Thursday, 31 January 2008

A Friend From The States

Nancy paid Yew Moi and me a visit after an absence of four years. This time she had met up with her niece, Sarah, who was on her way back to Australia from France, to spend some time in Malaysia.

We got to know Nancy when she was in Batu Pahat in the mid 70’s as a Peace Corps teacher in High School Batu Pahat. Her 3 year stint in Malaysia had somehow rubbed onto her skin that she has made several trips since then to Malaysia after her return to the US. I couldn’t help but wonder in awe how she could have kept up with the Malay language after more than 20 years. You will know what I mean when you read part of her email:

Dear Yew Moi, Chang Ngee, and my AustraloAmerican niece Sarah,

Kepada sahabat2 yang jauh, Lee Chang Ngee dan Ng Yew Moi, dengan surat email ini saya hendak beritahu anda bahawa saya akan pergi ke Malaysia dalam Januari. Saya akan jumpa Sarah di Singapura, boleh jadi makan angin di sana semasa satu atau dua hari. Lepas itu pergi ke Malaysia ke Batu Pahat dan tempat2 lain. Mungkin saya hendak pergi ke Sarawak, hendak jalan-jalan ke Kuching, Miri, Brunei (?). Umor Sarah tahun 21 atau 22 dan dia bahru keluar universiti di Lyons, France. Saya belum dapat rancangan kapalterbang, tetapi akan gunakan United Airlines sebab ada "Mileage Plus" award yang sudah naik dan sekarang saya boleh pilih flight bebas antarabangsa. Berharap anda boleh faham bahasa Malaysia saya--lah!

Why do non-Malay kids find it so difficult to learn the Malay Language even after so many years in school? The answer is 'attitude'. Nancy came with a mind open and willing to absorb all things strange and wonderful.

Yew Moi, Nancy and Sarah

We ordered 'choy sum' stirr-fried with garlic

Three strips of juicy deep-fried pork ribs

Thin gloves with which to eat the pork-ribs

The fried omelette with shrimps, minced pork, thin slices of Chinese sausage and onions

Clay pot mixed vegetables, shrimps and slivers of pork

For nostalgic reason, we had Tiger; no Carlsberg, Heineken or Tsing Tao beer for us. The first locally brewed beer, Tiger was featured prominently in Anthony Burgess’ book, ‘The Malayan Trilogy’. The meal, excluding Tiger came to RM 48.


Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Stress At The Work Place

Stress at the work place can affect people in unexpected ways. I received two video clips from K K Bu, a friend. He got them from

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Unwinding in Tioman Island (5)

Dining in Tioman

We ate in two restaurant: the first, Chinese Seafood Restaurant that also has a duty free shop and water sport services. As it is only a 10 minute walk from Berjaya Resort, it was natural for us to gravitate to it. The food was passable but expensive. The first night we had a meal which cost us RM 185, which was expensive considering that we had a fish, some crabs, two vegetable dishes, fried dry chili chicken and some drinks.

On the second night, we were recommended to a restaurant that serves steamboat. It was some distance away but the owner was gracious enough to chauffeur us there in two trips. Tucked way at the back of a Malay restaurant, it seems unlikely that there would be a Chinese seafood restaurant. The meal comprising very fresh seafood was relatively cheap as we could hardly finish the spread before us. RM 235 for the delicious steamboat.

Beside the restaurant is a shop specializing in providing diving equipment and services.

The first restaurant that we went to

This simple meal which we had in the afternoon cost us RM 85

The restaurant also provides ski jets for hire

Babura Seview Resort was the second place we went to. The Chinese restaurant is at the back

The Babura resort has what it calls longhouses for rent. RM 80 per room

This is a new block. It comprises air-conditioned rooms facing the sea. RM 140 in off-peak season

The dive centre next to the Chinese restaurant, the Food Station

The main shop which displays diving equipment

Diving equipment being put out to dry

This is the restaurant that serves steamboat

John and Huat Sheng enjoying their Heineken while waiting for the food

Part of the dining area which faces the sea

Chun Siong and Samantha

The steamboat is electrically operated. The soup which is chicken stock is boiled with 'ki ji' , 'dong gui' and 'ang jor', traditional condiments for boiling soup, has a distinctive herbal taste to it

A fresh grouper sliced in generous chunks

Generous portions of crabs


Chicken meat and squids (we were served another portion of squids for free). Conspicuously missing from the menu in Chinese restaurants is pork

Bean sprouts. White cabbage (not in the picture) was also served

Bee hoon or rice vermicelli and raw egg to be eaten as the last dish

Fish balls

A plate of boiled crab, squid, chicken meat and prawn

It was a meal we were extremely satisfied with.

Unwinding in Tioman Island (4)

Trekking In The Rainforest

We reluctantly signed up for the two hour trek to imbibe a little knowledge of tropical flora and fauna. There was a slight drizzle the next morning, and Huat Sheng gleefully announced that the trek was off. However, the ever obliging waiter who had arranged it previously, ran to us and assured us that the drizzle would not hold. And true enough it stopped as soon as it came. Having been betrayed by the drizzle, Huat Sheng became a reluctant participant. But the real reason
for signing up was to force ourselves to get off our arses and to do something physical so that we had a reason to consume more duty-free Heineken beer.

The path of the forest that we took was well trodden, evidence of the many trips made by first-timers eager to see what a rainforest looks like. On the edge of the forest are cotton trees and the common durian tree, the lime tree and the curry plant. We of course were more concerned about mosquitoes than what a curry leaf or durian tree looks like. However, we did discover to our astonishment that certain plants that we have previously thought of as weeds have their uses.

At certain parts of the trek, the track became slippery, and Huat Sheng, wearing only sandals found it hard to keep a firm grip on the slippery path and slopes, but he is without doubt a stronger specimen, having to work daily in his oil palm plantation. I was more concerned with whether my trembling legs, weak from climbing over rotting tree trunks and scaling slippery slopes, would hold out. Noticing my unsteady legs, John had a good laugh at my expense.

Our guide, Salam

The cotton tree


The leaves of this plant are used as an antiseptic

The leaves are crushed to produce a juice that is applied to cuts and wounds in the jungle

This plant is commonly found in secondary jungles and on land left unattended. However, it serves a useful purpose

Mixed with a little water, the leaves are crushed to produce a thick foam which is used as a cleaning agent. A natural liquid soap in the forest

Listening to Salam as he enthusiastically explains things found in the forest

Climbing up a steep, slippery slope with the help of a knotted rope

An ants' nest

Rattan that is used to make rattan furniture

Thick, sinewy creeper hanging from an ancient tree

A leaf from the sandpaper tree. It is used to smoothen wood carvings

A chameleon clinging on to a trunk

Close-up of another chameleon

A chameleon clinging onto my hand

The waterfall where we took a breather

John taking a cold shower

At the end of the trek, we spotted a lizard hiding in the grass

A monkey eyeing us inquisitively on our way back from the trek

This is what happened after the trek.