My books are in Amari Johor Baru

If you were born or brought up in Johor Baru in the 1960s, you may have fond memories of walking down Jalan Trus or Jalan Wong Ah Fook, while your nostrils were assailed by the putrid pong from the open sewage known as Sungai Segget.

My books, Book One and Book Two, are in Amari JB
Some of you may also remember going to the cinemas to watch shows at Rex or Lido.

These two landmark cinema halls no longer exist and in its former site, stands the towering structure that houses Hotel Amari Johor Baru, Suasana Suites Johor Baru and the Zenith Lifestyle Centre.

The landscape here is not recognizable especially as the infamous Sungai Segget is no longer visible and in its place, are covered pedestrian footpaths.

Amari JB is accessible from Jalan Wong Ah Fook by elevator and escalator while vehicles should drive via Jalan Trus to park comfortably within its covered carpark.

The wall mural by Mulo that was inspired by Rex and Lido
When I first met Area General Manager, Dean Rossilli, I pointed out that the Amari JB has the unique heritage of being situated on the site of these former landmark cinemas and that the hotel also overlooks Johor Baru’s Street of Harmony where places of worship of our multi-racial community, are located.

In addition to my memories of old cinemas in, Escape to the movies, a heritage piece on Johor Baru’s Street of Harmony is also featured in my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.

So this book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage along with its sequel, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People are provided in selected suites for room guests to read and get to know more about the place they are staying in.

Autographing my books for Amari Johor Baru
Dean and his team agree that travelers would enjoy staying in a place with a story and I believe that after reading about the attractions in our Street of Harmony, guests may even venture to explore further to see these sights for themselves!

I’m at the drop-off porch of the ground level hotel lobby off Jalan Trus and my eyes are riveted on the cream-coloured wall of its neighbouring building where a giant mural evokes memories of Rex and Lido.

Local artist, Mulo, told me that when he was commissioned for this job, he did online research and stumbled upon my stories on Rex and Lido in my blog, My Johor Stories (

Autographed books are in selected suites for the
guests' reading pleasure and to know more about Johor
Distracted by the painted figures that strongly resemble local movie icons, P. Ramlee and Saloma, I walk closer for a look at the details painted in this mural and can identify with the old-fashioned movie billboards and familiar pieces of old movie tickets!

In those days, Rex was one of the landmark, stand-alone cinemas where locals would go to watch a movie, seated on flip-up-and-down wooden seats and were cooled by ceiling fans.

Much later, Lido, a modern cinema was built on the adjacent site and this was preferred against Rex because it was not only new and had cushioned seats but was also air-conditioned!

Locals who can relate to my story, have experiences of their own and they told me about the times when high tides coincided with rain and the water level in Sungai Segget would suddenly rise…

It was my pleasure to present my signed books to
Dean and Amari JB for their guests' reading pleasure
Guys, who used to wear flip-flop slippers, had the bad habit of removing their footwear and folding up their legs on the seats to get comfortable and watch the show.

Unaware of the rising water that overflowed the banks of Sungai Segget, the flood water would reach inside the old cinema and silently lift up and float the rubber footwear away…

Maybe the guys were caught up with the exciting movie but when the show was over and they were ready to leave, the guys were shocked to discover that their footwear had disappeared and they had to walk home bare-footed!

I’m sure movie-goers at Rex and Lido have their own movie-watching memories and reading this may trigger off their own recollection of experiences, both good and bad.

These stand-alone cinemas or theatres remain in our memories now because they are quite unlike the multiple movie halls located within high-tech cineplexes of today.

When modern movie theatres started to open within shopping malls, the stand-alone theatres lost out to the newer options.

One for the album, Dean Rossili and the team at Amari Johor Baru with my books, Book One and Book Two.
When they ceased to be viable to operate, these cinemas were closed. Now, Broadway is the only stand-alone cinema in JB that remains in business.

It’s my pleasure to be at the hotel again to meet with Dean and the team to autograph my books before they were placed in their hotel rooms and suites.

Everyone is busy checking out my books!
With the skillful help of a professional photographer, we have fun while being “shot at” from various angles and at selected sites in the hotel, to capture a few photo mementoes of this special occasion.

As the Lunar New Year is just around the corner, I know Amari JB is gearing up to host the stay of (mostly repeat!) guests who have made advance reservations to stay with the hotel during the Johor Chingay season.

They are still busy checking out my books, by the pool...
They know that the hotel’s location commands a distinctive advantage with a panoramic view of the Johor Old Temple or Gu Miao on Jalan Trus, the site where the action starts and ends for this three-day annual street parade.

While the Johor Chingay began as a religious festival, it has evolved into a tourist attraction where visitors both local and abroad, will converge upon JB to watch this colourful night parade that happens of the 21st night of the first lunar month.

A light moment with Dean and my book,
My Johor Stories 2:
Interesting Places and Inspirational People
Traffic will virtually be at a standstill because some roads would be closed to facilitate the street parade. Schools and businesses will close early because everyone wants to be part of this exciting event.

In recent years, Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim has graced the event from the royal platform set up in front of Johor Baru City Centre or JBCC Mall, which is strategically located directly opposite the Amari JB.

So Amari guests have the best of both views as they can watch the parade from street level or from above, in the comfort of their rooms.

My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, are available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online via

Amari Johor Baru is at No. 82-C Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Baru, with it reception desk on Level Six. Tel: 607 – 266 8888.

Visit website: for special promotions at the hotel and restaurants.

Lavish Lunar New Year banquets at Trove

It’s the first year of Lunar New Year celebrations at Trove Johor Baru and I’m happy to accept their invitation to a preview of the delectable dishes in their festive set menu.

At Trove, the Salmon Yee Sang is topped by
fresh slivers of salmon and caviar or Japanese fish roe
I like how traditional (round!) banquet tables are arranged in a secluded section of the cool and contemporary ambiance of the Lada & Clove, for our dining pleasure.

A quick look at the Auspicious Set menu tells me that the Salmon Yee Sang is part of the set and here, the raw fish is topped with caviar or Japanese fish roe, tobiko.

Long wooden chopsticks are provided for the salad toss and we stand together to toss the colourful ingredients with (loud!) wishes for greater prosperity in the coming year!

With tobiko tossed into this salad, I’m not surprised at the distinct Japanese umami and to anticipate the experience of small “explosions” happening in my mouth…

Tossing Yee Sang together with wishes of greater prosperity
While enjoying this taste, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover an interesting lemongrass flavour in the salad – rather unique to the Salmon Yee Sang served here!

I lick my lips for a final taste of the interesting Yee Sang as I allow the piping hot Double-Boiled Fish Soup with Ginseng and Snow Pear to cool to a more palatable temperature.

A tiny sip and I like the natural sweetness of Snow Pear slices and the not-so-herby flavour of the fortifying Ginseng in the Fish Soup.

It’s a refreshing change and as I scoop deep into my bowl, I discover that the chunks of fish are lightly fried before being brewed in the soup.

Piping hot Double-boiled Fish Soup with
Ginseng and Snow Pear
The fish is toman or giant snakehead and it’s a generous chunk of this meaty fish in my warm and tasty soup.

In the tradition of the Lunar New Year, a whole fish is served and here the fish dish is Hong Kong-style live Tiger Garoupa steamed in superior soy sauce.

The wait staff skillfully carves the fish and politely offers us the choice of our favourite parts of the fish. Some aim for its belly while another goes for its “cheeks”…

From my first taste of a tender morsel of flesh, I must compliment the chef for his competence in timing the steaming just right and its tender meat perfectly pairs with the soy sauce!

Over interesting conversation, we help ourselves to Roasted Crispy Chicken topped with strips of dried shredded fish, and as the lazy-susan goes round and around, the platter ends up neatly polished!

Roasted Crispy Chicken topped with
strips of shredded fish
The Lunar New Year is also traditionally the time to enjoy high-value food ingredients with auspicious meanings and the next dish is Braised Abalone with Black Mushroom and Broccoli.

In this serving, a ring of broccoli florets is surrounded by whole abalone – one each for every diner – and topped with whole mushrooms and slices of glistening fish maw.

Prawns are another auspicious item to enjoy in Lunar New Year banquets and the pan-fried prawns are presented in three flavours: sweet, sour and spicy.

The menu rounds off with steamed Treasure Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf and when the platter is unveiled, I can see that the “treasures” are slices of Chinese sausages and waxed meat.

Braised Abalone with Black Mushroom and Broccoli
Two desserts end our set meal sweetly: Chilled Longan with Sea Coconut and deep-fried Sesame Seed balls stuffed with red bean paste.

I tear apart a Sesame Seed ball to let the stuffing cool down before tasting and I must say the wait is definitely worth it because it’s crispy outside and the not-too-sweet filling, tastes just right. Mmm…

Three-day advance orders are required for Chef Wong Chee Foong and his culinary team to prepare and serve the set menus.

They are the Golden Dragon Set (RM988 nett) and the Crimson Phoenix Set (RM1,188 nett) for tables of 10 and the Auspicious Set for tables of six (RM828 nett) or 10 (RM1,388 nett), presented from now till Feb 19.

Two desserts: Chilled Longan with Sea
Coconut and Sesame Seed balls
Reunion Dinner orders for the Auspicious Set on Feb 4, the eve of the Lunar New Year, also stand to win a free room-stay with the hotel in a Lucky Draw!

For a leisurely gathering, the traditional Reunion Dinner will be served at 7pm.

Upon request, Trove may arrange banquets to be held in private function rooms or in a private section of the Lada & Clove.

Lada & Clove is on Level 8 of Trove Johor Baru, located at Jalan Abdullah Tahir, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor. [No pork products are used in the kitchen.] Tel: +607 – 272 8888.

For reservations, email: or Tel: +6017 818 8036 and +6017 – 818 8043.

Visit website:

Gourmet festive fare at KS Treasures

It’s good to be back at KS Treasures to dine with Frankie, his wife, Diane, and their son, along with a few friends, for a preview of the festive dishes prepared by Chef Benson Chia.

Steamed Chinese sausages and waxed duck meat
and a claypot of rice: Larp Mei Farn (Cantonese)
At the launch of KS Treasures last year, I met co-owners, Jeremy Teo, Chef Benson and his wife, May.

Now we have the pleasure of dining with Jeremy’s sister, Celine, TS Ng and Yoshiko Tsuchiya of Johor Bahru Gourmet, and her 7-year old son.

Johor-born Chef Benson, who is from Segamat, is applying the culinary skills he acquired from an illustrious career with international brand Chinese restaurants from Singapore, Shanghai to Miami, USA.

Through skills garnered from his stints with Tung Lok Singapore, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, to award-winning Michelin Star Cantonese restaurant, Hakkasan in Miami, Chef Benson is living his dream in serving up culinary creations in his own restaurant.

Serving Braised Three Treasures Dried Seafood Yellow Broth
At the table, I’m seated next to Yoshiko and she turns to me with a polite query about my blog, My Johor Stories.

Having lived here for five years, she is familiar with local food and we have much to chat about especially since she and her son had just returned from a visit to Ipoh.

[I was impressed by her young son who has such an inquisitive palate that he is ready to taste all the food served throughout the meal!]

After tossing the platter of Salmon Yee Sang for greater prosperity and tasting it, I’m ready for the items that Chef Benson has picked to prepare for us from the eight Set Menus and Ala Carte Menu, designed for the festive season.

Taste the flavour of Mandarin oranges and yellow
mustard that coats these tasty prawns
I’m more than ready for something extraordinary and the Braised Three Treasures Dried Seafood Yellow Broth, truly makes an exceptional difference.

As I watch the serving staff dish out the soup into individual bowls, I observe the creamy texture of the rich yellow broth – prepared from chicken stock and scallops – filled with shreds of dried scallops, sea cucumber and fish maw.

As I sip each spoonful of this superior soup to savour its rich, creamy flavour, I agree that it certainly lives up to its name and reflects KS Treasures reputation for modern gourmet Chinese cuisine.

Such a great start sets the tone for our meal and I sit back, hardly able to contain my anticipation for more delights to come.

In the Chinese tradition of giving auspicious names to festive dishes, I recognize the voice of Chef Benson behind me saying, “Tai Kat Tai Lei,” as he presents the next dish.

The chef comes into my line of sight and he proudly presents the dish of prawns stir-fried in a special sauce created with slices of Mandarin oranges and yellow mustard.

At a glance I see that the whole prawns are without shells and are completed coated with the sauce. In this way, I can taste the full flavour of the delicious sauce along with the crunchy texture of the prawns with each bite.

While we are happily savouring these tasty prawns, Celine’s perceptive eyes discerned that the kids at our table were not too enthusiastic about such sophisticated flavours.

She quickly responded by placing orders for two items that she believes, are all-time favorites, popular with both children and adults: Ebi Shrimp Fried Rice and Fried Chicken Wings.

When these items are served, I can see how the adults are tempted to have some.

From the way the golden grains of fried rice and the fried chicken wings – tender mid-sections only – gradually disappeared from the platters, these are evidently popular hits!

[No, I did not have a taste but made a mental note to come back to savour them later.]

The Chef's signature Black Truffle Roasted Duck
This brief interlude allows the meal to settle more comfortably before the next dish is served: The Chef’s signature Black Truffle Roasted Duck garnished with sautéed mushrooms.

This dish is so fusion-like that I can imagine how Chef Benson cannot resist adding a French element to the Oriental preparation of his famous whole roasted duck!

Mmm… The moist and tender, fragrant roasted duck complemented by the truffle sauce, tastes just right and I don’t mind having yet another piece...

And when this platter was retrieved completely empty, it certainly shows how this dish went down (positively!) with us!

Stewed Port Knuckle with Sea Cucumber
We are licking our lips and agreeing that the Black Truffle Roasted Duck wins – hands down – when the next dish is served: Stewed Pork Knuckle with Sea Cucumber.

Maybe it’s the lighting but this eye-catching dish of a plump pork knuckle sitting in a ring of giant size mushrooms and chunks of sea cucumber, appears to be glistening and glowing!

We cannot help but admire the plating and presentation, and agree that we have no alternative but to destroy such exquisite splendor so that we can savour this dish.

Then TS requests for a fork and knife and rises to the occasion.

Skillful handiwork by TS
in lifting the bones out of the tender pork knuckle
He stands up and with skills that rival a trained surgeon, he neatly dissects the tender meat and lifts the bones out!

As we applaud TS for his skillful operation (he insists this is his first time ever!) he cuts the pork knuckle into portions.

Then we help ourselves to the fall-off-the-bone tender meat and its rich flavours that Chef Benson achieved from painstakingly stewing this dish for two and a half hours!

We also enjoy a green leafy vegetable dish before rounding off the meal with Cantonese style Larp Mei Farn or rice steamed with Chinese sausages and waxed duck.

I can smell it before I see it.

A drizzle of dark sauce on steamed Larp Mei Farn
before it is mixed and served
This familiar aroma sends me straight back to No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng, where our grandmother used to prepare this dish for the family during Chinese New Year.

Chef Benson tells us that he timed the cooking of this rice dish in a claypot, according to our pace so that it will be ready just on time to serve at the end of our meal.

Just as our grandmother did, the chef placed the Chinese sausages and waxed duck meats on top of the rice and are steamed so that its fragrant oils and rich flavours are soaked directly into the rice.

The sausages and meat are removed from the rice and sliced, and then served separate from the claypot of rice.

At the table, the serving staff adds the sliced sausages and meats back onto the rice and drizzles a special dark sauce over the dish before mixing the ingredients with the rice.

Each serving is a bowl of rice mixed with the preserved meats and as I taste each comforting mouthful, I cannot help having a flashback to Chinese New Year at grandfather or Ah Kong’s house where our family had a tradition of eating this fragrant rice dish.

I know Chef Benson is mighty proud of this dish and I congratulated him on serving such an agreeable, nostalgic taste.

But I have to break his heart by telling him, “My grandmother’s tasted much better.”

The chef generously accepted my comment and goes on to explain that the Chinese sausages and waxed products of today cannot be compared to those of yesteryears.

I agreed that this is because in a bygone era, the China products were preserved with high quality wine and ingredients, quite unlike what is happening now.

The chef explains that the preserved meats used at KS Treasures are premium products from Hong Kong [I can picture the type traditionally shipped out in metal tins!].

Dessert of Chinese style Pumpkin Puree
Like the others around the table, I’m more than satisfied with this spectacular meal and am ready to end sweetly with dessert.

Our dessert is a platter of Chinese style Pumpkin Puree with a hint of coconut milk, similar to Teochew Or Nee (Yam Puree).

Just like Or Nee, a serving of the pureed pumpkin may not look good but everyone agrees that it certainly tastes so good!

A glance at the Set Menus shows a price range from as low as RM788, RM988, RM1,188 to as high as RM4,688 for a table of 10 persons.

Chef Benson has also prepared a Chinese New Year Ala Carte menu of festive dishes and in our meal, the prawn dish and the steamed rice are from the festive Ala Carte menu.

To allow sufficient preparation time, one day advance notice for reservations of set menus is recommended. Tel: +607 – 665 1133.

KS Treasures Restaurant [Non-Halal] is located at No. 155 & 157, Jalan Sutera, Taman Sentosa, Johor Baru, Johor.

Open daily, from 11.30am to 3pm and from 5.30pm to 10.30pm, with an afternoon break.

Taste of tradition at Qing Palace

The Lunar New Year is just around the corner and Qing Palace, the award-winning Chinese restaurant at Pulai Springs Resort, is one of the preferred destinations to celebrate with authentic Cantonese-Szechuan cuisine by Master Chef Lim Ming Chong.

Check out the Awards [on the wall]
at the entrance to Qing Palace in
Pulai Springs Resort
At the preview of the Chinese New Year festive menu, a few dishes have been selected from the various sets for us to sample and remind us why the Qing Palace remains popular with diners over the years.

Chef Lim has planned menus that are suitable for family reunions and gatherings with friends with traditional dishes designed with symbolic Chinese expressions of good fortune, prosperity, happiness, wealth and abundance for the Chinese New Year!

This of course, includes the serving of traditional Qing Palace Special Yee Sang with Royal Abalone Slices.  

I am pleased that the serving staff is conversant with the Chinese tradition of uttering positive wishes as she adds the various toppings onto the platter for us to toss for greater prosperity in the lo hei tradition.

Qing Palace, renowned for their Camphor and Tea Smoked Duck, serves the boneless version with a side of fried mantou buns complemented by a drizzle of delicious sweet sauce.

When I sink my teeth into the tasty, tender meat, I nod my head with approval because it tastes as good as it always did!

She utters positive phrases as she
adds the various topping on the
platter of Qing Palace Yee Sang
The skill of the chef is proven in the dish of Hong Kong style Steamed Dragon Garoupa where the steamed fish is timed to perfection and is paired with tasty superior sauce.

Szechuan Chilli Sauce flavours on the Fried Prawns is simply lip-smacking and this is followed by the traditional Chinese New Year dish of Braised Sea Cucumber with Black Mushrooms and Greens.

Steamed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf is another popular dish on the menu and the preview ends with dessert of deep-fried traditional Chinese New Year Cake, nian gow or kueh bakul.

I like how this traditional favourite is sandwiched between a slice of sweet potato and yam, and the triple layered cake is dipped in batter before being deep-fried to crispy golden-brown.

While we savour this delectable dessert, our chat is on the traditional Chinese legend of how nian gow was fed to the Kitchen God so that his lips will be sealed when he returned to heaven to make his annual report on the family…

On Feb 4, the Qing Palace offers two options for the Chinese New Year Eve Reunion Dinner:

Tasty and tender Camphor and Tea Smoked Duck
Set Menu A is priced at RM880+ for table of 10 and RM528+ for table of 6 persons.
Set Menu B is priced at RM1,300+ for table of 10 and RM780+ for table of 6 persons.

To accommodate the modern trend of enjoying a restaurant Reunion Dinner, Qing Palace offers three dining sessions scheduled at 5.30pm, 7pm and 8pm on the eve of Lunar New Year, Feb 4 to usher in the coming Year of the Boar.

Feasting on high-value ingredients and dishes with auspicious names is a must this festive season and Qing Palace offers three Chinese New Year Set Menus, A, B and C for tables of 10 or 6 diners, served from Feb 5 to 19, for both lunch and dinner.

Braised Sea Cucumber with Black Mushrooms and Greens
Set A is priced at RM818+ for table of 10.
Set B is priced at RM938+ for table of 10 and RM558+ for table of 6 persons.
Set B is priced at RM1,388+ for table of 10 and RM828+ for table of 6 persons.

Diners may choose from Yee Sang options in two sizes that feature salmon: RM68+ (small) RM128+ (large), Royal Abalone Slices: RM68+ (small) RM128+ (large), dried seafood: RM78+ (small) RM138+ (large) or smoked duck: RM78+ (small) RM138+ (large).

On Feb 4, the all-day dining Cinta Terrace Restaurant will have a Chinese New Year Prosperity Reunion Barbecue Nite Buffet. This is priced at RM88+ per adult and RM44+ per child.

Bookings before Jan 31 will save RM15 per adult from the original price. Bookings for groups of 10 guests or more will enjoy RM18 savings per adult.

Delectable dessert of triple layered cake made with
traditional nian gow sandwiched between a slice of
sweet potato and yam 
On Feb 5, there is a Day One, Chinese New Year Day Special High Tea from 12pm to 2.30pm at RM58+ per adult and RM29+ per child.

On Feb 6, there is a Day Two, Chinese New Year Day Special High Tea at RM48+ per adult and RM24+ per child. For every four paying adults, one child dines for Free.

If you are in the resort on Feb 7, the third day of the first lunar month, don’t miss the Lion Dance performance at the hotel lobby, scheduled for 10.30am.

Pulai Springs Resort is at 20km Jalan Pontian Lama, 81110 Pulai, Johor. Qing Palace serves food which is pork-free and without alcohol.

Cinta Terrace Restaurant is Halal certified.

Visit website: for full details of menus and special promotions at the resort hotel and restaurants.

For reservations, Tel: 607 – 521 2121, Email:

It's been three whole years...

Hey Di,

I’m not counting but it’s been three whole years since you left us and I still miss you dearly.

I have two books; My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People,
Rich Heritage [Left] and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting
Places and Inspirational People [Right]
A great deal has happened since the success of, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, my book which was launched on 15 July 2017.  

Following its success, I was encouraged by Think City to work on its sequel and I remember how Dr Neil Khor suggested to expand the contents to include stories from other districts.

This made me think about the many places that I discovered while I went “travelling” with you to destinations that were once obscure but are now more connected and well developed with residential and industrial areas.

I recalled places like Kong Kong and kampung Kong Kong Laut, Telok Jawa and Telok Sengat and how Kenny and I, used to explore the rubber estates and fishing jetties while you dispensed medicine to the villagers.

My books displayed in the window of
MPH bookstore, Johor Baru City Square
We were fearless – unperturbed by the sights and sounds of rustic village life – and where bright sunshine, drizzles or encounters with small creatures and insects did nothing to dampen our outdoor fun.

Working on Book 2 was challenging in its own way and I’m grateful for the support of Think City and MPH Publishing, and a host of friends who helped me through this project.

To meet with people for their stories, I had to travel to various parts of Johor. These drives were comfortable through the Plus North-South Highway and now we have the convenience of satellite maps which can be accessed through the smartphone.

I remember how you used to drive us from Johor Baru to Ipoh and Cameron Highlands for year-end holidays via the scenic route. Back then, the drive was from dawn to dusk!

But now the drives are just a breeze even off the Highway because the maps can lead me right to the doorstep of the address in my destination!

Mum, holding her walking stick, with
Aunty Polly, going to my book launch
You were close in my thoughts as I prepared the manuscript for the sequel because – just as in the first book – book two is a tribute to you.

While I was happy to work on the continuing family stories under Memories, the fun of sharing the tales was tinged with sadness because you are not here.

A lot is different in your absence but I’m sure you will be pleased that mum and all of us are coping with the changes.

Mum feels weakness in her legs so when we take her to the mall, she would be wheeled about comfortably on the wheelchair.

On regular outings to church and grocery shopping at the regular market shop, I will drive here and she will use the walking stick for support.

I bought her a light-weight stick because the cane that you used, is too long for her height and she said it feels too heavy.

I have reasoned with her, not to be shy about using the walking stick because it is for her own comfort and support.

A precious old document that has
your hand-writing on it!
I explained in the unfortunate event of a fall, she will just suffer pain and discomfort, so she finally accepted the fact that the use of a walking stick is the best option for her.

For the launch event for My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, Aunty Polly and Uncle Steven joined us in Johor Baru to enjoy my community-centered celebration.

Dad, you would have enjoyed the Mee Rebus Haji Wahid that was served from a live cooking station, very much like the way you arranged for them to serve at our home parties.

It tasted of pure nostalgia and Aunty Polly confessed that she had two bowls of the tasty mee rebus!

I think you would also have enjoyed the Lucky Draw where my guests won for themselves, vouchers and gifts that were generously contributed by the subjects featured in my book.

The top two prizes – in my opinion – were the traditional cotton-stuffed pillow and bolster, contributed by Sin Keng Wah Kedai Tilam.

From family album: Ruby, Kenny, Pearly and I [L to R];
Your daughters playing dress-up with mum's cheong sam
while your son intruded upon us!
In my story, I referred to an old receipt from Fei Leong that we discovered among your collection of ancient documents.

This is so precious because I read your handwriting written on this receipt that it was dated 1988 and the note-to-self read: “Cotton mattress for Peggy’s bed.”

Fei Leong no longer exists but this old receipt inspired me to seek out Sin Keng Wah because they are the only one left in JB who are still in this business here!

In those days, all our mattresses were cotton-stuffed and I remember how comfortable your three daughters did sleep, even in our shared, non-air conditioned room.

Speaking about your other two daughters, they are both grandmothers now – one in the UK and the other in Australia. This would make you a proud great-grandfather of three and counting (the next should arrive in mid-2019!)

Your son and favourite (and only!) daughter-in-law are also doing well, especially with their adventurous hill-climbing hobby.

After they had conquered the peaks in East Malaysia, they reached the summit of live volcanoes in Indonesia and just completed their recent climb in Hong Kong!
. . .

Soo Kok Wah presenting a book to me
while Soo Kok Tai looks on
Last year, I embarked on a project to write the English version of a Chinese publication of a book on the heritage of the Soo Peng Hang Press, one of the early family-run print businesses in JB.

When I was approached to do this by Yap Leong of the Eh He team, one of the reasons I happily accepted the challenge was because your first job was as a typesetter with a printing company in Ipoh!

I vividly recalled how you described Mr Wilson and his strict ways. He did not like older boys to be idle and soon after you completed your school years, you went out and found yourself a job with this printing company.

The Soo brothers, Soo Kok Wah and Soo Kok Tai, shared briefly about the early history of their father, Soo Peng Hang, and it was uncanny that the elder Soo once worked with a printing company in Ipoh too!

He was much senior to you but I guess it was possible that you both worked with the same printing company in Ipoh but only that you joined the team in later years …

A photo of the screen with my portrait and quote on it!
It was indeed my honour and privilege to work on this book that recorded the heritage of Soo Peng Hang Press, so that Chinese who do not read Chinese, can read about it in the English language.

At the recent book launch event, the organizer introduced the key people involved with the project with a portrait photo and a brief quote in Chinese, posted on the backdrop screen for guests to read.

I was also privileged to write a Foreword in this book, from which this quote was taken.

I chose to use my brand identity for My Johor Stories with my name, Peggy Loh, and when it was flashed on the screen, my quote (in English!) read like this: “As I looked at the photos, I felt a strange connection as my thoughts raced to my dad. My dad told me that his first job was as a typesetter with a printing press in Ipoh.”

It felt surreal to read these words on the screen and there seated in the front row (unknown to every one), I was momentarily overcome by a sudden rush of emotion.
. . .

Once again we marked the third anniversary of your departure with a meal at Niniq Javanese Cuisine in Taman Molek.

Grilled chicken sandwich and mushroom
soup at Niniq Javanese Cuisine, in your
loving memory
Upon my request, the café has added to their Indonesian cuisine menu, your favourite mushroom soup and grilled chicken sandwich made with focaccia bread!

So mum and I, along with Soke Har, had lunch at Niniq Javanese Cuisine with a taste of mushroom soup and grilled chicken sandwich, in your loving memory.
. . .

The Lunar New Year season is upon us again and while the mall windows are dressed in Red and the festive music sings, “Kongxi-Kongxi Kongxi Ni!” it’s just not the same without you.

Just as it was for Christmas, in spite of the happy reunion when all come together to celebrate with gatherings and feasts, it will never be the same again.

So each year for each festive season, we try to do things a bit differently to make new traditions and memories.

You will be delighted to know that Aaron and his wife will be coming to join us from Perth and Pearly will be here from the UK. And yes, Amanda is back here already!

We love and miss you so much, Di.
Your daughter No. 3, P.