Friday, September 27, 2013

Dad, what were your first few jobs? What did you do and do you remember how much you earned?

I landed my first job as a temporary stock clerk in Alec Bus Company as Kung Kung arrange for me to get some working experience after my Form 5 examination. I was paid RM 60 and all I had to do was to update the stock cards from the stock issuance/stock replenishment sheets. It was a matter of updating and ticking but it became a very boring job when I realised that the records will not match the physical stocks of the spare parts as I was not involved in any stock count at all. I gave up this job after 2 months.

I also did a temporary stint as a teacher in Federal Institute of Technology teaching English to the students there. I think I was paid about RM 120/200 per month and here too I lasted only about 2 months as I was on holidays or waiting to be posted.

After my completion of studies in TAR College in 1976, I landed a job fairly quickly as an executive accounting officer in the Department Of Civil Aviation. I was in charge of the Payments section and also did the payroll. It was quite an easy job authorising payment and ensuring proper account codes were used. This job paid me RM 640 as a starting pay. After 3 years I was transferred to the Central Medical Health office in Johor Baru in 1978. Here the finance section was my responsibility. I had to liase with the Accountant General's office after the Ministy of Health stopped the imprest system. In 1983 I was promoted to a Higher Executive Accounting Officer and was transferred back to KL in the Ministry of Health. Here too I was given charge of the Payroll, Revenue as well as some administration work. Although I finally qualified as an accountant in 1986, I only got my appointment as as Administrative Officer in Bank Negara Malaysia in 1989. I worked for six years and quit to be a Cosway stockist for about 5 to 6 months.

I was appointed an Assistant Vice President in Bank Of Commerce in 1996 and later promoted to Vice President in 2008. Here we did internal auditing too and I finally retired in 2009 at age of 55. Rested for about 9 months and then joined ORIX Leasing Malaysia Berhad as Internal Auditor on contract which ends in October 2013.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Dad, what was the worst trouble you got when you were younger

My earliest trouble I got was to hurt myself when I broke some glass bottle and it cut into my hand. I was then probably just a toddler and I remember the story because I had a few stitches in my hand. When I was in secondary school my trouble was caused by the pulling of my tooth by the General Hospital Johor Baru. Somehow after my tooth was pulled I bled the whole night through and I had to be carried to another private dentist who finally stop the blleding. I remember that I was so weak that I could harly walked then.

Another trouble I got into, was to hide in Kung Kung's car hoping to follow him to his office but was found out as my brother Alex also wanted to follow. I was of course chased out of the car.

Dad, did you ever win an honour you were proud of, and what was it in honour of

No, I had not won any outstanding honours, although as a Boy Scout I had won several badges but failed to complete my first class honours due to my weakness in tying knots. I did not attempt the exam but I did receice other merit badges such as for translation, camping etc.

One certificate I was proud off was the blood donation certificate which was received in 1976. It was my first blood donation and at that time the Chinese were quite afraid to give blood with all kinds of superstitions. Until today there are still several people with such superstitions. I think Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman created history when close to 70 of us gave blood in a blood donation drive then. Since then giving blood is a routine and we were glad to help out in the fasting months as Muslims then will take a rest.

I was also given token of appreciation by the Sultan of Terengganu when we held our Ministry of Health Sports in the form of a turtle ashtray and also by the current Sultan of Johor who was then a Raja Muda with a commerortive plate for the Sports held in Johore. I was then the national treasurer for the Ministry of Health Sports Club.

In Church I was appointed the Parish Pastoral Council Chief in 2005 to 2011. It was a longest stint for a PPC Chairman and we had 4 other PPC Chairpersons before me. I was quite happy to be given letters of appreciation by Father Simon Yong , the Parish Priest. I finally step down in January 2012 after Father Simon passed the baton to Father Albert Tan SJ. My usccessor is Hans Tan. During my stint as Chairman I was happy to be given the honour to address the Parish Assemblies and also represented SFX in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dad, who taught you to drive and what was your first car

My first driving school teacher was of course your Kung Kung. He allowed me to learn driving from him after I finished my Form 5. He paid the driving school to teach me too. I remember using an old Toyota for learning how to drive. The teacher was a Malay gentleman who brought me to the hills to test the emergency brakes as well as driving on the road. I was also taught on how to park sideways, reverse etc. My only problem was on the day of my test I was given a car that I had never used before and suddenly I did not know where was the hand brake which was no more in between the seats but was attached to the dashboard. I nearly failed the test because of my unfamiliarity but in the end my driving instructor managed to kow tim my driving test results. I remembered the tester reminding me to drive carefully. Those days, it was much easier to pass driving tests.

I also managed to get my motorbike licence when I was in College after 4 attempts as I had failed earlier as I drop my feet during the emergency brake tests. Unfortunately when I lost my driving licence the RIMV could not trace my record for the motorbike licence and thus now I only have my car driving licence

Dad, did you play a sport and what do you like best about it

I am definitely not a sportsman. However in the primary days I do love to run and also took part in High Jump and long jump events. In fact I was chosen for trials in Standard 5 for the hurdles but as I was then not able to travel on my own, I could not attend the afternoon track events and I was promptly drop from the trials.

I remember my dad helped me to make a long jump pitch in our Abdul Samad home and I enjoyed practising there. I also learn to play badminton but only played for fun at home then with my siblings and some of the boarders at our home.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dad, who were your favourite teachers and why?

I must say I have several favourite teachers as I go through my entire education. My first class teacher that I liked was Mrs Karthigesu who taught me in Standard 1. She was a very good teacher and I guessed I cannot forget her as she failed me in my Oral English test when I said that I don't take salt. She passed salt for me to taste and I found it horrible so I just said I have not eaten salt before. Little did I know that it was used for cooking. However I have since developed an unhealthy liking for salty foods.

Another teacher I remember and liked was a kindergarden teacher a Miss Yeoh who taught me Catechism. I loved her classes as I could answer her questions and use to get holy pictures as a reward.

In Standard 2 I had a Mrs Phua who was very inspiring and I managed to do well in class due to her encouragement. At theat time I was able to attain the second position in class, a feat that I never experienced again.

In Standard 6, I had a friendly teacher in Mr Chew Ah Liang who was very good to the students and up till today we will still say hello if we meet each other in Chuch of the Immaculate Conception Johoe Baru.

If I am not mistaken I had a Mrs Nadarajah who taught us English in Form 1 or 2 and she encouraged me to write essays. I remember writing a piece on a visit to a hospital and she gave me a 7 out of 10. In fact it was also sent out for a UNESCO competition but I lost out to my good friend Dr Yong Kwet Yew

The other teacher I remembered is a Mrs Chandra who taught us English Literature in Form 5. I remembered her taking us through Jane Austen's Manasfield Park and I used to love the book.

 In 6th Form the teacher that I liked was a Mr Bakshi who taught us English Literature. He was a very good story teller.

At KTAR my favourite teacher would be my law he lecturer who taught us Mercantile Law. Mr Law or lawman as fondly called was good in expounding the legal terms and case histories and during the free time could sing his favourite melodies. Sadly he had passed on a few years ago. May his soul rest in peace.

Another lecturer we were fond of is Mr Loy Jit Loy. He taught us tax but he did not hesistate to follow us in our motorbikes when we go for meals etc. Coincindentally I met him this morning the 19/09/2013 in Jalan Gasing and he told me he was on his way to UH for a check up. Incidentally I also met his brother who was the Head of the Audit Department in JB and we became lunch partners there in the late seventies.

I must say I was so impressed with teachers that I harboured intentions to be a teacher after Form 6. I did lecture in FIT for a few months as a part time job. Sadly though I did not pursue this career after I finished my accountancy courses.

To all my teachers I am grateful to you all and May God Bless you all

Dad, what were your favourite subjects in School and why?

In school I use to love history as I am somehow attracted to the stories of people. I love the events and the achievements our forefathers did and I wanted to emulate their good qualities. I also enjoyed my classes in Catechism as I had a strong attraction towards Jesus Christ and his holy Catholic Church. His biblical stories were all very inspiring as he cared for the marginalised, the poor and all thos who seek his help.

Another subject was arithmetic as it was easy then to memorise the time tables and solved simple arithmetical problems. However I got list in additional maths and I regretted taking Mathemetics for my Higher School Certificate. I did not know then that History would have been a better subject to take. This is mainly because I did not do history in Form 4 and 5 and was just afraid I could not catch up.

In HSC my favourite subject was Economics as it dealt with the market place and I loved the intricacies of the workings of the economy although I am no businessman. I also love English Literature although I may not be too fervent in the language. I remembered acting out in the play Othello in the Form 6 classes and although I was shy I sought of liked it too.

In College I love the law subjects aspecailly the Law of Torts and also some commercial law.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dad, who were your best friends from childhood and what were they like

I have some friends that had kept in touch since our primary school days. The people that you may know are Uncle Tan Ah Chai, Uncle Dr David Quek, my late cousin Thomas Wong, Dr Yong Kwet Yew, Benedict Chang and Uncle Ong Meek from Ulu Tiram. Basically we got to know each other through our membership in the Crusaders, Interact Club, Boy Scouts as well as we were classmates for a very long time. We were quite close and some of us share a same Godfather for Confirmation, that made us God Brothers.  We use to pay visits to the hawker stalls after our Saturday meetings or take the bus to visit each other homes.

I remember this funny scenario when we were visiting Dad's friend, a Corporal Gill who stayed in Larkin. This Corporal loves to drink with Dad in the Johor Civil Service Club and also in each others home. On the vist to Corporal Gill's house one night I think they ran out of cigarettes or stout, so I was sent to buy these items in a provision shop.

I was very surprised when some one called me from another row of the shop when clearly the person had not seen me. It seems from his row he saw my ugly shoes and called out my name. Only when I answered he came out and told me that this was his Mum's provision shop. The guy was Uncle Chai and he helped me a lot in school when  I was slow to understand my Mathematics and Science subjects

Uncle Kek Met, my cousin became my classmate in Form 6 although we were also friends in St Joseph School. He use to disturb you when you were young but unfortunately he died in May 1997, 3 months after his mother passed away in February 1997. Sadly Kung Kung also passed away in October 1997. It was a very tough year for our family for in December 1997, Uncle Wey was diagnosed with leukemia and our family had to go through the frighful experience where he stayed in hospital for almost 6 months. Thank God he recovered well in 1998.

Dr David, although was a junior our school was a close friend as we visit each other often when we were in school and I remember his as a very meticulous person who had perfect handwriting. Based on handwriting itself I should have been a doctor as I can write prescriptions that even I myself cannot make out afterwords. Dr David is a man of principle and he became the MMA president and till date did not want to receive any awards from the the State or country ie he did not want a datukship until he gets one from his children I suppose. Uncle Chai, David and myself use to meet at least once a year, ie we drink in David's house or at Easter they visit us. Uncle David was a Head Prefect and Uncle Alex too was one in a later year

Uncle Ong Meek was a holy person who parents run a furniture shop. He stays in Ulu Tiram and he even supplied my wedding wardrobe when we got maaried in July 1983. These days he acts as a caretaker for the Ulu Tiram Cemetry where Kung Kung and many other relatives are buried.

Uncle Ben was staying just beside the school but we were also quite close and he was quite a leader in school too. If I am not mistaken he was President of YCS. He became a successful entrepreneur when he obtained the  Domino's franchise and he sold it a few years back. He is currently based in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Dr Yong Kwet Yew was also another close friend who became a Head of Department in Nanyang University. He was so kind and was instrumental to introducing us to his Aunty Soo who accommodated us when we were studying in College in 1973-1976. He was a very well mannered friend and was the Head Prefect of St Joseph School in 1970. 2 years ago Uncle Chai and Lin See, Dad & Mum and few other of our classmates were privileged to attend his sons's wedding in a posh Singapore hotel.

Guess these are the closest friends that I can remember for now.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dad, what traits do you have that your parents also had? What side of the family do you most resemble

One of the the visible traits that I have which my father had was that we both can drink alcohol. I avoided alcohol in my early days due to the fact I saw my dad got drunk sometimes and although he does not whack us when he was drunk he had tended to shout sometimes and at time can hear him whining when he was too drunk. I thus avoided drinking till I was in College. Although I took up drinking I had always watched my limits and am seldom drunk. Just drink to enjoy and for  comradeship but not to suffer. My dad in later years also hardly get drunk as he kept to the one stout per night unless there were guests and during major festivals like Christmas and Chinese New Year. Another trait that I learn from my dad is the need to be punctual. He was a very responsible person in that sense and was rarely late for appointment

From Mum I learned a lot of patience and seldom will I get angry. However if I get angry I can be very fierce and sometimes lose my cool. The other trait we learn from both parents is to be hospitable. Both parents are very hospitable and always welcome guests into our homes even though sometimes we were struggling with the household expenses. God is great and had provided all of us a reasonably good upbringing and also all 3 sons had some form of University/College education. Only regret was that my sister Philo did not further her studies afer Form 5. She did some secretarial course and was working in lawyers's firm, jeans factory and other jobs. She however is a very caring and loving person and lives comfortably with all her kids graduating or on the point of graduation.

I think I resemble Dad very much in my facial features and was told that my walking style was also very much like him.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dad what was your relationship like with your family when you were growing up

When we were growing up, we had a very loving closely knitted family. Mum was the uniting factor while dad gave us the impression that he was a discliplinarian and often many of us siblings were afraid of him. As we grew older we know both our parents love us very much. Though we were not rich, we were not spared our delicious meals, our toys and even enjoyed the luxury of televisions, radios and some basic electrical appliances such as the refrigerators.

I do remember the days when we had to work hard to chop the firewood and my dear grandfather will be the one who wakes up at 5 am to boil the water using fire wood and a small runner piece cut from the tyres was used as fire starter. I am sure grandpa had great live for us and he made sure that we were comfortable as possible. Once when grandpa was alive there was some arrangement with Alec Bus company to supply us with drivers who drove us to and fro school.

We were close to our granny too who was a good cook as she was a nyonya who cooked some of the curries and worked hard in the kitchen until a time when she was not able to walk. Then you can see my dad, your grandfather taking good care of his parents. He ensured that they had medical care and that my grandma was well looked after. She had to be helped by 2 persons to the dining table. Our aunty Sam Ku had to bathe her in her room with small bucket of water. Such service done daily requires a lot of sacrifice and could only be done when there is much love for each other. Grandma died in 1968 and is buried at the Larkin Cemetry

Similarly Grandpa was a loving person and I remember making him bent down for me to ride on his shoulder treating him like a toy horse. Granpa loves to go out every day when he was healthier and always come back with a stick of sweets either Fruitella and later Menthos. Grandpa loved all of us and just a few days before he died, he called all his children that were available and verbally told them how his assets were to be distributed and how we ought to share the family home we were staying in. It was very emotional but he did it and then on the day of his death in December 1966, I remembered shivering in school and shortly after, my dad or a family member came to fetch us from school early.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dad, what rules does your parents have, and which one drove you crazy

One rule that I remembered was imposed by our parents was to study hard and we had our study times given as 7 pm to 9pm. The afternoon was also used to do our homework. We had to sit together in the hall with dad's watchful eyes and we were alright  so long as we have a book in front of us. He does not interfere with our work, merely encourage us to work hard. Dad was also an early sleeper and sometimes go to sleep by 8pm. This is the time we will quietly go downstairs to our grandma's room and watch television which was black and white then.

Another rule that I remembered was to be polite and to respect all our elders. We had to call everyone senior to us before we start our meals. We being obedient children duly complied until one day I had to call about 20 to 30 of them as they came for my Grandpa birthday celebration and I had just returned from school. I was pretty hungry and guess I lost my cool after a few calls and decided to stop calling and started crying. I was propably 5 or 6 years old then. Guess this must be the one rule that drove me crazy

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dad, what is your favourite memory of your Mum

We just celebrated Mum's 81st birthday last November 2012 and we were very glad that all her children and grandchildren with the exception of Brendan were able to return to Johor Baru to celebrate this auspicious occassion. Mum is an extraordinary person and she is very loving generous and friendly person. Her popularity amongst friends and family is evident by the number of guests present at the birthday dinner. ( approximately 500) Though she did not receive any formal education, I believe her values and knowledge are better than many educated people.

During our recent Chinese New year reunion, she was able to enlighten me of her hard life. As a child she was given away by my grandfather. If I am not mistaken she was only 8 years old when she given to another family with the plan to be betrothed to one of the sons. That family according to her treated her reasoably well and even brought her back to China. However when they wanted her to migrate back to China, she went back to her father pleading to return to her natural father. Grandfather must have been more enlightened by then and decided to buy her back and accepted her into the Chai family in Senai.

Mum is tremendously patient and have also been very hardworking throughout her life. She is a good cook and had been cooking for her family since  very young. She told me she had to wash the family clothes manually at the Senai river when she was young too. She had a high threshold of pain and once she fell and was bleeding but all she did was to immerse her leg in the river and once the bleeding stop just carried on walking normally.

Mum had been a very stable magnet to all her siblings and even my father's relatives. Many of my cousins still keep in touch with her even though they have migrated overseas. She is very hospitable and though we were poor she did all she could to put meals on to our dining table.

Although she was pretty scared of doctors and suffered from cataracts for many years. She would avoid treatment as far as possible. She would not complaint but my wife Kar Im sense something was wrong when she could not locate her items in the kitchen, During one of her visits to KL, she had no choice when the opthalmologist had to operate one eye in an emergency. Subsequently my sister and brother persusaded her to do another treatment in JB and her eyesight is much better now.

Her favourite hobby is playing mahjong and this had helped keep her senses even at this age. She is so good at the game then even when she could not see, she could read the mahjong with her fingers and can play the game normally.

Mum is always looking forward to extend her love to the family including her 7 grandchildren. She always ask after them and am sure that she prays hard for all of us.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dad, what the best thing your dad taught you

Dad taught us that family bonds are important and he was very filial to my Grandpa and Grandma. He respected them and made sure that they were well looked after. His love of his parents were also extended to his own family and that of his in laws and the rest of the siblings. He was very generous to all when he could afford to.

Although dad loves to drink, he does not shirk his responsibility as a father and a son. I remember the discipline he instill into us kids when study time was enforced from 7pm to 9p each weekday night. However his habit was to sleep and wake up early. As children we love to watch tv and sometimes we sneak into the tv room after he had gone to sleep. Dad did not however teach me to drink, though I cultivated the habit after attending college and when I started work.

Dad also instill the discipline of church going to us as he never failed to make sure we attend Mass each Sunday. I heard from Mum that in his earlier years he was not a regular church goer but was persuaded by Father Chego to do so. Dad also observes punctuality and was seldom late for his appointment

Another great lesson we learned from him is to be friendly, humble and loving to all. He had all kind of friends, including our Malay neighbours and a number of army personnel from Australia, Scotland etc. No racial discrimation as we have all sorts of visitors including some Indian friends too.

Dad taught us to fish, he was the one who taught me to put the worms into the hook as bait when we fished at the Senai river. I also probably cultivated the reading habit from him as he too was an avid reader, although he reads mostly Chinese kungfu novels and newspapers.

All in all I think the best thing taught us was to love our families, siblings grandparents and friends. His great hospitality had been passed on to us too.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dad, what is your favourite memory of your dad

Your granddad and my dad is Abraham Paul Loh Khiong Choo. Little did I know who Abraham was until later in the Catechism classes and still later in the bible classes I attended. Dad was a responsible, caring and loving provider. He was a man who sort of learned from the University of life. I gathered he had only a few years of Chinese education but he was able to pick up English through his drinking sessions with all the soldiers that were serving in the Johor Military Base nicknamed 221. I remember a Scottish Major Enfield who had been a very close friend and was a frequent visitor to our kampung house. He loves drinking his whiskey with dad and I remember praisng Mum for cooking very lovely fried rice.

Dad at that time was working as the Acting Managing Director of Alec Bus Company. Dad must have have learned management skills on the job for I am quite sure he have no diploma or degree in Management. Yet he was able to trust-worthily carried out his duties and if I remember correctly produced good results for the bus company. A bit of history. I have a Uncle, the late John Loh Toh Met who was a millionaire in 1957/8. He had a range of businesses, insurance company, workshops, petrol station and the bus company. Unfortunately he had died in 1958 while watching a wrestling match, must have suffered a massive heart attack. At the time of his death Uncle's children were still young, so somehow Dad was entrusted to looked after the business until my cousins reached the age of maturity. In this case his eldest son Anthony Loh Khee Toh took over the company when he reached 21. Dad was an honest person and I doubt he made much of this assignment, he could have taken advantage of the many opportunities to make money for himself, yet he did not. He just handed over the Company to Anthony and fortunately was assigned a smaller post of MD of South East Express Company Limited, a company owned by a Mersing towkay and Alec Bus Company Ltd. With his much lower income we struggled as we grow up but he did not sting in our education. All 3 sons of his were given respectable education. In fact my Brother Alex did his first degree in UKM and followed by  Masters in America and Philippine while Henry   did his Bachelor of Accounting degree in University Malaya, followed by his Masters in Anthropology in Canberra, Australia. Unfortunatly our sister Philo did not pursue higher education.

Dad was a very disciplined persons and when Grandpa asked him to mange the smallholding he will drive to Senai early in the morning to help in the work of transporting and selling the rubber sheets from the small kongsi to a shop in Senai. I being the eldest sometimes get to follow him when it was the school holidays and on Saturdays.

Dad loves to smoke and drink. He was a smoker since 9 years old and until his heart attack at age of 69, he was a regular smoker. After his operation and recovery from the shocking heart attacks, he stopped smoking entirely but continued drinking. Dad used to drink a stout a day and it was always in the evening. However if he had drinking companions, he will be able to drink more.  I remember folowing him to the small drinking place in Jalan Meldrum called Heng Kee Bar, He and his friends will be drinking there while I will get my sweets and also a soft drink. I remember too following him to the Johor Civil Service Club in front of the old Rest House, now Thistle Hotel. Here he will be playing snooker and drinking too. I sometimes get him to give me coins so that I play at the slot machines.

I must say dad supported me a lot all my life and he loves his children very much. When you were born and then your siblings, he made sure all of you get your toys and he loved to play with you too. I remember that on his death bed he wanted to see you all before he sadly left us in October 18, 1997. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dad, which were your favourite pets and what made them so special

Living in a kampong house, we had the opportunity to encounter several types of pets such as dogs, cats, chicken, ducks, pigeons, guinea pigs, turtles, tortoises and lots of fishes. I took the dogs in my life for granted and most of the time they were our alarm systems or announcer of any visitors or intruders into our home. These dogs are very useful as they keep within the house compound and are able to function well as our guard dogs. They were obedient and were usually responsive to out calls. They will greet us happily when we arrive home. I remenber feeling quite sad when we have to bury the dogs when they die, especially the Alsatians.

Most of my time had been spent with the fishes as I love them moving so quickly and yet gracefully through the many aquariums we had in our home. It is however a lot of work to clean the aquariums and sometimes will end in heartache as we forget to put in enough anto chlorine and they will float one by one. Many of the gold fishes that we kept ended end dying this way.

I do enjoy going to the drains to catch longkang fishes and later we manage to catch fighting fishes from the stream in Senai which we kept in small bottles inside the house as we love to watch them fight.

Another fascinating story about pet pigeons was my dad gave the pigeons away to a friend in Singapore, the pigeons mangage to fly back home to their coup in our home. If I remember correctly they were identified by a string tied to the legs. At that time we never heard of bird flu and in fact off and on we caught them and ate them for their medicinal values.

We kept a turtle at the big aquarium near the outhouse and this grew to a respectable size of over 1 and half feet long. I was quite afraid of this pet as I had been warned that if the turtle bit my finger it will not let go until the thunder booms. Anyway sadly this pet ended up in the kitchen table before we shifted from this kampung house. Needless to say I did not eat any part of it.

I remember swimming or playing in this big aquarium or a small pool when there was no turtle or when it was much smaller. I will try to catch the many talapias just for the fun of it. Although I love fishes as pets, I do not really like to eat them unless they are fried or have no fishy smells.

Other pets that we played with included insects such as grasshoppers, spiders which we kept in matchboxes. I remenber too chasing the chickens around the gardens just for the fun of it. Those days there was much outdoor fun as there were no computers and television only came in the late 60s.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dad, when you were a kid, what was your favourite holiday, and how did your family celebrate it

When I was a kid, going for family holiday hardly happens. It could be it was not the norm those days to have family holidays and also that we were not rich enough to afford expensive holidays. I do remember some excursions to the waterfalls in Kota Tinggi, where the family had a chance to enjoy the beautiful waterfalls scenery and also some delicious Chinese food ate at the Chinese restaurants or coffee shops. I remember too that Dad brought me to some hunting trips where I observed the hunters shooting flying foxes in the now developed town of Pandan. In one of the hunting expeditions I remembering encountering my first leach experience when we were in a lookout point in the jungles of Kota Tinggi. There is where I learnt a match stick or a lighter came in handy to get the leach off my leg.

The other more frequent holidays is when dad took us back to Senai where we visit our small holding. We have  a small processing plant in the rubber smallholding  and I observed the hardy tappers collect the latex early in the morning and then transfer it to the small plant for the latex to coagulate into rubber slabs. It was an interesting learning experience for us siblings. As we grew older we learnt to fish using hooks and worms as bait to catch some fishes, of which the tiger barb was my favourite. Occasionally we will get into the small stream and use a a pongki to catch the small fishes to be brought home as out pets.

I also remember Grandpa taking me in the earlier days to the smallholding, where I follwed him using the bus and had to walked long distances via some small established paths to visit the rubber small holdings. Perhaps this started my love for walking and taking the public buses which I carry on doing even today when I am close to reaching 60 years.

Other trips that I remember going with Mum and dad was to visit Port Klang, probably in the late 60s and also visited Mantin graves where my first grandmother Anna Thong rest in peace. We usually travel with my late God father Lawrence Wong in his Opel having the number plate JA 1 then.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chinese New Year 2013

I was back briefly to celebrate Chinese New Year in Johor Baru. We left for Johor Baru on the 9th of February. Gabriel Loh had volunteered to drive and after loading the van we were off by about 6 am. The journey was relatively smooth although there were many cars on the road already. Kar Im requested for a pee stop and I was quite amazed at the chirping voices of thousands of birds (mynahs) found in the trees at the pee stop outside Senawang. Reminds me that God is with us as I appreciate the sounds of nature.

In Johor Baru we visited Kar Im parents first as we had to pass over to them some food. We then went back to Mum's place and my brother Henry and Aga were already there. Mum had the Choi Parn ready for us and I took a piece. Mum also reminded us that she will cooked a sumptuous lunch for us. However my 3 sons and I were craving for Kueh Tiau Kia, so we decided to go to Melodies Garden, only to find that the shop was not opened. We ended up eating substandard Kor Lor Mee in the Hawker centre as it was the only Chinese shop that was opened then. Ian cleverly opted for my Nasi Lemak from the Malay stall nearby.

By 1pm lunch was ready and Vincent and my Uncle Meng Suk was able to join us for lunch. Very delicious lunch although our stomachs were still full from breakfast. Kar Im suggested we do some last minutes clothes shopping especially for the boys who needed some shirts. We went to the Surya Mall where the boys manged to get their shirts while I managed to buy a  bottle of dish washing liquid for the house.

By 5.30pm we had to get ready for the reunion dinner which was to be held in Restaurant Tepi Sungai, in Masai, near where Father Simon stayed in the Jesuit House Plentong. It was a first time where Kar Im parents reunion dinner, the Teos and our ( the Lohs) reunion dinner were held at the same venue. However the Teo's arrived about an hour late.  

The dinner was shared with Mum, Vincent, Meng Suk, Henry and Aga and Kar Im, Father Dompok and our 4 children. Very fortunate to have all back as Beatrice had come back  a week ago and managed even to go diving in Sipadan. Sabah. Before going to Sipadan, she managed to attend the funeral of Tai Yee, my mum's eldest sister who left us suddenly on the 1st of  February 2013. my condolence to the family. it was a complete shock to all of us but thankfully she died peacefully in her sleep.

Father Dompok as usual was the live wire and also helped us to take the family photographs. As my brother Alex was in India for a Yoga retreat, there were some exchange of photo of the food and our family potraits through the What Up applications. The wonders of technology. Father Dompok also managed to tempt Doreen in New Zealand with pictures of the dinner which arrived so quickly. Dinner was complete by 8pm but we did manage to greet the Teo family who were seated at the next table.