Missing you

You were my boyfriend
You were my husband
You are the father of my children
You are still my friend.

When we were younger
We took many things for granted
Now that we are older and living apart
We treasure our little times together.

We may no longer be husband and wife
Since we had once bonded
Shared a life and blessed with three children
You will always be my family and my trusted friend.

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Till I see you again, my trusted friend.

Happy Chinese New Year 2014 – a celebration with a difference

It’s almost midnight here in Auckland on the first day of the lunar new year.  By the time this post is published, we will be entering the second day of the year of the wooden horse.  While we see lots of posts on Christmas, there are not many (if any) that I could find on my ‘Reader’ on WordPress so I thought I will share the celebration and wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year 2014.

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My children has gone to Malaysia to celebrate the Chinese New Year with their PoPo (Grandmother) and here am I all alone at home if not for my overseas guest who chose to remain here to spend the special occasion with me.

On new year’s eve we had a Korean BBQ dinner at home, just the two of us with a bottle of bubbles.  Such a huge feast, though different from a traditional chinese new year meal normally with a dozen or more dishes individually cooked, a huge effort.  We had a big feast of varieties too but preparation time was well cut down.  There was no waste of leftovers too as we only cooked what we could eat.

Korean BBQ - Quick & Simple.  You could have as much or as little as you 'cook as you eat'.

Korean BBQ – Quick & Simple. You could have as much or as little as you ‘cook as you eat’.

After dinner, we took Toby (my doggie) out for a little walk.  It was a nice summer night and didn’t get dark till 9pm at least most nights.  We spent the night in front of the TV (something I haven’t done for ages).  Since my guest arrived a month ago, I even watched the American Idols and that indeed does not sound like me but it was a way to socialize with my guest rather then spend all my time on my blog.

Today we had Thai meal for lunch at a Thai Restaurant at the marina and then came home and decided to bake and I ended up making two pizzas, a loaf of bread, a taro cake and a tapioca cake.

Going Thai for Chinese New Year?

Going Thai for Chinese New Year?

Left : Taro Cake & Right : Tapioca Cake Taro can can be pan fried or decorated with condiments

Left : Taro Cake & Right : Tapioca Cake
Taro cake can be pan fried or decorated with condiments.  I was too tired to do the condiments so we decided to freeze the taro cake and cut into smaller pieces for pan fry later.

Our dinner was the two pizzas made from scratch, from crust to fillings and to add a little ‘chinese’ to the otherwise non-chinese meal for an auspicious chinese new year day, we decided to cook a bowl of Szechuan hot and sour soup (forgotten to take a picture to show).

Pizzas for Chinese New Year?

Pizzas for Chinese New Year?

This was my celebration of Chinese new year with a difference.  While my family are in Malaysia visiting relatives and friends back home, here am I keeping myself super busy doing the things I enjoyed and it was even better that I had company.

Who would have thought any Chinese would bake on Chinese New Year day?  All cakes and cookies would have been made prior.  It was a random decision on our part and I guess any activity that is done in harmony is fun and that itself is a celebration.

I wonder if today (or yesterday) is an special day for you irregardless whether or not you are celebrating Chinese new year?  The Asian or Chinese population are now living in all parts of the world so I believe the Lunar New Year celebration is happening worldwide.

chinese lunar

Are you for food or fitness? Does socializing revolve around food?

I realized I had grown three dress sizes bigger in the last six years.  This reminded me of what the vet said about my dog that he was the heaviest he had been in the last four years and that should not be the case as Toby is no longer a growing dog.  It is the same for his master, she is a fully grown woman and should not be expanding sideways.

Sometimes I wonder whether it is the age, the lack of exercise or the food intake.  After my recent holiday and all the feasting, I told myself it is time to go on a healthy diet, perhaps a soup diet, vegetable diet or high protein diet.  I was about to start but then an overseas visitor came to stay and surely I cannot expect my visitor to follow my diet plan so that thought of a ‘healthy diet’ is currently on hold.  Exercise plan is also on hold as it would not be nice to spend all my days at work and then to the gym and the pool leaving my visitor all alone.  Furthermore, Christmas is around the corner so the healthy diet plan can wait.

As I pen down the reasons to justify the delay in my new diet plan, I felt a bit better, though not lighter.  Legit reasons indeed as food and socializing go hand in hand.  How anti-social would I be if I had gone on my health plan ignoring my guest at home.

So I reassured myself I had done the right thing – eat and be merry.  Food or fitness come first?  Obviously I have picked the wrong choice but irregardless, fitness can wait but food and friendship can’t.  (This is one personal viewpoint from a foodie who appreciates food, be it cooking or eating.)

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

Ecclesiastes 9:7

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stress
wholesomediet

Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim – A migrant’s story

Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim by Krista on December 4, 2013

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?Photographers, artists, poets: show us PERSEVERANCE.

via Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim.

Born and bred in Kuching, I said goodbye but of course I knew I will be back, year after year, sometimes once, sometimes twice. Kuching will always be my hometown, where my roots are, where I made my first friends, where I had my education, where I grew up and it was my home for the last forty years.

At forty-one, I decided to make a change in my life, turned my page away from building my career, went through a divorce, time to take an early retirement and see what the future holds. Alone I moved to Auckland, sink or swim, I had decided even if I sink, I had to keep afloat, hang on and never let go. My eldest daughter came to Palmerston North to further her studies a year or two before me so we were not living in the same city.

I moved from my five bedroom house in Kuching, with maids that came round cleaning my house every week to my new home in Maraetai Beach, a rented property, a two bedroom unit. I was the maid, the cook, the gardener, all in one. My new life looked very gloomy but looking around me, I was truly blessed to be living in such a beautiful seaside town with lovely pohutukawa trees, beaches and coastlines.

Another blessing was I had met someone and we were engaged but both of us had past families before, neither of us were committed enough to tie the knot. Eventually that engagement was broken and I was totally alone again. At that time, visually, I was hanging on a float not allowing myself to sink.

I got a job moved to Half Moon Bay closer to my workplace and life goes on. Knowing that I consciously made the decision to move to a foreign land, knew that things were not going to be smooth sailing all the time. I missed my family and my friends. Those new workmates and social buddies I made were to me more acquaintances than friends, so unlike my childhood friends who grew up together, understood each other like no other can.

When one is left to face any challenges alone, one gets stronger. I was fiercely independent and I started to socialize on my own, yes, even dine on my own in nice restaurants, drink at pubs on my own and that did not bother me at all. I did not want to hide in my room and cry, I was determined to live like a local and eventually I mixed and mingled as a local.

While having a social life, I also spent my free time volunteering in the community, helping in community events and teaching English to new migrants.

It is now almost ten years since I moved to Auckland. My daughters were living in Palmerston North but my younger has now moved to live with me but she has her own life and circle of friends while I have mine but it is nice to know that there is a family in my house and I am not alone.

I have a dog, my Toby who is now four years old. He is my buddy and my most loyal friend that wags his tail, holds a toy in his mouth, greeting me so excitedly every time I come home. What more can I ask for?

These ten years of my life, although I could have sunk but I chose to stay afloat and swam my way through.

In life, you either sink or swim. There is no other option.

– Linda Poindexter
My buddy and my loyal friend

My buddy and my loyal friend

Daily Prompt: Tattoo….You?

Daily Prompt: Tattoo….You?  by Krista on December 1, 2013

Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink? If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned on you skin?  Photographers, artists, poets: show us PERMANENT.

via Daily Prompt: Tattoo….You?.

beebee

Lost, confused,
mixed emotions,
reluctantly let go.

Time to move on,
new beginning,
uncertain what life holds.

In transition
letting all the hurt flow
once and for all.

Deep in thoughts
an idea came
to this brave soul.

What better way
than to counter
hurt with pain.

Little honeybee was born,
permanent companions
signifying a page is turned.

Happy 14th Year of bonding to My Honeybee & Me.

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Howick Santa Parade 2013

Howick,  an affluent seaside suburb of Manukau City lies in the eastern suburb of Auckland sometimes called East Auckland.  Due to the relatively numerous remaining heritage buildings and other historical remnants from its early European settlement past, Howick (known for its charming specialty shops and charming cafes) is one if not the most historical town in Auckland.

I have lived in the Howick for eight years, after moving from Maraetai (the easternmost suburb of greater Auckland) where I lived for two years to be closer to my work place. Since migrated to Auckland, I have always lived in the eastern suburb and here I will be to stay.  

To me, East Auckland has the best countryside and coastline, a multicultural suburb with abundance of restaurants and cafes, a historical village with an urban sophistication, the place to be for safe and quality lifestyle.

This post came about after my mad rush going round in circles with the road blocks looking for a car park and making it on the dot to watch the Howick Santa Parade 2013, something I have loyally attended year after year.  I decided to share some photos and do a little introductory writeup of this beautiful and historical suburb where I live.

The whole town today celebrated the start of the festive season.  This parade is a delight for young and old alike.

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Part of the crowd walking home after the parade.

Part of the crowd leaving Picton Street, Howick after the parade.

Related links
Click here to read more about HOWICK
Click here to read more about MARAETAI
Click here to read more about EAST AUCKLAND (EASTERN SUBURB)

My daughter’s foreign (or modern)-styled Malaysian Chinese Wedding

It has been a week since I returned from my trip to Huizhou, China and Kuching, Malaysia.  That whole trip was memorable as the highlight was to attend the wedding banquets of my eldest daughter and her partner of almost ten years who is now her husband.

My daughter Jo-Jo met her husband when she went to Palmerston North, as an overseas student in 2003 and they had been together since.  Finally early this year, both decided to complete the journey with a simple wedding ceremony in the Rose Garden in Palmerston North, New Zealand (click here for the full story).

This celebration was extended till last month where our family and the couple went to our home countries to host wedding banquets in Huizhou (groom’s) and Kuching (bride’s).  As in any Chinese culture, wedding is considered a joining of two families, thus once the bride and groom decide to get married, both families get involved (living in a foreign country, this is not necessary so for us although I had Vincent calling me one night asking for my daughter’s hand in marriage.)

Back in Huizhou, it was not until my mum brought up the topic of dowry that I realized that dowry had never been in the conversation.  In direct translation as in the olden days, dowry means the ‘bride price’.  We are of Chinese heritage and every single Chinese Malaysian (or Malaysian Chinese, which means the same thing) practice dowry giving, at least in my generation.  The word ‘dowry’ sounded so old fashioned but old fashion as it might be, to me, a dowry is a symbol of respect for the bride’s family for raising up their daughter and an acknowledgement of thanks for handing over their daughter’s hand in marriage to the groom.  

It is customary for the groom to give money to the in-laws in the form of red packets (Ang Pow or Hung Pow) even to this day.   Dowry ‘Ang Pow’ are usually in tokens of double 88, 8888 as eight (8) means wealth.  However in my case, I had given away my daughter’s hand in marriage to her husband without a dowry.  This young couple had no idea about dowry, having live in a foreign country like New Zealand where ‘dowry’ is a foreign world.  Being a first time mother-in-law, I too had totally forgotten about this tradition.

Tea (pang teh) ceremony where the couples served tea to their elders as a form of respect was not forgotten though. While on this topic, I searched the internet and found this article that sums up the customs of a typical Malaysian Chinese wedding by Aaina Rambli – Thank you for the writeup which I will share here (click to read more).

Most Chinese rituals and customs have been lost or amended over thousands of years of civilization.  For auspicious occasions such as weddings, Chinese New Year and mid-autumn or mooncake festivals, I always feel good while celebrating these festivals remembering our roots, our culture and our heritage.

Thinking back on the event, dowry or no dowry, traditional or modern, local or foreign, Jo-Jo and Vincent’s wedding was a very precious moment for the couples and both the bride and groom’s families and relatives.  It was memorable and a great celebration which will be remembered fondly by everyone who attended the wedding banquets.

My daughter’s wedding was also as ‘simple and sweet’ as her mother’s.  

Nibbles provided in our hotel room by the groom's parents.

Nibbles provided in our hotel room by the groom’s parents.

Wedding couples figurine.

Wedding couples figurine.

Wedding Dinner celebration in Huizhou

Wedding Dinner celebration in Huizhou

Bridge & Groom

Bridge & Groom (My camera battery went flat and this was the only photo I snapped so blame the photographer or the camera if this photo does not do the couple justice.)

This shot is by a skilled photographer.

This shot is by a skilled photographer.

Pang Teh - Tea Ceremony to PoPo

Pang Teh – Tea Ceremony to PoPo (Great Aunt) in Kuching

Daily Prompt: As Seen on TV – Bedtime stories

Write a script for a late-night infomercial — where the product is your blog.  How do you market yourself?  What qualities do you embody that other “products” don’t?  What are the benefits of reading your blog?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LATE.

via Daily Prompt: As Seen on TV.

Looking to unwind after a hard day’s work?

Check out your personal bedtime story teller who speaks to you through her stories.  She writes about anything and everything, from the story of her life, to food of all sorts, travel adventures, poems, photos and any random thoughts.

Be sure to CLICK HERE to be treated to a nice sweet surprise every night before you lay to bed.

Now follow these 3 steps to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

1.   Relaxing your body with a hot bath or shower.

2.   Relaxing your mind by reading a book …. ooops, I mean a blog.

3.   Put your head on the pillow, close your eyes and remember the key to a good night’s sleep is to visit this one and only blog again tomorrow night and every night.

For a goodnight's sleep, read this book (x) correction - read this blog

For a goodnight’s sleep, read this book (x) correction – read this blog

GOOD NIGHT, SWEET DREAMS,

TALK TO YOU TOMORROW.

Hello Stranger

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A Random Shot

Hello Stranger
We must have crossed path
In the streets or in our dreams
I sensed we had connected somehow.

Hello Stranger
I cannot visualize your face
Or your tone of your voice
Were you a part of my past or my dreams?

Hello Stranger
I cannot recall your smell
And if we ever held hands
Why did you let it go?

Goodbye Stranger
Maybe you are not meant to stay
Could we be happy together?
The answer we will never know.

Patriotic or what ?

On 21 October 1973, Bong Kee Chok, the Director and Commissar of the North Kalimantan Peoples’ Army signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Datuk Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, the then Chief Minister of Sarawak at the Government Rest House, Simmanggang (new name Bandar Sri Aman).  After this event, about 580 members of the North Kalimantan Peoples’ Army and Sarawak Peoples’ Guerrillas laid down their arms, came out of the jungle and returned to society, thus ending the 50 years of communist movement in Sarawak.

I remembered this event as a young primary 5 school girl, we gathered outside our school to wave paper flags to welcome those communists into our society.  Whenever there were visits by dignities, as school children, we would line up on the road and waved paper flags as greetings, rain or shine.  Some would hold the Sarawak flag while others would hold the Malaysian flag.  We were honored to have waved to Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth when they visited Sarawak on March 2, 1972 and of course waved on many occasions to the Yang Di Pertuan Agong.  Perhaps this gesture is something of the past as I cannot remember my children ever talked about lining up on the roadside to wave to dignities.

On Merdeka day (Independence Day), school children participated in floats as a school delegation carrying lighted lanterns.  I was  the ‘compulsory’  few asked to participate irregardless of whether I wanted to volunteer or not because my house was only 15 minutes from school and hence teachers forced that task upon me.  I remembered when I was in Primary Two, I was yelled at by the class teacher because I did not volunteer.  Poor me, we did not have a say in those days and when I was younger, I was one that was seen but not heard.  Today, living in New Zealand, often on the road I realized I have not broke free of that compromising situation.  I got honked at although I did not know what I did wrong (on the road, that is).  Drivers pointed fingers at me and giving me their nasty look and from lip reading through the windows I got their message of ‘Fxxx You’.  I never retaliate when faced with such rude uncouth gesture, just shook my head and told myself I am more civilized, more educated then these people.  They are after all JAFA.

When I was in the Girls Brigade, as a Young Leader and eventually an Officer, I proudly marched during several Merdeka parades.  The parade usually start from the local ‘central padang’ (now called Padang Merdeka) and there was a waterfall there but unfortunately that waterfall was pulled down for no reason as far as I know.  I left Kuching in December 2004 and there are now many new developments and I sort of become a ‘tourist’ in my hometown although I visit at least once if not twice a year.  I miss our old Kuching (cat) city remembering it as a nice, peaceful and clean city with the most friendly people you could ever meet.  Even today, I can safely say one will never find any Kuching driver pointing finger or showed their rabbit teeth saying ‘Fxxx’ which apparently to most JAFA is a norm of their daily activity. First the finger followed by the Fxxx word. Yes, I am proud to say that I am a nice Kuching girl not JAFA.

Footnote :  This post is not meant to criticize any Aucklander but just to share the popular kiwi slang.  If you do not know what JAFA means, goggle it.  No offense intended.

Revelent Links :

http://sarawakiana.blogspot.co.nz/2008/08/sarawak-flags-1841-2007.html

http://sarawakdotcom.blogspot.co.nz/2009/01/big-tree-at-padang-merdeka-kuching.html

Click to access 5.pp183-192書評new.pdf

http://www.theborneopost.com/2011/09/16/the-sarawak-gazette/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/1st-Kuching-Girls-Brigade/122211261177709

http://myussop.blogspot.co.nz/2010/02/images-of-kuching-today_23.html

colonial
Old Sarawak Flag
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Malaysian flag
central padang
Various contingents at Central Padang
girls brigade

Girls Brigade of today