered beings to our surprise and fun. He often catches rats which dare to cross his path in our vicinity which is made up of a  little cluster of four houses. Here he is chasing a porcupine which losts its way in Kampong Lusut during one of our evening walks. He has won many battles against cobras and pythons and even a few porcupines. He only could not bring home the anteaters.

When the house is so quiet most of the days you feel that his presence is all you need to provide you with a great sense of security. Here in the photo Boba in his usual place in the sunny verandah -

We love him for he has a great sense of humour which is special to a dog. I think he can understnad Animal Planet (Planiet Jelu) very well. I can't remember whether he watched Beethoven in full. His best was always when he barked at his own mirror image a few times when we had a rather long standing mirror.

Personally  I  wish I were a dog whisperer!  Then I would understand  him perfectly. He is more gentlemanly than most people I know. He allows Meero (his female companion) to eat before he eats even though he has his own bowl. He loves the left overs of our Crispy Pata from Lutong Cafe. It is always a joy to give him the big bone. But he cares and he shares. One Christmas he sat at the table and ate a whole cake by himself (and from a plate).

Boba is such a dear.

 We used to say that he is a good staff member with a long list of job description but a dog as a pet is actually a family member...not a staff ...)

Love you!

April 19, 2011

Merry Go Round in Sungei Merah - one of the last ones left standing

Sibu as a small town did not offer much to children during my childhood. We grew up with minimal playground facilities. Even our schools were very limited in facilities because of the time and resources then.

I remember emotionally to say the least the small playground at the junction of Archer Road and Racecourse Road (where the Lands and Survey Department stands now). The other one still exists - in Sungei Merah - outside the Hua Hing Primary School.

In the photo above I am glad the Sungei Merah Playground  still remains the same in 2011 as it was in 1980's ...See the lovely shadows in the evening sun....they still evoke the same homely feeling as before ...Hopefully it will be kept as a display unit and would not be totally demolished for other kinds of development... So many people would have nice memories because of it!!

Memories of Sibu's  Archer Road Merry Go Round

One of my friends once mused when we were all sitting on the merry go round in the Archer Road Playground... "My friends...see who shall marry first?" We all laughed and answered "Nay......" Our laughter was loud and rang through the woods. 

 I supposed we all thought ourselves rather plain. We were all not so pretty and no boy had yet then came to push the merry go round for us if that was an indicator!!

It was true for in the evenings we would be just there laughing amongst girls. And it would become our habit  to vacate our places to  allow a courting couple to have their turn.

May be at that time I thought it would be better to keep my heart whole and not have a heart that was ripped apart. My friends went on to be academicians and women of substance. Some got married earlier while some did not marry at all...Some remained in Sibu and and are happily married to their chosen ones ....and now 40 or 50 years later...we still laugh and think of all those days in the playground....For many of us...no Sibu boy then did turn up to push the merry go round for us. 

Our life is still like a merry go round....we have to keep ourselves strong and be merry. We still go round and round...and don't have answers to our many questions...and I feel the same too about some things in life...there are certain things you cannot hold to your heart. There are fixed places like in the merry go round. If you jump off the merry go round at the wrong time you will hurt yourself. Be in resonance and be in sync......You can only make it go faster or slower...and keep your balance.

I have always loved looking at merry go rounds in playgrounds. And if I cannot find one I wonder why the authorities could possibly miss out such an important element for children to grow up with!! This merry go round is something memories are made of!!

And to all my friends...thanks for all the laughter in the playgrounds.....

What are your thoughts of merry go round?

Vintage Merry Go Round - An old rusty merry go round at an abandoned school dated 1923 in Kentucky, USA. Stock Photo - 235952
circa 1930's USA

European Merry Go Round. with six open seats.

File:Standard Soviet carousel.jpg

An American merry go round in a school yard.

April 18, 2011

Moringay or Malunggay

Beans growing on the trees in my friend's back yard.
Just like long beans. This is too old.
You have to pluck the young leaves from the small branches like the way you get your cangkok manis.
A few bunches of moringa leaves - enough for a big bowl of soup.
Horseradish tree with small leaves which when added to fish soup is nice. The fruit which looks like long beans are best when eaten very young. It is known that these beans contain elements which may cure cancer.

Below is a Nigerian newspaper article to share with you....

ABUJA—The Federal Government of Nigeria has unveiled plans to generate over N500 billion as revenue from Moringa plant and create over one million jobs.
The plant is believed to prevent over 300 diseases and could readily provide the substitute for the chemical, Alum, used for water treatment, which the Federal Government spends about N354.5 million annually to import.
Moringa Oleifera is a popular plant in the northern and eastern parts of the country, used for food and medicines..

The immature green pods called “drumstick” are probably the most valued and widely used part of the tree. Commonly consumed in India and are generally prepared in a similar fashion to green beans these beans taste like asparagus . The seeds are sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment in the same way as horseradish; however, it contains the alkaloid spirochin, a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent. The presence of this compound is not worrying because large amounts are required to elicit deleterious effects, and spirochin even displays antibacterial properties when consumed in smaller amounts. 

Sonjna (Moringa oleifera) leaf in Kolkata,West BengalIndia.
The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-caroteneVitamin Cproteiniron, and potassium. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and saucesMurungakai, as it is locally known in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is used in Siddha medicine. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. In Siddha medicines, these drumstick seeds are used as a sexual virility drug for treating erectile dysfunction in men and also in women for prolonging sexual activity.
Moringa leaves and pods are helpful in increasing breast milk in the breastfeeding months.  The Moringa seeds yield 38–40% edible oil(called ben oil from the high concentration of behenic acid contained in the oil). The refined oil is clear and odorless and resists rancidity at least as well as any other botanical oil. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purifywater. The barksap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicine in several countries. In Jamaica, the sap is used for a blue dye.
The flowers are also cooked and relished as a delicacy in West Bengal and Bangladesh, especially during early spring. There it is calledshojne ful and is usually cooked with green peas and potato.

Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Three non-governmental organizations in particular — Trees for Life, Church World Service, and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization — have advocated Moringa as "natural nutrition for the tropics." 

In Moringa trees are found in many backyards. They are not as yet grown in large numbers. Few people know about its great properties. Perhaps one day as more and more people know about this plant and its beans they will start looking for them in the market.

April 17, 2011

Ubah! Change! See Photos and Newspaper Cuttings from Mrs. Johnson of 60's-70's Sibu Days

Have you ever wondered if our pastors and teachers think of us after they completed their tour of duty or  retired? In all these 40 - 50 years?

the answer is YES! They do think of us and through a collection of photo albums and scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings and many other keep sakes besides letters and books.

Have you also ever wondered how much we have changed since 1963? How much has Sarawak changed since 1963?

Mrs. Pat Johnson my Maths teacher /missionary of Methodist Secondary School has a good scrapbook to help us refresh our memories. Her busband Mr. David Johnson is instrumental in helping me become strong in the English language.

It was part of our education in Methodist Secondary school to make scrapbooks for almost all our subjects. And Mrs. Johnson kept her own amazing collection of newspaper articles and photo albums which she brought along to a recent  reunion of Methodist Missionaries to Sarawak  in Britain recently..

We have this photo on the Internet (Wesley Jubilee) and in Judy's pen drive as well to help us remember the day Rev and Mrs. Williams bade farewell to the Wesley congregation in Sibu. Judy and I were sitting down in the front with the other young girls.

An article about Temenggong Oyong Jau Lawai of the Baram from her scrapbook.

According to this newspaper cutting the terms Kubu Wharf and "floating clinic" were in use then. The terms almoner and nurses' home were also in use.

Can you recognise the initials - CY?

Mr. Johnson looking at the photo album and telling Mrs. Hodgkinson about some of the people in the photos.

Rev and Mrs. Hornsby another couple of missionaries in Kapit.

Sister Mohring who worked in Kapit and Bukitlan.

Mr. Johnson explaining one of the news articles to Barbara Reutler in the Tomlinsons' sun drenched living room where we spent many happy hours reminiscing about our Sibu days. The temperature was about 15 degrees outside but the Cornwall sun was simply brilliant!!

The whole sixth form turn out to bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson at the old Sibu airpot. Hope some of you readers can recognise yourselves in the photo.

I wonder how many of us in the younger generation really value newspaper cuttings and scrapbooks....and keep them for 40-50 years. It was an amazing afternoon! Our teachers from Britain had taught a whole generation of students who included YBs like YB Datuk David Teng Lung Chi and Datuk Seri James Jemut Masing to mention two. And amongst those taught by them many became teachers who in turn brought about another generation of new politicians who are now in line for succession. Are they changing the nation for the better?

I agree there must be change! . Change!! Always change for the better!! May we bless each other with hope and faith that mankind will move forward without fear and favour.

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...