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Posts Tagged ‘Ipoh’

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It was at the MGS Reunion Dinner held at Impiana Hotel in Ipoh last Saturday night (13th June) that my second book, “A Daughter Less Ordinary” made its debut. Past and present teachers as well as former students were the first to buy and read the tale of a girl born with a pair of yin yang eyes. I truly hope they will like the book and find a meaning in the story.

I am very grateful to the organizing committee for allowing me the opportunity to bring my book to more readers. Special thanks to Miss Yau Sook Fun for making this happened.

Meeting the school principal inspired me to donate two of my first book, “The Scissor Sharpener’s Daughter” to the school library so that present students could read the tale of a girl growing up at 188 Hugh Low Street as the daughter of a humble scissor sharpener struggling to make a living amidst poverty and despair.

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The night was even more meaningful for me when a little girl of hardly seven ran up to me and wanted to have a copy of my first book, thus becoming my youngest reader!

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It was during this reunion dinner that I managed to meet up with some former classmates whom I have not seen for more than thirty years. We had a wonderful time catching up.MGS 1981 group

All in all, it was a memorable night for all who were there that night.

Once again, a big thank you, MGS!

“Our utmost for the highest!”

 

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You have a choice each and every single day.
I choose to feel blessed.
I choose to feel grateful.
I choose to be excited.
I choose to be thankful.
I choose to be happy.

— T. Harv Eker

Thanks to the hard work and efforts of the organizing team of MGS Class 1981, some one hundred girls from Methodist Girls’ School (Ipoh) Class 1981 came together to celebrate our 50th birthday during a luncheon at Cititel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday afternoon. Three former teachers were there to help us celebrate this milestone. They were Mr. Victor Chew, Mr. Clement and Mrs. Chin.

It is good to get together again after leaving school for 33 years.. most of us looks the same, albeit more matured and settled.

We had food, games, lucky draw and a talk on breast cancer by Wah Cheong. All in, it was a memorable get together.

I was able to share my book with the girls too and they were very supportive of me.

Thank you, everyone, for the great time. See you all again soon.

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MGS Ipoh 81, reunion group photo @ Cititel Mid Valley Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

More photos at my facebook: facebook

https://www.facebook.com/188HughLowStreetOnlineBookshop?hc_location=timeline

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With Nicholas away at a youth camp in another state, we decided to go back to Ipoh for a weekend break.

We want to eat our favorite foods and relax at Dad’s house.

The air and water there is so much cooler and the place quieter near the beautiful blue hills which is forever covered with white mists. Dad’s house in Ipoh is now a holiday sanctuary for us. I’m glad we do not have to travel far to get away from a maddening place like Kuala Lumpur.

Such trips are very therapeutic for us, especially for me. It’s like a balm that soothes my homesick soul. For my husband, it’s like recharging his worn out batteries. And for our daughter, she can get away from the computer for a few days.

A trip home is never complete without a meal of yong tau foo at Big Tree Foot in Pasir Pinji. We had assam laksacurry laksa, fried stuffs with fish paste, rojak and of course the cooling yellow jelly called wan tau long. Prices here are very reasonable. For around RM24, our stomachs were filled to the maximum.

We also ate at Restaurant Luk Wei Koi at Clare Street. This is my other favorite place. The crowd here is lesser than those eating shops at Leech Street where you have to fight for a place to eat. We had popiahkai see hor funhor heecaramel egg custard and a greenish colored drink called pung tai woon. The prices here are more expensive, after all, this place is very “luo chew pai”  or in English, an old eating place.

An old uncle sells ice kacang and cendol in a corner stall just behind the shop that once belonged to my third aunt. It was located directly opposite Restaurant Luk Wei Koi. We will never miss these deserts for anything.

Apart from eating in town, we went to 188 Hugh Low Street and my former school for some pictures.

We could not stay longer than we wanted to because we have to rush back to Kuala Lumpur for the Himpunan Hijau or Green Rally at Dataran Merdeka.

Anyway, this trip home had done us a lot of good….spiritually and gastronomically. Really looking forward to the next trip home.

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Early last year, I made a trip back to Ipoh for three weeks to take some photos of the city I was born and grew up in. Among my first stop was at Cowan Street. The once famous Jubilee Park was located on this street. Jubilee Park to Ipoh was what BB Park was to Kuala Lumpur and New World to Singapore in those good old days. These were the happening places then – the places for old and young to go for some entertainments. Sad to say, all three were now history.

On the right side you can see two windows where cinema goers used to queue up to buy tickets for a show (there were cinemas inside Jubilee Park). Have you queue up here before to buy tickets?

I remember along this corridor, there were some Nepalese gemstones traders selling their wares here at night. Their products were laid on the floor and curious onlookers hassle for the correct prices. Rubies, emeralds, sapphires…they were glittering and sparkling to my young eyes.  Dad often took me here when I was a mere kid. From this, a lifetime love affair was born – I simply loved colorful gemstones, even to this day!

Watch out for the inside of Jubilee Park and you will be sadden how this site, once the most popular entertainment spot in Ipoh, had turned into an eerie and abandoned place…..

Do you have childhood memories of this place to share too?

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I’m not feeling too well; can you come home quickly and take me to the doctor’s?” Dad asked me on the phone, sounding quite sick.

I can even hear him coughing and whooping away at the other end. My heart missed a beat.

I am scared of a call like this, especially when it came very early in the morning or very late at night. It made me worried for him.

You see, my Dad lived in Ipoh while I stayed some two hundred kilometers away in Kuala Lumpur. It will take a while for me to reach him even if I were to get on the road at once. I can’t travel as freely as I would like to. I have two school going children to tie me down.

But he was my dad and I can’t say no. I have never said ‘no’ to him before. In the end I have to say, “Yes, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

There is another week to go before a school holiday is due to start. I wanted my children to complete their school term before I take them back to Ipoh to visit their grandfather but when a call like this came, I’ll have to change my plan.

“Grandfather is not feeling well. He wanted me to take him see the doctor.  Let’s go back to Mommy’s hometown tomorrow morning,” I declared, much to their delight.

I immediately packed our things, and there were many things to pack when you travel with young children; their clothes, their toiletries, their toys and their books. It was like we are moving to another country to stay- we have something like four baggages!

We usually travel by Sri Maju express bus from Puduraya Bus Station to Ipoh, taking the earliest bus at 8 a.m. so that we could reach Ipoh in the afternoon. I tried to reach home before sunset as Dad was no longer staying in town but far away from it.

After exchanging lots of kisses and hugs with their daddy, the children quickly climbed into the bus with me following from behind. We got into our seats and put the baggages in the proper compartments.

As the bus pulled out from the station, both Nicholas and Alexandra waved to their daddy who was smiling and waving back. He lip read to us, ” Have a safe and smooth journey!”

The journey home to visit Dad was a challenge. My children were talkative and boisterous, they refused to keep quiet or sit still even though they are going on a long distance trip. While everyone in the bus goes to sleep once the bus entered the North South highway at the Damansara exit, they were wide awake, eating potato chips or chewing gums, chatting and playing with each other. When they won’t sleep, I can’t either. Just to prevent them from running up and down the bus aisle really tired me out.

“Mommy, I wanted to urinate now or Mommy, I ‘m feeling nauseating,” are moments I dreaded most when we are somewhere between some unknown towns like Sungkai or Trolak. The bus won’t stop for us. As time went by, I trained myself to handle such emergencies with calmness.

After a brief stop at Tapah to relieve ourselves and to top up on their snacks, the most beautiful scenery unfolds before our eyes. Breathtaking blue hills and unspoilt green virgin forests run parallel on both sides. My eyes could not have enough of them. After about three hours and passing many small towns like Bidor, Kampar and Gopeng, we were almost home.

Nearing Ipoh, my children could recognize the beautiful blue limestone hills dotting the Gua Tempurung and Simpang Pulai stretch of the highway. Jumping excitedly from their seats near the window, they would shout in unison and on top of their voices, “Mommy, we are finally in Grandfather’s Ipoh! Look at those little hills; they’re like turtle’s shells!” they pointed with their little fingers towards the hills.

I laughed with relief. Yes, we had finally reached home.

When the bus past by Jalan Kampar, I will never fail to point out my former school, the Methodist Girls’ School or MGS, to my children.

“That was Mommy’s school!” and before long, they could recognize that as well.

“Mommy, we’re hungry, where are we going to have lunch?” the boisterous pair asked.

“At one of my favorite place and Mommy will take you there now!”

“Yeah!”

After getting down at that you-know-who’s old mansion opposite Shen Jai High School on Jalan Bendahara, we walked along Jalan Chamberlain, passing landmarks such as the former Majestic Cinema and the Post Office. Further up was the former Rex Cinema. On we walked towards Jalan Anderson where we had lunch at one of my favorite eating place, Restaurant Lok Wee Koi, opposite the present day Kamdar Store.

With some luck, we managed to secure a table for three and sat down to order some of Ipoh’s famous hawker’s foods for lunch. We had fried kuay teow with eggs and cockles, chee cheong fun in mushroom sauce, hor yee, which is flat rice noodle with fish cakes and fish balls and kai see hor fun or flat rice noodle with chicken shreds and prawns. We also had the caramel eggs custard and soda with ice-cream.

With still some space in our stomachs, we gulped down a bowl of tau foo fah and a drink called ‘Michael Jackson’ which is actually soya milk and glass jelly at the corner stall along Theater Street. Oh wait, I remember that stall was called “Funny Mountain Tau Foo Fah!” What a name! And can you believe it that people actually queued up; and the line spilled into the road, waiting to have a taste of these desserts? Some ate from their parked cars along the side of the street.

Satisfied with the contents in our stomachs, we walked back to the former Rex Cinema where I called up Mr. Cheng, our regular taxi driver whom my children nicknamed Uncle 4019 (the number plate of his taxi).

“Hey, Uncle 4019, this is the scissors sharpener’s daughter back from Kuala Lumpur. Can you take us to my dad’s house in Bercham?”

“Sure, I’ll be there in minutes!” he laughed back.

True to his reputation as Ipoh’s most punctual taxi’s driver, Mr. Cheng appeared in front of us almost immediately. Passengers and baggage all got in and when the taxi got past Hume Street, we never fail to catch a glimpse of the infamous funeral parlors and caskets shops along the street, also known as “Coffin Street.”

For my children who are from a metropolitan city called Kuala Lumpur, this is a rare sight for them to marvel at and to form some curious questions in their little heads.

“Wow, there are many funeral parlors in the same row. Do many people die on the same day in Ipoh?” my son asked and I was short of an answer.

Uncle 4019 just laughed and drove on, stopping by the traffic light opposite 188 Hugh Low Street.

“That’s your childhood’s home, Mommy!” Alexandra pointed to me. I smiled and nodded.

“Yes dear, it’s the home I once knew,” and I turned to have a look at the building where I grew up in. It looked old and abandoned but still as dignified as ever.

Then the traffic lights turned green…..

Now we’re on the way to Dad’s house in the suburb where a simple and rustic life awaits us…..

To be continued…….

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“Hey, do you want to join me for some curries and muruku at Geetha’s house tomorrow?” my eldest sister asked me one evening when she got home from work.

My eldest sister used to work in a garment factory in Tasek Industrial Estate, some distance away from Ipoh town. Geetha worked with her in the same department. They were good friends.

“Of course, tomorrow is Deepavali, isn’t it?” I answered keenly.

“Yes, it is!”

So off we went to Geetha’s house the next morning, the three of us – eldest sister, third sister and I.

We took a town bus from Medan Kidd to Buntong where her friend stayed. She waited for us at the bus-stop and led us to her house a few meters away.

Geetha’s house looked neat and clean. Obviously it was given a layer of new paint and the curtains were new too. Her family had spruce up the place to welcome the festival. Melodious Hindu songs filled the living room to add more gaiety to the occasion.

On the coffee table were plates and plates of ‘muruku’ or snacks specially prepared by her mother and they looked very appetizing. We had these with some bottled soft drinks.

When we had enough tidbits and soft drinks, Geetha beckoned us to her room.

“Come to my room. Let me show you all how to put on a sari. It is an art to wrap a sari correctly” she said enticingly.

Geetha owned more than a dozen sari. They came from India and they were made from colorful silk. A piece of sari is not cheap; in fact it can be quite expensive as some of them are hand-woven, using the best quality silk threads. There are many patterns and designs – some have floral motifs while others have stripes. Her sari came in different hues – maroon, turquoise, sapphire blue, emerald-green and even sunflower yellow.

We stood and watch as Geetha and her mom dressed my eldest sister up in a sari. Their supple hands wrapped the layers and layers of shiny cloth around her slim body. They adorned her with a golden necklace, a pair of dangling earrings and filled up her wrists with colorful bangles to match. With a red dot at the middle of her forehead, my eldest sister looked like a Bollywood film star!

“Aiyo, what a Chinese girl doing in a sari?” Geetha’s grandmother asked and laughed as she came into the room to have a look at all the excitement going on.

We all broke into a gale of laughter seeing a Chinese girl wearing a sari. She looked strange in it but stunning nevertheless. Eldest sister not only tried one but dozens of sari that day at Geetha’s house and she really had fun doing just that. And we had a good time watching her getting into one sari after another.

Third sister and I got our turns too. While both my elder sisters were dressed in colorful sari, Geetha dressed me up in a small and tight red blouse matched with a golden long flare skirt. She used to wear this when she performed the classical Indian dance called Bharata Natyam in the temple. It was a beautiful costume for young Indian girls. To complete the look, Geetha’s mom put a pair of anklets on both my ankles. I simply loved the tinkling sounds the little bells made when I broke into a few dance steps which Geetha taught me on the spot. Oh, what fun we had that morning!

After the dressing session was over, we had curries for lunch. Geetha’s mom cooked vegetarian and mutton curries and they are superb. Curries never taste as good as those home cooked ones.

On the way home that evening, I felt my tummy acting very funny.

“Eldest sister, I think I got a stomach-ache!” I was holding my tummy tightly.

“Oh no, I also felt something funny with my stomach. How about you?” she turned to third sister.

“Me too, I could feel my stomach bloated. Maybe we had too much soft drinks or curries just now!” she was laughing and wincing at the same time.

“I think we have no choice but to hold onto our stomachs until we get home, the bus will not stop for us to relieve ourselves!” eldest sister told us in a chuckle.

True enough, we held onto our poor stomachs until we got home. After getting down from the bus at Hugh Low Street near some textile shops, we almost ran the rest of the way home. As soon as our feet reached the front door, we made a mad scramble to the toilets. While my two elder sisters quickly planted themselves into a toilet each (there were only two), poor me had to make-do by squatting over a small drain just outside the bathroom near the kitchen on the ground floor.

Boom, boom, boom….it took us less than five minutes to regurgitate everything from our throats and anuses! Oh, what a relief after that!

“Serve the three of you right, I bet you girls stuffed yourselves silly with soft drinks and curries. Soft drinks and curries don’t mix!” Mom hissed sarcastically.

Then she and Dad looked at each other before breaking into laughter, seeing how we limped about with weak legs after purging with such vengeance.

Minutes later, we lay down weakly on the bed while Mom applied ‘Kwan Loong Foong Yau’ vigorously on our tummies. This is a type of medicated oil that comes in handy during stomach pain. You can find one in every home.

We girls just giggled and giggled away.

“Are you going to tell your friend about this?” I asked eldest sister playfully.

“Of course no,” she answered. “Sorry for dragging you both into this,” she said remorsefully.

“It’s alright. We also enjoyed ourselves but this is definitely something I won’t be able to forget,” I tried to comfort her.

She nodded her head, gave me a smile and a warm sisterly hug.

“It was my fault. I should have stop you from taking too much soft drinks. Next time, don’t take so much soft drinks, okay?” she stroked my hair gently.

“Okay.”

That was Deepavali day in 1978 when I was 14 and she was 26.

No, we did not go to Geetha’s house again after that. Eldest sister went to New Zealand months later to marry her fiancé and stayed there for some years.

But Deepavali continued to intrigue me with its core message – that good will surely triumph over evil, and brightness will illuminate darkness. It was a very beautiful and inspirational message and above all, universal.

We just saw that happened in Libya last week. I am sure the people there felt very liberated from evil and oppression. Can we say Deepavali came early to Libya this year?

And to the rest of my Hindu friends and readers, may Deepavali come your way too!

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Tomorrow is 6th August 2011. It is equivalent to the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese Lunar calendar. Wishing everyone a Happy Cowherd and Weaver Girl Festival !

In the late summer, on the seventh night of the seventh moon, in the Chinese lunar calendar, try to gaze up high into the night sky. You could see two very bright stars called Altair (Cowherd Star 牵牛星) and Vega (Weaver Girl Star 织女星), separated by the Milky Way. Near Altair were two smaller stars ………………………………………

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Cowherd and Weaver Girl

每年农历七月初七是传统节日“七夕节”,也叫“东方情人节”。

祝愿天下有情人都能有长长久久

七夕东方情人节快乐

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