Monday, January 30, 2006

Xin Nien Quai Le!

Part of the dishes served at the CNY Eve reunion dinner with our extended family. On the menu:

Jew Hoo Char - my all time favourite Chinese New Year soul food. This was one of the dishes which I have learnt to cook from memory of the taste of the food. To me, Chinese New Year reunion dinner is not complete without this dish. Jew Hoo Char is jacima/yambean fried with cuttle fish strips and pork. "Jew Hoo" is cuttlefish in Hokkien and it sounds like "abundance". Jew Hoo Char is eaten wrapped in lettuce or "saang choy". Alive with abundance!

Tau Yew Bak - stewed pork in soy sauces (dark and light). To have lots of meat for reunion dinner means abundance too. This dish is a favourite with our guests. This year, I made Tau Yew Bak with 3kg of pork!

Emperor Chicken - Chicken wrapped in herbal mixture steamed on low fire for 2.5 hours. More meat, more abundance!

Hoe See Fatt Choy - oyster with mushroom and hair fungus to symbolise good things and prosperity.

Sambal Prawn - I'd done away with buying king sized prawns which cost too much during the CNY period. I'd prepared the sambal prawns with medium sized prawns. More laughter throughout the year please!

Sir fried beans with shrimp and fresh mushroom - more laughter and more colour

Dessert was Kuih Bakul (nien gao) which was steamed and then rolled in grated coconut. "Nien gao" sounds like growth every year, for promotion and improvement every year!

We started with Happy Hour from 4pm. We sat and chatted and drank and ate and chatted while the children had fun playing with each other. Laura and Caityin decided they were "rock stars" who didn't like boys so they didn't want to include Adam in their games. I told Laura that female rock stars normally like boys but Laura replied, "Not Caityin and me. We're special rock stars who do not like boys". The rock stars eventually had to include Adam in their games 'coz their parents said so.

Laura with her best friend, Caityin. Laura was so anxious to put on her new PJs, she didn't wait until after dinner! The children had lots of treats on the eve.

Some of the dishes were already prepared the day before. The ingredients were all ready and I just had to get into the kitchen to prepare the final few dishes. Our helper has been with us for so long, she knew what needed to be done. Finally, everyone had arrived and dinner was served!

Part of our extended family who came for the reunion dinner.

There was lots of laughter and good company. Of course a reunion dinner is not complete without some card games. There was more laughter whenever someone won. The party finally ended at 5.30am!

On the first day of New Year, our children put on their new clothes although they weren't sure if they were going anywhere. When Papa and Mama finally woke up, they got their ang pow.

Laura and Adam receiving Ang Pow from Papa

In the afternoon, we went to visit my Jee Kor (2nd aunt on my father's side) who was in my cousin's place. Her children and grandchildren have gathered at her youngest son's house. Laura and Adam were pleased to have so many children to play with. My cousins' children were all tired as they also slept past 1am on the eve. Amazingly, all the children seem to have some reserve energy stored somewhere in their little self. They could still run around in the park opposite my cousin's place. Laura and Adam crashed soon after arriving home.

Tomorrow, Adam will be able to experience lion dance for the first time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chinese New Year preparation

Before I could sit down and put my feet up after Christmas and ushering in 2006, time to think of Chinese New Year! I am trying to re-create the kind of CNY my cousins, brothers and I used to experience. Rather difficult when there aren't many children around in the family now, especially New Year's Eve.

I used to spend my New Year in Ipoh with my father's side of the family. My eldest uncle, Tua Pek, was the main organisor. My Sar Chek (3rd uncle) and his family, my father and us would go to my eldest uncle's place in Ipoh a couple of days before the first day of New Year. I've mentioned before that my father came from a family of 9 siblings, so there were lots of cousins to play with.

On the evening of our arrival, my Sar Chek will usually take a few of us into Ipoh town to get our supply of fireworks. I remember seeing stalls after stalls selling fireworks. People who had shophouses were playing fireworks by the road side. The whole Ipoh town was a cacophany of lights and sound. Sar Chek would let us pick whatever fireworks we wanted. We played sparklers when we were younger but as we got older, sparklers were for "babies". We chose "songsters" which, thinking back, was rather boring but the thrill of holding the 1" firework in your left hand while using a joss stick with your right hand to light the very short fuse and throwing the firework before the fuse ended. All it did was make a shrill "pfffft" sound. I remember playing with fireworks shaped like a hen. When lit, the rear end of the chicken spat fire, then it goes "pe-kak" and that was it. Then there was a firework which turned very fast when lit. It spun so fast that the lights formed a dome and it made a "pffoooooo" sound, changed colour and finish. Then there were the more expensive ones called "parachute". Place the tube on the ground, light it and it sparks colourful lights. Then "boom" and a parachute is shot out of the tube. The parachute then opened up and fell slowly to the ground. Quite a few of the parachutes got stuck on trees. I think our favourite was the "Moon Traveller". The firework had a long stick attached to it which we stuck into a soft drink bottle. Light the fuse and run away - quick! It makes a shrill "pffft" sound and then bang! Some had a spectacular bang with light. Those were more expensive.

The morning of the eve was usually a hive of activities. The children (meaning me, my brothers and my cousins) who had stayed up late the night before, usually slept in. By the time we woke up, the aunts would have gone to the Pasir Pinji market to get fresh ingredients for cooking. Ipoh style "jue cheong fun", "yau char kwai" and sweetened kopi-o were already laid out on the dining table. A mahjong table with food, tea and rice wine already laid out near the altar as offering to our ancestors. Usually on the table would be a whole chicken, some vegetarian dishes, jew hoo char and bak kien (which had already been cooked the day before for the taste to mature), bowls of rice, cups of tea and rice wine. The night before, my aunt would also be busy with lining fruits with specially cut red paper for offering to the "gods" who are taking care of the house and the family (past and present). These fruits are placed on the altar and joss sticks lit when offerings are made. Around late morning, we were all to troop up to the altar one by one to light joss sticks and prayed for family harmony and safety. At this point, we also invited our ancestors to partake in the offerings. After a while, one of the cousins would use a set of special tokens which were flipped onto the floor. That was a way of asking the ancestors if they were done with their lunch. If they were done, the table was cleared and we had our lunch. If not, we waited a short while before flipping the tokens to check again.

While we were keeping ourselves busy playing with each other and out of our parents' hair, my uncle who was the chief cook, coordinated the dishes and my aunts and mother helped him in the kitchen. The Ipoh house kitchen was HUGE! Well, it is big compared to the little compartment which passes off as a kitchen in the modern terrace houses. My Tua Mm (Tua Pek's wife), Sar Koh (3rd paternal aunt), Sar Chim (3rd uncle's wife) and my mother (she was Jee Chim or 2nd aunt to my cousins), together with my Tua Pek were busy cut, cook, laughed and traded gossips in the kitchen. Some dishes had already been prepared the day before, eg, jew hoo char (jacima bean/yam bean with cuttlefish strips) and bak kien (also known as lorbak). On the eve, the dishes prepared were du tor th'ng (peppery pig stomach soup) or lotus root soup, a chicken dish and some other dishes which name escapes me now.

I remember that throughout the day, we had free flow of fizzy drinks and mandarin oranges. In the dining area were a couple of crates of mandarin oranges and in the fridge were endless cans of fizzy drinks. Also, laid out near the dining table were CNY goodies of every description! Kuih kapit, kuih bangkit, pineapple tart, dragon biscuits (milk cookies shaped like dragons), peanut cookies, peanut candy, maat fung tau (beehive) and the list goes on. Any time we went into the dining room, we could nick something from tins. No one told us about too much sugar causing sugar high or having treats will spoil our meals. Some of the goodies were bought and some were homemade.

My own attempt at making maat foong tau

As the evening approached, the tables were set up. Since there were so many of us, the adults sat at the main dining table. The children had a smaller table so we could sit together. As we grew older, the older cousins were encouraged to join the grown-up table. No takers... The kids table was more fun!

After dinner, we sometimes go outside to play with fireworks. Or we will all gather together to gamble. Oh, the noise we used to make playing Kampung 21 and Three Cards! All for 10 sen per bet! I believe a few of my cousins and myself included learned to count at the gambling sessions ;-) Some grown-ups join us and become the "banker". Occasionally, we heard "Papa"! That's our fathers' cue to top up our investment. The aunts would get together for a game of mahjong and more gossips.

Now, with my own family, there aren't many children around for Laura and Adam to play with. All my cousins and their parents who are still living have their own arrangement for CNY. I am the daughter, so am expected to "follow" my husband's side. So, I try to create the kind of environment which will be memorable for Laura and Adam. Most times Patrick's brother and his daughter would join us but not this year. Instead we will have our "extended family" over for reunion dinner. Our extended family is made up of very good friends of ours who have become like family to us. For the past few years now, I've re-created some CNY dishes from memory and added a few of my own. Some auspicious sounding and some just for the taste. This year, I plan to prepare tau yew bak (stewed pork in soy sauce) which is a favourite with our friends, lotus root soup (to symbolise longevity), jew hoo char (abundance always), hoe see fatt choy (oyster with hair seaweed, the dish sounds like good things and prosperity), sambal prawns (prawns sound like the sound of laughing in Cantonese, so hopefully the dish will bring on lots of laughter to those who eat it) and lorbak (in keeping with tradition).

Here's wishing everyone "Keong Hee Huat Chye, Seen Tei Kean Hong" (prosperity and good health in the new year)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Spring cleaning and memories

My Life Today

Today I begin a new life, so
I will greet each day with love in my heart.
I will persist until I succeed, for
I am nature's greatest miracle.
I will live this day as if it is my last, and
Today I will be master of all my emotions.
I will laugh at the world, and
Today I will multiply my value a hundred fold.
I will act - now - and
I will pray for guidance.

I found this little gem while doing some spring cleaning in my work room. I got this from Dr Allan Somersall when I was actively involved in multi-level marketing Shaklee. Seems like aeons ago!

Spring cleaning my work room have been fun but so much work! It's been a while since I've cleared my stuff. I can see the different phases in my life going, sifting through junk and things that bring back so much memory - good and bad. I also found my report cards from primary and secondary school! Also found a journal I kept when I was in Form 4 and 5. Ah, going through the mind of a teenage girl again. Noting down everything including how the guy I had a crush on said something which got me upset. I didn't note down what he said though. Why was I so upset? I wrote about being in the girl guides, about meeting friends and shopping at the Emporium in SEA Park which was above the market. What are some of the memories from my school days?

1. Friends I used to hang out with, mostly from Girl Guides and Boy Scouts. My friends Yok Chi, Phaik Chin, Fui See, Chung Wen, Warrick, Bobby, Swee Kit. My classmates from secondary school Sharon, Chwee Peng, Angeline, Gordon, Kevin, Char Choon, Hock Huat, Wai Ying and many more. My primary school mates Juliane, Angeline, Audrey, Felicia, Fauziah, Azleen, Mogesh, Su Mun, Jaqueline, Adeline, etc. I've kept in touch with some of my school friends, including some from primary school! I do wonder what has happened to some of former classmates, especially Char Choon and Gordon. There was something about Char Choon. He made people feel good about themselves. I've not seen him since we left school. Gordon was a very special person to me in school. Nope, we didn't date. He has a heart of gold and was like a big brother to everyone. An incident I remember was one of our classmates didn't have money to pay his school fees. Gordon rallied the whole class to help this classmate of ours. We gave whatever we could from our pocket money and managed to raise enough for the school fees. We used to speak Hokkien to each other although Gordon's surname is Simandjoentak. Gordon and I kept in touch a few years after we left school but I've not heard from him in almost 15 years. I even remember my best friend from kindergarten! Her name was Patricia Chan and she had long hair. Hehehe...

2. Girl Guide meetings, campfire and gatherings. The biggest headache in GG was organising the campfire/gathering. We used to have actual campfires. The scouts and guides would go into the rubber plantation which is now Taman SEA SS23 and Taman Megah to gather rubber wood for our campfires. We had limited budget, yet we were under pressure to be the best campfire event. Having gone to other campfire and gatherings organised by other troops and companies, we felt we needed to be better than the ones we went to. I was the Company Leader, so the pressure was on me and the organising committee. Song book/programme need to be designed and printed, the F&B sorted, firewood collected jointly by the scouts and guides, invitations need to be sent out to the other troops and companies, we need to plan entertainment and rehearse, decide what games to play and songs to sing. So much to do!

3. Playing "Uno" in class. In Form 4 and 5, my classmates and I got hooked on Uno big time. We used to play whenever we could. Towards the end of the year, when our teachers have covered the syllables for the year, we were given "free period" to do as we please although that meant revision of our books. We played Uno.

4. Teachers... We had our share of good teachers and bad ones. There was a PE teacher in secondary school who stirred up so much unpleasantness that she had her named spray painted on the school wall by an unhappy student. Did I mention my school was also known as "gangster school". We also had a teacher who turned heads whenever she walk past the classroom, especially the boys. She was gorgeous! I've kept in touch with one of my class teachers from primary school, Miss Angela Wong. She was gentle yet firm.

5. The school girl crushes! I had my share of them. Does he like me as much as I like him? Get to school and look out for a glimpse of the guy I liked. Why didn't he notice that I've changed my hairstyle?

6. The songs! My schoolmates and I used to follow the UK Top 10 on Top Of The Pops. Not every household had a VCR yet, so those who could gathered at a friend's house to watch the latest Top 10 video. My parents were really strict and forbade me going to my friend's house. "What? Boys and girls together at home unsupervised? No, cannot!" Aiya, I only wanted to hang out with my friends and watch the TOTP lah, no hanky panky planned. Cannot wor... Didn't stop me from following the charts though. We all knew what was in the No. 1 spot every single week. We sang along to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, The Cure, Tears For Fears, Cyndi Lauper, Kate Bush, etc. I can't believe songs from the 80's are considered Retro now! When I went to the Hoobastank concert with my nephew last year, songs by Tears For Fears were played before the concert. I was getting into the mood for a concert by singing along and dancing. Then I looked around and realised I was the only one doing that. I was surrounded by teenagers, one of whom commented "What lousy songs are they playing?". Then I told my 14-year-old nephew that I used to listen to TFF when I was in school. If they were to hold a concert in KL, I'll be there! Then Byran turned to me and said, "Are they still alive?"

7. My mother doesn't understand me! Raging teenage hormones and the rebelling spirit ruled in my teenage years. Hey, I knew everything and my mom was so uncool. My dad? Ermm... Too scared of him to say much. But deep down I knew my dad was a sweetie and he had a soft spot for me.

8. My first date! A scout I met at a campfire kept in touch with me. He offered to help me with my Add Math by giving me tuition. Then he asked me out. My mom didn't know this or she would have killed me! We arranged to meet at Arby's in Asia Jaya (now it's Armada Hotel). I agreed to meet him, then I panicked! I called up my good friend, Chwee Peng (we've been friends since we were 7) to come along with me. My date then called his friend to join us too. I needed CP as an alibi too or my parents wouldn't have let me out of the house. We had a nice time at Arby's, then we were going to walk over to Thrifty's. I wore heels for the first time. The walk from Asia Jaya to Thrifty felt like a life time in those heels! Finally, I couldn't take the pain anymore. My date was going to buy me a pair of shoes in Thrifty's. Ermm... his taste in shoes as I remember was rather old-fashioned. I ended up getting a pair of cheap flip-flops just so I could get to a bus stop to go home.

9. The Asia Pacific Jamborella 1984-1985 in Victoria, Australia. My father agreed to finance my trip to the Jamborella and I was estatic! I almost couldn't go 'coz my dad fell down and broke his hip bone 2 weeks before I was scheduled to go. My father insisted that I go on the trip and I am eternally grateful to him for having given me the opportunity. The trip also meant a lot because my father had just lost his job when the company he had worked more than 10 years in closed their Malaysian operation. Due to his age at that time (he was in his 40's), he could only get a low paying job in another company. I didn't know all this until later as my parents shielded my brothers and I from "grown-up matters". I spent a few days with an Australian family in Rosebud, Victoria before going to Dandenong for 10 days of camping. I had a tough time understanding the Aussies. The Clark family I stayed with had a son in his early 20's who was in the navy and a teenage daughter a year younger than me but already started working. Clark Jr loved chatting with me and told me lots of interesting stories about his Navy experienced. If only I could understand most of what he said! The Jamborella was really fun. After the Jamborella, I stayed with the McPhan family who had two sons and a daughter. One of the sons was really handsome! I made lots of friends in the Jamborella. Found two letters, from Dearne Dray and Melinda Dean, during my spring cleaning. I had a best friend in Jamborella named Amanda Culpan. I spent so much time in the sun, when I arrived at the airport, I stood in front of my mother and she couldn't recognise me.

10. Haircuts at the hairdressing school of Peter & Guys and Thomas & Guys. We were all on a budget then, so to be stylish without paying a lot of money was to be the "model" for hairdressing students in P&G and T&G. I could change my hairstyle every month by paying only RM3 for a wash & cut. I continued going to the hair schools for my haircuts even when I left school. One of the students asked me to be his exam model and we became friends. William was my clubbing buddy for a while.

I wonder where some of people I've mentioned are. I've kept in touch with quite a few of my former schoolmates and a few have moved overseas.

It's been fun reminiscing...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My Princess and Cowboy

Laura and Adam at a friend's birthday party on Sunday, 8 Jan. Kayleigh, the birthday girl is on the right.

Here's Adam trying out his cowboy costume the night before the party.

Laura liked the Princess Jasmine costume her friend, Leanne, was wearing so mama made one for her.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Back to reality

In Singapore, we enjoyed the efficiency of buses, MRTs and taxis. In a few days, I knew what buses to take from where we were to Orchard. I knew how to take the bus to the nearest neighbourhood mall to meet with my cousin. In Orchard, my Singapore family waited a short while for me to get my MRT ticket as I didn't have the Ez-link travel card. I put in the correct amount, a card comes out. Every single time...

Then, I come back to Kuala Lumpur. A couple of days before the New Year, my friends from college wanted to meet up in PJ. Traffic everywhere was crazy. I thought I would take a train to Megamall to get a much-needed haircut before taking another train to meet my friends in PJ. Good plan, NOT!

I had to take a Putra LRT to KL Sentral to switch to the Komuter train to take me to Megamall. At the Ampang Park LRT station, I tried to use the vending machine to get me ticket. My fare was RM2.00. I put in the first ringgit. Then the machine refused to take my second ringgit. I had a RM5.00 not-so-new-anymore note with me. I put that into the machine and it got rejected. I tried the other two machines and got the same result. Please tell me why the machines have not been calibrated to take the now-one-year-old RM5.00 note. Finally, I went to get my ticket at the counter. The poor lady behind the counter was trying hard to keep up so that the queue won't get too long. I don't blame her for pulling a long face. The station wasn't even busy at the time. What happens at rush hour?

At KL Sentral, I tried using the vending machine again to get a ticket on the Komuter as the line at the counter was really long. Since my fare was RM1.00, I didn't have any problem getting my ticket quickly. Getting to Megamall and back to KL Sentral was not a problem. However, I couldn't help feeling slightly claustrophobic when waiting for the train. The escalator going down to the platform is narrow. The walkway from the escalator to the waiting area at the platform is also rather narrow. The whole place will never be able to cater to the kind of traffic that, eg, Orchard MRT station gets every day.

Anyway, I got my haircut in Megamall. So now I had to make my way to meet my friends. Komuter to KL Sentral to get on a Putra LRT to PJ. Easy peasy? Wrong! There were 7 machines at the KL Sentral that dispenses tickets for Putra LRT. The line at the counter was LONG! There wasn't any queue to the ticket machines. Then I find out why. My fare to PJ was RM2.10. Again the machine accepted one RM1 note and didn't accept another one after. I put in the plastic-please-it-is-not-new-anymore RM5 note into the machine. The RM5 got rejected. By this time, I was PISSED OFF! This is the KL Sentral for goodness sake! The machines in the KL "the hub of transportation in Kuala Lumpur" Sentral are not calibrated after the RM5 have been introduced for a year! I thought I'd use a RM10 note then. The FUCKING machine flashed "Please use a smaller denomination" on the screen. PASS ME A CROWBAR, SOMEBODY! Fortunately, I had an old RM5 with me, which got me my ticket. What if I didn't have the old RM5 note? I would have had to queue up to get my ticket from the counter. Might as well have called my friends to tell them I won't be able to make the appointment.

A few days ago, PT and I decided to watch King Kong in KLCC. Flipped the newspaper and got the number to call to book tickets. Could not get through after a few attempts. The number was constantly engaged. Finally, I manage to get through only to hear ringing until the line went dead. No one picked up the phone. Tried again several times and again, the line was engaged. PT finally managed to get through only to be told TGV in KLCC was not accepting booking for the time we wanted. We had to get to the cinema to queue up for tickets. We got our tickets, went into the cinema and got the same story - scratched prints and bad sound. We are paying more now to get the same what we used to get when we paid RM1.60, minus the sound of kwa chee shells under our feet.

Yesterday, we took the kids to see the Wallace & Gromit movie. I had gone online to book our tickets. I printed out our booking slip but forgot to bring it along when I changed handbag. At the ticket collection counter, I explained that I'd forgotten to bring my booking slip and did not know my booking number. The grumpy person behind the counter asked for my phone number. She keyed the number in and could not find my booking. I asked her to try again which she reluctantly did. When she couldn't find my booking again, she very curtly said she can't help me and I should go queue up. Her attitude made my blood boil! I told Patrick what happened and he went to try. He was at the same counter I was at and encountered the same rude counter staff. He demanded to see the manager. I could see look of panic on the other counter staff faces. The manager saw PT, went back to the terminal and keyed in my phone number again, this time by adding in a space or a dash and viola! My booking was there! Now, if the counter staff had been more patient and pleasant...

I have tried but do not think I will ever be able to understand the mentality of Malaysian companies, authorities, rakyat... Why is it so difficult to get something working right? Why is it so difficult to be pleasant? Why is it so difficult to maintain a place well? Why is it so difficult to have some pride in our products, our work, our property, ourselves? Reading about the young entrepreneur getting killed by a falling object at the construction site made me so angry. How can it be difficult to ensure safety at the workplace? What has the manager been doing, if not making his/her rounds to ensure the workers are complying to safety rules? Why is it that this developer has been allowed to continue work, after they've been found to flout rules?

What is happening here? Are we all waiting for Malaysia to be synonymous to "shoddy quality"? That quality Malaysian goods becomes an oxymoron? Frankly, I am fed-up of being on the receiving end of bad service, bad quality, bad maintenance and the tidak apa attitude.

Christmas in Singapore

The rest of Dec 2005 flashed by just like that! A lot has happened since my last entry. We went to Singapore to celebrate Christmas with Patrick's brother and his family. Believe it or not, we didn't see Orchard at night!

Our holiday was almost screwed before we arrive at the Aeroline bus terminal in Singapore. At the Singapore Immigration, our luggage was scanned. I had packed Christmas presents for folks in Singapore, of which was a bottle of wine for my bro-in-law. The customs officer asked me to open my bag to check. When I told them I had a bottle of wine with me as a present for my bro-in-law, he summoned me into the Customs Office! Yikes!

In the office, the customs officer explained that I did not declare the bottle of wine in my bag, of which duty had to be paid. The customs officer asked if I was paying by credit card or cash. This is Singapore, where efficiency is in everything! The duty came up to S$8, which is not much. Phew! I had to wait a short while for the receipt to be printed. Apparently, the computer was online with the customs officer elsewhere and my receipt was being printed at another terminal. The customs officer apologised several times for the delay. A couple of minutes later, I had the receipt in my hand and I was on my way in the bus again. My family waited for me in the bus. I didn't make eye contact with anyone in the bus, as I'm sure I was glared at for delaying the bus!

On arrival at the bus terminal, we proceeded to collect our luggage from the bus. Patrick looked at me and asked, "Where's my laptop?". GASP!! I'd left the laptop bag in the customs office! The bus attendant (as opposed to flight attendant) on board our bus, Fifi, was very helpful. She brought me to the Aeroline bus counter to get the phone number for the Immigration and Customs office at Tuas. I called the number given to me, after a few rings, someone picked up the phone. I explained why I called and immediately, the person I spoke to knew what I was talking about! Very impressive! The IAC officer I spoke to, Latifah, told me that the laptop bag has been handed to the police. She asked if I was going to collect the bag that day. If so, to go directly to see her and she will assist me in getting the laptop bag back. As it turned out, I didn't manage to collect the bag the same day. When I called back to inform Latifah I wasn't going to collect the bag, someone else picked up the phone and said that she wasn't at the office. I explained why I called and the person I spoke with also knew what I was talking about! I was not passed to another person in another department nor asked to call another number to speak to someone else and I did not have to explain over and over again that I had lost my laptop bag.

The next day, my bro-in-law drove me to Tuas to collect the laptop bag. We followed the signs and found ourselves at the checkpoint counter. I went into the nearest IAC office to see if we were at the right place. The officer on duty, Teo, made one phone call and proceeded to tell me where the laptop bag was and what I needed to do to collect the bag. He arranged for an auxiliary police to escort me to the police station to collect the bag. At the same time, his colleague arranged for a space for my bro-in-law to park his car so he can wait for me.

At the police station, I was required to write down the item I was collecting. I guess this is to verify that I was the genuine owner of the bag. Then she escorted me back to the car, all the while arranging on the walkie-talkie with other auxiliary police to be on stand by to open up the barriers for us to turn back into Singapore.

All the officers who attended to me were very helpful and polite. I am very impressed with the efficiency of the IAC and Cisco Auxiliary Police officers. I can't thank them enough for their assistance.