Friday, January 30, 2009

Flower Power! (2)




Jasmin, seated on garden chairs made from the trunk of trees. Behind is a dog, creatively made.

Avinesh, posing inside the airconditioned rooms which have beautiful displays of indoor plants.

I was happy to find the Store with attendants. At our Retreat I had missed the Store because it was closed after lunch, being a half day.

The attendants were very cheerful and amiable. I commented that they are very lucky and happy to be working in such a lovely environement, surrounded by trees and flowers. The Chinese attendant commented that visitors to Hort Park are usually a cheerful and lively lot.

I bought some cactuses, a flower pot with hangers and another potted plant. The prices are very reasonable. I guess the Ministry wants to encourage us to grow plants and flowers.

I hope that by now, readers are convinced that Hort Park is worth visiting!

Happy gardening!

Gan Chau
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Flower Power


Avinesh and Jasmin nearning the entrance of Alexandra Waves. Across is Hort Park

Wonderful look just like a little Christmas tree!

The colour is unique......almost like bright pink mixed with orange colour! favourite colour!
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Hort Park





The above pictures at Hort Park. More flowers in the next blog.

One of my favourite haunts has to be Hort Park, for I love flowers! Especially in Singapore, where trees are grown more in abundance, flowers are rarely in sight. We might come across bougainvillas grown along the roads or overhead bridges, but other flowers like sunflowers, geraniums, morning glory, etc. can be found in some homes and at Hort Park.

Hort is short for horticulture. It is located at 33 Hyderabad Road. I was not familiar with the place and only found out about the lovely little hike up Telok Blangah Hills leading us to Hort Park recently, when our company, Dennis Wee Group had our annual Retreat at Hort Park. It was our wonderful colleague, Sally, who showed me how to hike up Telok Blangah Hills to Hort Park.

Recently I brought my two tenants, Avinesh and Jasmin, on a hike up Telok Blangah Hills. We passed through Henderson Waves, stopped at intervals for a drink and some snacks and finally ending up at Hort Park. The beautiful display of flowers at Hort Park made us feel that our sweaty effort up the hills was worth the trouble!

We will try to hike from Hort Park to Kent Ridge another time. For those who have yet to visit Hort Park, make it a point to bring your family members and friends. You will enjoy the hike as much as we have enjoyed ourselves.

Gan Chau

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Road to Dawn!!!


Road to Dawn, a remarkable film on the late Dr. Sun Yat Sen!

The movie was filmed in Penang
An insight into the lifestyle of Penangnites during the 1900 to 1912 period
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I am ashamed to admit that despite being born in Penang, and having stayed for 23 years on the lovely island, I have yet to visit the historical places like Little India, etc.

Hence, it was a blessing in disguise that I brought my tenant, Jasmin to visit Penang during the Chinese New Year break. It was because of wanting to show Jasmin Little India that I ventured into this historical part of Penang for the very first time! Someone at an art gallery gave us the map featuring places of interest in the vicinity. This was how we found the House of Sun Yat Sen, the abode where Dr. Sun had meetings with rich businessmen who helped to support the Revolution to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.

We were fascinated with the antique stove that was displayed in the kitchen and the whole paraphernalia of cooking pots and utensils. Gosh! The antique iron was so heavy. I made me think of my neighbour, who washed and ironed clothes for a living. We were shown a brief video of the movie, Road to Dawn, and one of the three directors, a talented lady by the name of Goh Mai Loon was at the museum to personally show us around! Ms. Goh is also the one who authored the script. Jasmin bought a video and book on Road to Dawn at MR40. If anyone is interested to purchase, you can write to Areca BOOKS, 120 Armenian Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia or log in or email to Ms. Goh at You will enjoy the movie and the book as much as we did. Ms. Goh also autographed the book in both Chinese and English and even drew a lovely picture of a lady holding a book with the words, "I love Penang". What a versatile lady!

Interestingly we learnt from Ms. Goh that the Nonya outfits in Penang differ from the ones in Malacaa to some extent. Most prominent is the hairstyle. Penang Nonyas prefer to put the bun on top of the head, adorned with flowers or crowns with either semi-precious or real diamonds, rubies, sapphire and jade. The Nonyas in Malacca prefer to have their buns at the back of the head.

I am so thrilled to visit Armenian Street. It is a place that tourists must visit because of many historical buildings around. It was also overwhelming to learn that the late Dr. Sun Yat Sen had sought refuge in Penang during his darkest years between 1905 to 1910. Yet he persevered for five years and saw victory on 10th October 1911 when the Republic of China was created after the successful overthrow of the Qing Dynasty! I learn I must always be resilient in the face of troubles and problems like the late Dr. Sun Yat Sen.

Gan Chau

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Children! Children!


Keong with his lovely and winsome daughter

Johnson, a bright boy in school

Zen in her favourite floral dress with her neighbour's daughter, the pretty girl in red.


Outside the gate of my brother's apartment. Yann is carrying Ning, her daughter, while Zen, her grandparents and yours truly try to pose like models!
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Today's kids are precocious! This is why I enjoy chatting with children because sometimes, you cannot quite predict what is coming out of the mouths of babes!

Yann's two daughters are active and intelligent. The younger girl, Ning, who is now 2 and a half months, has a ready smile! However she is full of character because if she wants something, it is difficult to deny her. We were at the back seat of brother's car on our way to visit relatives. Brother has the habit of not slowing down whenever he goes over a hump. Suddenly Ning asked the maid, "Why does Kong Kong go "king kong, king kong?" We laughed for she was imitating the sound made by the car as it went over the humps.

Zen, being the older girl, is extremely conscious of her looks, She loves the hair clips I bought for her as the false brownish, curly hair, attached to the red ribbons on the clips make her look like a little princess. Both girls are pretty as their parents are both good looking.

In contrast, my nephew's younger daughter, Kerh Kerh, is quiet and shy. However, her lovely mum had shared that Kerh Kerh would go over the moon over the Hello Kitty stickers and note book I gave her.

Johnson is the darling, being the oldest and one who has captured the hearts of everyone. He is polite, considerate and obedient. He is very bright and his strict mum has enhanced his already disciplined nature. I told Johnson that if he were good in English as well as his other subjects, he might have a good chance to win an Asean scholarship to study in a secondary school in Singapore. Brightening up, Johnson assured me he would continue to read more books in English and in my blog as well!

It is refreshing to be with children, for they remind us of our own childhood days and are a constant reminder of how time seems to be flying past! Hence, the importance of not wasting unnecessary time now that we are drawing closer to the ground! Despite our age, it will be lovely if we can still retain a little element of childlikeness in us, the childlikeness that Jesus referred to when He said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven". (Matthew Chap. 19, v. 14). The childlikeness of trust, forgiveness and purity of heart.

Gan Chau

Lovely sights in Penang


At Kek Lok Si Temple

It's a plane! No! It's a kite!

In front of the House of Yeap Chor Ee, a famous businessman known for his benevolence

James and Jasmin at the Air Itam Dam, Penang
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I am quite pleased with the outcome of my recent trip to Penang. Although I stayed in Penang for only 5 days, I managed to organise my time well. My relatives, Nancy and James were very hospitable and even took the initiative to take my tenant, Jasmin and me around. They would drop us at some place and we would take a bus from there.

Penang is even smaller than Singapore; hence zipping around in a bus is also convenient. My favourite chendol at Penang Road is a must to try. My best friend, Amu, likes Penang Chendol very much. Food in Penang is very delicious and hawkers who do not provide reasonably tasty food will have to close down pretty fast, for Penangnites are particular with their taste.

I managed to visit my beloved aunty at her home in Air Itam as well as uncle at the Nursing Home. As Jasmin is a vegetarian we went to Little India to purchase some foodstuff. We were surprised to find an Anand Bhavan Restaurant! We wondered if the restaurant had any relationship with the Anand Bhavan in Singapore, but we found that they were different entities. The plain thosai cost only MR1.20! In Singapore, the cost is S$1.90!

My relative James took us to the Ayer Itam dam which is very close to Kek Lok Si Temple and the Penang Hill Railway Station. Of course, the lovely beaches in Penang are not to be missed and cousin Nancy took us to Tanjong Bungah.

Penang rightly deserves to be called the Pearl of the Orient!

Gan Chau

Jelutong Revisited


The villagers have added a new construction...a place to burn their joss sticks and incense

My favourite "Jambu" tree or what is called "Rose apple". The tree is now about
80 years old! It is still bearing fruits but the fruits are often attacked by worms and insects.

Jasmin, posing outside the gate of our home in Jelutong. The tenant is a dog lover. She has over ten dogs!

The temple which is over a 100 years old. It was our dog, Bobby's favourite haunt as he enjoyed lying down on the cool tiles!
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Whenever I go back to Penang, I must visit our old home. Plans have been made to develop Jelutong Village, and second brother Kee Seng has moved to his new condo at Vista Ria, in Sungei Ara. It is the village that I grew up in, until I left for my tertiary in Canada. How I love the "big playground". Indeed the whole village was one huge playground for my siblings and I. We would run around, playing robbers and policemen. We would play games, where holes were dug in the sand in one straight row and every player would be given one hole on the ground. When the ball was thrown, the owner would have to quickly pick up the ball and try to hit a participant. The loser would have his face drawn with black ink!! Once I played and ended up like Justice Bao, with my face all painted with ink.

I loved to climb the fruit trees in our compound. However, as I was the youngest with the shortest legs, I was always at the lowest part of the tree, and second sister would be the one plucking all the fruits as she was agile like a monkey! Sometimes we would play from morning to evening, with our faces black and sweaty but it was fun, growing up in Jelutong Village.

I am thankful that despite being raised in a notorious village, my siblings and I grew up fine. Our immense gratitude to God for He is the one who protected us from harm and danger. We were like the wild flowers growing on the hillsides, exposed to so many elements, but the Creator has blessed us. I believe that we were richly blessed because of papa. Our home was often filled with guests as our friends loved to listen to papa's stories. My parents would often invite strangers, especially tourists on a shoe string budget to stay at our home for a few days. Papa had always reminded us to treat others with respect and kindness.....then our generations will be blessed. I am delighted that my nephews and nieces are all doing very well, in health and in their career.

I remember how I would often share stories of our childhood in Jelutong, and my students would listen with awe and rapt attention. Now I am glad that I could put the pictures and stories in my blog.

Gan Chau

Penang, the Pearl of the Orient (1)


The lovely sunset near Sungei Ara as we were heading back for home.

Another lovely sunset at the Esplanade in Penang.

My nephew, Keong, took us to Queensbay Shopping Centre. The Penang Bridge is in the background. From left to right: Johnson, Keong and Jasmin

Serenity at Teluk Kumbar. Teluk means bay in Malay. The beach is lovely, filled with fishing boats.

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I hope that readers who have never been to Penang will make an effort to visit this lovely island otherwise known as the Pearl of the Orient.

Penangnites are a warm and friendly lot. Everywhere I went I would chat with strangers in Hokkien, English and Malay. People are patient, relaxed and cordial. I am amazed that despite the busy and almost crazy traffic, Penangnites hardly honk each other. My cousin Nancy is very proud of her driving skills, because if she does not have the courage to turn, she will be stuck in the same spot for a long time. I told Nancy I dare not drive in Penang now, given the many changes in road extension and buildings. Nancy reminded me that it was I who encouraged her and my second sister to drive, after I had taken driving lessons from a Mr. Choo. Both Nancy and my sister had more motor intelligence than me. They passed the very first time, while I had to take the 3rd attempt to get my driving licence. As she has retired, Nancy, is now responsible for driving her grandchildren to and from school.
Driving is such a useful skill.....every lady must make an effort to drive.

I gave my frugal brother a Cannon digital camera which was a gift from Starhub.
As I forgot to bring my camera charger, I used brother's camera. Jasmin is an excellent photographer as evidence from the pictures above.

For some reason, I could only post 4 photos at one time in my blog. Hence, I will divide my article into two parts.

Cheers. Catch up with you soon!

Gan Chau

Precious Relatives and Friends


With my nephew, Keong, and his son, Johnson having an ice-cream break at Queensbay
Shopping Centre in Penang

With my neice's godmother and daughter. On extreme right is my sis-in-law, Saw Kim

With sis-in-law, cousin Nancy and Jasmin at the New World Park food court
Phaik See and Husband James with their first grandchild.
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People are precious for we do not know when we can see one another. This is why I prefer to visit and spend time with loved ones, than to cry when they are gone.

This is also why, I always remind others to have a kind thought for me, than to spend 5 minutes on a wonderful eulogy at my funeral. It is interesting to note how everyone at a funeral wake would always have wonderful memories and good words to speak of the deceased.

Lack of time is always a lame excuse. No matter how busy we are, we must know how to prioritise our time, for there is nothing more important than people. Fathers must never work round the clock; mothers must consider their children before their career if they are unable to multi task well. We try not to postpone what we can do today, or it might just be too late.

Gan Chau

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reunion in Penang


The lovely night scene taken from the balcony of brother's apartment

Jasmin, at the playground of Wista Ria Condominium

Sister-in-law's green fingers

Reunion dinner in Penang
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I am glad that I had already done so much travelling in the past. I have to admit that now, with my constant imbalance and dizziness caused by my chronic ear problems, I am less inclined to travel. However, I try to make it a point to visit my hometown once a year. This time I brought along my tenant, Jasmin, who is from India and and has never visited Malaysia before.

I have many relatives in different parts of Malaysia too. I like to visit during Chinese New Year because it is this annual event that brings family members together.
In Penang, most of the local ladies are excellent cooks; hence Penangnites often celebrate the Reunion Dinner in the comfort of their homes. My sister-in-law, Saw Kim is an excellent cook and there is the usual sumptuous Nonya cuisine spread on the table.

I enjoyed going back to visit my beloved relatives, especially my brother and family and another relative, Aunty Giam. She is now in her mid eighties, and because of her stroke, this sprightly lady can now walk short distances, though she used to run around during her healthier days.

There is also my beloved cousin Nancy whom I love. She is a natural story teller and often holds her audience spellbound with her narration. There is always laughter when Nancy is around for she makes everyone laugh.

Although I was back for only five days, the time was very well spent. In my next article, I will share with readers on some of the great places we had visited.

I realise that taking a short break at least once a year is vital for us to revitalise and refresh ourselves.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


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An antique photo of Grandmother.

I always envy my friends who still have grandparents around with them. When I was born, all my grandparents had passed away. I only realised the discrepancy when my classmates would address their grandparents when I went around visiting. I remember I had asked papa why I did not have any grandpa or grandma.

Hence I decided to also address my classmates' grandparents as "Grandma and Grandpa."
During Chinese New Year, I would also holler, "Grandma and grandpa, keong hee huat chye!" (Hokkien, meaning Wishing you prosperity!) Elderly folks often take delight in warm greetings by youngsters. You can imagine the number of red packets I collected every year.

Recently, during my visit to Penang during the Chinese New Year, I shared with my guest from India, Jasmin, whatever little I knew about Grandma. How Grandma was a nonya, and was often well groomed as she was someone very conscious of her looks. Just then, my Sister-in-law, Saw Kim, showed us a very old photo of Grandma which she had salvaged when she moved to her new condominium.

"Note Grandma's hairstyle and special pins for her Nonya outfit. In those days, the ladies did not use buttons. Some of these pins could be made of solid gold, adorned with precious stones like rubies, diamonds, sapphire or jade."

I looked at Grandma's photo and noted I had a slight resemblance to her. It was not surprising that some people had mistaken me to be a Malay, Thai or Filipino.

I often asked questions about the Grandparents that I had never seen. I was told that papa's mother was gentle and kind, and that papa took after her. In contrast, my maternal grandmother was shrewd and stern.

Sometimes when I heard people complaining about their grandparents, I wished they could be more appreciative ....that their parents could still be around. It is ironical that we tend to miss something when we do not have it or when we lose it.
Otherwise, most of us tend to take things too much for granted.

Gan Chau