Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Oh! For a barbecued Ikan Pari!!

Heng Kee barbecue seafood stall

The stall has arguably the best barbecued or grilled fish in town according to patrons who will swear by its quality. Ah Heng, as he is known to his customers, is a person who loves a beer or two with his regular customers. He is chatty but at times morose.

Ah Heng, the owner

The sambal that he uses to barbecue the fish and fry vegetables, mussels or clams, is ‘mo tak teng’ (meaning delicious) as the Cantonese speaking customers love to say. The most popular fish for barbecue is of course the ‘ikan pari’ or stingray. It seems that the fish is particularly suited for barbecue as it is not ‘fishy’ and the meat fleshy and juicy. Add a bit of lime juice to it and it is heavenly. The other fish commonly used for barbecue is the 'ikan kembong' or mackerel .

Fresh fish and squids for grilling

The fish is sliced through from the top all the way down on both sides and opened up to allow it to grill faster. A banana leaf is coated with some oil before the fish is put on it and is left to grill. 'Sambal' or homemade chilli sauce is later spread liberally over the fish and another banana leaf is placed on top of the fish before it is flipped over to grill. He has other vegetable side dishes which are quick fried with sambal. Squids are also available for customers who want to try different seafood.

Smaller mussels ready for quick frying

Clams and mussels are also quick fried with 'tao cheong' or bean paste and sambal. Quick frying retains the mussels’ or clams’ juiciness. Both clams and mussels can also be barbecued if so desired.

Heng Kee is the only stall that sells grilled seafood at the river side hawker centre. It is easily noticeable as the stall is located beside the busy Shahbandar road.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Food Food Glorious Food!

The Dragon Food Court

It is always a problem deciding what to eat every morning. There seems to be many choices and yet it seems that it is the first big problem in the morning: what to eat?

The drinks and payment counter

I always gravitate to Dragon Food Court simply because it is close to my office, as I can just cross the road and have my usual Senggarang coffee and some lunch occasionally.

The 'gen jie' mee lady boss

To be fair to the establishment, there are four stalls that you can choose from: chicken rice (Meeky can hear the inaudible sigh, oh no, another write-up on chicken rice), 'mee hoon kueh' soup, claypot chicken rice or claypot noodle soup, and 'gen ji' or 'gen jei' mee or noodles depending on what dialect one speaks. Apart from mee, it also has meehoon and kway tiaow. I have always been puzzled by its meaning but I found out later from a regular patron (without fail, he must have his 'gen jei' mee every morning except when the lady boss takes the day off) that it is mee meant for the poor, working people whose only concern is to fill up their stomachs before going for their back-breaking work. But, he says, it is no longer 'cheap' or 'competitive' because it can come with a selection of a fried egg, 'tao kee' or fish paste wrapped in tofu skin, fish paste roll, 'tao guah' or tofu, and fried pork luncheon meat. With these additional selections, it is no longer 'cheap' or 'competitive'! But somehow, this particular stall is so popular that it finishes selling by 10.00 or 10.30 am. The secret, says the customer, lies in her curry gravy and her 'sambal' which is spicy. In fact the family runs six or seven stalls, in various locations in Batu Pahat.

Mee hoon kueh and dry noodles

Then there is also the 'mee hoon kueh', thin, flat pieces of wheat-based dough cooked in a tasty soup. As the soup boils, the 'mee hoon kueh' is pinched and flattened by hand before being thrown into the boiling soup. Slivers of pork, a couple of meat balls, fish paste and crab roll are added. The soup is topped with fried 'ikan bilis' or anchovies. It is just nice for those who wish to have a light breakfast or lunch. The 'mee hoon kueh' and noodles also come in dry form. The owners, a husband and wife team close shop by 2.30pm.

Claypot chicken rice being cooked

Claypot chicken rice

The claypot chicken rice or noodles. Those who are familiar with the Jalan Peng Kai food stalls at the end of Jalan Jenang will have spotted or eaten the claypot chicken rice or noodles there. It opened at the food court about two months ago. The verdict? At RM 3.50, for a small claypot, it is tasty and filling. They have servings for one or more people. Salted fish used to be added to the rice while it was being cooked. However, mindful of the fact that some customers may not like salted fish for reasons of their own, they have thoughtfully provided it in a small sauce dish. Although the claypot mee soup is fragrant, at RM 2.50 a claypot, it is disappointing with a few slivers of pork, some thin slices of black mushroom and an egg swimming in it. They start selling at 10.30 a.m.

Claypot noodles

Now for the ubiquitous dish everyone dreads: chicken rice! To be fair to the owner, and his youngish wife (daughter?) and child, the chicken, which is not too fat, is cooked to the right tenderness. He has the usual roast and white chicken. Those who are fond of the skin of the white chicken would realize that it is quite thin, and the fat beneath it hardly discernible. In addition, he serves tofu (loh tau guah) and egg (loh nen) in black sauce. It is often said that the rice and chili sauce make or break a chicken rice stall. The rice is springy and fragrant to the palete and the chili sauce goes well with the chicken. And the food is hygienically handled.

Chicken rice

By the way, the Dragon Foot Court is open for business at night as well. It serves chinese food as well as seafood, and its speciality is roast piglet at RM 125.00 a piglet. It supplies roast piglets to some restaurants in Batu Pahat. But prior notice must be given. The boss makes it a point to source his fish and shrimps from Bagan, a riverine village where fresh catch is unloaded every day. For the beer guzzlers, it is coffee shop price for the beers and stout, and those intending to go on the net can have their beer and surf the net at the same time, with no hidden charges.

The boss of the food court is a man with a suave tongue and a confessed weakness for gambling, a man who treats his Indonesian and Myanmar workers well.

The food court is located at Jalan Mohd Akil, about a 100 metres from the junction of Jalan Mohd Akil and Jalan Bakau Chondong. Opposite the restaurant is a burnt out four storey block.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

How To Make Anyone fall In Love With You

This is a book review, with slight changes, that I have done for a friend's blog. It is my two cents’ worth of views on Leil Lowndes’ book. It covers 85 techniques (by my standard, that’s a lot of techniques to employ).

"Lowndes claims that her techniques on making “anyone fall in love with you” are based on extensive scientific findings. The book contains numerous references to studies in human and animal behaviours in the mating game. In contrast to many writers on sexuality who focus on techniques and the erotic spots of men and women, Lowndes says the brain is the most erotic organ. Stimulate, excite and caress that organ and you are on your way to creating “a lifelong erotic aura”. It is the mind games that the sexes play out repeatedly that stoke and sustain sexual pleasure and intensity. She calls it brain fellatio. To put it succinctly, keep the channels of communication, verbal and nonverbal, open on all fronts".

I have picked out a few techniques so that readers can have a peek at what is inside the 318 page book. But first the physical sensation of love.

"The physical sensation of love
When a person falls in love, the body secretes a chemical, phenylethyalmine, or PEA that makes his heart thump, his hands wet with sweat and his insides go queasy. How does a hunter induce the release of PEA in his quarry? How does he or she ignite love at first sight in the quarry? " Now, that’s easy to remember; PEA as in pea-brain, I thought.

"Make eyes at the quarry
It is eye contact. There are four eye techniques that work: the intense gaze, the bedroom eyes, the sticky eyes and the visual voyage.

Technique 1: the intense gaze: when conversing with your quarry, lock eyes with him or her to give the impression that you are in love with her.

Technique 2: the bedroom eyes: allow your eyes to focus on the most attractive part of his or her face. This will cause the pupils to expand. According to Lowndes, ethnologists even have a name for it: the copulatory gaze. Finnish researchers have found that when the male baboon’s first look was directed at the female’s private parts, only five ejaculations occurred. However, when he first gazed into her eyes before taking a peek at her ‘yoni’, twenty-one ejaculations occurred.

Technique 3: the sticky eyes: let your eyes stay glued to her all the time.

Technique 4: the visual voyage: as you and your quarry are talking, let your eyes travel over her face and if he or she seems to enjoy it, let your eyes move further down. But beware! “You're cruising into dangerous seas and can sink the ship if your eyes travel too far south and vacation there too long. What if you were born with slit eyes where the expanding pupils are practically unnoticeable?

"The art of pickup
How does one approach his or her potential love partner when he or she thinks that he or she is the one sent from heaven?". This is getting to be very cumbersome; the use of “he or she”; I am going to stick to “he” and “you” from now on to make life simpler.

"Hunters, make your move fast before some one else does. Lock eyes with her to signal your interest. If she looks away, don’t lose heart. According to Lowndes, a study on flirtation patterns shows that when a woman looks away and then looks up again 45 seconds later, she is interested. Give her a warm smile and move within range to talk to her. Huntress, do not think that the man should make the first move. Research also shows that women make the first move in two-thirds of the encounters. Quoting a research on animal behaviours, she says a female chimpanzee in heat will spot her Quarry, ‘stroll up to the male, and tip her buttocks toward his nose to get his attention. Then she'll actually pull him up to his feet to copulate. This behavior is known as female proceptivity. Female proceptivity (as opposed to receptivity) is not unknown to our species, although we are, I should hope, a little less obvious'.

How do women make their first move?
Lowndes lists in descending order of success the results of a study by Monica Moore on how women successfully make the first move:

1. Smile at him broadly
2. Throw him a short, darting glance
3. Dance alone to the music
4. Look straight at him and flip your hair
5. Keep a fixed gaze on him
6. Look at him, toss your head, and then look back
7.'Accidentally' brush up against him
8. Nod your head at him
9. Point to a chair and invite him to sit
10. Tilt your head and touch your exposed neck
11. Lick your lips during eye contact
12. Primp while keeping eye contact with him
13. Parade close to him with exaggerated hip movement

Huntress, take your pick, but you should know what to use.

After the initial move,

S - smile as you are listening to your quarry.

O - open your body. Face your quarry fully, with arms opened in a relaxed manner.

F - lean forward or stand or sit closely to indicate your attraction the quarry

T – touch your quarry’s arm or hand 'accidentally'.

E - maintain eye contact.

N - Nod your head to show interest or agreement.

The first conversation
Conversation is like making love; it is like selling according to Lowndes. You have to know the right buttons to hit and pitch your sales accordingly. An example from Lowndes shows how to turn a conversation to your advantage:

Suppose, gentlemen, while walking home from work, a sudden rainstorm breaks out. You dart for the nearest shelter, a coffee shop. You go in, shake yourself off, and, as you sit down, you spot striking Ms. Attractive Stranger on the next stool. You clear your throat and take a chance.

''Wow," you say. "Looks like it's going to be some storm out there, huh?"

She turns toward you and seems receptive. "Sure does."

You are groping for something else to say. "Uh, do you come here often?"

Your Quarry seems amused at your line, but still interested. "No, not too often." She smiles. "I stopped in here for a hot coffee to get out of the rain."

You venture, "Yeah, it's really coming down, isn't it?" Well, it might not be brilliant, but it keeps the conversation going.

"Oh, well." Your Quarry shrugs. "At least it's good for the plants."

You both look out the window momentarily and then back at each other. You smile. Your Quarry gives you a forced smile. Then neither of you can think of anything else to say, so you both stare back into your coffee cups. End of possible love affair.

What went wrong? Lowden says the man missed ‘the cherry’ that was there. Where is the cherry in the exchange above? Plants. The woman evidently had something going for plants. May be she was an environmentalist; may be a campaigner for "Save The Tropical Forests" movement; or may be simply a lover of flora and fauna. The conversation could have gone on to a more interesting level had he spotted ‘the cherry’.

The Art of Ego massage
Another interesting section is the one on the art of ego massage. Massaging the ego of your quarry is a delicate task that can easily backfire if it is not done with finesse ".

What I have found interesting are the extensive references made to studies on the mating behaviours of the animal kingdom. Her humorous informal style makes the book pleasureable to read.

Book cover from:
Picture of HEARTS from:

Friday, 22 June 2007

The Rape of Nanjing, China

I was toying with a number of projects; from anime to opium smoking in China and Malaya. One thing led to another and I was on to the “Rape of Nanjing” when casually searching for images of Japanese atrocities on the net. I recalled a book I had read ages ago: “The Knights of Bushido”, a short history of Japanese war crimes by Lord Russell of Liverpool, a book replete with graphic photos of killing, torturing and maiming of civilians. I discovered that the book has been reprinted recently.

The Nanking massacre, or as the Chinese prefer to call it, the Rape of Nanjing, China, was a testament to the atrocities or war crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Army in Nanjing, in early December, 1937. In the six weeks after Nanjing fell, the Japanese army went on a rampage of killing under the guise of rooting out Chinese soldiers hiding in civilian clothes. An estimated 300,000 people, preponderantly civilians, lost their lives through execution, rape, and torture although the number is disputed by the nationalist faction of the Japanese society.

Contest to kill 100 people using a sword


In 1937, the Osaka Mainichi Simbun and the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun covered a “contest’ between two Japanese offficers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda in which both men competed to be the first to kill 100 people with a sword. The contest was extended to 150 heads when it apparently became impossible to determine who the winner was. Both the officers were later extradited to China for trial and were executed for war crimes in 1948 by the Chinese government.

The ‘Rape of Nanjing’ has remained a sore thumb between the Chinese and the Japanese governments to forging better relationships. In 1980, the Japanese Ministry of Education had even prohibited the mention of the Nanjing massacre in a high school textbook, causing the Chinese government to protest vehemently over Japan’s attempt to sanitize her depiction of Japan’s war campaigns. Again in 2006, The Ministry of Education approved an updated version of a history textbook that critics say gloss over Japan’s war time atrocities, further fraying the already strained ties between both countries.

The Japanese Imperial Army preparing to storm Nanjing(

Corpses piled up in a valley. After the massacre, bodies were either thrown into the river, burnt or buried to erase all traces of evidence. In one instance, bodies were thrown in the fast flowing Yangtze river.(

The bodies were everywhere in Nanjing City. 300,000 people were killed. (

Civilians being shot, beheaded or bayonetted.

Women and girls raped and killed.

A grinning Japanese soldier proudly grasping his 'trophy'.

Decapitation was a common method employed by Japanese soldiers. (

About 8 years later, Japan was not spared from the devastating loss of life during the second world war either. Both their cities, Hisroshima and Nagasaki, the industrial hubs that manufactured Japan’s arsenal for their war campaigns were razed by two atomic bombs. On 6th August, 1945 one fell on Hiroshima which immediately killed 100,000 civilians with many dying from radiation sickness after that. The death toll at Hiroshima was probably 200,000 after five years (http://www/ The other was dropped on Nagasaki on 9th August which killed an estimated 74,000 civilians. Many have argued that the bombings were justified as the immediate consequence of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was Japan’s surrender.

Devastation of Hiroshima

Here is an eye-witness account of the immediate aftermath of the bombing:

The firestorm is incredible, there are calls for help and screams from somewhere but all around is one single inferno. To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms. It is a baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire. Suddenly, I saw people again, right in front of me. They scream and gesticulate with their hands, and then - to my utter horror and amazement - I see how one after the other they simply seem to let themselves drop to the ground. (Today I know that these unfortunate people were the victims of lack of oxygen). They fainted and then burnt to cinders

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

Providing medical aid to victims of the nuclear bomb blast.

A child burnt by the firestorm that followed the blast.

A severly burnt victim of the blast.


The remains of victims of the explosion being dug up for reburial. Immediately after the explosion, they started to die one after another, and as cremation was slow, burial in mass graves was the only solution.

Perhaps the Japanese war crimes paled in comparison to Nazi Germany where 6 million European Jews were systematically exterminated under a plan known as “The Final Solution” of the Jewish question. Jews were confined to extermination camps where they were experimented on with chemical and biological agents for the German war efforts, or gassed in gas chambers. Including victims of other nationalities, it was estimated that 9-11 million people were exterminated (

A mass grave at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany(

Female German guards transferring bodies into a huge pit. (

Allied troops watching a cart load of corpses leaving the compound of the Dachau concentration camp on its way to a burial ground.(

William Golding in his novel “Lord of the Flies” believes that man’s propensity for evil, manifested in his cruelty and savagery toward his fellowman is inherent, that the darkness within man’s heart cannot be subdued by the veneer of civilized behaviour. Man’s nature has not changed since the first day humankind was conceived.

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I would like to apologize for including such repulsive photos. But it serves as a reminder that wars will subject humankind to commit acts of the most shameful nature, and that humankind will descend to the deepest depth of depravity in the heat and carnage of war.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


It is that time of the day when the brain goes to sleep. But it is particularly acute today, meeky suspects. He knew the reason: Zongzi, the Chinese glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Today is the zong festival. It is going to be a bad week for the food hawkers. For the next few days the Chinese, young and old, will be eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if that’s possible.

Meeky’s mother’s zongzi is unique, as least that is what he likes to think. The reason: her zongzi contains, as one of the ingredients, sweet red bean paste. Imagine a pork zongzi containing sweet red bean paste.

While many prefer the glutinous rice dumpling to look whitish in colour, she prefers it to have the rich dark colour of “Pearl River” mushroom soya sauce.

The usual ingredients of course are fresh pork with alternate layers of fat(belly pork), dried shrimps, chestnuts(what is zong without chestnuts?), dried mushrooms, the type that is fleshy when soaked before being fried with the pork slices and dried shrimps, and her specialty: red bean paste. The bean paste is made into a small round ball, no larger than the size of a chinese adult male’s big toe (can someone help? Meeky couldn’t think of a more appropriate comparison; all he could think of was his large toe) wrapped in a sort of transparent membrane with threads of fat crisscrossing it. From which part of the pig does it come from? Could it be the membrane which encases the pig's brain? Meeky isn't sure, nor does he know the English word for it. One has to be a butcher to know intimately every part of the pig, but in Teochew, it’s called “peng say”. Mind you that is not written in ‘pinyin’ or Romanized Mandarin. It is merely to approximate as closely as possible the way it is spoken in Teochew. The whole idea is to prevent the red bean paste from disintegrating and seeping into the taste of the pork and the shrimps as the zongzi is being boiled. The ‘peng say’ keeps the ball of bean paste intact and it melts together with the paste in the mouth when eaten. Of course, the use of ‘peng say’ has been abandoned because of its high fat content, and in its place the tofu skin is used, which is tough and leathery; it never lets you forget that you are chewing tofu skin. Well, so much for Meeky’s mother’s special zongzi.

Strange as it may appear, her zongzi seems to show up people's eating habits. There are some who would carefully, tenderly separate the ball of bean paste from the rest of the dumpling to be savoured last while there are some whose eyes would zero in onto the ball as they tear apart the zongzi, pick it up and pop it into their mouths before eating the rest.

Meeky would like to know if there is anyone out there who puts red bean paste into their zongzi too so that they can compare notes to find out the best substitute for 'peng say', so to speak.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Sekolah Dato Bentara Luar

Well Larry, I went to SDBL this morning to take some pictures. I will try to take you down memory lane as smoothly as possible. So here goes.

This is the entrance of the school. On the right is a three storey block of classrooms, the latest addition to the school.

The new block as seen from the school compound. Adjacent to the block, is the block comprising single-storey classrooms which I am sure you are familiar with. This block has been converted into rooms for various activities such as the Cooperative Store, and society rooms.

A closer view of the old block.

As you walk further down, you will come to the road on your right which leads to the office, the staff room and the canteen. On the left are two single storey blocks which you are familiar with. The block in the foreground is used as classrooms, and the one in the background is used as science labs.

Directly opposite the block of science labs is the two storey block that comprises the office and the staff room on the lower floor, and classrooms on the upper floor. Photo shows the sideview of the block.

The corridor of the office block seen from the end of the block.

A picturesque view of the staffroom. The staffroom is the one with glass doors at both ends. The brick steps lead directly down to the old single storey block which is the first block you see as you enter the school.

The single storey block directly below the office block. In the background is the new four storey block of classrooms.

At the back of the office block is the school canteen. A part of the canteen used to double up as a place for gymnastics training. Now it is completely converted into a canteen.

At the end of the canteen is another block known as the Living Skills block where students are taught sewing, cooking, piping, simple electronics and carpentry.

The road that leads to the office block and canteen used to go all the way up to the 'padang' Now it stops at the canteen. A covered steep flight of steps leads to the padang. The first building you see on your left is the computer lab.

A considerably reduced padang. Part of it has been requisitioned to build the computer lab and a parking lot.

As you come down from the office block, you will see another road branching to the right. This road goes past a block of classrooms and the library. The building in blue is the library or the resource room as they call it now.

Inside the resource room.

The road slopes upward toward the school hall. There are two blocks of classrooms in the compound of the hall.

A view of the school hall.

Further up the road is the hostel. A small road leads to the padang and the computer lab.

This is a small sheltered resting spot for students. They are found in various parts of the school compound.

There are still a couple of buildings which I have left out because they are blocked by trees.

Well Larry, this is the end of the journey. I hope you are able to get a fair idea of the changes in the school. Before I leave, here is a shot of Limpoon Primary School next to SDBL.