Sister Hong – Loved By All

Now we have arrived back in Melaka, I want to talk for a while about our family here in Malaysia, actually focusing on one family member in particular.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, while in Melaka we are staying in Brother Ming’s house, right next door to Sister Hong.  Back in Post 10, Remembering and Night Market I talked a bit about her family as we visited the final resting place of her husband and one of her daughters, Ah Yong.

I found Sister Hong to be an amazing woman, loving and compassionate, always caring for those around her, including yours truly.  She had six children, three boys and three girls, with the two older girls both contracting polio in infancy.  The youngest of the two, Ah Yong, passed away in the spring at age 42.  The older, Ah Kim, is now approaching 50.  Sister Hong has looked after them both, for their entire lives.  Ah Yong was able to be in a wheelchair and thus be to a degree mobile, but not so Ah Kim who has little mobility and is limited to a modified lawn chair during the day.  Pictured is Sister Hong, Ah Kim and Kim.  Ah Kim’s joy is her computer and she stays in touch with friends and family via Facebook.

Sister Hong’s other daughter currently lives in Ming’s house next door with her daughter, while one of her sons, along with his wife (at the time of our visit pregnant with her third child) and two children, resides in Hong’s house.  Kim’s daughter Cynthia is also a frequent visitor at the house.  Her other two sons visit quite frequently with their families, one living in Melaka and the other in Johor Bahru.  Kim’s other daughter Jaclyn, and family, visits when they can from Johor Bahru as well.

Sister Hong is the mainstay of all these family members, functioning as mother, aunt and grandmother, loving them all.  And she checks in with one other, Auntie Ming (Kim and Hong’s aunt), who lives in downtown Old Melaka.

Sister Hong’s command of English was only slightly better than my command of Mandarin or Malay, however we took to each other immediately and generally had no issue communicating, and she seemed to make sure that I never had a chance to even think of being hungry while in her house.  It was quite delightful.

I wanted to share with you what a great sister she is.

Along with our daughters and grandchildren, Sister Hong is another reason that future trips to Malaysia are not an option, but a requirement.

Okay, back to Malaysian Adventure in the next post.

Back To Johor Bahru – Being A Grandfather

After our time in Singapore, it was back to Johor Bahru for a few days of family time.  As one of my Kiwanis friends likes to say, “hanging with the grand-babies”, four of them, ranging in age from 2 to 13.

Much of this time was simply spending time with the kids, camera put aside, just being grandparents.  

I believe I mentioned this before, but this was an amazing experience for me, this “being a grandfather” thing.  Although Kim and I had been married for fourteen years, and she had been a grandmother for thirteen of them, this was my first meeting and interaction with her daughter Jaclyn and her children.  Kim had been there when Valen, the oldest, was born, and had visited several times and met all but the youngest, Vinc.  For me, I arrived in JB just a few short days ago, and within an hour was being called Grandfather.  Probably a good thing that the kids didn’t know about someone being putty in their hands, because that’s what I was for the first while as I got used to it.  Now I quite like it, I talk with them on Facebook and can’t wait to see them again.

Now I know that folks are familiar with being able to order food and have it delivered, like calling up and having pizza brought to your door.  And I know that many people like satay, or “meat on a stick” as some describe it.  

Well, at daughter Jaclyn’s house, we did even better than putting these two things together.  We called up and had a chap come over and prepare satay right in front of the house.  It was very inexpensive and we enjoyed a grand meal of chicken satay when he was done.  As you can tell from the photos, not only did he cook some tasty satay, he provided a great show for the hungry spectators as well.

Some of you may recall a TV show with Art Linkletter called “Kid’s Say The Darndest Things”.  Well it seems that our grand kids in JB and our grand nieces and nephews in Melaka had a common thought regarding yours truly.  They said that I bore a distinct resemblance to that gentleman of KFC fame, Colonel Harland Sanders.  Now I don’t see it myself, however I guess a white guy with a white/grey beard is what did it.  So I thought I would have a bit of fun with this.

So… we took the JB extended family, including Kim’s brother, his wife and kids, to – you guessed it – KFC, for lunch.  I should mention that, in all our time in Asia, Kim and I went to a Western style eatery twice, this being one of those time (we also tried burgers in Singapore, which we did not enjoy).  The food at KFC was quite good and very little different from back home.  After the meal I then asked everyone how they had enjoyed “my chicken”, receiving a very positive response.

Our last full day in JB wrapped up with a shopping trip to one of the local malls.  The anchor store on this mall was Aeon, which is a huge conglomerate, with stores and malls throughout Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Viet Nam.  In addition to the fooderies and food courts in the malls, their department store has its own food court as well.  I have included a shot of this particular mall interior on the left.  As well, on the right, what evening of shopping would be complete without an ice cream.

The next day we prepared to head back to Melaka after about ten days in JB and Singapore.  Two of the kids were off to school, then the rest of the family readied to drive us to the bus depot, but not before stopping for dim sum.  Kim and Vinc lead the way, then we had a fine meal to start the day.  

After a wonderful visit to Johor Bahru with both family family and Kiwanis family, we hopped on the bus for the ride back to Melaka and further Malaysian Adventures.  As usual, I enjoyed the scenery during the trip, always finding something different to see.

Hope you are enjoying sharing our travels, as I am enjoying recalling them thru this blog with you.  See you back in Melaka.

Singapore – Not Racing Though

The next few days in Johor Bahru were split by a couple of days in Singapore.  Threrefore this blog post will be about our time in Singapore and the next about the remainder of our visit to JB.

With son-in-law Kent’s help we were able to arrange transport directly from their house in JB to our hotel in Singapore as well as the return trip.  And for a very reasonable expense as well.  Bonus!

We stayed at the Hotel 81 Chinatown.  We quite enjoyed our time there as the location was excellent, right on the dividing line between Chinatown and downtown Singapore, making for outstanding walkabout opportunities.  The hotel room can be best described as petite, very petite.  Let’s just say that Kim found it small.  Imagine a queen sized bed, add about 10 inches to the width and 20 inches to the length – that’s the size of the room.  The bathroom was about the same size as the entrance-way.  The air conditioning was so efficient that it was necessary to have the hotel turn it off for a while a couple of times (it was controlled from the front desk).  None the less, we liked the hotel, the staff were very pleasant and accommodating, so we would stay there again.

Generally speaking, Singapore is a very clean city and we noticed that right away.  Another thing that stood out was that the traffic seemed to be more orderly, the vehicles were bigger and more expensive.  We spent a good deal of our time in the Chinatown area and the people were wall to wall.  Seems we were there at the peak of the Moon Cake Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival held on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month), which is the biggest Chinese festival after Chinese New Year.  The Chinatown streets were decorated and lit up at night and the night market was in full swing the two nights we were there.

I think that it would be safe to say that Singapore is a multicultural city state.  We visited Buddhist temples, a Hindu temple, a mosque and walked along Synagogue Street.  

During our time in Singapore we saw far more interesting buildings than I can possibly include photos of here.  Everywhere there is evidence of great imagination by architects and builders.  I can only imagine what it would be like to live or work in some of them.  There were many with greenery included in the design, I have shown but a couple to the left and right.  There are many more.

We were in Singapore just prior to the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, and as such were not able to go to a couple places we would have liked to as there were road closures to set up the race circuit.  As an avid race fan, I would have liked to watch the race, however our budget did not feel that to be a reasonable idea.  As many of you may be able to identify, large events create a wee change in the economy.  For instance, our fairly reasonably priced accommodations would have doubled in price should we have stayed another night.  As we took a tour bus on our second day I was able to get a few photos of the track setup and then after returning to Johor Bahru was able to watch the race on television as it was held only about fifty kilometres away.

This was actually the first part of our current travels that it was just the two of us, with no family or friends, so we did a tremendous amount of walking around while we were here, total time was two nights and the better part of three days.  During this time I calculated that our sandals got over twenty-five kilometres of wear.  The weather was fantastic with no clouds and daytime temperatures ranging in the low to mid 30s Celsius.

In order to keep our strength up for all the walking, of course we had to have great food.  So for example, we started one day with Dim Sum and finished it off with spicy snails, chicken, spicy green beans and fresh baked buns.  Considering that one meal was about 7:30am and the other around 9:00pm, you can imagine there was a certain amount of food consumed in the interim.

We spent some nice relaxing time at the Gardens By The Bay which has some wonderful different areas.  On the left you can see what they call Supertree Grove, which are essentially vertical gardens up to sixteen stories high.  If you look you can see a walkway, about twenty-two metres up, which joins several of the trees and gives a wonderful view of the gardens as well as the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which can be seen in the background.  On the right, Kim is modeling for us on the walkway.

All in all, we had a great time in Singapore and look forward to going back.  As usual, I have way more photos than I can share here and many will be making their way to a travel album which is being put together.

Until the next post, thanks for traveling with us.