Saturday, 5 December 2020

Anjung Gurney hawkers

Would you support those hawkers who ripped off their clientele when times were good but are now suffering when there's no business during the pandemic and the enforcement of the various stages of the Movement Control Order? 

Yesterday, the state assemblyman for Pulau Tikus, Chris Lee,  appealed on his facebook page to "give these hawkers a chance as there are good people here trying to make a living as well." 

But as my old friend, Jim, observed, "A few years ago, as a local I paid RM5 for a piece of pineapple. The foreign worker said his boss’s policy. I stopped going there."

You can visit this particular post here and read all the comments that have been left there. 

What a slap in the face for the Gurney Drive hawkers! And are the hawkers in other touristy areas facing the same difficulty? I'm sure if the badly affected hawker centres learn to reinvent themselves and cater more to the local people, their business will return. 

I know for sure that some hawkers in non-touristy areas have reported little difference in their earnings. Some are even experiencing roaring business. At the end of November, for example, I went to the Berapit food court beside their market to buy from this stall. It wasn't not as empty as I thought. The proprietress was enjoying roaring business every day. Even as she opened her stall at 9am that day, there was already a long queue of people placing orders. I had to wait an hour for my order to be fulfilled. Who says the CMCO is bad for the food business? You just need to go to the non-touristy food courts where food can be equally good and prices are more reasonable.

Friday, 4 December 2020

The Street of Harmony digital brochures

Today, I shall put on display the covers of the 10 digital brochures of the Street of Harmony which my friend, Siang Jin, and I had produced for the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) in 2011. As can be seen, a lot of effort was put into the research, writing and subsequent editing and layout. While these brochures were then put up by GTWHI on their website for visitors to download, they were removed after a few months. No reason was ever given for the removal but we could sense some hidden tension. I shall leave it to people here to conclude whether that decision to remove the brochures was justified. First, here are the 10 covers.

And below are the contents of one of the brochures which I have chosen at random. I won't be reproducing the contents of the remaining nine brochures though. It will take up too much space.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Direction signages

Two days ago, I had written about the digital brochures and wall plaques which my friend, Siang Jin, and I had prepared for the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI). I had also mentioned that we had direction signages made for display at strategic points along the Street of Harmony. These have certainly outlasted the brochures because until today, they can still be seen along Cannon Street, Pitt Street and Farquhar Street, as these pictures below show, while the digital brochures have long disappeared from the GTWHI website.

In addition to these, we had also prepared two signages with street maps of the area to assist tourists. One of them near the Armenian Street junction while the other was in the grounds of the St George's Church. Are they still there? I haven't checked for quite a while!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Penang's Street of Harmony

These 10 information wall plaques were originally devised by my good friend, Lim Siang Jin, and I in 2011. During that year, we had approached Think City and had obtained some funds to carry out a project along Pitt Street and Cannon Street. Together, they are, of course, widely known as the Street of Harmony because of the close proximity of so many houses of worship belonging to the four main communities along this stretch of road in Penang.

I spent the better part of one year visiting these institutions and talking to their representatives in order to learn more about their history. My essays were even scrutinised by the Penang Heritage Trust to ensure that my facts were correct. After Siang Jin and I revisited these places to take photographs, his graphics team designed 10 digital pamphlets and also the corresponding wall plaques. The project also included designing the direction signages to lead tourists to these 10 destinations.

Eventually, these digital pamphlets were handed to the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) for their distribution. What GTWHI did with them, I am uncertain but for a while, the pamphlets were available from the GTWHI website for download. As for the wall plaques and direction signages, we undertook to have them fixed onto the walls of these institutions or at strategic road junctions.

We had hoped that GTWHI would ask us to undertake a second series to cover more heritage sites in George Town but it was not forthcoming. Nobody else was commissioned to continue the project but I did learn that much later, similar wall plaques were made for some other locations in the city of which I am aware of only two: at the Tan Kongsi in Beach Street and the Fooi Chew Association in Prangin Lane. Unfortunately without us being consulted, some contained factual inaccuracies. I remember being approached by someone who asked whether Siang Jin and I had prepared one of the later plaques but I had to say no, we had nothing to do with them. We do take credit for the concept but definitely not the content of the later plaques.

This wasn't exactly an institution to begin with but the Logan Memorial is located outside the new Magistrates Courthouse at the northern end of Pitt Street.

Crossing over to the other side of Light Street, the first institution we covered was the High Court Building. It is to be noted that in the past, it was known as the Supreme Court Building.

The St George's Church was the second institution along the Street of Harmony. A direction signage can also be seen in this picture, which points to other nearby places of interest. 

This plaque had to be erected onto a pole because we couldn't find a suitable spot on the wall of the Kuan Im Temple to mount it.

The entrance of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple that is seen on the Street of Harmony is actually their back door. The front is on Queen Street and the front wall there is where the plaque was fixed.

Technically too, the Han Jiang Temple is not along the Street of Harmony as it is located on Chulia Street.  

Moving back to Pitt Street, the next institution we covered was the Kapitan Keling Mosque.

The Street of Harmony not only covers Pitt Street but also Cannon Street and here is to be found the Yap Temple at the corner with Armenian Street.

Moving along Cannon Street, the Khoo Kongsi can be accessed through a long corridor and it was here that we mounted their wall plaque.

And finally at the end of the Street of Harmony can be found the Acheen Street Malay Mosque.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

The beaver moon

The past few months have been particularly bad for moon photography in my part of the country and it is not because of any haze. No, the weather has been rather wet and cloudy at night. With thick clouds covering the moon there was very little to see outdoors. Tonight was a full moon and on several occasions earlier, I had tried to see whether or not I could see this bright spot in the sky. Unfortunately, no. Only a fuzzy spot. Then as I was about to give up at 11.05pm and go back in, the clouds partially cleared and allowed me a few precious seconds to ready myself with my camera. Well, at least I got this frame. It was not the best that I've ever achieved but under the challenging circumstances, I am satisfied.

Oh, by the way, there's supposed to be a lunar eclipse tomorrow but I'll be dashed if it can be seen properly from Malaysia. Even if the weather permits, the moon is at an almost impossible position for us to notice it. As the moon rises over the horizon at 7.03pm, the partial penumbral eclipse will already be reaching its maximum at 7.05pm and the moon then begins to move out from the earth's shadow. 

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Blonde joke

 Read a joke today. Can't resist not repeating it here or else it will be forgotten tomorrow....

Two sisters, one blonde and one brunette, inherit the family ranch. Unfortunately, after just a few years, they are in financial trouble..

In order to keep the bank from repossessing the ranch, they need to purchase a bull so that they can breed their own stock.

The brunette leaves to purchase the bull from a ranch some distance away.  Upon leaving, the brunette tells her sister, 'When I get there, if I decide to buy the bull, I'll contact you to drive out after me and haul it home.'

The brunette arrives at the man's ranch, inspects the bull, and decides she wants to buy it and buys it.  After paying him, she drives to the nearest town to send her sister a telegram to tell her the news..

She walks into the telegraph office, and says, 'I want to send a telegram to my sister telling her that I've bought a bull for our ranch.  I need her to hitch the trailer to our pickup truck and drive out here so we can haul it home.'

The telegraph operator explains that he'll be glad to help her, then adds, it will cost 99 cents a word.  The brunette realizes that, after paying for the bull, she'll only be able to send her sister one word. After a few minutes of thinking, she nods and says, 'I want you to send her the word 'Comfortable.'

The operator shakes his head. "How is she ever going to know that you want her to hitch the trailer to your pickup truck and drive out here to haul that bull back to your ranch if you send her just the word 'comfortable'?"

The brunette explains, 'My sister's blonde. The word is big.

She'll read it very slowly... 'com-for-da-bull.'


Thursday, 12 November 2020

J&T Express and the grand old Duke of York

Heard this nursery rhyme before? It's called The Grand Old Duke of York, and it goes like this:

The Grand Old Duke of York,
He had 10,000 men,
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.

The reason why I'm mentioning a nursery rhyme today is because I've just experienced a craziness that almost on par with the situation above. Yesterday, I bought something through Shopee from a seller located in Simpang Ampat. That's barely 15 kilometres from where I live. I could have gone to collect my stuff directly from him but no, Shopee requires him to send the merchandise to me by courier. In my case, it was to be J&T Express, which picked up the parcel from the seller yesterday. 

I've been tracking the merchandise the whole of today and expecting it to be delivered. To my consternation, I saw this happening on the tracking website:

From the J&T Kota Permai hub, the parcel went to the J&T Penang gateway. Then, from the J&T Penang gateway, the parcel found its way back again to the J&T Kota Permai hub. and now, it is sitting pretty in their storage there presumably waiting to be picked up for delivery tomorrow. Why did J&T Express waste a day in moving my parcel from Kota Permai to Penang and back? Why couldn't they make a simple decision to deliver today, not tomorrow, from their Kota Permai hub? The mind boggles.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Catur and Taking up chess

These were two chess books for beginners that I put out in the 1990s. Not to say that I was particularly proud of the quality. In the days where computerised type-setting was still primitive enough, I noticed to my consternation lots of typographical errors when the books were published eventually. 

The Bahasa book came out first in 1991. What happened was that sometime in 1990, three of my old mates came a-visiting. And pretty soon, the conversation turned to how I could take my chess column - at that time, I was already writing a chess column in The Star newspaper for a few years - up another level. One of them suggested that I could write a beginner's book on chess, and another suggested that I write it in English and he could then translate it into Bahasa.

So that's how it eventually came to pass that my first book came out in 1991. To be fair to my two friends, I proposed adding their names as co-writers since it was the idea of one of them and the translation work of the other. By the way, I've to put on record my initial uneasiness when I saw my friend, Jimmy Liew, featured on the cover. He was the best player in the country at that time but at no time during the book's production was I ever shown the proposed cover. The decision and approval were all the publisher's to make. Was it their attempt to sell the book? I don't know. Over the years, I shared the royalty with my two friends. Then in 1995, we decided to issue the book in its original English version - but updated - and the publisher was quite agreeable with it. But I did insist that we should have a neutral cover design this time.

But as I said, I wasn't particularly happy with the errors that appeared in the books. I had to give the publisher my draft and they had to retype it to suit their format. Nobody knows how many errors were made in my typing and theirs too. Thankfully, they are now out of print. Suffice it to say that this was an achievement that I would rather not have. But for the record, I have to mention the books here in my blog. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Real vs make-belief

I've come to the end of that Netflix mini-series, The Queen's Gambit; watched all the seven episodes and also come to the conclusion that despite my initial scepticism the show was, after all, very well-made and worth your time to watch. The final episode was especially good, worthy of the cost of subscription to Netflix itself. In fact, I even watched the final 30 minutes twice, fascinated by the tension and quality of the featured game. 

But why should this seventh episode be so good? Firstly, there was the emotional tug that the protagonist had to deal with: the demise of the one man that uncovered her potential and made her dogged ambition possible. Then, as I had mentioned before in another post, chess had become this extension of the Cold War, East-West conflict and the Communism-Democracy ideology; all rolled into one. Those things apart, this was also a mini-series about chess players overcoming their personal internal demons to triumph at the end. After all, doesn't chess mirror life, and life chess?  

In The Queen's Gambit, it was about a fictional American teenage female prodigy beating a fictional Soviet world chess champion in a game that mattered most to her after two previous losses in past years. Nothing like a loss-loss-victory sequence of results to give the show its final feel good stir-up.

That crucial game in the seventh episode had my wife and I -- and she's not a chess player....well, perhaps a very, very rudimentary understanding of the game -- gripped to our seats but as many chess commentators have already revealed, right up till the 37th move the make-belief Elizabeth Harmon-Vasily Borgov game had mirrored the real-life game between Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Patrick Wolff of the United States, played in 1993 at the Biel Interzonal in Switzerland. By the way, Ivanchuk was a famous ceiling watcher. During his games, he is known to seek answers by staring at the ceiling.

After 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nc6 4. Be3 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. d5 Ne7 7. Bxc4 Ng6 8. f3 Bd6 9. Qd2 Bd7 10. Nge2 a6 11. Bb3 b5 12. a4 O-O 13. O-O Qe7 14. Rac1 Nh5 15. g3 h6 16. Bc2 Rab8 17. axb5 axb5 18. Ra1 Ra8 19. Bd3 Bb4 20. Rxa8 Rxa8 21. Qc2 Bc5 22. Nd1 Bd6 23. Nf2 Nhf4 24. Rc1 Qg5 25. Kh1 Qh5 26. Ng1 Nxd3 27. Nxd3 f5 28. Nc5 Bc8 29. Rf1 Ne7 30. Qd3 fxe4 31. fxe4 Qg6 32. Kg2 Kh7 33. Nf3 Ng8 34. Nh4 Qg4 35. Nf5 Nf6 36. h3 Qg6, the following position was reached:

Ivanchuk chose to bolster his knight's position with 37. g4 and the game went on for another 35 moves before both the players agreed to a draw: 37....Bxc5 38. Bxc5 Ra4 39. Rf3 Rc4 40. Be7 Bxf5 41. Rxf5 Rd4 42. Qe3 Rxe4 43. Qf3 Rf4 44. Rxf4 exf4 45. Bxf6 Qxf6 46. Qd3+ Qg6 47. Qe2 c6 48. Kf3 cxd5 49. Kxf4 Qf6+ 50. Kg3 Qd6+ 51. Kf3 b4 52. h4 Qf6+ 53. Kg3 Qd6+ 54. Kf3 Qf6+ 55. Kg3 g6 56. Qe8 Qd6+ 57. Kf3 Kg7 58. g5 hxg5 59. hxg5 d4 60. Qe4 d3 61. Qb7+ Kf8 62. Qc8+ Ke7 63. Qb7+ Ke6 64. Qe4+ Kd7 65. Qb7+ Kd8 66. Qa8+ Kc7 67. Qa7+ Kc8 68. Qa8+ Kc7 69. Qa7+ Kc6 70. Qa6+ Kc5 71. Qxd6+ Kxd6 72. Ke3 Ke5 1/2-1/2

Whereas in the mini-series, the fictional Harmon chose 37. Ne6 and got an immediate advantage after 37....Ra4 38. b3 Rxe4 39. Nxd6 Bxe6 40. dxe6 cxd6 41. e7 d5 42. Bc5 Qe8 43. Qf3 Qc6 44. b4 Qe8 45. Qf5+ Kh8 46. Qxf6 gxf6 47. Rxf6 Qh5 48. Rf8+ Kg7 49. e8=Q Re2+ 50. Kf1 Qxh3+ 51. Kxe2 Qg2+ 52. Rf2 Qe4+ 53. Kd2 1-0

It must be said that The Queen's Gambit had its credentials boosted as the producers had even gotten Bruce Pandolfini and Gary Kasparov as the special consultants for the series. I heard that they had coached and choreographed Anya Taylor-Joy and her co-star, Thomas Brodie-Sangster. And I suppose they must have also come up with the choices of master-level games that appeared throughout the series.

The only exception that I can take in this final episode of the mini-series is that when Borgov requested for an adjournment, it wasn't even the 40th move in the actual Ivanchuk-Wolff game. That was an artistic licence that the producers took, and it had happened in an earlier episode too, but in the context of The Queen's Gambit, I suppose it was needed to justify the storyline. But it won't happen in a real chess tournament back in the 1960s or even until the 1990s. With the advent of computer analysis, adjournments were eliminated from chess games. Back in those days when adjournments were the order of the day, they were time for the seconds to thoroughly analyse the positions overnight while the players slept off their mental exertions. The next morning, their seconds would report their findings -- the best defences and the best attacks -- to the respective players.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

DON'T be a hero

I have seen more artefacts from my old Ban Hin Lee Bank days in the last one month than I've ever cared for previously: items ranging from red packets, paper weights, ash trays, corporate ties, calendars, diaries, key chains, coinboxes, photographs, employment letters, correspondences....the whole lot! 

Even the range of operations manuals, correspondent bank arrangement manuals, services standard procedures manuals and data processing manuals, I have flicked through them all. But nothing surprised me more than to see a stack of pink manuals for those banking operations deemed more sensitive. Among them, steps for the branches to take during a robbery. Among the Do's and Don'ts that the staff were required to remember was this gem, which brought a big grin to my face:

Monday, 2 November 2020

The queen's gambit

(Image: Netflix)

I'm being reminded of my youth; my own obsession with the game of chess. I've been watching that Netflix original series, The Queen's Gambit, and am now at the end of the fifth episode. Well, it is not exactly an exciting series to follow but it intrigues me as an amateur chess player and former columnist. Plus, there's good Sixties music here: Mason Williams' Classical Gas, for example. 

But I wonder why this series is Number One on Netflix currently, or why it is Number Two among the Malaysian subscribers. Are there so many chess players out there with Netflix subscriptions? And who are the non-chess players that are watching?

There are enough names being bandied around to enthrall the chess players. Most seasoned chess players will recognise the heavyweight names that have been dropped: Morphy, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Reshevsky, Rossolimo, Alekhine, Capablanca, Philidor. Tal? Korchnoi? I might have missed their names. So much name dropping to give the average chess player-in-the-street a thrill; to give them the chance to turn to their partner or companion in triumph and beam with delight, saying, "See? She knows of all these important chess players." 

But of course, Vasily Borgov, like Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon, are completely fictional characters. Borgov happens to be the world chess champion from the Soviet Union. Typically, his KGB minders are following him every step of the way. And Harmon is the teenaged female prodigy from the good old United States who works alone almost all the time. The anti-hero of this television show. Cold War. East versus West. Communism against democracy. You get the drift. No Bobby Fischer here, not even a whisper of his hallowed name yet, but there is a fictional Benny Watts who steps in as the reigning US champion and who offers friendship and guidance to Harmon.

The Queen's Gambit is a novel by Walter Tevis. I had read this book about 35 years ago but naturally, the story line's been forgotten. Book has also been misplaced. It's somewhere in the store room and I'm too lazy to search for it. Thus, watching this series is like watching it with a completely fresh mind. 

But I think the climax of this show will be pretty predictable. We can see that beating Borgov is her obsession and ultimate goal, and I sense that by the time this series ends - and I've two more episodes to watch - Harmon will achieve just that. Already in the fifth episode, it already hints at that. She will go to Moscow and play in the international tournament there and she will use the occasion to beat Borgov on his home turf.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

An Halloween tale

Actually, I have a good Covid-19 Halloween tale to tell but I was too lazy to write about it yesterday. But here I am today, all ready to put pen down on paper to recount my ordeal of living through some self-inflicted ordeal in the last two weeks or so. As you know, I was in Taiping just a day before the town was declared a red zone by the Health authorities, although I never did get to know where in Taiping the infections were detected. Could have been far away, or it could have been on the same road that I was moving about on.

Anyway, that was on the 15th of October. A week later on the 24th, I met up in George Town with an ex-colleague from my banking days. We had an assignment: him taking close-up photographs of some souvenir items. For almost three hours, we had interacted within six feet of one another. We had then agreed to meet up again on the 29th to complete the session.

On the 28th afternoon, he telephoned me to say that the session had to be postponed. Reason was because he had been called by the Health authorities through contact tracing to present himself for medical investigation. The day before our initial meet-up, he was having a departmental lunch with his colleagues at the TGIF restaurant in Queensbay Mall, Penang, and the news had spread like wild fire that someone infected with Covid-19 had dined there as well on the 23rd.

You can imagine the alarm that spread within my family. If he had been exposed to the virus, here I was in a difficult position. I felt rather uncomfortable. If he was infected, the three hours I spent with him could be dangerous too. The only factor in my favour was that I was wearing a mask throughout the whole time and that would have cut down the odds a lot.

It was a waiting game for him to keep me informed of further developments but I was prepared to go into self-isolation should the need arose. Not only me but my wife too. Meanwhile, my son had been instructed not to return home until the coast was clear. I had an appointment on Saturday, which I had to postpone to later.

Finally, i received a call from my ex-colleague on the 29th afternoon. The Health authorities had given him the all-clear. His was at a departmental lunch at the TGIF restaurant while the infected person had ate there in the evening. Their paths had not crossed at all. So he was clear, and so was I. Big sigh of relief.

But this close shave brings a thought to me. One cannot be too careful with our movements nowadays. Everywhere looks like a place for a potential booby trap. Every person you meet is a potential source of infection because you can never know where he has been or whom he has been in contact with. The onus is on everyone of us to take care of ourselves as best as we can. 

Wear a face mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands often, discard your soiled clothes every time you return from an extended trip outside your home. Most importantly, make use of the MySejahtera app on your mobile to record your every movement and facilitate contact tracing. 

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Hainanese chicken chop

Well, it has been a fortnight since my trip to Taiping and Kuala Kurau with Saw See and Wong Hiong Wah. Mana eh chai, the day after our road trip, Taiping was declared a red zone for the coronavirus. That really put us in a bit of a bother since coming back because we really didn't know which part of Taiping was affected. The MySejahtera app on the mobile proved particularly helpful, in retrospect. I keyed in Jalan Pasar, because that was where we went for brunch. No reported cases within a kilometre, it said. I keyed in Antong coffee factory, because that was where we made an unscheduled stop before leaving Taiping. Also no reported cases. I heaved a sigh of relief. I guess my friend would have too.

But what were we doing in Taiping in the first place? Actually, my first intention was to visit Hiong Wah to borrow some of his Ban Hin Lee Bank stuff. But days earlier, I had also invited him to follow us down to Taiping and Kuala Kurau, and he readily agreed to join us. So after picking him up, we scooted down to Taiping. "There's a place there that I want to eat," I told him, "it serves the very best Hainanese chicken chop. Even better than the ones in Penang or Kuala Lumpur."

I've written briefly about the Yut Sun restaurant in the past but I don't mind repeating here that this Hainanese restaurant has survived more than 100 years old. It's probably the second or third generation running the place now. Where we ate was at their traditional location in Jalan Pasar but they have a newer branch just across the road. Air-conditioned and probably the food is a bit more expensive. 

But why go there when I can sit back enjoy some old-world charm with the overhead ceiling fans slowly turning? A group of Malay customers were enjoying their meals nearby as we walked in; so obviously the food must be halal. And during the course of our meals, I observed other Malays and Indians flitting in and out of the restaurant. 

Coming back to the Hainanese chicken chop that we ordered - we all ordered the same - nothing much has changed since my last time here in July last year: a portion of chicken breast meat bathed in a delicious gravy and served with chunky potatoes, a slice of tomato and some green peas. Isn't that what Hainanese chicken chop is all about? Yes, of course, but we all agreed that this one was the best ever. And that it has to be cooked in a small town like Taiping makes it an undiscovered gem among all the Hainanese restaurants I have known.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Old red packets

These old angpow long harks back to a time when red packets were simpler and less pretentious. And you could still stuff a RM50 note into any of them...easily 😆. I happened to unearth these red packets from a friend when I was searching for some from the old Ban Hin Lee Bank as I've embarked on a project. I'm sure many people would have come across them too. They are now collectors items. The question I asked some other friends were: which design was your favourite?

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Hutchings commemorative service 2020

Amidst the second surge of the Covid-19 (or third surge if you believe the government authorities). a scaled-down commemorative service for Robert Sparke Hutchings was held at the old Protestant Cemetery in Northam Road, George Town, Penang at seven o'clock in the morning on 21st October 2020, attended by six senior prefects and the Senior Assistant of Penang Free School (Hutchings founded the school in 1816), the Red Crescent members and a school teacher of Hutchings Secondary School (named after Hutchings, obviously), several Old Frees, parishioners from the St George's Church (which Hutchings had a hand in its establishment in 1819) and other well-wishers, thus making this year's attendance surprisingly quite decent. But we kept our social distance throughout the service and after.

The six senior prefects from Penang Free School at the commemorative service

The Penang Free School prefects laying the wreaths at Hutchings' grave

Very nice of Inesh Dillon, last years School Captain, to turn up too.

The Old Frees at the commemorative service. Missing from this picture was Sean Ho.

The boys from Hutchings Secondary School.

Me with the prefects from Penang Free School.

The grave of Robert Sparke Hutchings. The smaller grave happened to be that of his grand-daughter, Marian Isabel Macleane, who died in 1852 at the tender age of seven months.


Wednesday, 14 October 2020


Had a terrific storm in Bukit Mertajam yesterday morning. The gusts of howling wind blew open my partially-closed window and there was rainwater all over my bedroom floor. But luckily, no damage to the bed or table. 

After the storm was over, I went to my flower pots and noticed several snails chomping away on my greens. Yucks, snails. 

Got to eliminate them or else they'll continue to infest my plants. So I placed them aside on the road while continuing to search for more of these garden pests. No more to be found except for these four. 

Found that three of them were now enjoying an orgy of sorts while the disinterested fourth snail decided to slime itself away.


Saturday, 3 October 2020

Revisiting Sitiawan

Since the movement control order was imposed in mid-March this year, my wife and I haven't been anywhere outside of Penang. Not since the 18th of last month, anyway. As my wife had an appointment in Taiping, we took the opportunity to revisit Sitiawan too. Somehow our schedule was too tight in Taiping and we had no time for lunch there. After a quick visit to a fast food joint, we set forth for the coastal Hockchiew town in Perak, arriving there after a leisurely two-hour drive.

One of the reasons why we had Sitiawan in our minds was to seek out some local Hockchiew food. On top of our list was the red yeast wine chicken meesuah soup, the sweet and sour fish maw soup and their crispy oyster omelette. We would have ordered their homemade tauhu but we were stuffed: after all, there were only a party of two at the table.

Lunch over, we headed over to an unnamed timsum shop behind the Yee Si Restaurant but as luck would have it, it was closed or otherwise we would have loaded ourselves with their crushed peanut-filled mantou. So it was with some reluctance that we went to the nearby Chop Wah Seong to pick up their dried meesuah, bottled red yeast wine and also the famed Kampong Koh chilli sauce. 

This is the sweet and sour fish maw soup.

The Hock Chiew red yeast wine chicken meesuah soup.

And the fabulous fried oyster omelette.

The Settlement Museum is possibly one of the most interesting attractions in Sitiawan. Located right next to the Methodist Church, the museum chronicles the history of the town's people and activities, and especially the Methodist Christian movement in the area. 

I've visited this place a rather long time ago but for my wife, it was a first occasion for her. During our previous visit, the museum had been closed for upgrade. It now open, of course, but visitors now have to pay a fee to tour the premises. The museum is quite well laid out with lots of exhibits and there is a new wing at the back of the old building. I was quite fascinated with the displays of old radiograms and record players. The place is well worth a visit.