28 Feb 2009 – Last Day of February

Have known WONG Hong Sze and WONG Pui Ah (REYNOLDS is her married name) as long as I can remember, over half a century. Pui Ah is visiting SIN for the week and spending some time together is the best way to catch up. We have gone different directions in life, but it is good that our paths crossed again… like being kids, even for a moment! Hong Sze, thank you for a lovely dinner at the Warren Club and the delightful chats with Sam, Orlando and Jane, Orlando’s mother. To Pui Ah & Jane who will be flying off this weekend to your homes in Vancouver & London, safe journeys.

Pui Ah was reminding me about when I first slumbered in their family home San Bah at Keng Lee Road. I was used to sleeping with the air-condition and could not sleep without it. Towards midnight, I was crying out of fatigued and also probably the trauma of my first sleep-over. My dad drove to pick me up as the chauffeur was asleep. Sam commented on the irony as to how it is possible to hike the Appalachian Trail considering the wimp I was then! There, this goes to show that people do changed at different stages of life, depending on the paths they choose to take. Sam thank you for your charm and wit.

Quotation is a serviceable substitute to wit – Oscar Wilde

Slumdog Millionaire


25 Feb 2009 – 8 Oscars

After all the write-ups and talks about the movie, I had to watch it. It was indeed very well presented, deserving all the Oscars. The message about the situation in India confirms what I am already aware of. Personally, it was a disturbing and thought provoking movie in spite of the fairy tale ending. The reminder of the reality was always underlined in Jamal’s flashbacks. 20 million rupees=app S$613,000=app US$400,800. Thus millionaire in India.

Childhood should be a stage of innocence but not so for the slum-dogs and underprivileged. To see how some people abuse, misuse and manipulate the innocence and naivety of children is very dis-hearting and sad. The picture posted today is to remind us that innocence has its time and place. To mature with the awareness that innocence does not get confused with ignorance is what we parents try to teach the future generation. But of course we have to be the role model, otherwise you cannot teach what you do not practice! 

Innocence plays in the backyard of ignorance – Proverb



23 Feb 2009 Busy weekend

Fri was a lunch time jazz performance by Simplicius CHEONG & his group at the NTU Recital Room with an enjoyable repertoire of Blues Bebop Bossa and Beyond. My classical background is still my forte but the jazz was a delightful change. Thank you Pat CHEE, a 1962 classmate & friend for including me at your cousin’s jazz quartet.

Sat’s lunch with the 10 & 16 aunties resulted with a very useful piece of info for my research into my family history and KLBank. It is in Chinese and I need to write to the newspapers for the original copy and try to get it translated without getting lost in the translation. Am quite excited with this full page with pictures and write-up.

Sun: Wedding of Orlando and Samantha at the Raffles Hotel where Orlando promised eternal love for Sam. My congratulations and every best wishes to the young couple. Sam’s father, WONG Hong Sze’s parents and my parents were friends before we were born! Hong Sze and his sister Pui Ah (who surprised everyone by flying in from Vancouver for the wedding) were my childhood friends. It was quite amazing to catch up with some of the Wong family I have not seen since 1965!

Jazz is an intensified feeling of nonchalance – Françoise Sagan

Real Man


20 Feb 2009 – About yesterday

Yesterday on the bus, I finally met a real man. He was carrying his baby in a sling and snuggling with his baby. Was so touched that I asked for permission to take his picture and thank him for making my day. The rest of the day passed by in good spirits after this incident. But can certainly feel that the energy was running low towards the end of the afternoon.

Lawrence & I went first to Mandai Crematorium to pay respects to our parents; then to Urban Redevelopment Authority URA to see the plans of SIN where there is a very impressive model of the whole island (can even see my HDB block) and also more detailed models of different district in a larger scale. The day was clear enough to see the real views from the SIN Flyer. Ended a lovely day with Lawrence & Leslie chowing down char kway teow (= fried flat noodles) from the famous stall #18 on Zion Rd; Ivy & I had soup! To Lawrence, safe journeys back to KCH.

A woman isn’t complete without a man. But where do you find a man- real man, these days? – Lauren Bacall

2 Deaths


18 Feb 2009 – Life is fragile

My condolences to my nephew John LAM & family for the loss of his father-in-law and to Shakib Gunn’s family. Shakib’s sudden death is distressing and the first time I have experienced a Muslim funeral. He died yesterday morning and was buried in the afternoon. The Muslims cleaned and wrapped their dead in linen and after prayers, they are buried straight into the ground.

SG and I crossed paths at Hagley & Hoyle. He was both the art director and copy writer since the beginning of the company and has the best penmanship I have seen; English, founding member of the SIN Kite Association, married to a local muslim Malay lady and converted to Islam. He leaves behind his wife, a daughter, a son-in-law and 2 grandsons. The last time I saw him was at H&H’s Christmas scrumptious lunch where he was explaining how to pull the table cloth without stirring anything on the table. SG, thank you for crossing my path. Will miss your H&H visits. 

Last night, Lawrence requested for a family dinner and meeting at Leslie & Ivy’s. Planning to take Lawrence for beef noodles at Purvis Street, one of my favourites (especially the soup) tonight. Wanted to also introduce him to the SIN Flyer but unfortunately the weather is too hazy. Life is fragile, so enjoy and cherish every moment of it.

Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man – Norman Cousins



17 Feb 2009 – LAM Song Kee & CHAN Swee Ngor

Have been reading my god-sister, Patricia Lim’s (the great-granddaughter of WONG Fook Kee, better known as WONG Ah Fook) 2 books, The Family Book of WONG Ah Fook and WONG Ah Fook, Immigrant Builder and Entrepreneur published by Times. Both books provide excellent extensive family history. Am looking forward to meeting up with Pat who lives in Johor Bahru, just across the Straits of SIN. Yeah no flying.

The family tree in my mind is nothing as extensive as Pat’s. Just want to pass some info to the future generation about the starting of the family ex bank, Kwong Lee Bank; a family chart starting from both my paternal & maternal grandparents including a directory of contacts for my and next generation around the world. This way they can choose to keep the contact or to join the dots of family networking!  

Have encountered a set-back by getting food poisoning in Sarawak but do believe that things happen for a reason. So will take it as a sign to slow down for the time being. This has taken quite some energy and time to recover, perhaps age is the culprit! In the meanwhile will enjoy my detours!

The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour –

Happy Valentine’s Day


14 Feb 2009 – Happy Hearts Day

Yesterday was Ivy‘s mom, Porpor’s 89th Bday. The appetite is not back normal yet but thanks to Leslie & Ivy for a lovely evening in good company with good food. We discovered that we will need to celebrate 2010 in style when Porpor will be 90, me 60 and Leslie & Ivy‘s 40th anniversary!

Rest does wonders to the body, nearly back to normal and enjoying my daily chores. Overheard a Cantonese conversation at the local wet market. The scenario: Lady choosing sweet potatoes. Veggie seller: this one is good, Lady: too many holes and I want to choose, Seller: but they all have holes, Lady: some have less holes, Seller: they all have to have holes to breath, Lady: that’s your explanation but I still want to choose. By now I was trying so hard to control my laughter and to pay for my water-chestnuts.

Was the Seller being helpful or trying to flirt with the Lady or did I get lost in translation? It really made my Valentine’s Day 🙂

The original of Valentine’s Day in the ides of February was Rome’s Lupercalia, a festival of sexual license. Young men chose partners for erotic games by drawing small papers with women’s names on them. Today the US Greeting Card Association estimates that over 1 billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day 2nd largest card-sending behind Christmas.

I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon – author unknown

Serenity in Leslie & Ivy’s Garden


10 Feb 2009 – Back in Civilisation

6-8 Feb was one of my most miserable weekends, had the runs and vomited constantly for 3 days in Sibu, Sarawak. The Orchid Hotel, a budget centrally located with wireless but that was either a disco or KTV bar which blasted out loud & clear. The energy level was zero to bother with relocating, but it will certainly not be my choice when I return to continue with the research. Rescheduled flights and was back in SIN 8Feb night.

Thank you to Leslie & Ivy for having me to stay with them. The first thing they gave me was a shot to stop the runs and medication to stop the throw-ups. 9 Feb: no more runs and throw-ups but the appetite is zero. That makes 5 days without food, what a way to lose weight but not recommended. At Mt Elizabeth Hospital and was informed that I was infected with a server case of salmonella/food poisoning. Due to my history of ulcer, there are precautions to be taken with correct medication.

Imagine in an era when there were no planes nor mediation, would I have survived this ordeal? And what is Mother Nature telling us with floods in Sarawak, fires in Australia, droughts in China and snow-storms in parts of EU & USA?

Food poisoning enables one to lose weight without going on a diet 🙂

Kuching to Sibu

6 Feb 2009 – Sick in Sibu

4 Feb: KCH-wet day. Drove to the coast towards the future Federal Administrative Centre along the deserted RM314.6 million Matang Highway. The village road to Taraga Air were narrow, fortunately traffic was light. The road towards the coast were eroded by the rains making it impossible even for a 4-wheel drive to get thru’. Sounds of the waves were loud enough to convince me that the S China Sea was just over the jungle tree line. Back to KCH in time for Lawrence‘s 75th Bday.

5 Feb: KCH-SBW, the shortest flight I have experienced. Before I could even put back my seat to snooze, the announcement to put our seats upright for landing came on. Departed KCH 1030hrs and landed in SBW 1100hrs. The wet 25km taxi ride into town took about just as long. Sibu is located on the Rajang River (Malaysia longest) and it is overflowing due to the constant rain. The population here is 250,000.

George Sung kindly drove me around the town and he is connecting me with an ex Kwong Lee Bank staff who might have some info for me. The original KLB was located on Jalan Bank by the wharf but today it is a bike shop. My stomach is protesting after the CNY indulgence and 4 days of yummy KCH food. Could not fit another bite today, was just thirsty and in need of rest.

Life is full and overflowing with the new. But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room for the new to enter – Ellen Caddy

Edited – Dec2022: tkx to Kevin for these 2022 pix of his visit there.

Then 2009 and now 2022

Common Man


3 Feb 2009 – Kuching in Malay means cat!

1 Feb: SIN-the 7th of the CNY also known as 人日( literally translated=people’s day), the common man’s Bday, the day when everyone grows one year older. It was also 16th auntie’s actual Bday. Thank you to 10th auntie who hosted a wonderful lunch with a Lion Dance performance. The evening flight with budget airlines AirAsia to KCH was only 1hr 15mins, and that flew by very quickly unlike my flights across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans!

2 Feb: KCH-wet and rainy but nice and cool. Visiting relatives and gathering info about Kwong Lee Bank KLB for my next publication, A Family Trail! Another successful talk and many thanks to the Rotary Club, KCH for hosting the AT Thru-Hike talk.

3 Feb: KCH-breakfast with Lawrence, Chuan and Leonard who arrived last night from SIN. Without Leonard, there will not be any decent pictures for my KLB research.

God must love the common man, he made so many of them – Abraham Lincoln