Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt4 - Old CNY memories

When I was young (and still today), the most precious experiences and times I had were during Chinese New Year.

I remember about a week before the big event, we would have prayers to the ancestors. It would always mark the coming of this highly anticipated festival. We would set out the altars and serve itik tim (duck soup with salted veg) and chap chye (nyonya mix veg) to the ancestors.

Of course, about a month prior, we would already start the spring cleaning of the house. I live in a century old house and it was definitely a task to clean it properly. Being 200ft long and 3 storeys high, the house took 3 days of floor washing. The antiques needed to be toothbrushed (only toothbrushes could easily reach into the wood carving grooves) and we had to use chopsticks and cloth to poke through the small wooder carving holes. The gold leaf on the old lacquered wood would shine again with just a wipe. They definitely knew how to make old wooden fittings and furniture back then. During spring cleaning, I normally had the task of polishing the brass candle stands with brasso. It was a hard task for sure and I had to carefully cut away old wax from the stands using a blunt knife. Then we had to paint white lines into the red stone of the dutch floor (renewing the old paint lines). We had to skip around these lines until the paint dried.

Anyway, as CNY approached, we would do our shopping for fruits, flowers, joss paper and joss sticks for prayers etc. I remember on CNY eve, there would be this small performance troupe that goes around our streets. This troupe consisted of a guy who would wear the bald man mask (the one that plays with the lion in lion dances) with a broken hand fan. Then the other guys in the troupe would be carrying a short dragon on sticks. They would go house to house to 'bless' the house and collect angpows.

I always looked forward to CNY eve... Melaka town would be so quiet and the market would be full of housewifes doing last minute pork and veg shopping. And we would go to bed with our new pyjamas in anticipation of the following day.

CNY itself would be a different affair. We would lay out the antique velvet tablecloth on the marble table and have a long joot carpet that spans from the front of the house to the middle to welcome visitors. Every 1st day of CNY morning, we would visit my mom's aunt's house and have ketupat (yeah funny right?) with sambal and curry and then visit my mom's mom's house in Serkam for lunch. As usual, we would kneel before our elders to wish them good luck and long life before receiving our angpows. RM20 worth of fireworks would last us a couple of hours... from moontravellers to black cat sparklers and even ciggie shaped sparklers.

The following days would be filled with leftover food from the CNY even family dinner, bakkua, kuaci, 500ml F&N drinks and games of 21/banlat (blackjack), fishing, gin rummy, TAN (5 card game) among other things...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Behold! The terrible beauty of a plasma ball!

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Quite inexpensive... I've always been fascinated and wanted one... so I got it from ROOM for only RM49.90. Now on to my plans of world conquest (insert maniacal mad scientist laughter here MWAHAHAH!!)

Some older shots

I shot these last year when I was reviewing the Nikon D50...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Teochew porridge at Seapark...

I love this small stall in Seapark (at the coffeeshop between Maybank and Pelangi) which is only open during lunch. Their porridge is the right consistency and their hamchoy is excellent. But the crowning glory has got to be the luncheon meat. Tracy can attest to that!

The real deal... high quality luncheon meat/spam fried the RIGHT way... extremely addictive!

Ah.. omelette with lots of chives... very tasty and hearty!

Ikan kembung (mackerel) pan fried and served with chili padi jeruk (pickled bird's eye chilli)... fuyoh... damn appetizing!

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Friday, May 26, 2006

An AP Night To Remember

Aka... the night of Audemars Piguet...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The innate beauty of a fountain pen...

Truly the heart of a fountain pen is its nib... there's an innate beauty to them... from the humble steel nibs to the elegant and luxurious 18k and 21k gold nibs... I love them all but I especially love two-tone nibs where the yellow gold is plated with rhodium to enhance the aesthetic beauty of nibs.

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt3 - Memories of the old school days

Born and bred in Melaka, I was sent to a missionary school with a long and proud tradition. Looking back, we really had some fun and memorable times. Going to school meant we had to be in uniform of course - the uniform of choice for Malaccans was of course from Bee Loon in Jln Bendahara. For school shoes, many had the choice of either the China ones (Fung Keong, Butterfly, etc) or Bata which was the Badminton Master (BM) red or green sole and in subsequent years, the BM2000 and BM2000 Turbo. There was also Pallas. Nike and Adidas were hard to come by then and Power (Bata's line of sports shoes) was quite a luxury. I had one blue pair that cost RM35 and I REALLY cherished it. In the early years, I carried this tartan covered square suitcase looking bag which I donned with many stickers (Ultraman, Disney etc). Then the rage was the Swan yellow nylon bags. Pencil box came in many shapes and sizes... some had inbuilt pencil sharpeners and even hourglasses. Some used Oxford/Cambridge math equipment (with compass and protractor) as pencil cases. Lazy buggers like me used to keep the pencil shavings in the pencil boxes and the carbon would spill into the bottom of our school bags and the edges of our books would turn black from it. In the later years, when I became a senior prefect, I wore white pants and black leather shoes and would welcome Mondays where I would put on a blazer.

I didn't remember much of my kindergarten days except that we would bully or be bullied by the girls. We used to have tea breaks where they would serve Milo or Ribena with cookies. In school, canteen food was divine. I don't remember much about what we had in primary but in secondary, we used to reserve the best food in the morning for recess. Junkfood was abundant too (in and out of school) - haw par flakes, mo fah kor, bunny milk candy, prawn brand candy and even pickled pinang, mango and papaya. Satay fish on a stick, peanut cakes, crackers with nuts on them, peanut cakes with molasses... the list can go on forever. We looked forward to the occasional visit of the Vitagen van (direct from factory) which we would order in advance. The rich kids would order a dozen bottles at times. We also looked forward to the Milo van that came during sports days. That was the best Milo ever!

In primary school, we were never short of games to play before school began, during recess or after school. Police and thief is quite self explanatory but there were also tengteng and hantu galah. One particularly cruel game we used to play was when there was 4 pieces of paper - polis, pencuri, hakim and pemukul. 4 players would randomly draw one piece of paper each. The polis is supposed to guess who is the pencuri. If he is right, the hakim will decide how many wallops the pencuri will get from the pemukul. If he is wrong, the polis will get it instead. There was also obscure games like ice cream soda. Then of course the kids were happy to play with the pakau which one would buy by sheets for 10sen. These sheets were perforated and you can tear them apart into small playing cards and they had pictures of heroes like Ultraman. You could play countless of games with them.

There were also games that required equipment (like the rubberband ropes which were popular among girls) and also the famous shuttlecock made from coloured chicken feathers, round pieces of rubber and an iron nail. We used to play takraw with these but I think the most popular game with the shuttlecock was chopping.

In secondary school, we still played chopping but it gave way to more football and ping pong... plus other proper sports. We still played with the plastic ball (RM2.00 from the kedai runcit) along the corridors but sometimes when 2 players kick the ball at the same time, the ball would explode and game over. Table soccer with pieces of cardboard or ballpens and white pepperseeds were popular too.

After school, we would go by the drain beside the school and catch fish or look for those pods from plants that would explore when we threw them into the water as well as those plants that were sensitive to touch. Somewhere in the kampung behind the school, there was a fish shop that we would buy guppies and oscars to bring home. There was an old boys association beside the school that had free play Space Invaders on... we were quickly banned from that. We would also go by the kedai runcit nearby to buy the long flavoured ice tubes (ranging from semboi to orange juice) and also buy junkfood and shuttlecocks from the kedai or from roadside vendors (one of them had a wicked lychee lime drink). These vendors also had finger foods on toothpicks which you would dip into sweet sauce or chili (luncheon meat, foo chok, fishball etc). Then there was of course the rock candy man who would hit on the candy with the hammer and pick plus the ice cream man with ice cream potong and ice cream scoops sandwiched in bread.

Of course as kids, we were cruel bastards. We gave a classmate (because he was a poofter) the nickname of "prostitute". We also had this trick we would play on unsuspecting prey... we would cover his eyes from the back by surprise and everyone would wallop his head. When he recovers, he would never find out which scoundrel did it.

Ah I could really go on and on but let's leave that for another day... maybe in Pt4 eh?

More Maneki Neko!!!

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt2 - Old cinemas and makan places

I have MANY fond memories of the old cinemas in my hometown of Melaka/Malacca. Back then, cinema tickets were much easier to obtain. Even before the days of pirated DVDs, VCDs and VHS, you could just drop by any cinema and get tickets before the movie. Ticket buying was efficient then... and to have tickets to sit upstrairs was considered a luxury. The old ladies manning the ticket counters simply ticked away at the choices. Not many people know about the old cinemas nowadays... even in KL, I am sure the younger generation have no idea what were the cinemas existent back in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. I find that cinemas of old were much more relaxing than the packed and hectic cineplexes of today.

Read this for some backstory... Click Click!

Let me tell you about the cinemas/theatres/panggung wayang we used to have in Melaka. They were in operation up to around the early 90s until the last ones gave way to the Mahkota Parade cineplex.

First off is Rex cinema. I remember that the seating was divided into 3 classes. In the 80s, 3rd class seating was only 70sen (it had a different ticket counter facing the carpark). My dad used to bribe the doorman to let me and him into a movie for the price less than 2 1st class seats. Rex was famous for English movies.

Behind Rex was Sun cinema. I don't remember anything of this cinema except that it burned down. I only remember it was an eerie place and they had reruns of movies like The Exorcist. Cinemas back then often had reruns for 'Today Only' as well as some soft porn. Around the same area was Central cinema, famous for bangsawan shows. I never knew this place since it was destroyed after I was born.

Adjacent to Rex was of course the famous Federal cinema. It had an equally famous Chinese name, Lien Pang. It featured the old Shaw brothers movies and the side lane of Federal had all these vendors selling junk food like the dried sotong (Ken Ken) and the prawn crackers similar to Double Decker of today (but of higher quality and packed in transparent stripey plastic). The side lanes also led to City Park, Melaka's video arcade center and also housed a famous yong tau foo stall as well as a palmistry center. The famous hee kiaw and fish porridge vendor in front has since moved to the stalls beside Grand Continental Hotel.

Down in Bukit Baru, there was Kammah cinema which was an anomaly since it was so far from town. We only could go there once my dad bought his old Austin. Kammah was famous for reruns until it was refurbished in the mid 80s. Then it started showing newer HK movies. It had a red/purple velvet interior.

Up in Tengkera/Tranquerah, we had the infamous Oriental cinema (which used to be called Roxy). In both incarnations, the cinema was said to be haunted. Upstairs, a couple of seats was ribboned off preventing audience from accidentally sitting on seats which was reserved for the spirits. Oriental cinema also had a famous hee kiaw noodle vendor who is still selling today in the shoplot opposite the old Oriental building.

In Jalan Bendahara, there were Capitol and Savoy cinemas. Capitol didn't have aircon and had a tall ceiling with ceiling fans attached to them. Its toilets were located outside the building. Savoy was famous for chinese horror stories as well as the chinese kungfu movies (where there's always a sifu and a student with harsh training methods - Jackie Chan etc). The famous deaf muah chee vendor is still at the old Savoy location.

Lido cinema at Kee Ann road (now converted to Formosa supermarket) used to show Hindi and Malay movies). I probably only watched one or 2 movies there.

Finally there's Cathay cinema - very famous for blockbuster movies (both chinese and American). Behind Cathay is one of the oldest satay celup places... Kingtu satay celup.

Our family travelled to the cinema either by foot or trishaw. My dad always haggled for the price when we took the trishaw. When I was old enough, my dad and I used to alight the trishaw when we approached the bridges that went over the Melaka river to help push the trishaw over them.

Those were the days indeed - with the most famous restaurants in Melaka being New World and Bamboo House. Soft drinks back then were of course the big 500ml F&N sodas as well as Kickapoo, Sinalco, Green Spot and even Magnolia chococolate milk in bottles. I miss these times.

More Blasts in Pt3...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Damn adorable...


Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Friday, May 19, 2006

Phillippe Dufour is in the house!!!

Am so flabbergasted I got to meet 3 great master watchmakers last night - the enigmatic Vianney Halter, the up and comer Peter Speake-Marin and the watch god himself, Phillippe Dufour! Amazing! Simply amazing!!!

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ultraman Type A, B and C

For those not in the know, when the original Ultraman started in the 60s, he had a wrinkly face (aka Type A). After that he had a small mouth, Type B and the final version was Type C, the one which most of us are familiar with.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Grease Is The Word?

Hmm Grease The Musical was quite underwhelming for me last night. I didn't 'feel' that much for the characters though the songs were nostalgic. Surprised they didn't include the title song somewhere...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Some great value pens!

2 Platinums...

And a really cute Pilot...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt1 - Mat Sentul And Junk Food

Today we talk about Mat Sentul, the veteran filmmaker. I remember my first fond memory of him... this angular faced (with bulging eyes) actor in his James Bond parody, Mat Bond. I remember when he had to flush the toilet to open the secret door to access his car. They were really cheap 'special effects' but they were fun!

Mat Sentul arose from the P Ramlee movie era and back when our only home entertainment was boring RTM1 and RTM2 (terrestrial TV), Mat Sentul was definitely welcome to grace our National (WAY before Matsushita changed all their electric appliance names to Panasonic) TVs.

Subsequent to that, Mat Sentul gradually disappeared from making movies. He found lucrative business in making REALLY cheapo and campy TV advertisements for junk food. How many of us still hear his voice haunting us with "Ding Dang!" and "Tora!" and also "Kum Kum!"? I think the most recent set of adverts he did was "Apollo!" If not mistaken, he even did some cameos in them.

Talking about junk food, Ding Dang (or was it Tora) was the creme de la creme back then. At RM1.50 (which was a hefty sum for us schoolkids), Ding Dang gave us chocolate biscuit balls but the MAIN attraction were the toys in those boxes (graced with pictures of Doraemon). Those toys... ahhhh they were the epitome of avant garde toy technology. For those with less to spend on these luxuries, we would buy a packet of Kum Kum - at 20sen, it was a DAMN BIG surprise to find a toy inside. The toys were probably single coloured plastic bits but they were fun nonetheless. I remember in 1983 (I think), one of them had a big long plastic balloon thingy that you could blow up... it was around 4-5 feet in length!

That said, junk food started further back. There was Chickadees (which was recently revived), Twistees (the original satay flavour is still the best... it's not the same now and they changed the red packaged flavour of Curry to Cheese) among other things. I think the first one that started this nonsense of putting toys in packets of junk food was Mamee.

In case you didn't know, Mamee in the late 70s was purely an instant noodle brand (you just had to put hot water in it). However, Mamee discovered that more and more people were eating their noodles uncooked so they came up with a mascot (Mamee monster) and repackaged their instant noodles into junk food. It's still the same crap though but the portions are MUCH smaller now. You can still put about 4 packets of Mamee (with seasoning) into a big bowl, pour in boiling water and cover the bowl with a plate for 5 minutes... try it! It's one of the best chicken flavoured instant noodles ever! My parents used to scold me for eating this crap. Back then, Mamee came in 2 versions; the 20sen one which everyone is familiar with and the 5sen packet which is a smaller packet filled with Mamee crumbs (already seasoned).

Anyway, Mamee started this toy crap... I remember in 1981, they had this redemption plan where if you collected a few empty wrappers of Mamee and topped up with around RM3+, you could get a green plastic piggy bank which you would assemble yourself. The following year, 1982, Mamee came up with an ingenious idea buy putting in flags of the world into each packet. You could buy a album from them and stick those flags inside. It was truly ingenious... not only was it educational, it was also unhealthy!

For more on my past, tune in to Part 2 coming soon...

Thursday, May 11, 2006


When I was young, I used to watch Rolf Harris on TV doing his paintings. At the end of every show, they would slowly go thru his work step by step until the end result and during this session, they would play this wonderful John William guitar piece, Cavatina, which was first made famous by The Deer Hunter. There is also a song version by Shirley Bassey entitled, "He Was Beautiful". So I now share this magical piece with you...

Download it HERE!

Have a blessed Visakhapuja!

Happy Wesak Day!!!

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Wesak Day has always been special for me. Every year in my hometown, I would drop by Seck Kia Enh temple to do my prayers and well as donations. I miss those times. I especially love the procession through Melaka town on the eve of Wesak day annually... it passes in front of my house and the atmosphere is so calming especially when the candle bearers pass by and sing songs in praise of Buddha. Wesak day is especially important since I am normally very reflective during this day.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful Wesak!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More pretty girls' photos...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Nice or not?

Monday, May 08, 2006

JLC Post SIHH 2006

See for yourself...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

New stuff...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No words necessary...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

Monday, May 01, 2006

Jalan jalan at FRIM again...

Plus more of Takhmina...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan