Monday, May 20, 2019

上村岌江坪永契休旷 - 1940 land deal

As the grave was located far away and inconvenient to visit for prayers, the descendants of the 14th generation matriarch of the Tang family, decided to move her remains back to Yongqing village in Dapu district. 

The Tang matriarch graveyard was located at the upper village in Songnan.  It was sold to Mr Liang of Songkou, Meixian for two thousand five hundred republican dollars.

The piece of land was then transferred by Mr Liang to Gu Yongzhen.

This transaction was recorded on  12Jan 1940.


无债货准折短少等 情安无重复典当及包卖他人物业
等契 自卖之后即交手与梁特峰先生永远管业任从展筑
愿两无迫勒 后有凭立永远杜断大卖休旷契付执为据
批明付有嘉庆十六年 1822)四月十六日于古姓所订立合同一立批
赠与人               梁特峰
在见人               梁招抠
说合中人           刘衍彬                刘季镕
现场公亲           唐赞则    刘友南   古一帆    古梓华  古玉偕   古节文 古荣华
领银人                唐赞榜
执笔人               刘季镕

民国二十九年 完月十二日永远社断卖休旷契人
大埔县唐福德公德配    黄孺人裔孙全权代表    唐赞榜

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Of Wind and Water – 风水 - Spring of 1951

This is a fengshui divination by a geomancer in Mexian, on the date and timing to start construction work on grandfather’s grave, in the village of Songkou. 

The auspicious time to 
  • Start construction work on the grave : 13May, 7-8am  (1951)
  • Lay the grave stone                            : 20May, 7-8am

As was the custom, the year of birth of the surviving sons organizing the work was stated in the document, though their names were not mentioned.

The original document was interpreted by a Mr Li Zijun for grandmother. The detail is in the 2nd document.  

Grandfather passed away in the spring of 1948 and was buried in the autumn of that year.   It makes to wonder why the construction of the grave started only in spring of 1951, two and a half years later. 

1949 was a perhaps a busy year to continue to settle the inheritance matters. 
1950 as it was the year of the tiger, and perhaps a year to avoid. 

And thus 1951.  New China was a year and half old, and the land reform movement had not yet reached the village of Songkou.   

For 1st uncle was on the top of the list of the 6 living sons.  

During the land reform movement, 1st uncle who was born in 1905, was branded a land lord and executed during the movement.   As a child, had heard from elders  that his body was wrapped in a straw mat and buried in an unmarked grave.

2019 May, 68 years hence, 
  • In Songkou village,  hair dressing saloon offers free wifi service to customers
  • The villagers has been going cashless for some years,  using their hand phone QR code to pay for street food. 
And, while the trade war has just started in earnest, the Wind and Water in the mountain village continues in its endless cycle.

授男敬溪孙日蓀 少敬)精明历算推造通书出售
馆在 (广东梅县 )凌东路石牌楼巷上第七间坐北

吉地癸山兼丑一缘     (欲起工造坟柩葬事
无干以之空山起  主用叶吉      凡未寅生人无近


2nd document - an interpretation

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Home in Menglembu

Plan of the immediate neighborhood 1960’s and early 1970’s

This is a sketch of my neighborhood in Menglembu.  It also indicates where the family house has moved from the early 1900’s to 1984. Within the span of 80 odd years the family home has moved 3 times from (A) to (C).

Grandpa should have been one of the earlier settlers to come to Menglembu. He arrived in Malaya probably in 1900, when he was 17 years old.  He married a Peranakan (谢氏) in  1904 at 21 years old, and had his first son (锦荣) in 1905.

Location ( A )

After his first wife passed away (from childbirth as heard from elders)  and he married his 2nd wife(鄒氏)  in 1916.  He his first daughter was born in  June1917 (莲英). By then, he would have settled in his home in Kampung King (A). ( East Regrouping Area)

The eldest son married in June 1926 at age 21 to a maiden  in the Leong family (梁氏). The wedding photograph was taken in June 1926. 
In the 1970’s heard from Dad (锦宏) that he was born in the old house across the road.  The house in the 1926 wedding photograph would probably had been the house    By then, Dad was close to 2 years old, born July 1924

Location ( B )

The family probably moved to location (B) in the 1930’s.    The house was located across the railway line between the police station and the surau.
The house included a big yard and an office.    Grandpa was in the timber business. The company’s name was Weng Cheong – 荣昌.  The expanding business probably required him to look for a bigger plot of land.  

The yard was for storing logs, timber and planks and to park the trailer lorries. The lorries were for carrying logs from the forest.  The timber and planks were for the tin mining industry to build palongs (wooden sluices), quarters and offices.

During the war (1941-25) when the tin mining & timber business was disrupted, Grandpa diversified into   cheroot cigarettes.  The office and yard were converted into makeshift factory for making cigarettes.

Location ( C )

The family moved here in 1954, when the police station expanded to build staff family quarters. 

The original land size occupied three lots which  Grandpa bought from an Indian owner. The area was planted with coconut trees and there was a fish pond in the middle lot. 

The double story bungalow was originally located in Lahat.  The ground floor was cement, and the upper floor wood.  The owner used it to settle the debts owe to the timber business.

 In 1984 the family moved to Taman Sentosa near to the foot hill of Kledang when the new housing estate was developed.


Friday, March 09, 2018

Journey to Nanyang

In the year 1909, soon after  the lantern festival 元宵 a young girl of 17 left her village in Mexian 梅县, China for Nanyang 南洋.

She travelled down the Meijiang river 梅江 and to the coastal port of Shantou 汕头.  From there the sail went up to catch the north-easterly winds and the boat set forth along the ancient trade routes of the sea heading south.  She landed in Malaya in March that year.

Around 1916, this daughter of the Chew family (邹), name See Moi  泗妹 married Kwet Chin 国祯, a widower aged 33 years old. Their matrimonial home was in Menglembu, an outpost that supported the many tin mines around the Kinta Lahat district.

The couple went on to have 6 sons and 6 daughters, over a span of 15 years.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

the journey from Yuankui Pagoda - 元魁塔

Completed in 1619,  towards the end of the Ming Dynasty it was a landmark for the migrants from this region of the Hakka heartland on  their treacherous journey to Nanyang in mid-19th to the  20th century.
The pagoda is located at about 3.5km from Songkou 松口on the middle reaches of Mei Jiang 梅江.
Centuries earlier the pagoda could have guided the  Ming princes and their courtiers as they escaped south from the Manchus. Legend had it that the Shide Mansion 世德堂 in Tongpa village 铜琶村 about 1.2km, was purposefully build to host the fleeing court.

As the Meijiang flows down the mountains towards the lower reaches, another pagoda came into view.
The Pheonix Pagoda 凤凰塔 is located in Chaozhou  潮州. It was build thirty odd years earlier in 1585. This section of the river is named Hanjiang, 韩江.
It was named in honor of  Han Yu 韩愈 the Tang Dynasty official and great poet who was banished to Chaozhou, because he was against the ceremony of the Emperor receiving the Buddha's tooth relic.  In the 8 months that he was there, he did much to improve education, agriculture, pacify the crocodiles threating the local folks and free slavery.
He left his indelible mark in the city, woods and rivers, that continued to flourish to this day 1,350years later.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

1965 - journey south - lion city

The Journey
On the first travel to Singapore, it was in standard two.
As it was a big event for a boy of eight, after 50 years has gone by, glimpses of the events on trip were still vivid.
The date written at the back of the photographs helped pinpoint the trip to the month of May. 
Though it would be 3 months before Singapore separated from the Federation of Malaysia, when we reached the Johor-Singapore causeway that morning, I remember Dad and Uncle Hia talking and if they needed documents to enter the island state.  As I recalled this conversation of the adults, I had thought that the trip was made post August 1965.  However, the date at the back of the photo, help to clear the doubt and point to May. 
The journey started the evening before by car from our hometown in Menglembu. We travelled in a Toyota owned by 5th uncle. 
The event for the trip was that 5th uncle’s second child, a son of a few months old was found to have medical problem and was recommended for treatment at the Singapore General Hospital.  He married in May27, 1962, and the first child was a baby girl. The mother would be flying from Ipoh to Singapore in a day or two.  Our contingent would travel down early so asto meet mother with baby when they arrived in the city state.
As dad was familiar with Singapore  as he had visited the city a number of times, 5th uncle had probably asked him to help on the trip. 
The members travelling by car were Dad and Uncle Hia, mum and 1st aunt, 4th brother and myself – 4 adults and two young boys.
As dad was managing the Shell petrol station business then, the car was checked and filled full tank at the petrol station early that evening.  We left after dinner and the journey took us 12 hours or so.
I slept most of the journey as we were travelling by night.  As we headed south, we had to cross the Muar river on a car ferry, as there was no bridge then. 
We are travelling in the dark most thro the night, and I recall on reaching Ayer Itam we came to a lighted multistory building, a sort of a land mark of sort at a turning where we turn right on our south bound ourney.
We arrived in Johor Bharu at dawn, and headed to the causeway to clear the checkpoint.  It was there where the conversation if a pass or paperwork was need to enter the city state.
Lion city
Among the places -
  1. Hotel at Tanjong Pagar
    We stayed at the 4 storey Tian Yi Jing Hotel 景酒at Peck Seah Street. The escalator had the double layer fence type gate.  The rooms had ceiling fans, and windows with half-curtain.
    I remember we left  piece of clothing behind at the hotel. It was my home made jacket by mum (冷衫).
  2. Kereta Ayer
    Recall that we had dinner at the open air food center at the  busy Peal Center area –珍珠坊.  A vagabond unkempt beggar with long hair was grabbing the leftover food in the next table with his bare hands.
  3. Haw Par Villa
    Among the many legendary and mythical figures from Chinese history and folklore that dad narrated.    I learnt of  Sumu tending to flock of sheep while in exile in Siberia, 蘇武牧, of Jiang Taigong fishing with the bait above water, 姜太公钓鱼。There was the infamous 18 levels of hell, punishment meted out according to the degree of severity of sins and immorality committed while in mortal life.
    The visit to Haw Par Villa perhaps planted the latent interest in Chinese history and culture in this young mind.
  4. Singapore General Hospital
    While the elders we at the medical center, we wandered outside the building.  I recall next to the ward was a steep grassy slope.  This was probably the next facing the sid of Outram-Tiong Baru.
Well, that was the first trip to Singapore 50 years ago in 1965. The next trip to the Lion City was eight years later in 1973.  It was a vacation trip organized by the school. This time around we needed a passport.
i) - Dad’s early travel to/thro Singapore
In June 1940, as a member of the Ipoh Yuke Choy School high school graduation class he visited Singapore and stayed at the YinWo Hakka Association.
In Oct 1948, on his journey with grandmother to Meixian, Songkou in 1948  to attend to grandfather’s late estate he would have transited in Singapore. A few years later and probably in 1951-52, he accompanied 6th uncle in transit at Singapore on his way to New China.
Perhaps his first trip was around 1928, when he was 4 years old.  He probably transited in Singapore while on his journey to the home village in China, with 2nd grandaunt. 
ii) Hotels in Tanjong Pagar
The Chinese hotels in Tanjong Pagar - 新亚旅店and were  trusted hotels the  family  stayed when they transit in Singapore on their way to China home village before the War. 
A record in granddad’s accounting booklet noted -
EuYanSang Ipoh,  Oct 1946 wired $750 Straits dollars Mr Huang Zhaomin of Xin Ya hotel in Peck Seah Street, Kerea Ayer, Selat for preparation of boat fare and other use.
Singapore was written as Selat 石叻 in Chinese then.
This was probably for the final journey of grandpa to China, after a sojourn of close to 50 years in Nanyang. Among the members of this trip were  sons, 4th uncle, 5th uncle , and  grandson – Brother Pang 鑫权.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

the menglembu football team

This photograph of the  Menglembu football team was taken on 12September 1967. 

As to the venue, it was most probably in an out-of-town match at the Coronation Park padang in Ipoh  -the current Taman Dr Seenivasagam.

Standing  - left to right: Sei-ngang-chai, Bat Zee, Ah Fai, For-che-tau, Ku-li (eldest), Fei-lou Zhong (the 2nd  brother), Ah-Boot (the 3rd brother), Fei-lou Keong, Ah Ket (cousin of Ah Fei) , Lau Zhong, Samy

Squatting  – left to right :Dai-gor Seng, Ah Chow, Hon-da-sport, Dai-nan Choy (younger brother of Dai-gor-Seng), Ah Hoi, Yee Chai, Ah Bai. 

In the 1960’s and 70’s, the padang in Menglembu, adjacent to the  Wan Hua Primary School, would be a hive of activities in the early evening from 5 pm.  Youngsters from around town, the re-grouping area and as far away as Bukit Merah would gather there for evening of soccer. 

Among this cohort, there were three brothers, namely   Ku Li, Fei Lou Zhong, Ah Boot. The eldest Ku-li was 20 years old, the 2nd brother Fei-lou Zhong was 18 and the 3rd, Ah-Boot was 16 years old then. The soccer kaki's would visit the home of the brothers and they were good buddies. 

Ku-Li and Ah-Boot went on to play for the Perak team. Both of them were in the Perak team that won the FAM cup in 1970, beating Kelantan 2-0. 

Ah-Boot made it to the national team.  In 1969, he played for the Malaysian team in the Asian Youth Football Tournament in Bangkok.  The AYFT was the beginning of the many travels that his football career would bring him to.  It was Tokyo in 1970 and Manila in 1971. 

In 1972 he was a member of the Malaysian football team to the Munich Olympic.  On his return from the Olympics, he proceeded to Hong Kong and started his professional soccer, first with the Caroline Hill Football Club .

Fast forward, 2015 –

The afternoon heat has mellowed. The padang is as verdant. The single story assembly hall is still there in the same location at the far end of the padang beside the road. 

Many of the garden houses 菜园屋 , next to the padang, ( wooden house with zinc roof surrounded with a small garden ) are still there.  They have stood there for 60 years and more, witnessing many a generation of youngsters playing soccer.

The goal posts are no longer around.  Where have all the youngsters gone?