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.
赢得江山都姓韩


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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.
Postscript
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.

Reference
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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?  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

- 萬華百年校慶 - Wan Hua School Centennial -


萬里望 - Menglembu-1958年






老照片背后的故事

照片后面有铅笔留下的日期 22.8.58

这些青春姑娘们是万华小学第十四届高小毕业生。照片里有姐姐和她同班同学们在校园内五十七年前拍下的留念照。

剧台上打着布条‘ 第十四届高小毕业典礼’,那位穿着白色长袖衬衫女扮男生是大姐。和她同年一起在万华小学读书有位表姐。她站在舞台剧照片下面张照片的左二,咱们叫她丽姐,是三姑母的第二女儿。在这张照片大姐是站在左三,笑嘻嘻的面向着右边。

念小学一年级时有一天家人急着来到学校带大姐和丽姐赶回家去, 因为二伯婆去世了。那个年头因该是一九五三年。

万华小学培育了咱们这一代多位表哥表姐堂哥堂姐大姐哥哥们。万华小学同样的也是万里望市镇居民的启蒙首选。

矩形的学校位置于市镇北区,正门面对着戏院街头,后院一直延展到已近一百二十多年的观音庙的后方。

咱们老家靠近校园的后院。越过大马路靠着观音庙旁边的一条小径路,两三步脚就是校园右边的后门。这个门很方便居住在南区的学生,早晚上下班。他们从南区居住的家园过了马路,路过咱们的老宅就可通过着个后门往进校园。

万华校园内在初建有教师们的宿舍。宿舍建在校园的后院,向着咱们家的后门进去就是校宿了。宿舍是排屋式单位,租给教师家庭居住,约有十五六间,分成两行四排。 记得玉玲表姐庆文哥和他们两个小孩六十年代后期在宿舍住过一短暂时间。过后不久宿舍就拆了。

玉玲表姐是大姑母的长女,庆文哥是万华校学老师。他们结婚于一九六O年。庆文哥的老师是大姐郑家的二叔公。

回想起来万华校学和咱们家族是在万里望开埠一起成长的。妈妈的小学,如果没记错是民德学堂 (或明德),地址位于街场未,堂姑母树料棚的对面。后来那里办了教会。民德学堂应该是万华小学的前身。

万华学校建校于一九一四年。祖辈们最早来到万里望时,应该是在一九OO年初。母亲生于一九二二年,她进学的三O年代,学校已开办了十五年多。

从咱们老家可听到学校的上下班的钟声,下午班的朗读声音。

放学下班时知道那位穿着旗袍,稍微肥胖的女士是四哥一年级班主任。听大人说四哥开学时常常见不到亲人在旁就会哭。哭起来了赖老师会很有耐心,细声细语劝他不要哭。

平时校园的后门到六点多。饭后姐姐过来时就会带着不到一两岁的侄儿侄女们到校园去散步。

‘草原之夜’, 那‘来来来  -- ’的歌声像似昨夜刚从耳边飘过。

学校的礼堂在六O年代举办了歌唱比赛。达人歌手们最常选唱的是类似‘草原之夜’难度比较高的歌。时而在周六晚上礼堂也有播放电影。那入场票比对面的电影院来的便宜。

群体的‘饮胜’声音随着随而着来。

在礼堂出席过好几次喜宴,一九七五年二哥的婚宴,之前堂兄的婚宴也在校园礼堂摆了几十台酒席。

虽然自己不成念过万华小学,但是校园的故事,声音陪伴着自己在家乡的成长。

祝愿 万华学校万里常青 ,学业前进,未来的下个百年继续培育万里望年轻一代。


Wan Hua Primary School in Menglembu celebrated the centennial in October 2014. The Chinese medium school is an integral part of the memory of the residents of Menglembu.  This article recorded the events connected with the school in the 1960's and 70's.  As it's a Chinese medium school, the article is written in Chinese, however broken it is.

The photographs were taken in 1958. They were of my sister and her classmates. 

Sister acted in the stage drama  in the 14th primary graduating class that year。She was in a long white sleeve shirt, make-up as a young guy.

In the photographs taken at the school garden, was cousin Li, the 2nd daughter of 3rd aunt. She is of same age as sister, and they were together in same class.  

Many of our cousins, and my siblings had their primary education in this school.

The hubby of a cousin Yoke Lin was a teacher in the school, and they stayed at the school quarters for a while with their two young kids in the late sixties.

There were talent time contests, weekend cinemas and wedding dinners at the school hall. There were remedial Malay lessons in the evening which I attended, and these were some of the memories of the school.

Our old house was located close to the school.  There was a side gate at the backyard. Many of the school children who lived in the south Regrouping Area would pass by our house on their way to and from school, using this back gate...

15.02.03_tue
payalebar

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Sunday, May 04, 2014

- shell petrol filling station - 1965


 
1. Shell petrol station   - first lesson in Chinese

順發合記蛽標添油站新張致慶

Soon Fatt Hupkee hambiao tiamyouzham xinzhongzikin (in Hakka dialect)
(Congratulations on the opening of the Soon Fatt Hup Kee, Shell Petrol Filling Station )

Other than my name in Chinese, these were some of the earliest Chinese words that I learnt.   These two photographs were taken in Menglembu in 1965. 
The Shell petrol station was newly into operation.  It was located next to our house in Menglembu and build on the northern third of an original big piece of land planted with many coconut trees. A plot of the land consisting of the fish pond was later sold to the Shell Petrol Company to start the retail business.  
I recall these photographs were taken on a very basic plastic box shaped camera (approximately 5x3x2.5in).  It was a retail gift to customers who purchased above a certain amount of petrol.  
The Chinese characters were written on a big granite stone bench.  There was a pair of these benches.  They were present from relatives and friends with the congratulatory message and their names casted forever in stone.
 It was quite an in thing for a group of person to send their congratulations in these stone granite, be they benches, table set with stools, flower pots, etc then.  They symbolized the business would prosper and grow as solid as stone. Nonetheless,  they were very practical and useful presents.
I was in Standard 2, a skinny eight years old, which was the standard physique of kids of that age.  Then, Japanese slippers were the footwear de rigueur, before it became the fashionista flip-flop decades later.
 Dinner was early at about 5pm.  After which we would walked over to the station to play on the cool granite benches.
 Some elder folks taught me to read those words in the Hakka dialect.  I also learnt a thing a or two what a joint venture business.  It was explained to me that  Hupkee - 合記 – was specific for a joint venture company.   
Dad invested in the franchise petrol filling station business,, with a joint venture stake from his cousin.  The cousin aunt was a relatively well-off matriarch who inherited her wealth from her late husband.  Her family lived in Menglembu town center.  Her dad was the elder brother of grandpa and they migrated together to Malaya in the early 1900’s.
This cousin aunt was quite a well-know personality in the small town of Menglembu.  Her generously spendthrift &  charitable trait , but with a fearsome character had earned her the nickname : Orr-Dell-Por  (in dialect).
(Orr-Dell : someone who is generous, willing and with the capacity to splurge; Por : address a female elder, grandma)  
Due to poor cash flow management, the petrol station business went into a batch patch after three to four years. Dad had to gave up his stake in the joint venture in 1968. His cousin sister took over the company, and it was re-named Shin Soon Fatt. 
The petrol station  is still in business after 50 years.

2.  Hia Bak – Uncle Hia
The man in the picture who was in his early forties, with curly hairs and sleeves rolled was Hia Bak or Uncle Hia ( Bak – uncle in dialect).
Uncle Hia was a family friend.  His mother was a close friend of grandma. Her name was Zhu-Bak-Por, Granda Zhu.  They were the first generation of migrant to Menglembu.
Unlce Hia family name is Wong, name Shao Kim ( dialect pronunciation).  He was intimately addressed by us as Uncle Hia.  This pet name given him was derived from his facial feature, as his thick upper lips seemed slightly protruding, which in the Hakka dialect is hia zhoi – a slight protruding mouth. Uncle Hia closely resembled her mum.
Uncle Hia was an electrician.  The car AB950 – an Austin of England was his. In the  1950’s and 60’s, he was one of the hunting buddies with dad and the uncles.  They would hunt for wild boars, squirrels, flying foxes in the out skirt of Batu Gajah, Tronoh area.
In our first trip to Singapore in 1965, Uncle Hia came along with us.
His shop was in Ipoh Old town – Ma Fa electrical,  which has since been managed by his son.  The wiring work of the old house 1A, was done by his company in the 1950. 
Uncle Hia passed away a few years back in his eighties.
 
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