Sunday, February 28, 2010


The 15-day Chinese New Year celebration is coming to a close. Feasting has been on the agenda. Eating out has been much fun. But somehow, it is the home-cooked meal that is most meaningful.

My mum is a pretty good cook. She cooks fast and furious. She always over provides; that's her style. Food must always be in abundance for any celebration. It's a Chinese-thing I suppose.

But perhaps the best part of eating at home is the chance to be a bit more laid back, taking time to connect with family and friends, enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Here's to a year ahead of these!

Photo of mum's cooking to celebrate Chap Goh Mei.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I visit Penang a couple of times a year, mostly on work. But what makes such working trips so enjoyable, other than being in the company of my friends in the wedding industry in Penang that is, haha, is the food I get to indulge in. The food alone is incentive enough to make my way up there.

I am lucky that friends and colleagues enthusiastically show me round to the best places to sample the best fare, the haunts which only the locals know of. I am a creature of habit and I always tend to re-visit the same restaurants over and over, but my friends have of late been introducing me to hidden gems that are new to me. But alas, my sense of direction ain't that great.

This last trip of mine, just a few days ago, yielded wonderful results when it comes to food. Having the opportunity to try new delicacies is always welcome.

Photo taken at Genting Restaurant in Island Glades, Penang, Malaysia.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


C Hun, Desmond and Suan Bee are friends of mine from the wedding industry. Together with Kevan, they've recently realised their dream of opening a boutique bed and breakfast. It's called Chymes and is located in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

I had the good fortune of being invited to stay whilst I was up in Penang for an event this past weekend. I run out of adjectives to describe the place ..... cosy, intimate, creative, chic, quirky, homely. I like the deft touches like the cookies, the mint pillow, the lamps, the rainshower. There are some rough edges but what's there to complain, they've only just opened, so there's much time for further improvements. I for one am looking forward to the path towards the beach!

I could sit the whole day working on the verandah and it would be bliss.

Photo of C Hun, Kevan, Desmond and Suan Bee in The Living Room at Chymes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More CNY Makan

Auntie Mary, Uncle KC and Lynette hosted a dinner party on the 7th day of Chinese New Year last Saturday. Auntie Mary is a great cook and my cousin Lynette is a Martha in the making with her decor and food presentation attempts! See what I mean in the photo.

Most of the Wong extended family get-togethers revolve around food. We are blessed to have so many good chefs in the family. I suppose some of their skills are inherited from my grandparents who were both wonderful cooks.

Suffice to say, we bond over food!

Photo of a watermelon peacock by Lynette.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Sometimes it is the most unexpected events that create lasting memories. My cousins from my mum's side of the family decided to organise a night out at the movies for the entire extended Thoo family. Somewhat of a Chinese New Year outing to an apt movie - 72 Tenants Of Prosperity.

22 of us headed to GSC in Tropicana City Mall last evening for coffee followed by the show. Imagine an entourage of aunts, uncles and cousins, with ages spanning decades. We were all game which is what made the night so memorable.

Much thanks to my cousins who initiated the outing and who took pains to get tickets and coordinate the evening. Here's to more in the future!

Photo of the extended Thoo family.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Xue Shen And Hongbo Zhao

I've watched Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao skate at 3 previous Winter Olympics and it was with great anticipation that I watched them skate this morning, in their 4th Olympics in Vancouver. Leading after the short program, I was willing them on in their free skate, keeping my fingers crossed that the 2-time Olympic bronze medallists and 3-time world champions would skate clean and capture the Olympic gold that they had come out of retirement from to chase.

Approximately 4 minutes was what it took for them to capture the only major title to elude them in their illustrious career and I was as happy as can be. Theirs is a story of commitment, daring, an aspiration to reach the pinnacle. We can all learn a thing or two from their endeavour.

To witness such an historic moment 'live', even when it is via satellite TV, causes goosebumps. One can relate to the hard work, sacrifices and positivity required to achieve such a milestone. Much congratulations!

Photo of the winning couple.

2nd Day Of Chinese New Year

A day that started off with a visit to the temple ended with a meaningful family get-together at our home, interspersed with a 'hoi-leen' brunch at the Wong family home in SEA Park and dinner at one of our all time favourite restaurants, Formosa in SS2.

Although not all were present for the family portrait, it was still meaningful in many ways. For my immediate family, it was our first without Dad but we draw comfort from the fact that the extended family, well most of us anyway, still cherish and work hard at maintaining the bonds that hold us together.

The sense of festivity at our home last evening I hope, will kickstart many more happy occasions to come after the melancholic past few weeks. That is what Chinese New Year signifies, a new beginning with new hopes and aspirations, new journeys and renewed trust in life.

Photo set up by my sister Suk Harn.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Temple Visit

I pay a visit to the Thean Hou Temple every Chinese New Year. I went early this morning to avoid the crowds. There is much to pray for. My friends who have been to temples with me whilst on holiday will know that I take my time as I have lots to ask for! My prayer list is a pretty long one.

Naturally, it is extra festive at Thean Hou this time of year. Lanterns are in abundance, so are the various Gods and Deities to pray to. Sincere and thoughtful requests will hopefully be answered in time.

I come away from such a visit with a sense of faith, a sense of hope. A certain level of serenity, a certain amount of acceptance. And a belief that there are only better days ahead.

Photo shot outside the prayer hall at Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

1st Day of Chinese New Year

We all dressed in yellow. Apparently yellow and white are auspicious colours for the year of the Tiger. Mum, Suk Harn and I had a hilarious time trying to get self-portraits of the 3 of us together in the morning before heading to the Wong family home in SEA Park for breakfast.

The extended family gathered for a vegetarian breakfast as we do annually. Auntie Anne's vegetarian dish is getting better by the year. A session of Black Jack ensued and then mahjong. You see, we are not going visiting this year due to my dad's recent passing. Still, we had an enjoyable day with the rest of the family.

A simple dinner was then followed by one of our favourite pastimes, talking about holidays that we intend to go on. We often travel the world when we get into such dialogues and what so fun about it is that we all get terribly excited and enthusiastic, which will hopefully lead to the realisation of such trips at some point.

Photo of Mum, Suk Harn and I.

Reunion Dinner

It was a fun reunion dinner with the Wongs. As always, we stuffed ourselves silly. For a change, we had steamboat this year. The weather was pretty hot and humid but like we always do, that didn't deter us from enjoying the food and camaraderie.

17 of us in total - those of us who are still in KL that is - gathered at the family home in SEA Park in what will be the start of many gatherings this Chinese New Year. More meals and activities have already been planned for the days ahead.

But the reunion dinner was all about cementing family ties. We are close knit and it is so important that we cherish the bonds that hold us together as a family. This is a valuable lesson that I have been taught by my dad all these years.

Photo of some of us at the reunion dinner.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reunion Lunch

It is tradition for my family to have a reunion lunch at home on the eve of Chinese New Year before joining the rest of the extended family for a reunion dinner later in the evening. This year is no different.

Mum cooked a simple meal of steamed chicken, deep fried pomfret, stirfried lettuce with garlic and abalone soup. The 3 of us enjoyed each other's company and had a laugh or two about some of my dad's funny remarks of New Years past.

Next up, reunion dinner with the rest of the clan!

Photo of abalone soup.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lady Of The Night

They haven't bloomed in a while but they're doing really great these past couple of days leading up to Chinese New Year. Mum asked me to take a few photos of them - Lady Of The Night - my dad's favourite plant. Lai Lin more eloquently describes the plant in her comment to my post Eulogy To Dad. All I know is that they emit a wonderful fragrance when night falls and a whiff of it often reminds us of my dad. Auntie Helen would concur.

I suppose the blooms come at a good time. We celebrate Chinese New Year without dad's physical presence this year but somehow I feel he is with us - through memories, through the little occurrences that remind us of him.

Tomorrow night we will go ahead with the reunion dinner that my dad had planned with 2 of his siblings, Auntie Anne and Uncle Chee Peng. Pretty apt I think. Life goes on, celebrating family ties, as my dad would have wanted.

Photo of Lady Of The Night in our little garden at home.

TSO Pre-CNY Lunch

A pre-Chinese New Year lunch is an annual tradition for our small team at That Special Occasion @ Desa Sri Hartamas. This year is no exception and I booked a table at Fong Lye Restaurant in our vicinity.

It is a time to welcome the new year and also a time to reflect on the year past. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to think good thoughts and set goals for the year ahead. A new start as they say.

So the year of the Ox has come to a close and the year of the Tiger beckons. We shall look forward to good health, wonderful encounters, interesting travels, cementing of relationships, fulfillment of aspirations and success in business endeavours.

Photo of Abolone Yee Sang at Fong Lye Restaurant in Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Helen's Take

For as long as I can remember, since childhood actually, Auntie Helen has been part of the Wong extended family. She and my Auntie Anne have been friends for decades and she is regarded as part of the family. In fact my dad often referred to Auntie Helen as his defacto sister. She is on the list for every family gathering, every celebration.

Here are some of Auntie Helen's thoughts on my dad, in response to some of the comments that my post Eulogy To Dad generated ..........

Reading Lai Lin's words brought a huge lump to my throat. Yes. Your dad was not only a good gardener, he was a very generous man too. He freely gave away his treasured plants to all who asked. When I moved back to the city to live, I had to leave behind the basil plant, the pandan leaves and the fragrant lady-of-the-night. A whiff of the scent and memories will come flooding back. A lot of people out there are not aware that your dad was a very good singer. I will miss him, his smile, his jokes ..............

Photo of Auntie Helen shot at Passion Road during Auntie Mary's 70th birthday celebration in October 2009.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Childhood Saturdays

I very recently went back to Bangkok Bank after not having visited for more than a decade. I went with my mum to sort out some of her personal matters following my dad's passing.

I remember it being a stopover as we went about our Saturdays when I was a kid. My father's one and only job throughout his life was with Bangkok Bank. He started out as an office boy and rose through the ranks to become the CEO of the Kuala Lumpur branch during 4 decades of service.

My mum, sister and I would often go down town on Saturdays - have brunch at one of the coffeeshops, hit Petaling Street for some shopping and later meet up with my dad. One of the coffeeshops was Lai Foong. When I visited last week, some of the hawker stalls that I loved had closed but the Milo was just as good as I recalled. These old haunts bring back good memories and though some may have undergone changes, they still bring a smile to my face when the opportunity to re-visit arises.

Photo of a cup of Milo at Lai Foong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Childhood Snacks

I am a sentimental person. When I come across someone or something that triggers a good memory, I often try to re-live the moment, if possible. Even something as frivolous as a satay-fish snack!

I was in a snack food shop in Ipoh on Sunday and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the satay-fish snack, the ones that I lined up to buy at the canteen during my primary school days. It may not be wholesome food but it is what it is, a delightful and fond reminder of the good times of childhood. A time when we snacked on whatever caught our fancy. No thoughts of calories, no thoughts of cholesterol, no concern of whether the ingredients were healthy. We like, we eat.

So, I bought a whole pack. That was last Sunday. I kept it like treasure and only finally brought it out to savour last evening. The entire pack was almost gone in less than 10 minutes. Need I say more!

Photo shot in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's Back

Migraine is hereditary in my family and I am the poster-boy of migraine in my generation. I pay close attention to the warning signs and take measures to minimise the likelihood of a migraine coming on. Different sufferers have different triggers. For me, it is usually the weather, how much sleep I get or rather the lack of and stress levels.

Thing is, I had been migraine-free for a few years. But alas, it's back. I gather it must be due to the events of the past week and a half as well as the extremely hot and humid conditions that often characterise pre-Chinese New Year weather.

So, I once again travel everywhere with a supply of prescribed Cafergot tablets, my saviour when the pounding headaches strike. I also once again make it a point to watch what I eat and drink, try to go to bed a bit earlier, with much difficulty try not to get too stressed out at work and with much pleasure get more reflexology and massage sessions booked. A silver lining? It will soon pass, perhaps in a week or so.

Which spa is this again Leticia?

Monday, February 1, 2010


My mum suggested that we all go to Ipoh for a day trip yesterday, just to get away for a bit. So off we went with my aunts and uncles, all 7 of us - mum, Suk Harn and I, Auntie Anne, Auntie Mary, Uncle Chee Peng and Uncle KC; my dad's 2 sisters, brother and brother-in-law.

On the agenda, eating our way through town and shopping for goodies to bring home too. Most of all, the intention was to get our minds off the melancholy of the past week. We succeeded somewhat, so that's progress.

We all piled into Auntie Mary and Uncle KC's MPV bright and early, actually early but not bright yet, considering we left home at 6.30am! And we got back at about 5.00pm, after much food and drink, much more food-shopping and some sing-a-longs in the car. Thank God for family!

Photo of me and Auntie Anne, and some who were impatient to get at the food.