Monthly Archives: March 2016

Public Displays of Affection @ KLIA

Not about couples engaging in smoldering hugs and kisses at the airport – but just an old man here fondly reminiscing with affection this day 18 years ago.

28 March 1998 : my tiny crew of workers and I set out to test and commission the Public Information Displays at the spanking new KLIA at Sepang.   It was only with 200% passion and dedication that my team (including my HM) managed to design, develop, manufacture and commission in record time the total of 157 displays boards.   And saved my client – the main contractor – a ruinous penalty of RM15,000 per day.

Just in time for a site inspection by the YAB Dr M the following week.

I wonder if the displays are still there at KLIA.

Ada Udang Di Atas Kueh

Yea, bukan semua udang perlu sembunyi di sebalik batu (not all prawns need to hide behind a rock).   In this case, they were nicely stuck to the top of the yummy old-time delicacy known as Cucur Badak.

Half a century back, while I was in primary school, I ate a piece of this nearly everyday at the school tuckshop, where the ‘kak-and-makcik’ team sold a variety of traditional Malay kuih.   Adoih, Sedapnya !

These days, rather few people in Singapore have heard of this stuff, fewer still have eaten one.  Even on rare occasions where these are encountered, cost-cutting has taken a toll : one can toss the round things around, look di hadapan, di sebalik, tapi cannot find any  Udang.

Served By The Well

In the old village where I grew up there was no tap water for homes, except for the few houses that lined the main road.   However, our drinking and washing needs were well-served.   Each house had its own well – no need to pay any bills and unlimited usage !

Everyone took cold showers by pouring pail after pail of water over the head, but no one fell sick.  For cooking, we would pass the well water through a sand filter first.

During the dry season, sometimes the water level dropped to less than a bucket height.  But in the rain season the water level rose up to almost floor level, and often we got ‘cacing’ (worms) as long as 6 inches in the water.

The Lore Of Beverages

Back in the 60s, Ovaltine and Milo were the two rather “classy” beverages and they ran head-to-head.  Whenever a guest came avisiting to our humble abodes, a cup of one of these hot drinks would be served.

Ovaltine was favored in my home due to its perceived higher nutrition value (supposedly had eggs in its composition), but some vegetarians stayed away from it and went for Milo.

Over the years, Ovaltine seems to have retreated further and further into obscurity (my perception) whilst Milo seems to have gone from strength to strength. If I walk into a coffeeshop now and ask for Ovaltine, chances are that I will get a few blank stares. “Apa tin lu mahu ?”

Photo shows the packaging designs of the 1960s.

Layers Lickin’ Good

Remember the traditional Nine-Layer Kueh (九层糕) ?   When we were kids, these came with alternate bands of light pink and magenta, topped by a cover layer of strong red. Sweet, slightly chewy and lemak, these were well loved by everyone.

One of the favorite ways of eating was to peel off layer by layer – somehow it added more fun.  And we often we would put a light pink layer on our tongues and let it hang out like that of a dog, and showing off to our siblings.   Woof ! Woof !

These days, the Nine-Layer Kueh has acquired a whole gamut of colors, to the extent that it is rather hard to find the original version.

They Kept Me in Suspense – Y ?

Remember Y-suspenders ?   These accessories for men seemed to be fashionable in most of the Westerns – the menfolk appeared to be wearing these all the time.

When I was a kid, I used to wear these too.  But it was less of being a hipster of the day and more of upholding a down-to-earth need.   I was growing quickly in size, and being relatively poor, we could not afford to buy new clothes frequently.

So my mum found a solution – she bought pants for me that were 2 sizes larger.   When new, those were really loose and thus the Y-suspenders came in handy.  By the second year, I probably did not need those anymore.  (But by the third year,  the pants were rather tight)

King Of The Forest

The Chinese in Malaysia used to call them “San Tai Wong” (in Cantonese, which means King Of The Forest).  Others called them Lori Hantu or Ghost Trucks.   Now you see them, now you don’t ?

In the old days, I used to see a particular type of truck being used to haul huge logs (kayu balak, in Malay) to the sawmill near my house.  They looked rough-and-tough but pretty beaten up and, they did not have license plates on them.  My research seems to say that these were probably ex-WW2 surplus Chevrolet CMP trucks used by the British.

I believe some of these veterans are still running around and the remains of many others are scattered around the country.