Catching Up Too

Kuan Hong kept me captivated on his tales of the Shenzhen woods. We were there with Mui Na at Spinelli Cafe in Novena, Singapore,where we all had a night cap after a effective degustation at Lao Beijing Restaurant of the Tung Lok Chain. What caught my imagination was that Kuan Hong spoke highly of the entrepreneur-like ambitions of each of his staff, and that each one of them went all out to make the extra effort at work.

The Friday before, Mui Na had shown me some hidden aspects of north-east Singapore Island. Skirting Changi, we had arrived at a well-maintained park in Punggol, within hearing range of the sea waves lapping up the Johor coast and where cycling, skating and running were encouraged. I saw the massive developments at Sengkang, Pasir Ris and Tampines, where new Housing Development Board flats looked more like commercial beauties. After a home made lunch, we went to a nearby shopping centre where the $2 wares at a pretty Daizo store dazzled me with its wide variety of inventory and the over whelming impressions of Japanese pink red across its shelves. It puts the Australian $2 shops to utter shame.

The same Daizo store appeared at the Pavilions in the heart of Kuala Lumpur City, where Bob and Sanei had taken me to Ichiban for a Japanese lunch. Oh yes, sea urchins, roast tender eel and salmon egg roe are my weaknesses. I then came across Gaik Lian, originally from Penang, on the wide pedestrian pavements - come to think of it, she and I never have to make appointments, for we often bumped into each other casually in KL, the last time being in the Mid-Valley shopping mall. I love such casualness, whether with Gaik Lian or with Ewe Joo and Yew Ting showing me some exercises in qi gong. Joo and Ting had taken me to the Klang Town bah kut teh (pork rib tea) one Sunday morning, and I loved the bustling crowds at coffee shops serving this iconic food of Klang.

On a Saturday morning, I was immersed in the history and nuances of Straits Chinese culture at the recently set-up Armenian Street Peranakan Museum in Singapore. The dazzling jewelry of Baba bling from the pre-war days of rich families in Malacca and Penang could still not match the intensity of my interest in the displayed heirlooms, conveniently stored in various rooms which reflected the daily life in cooking, porcelain used, bedroom regalia, wedding customs, kitchen utensils, antique furniture, family relationships and so forth. Karen Chiang volunteered as an English-speaking guide for two hour walkabouts - Bee and I were fortunate to catch her delightful and informative tour at the reception as we stepped in around 11am that day.

That Saturday evening, the Shangri La Singapore was already encouraging pre-orders of their delightful mooncakes for September. Kit, Bee and I were having a kaiseiki dinner at its Japanese outlet of Nadaman. It can be so relaxing to be with friends in ambient surroundings and to partake in crafted food. Shared experiences, whether for nostalgia, adventure or new things, form nurturing bonds. They reinvigorate and make us cherish. Add with laughter, ease of conversation and a gradual pace, and one is revitalised. We reaffirm our convictions with mates or relatives and mutually grow new perspectives in our hearts. We take comfort in our roots and memories, and use them to jump into unknown dimensions, but knowingly with the support of continuing friendships and new experiences.

To be continued.....

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