Friday, May 11, 2007

Wonderful Day in Segamat

The day started well. We got off early and we were across to Johor Baru in Malaysia by 6.30 am. Decided to use the SatNav to guide us to Segamat. It took us to places we had never been before but it did get us onto the North-South Highway, although the toll charges were higher.

The drive was uneventful. We decided to stop at one of the rest stops for a coffee, but unfortunately it was close for maintenance and cleaning.

Arrived in Segamat at 9.30 am and decided to proceed o our favorite koon low mee stall for brunch. At usual the food was good and we were not disappointed. Two plates of koon low mee and a drink came to RM6, approximately 90 pence.

We then proceed to brother Tong’s house to see elder mother. She was very happy to see us but complained that I should have told her in advance of our visit so that she could make my favorite carrot cakes for us. I did not want her to go to too much trouble as she is now 93 years young and making carrot cakes require quite strenuous stirring. I love her carrot cakes but I am not willing to cause her too much physical effort. At her age she should be taking it easy.

The morning was spent chatting and trying to find out the latest on Peng Yan and Wee Ching’s illnesses. Peng Yan’s is undergoing chemotherapy and I was told the Wee Ching’s illness has been confirmed to be motor neuron. I hope their conditions do not get worst.

Peng Yan is currently in KL for his treatment. I called on Wee Ching but found him out of the house. I must remember to telephone him in the next few days. Went over to See Yee to consult him about Peng Yan and Wee Ching. I had a feeling that he told me in not so many words that prognoses for both cases are not too good.

We then went out for lunch with mother, Tong and wife and Phyllis. The six of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves over lunch. We had my favorite fish, the soon hock, toufoo, chicken in Chinese wine, asparagus with scallop and oatmeal prawns. Lunch cost RM220 or 30 pounds, half the bill was for the fish which cost RM110. Food is always delicious and cheap in Segamat.

After lunch we went over to the fruit market to buy durians. Unfortunately there wasn’t any durians from Segamat. Those that were on sale were from Thailand, a vastly inferior type that wasn’t up to our Segamat standard. As we could not purchase any durians we got 6 large pineapples for RM20 and a dozen mangoes fro RM35. The total fruit bill came to about 8 pounds.

At 4.30 pm we said our goodbyes to mother, Tong and sister-in-law and went to the local Giant store for some groceries. On the way out of Segamat we paid a visit to see my god daughter. She has grown at least 6 inches since our last visit. She is prettier and a very well mannered girl. I am glad. Gave her an angpow and also one to each of her sisters.

We left Segamat at around 5.30pm and got to Singapore at around 9.30pm. We stopped at Yong Peng for the famous Yong Peng fish balls.

It was a wonderful day seeing the family again. Sad that Peng Yan and Wee Ching are both unwell but let hope by some miracles they come through these ordeals. However, it was good returning to Segamat, albeit only for a day. Somehow it made me feel whole again.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Day in Segamat

Tomorrow we travel to Segamat for the day. Have to start very early in the morning to avoid the congestions at the Immigration Check Points. The first half of the journey will be along the Malaysian North-South Highway. This part of the journey will be as uninteresting as it gets when one drives along any major motorways. There are rest stops along the way so we might just break the journey for some snacks or coffee. The second half of the journey will be along the old trunk road between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Segamat being midway between the two cities. The whole journey will probably take 3 hours. This part of our journey will be more interesting passing through vilages and through rubber estates and oil palm plantations. Theyn have upgraded the road so driving here is better than the old days.

The main purpose of the journey is to visit family members who are still in Segamat. It is also to satisfy my desire to visit my birth place and to touch base with my roots. As one progresses in life and especially when one reaches the twilight years of life, it is always good to return to ones roots every now and again. Trips like these always bring me back into perspective, and of course happy memories.

The plan for tomorrow is to gather the family members for a lunch, deliver a few angpows and also to visit my god-daughter. Haven't seen her for such a long time. Looking forward to seeing again.

I am also loking forward to havoing a durian feast and to bring some back to Singapore for family members. Segamat being famous for the best durians in Malaysia.

It will only be a day trip, so we would probably leave Segamat at around 4 pm for the journey back to Singapore.

Will write about the trip in my next post.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reunion for Segamat Batch of 1962

More than six weeks have gone by since we returned to Singapore. Time has flown by and much has happened. The first week was devoted to cleaning the house and getting ready for the arrival of Denise and our grand daughter Alexa who was coming to be with us for 2 weeks. I was not looking forward to having guests but now after the event it wasn’t too bad after all. Had to cook and prepare lunch everyday for Alexa, but that was OK as I enjoy cooking anyway. My real problem was having to look after her during a great part of the days when her mother was out of the house. It has been a long time since I had young children to care for. It brought back some good memories of years gone by.

The 2 weeks with Alexa was rather good. She was a very easy child and it was not too difficult keeping her occupied. We had many painting and colouring sessions and by the end of the 2 weeks my repertoire of nursery rhymes have more than tripled. I was also very impressed by how intelligent she has become. At the tender age of 3 she could count to 100, knows her A to Z and she could add any 2 numbers between 0 and 10. A very intelligent child indeed.

We left for a 3 days trip to KL soon after Alexa and Denise left for UK. The trip was very good. Got to meet up with Onn and Julina again. Had a wonderful banana leaf lunch under a tree by a roadside on the first day. Onn and Julina were perfect hosts. Lunch was excellent and the company was better than ever. Onn, cousin of the current Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, and having 2 uncles who were former Prime Ministesr is still the same as he was during the school days when we were the best of friends. We met up for dinner again the next day and Dianne and I took them to a very peranakan restaurant. The food there was very very good and we thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Food there was so good we went back to have our last dinner before we returned to Singapore.

The next day was devoted to shopping and dinner with my brother Wee Thow and his daughter Shin Yunn. They were just leaving for a few days in UK to prepared for Shin Yunn’s entry to Cardiff university. The seafood dinner we had was rather special. Had Geoduck for the first time. For those who are not familiar with Geoduck, it is a large clam imported from the waters of Alaska. It is eaten raw, sashimi style with wasabi. Rather delicious.

After our KL trip we returned to Singapore. Gary, Dianne’s son was leaving for a 3 month stint at Nike HQ in Portland USA. We had a farewell dinner and said our goodbyes. He left alone, Carrie his wife will join him next week.

On April 27 we left for another 4 days in KL. On April 28, my school batch of 1962 held a reunion dinner at the residence of one of our classmates. A total of 26 old school friends attended. Some or most of whom I have not seen since we parted 45 years ago. It was a very nostalgic event. Some of us came with our spouses. Most of us have changed in our appearance. Almost all have retired or semi-retired. Many of us have increased waistline and many have receding hairlines. However we all remember the good old days when we were in Segamat. We had a very enjoyable reunion and we have all promised to stay in contact via telephone and email.

Lunch next day was another gathering for the batch of 62 at the Lake Club in the Lake Gardens of KL, guests of Onn who is a member. It was another wonderful get together. We all parted with good wishes to all.

The rest of our time in KL was devoted to more shopping and eating.

We may be planning another trip to KL within the next week or so. Got to visit a development site where Denise has purchased a luxury apartment. Tomorrow I have to go to the Vietnamese Embassy to collect my passport, hopefully with a visa for our planned 5 days trip to Ho Chi Minh City on May 30.

I will be glad to leave Singapore. It is getting to be boring and repetitive. I have recently taken up a course in Forex trading and I have been rather busy learning the trade. It is fun and I hope to make a few dollars to supplement my non-existence income of late. Got to earn some money to fund my travel.