Zi Char or Tze Char

11 Nov 2019 – A Small Family Gathering

Fri: TGIF – tkx to Wilki&Patty for this small family gathering@PorKee (where their parents used to frequent) with some of our favourite dishes. It is a very rare occasion to get all my 3Wong cousins together. Sitting: one of the twins Jordan. From L-R: Wilki, me, Mei, 16Auntie, David, John, Daisy. Behind me: Sue, Jo, Evelyn&Raymond and 17Uncle in the big pix; Daisy, Huang, Kim, Patty and Sue in the other pix – 4generations here, missing from the WONG-branch Jay&Joshua+Daniel here. Pix credits to Jagger&Huang.

The CoffeeRibs are no more and that must be have been my favourite ribs of all ribs, now it is ChampagneRibs which is also yummy and so are their CerealPrawns. HomemadeTofu (the best for me) with SeaCucumber, YamBasket,

Steamed SoonHock/MarbleGoby 笋壳鱼, favourite fish-dish for most Cantonese family. Dessert Teochew Orh-Nee 潮州芋泥 – Yam paste with gingko nuts, rich&delicious but packed with cholesterol, had only a couple of spoonfuls to not tempt fate! All food pix downloaded except the dessert. Problems with memory-card in camera.

Tze Char煮 炒 zhǔ chǎo (zhú chǎo); literally=cook&fry, also romanised Zi Char, is a Hokkien term used to describe a Chinese stall that provides a wide selection of common and affordable dishes which approximated home-cooked meals. Uniquely SIN dining term that has come to refer to an extensive mish-mash of dishes cooked to order, based loosely on Chinese cooking. More elaborate and expensive than hawker fare, but cheaper and lacking the polished presentation of upscale Chinese restaurants. Ask 100ppl what tze char is and you’ll probably get 100different answers. Ask them which is their favourite and expect 100more different answers.

KokSeng&PorKee with their Cantonese-style cooking are the locations my family seem to frequent.

Sat: taking it easy and fasting – feeling uncomfortable&unwell with the excess weight. Great running for #1,2&4. #4 tied for 6th girl overall, first in her age group and a new PR at the Run Hard 5K! Meanwhile, #1&2+team Irmo XC girls were 4th at 5A Midstate Qualifier in Camden and will move on to compete at State next weekend. Way to go, my running ladies+their coach. Tkx to Linn for updates+pix.

Sun: wishing the Hi-Group a safe trip back home. Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) on Wedding Rituals & Ceremonies in Different Religions@NLB. Harmony of Faiths in SIN with talks and discussions on the commonalities and differences in weddings from different religions. Rev Liew caught my attention here by turning water into wine, good trick – an illustration of Jesus blessing our marriage. Educational&interesting talk by all in the above panel and good Q&As from the audience. Looking forward to catching their next talk in Dec.


Only in SIN where one can find all these places of worship within 5mins walk from each other. Love should have no boundaries, but I do not live in a Happily-After or LaLaLand. Too tired open a can of worms here. Appreciations to Clem for dinner and this round@DinTaiFung RafflesCity tkx to the voucher from HI cousins.

Edited 19Nov: tkx to Alvin for this contribution where there he discovered a street in Bali where places of worship are literally 1min away from each other.



Mon: more or less back to sync here. Dinner with Wilki&Patty+Daisy@JalanBesar – fishhead, turtle soup&beef-hor-fun. Safe trip back to HI with hopes that they will still return back here to eat even though their business&paper-works are now finally done&settled.

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life – Richard Bach


7 Nov 2019 – And Vending Machines

Mon: the 4walls are more or less back to normal without any covers and feeling more relaxed with most of the laundry&unpacking done. What else next with vending machines??? Have yet to try hot-snacks or the Norwegian salmon but my Norwegian friends never knew that one could get frozen Norwegian salmon from a vending machine. Now you can even drop off your Laundry, dry-cleaning, bag&shoe spa &more! Do like the OJ machines – for S$2, you can watch 4oranges being freshly squeezed and both taste&temp wise are to my taste.

An actress once advised me, Make sure you do your own laundry – it will keep you honest – Cate Blanchett

Tkx to David&Wilki+Huang&Kim for the voucher&dinner@DinTaiFung where the food is consistently good. It is amazing how far they have reached, considering that I have never forgotten the taste of their XaoLongBao in Taipei/Taiwan1996 just before they opened their 1st International branch in Toyko. In SIN alone, there are 25branches and with a group of 5 of us, there was no problem with at least one owning a CitiCard.

Tue: toilet tank leaking and not getting properly into the bowl, tkx to contractor Vincent, got it was fixed S$100. IC S$10&passport S$70+4mugshots S$10, all papers in the post for renewal. Running thru’ figures will give me an idea where the money is being flushed away!!

Shaw@Jewel to watch The Farewell – Based On An Actual Lie are such appropriate words when this movie is about a conspiracy of lies on death! A Chinese family who, when they discover their beloved Grandmother has only a short while left to live, decides to keep her in the dark and schedule an impromptu wedding to be together. Highly recommended to see how family dynamics, cultural differences, etc bind the family together.

The Farewell won’t change cinematic language, but by opening us up to a clash of cultures we don’t often get to see and by showing us the beauty of a lie, it just may change you – Glenn G

Enjoy being in the basement@Jewel where GB Shaw’s quote about where there is no sincerer love than the love of food applies so fully here. With Jewel nearer to me (bus 36 direct to T1@the airport in less than S$1&20mins). the food selections&eateries here are endless and would take me a year to try everything! The basement@Takashimaya is also good when in the Orchard Rd area..

Wed: a day catching up with movies Made in China&Hello World – the few ways I will sit down and not run around! Ended the day at Plaza SIN to meet with cousins+HI group for dinner@Kopitiam, somewhere I can afford to treat everyone with my 10% off card there!

Also Patty wanted to shop@Daiso where she bought 43items!! – she told me that when her DIL was visiting Japan, she bought 150items from a Daiso there!!! Got me to wonder how many items (total) have I bought from there?

Thu: going thru’&filing both hard&soft copies of paperworks with the body, especially the stomach needing a total rest – ie fasting and drinking just warm water to flush out the system today.

Welcome November 2019

3 Nov 2019 – Back On The Red Dot

Thu: smooth&uneventful flights snoozing and watching a bunch of movies which I have little recollections of. Arr on schedule to receive the best news – congratulations again to the IrmoHigh GirlsV-XC – Region Champs for the 2nd year in a row, way to go #1&2+their mama coach, my 1st born. What an honour to be their mother&grandmother. Pix credits to Jeremy.

After a shower and a few minutes of snooze, headed to Filmgard@Bugis – appreciations to SIN #6 Irish Ambassador Patrick Bourne and the Irish Embassy for this last flick of the Irish Film Festival 2019, and for the taste of Barmbrack which is traditionally served on Halloween in Ireland. The origins of Halloween actually dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain.

Was in much of a zombie state of mind to give any comments on this movie, The Hole In The Ground which is supernatural horror film directed by Lee Cronin, from a screenplay by Cronin and Stephen Shields.

Fri: TGIF! Breakfast – BakChorMee@Blk59 MarineTerrace/132MeePokKwayTeow, still missing the old congee&carrot cake stalls but does not stop me from enjoying the other foods! Surprised to bump into Penny and nice to meet her hubby, Paul.

Good being back to the local foods in my comfort-zone+conveniences in-spite of the apt looking like a battle-field both inside (my own mess) out (MRT/TEL-line-constructions) at present. That too shall pass…

Welcome back to SIN (Food-Paradise), cousins David&Wilki+Patty WONG and Huang&Kim, all 5 from HI.

Just down the street where their accommodations are, Little India is conveniently located with Tekka-Place, an old block with a new facade opened on time for this 2019 Diwali where the peacock’s tail is ready for courtship. 2018 lights, the tail was not in that stage. Maybe next year 2020, the Diwali lights will be with a flock of peachicks!!! hahaha.

Sat: the various ethnic foods, cultures, customs, religions, rituals, etc living as peacefully as possible side by side is what makes SIN so unique and what I like best here. After India last night, today a taste of China in Chinatown.

Of course the shaved-ice@MeiHeongYuen is a must for my young friends and me too. Tkx to Linda for the help in her dried-goods store for Kim. Another taste from LimCheeGuan was all I could handle in this weather. Had to rest at their serviced-apt before another taste of OldChangKee on the way to Campers to say hi. Alcohol related credits to Calvin&Pat – lol

At this rate and in this heat, do know better than to even think of tasting anything alcohol related! Had a delightful time just catching up, staying awake and hoping for a good night sleep.

Tkx to Huang for taking this present pix of cousins David, John&Wilki WONG who are in many ways just like bros to me as their mother/4auntie LAM PohKow (1915-2016), have tried many times to adopt me during childhood – for real. B&Wpix from 1950s.


Sun: the body&heart are not so forgiving nowadays if I do not take this day to rest even when the mind tells me that nothing is impossible – 2negatives should make one positive, but will follow my heart and take my brains with me.

2 Happy Bdays  HongSze and JohnK/Ireland

8 Happy Bday Beverly

11 Happy Bday AudreyM

13 Happy Bday Yee Fun/NZ

15 Happy Bday Chris Tay

19 Happy Bday Yulis

27 Happy Bday DaisyC

29 Happy 12th Bday to my grandson JohnW/USA

30 Happy Bday Chai/Canada

Fall Back 2019

30 Oct 2019 – Time To Head Back To Warmer Weathers

Sat: heading towards Aker brygge for early dinner on this cold autumn day

The Cantonese menu here@LingLing is based on Hakkasan’s signature dishes, but with Norwegian influences, local producers and ingredients, ie more fusion – pleasantly surprised with the taste. Liked the idea that the dim-sum wrappings were made of different flavoured dough. #6 Wagyu beef (they out of the other cuts) was just enough for him, thus did not get to taste his, but am sure it was good as he finished every bit.

Only complain there was the loud music – not quite my style or taste of music and dislike having to shout to talk to anyone.

Sun: Happy Diwali to all celebrating, looking forward to experience the lights when I get back to SIN. Happy 95th Bday to Ellen-Sr, L&M paternal grandmother, #1-6 great-grandmother whose father was the architect for Oslo&Sandvika CityHalls. Had to be reminded by May that today is Daylight-SavingTime and also tkx to her for a delicious home-made roast-chicken Sun-dinner. The last pix I took of Ellen with L&M was 2010, 9yrs ago and the last pix I took of Ellen was 2months ago when I visited with her in Tromsø then.

Mon: tkx to Mette for lunch company and for helping me to eat up left-overs. She is such a spot and has no problems with left-overs and I too also have no issues with left-overs unless it has gone bad.

Tue: waking up to frost on the roofs, grass, etc – also means that it is time to fly down south. Beautiful, crisp&cool walk to the grocery as #6 wants fragrant rice for dinner, ie chicken rice without the chicken. Usually it takes only 1min to walk to the grocery, but instead took a long detour on this lovely morning. Many of the trees are ready for the winter, pretty with the clear blue sky, but do look rather sad when it is grey.

#6 also told me that he wished it to snow tomorrow, but I then told him that I have a heavy suitcase and will be taking the tram&train to the airport! To that he replied, OK then it can snow after you get to the airport!!

Have no problems to pack for just a trip, but considering how I travel – away for months from the comfort-zone&conveniences+in different continents&seasons, making packing a dreadful nightmare for me. But it could have been worse if I could not have some stuff stored in the US with Linn and in Norway with May.

To me, the most worrisome part of traveling comes before any of the traveling actually occurs: the suitcase-packing process. It’s a challenging and anxiety-filled process – I am caught between wanting my suitcase to be light and worrying I am going to need every single item in my bedroom – Laura Marano


Wed: breakfast with #6, him flatbread with butter/Bremykt, me flatbread with butter/smør&smoked trout. Until we meet again, will just keep in mind his hug&him waving with the sweetest smile as he head off to school. The next 15hrs in the air with 1+hr layover time in DXB arr SIN Thu 31Oct sometime in the afternoon, SIN time.

When everything seems to be against you, remember that an airplane takes-off against the wind, not with it – Henry Ford 

Big Apple

25 Oct 2019 – For A Day

Tue: short uneventful flight time, just under 2hrs from CHS-JFK S$125, snoozing most of the way. Do not even remember when I was here last – being tired and not too focus, was nearly con for US$15 S$20, but got away for US$4 S$5+. Arr T5, brought my check-in bag+backpack to T1 for storage US$24 S$33, AirTrain to JamaicaSt US$5 S$6+/OW and subway $2.75 S$3+/OW – affordable when you consider that Uber will cost anything from US$60-70 S$80-96/OW and US$40+S$55+/OW for shuttles.

Visit with Kat+Devon&Elliot for the afternoon – how time flies, she tells me that she has now lived in US for 19yrs!

Yummy Vietnamese Phở lunch hit the spot (have not had any ethnic Asian foods since leaving SIN 3months ago!) and a short walk around the neighbourhood to check into Greg’s new office, sorry to miss him as he is out of town today. Tkx to Kat for a lovely afternoon and for introducing sour dough doughnuts, good, but the plain old-fashioned sugar-glaze is still my preference.

The new Essex Market will be quite something when all the stalls are in place up&running, would like to visit again. But until then, back to JFK to catch my Norwegian flight across the pond. Was pleasantly surprised when a young African-American lady offered me her seat on the rush-hour crowded subway, so that cancels out the not so pleasant experience with an elderly African-American man who tried to con me upon arrival – hahaha! But then had to pay US$45 S$61+ for my overweight check-in luggage on NorwegianAir, still less expensive than having to mail those gifts.

Wed: JFK-OSL 7hrs uneventful on schedule flight S$245 sleeping most of the way. Arr safe&sound in OSL in the afternoon and could not have ask for better weather, a glorious clear blue sky against the warm welcoming colours of Fall to be with #6 – Heaven is this place on Earth for now.

Thu: a perfect rainy day to rest the body&soul, snoozing most of the day. #6 likes fried-rice and that I made for dinner.

Fri: TGIF – what a contrast from yesterday to wake up to blue-sky. The sun returns today with winds preparing trees for the winter!

Bouquet from me to #6 for his pre-Halloween decoration-party and May being as efficient as she is, everything is ready on the table before she left for work. Such a good idea arranged by the school.


4well-behaved kids (including #6) had a great time with pizza dinner&ice-cream dessert. Parents too enjoyed their snacks May made & Irish Coffee by me when they came to collect their kids. M&B are such good parents.


Charleston/SC Revisit 2019

24 Oct 2019 – 7 Years Have Passed By Quickly


Fri: TGIF and a good weekend to all. App 2hrs drive from CAE-CHS with a lunch stop, but seemed less with much to catch up during the drive. Tkx to HiHills/Glenda for driving us. In CHS to visit with AT-Hiking buddies. MoFo (trail-name who will be known as John here as we are not on the trail) met us@2Meeting St, a beautiful B&B out of my budget-range! White Point Garden must be one of the most popular locations for getting married.


The Battery – known for the stately&grand houses.


CHS&our host certainly lived up to the pineapple expression of Southern Hospitality. Walking on the cobble-stones sure brings back memories from students days in DUB. Halloween is in the air and anyone would turn into a skeleton too trying to fish for food from a sidewalk!

Some of the historical steeples – St Michael’s (1761), St Philips’s (1838), St John the Baptist (1890), St Mathew’s downloaded (1872).

The cast-iron gates are fascinating and could spend a whole day just admiring them. 32 Lagare St (Sword Gate/1849), last pix above has an interesting history behind it, but the other gates too have their own history which I know not of.

Every door&gate has a story but sometimes we stare so long at the closing ones that we forget to appreciate&see the open ones.

Sat: woke up to this view from our hotel window, The Holiday Inn Express&Suites@Mt Pleasant Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning. Expecting Nestor (tropical storm), thank goodness the forecast was not what it made out to be and continuing with our sight-seeing on 4wheels.

The Citadel (1842), a public college is one of 6 US senior military colleges. John’s family, from his grandfather, father, bro and now his nephew 4generations all attended this college, including John who did his MBA here – impressive place with the biggest class-ring I have seen.

Taking in every bit of the history (+imagining what it was like then!) from a knowledgeable local retired-architect guide. Today’s pix are not so clear, mainly with raindrops taken from the windows in the car.

While the rest were shopping,  had a yummy coffee-milkshake in this joint with this lovely painting.

and was checking if Nestor’s visit will flood the water-front – seems like the bark was louder than the bite.

Lunched@Pages Okra-Grill where I first tasted pickled-okra 7yrs ago and now my 2nd time and still like okra best this way – even their BloodyMary is garnished with okra.

The weather called for more shopping and was happy to just tag along with the group. Was told that this doughnut place Fractured-Prune made individual fresh doughnuts with whatever sprinkles you want – was too stuffed to try, perhaps the next time round!

Appreciations to John&Lynne for their gracious Southern-Hospitality with scrumptious home-made Low-Country-Boil, Melon-salad&Coleslaw

in their beautiful home@Mt Pleasant.

Sun: a breezy, refreshing wet walk across Arthur Ravenel Jr./Ravenel/Cooper River Bridge (1,546ft/471m), a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River connecting downtown CHS to Mt Pleasant.

Mt Pleasant Pier: under the bridge, a delightful pier built on the foundations of the old bridge with the tell-tale signs of the weather for the past few days. A goodbye breakfast@Pages Okra-Grill again before the ladies drove off. Appreciations to be included to John’s family dinner where I got to meet 2 (Amelia/7&Jack/2+) of the 4 of their grandchildren. One more night@the hotel as it was paid in advance.

Mon: most delightful morning walk@ShemCreek Boardwalk along the Low Country Marsh Scene.

Softly, slightly rippling the water as it carried the heady scents of late Carolina springtime through the air. Honeysuckle. Jasmine. Ripe, pungent river mud. Ah, the world felt right ― Caitlin Rush

Forest Gump in mind with the shrimp boats.

Life is just so complete in this glorious weather, watching life go by, tkx to John for lunch and letting me stay@their place. Also time to thank my AT-hiking buddies+our charming&the best CHS guide for this most memorable stay.

Sugar had grown up in Charleston, South Carolina: possibly the most luscious of the world’s garden cities. Behind every wrought-iron gate or exposed-brick wall in the picturesque peninsula blooming between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers lay a sweet-scented treasure trove of camellias, roses, gardenias, magnolias, tea olives, azaleas and jasmine, everywhere, jasmine.

With its lush greenery, opulent vines, sumptuous hedgerows and candy-colored window boxes, it was no wonder the city’s native sons and daughters believed it to be the most beautiful place on earth ― Sarah-Kate Lynch

The hotel refunded 20% of the bill as the room’s fridge, micro-wave and coffee-machine were not functioning. So long CHS. 1st time flying off from this airport – tkx to John for the ride and for making me aware that one of Boeing Companies is located by this airport.

2019 SC Visit With My Flock

17 Oct 2019 – 20Days Have Passed By Quickly

Mon: Happy Thanksgiving to Canadian family&friends.

Appreciations to Linn for lunch@Publico, a fun&novelty hip bar&fusion restaurant in Five Points downtown.

Bulgogi Noodle Biff Bowl – was pleasantly surprised how tender the beef was, 1st time tasting Sopapillas –  Tex-Mex dessert. With 54-different local&craft beers on tap, one is not short of choices for beers there.


The backyard alfresco area adds a nice touch making it more attractive to families with the giant Jenga&Connect4.

Tue: more good deals shopping@TJ Max. Congratulations again to Irmo High School where the XC-Varsity-Girls placed 2nd&the boys, 6th@Lexington High School County Championship last night. #1, who is having a superb senior season continues to impress by finishing in 3rd place individually (19.30), sooo proud of her. Way to go for #1&2+their team and their coaches.

Was blessed that the rains did not start until everything was over in spite of the threatening dragon clouds during the start. Dinner@Arby’s with Jeff+#4&5, supposedly a fast food place but it took a while to get our food and got back home after #1-3 even though they had to ride the bus back to IrmoHigh. Of all days to forget my camera, pix taken by the phone and not as clear as I would have liked.

Wed: clearing my mess here to get ready for packing. Appreciations to cousin Wilki in HI for the care-package  (the Panda is new!) arriving just in time to get this goody-bowl together before taking off.

Anyone who uses the phrase easy as taking candy from a baby has never tried taking candy from a baby!

Thu: what never fails to give me a heavy heart  – leaving the flock&packing, this time for 3days in CHS/SC, 1day in NYC/NY before flying across the Pond. What makes it worth the while is when looking forward to catching up with AT hiking buddies in CHS and niece in NYC. Also on wards to 2020 when hopefully the age of 70 will continue to be blessed with new adventures&experiences – top of the list with  #1 graduating high-school.

Time to say goodbye.
Places that I’ve never seen or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I’ll sail with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,
it’s time to say goodbye.

When you’re far away I dream of the horizon and words fail me.
And of course I know that you’re with me.
You, my moon, you are with me.
My sun, you’re here with me…