Paradise

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1 Apr 2008 – HNL

A spiritual Sat night at the Kahala Hotel & Resort with some of the professors from the University of HI- Religion Faculty. Thank you Fritz for a wonderful dinner. Learnt that there is this guy in India, Guinness something or other (a name he gave himself) specialises in how to get people into the Guinness Book of Records. If you want to be in that book, contact him- this is no April Fool. 

HI & NZ will be my paradise now since snakes do not thrive in these Oceania tectonic plates. Even the supposedly paradise in the Garden of Eden was squelched by a snake! Considering all the snakes which  slider across or beside my path on the AT, the sulfur there must be non-existance in spite of all the sulfur names. Unlike the big island of Hawaii at present where volcanic fog with 5,500 tons of sulfur dioxide emitted per day, there will be no snakes there for sure. To accept that I have not conquered the snake phobia is no April Fool either!

Hell shared with a sage is better than paradise with a fool – Yiddish Proverb

Boys Scout Troop 123

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29 Mar 2008 – Kaimuki

Fritz’s dinner on Thu with the 2 Davids, June, Huang & Kim was most stimulating. Interesting conversions & discussions about the generation of mobile phones and laptops. Will the illusions of their ‘in’ virtual-world ever touch ground with the ‘out’ real-world? Is this the today’s version of generation-gap?

Kaimuki is an old town in HNL county with an ancient Hawaiian name meaning oven. The area was known for the many ovens used to bake ki, or ti roots, into a sweet food similar to candy. Only had a salad but will certainly try their famous ‘poi’.

Appreciation for the attentive audience of the Boys Scout Troop 123 at St Patrick’s Church in Kaimuli.  The red T-shirt will bring me fond memories, thank you and apologies that I am unable to join your 5mi hike. Dinner with cousin Desmond (the troop leader) & his family was a good time to touch base!

Oh Hawaii: The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean – Mark Twain

Kahalu’u, Hawaii

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26 Mar 2008 – Kahalu’u

Kahalu’u in Hawaiian means diving place and is windward side of the island of O’ahu, about 30mins drive from HNL (in clear traffic) to get there.

Such fun time with cousin Wilki & family. We were childhood playmates in the 1950s; roamed Temenggong Rd & the hills of Mt Faber which were highly-spirited areas according to rumours but even the spirits feared us according to our grandmother! His home now is in Kaneohe, the beautiful Kahalu’u surroundings where Jurassic Park was filmed. There was much to reminisce with the lush greenery, flowers (the varieties of manificant Heliconias arrangement is home-grown) and fruit plants in his property. The only dinosaurs sighting were us!

Oysters & champagne, steak & red wine in the company of family (David, Patty & Wilki with their son Daniel) and friends (Shelly, Huang, Katrina, Lisa & Adrian) was the perfect ending for the day.

In order to get the fruit of the tree, you have to be willing to go out on a limb – unknown 

Auckland, Sydney & Honolulu

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25 Mar 2008 – HNL

How amazing can life be! Sun dinner in AKL with new found cousin, Chen WengKei & his family- thanks to Euphemia & Graham. Mon night in SYD- gratitude to Garry and Tue night with cousin David in HNL- appreciation to Fritz. Departed SYD 25 Mar 1800hrs, arrived HNL  25 Mar 0700hrs- gaining a whole day of extra time to enjoy!

A day in SYD at the Royal Easter Fair- an annual event with all kinds of everything to remind me of everyone. The first day in HNL driving around the island eating shrimps & pineapple at Dole’s- thank you Huang & Kim

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind – Dr Seuss

Hahei, New Zealand

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23 Mar 2008 – Hahei

Happy Easter! About 2hrs drive East of AKL is the Coromandel Peninsular. On the peninsular is Hahei, Cathedral Cove (limestone cave, underwater arches and snorkeling Trail), Gemstone Bay (multi-coloured rocks), Lonely Bay (shelling) and Hot Water Beach- hot pools can be dug out of the sand at low tide near the rocks and in places where steam can be seen rising from the open sea at high tide. Volcanic activity is no longer prevalent on the Coromandel Peninsula- the hot mineral pools are a legacy of an exciting geothermal past. You can dig your own SPA at Hot Water Beach!

Such beautiful environment with good company & weather in peace & harmony should not be taken for granted. Just enjoy and be appreciative for the moment. Thank you Claire & John for their hospitality at their lovely beach house, Bill for the delicious home-made avocado/cilantro soup & pasta; Bill, Graham & John for fishing the snapper, Charles for all the ping-pong games, Euphemia for being my friend. Had to head back to AKL for dinner to meet relatives from my paternal grandmother side whom I did not know of.

The reason you’re on earth is to experience life… that’s is. Everything else including love, money or power is just the icing! – Anonymous

 

Auckland AKL, New Zealand

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20 Mar 2008 – Remuera

1986 – flew to all the ports around the world visited by the battleship USS Missouri to meet with Richard (my second ex-husband then), who was a naval officer in the US Navy. AKL was one of the ports of call. Graham was dating Euphemia and she wanted me to check out if he would be a suitable mate for her. My gracious Kiwi guide was the perfect host and still is.

Euphemia & I first met at a lunch on the Queen Mary in 1985 Long Beach, California thru’ common relatives (maternal side) from Hong Kong and the best part is that we became friends. It was about 15 years ago we saw each other during her Florida visit with her husband Graham.

Was greeted by her after 11hrs on the plane from BKK and a long line at the AKL Immigration & Custom. Seeing her & family made it all worth while. What a wonderful reunion, now with Charles, a charming talented son who is nearly 12. We chat all day to catch up with present time. BBQ by the pool with a view of the city and a full moon in the company of this delightful family. I could really live here! Will be heading to Hahei, about 2hrs drive from AKL for the Easter weekend.

New Zealand was colonized initially by those Australians who had the initiative to escape – Robert Muldoon

Bangkok BKK Airport

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18 Mar 2008 – BKK Airport 

Celebrating Linn’s Birthday with a massage, walking and window shopping to pass 6hrs in BKK airport. This new airport is very spacious with all the designer brand-named shops spread over many wings and concourse. The architecture is ultra modern with the use of partial glass for the roof. It looks good but most impractical in the tropical sun. Had to stand near the air-condition to stay comfortable. Discovered that I could not take any tax-free liquids into NZ. There goes my idea about getting a bottle of anything.

1979 – BKK airport was nothing like what it is today. Linn, May, John (my first husband, the children’s father), and Claire (our baby-sitter then, who is Irish but grew up and lives Norway) were also experiencing a long layover at the old BBK airport. John was attending a Radiology Congress in Singapore and we took the opportunity to visit my family.

On our return trip, one of the engines on the plane caught fire just as we were approaching BKK airport. It was very frightening sitting by the window seeing the fire and quite a miracle that we landed safely. Had to stay put at the airport as it was uncertain as to when another plane would be available. The girls were then, 5 & 1 and they were so good- thanks to John & Claire. When it was finally announced that there will not be any plane until the next day, we got a hotel room after many hours of waiting on the hard benches… not so pleasant then but at least the memory is still in tact!

Living in the past has one thing in its favour, it’s cheaper –
Dramatist’s Guild Bulletin, 1963

St Patrick’s Day

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17 Mar 2008 – Singapore

In company of friends at home for Fri & Sat. Did not want to be out amidst the weekend crowd & noise, with the school holidays added. There is also an outbreak of the flu virus in Hong Kong and hopefully it will not spread. Staying home is the wiser choice. Made Linn & May’s favourite Italian pick-me-up, Tiramisu. Not quite the Patrick’s Day menu but it was a request. There is no way I can do a bread pudding like the Grand Hyatt’s Irish chef. The secret is in the sauce but the Leprechauns did not share the secret!

St Patrick cleared a tropical down-pour in time for the parade by the Singapore River yesterday afternoon. It was not quite the same as a parade by the River Liffey in Dublin but what an excellent way for the Irish community to get together making this a special day with fond memories of Ireland, where Linn was born.

17 Mar 1974 – Dublin, was in labour for my firstborn. Is there any word which can truly describe the discomfort of childbirth? Anyone who says that it is not painful has not gone thru’ natural childbirth! Fortunately the parade was over on O’Connell St when I arrived at the Rotunda Hospital (behind O’Connell St) in the late afternoon. My bundle of joy with platinum blond hair & blue eyes came into this world 0400hrs 18 Mar. The change of staff  thought I was given the wrong baby! Was quite amazed to see a bottle of Guinness on my bed side-table and was pleasantly surprised to be informed that it was complimentary after childbirth… should have been given before!

What is in that stout which was promoted even by the hospital? Was it a reward for giving life? Looked and tasted a little like the bitter Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM. Whatever is in the Guinness, it is my tradition to have one on St Patrick’s Day to give thanks for all my blessings. Tomorrow I take leave from my fellow country mates to visit with the Kiwis.

Your feet will bring you to where your heart is – Irish Proverb

Overwhelmed

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13 Mar 2008 – Singapore

The past couple of days have been unusually wet and perfect weather for snoozing. Usually I am an organised person but lately this desk has been submerged with stuff. It has been overwhelming with the talks and presentations but the experiences have been positively rewarding. Met interesting people who could relate about our attitudes towards nature, others and themselves.

Need to make a list of reminders for the important documents to take with me for my journey. Clothes and other things can easily be replaced, documents & deeds are not. Keep telling myself that it is not the first time I will be away for an extended period of time but it does not seem to get easier, even with experience & age!

Thank you to Ireland’s Ambassador Richard O’Brien and his wife Bernadette for hosting the St Patrick’s Day reception at the Grand Hyatt Hotel last night. Delighted to catch up with the Irish community and members of the Irish Graduates Association of Singapore IGAS, where I was the Hon Secretary from 1999-2003. Will it be too ambitious to try squeezing the Sunday’s parade into my schedule? So much to do and so little time!  

You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was –
Irish Proverb

Johor Bahru Speakers’ Club

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10 Mar 2008 – Johor Bahru Speakers’ Club

Pat Lim invited me to speak and her gracious hospitality is much appreciated. The red brick hospital building where her husband Kee Chin works, can still be recognised even with with new wings added on. During my childhood visits in the 1950s, our families feasted on crabs by the seafront with the view of lush green jungles across the causeway to Singapore, quite a contrast with today’s view!

Pat has done extensive research into her genealogy and has written 2 books, Wong Ah Fook-The Family Book and Immigrant, Builder & Entrepreneur. I am looking forward to learning from her about our families. My grandfather Lam Song Kee bought 5 Temenggong Rd, Singapore from her grandfather who bought it from the Temenggong (an ancient Malay title of nobility).

Many thanks to Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Hajah Shahariah binti Tuanku Abdul Rahman, President of the JB Speakers’ Club and to Datin Maimunah Abdul Rahman, Executive Director of M Suites Hotel for hosting the talk, complimented with delicious food to a wonderful audience in lovely surroundings.

If you don’t know your family history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree – Michael Crichton