Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Julie Rogers sings The Wedding which brings back fond memories

                           Julie Rogers made her substantial debute into
                          pop scene with her success with "The Wedding"

It is time again we relish ourselves in pursuit of joy in good oldies and bask in the sweet sound of yesteryears. I chanced upon the melodious song delivered by charming songster Julie Rogers “The Wedding” when I browsed through Youtube’s music video clips for oldies. Yes, enchanting Julie sang this song with her whole heart out with powerful and emphatic energy in her rendition of this number aptly auspicious for love marriage occasions. Many a time when the song was played, it sent an unstoppable surge of adrenalin to those sentimental ladies as it reminded them the immense happiness they anticipated while going through the wedding ceremonies. They were flushed with fever and red cheeks as pieces of fond memories were coming back like pieces of jigsaw puzzles gathered, as they reminiscence the best time of their life, the unforgettable youthful days when they tied the knots with loved ones.  In the 60s when life was tough going, couples would be elated to be granted the permission to marry, either from their parents or in-laws, or both. They had to go through the tedious process of approval from the elders of the families with their convincing promises of good life ahead amidst financial constraints and unforeseen future; sigh….. those were the days.

                    Colourful record LP cover of The Wedding

Julie Rogers, sporting a 60s hairdo rendered this song “The Wedding” with her natural flair and silky smoothness, it was so touching. Since its release to the pop chart in 1964, it sold more than 7 million copies of her single by 1972. Rogers was not a “One Hit Wonder” like some modern contemporary artistes; she had 16 singles and 6 albums to her name, the last being released in 2003. “The Wedding” was the sensational wonder hit alright that projected her to be a famed singer of international acclaim. Julie Rogers, a Londoner born in the year 1943, had a successful career as a traditional pop music performer/singer. “The Wedding” was sung with slow rock tempo for easy listening. She married show business agent Michael Black who had since acted as her manager in 1987. Her first husband Teddy Foster died of renal failure in 1984.
                      Julie Rogers with her present days look
                     She still exudes an elegant aura of dignity at 68

Most of the comments from Youtube music video portal were favourable towards this listening and viewing pleasure. Some of them began with “my mother said.....reminded her when she walked down the aisle…..”, “….my sister used to sing this song and I got it recorded in a cassette….every time I hear this song, it reminds me of my sister’s voice…”, other outrageous comments may make you laugh, “ I’ve everything for my wedding, except the groom……”, “beautiful voice and lyrics, sung by a gorgeous woman”, “what a voice…..memories of my first love in the 60s…..”, and “I’m in love, where are the women like this nowadays?” and the one that threw a brickbat: “ not all vintage things are good…..this one is for sleeping grannies….” etc.

So sit back and relax, watch and listen intensely to Julie Rogers’ unforgettable The Wedding:

Photos obtained from Google Images
Have good days ahead.
Alan CY Kok

             The Endearing Lyrics: 

You by my side
That's how I see us
I close my eyes
And I can see us
We're on our way to say "I do-oo"
My secret dreams have all come true-oo

I see the church
I see the people
Your folks and mine happy and smiling
And I can hear sweet voices singing
Ave Maria

Oh my love, my love
This can really be
That some day you'll walk
Down the aisle with me

Let it be
Make it be
That I'm the one for you
I'll be yours
All yours
Now and forever

I see us now
Your hand in my hand
This is the hour
This is the moment
And I can hear sweet voices singing
Ave Maria
Ave Maria
Ave Maria      

And for those Karaoke lovers:

Monday, 19 September 2011

The awakening of a famous playwright

                              George Bernard Shaw, well-known  Anglo-Irish
                                           playwright /critic  (1856-1950)

George Bernard Shaw was one of the most profound modern writers, playwright, music and drama critic, and distinguished philosopher of Great Britain. He was actually Irish (1856-1950). Since his youthful years he had been a shining gem among his peers and he made no attempt to hide his prowess in language use to express his vast knowledge of literary works, the world politics and history, music and arts, and whatever that was brewing in his mind. With his accomplished oratorial skill and ostentatious eloquence, he always stunned his listeners in his sardonic wits and humor, with his tales, opinion and criticism, and ideas as an egregious pundit of all fields. He had won wide spread admirations for his brilliant display of his outstanding intelligence in his time. However Bernard Shaw had no regards towards public relation with his peers who were actually his great admirers. He was indifferent to the feeling of others in his words when he talked and criticized their achievement, ethics and rhetoric to the point of belittling them point blank. Together with his feisty and belligerent character his peers eventually realized the sarvant was too overbearing, obnoxious and intimidating that they discarded him in their company, while he still basked in his personal glory in fame seeking and own cynicism.

George Bernard Shaw in 1925
when he won the coveted Nobel Prize
Soon the satirical journalist/writer began to realize friends and associates were getting less and less; there were fewer people willing to be around him; some even conspicuously avoided him or ignore him when met. While he needed a platform with gathered crowd to assert his importance, Bernard Shaw suddenly became aware for the first time he was so disastrously wrong. Those were the words spoken to him from a senior in his niche that guided him to an awakening. It was over an afternoon tea whereby he sat down at a round table with his senior who had been a good confidant since they knew each other a long time ago. He then unexpectedly had an earful from someone he respected and whose friendship he valued.

Due to blind leader worship, this rotten rogue  brought  disasters and misery to tens of million people in Europe during WWII. Actually he was chicken-hearted, a real coward!
“Bernard, I noticed that there were fewer chaps surrounding you nowadays…….are you aware of that and do you know why?” While holding the tea cup filled with fragrant English tea, he continued, “Hear me, Bernard, no one ever doubts the excellence in your distinguished literary knowledge and career achievement; that’s for sure. Some of your words did carry hurtful overtures or connotation with regards to others’ feeling, though in most cases you spoke with jest in allusion but with repeated occasions those became offensive. They should appreciate your company whereby they could share your wisdom; instead they found that without your presence, they were happier and had more fun. Yes, it’s true they couldn’t compare and compete with you for distinctions; but with you around they were not comfortable to express their view points, so they choose to distance themselves from you. Tell me, why contribute to such an awful situation to become unpopular? What benefit will you gain?”

                    Einstein was known as  a humble renowned scientist   
Bernard Shaw felt like being stricken with a home coming boomerang. The pain was there but that was the most appropriate and precise enlightenment. From that day onwards, Bernard Shaw showed deep remorse and was very careful with his comments and whatever things he wanted to say. He apologized profusely to all he had offended and became humble that no sooner he was well-loved again. He then committed himself to a life time of determined pursuit of literary and art works, drama and music as a prolific playwright and journalist; he remained a fiery but constructive critic. (He was an authority in commenting on William Shakespeare’s plays). The Anglo-Irish went on further in his work diligently to be awarded the coveted Nobel Prize for literature in 1925. He remained the only renowned writer till date to win an Oscar in Best Screenplay (1938) and a Nobel Prize in Literature. He was also the co-founder of The London School of Economics in 1895. George Bernard Shaw died at the ripe age of 94 in 1950 due to complication in his injury incurred after falling down while pruning a tree at his home.

Further notes:

Wiseman said: “It’s good to be smarter than others, but don’t let them know. Time will reveal your hidden talent and intelligence. On the other hand humble person will always be welcome and accepted readily to gain others’ trust. When one is humble and do not post a threat to others, he will be respected thus building up a solid human relationship. Silence is golden(It all depends). Listeners will scramble to get away like mice in a sinking vessel, when one chatty and annoying loudmouth keeps on harping on hogwash and humbug”

Alan Kok says: On hearing someone exaggerated on an issue or something he had done for which sounded incredulous, I would tell him softly: “When you’re so good, it’s hard to be humble.” Sorry for the subtle sarcasm.

Alan CY Kok
Photos and facts on G.B. Shaw
Obtained From Wikipedia

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The joy of giving

It's hard to understand how one feels in the extremely cold
weather unless he is there to experience first hand

A short touching story during the 60s

Mitch, a hardy 30 something New Yorker was totally compassionate and sympathetic towards homeless and desolate people during the long chilly cold winter. He would rush to buy 3 pairs of thick woolen hand groves the moment he received his fortnightly wage and accumulated them in his home. When the harsh winter arrived he would bring along his stock of hand groves for distribution to those on the streets he met not wearing the groves.

               The indispensable hand groves for the long cold winter

“How much?” the recipient would ask nonchalantly with a puzzling look.
“No need to pay……just a handshake will do.” Mitch would reply jovially.

                       Nice sleep on bench after a cold night
                                 You sure you've slept well, mate?

No sooner his kind deed was reported in the press media that resulted endless packages of hand groves dispatched to him for his distribution. Those were donated by people from all walks of life who shared his noble thought of giving but could not do the actual distribution for some reasons.

                               It's hard to realise that there
                               are homeless people in the affluent US

Mitch’s selfless endeavor brought warmth to many amidst the pathetic and long extreme weather condition. His parents grew up in the Long Island region during the Great Depression when the whole country of USA was suffering from massive and widespread poverty. When it snowed heavily during the severe winter days, there were not enough hand groves to go about at home. Mitch’s parents survived the drastic bad times and the wars that followed. They had been inculcating Mitch stories of good deeds and benevolent ethics since his childhood days. His father always emphasized: “Never deprive yourself the joy of giving.”
                          The soup kitchen offered free heart-warming
                                      soup to poor people after WWII
Translated from an article I read from a Chinese Newsprint

Alan CY Kok

Monday, 12 September 2011

Easy money for the orthopaedic surgeon

                                            Caricature of a sick man

Dr Zhou tapped on the paper notes laid bare in front of him on his desk with his pen repeatedly, as he went through the medical diagnosis, blood test results, electronic cardiac graphs, CT scan reports and other details of the profile of the patient. “Hmmm….there’s some monies there!” He soliloquized softly as all present in his consultation room waited gingerly to listen to him. A middle-aged man, Dr Zhou was the senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon of a famed private hospital in down south Johore of Malaysian Peninsula. He took a quick and cold glance across his consultation room to study all the faces he met. They were all Singaporeans; the critically ill patient was a former Malaysian alright. His family sought treatment for this aged person as it was very much cheaper in Johore than having treatment and surgery in the affluent state neighbour.

              Blood sugar index reading for this little Shanghai girl

Dr Zhou cleared his throat and began his swift and blunt announcement to all present: “Yap Phan Loy, businessman-importer of dried marine products and sea food; aged 65, blood group B+, weight 110 lbs, heart beat 120 per minute, too fast for a healthy person; your stomach is bloated and that indicated liver failure to some degree, your eyes are yellowish and you’re blind with your left eye. The color of your urine sample is blurry brown with unfiltered impurities. You’ve dialysis three times a week due to kidney failure and you’re critically diabetic Type 2; three pulmonary arteries of your heart are blocked 70 to 90%, and you have breathing trouble since your lungs are blackened, no thanks to half century of heavy smoking.” Dr Zhou paused to have a sip of water before continuing, “despite that you have low blood pressure of 90/60 and that means you could slip into comatose or just black out anytime. “Mr. Yap”, Dr Zhou held the patient’s left wrist as he studied the multiple needle marks present near the joint of the elbow, “your sickness is very worrisome.”

                         Have you got to go to extreme                  
                                   to do the amputation, Doc?

“Yeah I know. My time is up…..” came the weakened, almost inaudible reply of patient Yap. “I was a hefty 160 lb this time last year and I was still drinking whisky at least once every week, until my wife stopped me.” 
“This old man, never wanted to listen to me and never follow doctor’s instruction!” exclaimed Mrs. Yap, a woman in her late 50s. “We only knew that he was gravely ill when his friends brought him back unconscious with wet pants after a heavy drinking spree.” She was more than happy to review what had happened.

      What shall we do next?

“Dr Zhou, will my father get better, eventually be cured and fully recovered?” A man in his 20s asked sheepishly as he sat next to his sister who looked slightly younger and who actually was sobbing quietly.

“Not very likely, young man! As according to Dr Yang” Dr Zhou answered curtly. He picked up the diagnostic report from the hospital’s leading physician, well known nephrologists Dr Yang. “In fact your father is dying! He couldn’t be around you folks too long!”, “Look at the severity of this gangrene on his left foot; the toes are very badly infected, and they have turned black!” Dr Zhou’s blatant reply seemed so tactless and unfriendly. “Dr Yang referred you to me as I am an orthopaedic surgeon to amputate your left foot from the knee below so as to prolong your life further.” He turned to senior Yap but avoided his eye contact. Dr Zhou remained very intimidating in his voice as he searched for the right part on the foot where he could slice the first incision.

“For how long?” the frail old Yap asked.
“If your left foot remained with you, you can only live through this month. Dr Yang had made himself very clear on this.” “With you foot amputated, perhaps you can live for another six months.”
“I don’t want to die minus one foot. I want to die with my body intact.”
said the gravely sick patient, with a soft but determined tone.
“I know how you feel but that’s the only way.” Dr Zhou stood up and gestured all present to follow him to his study room, leaving the poor haggard dying man behind alone on a cold metal sick bed. He softened his arrogant way of speaking and turned friendly to the family of the patient. “There’s a way out, I’ll explain to all of you now. As a surgeon I have to look into all ways to make my patient comfortable and have his wishes met even his is a terminal case. Of course the family members’ concerns are equally important, like trying to prolong loved one’s life; thus the financial aspect must be brought into the pictures too.”

“Money is not a problem!” chirped Mrs. Yap who had not been very patient with the surgeon’s idiosyncrasy. “Glad you said that.” Dr Zhou suddenly became a perfectly articulate gentleman in explaining all details to the earnest people gathered around him. “The amputation must be carried out. The hospital will keep the severed limb of the patient in a frozen store room which is part of our medical research facility. All of you shall feel free to ‘visit’ or to view the amputated foot any day you want, during office hours of course.” Dr Zhou winked suddenly with a mischievous smile. “Allow me to continue: when the final day comes, Mr. Yap’s body must be brought to my operation theatre and I will re-attach his severed foot to his body so that he can have a full body ready for the funeral.”

                        Young people got a misconception
                                       of smoking and boozing.
                                  There's nothing classy about it.
                                        It's suicidal at early age

“That’s quite a compromising idea but it is a good one.” The younger Yap nodded and stared at his mother for agreement and approval. The mother agreed readily, hugging the younger child, her daughter who was in tears. An amount of cost for the whole process was discussed further and agreed upon by both the patient’s family and Dr Zhou. 50% of the total cost was to be settled at the discharge of the patient after the amputation.

Shortly after Mr. Yap’s amputation of his left foot, he became jovial again and was generally healthy except he still got to have his dialysis done three times a week. The family enjoyed some peace as the senior Yap did not complain or yell at them any more for discomfort or nagging pain. But things took a fateful twist just after the 5th month of his surgery; suddenly Senior Yap’s health took a nose dive. He could not swallow any food or drink, he had trouble breathing, and his heart beat shot up to 210 per minute before descending to a faint, weak pulse. An initial examination with the physician revealed that most of his internal organs were not functioning. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Yap had an awful GIB (general internal bleeding) and was subsequently declared dead.
                       Candle burns to mark a passing life

After a certificate of death was issued by the hospital's administration office, Mr. Yap’s body was wheeled into the O.T. of Dr Zhou, the orthopaedic surgeon. The amputated left foot was home at last; it was re-attached to the deceased’s body where it was detached by amputation. The Yap family held a grand funeral for the passing of their beloved father and husband. They thought that the hassle of it all they had gone through to make their father happier before his death was well worth it. At the end of the funeral they chose cremation for Mr. Yap’s final rites.

              It's not surprising to know that parents strive so hard
                             to send their children to medical colleges
Dr Zhou stared at the check he collected from Mrs. Yap, it was the 2nd 50% payment due to him. This time it was for the re-attachment of the amputated limb to the corpse. He chuckled with a bit of frown, and whispered to himself: There’s money in it alright, it’s easy money. I should have charged $150,000 instead of $100,000!

A real story I heard
Alan CY Kok           

For those who may be interested:
This book is essential for Nursing Students and practising Surgical Nurses:
http://lpntobsnonline.org/2011/25-essential-reference-books-every-surgical-nurse-should-own/ .

Friday, 9 September 2011

Stories to ponder

                                  The smoking priest

One day a junior priest of a church had an urge to smoke when he was praying among many other fellow priests. He asked his superior the Reverend Father for permission: Rev Father, can I smoke while I pray? He was curtly rebuked and his request refused flatly. On another occasion another junior priest also had a similar desire to smoke during the Morning Prayer. He asked the Father Superior who happened to walk by: Rev Father, can I pray while I smoke? The Rev father was bemused and nodded his head in approval.

The junior apprentice priest craftily asked for permission to pray whilst smoking and got what he wanted, even though we all knew very well it was improper to smoke in a church, least while praying!

             Nuns gathered to smoke? It sure deemed improper for modern days

Smoking is really a bad habit but here smoking during prayer was an issue for this little story to ponder. More than 40 years ago, it was common to see priests and teachers in secondary missionary (mine was a Catholic High School) schools smoked happily like there was no tomorrow. Thank goodness that nowadays schools have been declared non-smoking zones. Still I saw lots of secondary teachers (mainly the male teachers) smoked heavily near the gate of the school whenever they were having a break or during the end of the school hours.

Another short story to ponder:
The demolition of a semi-completed building

                                                 An unfinished building
                        An old building demolished by dynamite power

The silvery haired professor of the School of Architecture of a famed university led his team of students to a works site, where a semi-completed building was about to be demolished by using dynamite. The reason: The architect who designed the building was bribed by the contractor with a considerable amount of cash to alter his work that would affect adversely the quality of the building. The malpractice and evil conspiracy was uncovered that resulted the unfinished building to be demolished. As the building collapsed in a pile of blasted concrete and twisted metal in a series of stunning explosions, the students were awed and in shock. They felt devastated that an incomplete building had to suffer such fate as it involved large amount of money and effort, it seemed to be so wasteful. Why could not a subtle solution be sought out instead of taking such drastic measure?

                              St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, completed
                                    in 1626, is an architectural wonder
                      The Principal architect of Petronas Twin Towers
                           is an Argentinian-American Mr. Cesar Pelli
                The iconic landmark of KL - The Twin Towers
                       is undoubtedly an architectural marvel

The professor told them in a determined tone, with straight faced and a stern look: Mistakes had been committed as the land owner company concerned engaged a greedy architect in the beginning. Worst of it they bestowed the contract to an unscrupulous man to have the building constructed. You guys and girls must not give in to temptations that broker away your integrity and professionalism. Honesty is the best policy as always! We architects can’t afford to be malicious and sinister; we must look into the welfare and safety of the owners, residents, occupants and office staff of every building we designed. This is a project involved immensely with human factors – the paramount of it, human lives can not be compromised. You got it, every one of you? There were instant answers of ‘aye aye sir’.

        Architectural internees posed at a newly completed building in Dubai
       A monumental task to finish the book of knowledge?
 It's a bigger task out there to nurture one's immature mind

The old professor had to raise his voice to end his moral lecture to his attentive students amidst noises of bulldozers running and boisterous workers nearby who had begun to clear the debris. The group of students returned to their university with many things to ponder: The moral of integrity and honesty, the values of ethics and rhetoric, the temptations of material gain and sudden wealth, responsibility and obligation towards clients and hence their professionalism, as well as job satisfaction etc. They had learned well.

Telltales stories I heard
Alan CY Kok

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Cross Border to Perak CTRE Program for Tourist Guides -Aug.2011

                            Group picture taken by TG John Lim at the
                               Gopeng Heritage Museum of Tin Mining

The Ministry of Tourism (MOTOUR) of Malaysia has made it compulsory for tourist guides (TGs) to renew their license annually. In order to enhance their skills, to be aware of the latest trends of the tourist arrival patterns, to learn what’s new from the MOTOUR, and what are the new guidelines and advices from Malaysian Tourist Guides Council (MTGC), the TGs have to attend some refresher’s courses. Namely the Continued Tourism Related Education (CTRE). For renewal for a year, one needs to attend 3 CTRE sessions, and for 2 years’ (for confirmed TGs) renewal, it is 6 CTRE certificates to obtain before getting one’s license. In such way it is an auspicious opportunity for the TGs to update themselves as well as a chance to mingle with fellow guides for discussions and to share experience during the tours. For MTGC and MOTOUR, the governing bodies of the tourism industry, it is one of their unyielding efforts to instill professionalism among the TGs. 

The Gopeng Museum is housed at two separate shoplots, about 50m apart

                      The interior decor and displays
                       of the Gopeng Mining Museum

So when KLTGA (Kuala Lumpur Tour Guide Association) announced in its website that there would be a Cross Border Perak CTRE program for two days one night duration with 3 CTRE certificates at stake, I quickly enrolled. Came the big day i.e. August 21st Sunday 2011 twenty-three of us guides assembled at MATIC (Malaysian Tourism Information Centre) at Jalan Ampang at 7.30am. After a name check and registration we boarded the coach and off we began our fun and laughter-filled journey to Perak for the next 2 days. While the coach traveled steadily along the PLUS highway northwards, the facilitator of this excursion of CTRE programs Ms Diana Lee (She is the Hon. Treasurer of KLTGA) took the mic and spoke eloquently for 45 minutes non-stop. She was really worth her salt as a veteran tourist guide as she briefed us about what was in store in the near future with her numerous meetings with officials of MOTOUR, together with MTGC and KLTGA board members.

             RM5 hair cut by TG Palani. The chair could be 50 yrs old or older
TG Lawrence had good time relaxed at the barber's chair
           Mr Phang the Gopeng Museum curator guided us a detailed tour

One and a half hours later, the coach left the PLUS highway and steered into the small township of Gopeng. The first stop of our knowledge-seeking tour was the colorful and informative Gopeng Tin Mining Museum. Here we were greeted by board members of Perak Tourist Guide Association; they were Ms Ann, Mr. Rajasegaran, and Mr. Lee Ping Kong. An enthusiastic Mr. S.K. Phang as the museum curator guided us in detail about the founding of the ancestral building which housed the museum today. The heritage house was first built by the Eu Yan Sang family in 1879 for its money remittance service for hundreds of migrant workers from China, and eventually expanded to other economical activities like the Chinese traditional medical halls with branches in Gopeng town and other parts of Perak. Eu Yan Sang and his fore-fathers Eu Kong and Eu Tong Sang were all well-known tin miners then. Mr. Phang proceeded to highlight the importance of Gopeng as the first tin mining town of Perak, as it sat strategically in the middle of rich tin-ore producing  Kinta Valley. Its mining activities began in 1850s or even earlier. With the discovery of a royal mausoleum near Kota Bahru, Gopeng, it was confirmed that the township of Gopeng was established in 1851, much earlier than Ipoh and Kampar.

                            Group picture of dredge mining workers
                                  1940, taken just before WWII

                         The huge Tanjung Tualang 5 Dredge
                            looks like a mechanical dinosaur
The Museum Gopeng’s pictorials, maps, diagrams and artifacts etc. are housed in two shop lots of the heritage buildings with 50 meters apart from each other. The pictorials clearly displayed the ethnic group of pioneer residents, tin-mine workers and migrants, the royalty line-ups, the economical activities, (rubber plantations too) the presence of the British military forces and governance, and the subsequent occupation of the Japanese Imperial army etc. It also showcases and documents the heritage heirloom of the Eu Family, the buildings of Chinese schools and clan associations, the mining methods and paraphernalia, the communist threats to Malaya and eventually the road to independence.

                       Dredge TT5 seemed sunk and tilted at the swampy land
            Look what I've got! Diana got her hands full with Custard Apples
                                              The custard apple fruit

    Nature guide Lee Ping Kong gave some infos about the water birds

After a simple lunch on own expenses we proceeded to Batu Gajah-Tanjung Tualang area to visit a gigantic machine of yesteryears! A huge menacing looking machine: One now out of function tin dredge named TT5. (Tanjung Tualang 5). The historical dredge had seen its prime during the 1920s when it was brought into Malaya for the harvest of tin ore. The caretaker-cum-person in charge of bringing the dredger to its former glory, an energized Mr. Lee briefed us about the history of the dredge and mining work details with the help of a video documentary. Since there were some works going on onto the huge machine (I saw some workers doing welding job) we were not allowed to enter the dredge. We went looking at the Nona (apple custard) fruit plantation next to the dredge instead.


The wet land at Kinta Nature Park emits a serene and quiet ambience with breathtaking charm
                  Lotus and Hyacinth plants grow rapidly
                         in some of the smaller lakes

After leaving the TT5 dredge, a very experienced nature guide Mr. Lee Ping Kong of the Perak TGA passionately took us for a 2 hours tour of wetland-The wonderful world of Batu Gajah’s Kinta Nature Park. The coach rocked and swayed its way on sandy ground about 10kms into the wetland areas where we saw score of water birds, mainly the migratory flocks of egrets and the larger herons. They were flying, perching on tree tops on small isles, or feeding in shallow water. On a 5-storeyed high watch tower, built specially for bird-watchers, we saw some nature lovers took pictures of the water birds using DSLR cameras equipped with sophisticated L-lens. This wetland area of Batu Gajah region is filled with a labyrinth of former mining lakes. Many of them are now occupied with duck-rearing. We were told that about 10,000 eggs daily were collected from the duck farms and they were mostly exported to Singapore. The duck-rearing farms were mainly illegal because the rearing process would have polluted the clear water of the lakes.

                                    Ducks everywhere, duck eggs too
                          The Duckling princess 养鸭公主Winnie Chan

Once the rearing site was polluted the duck farm would shift to another location or another part of the lake and they would return when the lake rejuvenated and cleansed by natural process. Our German speaking guide Ms Loh bought some duck eggs from the duck farm; she was glad to have the eggs. We saw large quantity of hyacinth and lotus water plants in the various sized lakes. Though they are lakes, they may not be stagnant with the water flow, because there is underground water that oozed into the lake constantly. We saw to our saddened hearts that nature’s works were destroyed by callous falling of the trees into the water ways, and that damaged the breeding ground of the migratory birds. As a result the numbers of the birds were dwindling. Also there were some illegal activities of sand mining going on by unscrupulous people using large trucks.

         We posed for a shot at an Ipoh street before the Heritage trail began
                          TG Dennis ponders how to peddle all the
                      clay ovens in a single day, it costs RM15 each
The Majestic Ipoh Town Hall
                   The magnificient Neo-Classical designed Railway Station
Landmark of Ipoh-the Padang

The iconic St Michael's Institution in downtown Ipoh
                               JWW Birch Memorial

It was already in the evening hours when we checked into our 2-star rated lodging house, the old Lotte Hotel of downtown Ipoh. After consuming a plate of ubiquitous chicken rice and a bowl of ABC ice-kacang dessert half an hour later, with a slow stroll back to our hotel, I hit the bed for the dreamland before 11pm with a tired mind and body; the air-conditioning was running well, it sure did help.

                               The now deserted FMS Bar & Restaurant
              Mosaic design with peacock adorned the wall of one old building
                      This house at Concubine Lane was insured
                                             by Commercial Union
                                  The C.U. co logo can be seen clearly

The next morning Mr. Rajasegeran took over as our Ipoh Heritage Trail guide, after a sumptuous breakfast of course. We began the Ipoh Heritage walk from the Neo-classical styled railway station; built around 1914 and was completed in 1917. It was designed by A.B. Hubback the same British architect who designed the Kuala Lumpur railway station in 1910. There was a hive of activities at the Ipoh railway station since it was still operating as usual, just like the past 90 over years! The Station Hotel at the upper floor of the railway station remained a popular guest house for the weary travelers. We stopped at the War Memorial for some shots. We then walked into the Ipoh Town house which had a large dinner hall available for rental for weddings and other functions. We passed through the High court building, took some pictures at the padang (field for assembly) and St. Michael Institution from a distance, we too blitzed pass the Royal Ipoh Club. Mr. Raja diligently told us stories of some old buildings like the F.M.S. Bar and Restaurant, the HSBC Bank Building, the Chartered Bank Building, some old Chinese Clan Associations, The Birch Memorial, and finally the Concubine Lane a.k.a. Panglima Lane. Mr. Raja pointed to us an old multi-storey car park and claimed that it was the first one of its kind in the country. After a short visit to the local product shop of biscuits and candies, and lunch (most of us had Char Kueh Tiau at one local Kopitiam-Coffee Shop) we then boarded the coach and made a beeline for the journey home. Oh no, I forgot to mention we did stop at Tambun to buy some pomelos and other fruits.

                                Perak is famous for its yield of Pomelo fruits
             Let sleeping cat lie - I found this feline snoozing in a flower pot

Once again the moment we hit the PLUS Highway, the facilitator of
this trip to Perak Ms Diana Lee took over the mic for a lengthy 30 minute fusillade of high power speech that no one dared to close the sleepy eyes. She also sang her rendition of “Oh Malaysia” and
wanted us to follow. After that the topic of Rose Chan, a deceased dancer striptease artiste of our country was mentioned, and that awakened everyone, ladies included. Just about less than an hour before we reached KL, Diana asked for any TG’s words for sharing, could any TGs suggest any topic of CTRE? Some TGs came forward to hold the mic to introduce themselves. One TG asked if KLTGA could help to obtain permission for TGs to park their cars at MATIC. The answer was a flat ‘no’ as the anchor tenants needed the parking lots reserved for their customers.  Then the issue of disembarking tourists at Genting Highland’s First World Hotel cropped up. TGs Dennis, Josephine, Azahar, Ms Loh, Wong, and John Lim gave their predicament and experience when they brought tourists to GH for accommodation and visit. TG Rosa Ho mentioned that she had been supporting the KLTGA CTRE program for sometimes; she said this trip to Perak was a fruitful one. TG Winnie was at first reluctant to take part as she was originally from Perak itself; but after the tour she felt that it was an eye-opening experience. Nature TG Palani gave a long introduction speech about miracle ‘Gaharu’ plant for its medicinal and aromatic effect. Diana suggested that it would be great if a CTRE topic on Gaharu could be created. TG Alan told the floor that he once had an Indonesian stowaway passenger on board his tour bus filled with Indian tourists. A quiet TG Louise introduced himself last moment that he was from Malacca; he lamented that he should have participated more often in such CTRE program outings.  Someone cautioned us about personal safety when boarding the monorail in KL City. We reached MATIC amidst heavy off-duty hour traffic jam and that brought our Cross Border Perak CTRE trip to a satisfying end. Thanks a lot, KLTGA!

The 3 CTRE programs were:

  1. Gopeng Tin Mining Museum
  2. Batu Gajah Kinta Nature Park
  3. Ipoh Heritage Walk

Alan CY Kok