Friday, February 26, 2021


 15th day of the Lunar New Year and the last day for festivity. 
Today is "Chap Goh Mei."
In the past, girls at marriageable ages were not allowed out. Girls just stayed home and learnt how to be good WIVES! “Good Lord, thank you I was born in the 20th century.”

  But stories tell that, on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, girls dressed in their finest to visit temples and hence also to attract suitors. 

The boys “hung” around to “cuci mata” (wash their eyes) and if a fine maiden catches their fancy, a matchmaker was enlisted to do the rest. No need for dating apps like Tindle or CMB (Coffee Meets Bagel).     Thus, this 15th day is also Chinese Valentine’s Day and on this day of giving, Savvy K went out and bought a whole load of food with her 

“ang pow” money. She wanted to give to the car wash people at the Shell station near our home. When we were at Snow Wash last month,we noticed that the staff actually had very little to eat. One just opened a pack of rice from home, poured some water into the rice and then scooped some curry on top. That was his lunch. 

We were very sad to see this. Thus, we have sort of “adopted” them and have been 

giving food and groceries to them on a regular basis. 
I am happy 
Savvy K has learnt about giving back to the community.
A tradition still practised today by unmarried Chinese girls is the throwing of oranges 🍊 into rivers for good husbands. Some gals even write their handphone numbers. 
I will truthfully admit I have thrown a many oranges  on EVERY "Chap Goh Mei" for years. 
GOOD ORANGES 🍊 = GOOD HUSBANDS, Believe it or not!
Look what I got - Good Ole' Gizmo Man!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

FENGHUANG memories from my ARMCHAIR

FENGHUANG BY NIGHT is as colourful as this East Asian mythological bird with feathers of black, white, red, blue and yellow. The males are called Feng and the females Huang and they reigned over all other birds.  Scriptures describe the fenghuang as a fusion of many birds with a rooster’s beak, swallow’s face, the forehead of a fowl, snake’s neck, goose’s goose, tortoise’s back, stag's hindquarters and a fish's tail.

Our Movement Control Order has been extended till March 4th. Presently, we cannot travel out of state unless it is in sickness or death (not our own obviously!). As I rearrange files in my external drives, all these holiday pixs pop up. 
Covid-19 passports may be our only answer to international travel again, but for the moment it is only armchair holidays. 
We arrived at Fenghuang, an ancient country town in Southwest Hunan at night fall on 6th November 2019. 
It was cold and way past dinner time so I wasn’t exactly in a very excitable mood to land in “the most beautiful town” in China. 
Luckily the rooms were beautiful. But before I could snuggle into the hanging chair, …chop chop we were summoned to do the night walk. 
Oh mann, it was 9.30pm already, my extremities were frozen even with cap, thermal socks and gloves. I get real cranky when I am cold!
But, the crankiness ebbed away 
along the corridors 
as the peace and colours of Fenghuang flowed into my veins. 
Fenghuang straddles along 
the pulsating Tuo Jiang River 
which reflects the colours and its architecture
It is looking at mirror images of buildings 
and pagodas 
and lights joined together like identical twins. Look hard to tell when a structure stops and its reflection begins, it's not easy.   Her people were still awake, 
carving their ancient scripts,
 drumming the distant beats
and remembering the bird that that this ancient town was named for.
GANBEI, the night is forever young in Fenghuang.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021


 - a toss for luck, good health, happiness, success, great business deals, good future husbands/wives, excellent exam results on the 7th day of the Lunar New Year. It's today (18th Feb) and the 7th day is also celebrated as EVERYONE'S BIRTHDAY.

Did I miss any wishes out?

"Yusheng"  is a dish of vegetables and minute seafood slices. In a play of mandarin pronounciation which the Chinese adore, "Yu" is a homonym for fish or abundance and "sheng" translates to raw or life. Thus, tossing "Yusheng" brings abundance of good fortune and life in the New Year.
 It consists of extremely fine slices of raw seafood (any fish, salmon, tuna or jelly fish, abalone or prawns) 
mixed with finely shredded raw carrots (luck), green radish (eternal youth), white radish (good business), pickle cucumber, papaya, ginger, garlic, pomelo (smooth sailing) and dried winter melon. 
It is topped with crushed peanuts (household filled with valuable possessions), sesame seeds (flourishing business), golden crackers (floor filled with gold), pepper (wealth), vegetable oil (money flows in) and thick plum sauce (strong ties with those at table).
Thus, every  ingredient bears symbolism for a prosperous year.
     For the uninitiated who are squeamish with raw seafood (although the pieces are so fine, they cannot be seen or tasted), “yusheng” now also comes with cooked seafood or fully vegetarian. 
 All at the table takes a a pair of chopsticks   lifts up the ingredients     and let them drop back into the dish again
 while shouting "lou hei, lou hei" (lift up prosperity and fortune). This tossing and dropping goes on for a few rounds.
     The believers will of course lift the ingredients higher. We keep tossing till the ingredients are well mixed 
and probably all over the table! It is exactly the same as tossing a salad except that in "yusheng," as many as 10 people or more toss the same salad together. 
The higher the toss, the more prosperity for the New Year.
The prosperity toss has been now accepted by other ethnic groups in Malaysia. 
Why not, good fortune should be shared by everyone.

Toss it, raise it high, drop it and let's toss again.

Here are my crazy Mandarin class mates having a "wild" Chinese New Year 2020. 
This is as wild as we 60-plus gals will get! 
It was just luck that Chinese New Year 2020 fell on 25th January - 49 days before lock down and the pandemic.  
Classes have been suspended since and I wonder when we will meet again.
STAY SAFE, STAY WELL "tong xue men" (class mates).
Acknowledgements to CIMB Malaysia for five pictures used in this post.