Friday, October 24, 2008

Old Town Petaling Jaya

My father bought a corner wooden house in section two near the wet market, bus station in 1954. However it is still a walking distant of about 10 -15 minutes to my school in which study till standard 6. I manage to get a grade B which at time not good enough to be accepted into form one as to move up to form one a student must get grade A.A little bit of luck the Ministry of Education allow B grade to study in form one because to many young children cannot continue their school studies due to the ruling. Most of my other friends (children) drop out of school after standard 6 and they are just too young to work or get a works at all. During early 60 to 70 there wasn’t many factories or companies providing job opportunities.
In was only after independence in 1957 that the first then Malaya Industrial Park was started at Mederka exhibition area which Jln Penchala from the end right the round about turning into Jln Templer right to the end reaching the Federal Highway. Later another industrial area was developed at section 13 & 14 &19
PJ old town at that time cover a small area section1, 1A, 2, 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 &10 the bordering road was Federal Highway a small one lane road and old Klang connecting Jln Gasing and Jln Railway running parallel along the railway line that connect Jln Penchala connecting Jln Templer that also connect old Klang Road with a railway gate at the junction. This gate will close when the train passes through on the way to Port Klang. There wasn’t any development on the opposite of Federal Highway as it was a forming mining area. The development started during the 1960 for section 51A &B,14, 11,12 with Jln Utara the famous horse shoe sharp curve connecting Federal Highway at two end with one end connecting Jln Timor and other connecting opposite(current PJ Hilton) and Jln Sultan. The BBB secondary school was the first building in Jln Utara which ready in 1962 where I attended after completing my form one at borrow class rooms at the BBB primary at section 8.
There was no school buses like now a days the students mostly take public buses, walk to school, cycling with only a few students from the rich being send to school by parent. For me I cycle from old town PJ to school and it was very safe as no many cars on the road. Crossing the Federal Highway was easy even with out any traffic lights at the cross junction. I was at the bottom of the class due to after school it was going out to play immediately and continue after dinner till late in the night. There were plenty of various games to play with group of friends sometime up to 30-50 especially during the weekend.
I stop playing that much starting from form three onward due to my mother went to work as a maid to support my younger sister and me for our secondary education because my father gamble all his life saving. Fortunately the house was in my mother name otherwise I suppose my father will sell the house since he already sold his Triumph motor bike and his Fait car. I also went to work as a helper in some of the wet stalls during weekend to earn some pocket money for my school lunch. However it was too late for me to improve my English, Science and Math but I manage to score distinction (grade A) continue up to form 5.
Three of my best close friend failed and leave the school and started to work.
Yeong Chong and Chew Boon Wah went to work in the famous Antonia bookstore as sales promoters where they met their wife. Ng Joon Keng work in the University Malaysia as lab assistant but unfortunately he very young at the age of 19 after being knocked down by a car that ran away. Nobody saw the accident and later someone send him to Assunta hospital. He regained conscious after two days. We all think the worse was over but on the fourth day he suddenly become unconscious again and die a few days later. I cry for a few days and missed him very much because we always went out together in his bike.
A few months later some very ghostly accident happens to me that nearly cause my life.
Believe it or not this was happened during that night.
My mother due my father gambling habit after saving some money working as maid extended the house side and back portion for renting out. The back portion was rented out an Indian operating a small sundry shop. The garage after converting to a small shop was rented out as car workshop due it big vast compound at the side of the house. The house is located near the market and the side road was a major road beside Jln Othman.
I used to help out at the motor workshop during the weekend also thinking that after form 5 I will continue to learn motor cars repairing and become a mechanic.
It was here that I learn to ride motor bike and some minor repair as well. On the night after a Yamaha Twin jet 1000 cc was repair the mechanic and us just took our for joy ride. I was carry another mechanic behind me and was enjoying the speeding on Jalan railway upon reaching the end turning a bend at the agriculture park. I suddenly saw NG standing at the corner waving me to stop the bike just fall throwing me out of the bike. My head knock against the road sign post but I could still stand up and across to a corner house opposite and then fall on the verandah. Fortunately the mechanic was not hurt he ran to my house which quite near to inform. My brothers ran to the place and with the help of others carried me home stop the bleeding of the head and also finally get a taxi to send me to Assunta hospital. I was hospitalizing for three weeks before discharge but still very weak and was given MC for another 2 weeks. There is a big scare on my forehead due to the cut was about 8 inches long and the bone was dented but fortunately did not crack otherwise it will be very worse.
My parent and NG family went to pray and asked the ghost not to disturb me again. After this accident I never ride a bike again and not till when I open a travel agency company in Vietnam in the early 1990.
At that time there was no taxi or any public buses etc and my staff will take me around on bike.

My childhood

I was born on 9th March 1947 two years after Japanese occupation and surrender after two atomic bomb drop in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. As a tour leader I had the opportunity to visit these two atomic bomb cities and see how damaging an atomic bomb from old photos was as nothing was left except a build structure skeleton. The cities were flattened with nothing left. Currently the western countries still continue to do research on mass destruction weapons. Other countries like India, Pakistan already having atomic bomb and the latest North Korea and Iran are trying to do so. The calling to ban and not to use mass destruction weapons are just for lip services only. To me the real culprit was USA and other Western develops nations. If such western nations do invent and continue to do so other up coming nations would not have follow and try to develop such mass destruction weapon. The state was Perak in a village call Pengkalan Bharu where I could locate where it is on the map. Hopefully one day someone will let me know where is the place.

My early childhood start in RAUB Pahang age 4-6 staying at a government single story wooden house on tilts as my father a custom officer was transferred to Raub. It consist a row of such bungalows on high level land and behind was a jungle. Opposite was a vast empty piece of land like a valley with gentle slope. The slope was a wonderful playing ground for children using coconut leave trunk head and ride down the slope. By rotation children also pull the trunk with one sitting on it and it was real fun. Occasionally there are British soldiers entering the jungle for days and they always give children biscuits and chocolates. In addition there was amour vehicle coming to patrol on that are Malayan communists in the jungle. I still remember there was a year where they give nice chocolates with Queen If I am right the British High Commissioner was ambush and killed by the Malayan Communists somewhere in Raub. Queen Elizabeth picture printed on the metal box due to some celebration maybe her coronation or her birthday. At that times I have a bout ten such beautiful metal boxes in different shape some given by my brother and sister but it was a group British soldiers who gave me more. There are after in the jungle for days after coming out them like to rest in a big shady tree in from house. Sometimes they use our bath room outside the house surrounded just by zinc metal roof sheet with a well inside to wash and take a cold bath before the pick up truck come. In fact I enjoy taking bath as the well water very cooling and cold. Now a day I am quite sad my grand children are all taking hot shower bath it is not wonder it is easy for them to get cold as they are not that strong. I don’t remember children getting sick those days.
Sadly such metal chocolate boxes were gone forever. Hopeful maybe some one do have one left inherit from his parent!
There was no electricity or tap water and we use gas and kerosene lamps. The toilet was behind back of the house and night soil carrier come at night to empty the bucket.
There were those days in old Malaya famous circus performing at the vacant land and children like to visit the animals daily. A little bit of faith when our family stay in PJ old town the same circus perform there for a few time with one time right opposite right side of my house at Road 23 at a piece of vacant land border by road 38 and Othman and road 21and the other at the place currently the wet market and food court.

In 1952 we shifted to PJ old town section as my father rented a wooden house at road 15 right side of the national primary school. The school was facing road 10 and left side road 13 and the back road 6. I started schooling at 7 years old and my mother during recess time I come right to fence opposite my house where my mother will give my meals and drink. The headmaster was MS khoo and she is very fierce to us. I remember she gave me one tight slap on my face when I keep ending my answers with the words “yes lah, no lah, Ok lah etc. After this slap I stop using “lah” word again. The teaching was in English and all teachers are train in UK and school books all from UK (Longman or Cambridge or Oxford printing.
There was a Mandarin class in which I attended right up standard 6 three time per week. At that time most of the classes Chinese students attended Mandarin class there was also Malay and Indian as well. It was why I could speak Mandarin and read quite well. Those days I could write as well but not now due no practice at all. My Mandarin becomes very useful when I am in travel industry. Later part of life I met the headmaster a few time at a book store in section 2 that belong my best close friend. I use to follow and help to distribute new paper by bicycle during the weekend. I also met another teacher when I took my wife and daughter age 4 to visit the Ampang shopping complex at that time it the best only shopping complex in K.L. This teacher opens a jewelry shop call and it is very famous. The teacher was shock that I could recognize her.

I met another Mr Jalleh and his Chinese wife also from primary school. When they joined a tours covering Manila,Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand where I took my wife and 6 years daughter along. In the late 1970 to early 1980 all the tours Far East tours was at least 10, 12, 14, 16 days covering 3-4 nations. For China tour in 1980 due to must get special permit (RM 600-800) Home Ministry and the cost also include at 2 special branch officers for the tour. As such the tour cover at least 14 days -20 over days covering most of the major cities in China. My first tour to China was in 1986 covering Gaungzhou, Gulin, Xian, Shanghai and Beijing a total of 16 days. At the time there was no street light even in the major cities and completely dark at the country side. The public toilet was the worse no door plus dirty, smelly with no door at all I consider it is better than our public because the open concept blow away the terrible smell. Even at the old Shanghai airport the toilet condition was the same. The tour member was advised to use an umbrella to cover when using the toilet. Both was equally shock that I could still remember them and Mr. Jalleh at that time was the Head master of secondary school in Brick Field. After returning from the tours give me 2 books written in poetry for me. I hope I could find it some where in house with old books storing in boxes in store full of old things. I used to visit him at the school a few times when I am in brickfield area. I am sure he has retired by now.
I hope to be able to bounce into him again one day like I bounce into classmates, former customer and travel trade friends.

My Ancestors

From my father, I came to know a little bit of my grand parent who staying in kampong Tawar a Chinese village opposite directing the famous Perak Cave. I visited my grand mother twice before she passed away in the 1960 where our family attended her funeral and also come to know more about my mother practicing the ancient Chinese style crying with song at the funeral. I also meet up with grand parent three other sisters who were born in Malaysia who are well in song crying at funeral using the Hakka language. However my grandfather passed away long before I was born.
My grandfather come from the Zeng village our ancestor home place in the early 1990 with my grand mother bringing my father and his elder brother along to the then Malaya to seek fortune. He stays in few places in the north states before finally settle in Ipoh. After my grand father manage to buy a few acres of rubber trees near the Tawar village and finally settle down.
My father and brother all become rubber taper and including producing rubber sheets to sell to wholesalers etc.  
Grand parent house is still standing in the village and some of cousins and their children are staying there with a few shifted out after having their own houses. I visited them in the mid 1970 after I purchase my new car a Madza 1000 and a few more times when own Mitsubishi gallant and Volvo 240.
I manage to visit my ancestor village located 20 minutes drive from Guangzhou in the late 1980. After I met one business man from China in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh city and from conversations we know that we are coming from the same ancestor village with same surname and family root. He told me my name reveal the ancestor root my surname written in Mandarin Chen and name Kong Men the second words ‘Kong’ mean I am more senior and higher in ranking than him even thought I am only 5 years older therefore call me great Grand uncle Chen.
We keep in touch and I always call him when took tours group to Guangzhou and met up when I am free. The very tight schedule of tour sightseeing with only 2 night stay before going to the next cities only permit us to met for supper or at night just at the hotel coffee house for chit chat.
It was only when I own my travel agencies in 1986 that permit to me visit Hong Kong & China for business regularly and sometimes travels by train HKG to Guangzhou to stay a few days visiting his families etc. and my ancestor village. 
He told me a lot about the ancestor village culture etc. practice during those old days. Every the whole village celebrated some festivals together and there was hundred of tables for set dinner all the food cook by the villages together. It was not a 10 course dinner but a dinner with one big dish. All the chicken, seafood, roast pork etc was cook and arrange in big basin by layers one top another with all the mixed vegetables at the bottom. This same well known Hakka village dish  known as Hakka PenChai was introduce by well known chief in Hong Kong in the late 1990 with added special ingredient like abalone, shark fin, bird nest and promoted as a very expensive dish. It becomes very popular and it promoted in some restaurants but it didn’t get popular. I try this dish and found that those restaurants use cheap quality ingredients no wonder it is a failure.    However during my first visit to the village in early 1990 there the ancestor village disappears due to development becoming a city and what was left was the ancestors alter.  There was big apartment hotel with more than 500 rooms and a few high class apartments as well. Geo Ze Zeng my nephew is a great story teller telling all sort stories related to various Buddhist God. He also a great eater and took me try all type of famous dishes from traditional restaurants to modern restaurants.