Hidden Rules

“It is alarming that Chinese has many hidden rules that even I am not aware of. Until I was recently made aware that the paint color used on tombstones, if it is gold, represents dead relatives and red, signifies the living. Thus on the grave of my grandparents, upon my discovery, my beloved cousins, siblings and I, have been dead for more than half a century already . Cant get more incredible than this years Cheng Beng. Drown me please somebody !”

Chneh Meh Kay

(Version in Hokkien)

Chneh Meh Kay

Tok Tiok Tharng

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(Version in English)

A blind chicken

Pecks a worm!

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About this saying:~

This phrase/saying is commonly used to describe how luck could strike undeserving people the same way a chicken , though blind, could peck worms.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

Reunion table

Reunion is held on the first day of Chinese New Year. The servings on a reunion table according to Chinese tradition signifies abundance. Hence it is customary to have as wide an array of food available on this night. In contemporary society, fad and convenience has taken over tradition. Rarely does one still find whole chickens, suckling pigs, sharks fin, abalones, sea cucumbers, and all kinds of mushrooms and fishes being served except on important occasions as appeasing deities on the altar tables.

Ang Pow Giving

On the first day of Chinese New Year as Confucianist practice dictates, the entire household of an extended family would tidy themselves up, all nicely coiffured before presenting themselves to the head of the household, (generally the matriarch) to receive special blessings and ang pows (red colored packets containing money symbolizing good luck, prosperity, great health and joy). As receiving ang pows is hierarchical, so it is with the givers, each taking turns distributing whilst juniors kow tow and wish ‘Keong Hee Huat Chye’ as a mark of respect to the givers. In our family we went a step further by serving tea to the elders. It is also customary that once a child got married, they are obligated to give ang pows to their parents. The unmarried are exempted from ang pow giving because to the Chinese, they are still rated a child. Thus, any family members can receive ang pows for as long as they remained single. In our Hokkien tradition, only the womenfolk gives away ang pows. Reason is that the menfolk are supposedly the breadwinners of the family whilst the womenfolk are in charge of household affairs.

This is my extended family.

1st pic- my grandma Gek Kee, receiving blessings from my great grandma, matriarch Saw Kit, at Boon Siew Mansion. Generally as a senior in the family herself, my grandma is no longer entitled to ang pows but I guess that also depends on the generosity of individuals and the wealth of each family.. Matriarch Saw Kit’s life sized bronze statue still graces the Home of the Infirmary, Penang.

2nd pic- Aunt Guat Eng, Aunt Gim Ean (deceased), Aunt Guat Hong, Aunt Loh Ean, Uncle Kah Poh (deceased), unidentified Aunt and my mom (deceased). Aunt Guat Hong and 2nd Tniau Seng Leong kow towed.

3rd pic- Tiny tots group pic with matriarch. Kah Heng (deceased), Kah Bee, and Kah Kheng (deceased).

An extended family has added advantages except for privacy and at least three generations of one household lives and stays together. That was the in -thing of that period for well to do family’s with big houses.

Images copyrighted. Circa 50s.

Bedak Sejuk

“The making of ‘Bedak Sejuk’.

My mother’s concoction of rice powder for teenagers was quiet well known. It was supposed to give u a nice complexion and keep ugly pimples away. Her concoction was to soak rice grains for 24 hours and the decanter the smelly water every night b4 bedtime. This would go on for a couple of nights until there was no unwanted smell and the rice grains fermented completely.

To make them smoother she would have them put between the grinding stones and the substance came out smooth. Then she wld mix the paste with grounded sandal wood, maram grass roots and nutmeg seed also grounded.

When she got it to the right consistency everyone was invited to fill up their cones and drip the the drops on to a heshian cloth. Then dried out in the sun.

A cone would sell for 20 sen and a smaller one for half the price. Everybody swore to the efficacy of her ,Bedak Sejuk’. No pimples and claimed a smoother complexion.”

– Reposting an article shared by the late Tan Sri Ani Arope 5th Mar 2014.

Correcting Peranakan Popular Believes

“The Peranakans weren’t Chinese immigrants who adopted the culture of the Malay archipelago. The word “adopted” as opposed to “adapt” is similar but not the same. It was more of an intercultural amalgamation at a time which saw different communities living together happily which resulted in the assimilation of local lingua into their colloquial and vice versa but of course there are amongst them, intermarriages, which saw Malay maidens being welcomed into the Chinese household. The Peranakans were and is truly Chinese whom at that time are pseudo-Buddhist hence their Confucian and Taoist values, rites, beliefs and practices. Cuisine is purely Chinese but a little experimentation with local spices and adaptation of cooking styles of other inhabitants led to newer recipes considered distinctive to the Peranakans. The comparison of taste from different curries will tell you. However, the many claims by die hard peranakans with regards to recipes such as Jew hu char, bali juak, kiam chye ark and curry kapitan has no basis simply because they were truly Hokkien and Hainanese dishes and not as claimed by these pseudo Peranakans. Most of these recipes were and is still found on the altar and offering tables of the Hokkien community during cultural and divine festivities which were by and large the single largest grouping ever to span the Straits Settlements thence comprising Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Cocos Keeling Islands and Dindings in Perak. Marital, birth and funerary rites were strictly pseudo-Buddhism celebrated in compliance to the Chinese calendar. The Peranakan’s ostentatious taste of finery, garnitures, crockery, embroidery, clothing and furniture are mostly commissioned from countries within and beyond the Malay archipelago, the most obvious being namwood furnitures from China and Czechoslovakian designed coffee shop chairs and enameled tiffin carriers. However it must be noted that highly skilled local craftsmen of Shanghainese origin were also producing pseudo-Victorian era furnitures and architectural motifs to cater to the taste of their English-speaking ponytailed clienteles. These often comprises sideboards, roofing gables and umbrella stands and they usually spot marble tops, claw feet and barley twist balustrades. The habit of chewing tobacco and betel nut is not Malay but archipelagic as observed from the designs of the sireh cutter which were folkloric to the Hindus. Peranakans has their own perkakas. The habit of wearing Baju panjangs and kebayas were a fashion statement of that time. However it should be noted that the keronsang that adorns the blouse differ in taste and make and so are the appliqués .

Peranakans versus Straits Chinese

“Most Peranakans are Straits Chinese but not all Straits Chinese are Peranakans.
For one to be a Chinese Peranakan (also known as Baba Nyonya), one needs to be born of Chinese/Malay parentage as a result of intermarriages between Chinese towkays of that era with local ladies without so much of religious restrictions and as a result, these local ladies adapted themselves to the Chinese way of living learning the husbands customary culture from the matriarch (her mom or grandmom in law) whilst raising her own family thus cross pollinating her own cultures in whenever the need suits them whilst her husband works or took care of matters outside the home. As a result, a new lifestyle bloom alongside a strangely mixed lingo of Hokkien and Malay (Hokkien was a widely accepted dialect amongst the Chinese then)- a culture identified with its unique food recipes, and a preference for ostentatious taste in fashion and lifestyle; most certainly an adaptation borrowed from friends and neighbors of different cultures also rooted in the Straits (Burmese, Thai, Laotian, Indian, Ceylonese whatever) which found acceptability with these Straits Chinese and thus became fashionable. The Straits Settlements is a British colony comprising mainly of Penang, Malacca and Singapore and to a lesser extent the Cocos Keeling islands, Christmas Island, Dindings, Pulau Pangkor and some smaller islands in Perak and that of Labuan. That is the entire British trading influence and how the Chinese within the S.S frequently addressed themselves as. The Straits Chinese community. To be a true blue Straits Chinese, one needs to be a local Chinese born during the British administration of the Straits Settlements from 1826-1946.
This explains why some Chinese families who claims to be Straits Chinese often wonder why they do not have Malay dna in their ancestry lineage. And of how everyday recipes very commonly found in the Straits Chinese household have Malay sounding names especially the ones imbued with local spices though some of these recipes are in today’s context non halal.
One can identify a Chinese Peranakan with their spoken patois very unlike the Hokkien or Malay as how it is spoken today. And generally these Chinese Peranakans are darker skinned and possesses sharper features. I had the opportunity to interact and acquaint myself with genuine Peranakan friends whose ascendants were distinguished personalities from the government fraternity living in then Emerald Hill. They are Western educated which explains how many of them after years abroad have adopted the Western religion unlike the many local Straits Born Chinese whom were and still is mostly Buddhist or Taoist.
I remembered those days as a lad we were taught to address Chinese damsels and lads in strict colloquial standards. We call them ‘Ah Nya’ and ‘Ah Bah’. Though I do not have Malay lineage, I often wonder why my grandparents and great grandparents were all heavily bedecked in straits jewelry from kerongsangs to silver belts down to the kebayas, baju panjangs and those heavily embroidered slippers. But I understand them now. They were fashionable in those days.
Btw that’s how antique I myself is. And no, I’m no Baba even though that was the form of address given not only to me but to other lads as well.”

Living in the 70s

What’s nice about living in the 70’s can’t be replicated today. Like banging the tv to make good a bad reception and sneak hiding oneself when an unwelcome visitor knocks on your door. I particularly missed cars of yesteryears cos they come without air cond allowing the wind to shape my hairstyle and the rain making its way into the car interior from the slit left open on the side windows. Anyone ever experience making funny gargling sounds in front of table fans? The best part is those days we are all telepathic. We can predict who calls when the phone rings and request the one answering the call to tell the caller we are not around..

Excess

If we care to look around, there is too much excess of everything. Especially those ostentatious hip cafes crowding the streets with chalkboard menus, coffee makers, cemented flooring, fungied walls, latte art, good words being chosen as names for these so called hip restaurants and motels that don’t do justice to the name, ill mannered waiters that do not speak English, standing there looking suave but does not know what’s inside the menu nor the art of waiting. If I maybe allowed to, I wish for more localized food instead of spaghetti, salads, watery soups and hot buns. As if that is our culture. Lol my list is long…

Khaw Sia

I grew up with 3 Khaw Sia’s orchid paintings hanging in my home. I remembered

sticking my nose as close to the painting as  any  kid  would  just  to  explore  the

magnification with my eyes leaving the tip of my nose  imprinted  on  the  glaze.  I

was having fun. It wasn’t the colors he uses, or how  he  paints  the  leaves  and

dewdrops that I was interested in. I was like any child would at  that  tender  age,

merely exploring. But because I was living with it, it  was  like  second  nature  to

my skin. Because of that, I remembered very well the paper he uses because  it

has a peculiar texture on it. Nowadays one could hardly stumble upon  this  type

of paper he uses anymore but in my younger years, most kids  have  fun  with  it.

And it is quite blotty.

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Xu Beihong

How did i learn to like art? Not many has  this  privilege  but  I  practically  grew

up with a Xu Beihong over my head when I was  younger.  It  was  a  scroll.  My

dad was an avid collector. Antiques included and he draws and there was this

principal in his ex school that always gave him alot of Chinese  paintings  cos

my dad was chairman of that school. Don’t ask me what happened to that  Xu

Beihong cos I don’t know. Both my parents had passed on.

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hala hala

Anyone from the 70’s Penang would have known  what  the  term  ‘Hala  Hala’  means.

‘Hala Hala’ is coined by the locals  to  describe  those  broomshaped-cut  fashionable

pants  known  elsewhere  as  bell-bottoms. To  imagine  how  it  looks  like,  the  most

vivid   images  that  came  to  mind  was  hip  swaying  ‘Elvis  Presley’  and  ‘Englebert

Humperdinck’,  each  wearing  a  pair  with  ‘side-burns’  to  match  not  forgetting  ‘The

Osmond Brothers’ and ‘Abba’. The ‘Hala Hala’ era was also an era of jeans and to get

one a nice pair of ‘Hala Hala’ jeans, the  most  respected  shop  to  be  seen  buying  a

pair  was  ‘Pitchay Gunny’ situated  along   Penang  Road.   They   were   the   exclusive

dealers of  Saddle King,  Lee  and  Levis  Jeans.  As  fashion  evolves,  the  preference

for looser jeans at the thighs came by as ‘Hala Hala’ gave way to ‘Baggy’.

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ready-made

Before the advent of ‘ready-made’, visiting a custom tailor then was the rage. As such,

textile shops were well patronized both  by  men  and  women.  It  sounds  hip  to  get

clothes tailor-made but then, that was the only option one has lest one wants to walk

around with unsightly creases, bulges and darts shooting all over, the  result  of  four

exclusive sizes  of  Small, Medium, Large and  Extra-Large  found  in  ready-to-wear’s

of that time. It is like say  paying  a  visit  to  Jimmy Choo to get  a  pair  of  fitted  heels

made? and in fact it is as in the 60’s-70’s, most hipped shoes, like clothes of that era

were   also  custom  made!  ( Think  Travolta  and  one  would  understand  why  it   is

crucial  to  ride  your   bike   down  Wembley  or   Campbell  Street  to  have  your  next

fitted shoes or pants made!) Ready-mades or ready-to-wear as we all  know  started

with  clothier  Monsieur  Pierre  Cardin  who  tries  to  standardize  sizes   to   fit   every

living  torso  and  it  took  years  for  the  world’s  clothing  industry  to  experiment  with

the feasibility before the idea arrives  on  our  shores,  longer  again for Penangites  to

adjust themselves to the standards he introduced.

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khau hong

In the late 60’s till early 70’s,  to ‘khau hong’ was an  ‘in thing’.  Invariably,  it  means  to  ‘scrape

the wind’ in local Hokkien  lingo.  That  means  inviting  your  buddies  for  a  drive,  sometimes

stopping by the coffee-shops for supper  in  an  era  devoid  of  Starbucks  or  Macdonalds  but

usually, it is drive as you chat along while enjoying the cool wind  that  catches  the  car  interior.

To other more adventurous/mischievous groups, their  favorite  haunt  would  be  the  Botanical

Gardens, the Polo Ground or Pearl Hill wooing as they pass by every stationary car or bike  that

has couples lurking in funny contortion silhouetting against the dark shades of the night. Some

love to get chilled  in  groups  holding  the  hands  of  your  chosen  date  stopping  by  the  more

‘talked-about’ haunted houses and get freaked out! Of course you need to be from a certain age

group tobe fascinated by all these (usually late teens) and from  a  more  privileged  family  that

owns a car to be able to ‘khau hong’.

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doyen of photography

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prof. Ismail Hashim is the doyen of Malaysian photography. Passed away recently, this is a rare shot of him nestled in between subjects that matters to him most and quite often depicted in his works. Unknown to many, Ismail is camera shy and I was most privileged to immortalize him over a cup of coffee. Pictures taken at Kedai Kopi Chuan Foong, Jln Chan Siew Teong, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

~~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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earth stump

~earth stump~ image copyright Kris lee 2013

~earth stump~
image copyright Kris lee 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once there was a tree.. and she loved a little boy. And everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples.And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree…. very much. And the tree was happy.

But time went by. And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.” “I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money?” “I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.” And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time…. and the tree was sad. And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.” “I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm,” he said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house ?” ” I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.” And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come, Boy,” she whispered, “come and play.” “I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?” “Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy.” And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away. And the tree was happy… but not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again. “I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree,” but I have nothing left to give you – My apples are gone.” “My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy. “My branches are gone,” said the tree. ” You cannot swing on them – ” “I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy. “My trunk is gone, ” said the tree. “You cannot climb – ” “I am too tired to climb” said the boy. “I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something…. but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry….” “I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.” “Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” And the boy did. And the tree was happy.

This inspiring classic poem “The Giving Tree” was chosen as the appropriate fit to complement this image. Picture taken at Hollywood Beach, Tj Bungah Penang.

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the juggler

~the juggler~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Perfecting a skill demands total concentration and sacrifice. I caught this guy infrequently flipping beer bottles against the revetment of Fort Cornwallis on sunny days and thought it would be interesting to watch how these bottles fly on stills.. Pictures taken at Fort Cornwallis, Esplanade, Penang.

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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alleys of old

~alley of old~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~alleys of old~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love these long forgotten alleys of old

Unplastered walls

Roots that grew to be heard

Incidentally, they were all planted by birds

Huge giants they are

But neglected

I love these long forgotten alleys of old..

~roots 1~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots 1~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots III~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots III~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~roots II~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots II~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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(Pictures taken at Penang Pier opposite the Jetty, Weld Quay, Penang)

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extended family

~extended family~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~extended family~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Overseas Chinese left their motherland at a tender age and through sheer hard work and good foresight, many astute businessmen found fortune and eventually became well-known philanthropists. Apart from contributing to society, these visionaries pamper themselves with homes large enough to fit a few generations of “extended family” leaving their wealth to be managed by trust funds. As a result, younger generations today still continue to enjoy the fruits of their efforts with children and grandchildren being sent overseas to further their studies and eventually migrate~ leaving these homes to the care of their faithful caretakers. Many of these homes were today rented out, leased or sold to commercial concerns as well as educational institutions because it is no longer cheap to maintain houses like this. One such house (as shown in pic) is currently leased to Kentucky Fried Chicken, an American fast food corporation who had tapped into the Penang market since the seventies. Picture taken at Larut Rd, Penang.

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palms palms palms

~palms palms palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~palms palms palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name ‘Penang’ comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means Isle of the Areca Nut Palm (Areca catechu, family Palmae) and this palm tree appears on both the State Flag and its coat of arms. There are thousands of species of palm in this world and if one cruises down the streets of Penang, chances are one would stumble upon stunningly beautiful mature species such as these with captivating inflorescence. (At the time of posting, the palm pictured above has been felled to make way for development). Pictures taken at Jln Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Penang.

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~other palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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an uncommon chapel

~an uncommon chapel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~an uncommon chapel~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built on top of a hill in the 1800′s, St Anne’s chapel amasses a yearly pilgrimage of more than a 100,000 on its feast day though it has but a seating capacity of only 300 at any given time. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the legendary sighting of her apparition above the hill behind this chapel and the widespread accounts of her healing power and blessings she freely give to all who revere and believe in her. In short, she answers prayers. Many transformations has occurred on church grounds eversince and today it is a sprawling sanctuary that boasts a new church with a seating capacity of 1500- possibly the largest in this region. But this grand old lady has been kept unperturbed. This is an uncommon side view of the old chapel with its steeple as seen from the new church. The statue of the resurrection of Jesus is but a new addition. Pictures taken at St Anne’s Sanctuary, Bukit Mertajam, Province Wellesley, Penang.

~the old bell~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the old bell~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~archangel michael~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~archangel michael~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the new church~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~new church~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~new church reliquary~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~attap house reliquary~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~guardian angel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~guardian angel~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~holy water font~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~holy water font~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Studio of Hitori

~Hitori outside his Studio~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Hitori outside his Studio~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the age of twenty, Hitori left Japan to pursue his interest in Art. He traveled across the art capital for the next twenty learning all the ropes to find himself settling curiously down with his lovely wife in Penang and last year happens to be their twenty-fifth year of residence. A little odd but very humble, Hitori is not an atypical Japanese that we know of. Blending in well with the local folks, he stays in a pre-war house filled with discards which he masterly assembles them into works of art- an interesting sort of collage between conceptual, assemblages and sculpture and finally outdid himself after being commissioned to create a gigantic ten storey high sculpture facing our easterly coast called the “One Blue Sky”. Hitori also initiated the “Penang Island Sculpture Trail” where all his well-known sculptor friends he invited from all over the world were encouraged to stamp their mark in Penang with their sculpture contributions hence leaving a trail of Art he gifted Penang. Picture taken at Stewart Lane, Penang.

~assemblage~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~experiments~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~experiments~
image copyright Kris lee 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Riders, Three Pillions

~two riders, three pillions~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~two riders, three pillions~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Motorcycles made its presence felt on the streets of Penang more than half a century ago and it brought smiles on the faces of many who were looking for a convenient and cheaper mode of transport to ease their daily activities. To the younger generation, it is this vehicle that paces their first step towards independence. Picture taken at Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang.

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Acheen Minaret

~acheen street minaret~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~acheen minaret~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six years after the founding of Penang in 1786, a well known tycoon Syed Hussain Mohd Aidid shifted his base from Acheh, a popular spice route in North Sumatera to Penang. Of Arabian stock as well as a member of the royal house of Acheh, Syed Hussain was wooed by Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang to establish his base here. His bait, reasonable autonomy to trade and self govern his household, his slaves and his clansmen as in accordance to his custom and his Moslem belief. He settled himself where Armenian Street and Acheen Street is and from there, works his ways into the hearts and minds of its inhabitants thereafter establishes an enclave between these few adjoining roads for his clansmen together with other Moslems from the same area to trade, rapport and cohabit like one close knitted family. Francis Light was not wrong. His efforts paid off when Penang became a favored spice route and the choice embarkation point for Moslems on a sojourn to Mecca, their holy land. Twenty two years on, Syed Hussain embarked to built a proper mosque to serve the community and that was how Acheen Street Mosque came to being, a sturdy structure snugged in between inferior houses of timber and attap. Syed Hussain passed away in 1840 and as is customary, his mausoleum is built inside the mosque compound. This minaret stood as a legacy of his duty towards his own race and belief that made it all possible for him.

This minaret built in Mughal style has a conspicuous pothole. Tradition says it was the result of cannon fire although some octogenarians claim loud booms once came from it. Despite the dispute, record shows that this mosque possesses a cannon of its own and the firing once led to a serious clash between two factions of the town Moslems over the actual date of the end of the month of the ramadan period. Whilst one faction who attends the Acheen Street Mosque was celebrating Hari Raya, the other faction who venerates at the Kapitan Kling mosque a short distance away was still fasting. After that incident, the town community compromised and handed down a decree that town Moslems must alternate between both mosque for their Friday prayers and those caught venerating at the wrong venue would be penalized. Peculiar as it is, the rule still stands today. Picture taken at Armenian Street, Penang.

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Hainanese Bombe Alaska

~Bombe Alaska Hainan Style~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Hainanese Bombe Alaska~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considered the mother of all desserts, ‘Bombe Alaska’, an ice-cream cake covered with an igloo of meringue emerging from an oven found its way into the hearts of Penangites through Hainan Cookboys. Hainanese were seamen from China but locally, they became favored cooks of our colonial masters because of their skill in conjuring up many western recipes with a peculiar twist and taste of its own, the result of having to imagine the descriptions of their bosses who speaks in a language they could hardly understand. When the British ceded control of then Malaya, many of these Hainan Cook Boys as they were called became chefs of their own restaurants serving delectable delicacies they use to serve their masters with like Choon Pneah, Asam Heh, Roti Babi, Barsteaks and Macaroni Pie to name but a few but as all popular recipes would, their own style of Bombe Alaska became one of the first that faded into oblivion until a revival of interest came right after Georgetown was accorded a UNESCO Heritage status. Today, some restaurants are competing for customers serving their own concoction of Bombe Alaska as a recipe proud of its origin. The fact is, it is a real show stopper to see it being served flambed and every time it emerges from the kitchen, it never fail to garner curious onlookers. Little did anyone know that this recipe was first whipped up to commemorate the United States purchase of Alaska in 1867. Picture taken at Yeng Keng Hotel, Chulia Street, Penang.

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Motor Mechanics

~motor mechanics~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~motor mechanics~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most motor mechanics like Ah Lung left school at a very young age to take up apprenticeship in blue collar trades. Like the rest, they leave their hometown and survive on mearger earnings living in shared apartments, only going home once or twice in a month or during festive seasons. Most of them never if ever left their trade but some lucky ones became bosses of their own repair shop.

~apprentice mechanics~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~apprentice mechanics~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

Over the years, as Ah Lung became a more formidable repairman, he was also given the task to head younger apprentices that was allowed into the stable. Currently, there are no guidelines compelling skilled work force to attain competency certificates thus, this cycle of how skills were handed down naturally repeats itself. Picture taken at Jln Nanning, Penang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The White Mens Grave

`the white mans' grave~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

`the white man’s grave~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaded under a canopy of cascading plumerias in Northam Road is an old graveyard that houses Penang’s early settlers, missionaries and administrators. Most of them succumbed to malaria at a very tender age including Captain Francis Light, the founder himself thus earning early Penang the epithet “the white man’s grave”. Thomas Leonowen, husband of the noted Anna Leonowen whose stint at the Siamese court tutoring the wives and children of the king which was later made into a hit musical called ‘The King and I’ himself is himself an early settler.

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

This graveyard once stood at the edged of the town next to paddy fields and vegetable plots but as the city grew, it is today smacked right in the heart of the inner city attracting history buffs more than their descendants. Pictures taken at the Protestant Cemetery, Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang.

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Medicated Masseurs

~medicated masseurs~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~medicated masseurs~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the long wait, locals has a quaint attachment to traditional Chinese masseurs rather than those physiotherapists found in hospitals whenever they experience discomforts and pains in their joints. From whence thee treatment came about is anybody’s guess but their endeavor in providing comfort and relief to those in agony is a testimony to their immense popularity. Here, a sitting customer patiently anticipates his turn outside the treatment room where the ‘sinseh’ stations himself while a young disciple gets his relief playing games on a handheld gadget. Picture taken at Jln Samak, Off Federal Cinema, Penang.

~feel good wait~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~feel good wait~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~kitchenette of oils~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~kitchenette of oils~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~agony and attestations~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~agony and attestations~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

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Egret Below Fronds

~egret below fronds~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~egret below fronds~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migratory birds are many and depending on the species and flyway these birds are accustomed to, Penang is one of the habitual pit stops of these winged ones found scattered along the coastal beaches and mudflats of Tanjung Bungah all the way to Northbeach. Perched under the shades of coconut frond, an Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx Intermedia) or locally known as ‘Bangau Kerbau’ is spotted in full upright posture looking out towards the unending sea.

~legs of an egret~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~legs of an egret~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

As compared to the Great Egret and the Little Egret, they are chiefly identified by their smooth ‘S’ shape neck without kink, a slightly domed head and a gape that ends below the eye. Their legs are generally dark. Picture taken at the coast of Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

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Victoria’s Clocktower

~Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Memorial Clocktower~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~Victoria’s Clocktower~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee, a Jubilee Clock Tower was erected at King Edward’s Place, at the junction of Light Street and Beach Street, Georgetown, Penang courtesy of  Cheah Chean Eok, a distinguish local Chinese tycoon in the same year. Built in the Moorish style, the tower stands sixty feet tall, one foot for each year of Victoria’s reign. Unfortunately, Queen Victoria never stepped foot on Penang soil which was once a British settlement neither did she live long enough to see the memorial clocktower dedicated to her completed. By the time it was completed in 1902, the queen had died. Picture taken at King Edwards Place, Light Street/Beach Street junction, Penang.

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