Monday, December 28, 2015

Remitting money home

The Western Union Company is an American financial services and communications company. Its North American headquarters is in Meridian, Colorado, though the postal designation of nearby Englewood is used in its mailing address. Wikipedia
I went to a function where Western Union was a sponsor. I was thinking, I wonder how our ancestors remitted money to China after their hard work.

Friday, December 25, 2015

My cousin Wayne Akup's irau makaa' ngadan

Kallang Akup, son of the Late Akup and his family and relatives.

The soldiers parachuted in the plain of Bario and at Long Akah. They were led by Major Harrison, he was the leader of a guerrilla operation He trained the locals, the gentle peace loving Kelabits. He trained the locals including Akup, Kallang 's father. The Kelabits taught the soldiers jungle tracking and using the soundless fast blow pipe.
After training they went home to Lawas and Belawit(Indonesia side) They met the Japanese half way from Lawas to the Highlands. They ambushed the Japanese before they surrendered in 1945. The Japanese never made it to Bario.
Tom Harrison got a Timorese soldier to help him during the war. Kohuan, the first teacher in Bario and Tom started a school after the war. That was how the Kelabits were educated those days He is one generation before kallang.
The late Akup received the Pacific medal and King George Medal.

The Akups and Bario Highland

Bario is the home of my brother in law Kallang and Sister in Law Elly. They belong to the tribes of the kelabits. Bario is a nice place to visit as it is very cool because of it's high altitude and the people are very friendly.

Kallang's Father fought against the Japanese during the second world war and was awarded medals.

As I was checking in for my flight in Miri to Mulu, there was a group of London Students on their Borneo tour to Bario. I told them that it was a pity my sister Elizabeth and Kallang had just left bario. Otherwise they would provide great hospitality. Indeed, Elizabeth had told me many a tourist had past through their long house, and some even went to their kitchen.

The most convenient way to the Bario highlands is by plane. My sisters had told me before you board the plane, both you and your luggage had to be weighed. This is to make sure that the plane doesn't get overloaded. Kallang is a big man and Elizabeth is a small woman. So their weight balance out. Things are very expensive in Bario. People try to pack as much as they can.

I spoke with a very friendly girl as they waited for the rural flight service.

You can see the students having fun as they weigh themselves.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

“No matter where the Chinese people are, China will always be their “maternal home””. – President Xi Jinping

The law of ius sanguinis was the rule of the blood: you were Chinese regardless of where you were born. 

“No matter where the Chinese people are, China will always be their “maternal home””. – President Xi Jinping


Friday, December 11, 2015


My father told me there is a folklore that it is very important to grow them the right way up, or the tapioca would be poisonous. It would be better not to eat them.
Tapioca is a dietary staple in Africa, Asia and South America, and you'll also find it in beverages and puddings in the United States. Although commercially packaged tapioca is generally safe, the plant can be highly toxic if not prepared properly.
Tapioca naturally produces cyanide, which is poisonous to humans; however, the cyanide may be removed during processing. By eating poorly prepared tapioca, you may risk cyanide poisoning according to the American Cancer Society. Symptoms include headache and dizziness; in severe cases, you may experience convulsions or coma. It is suggested that if a person is allergic to latex, it is best not to eat tapioca.

Rubber Tree

some 70,000 seeds being smuggled to Kew in 1875, by Henry Wickham, at the service of the British Empire, from Brazil and stole some rubber seeds aka Hevea brasiliensi.

From those stolen seeds, they grew to supply the rubber gardens in Malaysia and Borneo.
The original rubber trees were very good, but took too long to reach a productive age. Then the good old scientist developed a smaller tree but produced more and called it high yielding tree.

My plant is a miniature tree. It's a tribute to both sets of my ancestry. It was rubber that brought them to Borneo.In 1907, my Great Grand father was scouted to lead a developing company to grow this important cash crop.

During the World War Two, trading ceased. People stitched up rubber sheets and wore them. The more enterprising ones even made shoes.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ah Kong, the rich yet generous man.

The Alberton, a rich man's house in Auckland. In my book, I described Kong's house which was torched by the Japanese. I imagine that Kong's house looked like this.

Ah Kong wanted to keep his wife away from the unsavory elements in the town. He went up to Upper Lanang Road and built his mansion. It was built on stilts, an ingenious way to defeat the annual flooding. There were three stories on top of the void area. It had balustrades lining the entire upstairs big balcony for outdoor seating. It had a grand front entrance. The lounge had marble flooring. He had fifteen rooms and an entire floor for the servants in the East Wing. He had three cars, and chauffeurs to drive him to work and his wife, concubines and daughters to shop. The most talked of all, was his water pump which had a motor in the wash house. The machine pumped water directly from Rejang River to the house. The rest of the people in the village had to bath in the river and carry water home from the river. It was the grandest house in the whole of Sibu.
He hosted dinner parties for the white civil servants and other rich men from the Foochow community. He had food shipped in from Singapore, and he was living the life of the rich and famous.
His wife, concubines and daughters retained their porcelain-white smooth skin as they were born in China. They had never worked outside in the burning tropical fields where other migrant women had to. They wore different kinds of cheongsams[1] and western dresses. They wore western make-up; rouge and lipstick and their hair was always permed.
It was like two different worlds. When they went to the hairdressing salon, they were regarded as very important customers. Likewise, when they went to the tailor, they received first class treatment. Ah Kong had imported the best silk fabric from Singapore and Hong Kong. The rest of the women in the village wore dull- coloured samfoos[2].

[1] Tall necked gowns
[2] Women attire of tunic and fisherman pants