Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday Scans: memory lane in 1974

Sports played a big part in Kai Chung School. That year, due to my shouting with Lynn Wong/Leng, A La Man Da, we won. This was Miss Chieng, she was my best girl friend when I was teaching there.

One year, there was a funeral in Sibu, Mr Pau and I accomapanied the students by motor launch aka a big boat. After the funeral, we were treated to an eating house, not exactly a five star restaurant. But to the students from small town Binatang, Sibu was a big place. I recall Mr. Pau telling one girl who had gastric that she wasn't to eat the bigger strands Bee Hoon, but she ate any way. Mr Pau sighed. Mr. Pau has since passed away. I will always remember Mr. Pau.

Then I arranged with my Aunt to visit See Hua Daily news paper. They not only printed the newspaper, they also made plastic bags. I was most impressed how the sacks of whistish granules of rice like plastic could be made into transparent sheets of plastic,

Another of my bucket list.


Sunday Bridge and scenic Sunday: Venice

This is what Bart saw from the cruise ship. Can you see the bridge on the extreme right?

My Cousin Bart Ngieng is the Travel Manager with Wah Tung Travel Service Sdn Bhd. in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flowers: Chinese Lanterns

I was in someone's private garden in Auckland. I had never seen them before, but read about Chinese lanterns. It is the end of spring here and the flower is now dried up like paper.

Abutilons or Chinese lanterns are closely related to hibiscus, and most of the hundred or so species have pendulous, hibiscus-like flowers. Cultivars produced by hybridising some of the South American abutilons have all been placed in one group known as Abutilon x hybridum, and these are the ones most commonly grown in Australian gardens. They have a wispy, delicate form and colourful, lantern-shaped flowers. For gardeners who prefer plants with a more dense habit, new compact varieties are also available. Another popular abutilon is Abutilon megapotamicum, which is a prostrate o ground covering species with small orange flowers. There is also a variegated leaf form, Abutilon megapotamicum 'Variegatum'. Megapotamicum means 'from the big river' referring to the Rio Grande in Brazil.

I have since found out this may be Chinese goose berry.

I recall when I was in Singapore, as a professor/faculty wife, once a month, we went for lunches or high teas at the Shangrila Hotel. They had these little pods as part of the decor.

Physalis peruviana - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The cape gooseberry is also grown in northeastern China,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Rain Rain go away.

These two days,
the gale is blustery,
It is howling.

You can't see them,
but it is there.
Where is the wind?

It is evident from the rubbish bin,
They have become litter themselves.
I took these wheelie bins.

Schools cancel their interschool sports meet.
Kids are restless.
It's rain day, they are cooped inside.
More gales and rain are on the way in the "classic" spring fashion, says a forecaster.

MetService Weather Ambassador Bob McDavitt said parts of the country will be pelted with heavy rain and severe gales tomorrow.

The weather warning follows a manic day yesterday which saw a Wairarapa couple crushed by a falling tree branch, floodwaters threatening the South Island West Coast and flights grounded in Wellington.

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for more heavy rain on the West Coast and a severe gale watch from south of Napier to Wellington.

Mr McDavitt said severe gales would hit Wairarapa tomorrow afternoon, and could reach up to 120km/h.

"That's strong enough to break a branch, which could take down a power line."

Southland and Westland could see rapidly rising rivers and streams after heavy rainfall, while Buller could see surface flooding and slips.

He said the heavy rain would affect regions that were already saturated.

Mr McDavitt said changeable weather patterns were a "classic spring scenario".

By Thursday and Friday a strong, cooler southwest wind flow was expected to spread across New Zealand, which could bring gales to the region between Invercargill and Dunedin, he said.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

watery wednesday: Trip to Pakatoa Island.

A nostalgic post. A day trip to Pakatoa island with my flat mates A, L and LK, and a friend P from Binatang in 1978.

An Island Paradise for Sale


Pakatoa Island

The nearest I got to a des-res was a day trip to Pakatoa island with my university flat mates, I, L and LG, in the late 1970s. We were among the rich and the not so rich but masquerading to be rich to get away from it all. We went in their private boat, swam in the swimming pool, drank from their bar and ate in the licensed restaurant. We watched people playing golf and tennis, and wished we were not day trippers but campers in their chalets.

Then in the 1980s, I worked for the Kerridge Odeon Corporation founded by the movie mongul Kerridge family who owned this island and paid their accounts. I rubbed shoulders with the captain of their private boat Kotuku. I didn’t get to go to the island but worked from their city office at 246 Queen Street building, and liaised on the phone with the managers of the resort and their store.

Companies sent their staff for conferences to what was a time for play rather than for work. Their most famous employees must be Russell Crowe. He was seventeen when he became the entertainments officer for Pakatoa Island Resort. He laughs when reminded of that time. "Yeah, it was lovely living on an island but I got sick of organizing Bingo tournaments.”

Alas, the corporation no longer belongs to the Kerridge family and Pakatoa Island was up for sale. A German con artist caused quite a stir in the late 1990s. Ralf Simon offered to buy the island with no money in his pocket or bank account. He was subsequently deported.

Now, the island is for sale for a mere $40 million dollars. It is approximately sixty acres and is only 45 kilometers from Auckland city. The weather is mild, and you can arrive in Auckland by air or by sea.

***Kotuku in Maori is a white bird, egret. By coincidence, my room where I teach ESOL is the Kotuku room***

Saturday, November 19, 2011

sunday bridge/scenic sunday: Mediterrean

My Cousin Bart Ngieng is the Travel Manager with Wah Tung Travel Service Sdn Bhd. in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.
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Rialto Bridge, the first bridge that was build across the Grand Canal, Venice. A must visit site on Venice Island.

Friday, November 18, 2011

macro flowers: Chinese Glory Bower

In NTU, Singapore, my friend J gave me the original plant. Her friends brought them specially from India. I dub it as Indian Jasmine. It's common name is Chinese Glory Bower. Scientific Name: Clerodendrum chinense.

These plants have very fragrant flowers, cluster of flowers forming a ball. The flowers are pinkish purple and are more beautiful than the ordinary jasmine. They are bigger and have multiple layers of petals.

It is ironic as some one who grows plants and love flowers, I can't have flowers in the house. Actually I would love receiving flowers, but I can't keep them at home. We has a terrible allergy reaction from pollen grains. If I bring flowers home, the moment he comes home, he will ask,"What's the stinky smell?" and I would have to throw out my flowers.

This has been a blessing in disguise. I made many friends through my flowers. My bushes of Chinese Glory Bower had bloomed lots of flowers. My friend A.'s husband had been very sick for a long time. Every morning, I leave this Chinese Glory Bower at her door. She knows it is from me and I don't want to disturb her. "It cheered him a lot to see you stalk of Chinese Glory Bower."

***Sadly to say, he died after a few surgeries.***

Origin: China, Japan; naturalized in southern United States and throughout tropics.

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Reader's Digest Story Contest

Dear all,

Voting ended on November 15th. I did not expect to win as I entered really late, on October 20th. But it was a great exercise. I wanted to bring exposure to baby Loss Awareness and bereaved parents.

I joined the International Catergory, and a quick counting showed I garnered enough votes to rank 4th out of 800 entries. The TV New Zealand You tube clip had more than 400 hits, compared to the other clips that were aired that day.

Thank you to all who voted, and those who rallied for me.



When I was young, I always read the Readers' Digest and marvel at the bravery of the mothers who struggled with sick children. When I had Andrew in the hospital, and accepted the doctors' advice that the kindest option was to let nature take it's course. When Andrew didn't die when the doctor predicted, I struggled with myself and spoke to the doctor about those mothers I read in the Readers' Digest, and I wanted to be these mothers, Dr James said that Andrew was different.

Today, I found out that Readers' Digest was inviting people to submit their stories. I am submitting mine for media exposure. But if you like to vote for me, it is appreciated.

"Diary of a bereaved mother"
My journey of having a baby who died and now I am the self appointed spokes-person for bereaved parents. My story is from my heart and will resonate with anyone who has had the misfortune to give birth to a child who has struggled to live. Synopsis: Your baby is dying. Andrew did not die that night as predicted by the doctor, he didn't die after 3 days, 10 days and finally he died at 55 days. Friends did not know whether to congratulate or commiserate us. He was declared dead after his first at 40 days, but he bounced back. That was more excruciating than his actual death. After Andrew, what have I done? Have I become a better person? There are many of the things I am most proud of. I spearheaded raising funds to separate a pair of Siamese twins from Nepal in Singapore. For 16 years, I raised funds for the Deaf Children in Kenya. I did the publicity, marketing, cooking and selling. I volunteer at teaching new immigrants.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Mediteranean

Not a puff of cloud in the sky.

It was great weather for Bart on his cruise. If you are interested, Bart's the travel manager of

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My friends at Windsor University, Canada.

Convocation/capping 1976, the three guys standing next to me. Koh, Wong and Ning. Right, Lee who joined us later. Photo by Peter Ning Choon Swee.

I wrote my tribute to my 3 great friends in
Two of my friends reply.

Choon Swee Ning:
Ann, I read your blog. Thank you for your praise. When we are out far away from home, we need help from friends. In fact I had the same situation that I took over 30 hours flying from Singapore to Dubai, Heathrow, Montreal and then to Windsor. I got airsick n vomited out whatever I ate. I lost at least 2 kgs. At that time, the fastest plane was Boeing 707, there was no 747.
When I arrived Windsor, I know nobody and nobody to talk as the university had not started yet. I stayed at McDonald hall, when I heard there was a Singaporean staying upstairs, I felt so happy to meet him. He was Martin Moy, the Martin you know.

So when you came, I have to help you whatever possible especially you a weak girl, to make you more comfortable and less homesick. This is what the human nature will naturally act so it is no big deal. Anyway we all enjoyed our life in Windsor among us Sarawakians.

Wong Hung Yong:
Thanks for your poems and praises accorded to us, the three gentlemen. You still remember how we treated to our fellow Sarawakians who left from our beloved homeland to pursue university education in foreign land.

We shared the same experience when we started our first journey to our destination of study.

It was 37 years ago when three of us (two disembarked at Hearthrow) took SIA 707 which stopped Bangkok, Dubai, Amsterdam. By the time I reached London, it was too late for the next connection to Montreal because SIA flight from Melbourne was delayed for 4 hours. I had to stay one night at airport hotel at Hearthrow. The next day, it took another 10 hours to arrive at Montreal, the biggest city in Canada.

The weather at that night was blisteringly cold and with thin clothes, I was shivering. Luckily Chieng was at the airport to welcome me. If not for this angel, I really didn't know what to do. He helped me all the way because he was also in the same university. It was like Ah niu/cow going to the city.

The third friend Koh Ngee Ann is in Sabah, Malaysia. I had not seen them since I left in 1977.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thursday Theme Song: Great Friends


You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I'm in debt to you
For your selflessness, my admiration
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound,
I'm bound to thank you for it....


You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I'm in debt to you
And I never could have come this far without you
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound,
I'm bound to thank you for it....


I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave, with love and tenderness,
I wanna thank you
I want to thank you for your generosity,
the love and the honesty that you gave me
I want to thank you, show my gratitude, my love and my respect for you,
I wanna thank you

Oh I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,
Thank you...

If I could turn the clock back to September 1975, I would relive a time when 3 guys treated me very well. In one of their own words, I was a princess. Our friendship was platonic. I found two of them on Facebook and we are reminiscing those times.

I want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you Ning Choon Swee, Wong Hung Yong, Koh Ngee Ann and later Richard Lee.

I knew Ning a year earlier when we were both teaching in Kai Chung School. Later in the year, he went to Windsor University in Canada. He was the reason I went. I thought, if he was accepted to study there, so would I be. It was a year before I went, and he guided me along in my application.

What most heart felt was, when I was flying to Canada to Windsor via Toronto, Ning had planned to meet me at the Windsor airport. To make the story short, my flight from Singapore to London to Toronto was 30 hours long. The travel agent had fixed it so there was 4 hours transit in Heathrow.

She did not anticipate any delays. As a young green horn, and a country pumpkin traveling the first time almost round the world, it was the worst kangaroo flight. It stopped about 7 times. The plane was delayed from Australia, and by the time it arrived at Heathrow, they had some one accompany and rushed to the Canadian airlines. They didn't tell me my luggage was still in London.

I slept the whole way across from London to Toronto. At Toronto I waited for my luggage at the carousel in vain. When I went to the gate and explained that my luggage wasn't there twice, the FAT woman tore up my boarding pass. Eventually after two planes had gone, and it was evening, they told me, your luggage won't be here, just fly to Windsor and we will contact you.

When I arrived at Windsor, I was so stressed that I didn't want to leave the plane without an air stewardess. She told me she will come with me when she has finished all her job.

Meanwhile, Ning and Wong and Koh were thinking, it was the last flight, and perhaps, I wasn't coming. When I saw Ning, I cried with relief. I really cried.

My luggage came another day, and the 3 guys took me to the airport. I remember walking a long distance, and my shoes were pinching my feet.

Few months later, they invited me to stay in their one bedroom apartment, and I was given the bedroom, and they slept on mattresses in the dining room. Later Richard came and there were 4 guys and a girl from Sarawak.

Thank you again and to their spouses, they are lucky to be married to fantastic guys. And I was so lucky to benefit from their special friendship.
Vote for my story, you may vote once a day, voting finishes on November 15th.

watery wed: canons

Vote for my story, you may vote once a day, voting finishes on November 15th.

More of Bart's Mediterranean cruise. If you are interested, Bart's the travel manager of

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunday Bridge/scenic Sunday: Cruise

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My Cousin Bart Ngieng is the Travel Manager with Wah Tung Travel Service Sdn Bhd. in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.

He took his wife and my aunt and uncle to a cruise to Europe. Ka pai , paki paki Bart for being a good husband and son. Ka pai means good job and paki paki means clap clap in New Zealand.

Addition: Bart tells me it is "Pacific Primcess cruise ship, together with Silversea anchored off Sorrento, Italy How cool is that?

This is the introduction of this cruise, I will be posting more photos.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Macro flowers: Allamanda.

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Here in August, with my KAI/ adopted mum Mrs. Chew Tien Kui.

When I finished high school in Borneo in 1974, I had a gap year and became a teacher before I went to university in Canada. The kids adored me as I was just a kid myself at 19, not much older than some of the students who have come from Chinese schools.

That school, Kai Chung school in Binatang aka now as Bintang, divided the students into houses named after flowers. I was in charge of the Allamanda team. This yellow trumpet like flower is very potent, the sap is poisonous.

The Chinese has a nice tradition. It is called "KAI" To explain simply, if I like a certain family, I might go to "KAI" myself to become one of their daughters. It is an affectionate or endearment. I do not physically become their daughter.

When I was teaching in Kai Chung school, the first day I arrived in the little town, the principal left me in their house. There was no prior arrangement of where I was to sleep that night. Mrs. Chew thought her husband was approached by the principal if I could sleep the night. She offered me a bed, and the rest was history.

I often visited them and just before I went to Canada, I stayed a month with them. You couldn't ask for a better family.

This August, I went to Christchurch and met up with most of the family. I told Mrs. Chew she was now my KAI mum. Lynn/ Ah Leng asked if I remembered this Allamanda flower. She was a member of the Allamanda house, and she remembered I was cheering for this house with her. A LA MAN DA.

This post is for the Late Chew Tien Kui family. Ah Leng, this flower will always link us.

This flower from a shrub I found on the Gold Coast of Australia is slightly different to the Borneo ones. They have those extra petals in the middle.
Common Name: Stansill's Double, Flore Pleno Allamanda
Botanical Name: Allamanda cathartica 'Stansill's Double'

The Borneo ones are look like a trumpet and have a hole in the middle.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

skywatch Friday:Armistice Day

Today is Armistice Day: on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the "war to end all wars" or known as the World War One in Europe ended. 18,000 New Zealanders died.

Many New Zealand soldiers fought and died in the European soil. There is a ceremony at the Auckland Museum or the Auckland War Memorial. I was there with my sister Rose on ANZAC Day when we remembered the Australian and New Zealand soldiers.

Today is Armistice Day, with many New Zealanders pausing at 11.00am to remember those lost in the 1914-18 war.

In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated the end of the First World War.

After four years of bitter conflict, an armistice had been signed. The 'war to end all wars', as it was ironically known at the time, was over.

November 11, 1919 was the first day set aside as Armistice Day to remember the sacrifices made during World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace.

History shows, of course, that the 'lasting peace' was only to endure until 1939, when Europe, and later the world, found itself at war again.

In ten years from today, Armistice Day will fall on a date of interest to trivia buffs as well as war historians: 11.11.11

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

scenic sunday/sunday bridge: Southport Australia

The same bridge on the Gold Coast as last Sunday, but in the evening.

Running out of photos of bridges. This was taken when I went to Southport during one of my holidays. My sister Helen took us to a park. It was dusk, the lights were not very good.
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I don't know about you, I find it very hard to use the new blogger.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Gold Coast

My niece Katie is getting engaged. I remember visiting her two summers ago. The sky was blue as it is very hot and dry. As we travel by this road, I always wonder what these twin poles are.