A Quality Family Day

Last night the Governor’s Gala, much socializing and then a good night’s sleep.  Kim and I awoke refreshed and headed downstairs for breakfast.  It was an amazing buffet style meal, with Malay food, Muslim food, Chinese food and Western food.  Enjoying the meal were folks from all over.  Some Russian aircrew, a couple of families from the Middle East, quite a number of people from Australia.  Spoken languages overheard included English, German, Spanish, Chinese, Malay, Japanese, Korean and so on.  An interesting start to the day.

Following breakfast it was time to pack up, check out and wait in the lobby for Jaclyn, Kent and family to pick us up for the day’s activities.  While waiting Kim made the acquaintance of a new, but slightly taller, friend and I managed to find a very comfortable chair.  It was very busy around the hotel entrance and it took a while for Kent to work his way to the front door.  They arrived, and off we went for today’s adventures.

After having a brief lunch, Kent pointed the van about an hour out of Johor Bahru to a most interesting place near to Kota Tinggi.  First we chatted with some of the local residents (see left photo), then we arrived at the Tien Hoe Kung Temple which was established in 1884.

The temple, located along the river, was filled with people who had come to pray (as Vince was doing with his grandmother) or meditate.  Valen and father Kent were praying at some of the outdoor stations while Jaclyn spend considerable time trying to keep track of everyone.

From there it was back home for a short amount of R&R before dinner.  Time for Vince to have a much needed nap as he seems to utilize more energy than the Energizer Bunny when awake (it’s almost a full time job just to keep up with him).  The other kids figured this was a good time to gang up on grandfather, which, for some reason, received no objections from said grandfather.

Now is was dinner time.  Off we went to Kong Kong Tai Son for a seafood extravaganza on the seashore.  The selection of fresh seafood was amazing and the view from our table at the end of the pier was terrific.

We had seaweed vege soup, kong kong snails from the sea, curry tom yam soup with prawns, butter egg crab, petai sambal squid, steamed bawal emas fish, fresh baked buns.  When all was said and done the table had been transformed from a plethora of delicious delectables to a veritable wasteland of shells and bones.  It was a most enjoyable and satisfying meal.

It was certainly a quality family day to remember.  Back with the next post soon.

Family and Kiwanis

Our second day in Johor Bahru (JB), begins with a serious downpour as seen in the photo to the left.  It wasn’t like someone turned on the tap, rather that they had opened the sluice way.  The amazing part was that less than twenty minutes after it stopped there was no water visible anywhere.  The drainage system that I have spoken of is extremely efficient.  As you can see from the photo of grandson Vince, the ground is hardly even wet.

Then we were packing luggage in the van and off to what could be called brunch.  Kim and I were not leaving after just one day, however we did have an engagement for later in the day and would be shifting to a hotel for the night.  Kent took us to a great place to eat and we had a most enjoyable family meal.  Around the table is Kim, Vaness, Valen, Kent, me, Vince, Jaclyn and Vanessa.  At this point I don’t think I had really gotten used to the reality of being with our grandchildren.  I certainly like these type of meals, eating is relaxed and conversation is ongoing.  Definitely a good way to get to know family that I have just met.

After some good visiting (and eating), the family dropped Kim and I off at the KSL Resort Hotel in downtown Johor Bahru.  We were staying the night here so that we could attend the Governor’s Gala of the Malaysia Kiwanis District Convention.  Turned out that we were not just “attending”, but we were to be VIP Guests at the dinner. 

Now the hotel is part of a huge shopping complex as well.  Kent dropped us off at one of the shopping centre entrances and we embarked on what could very well have been an episode of Amazing Race.  Finding our way through the maze of shops, passageways and floors to the hotel lobby was most assuredly an adventure.  Signage was notable by its absence and directional knowledge of those working in the shopping complex seemed to be in a similar state.  Eventually after a number of ups and downs, along with a few “you can’t get there from here”, we reached the hotel desk and checked in.  Our room was quite nice with a good view of JB from about a dozen floors up.  Kim came over to the window to admire the view and almost immediately recoiled back into the room.  You see, she is not a great fan of heights and two things kind of threw her off.  The first was that the windows were floor to ceiling and the second was the notice on the window indicating “Warning – Do Not Lean On Glass”.  Once past that, we relaxed for a while and then got ready for the dinner.

As previously mentioned, it turned out that Kim and I were VIP Guests at the Governor’s Gala.  Although I was attending as Kiwanis Western Canada District Governor this was not expected, however it was a terrific experience.  On the right is the VIP table for the dinner.  Each of us had individual service during the dinner while the remainder of the room had table service.  It took a little getting used to, but we managed.

We had many friends in the room whom we had met over the last few years, either in person or via Facebook, making for a most pleasant evening.  Along with us at the VIP table was fellow Governor Cheng Lian Teh, Past Governor Doris Choo, Past International Trustee Chia-Sing Hwang, International Trustee and District Counselor Warren Mitchell, and Incoming Governor Simpson Tan to name a few.  On the left is a photo with Doris, Lian Teh and Warren, while on the right I was asked to join in a photo with a number of distinguished Malaysia Kiwanians.  All in all it was a wonderful evening recognizing outstanding Kiwanians, learning about Kiwanis Downs Syndrome Foundation, Kiwanis Careheart Centre and other District activities, as well as visiting with friends and meeting new folks.  Terrific job was done by the organizers.

Kim and I would like to express our thanks to Governor Lian Teh and all the Malasysia District Kiwanians for the invitation to the Governor’s Gala and for the awesome reception that we received.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to be back with the grandkids.

Family And Travel

The morning begins with meeting new family as Kim and I go to breakfast with Sister Hong, Niece Stephanie and Nephew Ah Kok.  He and his family are down from Johor Bahru for a visit with his mother Hong.

After visiting for a while Kim and I were off to guess where… Johor Bahru, about 2 1/2 hours by bus.  We are on our way to do a couple of things, first and foremost, to visit family.

A few posts ago I had talked about the drainage system here in Malaysia.  As we traveled on the bus I saw numerous examples of the drains to prevent erosion.  I have included a couple of them here.

We arrived at the bus station in Johor Bahru (JB) and it was time to take a taxi for the last portion of our trip.  Our driver was a great chap, long time resident of JB and he had good stories to share with lots of history about the city.  He and Kim kept up a running discussion the whole trip until we arrived at our destination for the day.

We had a welcoming committee when we got to the home of Kim’s daughter Jaclyn, husband Kent and children Valen, Vaness, Vanessa and Vince (ranging from ages 12 to 2).  It was pretty special for me as I was meeting all of then for the very first time.  Shortly after, that huge suitcase we had brought suddenly got a whole lot lighter.  Gee, I wonder why that might have been.

The reason that we came on this particular day was that Vaness would be performing in a concert at her school.  So the day I met my step-daughter and my grandchildren was the same day I got to see one of them in her school concert.  It was a day that I shall not soon forget.  When we got to the school (Valen, Vaness and Vanessa all attend here), Valen took me under his wing (so to speak) and showed me around, introducing me to his friends (and it seemed like anyone else who would listen).

This school has so many students that they have classes from 7am to Noon for one group and 1pm to 6pm for another.  Valen and Vaness go in the morning, Vanessa in the afternoon.  Not all schools are like that, however this one is held in high regard and is very popular.  Part of the original school is kept to this day.

There was much festive activity prior to the concert with a Dragon Dance and a Lion Dance, as well as a mini market with food and other items.  There was many parents and students in attendance.

Amongst all the activity, Grannie Kim got to meet with a costumed Vaness prior to the start of the concert.  Then it was time to start wending our way to the concert seating and get ready for the big show.  And big show it was.  There was a large number of performances, displaying both Chinese and Malay culture and history.

As per usual, I have many photos, many of which will make an appearance online later, however I would be terribly amiss if I failed to have one of the performance including Vaness.  Then one of proud Mum, Dad and Grannie (oh and Vince too) with Vaness in the background.

It was a most excellent day.  Tomorrow will be pretty special as well.  See you in the next post.

Mosque To Cruise

For this blog post I will start off with a few words about my posts for this trip to Malaysia and beyond.  You will have noted that I have not assigned any dates to the posts, and as I indicated that I was playing catch-up on our trip the dates the posts are published have no bearing on the post content whatsoever.  The posts are all in order, and it is possible (nay, it is likely) that some may span more than one day, so dating them is not necessary.

Today, first order of business was Dim Sum with Cynthia.  Quite a selection of choices and very enjoyable.  I must admit that I do have favourites, such as chicken feet, tripe and curried squid.

As we were eating and looking out the entrance, I noticed that there was a rather unusual mosque across the street.  After breakfast we walked across and had a look.  It was different and it is unique, reflecting the Malaysia composition and history.

The Kampong Kling Mosque was completed in 1748.  The architecture is Sumatran, with strong Hindu influences, particularly evident in the minaret which resembles a pagoda.  Looking closer you will notice an unusual blend of English and Portuguese glazed tiles, Corinthian columns with symmetrical arches in the main prayer hall, a Victorian chandelier, a wooden pulpit with Hindu and Chinese style carvings, and Moorish cast iron lamp-posts.  The mosque remains central to Malay community life.

Then we were off to do one of my favourite things.  While the ladies did some shopping (this is not it folks), I was able to wander, observing and taking photos of people and places.  I would love to put all my photos here, however will select a few to share at this time.  The place on the left is quite elaborate.  Features like these are not uncommon and do add much to the neighbourhood.  The empty street on the right was a rare opportunity, thanks to a tour bus unloading behind me and blocking all the traffic, including the motorbikes (if you can believe that).

With the tour bus gone, traffic gets back to normal (this is code for stay on high alert while walking along, or crossing, the street).  I quite like the variety of names used by businesses here.  Imagination and uniqueness are both in wide display.

While walking around, it began to rain, which was, as Kim likes to say, “cooling” on quite a warm day.  The rain didn’t seem to bother either of these two folks who were passing by me on the street.  The chap on the motorbike made me smile.  After taking his photo, he saw me, and as he went by I could hear him say “Ah-yaaaa”.  The lady on the bicycle made no indication that she saw me, and went on her way, focusing on the tasks at hand (like avoiding the motorbikes and cars).  She is so typical of many older folks we have seen in Melaka.

Next, we figured it was time to be a tacky tourist and go on the Melaka River Cruise boat ride.  Only it didn’t work out that way, it worked out better.  We got to the departure spot (empty parking lot), went up to the wicket and bought our tickets.  Cynthia’s was less expensive than Kim and I due to the fact that she was from Melaka and we were not.  Then we moved to the departure area for the cruise.  We were the only ones there.  So we waited.  Then along came two Malay boys and their father.  So we all waited.  While waiting the father approached and asked if I was a visitor (good guess).  He indicated that his son, for a school project, was to interview some visitors and ask how they found their visit to Melaka.  I obliged and was interviewed (and videoed by Dad), then we had a nice chat about the project and I gave them some interview tips and suggestions.  And we waited.

While we were waiting, I observed the monorail that isn’t.  Henry had told me about that on a previous occasion.  Seems that Melaka had built a monorail system (well, a track that went from one end to the other, then back).  It ran for a while and now sits, decommissioned I suppose.  Not sure if it will ever run again.  And we waited.

Finally, a tour bus pulled up and disgorged its load of humanity, a school group, junior high range I think.  Aha, this is why we have been waiting (we thought).  But no, we were then loaded onto one of the boats, all six of us, and off we went.  The busload were on a different boat.  The result of all this was that we basically had a private ride and had a great conversation between the six of us and the cruise boat operator, who was a most pleasant young lady.

The cruise goes quite a good distance along the Melaka River, past where Henry and I had walked, past Auntie Ming’s house, past the old clock tower and the start of Yonker Walk.  If you are in Melaka, I do recommend it. 


All in all, it was a very good day, wrapped up with another visit to Yonker Walk and a wonderful dinner with friends and family.

Tomorrow brings some travelling and more family.  See you then.

Old, New or Abandoned

This morning Henry took us to a traditional Malay foodery for roti canai.  Once we had arrived and parked (parking at times is a highly competitive activity), I opened the car door and came face to face with the locals pictured on the right.  They were quite friendly and totally unfazed with happenings around them.

Once in the foodery (in is a relative term as there are no walls, only a tent type roof), we got our table and then made the acquaintance of the folks preparing the food.  They were, as has been everyone I’ve met so far, very friendly and accommodating, kindly allowing me to take photos as they prepared the food.  Breakfast was delicious and as we left we got friendly waves, not only from the workers, but from some of the patrons.  A good start to the day.

Our next stop was the Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese temple.  This temple is the oldest in Malaysia with its initial construction in 1673.  It is equally devoted to three doctrines – Taoism, Confucianism and Chinese-Buddhism.  When exploring the temple it tells a story about the Chinese in Melaka, covering their lives, their beliefs and their concerns.

This is the temple that Kim went to when she was a child and growing up so there is a lot of Gee family history here as well.  We didn’t just go to visit, we went there to pray as well, as there is great meaning for Kim there.

While exploring around the temple we saw many different, and interesting, people from all over the world.  There was an East Indian lady and her daughter, who was deaf, and they kindly let me take their photo.  There were a number of monks, likely from a variety of places, who were busy taking pictures of the temple, and each other, with their cameras and smartphones.  There were Westerners (besides me) sightseeing and locals praying.  It was quite a place.

Then, across the street, was a “new” version of the same temple, built to replace the original at such time it might become unusable from age.  This had definitely not happened yet as those who care have worked very hard to keep it in very good condition.  Both temples seem to be in continuous use.

Later, Henry took us to the Portuguese section of Melaka to show us some of the old Portuguese buildings.  When we got there, lo and behold, there were no old buildings but rather a new hotel.  A bit disappointing to say the least.  We understand that there is another way to get to the old Portuguese buildings and we will do some more exploring.

Off we traveled then to another example of what I consider to the be big inconsistency of Melaka.  We visited a beautiful beach area (certainly in my opinion) that is unused, complete with a very nice bricked walking area between the road and the beach, lined with trees.  The beach is littered and the walk is falling into disrepair.

There is a ship docking area close by, which may give people second thoughts about swimming, however for the area to be unused totally doesn’t seem to make sense.  On top of that, there is a hotel, and not a small one, across the road which is entirely abandoned.  There was some activity at the front entrance but is was not hotel related.

This blog post had been delayed due to Wi-Fi issues, hopefully they have been resolved so the next post will appear shortly.

Thanks for reading, comments are always welcome.