Today is the last day of February and it is also Chap Goh Meh, the finale to the Chinese New Year celebration. Being a Sunday, this year’s Chap Goh Meh will be celebrated on a grander scale by the Chinese.

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Chap Goh Meh, meaning “fifteenth night” in Hokkien, is a day to spend with loved ones. It is like Valentine’s Day for the Chinese. On this day, single adults throw oranges into rivers in the hope of finding a life partner. The Hokkien even have a saying which goes “tim kam chua ho ang”  which literally means “throw a mandarin orange, marry a good husband.” But nowadays a lot of young people throw oranges into rivers merely for fun.

People used to write their names and telephone numbers on oranges that they threw into rivers or lakes.  Nowadays with the widespread use of the internet, I guess people will probably write their emails or their websites addresses on the oranges that they throw……some may even write the names that they use on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

To all my friends and associates, I wish you all a very happy Chap Goh Meh!  Go now to the supermarkets to buy a box of mandarin oranges and see you at the lakeside at Bulatan Park tonight! Who knows, you may find your life partner tonight! Hahaha…happy orange throwing!

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It is a Chinese custom to give hong pao (Mandarin) or ang pow (Hokkien) or Lai See (Cantonese) to the younger generation during Chinese New Year. A hong pao is simply a red packet with some money in it. The red color symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. The packet is often decorated with the Chinese zodiac animal symbol according to what year it is. For instance this year is the Year of the Tiger and there are lots of red packets with the picture or symbol of the tiger printed on them.

The amount of money that a red packet contains is dependent on several factors such as the relationship between the giver and the recipient, the social standing of the giver and the recipient, etc.

The amount of money is almost always an even number and amounts that end with 8 are very popular as 8 sounds like prosperity in Mandarin. However an amount that is usually avoided despite ending with 8 is 38 as “3″ and “8″ when used together refers to an unpleasant woman.Amounts that are usually avoided are those that end in 4 or involve 4 as 4 in Mandarin sounds like death.

Collecting red packets has become a very popular hobby among a lot of Chinese.  Some red packets, like stamps, can command good prices so it can become a lucrative hobby.

My wife is a collector of red packets. This year she has managed to collect a few red packets with the symbols of the tiger printed on them. And I have asked some of my friends in neighboring countries to reserve some of the red packets from their countries for my wife. My wife is looking forward to receive these red packets to add to her collection. To my friends who have so kindly reserved the red packets for my wife, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks! May the Year of the Tiger be a ROARING GOOD YEAR for you!

My wife's Year of the Toger red packets from Polo shirts!

My wife's Year of the Tiger red packets from Polo shirts!

Year of the Tiger red packets

Year of the Tiger red packets

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Almost a fortnight has gone by since my last blog article.  After all the Chinese New Year visiting and activities, I got bitten by the lazy bug and have just been relaxing. I guess it is time to get back into the normal day-to-day routine again.

During the first few days of the Chinese New Year, my family visited the houses of quite a lot of relatives. With my son Clarence and his girl friend back from Penang to spend the Chinese New Year with us, our house was  noisier and livelier than usual.

During the course of our Chinese New Year visiting, we came across this house with its water meter secured with barbed wire to prevent theft of the meter. It is truly surprising that there are people who would resort to stealing water meters but I have read newspaper reports about such thefts.

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In another relative’s house, we came across quite a number of unwelcomed visitors. These visitors were crawling on the floor and the walls….upon closer examination, these visitors turned out to be dog lice! A relative of mine tried to kill the lice that he saw.

Killing dog lices crawling on the floor!Killing dog lice crawling on the floor!

The lion dance troupe from Democratic Action Party (DAP) passed through our housing estate and performed a short dance in the garage of my house.  Here in Miri, it is a very common practice for lion dance troupes from Chinese schools, associations and political parties to perform from house to house to raise funds. It adds to the Chinese New Year mood.

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An unfortunate event happened on the third day of the Chinese New Year . One of my relatives hosted an open house on that day and we dropped by his house. My relative had ordered several dishes from a Malay so we savored the food. That night, both of my sons and I came down with bad diarhoea. My son Clarence was the most seriously affected as he had fever in addition to a severe case of diarhoea. I immediately suspected that the cause must be the curry that we had taken at the open house. My wife was not affected as she did not take the curry. The next day we found out that a lot of our other relatives who had been to the open house had diarhoea. And my relative who hosted the open house later told us he only found out that there was something wrong with the curry later that night. The curry had turned frothy!

My son Clarence and Amanda left Miri for Penang on the fourth day of the Chinese New Year. I felt so sad to see them go. And I felt so sorry for Clarence as he was still unwell from the food poisoning with bouts of fever as well as sore throat. On arrival in Penang, he had to see a doctor immediately and had to take the following day off as a medical leave.

Today is the twelfth day of the Chinese New Year. And in three more days, it is Chap Go Meh ….another round of big makan (eating) again!

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At the stroke of midnight about half an hour ago, the sky of Miri erupted in a glorious display of fireworks as the Chinese celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Tiger.  And this was accompanied by deafening firecrackers that turned the whole city into a war-like zone. I managed to capture some of the firework display on  my compact digital camera.

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2010-year-of-the-tiger

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year……and this year is the Year of the Tiger! The cycle of twelve animal signs originates from Chinese tradition as a way of naming the years. The animals follow one another in an established order and are replicated every twelve years: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Every animal has particular characteristics and people born in a specific year are believed to take on these characteristics.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, which commences on February 14, 2010 and ends on February 2, 2011. The Tiger is the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, and it is a sign of bravery. This courageous and fiery fighter is admired by the ancient Chinese as the sign that keeps away the three main tragedies of a household. These are fire, thieves and ghosts.

The year of the Tiger is traditionally associated with massive changes and social upheaval. Therefore, 2010 is very likely to be a volatile one both on the world scene, as well as on a personal level.

A very happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese friends and Kong Hee Fatt Choy!

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Today is the eve of the Chinese New Year. It had been a tiring day doing last minute cleaning to make our house look spick and span.

We went to the airport at about 5.10 pm. to pick up my son Clarence and his girl friend Amanda who flew back from Penang to Miri by Air Asia. We then had our reunion dinner at the Han Palace Restaurant in Grand Palace Hotel. It was a seven-course dinner: Fatt Choy Yee Sang, Five Hot & Cold Varieties, Shark’s Fin Soup with Crabmeat, Crispy Fried Chicken, Steamed Cod Fish in Light Soy Sauce,  Stir Fried Lamb Chop with Black Pepper Sauce and  Stir Fried Prawns with Mushroom.

Fatt Choy Yee Sang

Fatt Choy Yee Sang

Five Hot & Cold Varieties

Five Hot & Cold Varieties

Steamed Cod Fish in Light Soy Sauce

Steamed Cod Fish in Light Soy Sauce

Crispy Fried Chicken

Crispy Fried Chicken

Stir Fried Lamb Chop with Black Pepper Sauce

Stir Fried Lamb Chop with Black Pepper Sauce

Stir Fried Prawns with Mushroom

Stir Fried Prawns with Mushroom

The food was good but not outstanding. For desserts, we were served fresh fruits and peanuts dumplings or tang yuan.  And we were given a few mandarin oranges nicely wrapped in a small hamper.

It is 10 pm now. In two hours’ time, it will be Chinese New Year. And the whole Miri will be like a war-torn zone with firecrackers erupting everywhere and fireworks lighting up the dark sky.  It will truly be a sight to behold!

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googlebuzz

Google has taken the plunge into the world of social media with its announcement about Google Buzz. Its foray into the social media is a melding of pieces of Facebook and Twitter.

Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos, links and more. There will be no more fuzzy little pictures: Buzz makes it easy to quickly flip through photos and experience them the way they were meant to be seen: big and full-resolution. And videos play inline so you can watch them without opening a new window.

Buzz is built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. Buzz sets you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. You have the choice to share publicly with the world or privately to a small group of friends each time you post. You can connect other sites you use, such as Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, YouTube and Twitter, so your friends can easily keep up with what you’re doing online — all in one place.

Making sure that you don’t miss out on the best part of sharing, Buzz sends responses to your posts straight to your inbox. Unlike static email messages, buzz messages in your inbox are live conversations where comments appear in real time.

There are many basic tasks you can perform using Buzz such as leaving a comment on someone else’s buzz, liking it, or even emailing it. And you can make your buzzes private or public too. One of the major benefits is the excellent built-in search functionality. The Buzz search beats Twitter’s search hands down and is definitely one of its killer features.

You can follow the specific people whose posts you want to see, but Buzz also recommends posts from people you’re not directly following, often ones where your friends are having a lively conversation in the comments. If you’re not interested in a particular recommendation, just click the “Not interested” link and your feedback will help improve the recommendations system. Buzz also weeds out uninteresting posts from the people you follow — collapsing inactive posts and short status messages like “brb.” These early versions of ranking and recommendations are just a start; they’re working on improvements that will help you automatically sort through all the social data being produced to find the most relevant conversations that matter to you.

Buzz is also available on your mobile phone. It uses your mobile device and geo location technology to see where you are which can put context into the items that you share on the go. When you’re out on the move, a lot of the information you want to share often has to do with where you are or what you are doing: for example, you may want to buzz about a trendy hair saloon that you are patronising for the first time or the score of the English Premier League game you’re watching at a sports cafe. Buzz for mobile thus brings location to the forefront and makes it easy to have conversations about places. Additionally, the ability to see who is buzzing around you (it doesn’t matter whether you are following them or not) is really neat. Buzz’s integration with Google Maps comes in very handy to find “hot spots” or areas where people have left advice, tips and the like.

In the months to come, it will be very interesting to see how Google Buzz fares against Facebook. Will Buzz triumph over Facebook to become the “Google” of social media? Let’s wait and see!

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I saw this humorous photo when I was browsing the internet last night.  Please don’t take offense as it is meant as a joke and hopefully it will bring a smile to your face. You lose nothing by smiling but a smile can do wonders sometimes!

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We went to QQ Duck Specialist in Pelita Commercial Centre for breakfast today. This coffeeshop was doing brisk business because of its barbecue duck. As we parked our car, I noticed dozens of slaughtered ducks and chickens  hanging on some railings behind the coffeeshop.

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After breakfast, we went to Bintang Megamall to do some shopping. There were huge crowds there and it took us quite a while to find a parking slot. On arrival at the main entrance of the megamall, we saw a lion dance competition in progress and I managed to snap a few photos before entering the mall.

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As soon as you enter the mall, you will immediately feel the Chinese New Year mood. You can see red almost everywhere.  And Chinese New Year music fills the air…….oh ya, kong si kong si kong si ni!

Year of the Tiger

Year of the Tiger

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I saw a Caucasian lady browsing around the store selling Chinese New Year lanterns and decorative items. I thought she was just killing time browsing but I later saw her leaving the mall with a few big red lanterns and Chinese New Year decorative items. I guess she must have been gripped by the Chinese New Year mood too, haha!

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Morning had broken and I was sending my wife and son to work yesterday when we saw the sun’s rays  emanating from the clouds that had shielded the sun from view. And the clouds had so intense silver linings. It was a sight to behold and I quickly captured the views on my camera. Unfortunately I don’t any zoom lens so the photos that I took do not depict the actual scene well.  Anyway you can get an idea of the beauty of the scene from these photos.

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As we were driving, we then saw this huge rainbow stretching across the sky. I always feel blessed and often I am seized by a sense  that something good is going to come my way whenever I see a huge rainbow like this. So needless to say, I “captured” the rainbow on my camera. The last time I saw one was a couple of months ago and I also quickly “captured” it on my camera and on that night, I had an amazing windfall. Hmm….maybe something great is going to materialize this weekend…..I am keeping my fingers crossed!

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