Tag Archive | Sarawak

She turns 87 & she turns 84

Mum turned 87 on Monday. No fanfare. No celebrations. We just had simple lunch at Lenas in Bugis Junction. She and I shared a set. Her Picky had a set all to herself.

On Sunday, there was the usual family lunch with hongbaos to her from the usual suspects. H and C bought tarts from Baker & Cook at Hillcrest Road as I suggested. They also gave¬†mum hongbaos despite my saying “no need”. Guess it’s the usual Asian reaction to suggestions of “no need” ūüėÜ

What a diiference a year has made. Last year, a week be4 mum’s birthday I was able to give her a pre-birthday treat at ION’s Paradise¬†— just the two of us. She was able to hobble on her own two legs with the help of a folded golf-stool.

This year, no such luck. When we go out, she needs a wheelchair, for her sake as well as for mine, since many a stranger had gone so far as¬†to suggest to me that I shouldn’t make my mother suffer. “Get her a wheelchair,” they said!

I might still be dithering if not for the fact that events took the¬†decision out of my hands. Mum took a bad tumble at home on Oct 2 last year that¬†led to her hospitalisation at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for one night for observation.¬† Apres that, although she suffered no more than bad bruises, I didn’t want to take any more chances.

We got her a wheelchair for outdoor use and another for indoor use, although most times the latter isn’t used at all, as mum still manages to move around at home with the help of a frame-walker.

Now contrast my mum’s latest birthday with what another octogenarian whom I know. Auntie GY celebrated her 84 on March 3 at her lovely home off Swiss Club Road.

I got to know Auntie GY thru a mutual friend and this is the second time I have been included in her birthday bash, the first being two years ago when we went in a group to Sarawak.

The difference lies in the fact that one birthday girl is still full of joy of life whereas my mum while still enjoying her food has lost much of her ability to engage with others. And that ability is what makes living vibrant — unless one has always been a hermit or a recluse ūüôĄ

¬†¬†Although there were about 40 of us, we couldn’t even manage half of what was available, supplied by Glory of East Coast Road… because there was still the dessert of birthday cake, cakes I mean, as there were two!

Two of the best for the 84-year-young birthday girl

Life is still blooming at 84!


More blooms still!


Guests making themselves at home



’tis the season for feasting so far

The 2011¬†year-end food binge began for me on Nov 28 at an impromptu farewell party hosted by ET at her lovely home in Seletar Hills¬†for Dr MA, a leading geriatrician — the heroine of our school days at the Town Convent or Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, nowadays shortenedd to anonymous initials, IJ.

MA, making her second trip to SG since our July reunion from her home in the United States, had brought along a priest who was hoping to raise funds for a small new order he was trying to set up.

From what I gathered, the fund raising wasn’t particularly successful but that didn’t¬†reflect or dampened¬†our goodwill towards MA, as witnessed by the good turn out at ET’s home.

As always, ET was generous in her hospitality. We had home made popiah and an assortment of other goodies. Note the advent candle —¬†ET said it should have been lit on Nov 27, marking the 1st Sunday of advent but she saved it for our gathering. By now, all four candles would have been lit; MA’s back in her long time home, half a world away and all of us who used to play in her garden in Dunsfold Drive continue to¬†treasure those days in our memory!

The next feasting was on Nov 30¬†at a group lunch — there are¬†more than a¬†few such “group” thingies this time of the year, as friends and friends of friends come together for that once a year “catch up”.

There were no fewer than 24 of us! We were seated at a Last Supper kind of table, 12 of us on each side. I found myself sitting next to a friend of a friend with whom I’d gone on one of those massive self-organised group holidays — once to China and another time to Sarawak.

I hadn’t seen her for more than a couple of times for the whole of this year and it’s usually at a group get together such as the Nov 30 event, where because of the sheer number of friends and friends of friends, we barely had more than a chance of say “Hi”, “Bye”, “Isn’t the food nice!”

This time being a special lunch, and because we were in a restaurant and not someone’s home, we could natter more. She told me stories about hersself that were more multi-layered, colored and textured than the buffet appetiser I had helped myself to.

Could the gory tales be true? All that happened to someone living in a large detached home in a prime area off Stevens Road? A SIL who bashed her? A grand kid who stabbed her? Family court? Counselling?

Grimms’ fairy tales?

Talk of the Ancient Mariner..  better talk of food. More feed fests akan datang in future posts

my multi-hue, textured, flavoured appetiser plate

Always trusty, tasty salmon

what we couldn't eat as we sat Last Supper like!

be4 X'mas, the cradle stays out of the manger says ET

my out sized popiah

Lit: 1st advent candle

Are foreigners making S’pore unsafe?

First, there are the Kallang slashers: all seven of them from Sarawak working here as cleaners and odd job labourers. They went out on a violent robbing spree last week end.

That¬†ended with one victim dead and three others seriously injured, including Jarius Ang, a 19-year old former Raffles Junior College student and captain of the school’s canoeing team.

Jarius¬†is lucky to be alive, despite being left unattended to for seven hours till he was found — with half his left hand, along with four fingers¬†hacked off,¬†and deep cuts to his neck, face and abdomen.¬†A part of his scalp had also been sliced open.

Sure, he is still alive and not paralysed, as the knife that went into his neck missed his spinal cord by 0.1cm. But his ambitions and plans for the future have been destroyed by the senseless ferocity of his attackers.

He did very well in his A-level exams and has a place in NTU to do Mechanical Engineering. His dream is to be a pilot.  With his severe injuries, he is unlikely to be able to fly. He may not even be fit enough to complete his National Service!

And only a few days before the slash happy Sarawakians, a gang of six men wearing ski masks and wielding knives ambushed two couriers and robbed them of RM500,000.

The robbery took place at about 2am. The victims, two Malaysians, had intended to spend the night at an 11th floor flat in Dorset Raod before delivering the money to moneychangers later that morning.

The robbers apparently got wind of the cache and struck.

Only five of the alleged robbers — all Bangladeshis with valid work permits and aged from 28 to 32 — have been caught and charged. A sixth is still at large as is the seventh¬† member in the Sarawak gang.

As if to prove that foreigners with a criminal bent aren’t confined to guest workers in the working class,¬†a Swiss business consultant¬†has been¬†charged in court¬†today with breaking into an MRT¬†depot and spray-painting graffiti on a train, for which he could be jailed and¬†caned, just like the Sarawakians and the Bangladeshis, if they are found guilty.

The Swiss, Oliver Fricker, 32, is alleged to have committed trespass and vandalism in mid-May, and a district judge who described him as a flight risk set bail at $100,000. His passport is also impounded.

Since he can’t raise the bail set, he has been remanded, like the others, whose offences are non-bailable. And like the other cases, another alleged criminal in the MRT case is also still at large, having entered Singapore on a tourist visa and then left.

Prosecutors in the train vandalism case, arguing for the high bail amount, said Fricker had been due to leave for Switzerland two days after his arrest.

The break-in, believed to have taken place before dawn on May 17, was not immediately detected and the train plied its route in full view of commuters, one of whom filmed it and posted a clip on video-sharing site Youtube.

The train has been scrubbed clean but the clip can still be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CV4JYKBEQo.

After this rash of crimes “allegedly” committed by a cross section of foreigners working in Singapore in the spate of a few days, local born Singaporeans could be forgiven for thinking that our country is no longer as safe and secure as we once believed it was.

Terrible if this plus factor for calling Singapore home has indeed gone with the wind. ūüė¶

I went sightseeing …

by myself on the morning of the last day of my trip to Cat City, as a) I wasn’t particularly keen to visit the Sarawak Museum which the¬†others were¬†set on doing and b) I wanted to visit the Tua Pek Kong temple, the oldest Chinese temple in Sarawak which I know my Christian travelling companions won’t want to see.¬†

I was determined to visit the temple this time, since it was right next to the Hilton, unlike my last trip with some members of¬†this group some 10 years ago to China when it was thumbs down all the way for any¬†religious site not associated with Christianity. Back then, it wasn’t logistically possible for me¬†to strike out on my own.¬†¬†

The Tua Pek Kong temple in Kuching¬†is living history; visitors on the¬†day I was there¬†were quite young and well-dressed and seemed to be regulars, because they made offerings in a way that suggested that it wasn’t their first time.¬†

Although reno works were going all round the core temple to enlarge and spruce it up, the core was still open to the public. I spent some quiet time there. 

living history

As I was leaving I looked diagonally across the road and saw a building with the legend “Corner of Good Hope” across one side of its facade — which seemed both ironic and inspiring, seeing that the main activities in the building were tuition operators!¬†

ironic message?

¬†Leaving the temple, I turned left and moved up the hill to the newly opened shopping centre, aptly named the Hills Shopping Mall¬†and smack next to Kuching’s latest and plushest hotel, The Pullman.¬†

Unfortunately, Hills is still only partially open while the Pullman,¬†altho a lot more slick than the Hilton (probably because it’s new), isn’t the kind of hotel like those under the Aman brand that would make me ask to be shown the rooms.¬†

So, after a short recce of the two properties and the interesting discovery of a shop that might have been named after a good friend, I high tailed back to Jalan Main Bazaar to grab my last minute cheap souvenirs of sarongs, T shirts and beaded bracelets. 

Then it was back to my room for a smoked salmon bagel lunch washed down with Tsingtao beer (RM2.50 a can!!!Рcheaper than even in China) while waiting to re-join the others and the last lap of adventure (if any) be4 catching our flight. 

didn't know z's in kuching ūüôā

bagel, smoked salmon & tsingtao

@ Bidayuh specialist wedding celebration

By co-incidence, on the first night after I returned from Cat City, I found myself at the dinner celebrating the marriage of Singapore-born, Oxford educated and Cambridge-based anthropologist Liana Chua and her first spring with her husband.

The co-incidence lies in the fact that Dr Chua’s speciality is the Bidaiyuh, an indigenous ethnic group of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. She has spent the past month on another of her study trips to Sarawak and was recently joined there by her in-laws and her husband.

I was at the celebrations tonight because her mother and I are friends. When I received the dinner invitation, my Cat City trip wasn’t yet in the works.

And happily, the¬†trip ended¬†last night rather than tonight, because if that had been the case, I won’t have gone on the trip, since I had already accepted the celebratory invitation and won’t have cancelled just to travel.

Tonight’s event was suitably a mixture of ethnic and colony, East and West, young and old. Liana’s mum, J, is an expert¬†at¬†mixing culture¬†with¬†what’s cool and contemporary. Apart from family and friends like me, the rest of the guests was a veritable “who’s who” in Singapore’s arts community.

The dinner was held at Burkill Hall in our Singapore Botanic Gardens. The caterer was freelance Peranakan chef Philip Chia whose food I last tasted almost a year ago.

Tonight’s nyonya menu was almost a replica of the previous¬†function. In addition there was wine and entertainment with the Singapore Youth Choir Ensemble singing three songs.

Such great ingredients for perfect memory making!

waiting for the guests

sunset drinks be4 dinner

celebratory songs

cakes for guests & invitation