Saturday, September 10, 2011


There is so much to say. I am lying in bed in my Auntie How King's house. I have my own room with Tim next door. What a day we have had.

We woke up in Singapore and had the most amazing breakfast at our hotel; dumplings and soup and dragon fruit, and the cappuccino I have ever had in my life. Then we walked around a bit but discovered that we could not get into Singapore and get back in time for our flight. So we hung out at the hotel and Tim and I went for a swim. The pool was like something out of a movie. There were planters in the pool that you could swim through and underwater benches on which to sit. One side of the pool had an infinity edge that spilled over into a shallow pool that was above the lobby. So from in the lobby you could look up through the water.

We then packed our bags and headed back into the airport which was adjacent to the hotel. We had to take a sky train to a terminal and then a bus to another terminal. When we arrived at the our departure terminal it was raining. It was a kind of rain I have never experienced before. Torrential, monsoon like rain. The awning for the terminal was tin and the sound of the rain pounding on the tin roof was deafening and like nothing I have ever heard before. It smell of the rain mixed with the flowers that were blooming everywhere and the exhaust from the buses mixed with the sweat of the malay, indian, chinese and indonesian people around me. It was a scent memory I will always carry with me.

Our flight was delayed out of Singapore. When we finally boarded our small jet with "Firefly" air, we all had window seats. There was a very indian song playing on the radio when we boarded. It almost sounded like a Hindu chant. Then Sara Bareilles came on after that. Huh. I love fireflies, don't get me wrong, but naming an airline after a small insignificant insect really didn't inspire confidence in me. But the flight attendants were absolutely perfection. Their manners were impeccable. Their hair in their smart up-dos with their fancy asian comb sticking out was like something out of a geisha book. They donned eyelet aprons mid-flight to serve chocolate croissants and coffee.

We flew up the Malaysian peninsula mostly along the west coast bordering the Indian Ocean. We saw lots of ships headed for Singapore. I saw plantations of what I imagined to be tea and rice. It was very cloudy and overcast as we took off so I did not get to see Singapore from the air. And much of the trip up the coast was cloudy as well.

Then we landed in Ipoh around 5:30 p.m. As we approached the airport I saw these hills surrounding the city. They looked like a vertical jungle with some cliffs here and there. I immediately thought to myself "I must go see those up close". The city of Ipoh is flanked by these hills on all sides and with the cloudy haze and the fog it looked like a chinese town, not a malayan town.

As we were waiting in line for customs I saw what must be Dad's family waving furiously on the other side of the glass doors. There was about 10 people with the biggest smiles on their faces I had ever seen. They embraced dad in a mob of arms and pats and kisses. He was with his family and he was beaming. Then Tim and I were mobbed as well and I had to stop filming the reunion because I was caught up in the throng of people too. They recognized me from the Christmas cards I send every year. And when I got in the back seat I saw that they had them laminated and with them. They say they laminate my Christmas card every year and show it to all their friends.

There was a bit of discussion about who would ride with who and off we went from the very small, very primitive airport. There was one gate, one terminal and one conveyer for luggage. I got my first glimpse of Ipoh as we headed from the airport. They drive on the left side of the road. The driver sits on the right side of the car. We drove through what were obviously shopping districts and it looked as if the people lived above their shops. We drove through very poor neighborhoods and homes that looked like they were about to fall down. Tim and I were in the car with my dad's brother Weng Wah and his wife Sharon. We were getting closer to the outskirts of the city where these hills were. Weng Wah told us they were limestone hills. And that How King lived very near them.

As we twisted and turned and wound our way through the town I felt very, very foreign. We then approached a security gate and they waved us through. Then we went through another security gate and we were waived through. Then we pulled up to a house that was right at the base of one of these limestone hills. How King's house isn't very near them. It is in her backyard. Tim and I were both having the same thought "I wonder if I can get my hands on a harness and some rope".

We toured How King and Leiu's home. It is beautiful. Everyone takes their shoes off at the door. All the doors and windows are open and there is a tropical breeze blowing though constantly. We immediately went to the back yard to see the incredible view of the bluff. She told me that in the morning the Monkey's would be out. Monkey's? Then as my eyes came down from up high I saw that there was a stream in between the bluff and her house. This stream was filled with Carp. Beautiful carp that swam gracefully in the river. Along the river is a walking (running) path. I was delighted. I was giddy. This could be the most beautiful run I have ever had in the morning.

We freshened up (and dad bestowed the corningware) and went out to dinner at 7:30. A bunch of family met us at a restaurant in town. It was amazing. We ate family stye with a lazy susan in the middle of the table so we could pass the dishes around. Tim, Dad and I ate until we were stuffed. I can't begin to name the things we ate. I tried everything they served. (even the dead fish cooked whole with the skin and fins still on that was staring at me with his mouth agape.) We then left and went to James and Pui Foong's (she is How King's sister) house to pick up some coffee for in the morning. We got a tour and I called my girls on face time and I almost cried. It was so good to see them. We visited for quite a while over there and met her daughter Adeline who is moving to London this week to study law. She is already a published author.

I am writing this at 11:00 at night and my eyes keep closing. But there is so much to write down before I am bombarded with new stories and experiences tomorrow. My most frequent thought this evening was "my how I have missed out". There is this whole family that I don't know. And dad was so happy and talkative. He was like a kid showing off his most prized possessions. He immediately broke out pictures of his grandkids and was speaking excitedly in English and Chinese. He was beaming.

Dinner was a feast for the senses. My eyes were taking in the foreign food, the faces of these blood relatives of mine and the animated way in which they talk. My nose was smelling all the smells of the cuisine in front of us. My ears were listening to these loud chinese people talk all over each other and wondering what they were saying. I was tasting things I have never tasted before and will likely not ever have again.

What a day. My eyes are shutting as I type this. I do not have internet here at How King's house so I do not know when I will get to post this.
Having a ball,


  1. Awesome writing, Sis. Glad you're enjoying and appreciating it.

    Give everyone my love and regrets for not being able to make it.

  2. oh my .. it feels like i am right there with you .. i am SOOOO glad that you are having this experience !!!

  3. Emily, what a beautiful picture you describe. I'm sure your Dad is in heaven. So happy you had the opportunity go with him and Tim. Thanks so much for sharing!