Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reunion on the Yangtze

We were extremely honoured to have Ms Ng and Arne & Molly (Miss Batchelder) Solbak joining us on the Yangtze Cruise to celebrate our 40th Graduation Anniversary, and are most grateful to Molly for the following article in which she shares with us her thoughts of the trip.

The river narrows and the mountains become steeper. They are high and sometimes there are huge boulders with vegetation on them piled on top of what are already mountain tops. They are cut into with deep crevices. Some crevices are so deep they become caves where nobody is permitted to go due to danger or historic or natural treasury designation. There are burial sites cut into the sides of the walls of the mountains. Much of the beauty of the nature along the hilly gorge sides is covered with green vegetation, but hardly a bird or animal could be seen by us; it was probably too hot on that sunny day when we passed by and they were hiding amongst the cool lush growth. Our cruise vessel carefully navigated its way through the three gorges at a speed that cut a frothy trail behind us. This is a beautiful sight and one we will not forget anytime soon.

Steep mountain sides, craggy rocks, and high high peaks have often been painted on silk screens, scrolls and illustrated in books. They always looked so imaginary, so mythological to me, but now I have actually seen them in their true form and I understand better the paintings, pen and ink drawings and needle art where they are depicted. They are not imaginary but are very real and exist along the narrow gorges of the Yangtze River. This is the real beauty of the river and the beauty we came to see. I had no idea it would be so magnificent a sight. The narration along the river route helped us to understand what we were seeing. Our grandchildren will love the photos we took of the trackers who pulled our boat up the Shennong streambed.

Our trip was wonderful. I would not have wanted to change any part of it. We visited Erling Park in Chungqing, Fengdu, the “City of Ghosts,” and The White King Town. We saw the city of Wu Han from the top of the Yellow Crane tower. We outdid and surprised ourselves by climbing oh so many many steps to see the marvels at the tops of them. And we visited the fantastic Three Gorges Dam where we learned about its construction and the changes that have come to the lives of millions of people along the river.

The accommodations on the cruise boat were very satisfactory and the staff very hospitable and charming. We enjoyed the demonstrations of Chinese art and the tea ceremony. My husband and I loved the fact that we had so much Chinese food, both the usual and the unusual tastes were delightful for us. We like it hot and we like it spicy and we like it even when we do not exactly know what it is we are eating. Our tour guides were very accommodating when we did not understand their chatter and helped us with some special words of encouragement in our own language.

But we tell everyone that the best part of the trip were the people with whom we were traveling. Being with Miss Ng, the BHJS students and their spouses, friends and children MADE the trip so wonderful for us. They were very helpful by giving us translation when we seemed lost while listening to the guides and filling us in with the descriptions of the stories. For this we are very grateful. It enhanced our trip and our understanding. We enjoyed their laughter, their personalities, and their conversations. Even when we did not always understand all of what they were saying we could tell by the smiles and liveliness of the chatter that they were having fun and therefore we did too. Had we had any other travel companions, the trip would not have been as exciting and as much fun for us. We are so grateful to you all for allowing us to be with you on this trip and we hope to see you all again sometime soon.
The photos were taken by Fiona Wong and Fred & Pauline Cheng.

Monday, September 24, 2007


During our Grand Reunion Banquet on 18 August 2007 in the School Hall, classmates coming back from overseas entertained us with a recital of our good old school days at BHJS in the form of a lighthearted poem entitled "銀記生涯" written by Mui Lai Yee with contributions from May Ho, Stephen Lau and Irene Tsai. Here is the cheerful poem for you to enjoy:

唧唧復唧唧 集體來回憶
不聞老校聲 大家都嘆息
上堂咋唔識 肥豬在休息
自修一樣識 葉棟好得戚
除了區文中 個個裙褲鬆
有個漏水樽 放學週圍終
英文頂呱呱 MsLin笑哈哈
數學唔及格 同Supposese唔夾
國文唔及格 彭彭都冇法
考試考得好 大家合作好
考試考唔好 通水通唔到
番學等放學 踢波係娛樂
日日返學愁更愁 最驚會考係光頭
檯底公仔亂咁油 紙仔飛到TamSir頭
功課多到似報仇 抄到冬菇側側頭
阿靚長衫件件正 髮型高到上屋頂
劉生唔教扭腰舞 學生揚名民族舞
Bio有個CYChan 嚇到我地面青青
另外一個CYChan 碰到都唔駛心驚
轉眼四十年 大家意相連
連婆大點兵 在座八十丁
千里路迢迢 相見把手搖
老師同學好 我地番黎SAY HELLO!!!!
Photos by courtesy of Mok Kwok Yum & Fred Cheng

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Burning Out Too Early

公共知識分子之死 /邱立本








Sunday, September 09, 2007

Reflections of Our Vietnam Trip (Part 2)

Irene Tsai continues her refection on our friendship and our reunion trip to Vietnam in this post. To read Part 1 of this report, please click here.

After spending 2 days and 2 nights in northern Vietnam, we departed for Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), once again on Vietnam Airlines. Northern Vietnam is a lot quieter as compared to Saigon, where one encounters hustles and bustles everywhere. I felt there’s a touch of communist air walking around Hanoi. Funny enough, I got the exact same strange feeling walking on the streets of East Berlin the year the Wall came down. Like West Berlin, Saigon’s a lot more crowded, vibrant and colourful. But, one can see the French style buildings all over the country though. Lots of things caught my eyes in north Vietnam, but apart from the scenic Ha Long Bay districts, I was more at home in Saigon because my personality fits in better down south. I’ll let you see some of the local buildings I came across.

We walked through wide and narrow streets of Saigon, visited the War Museum, Former President Palace, City Theatre, City Hall Square, Notre Dame Cathedral and the sparkling French style Post Office with Ho Chi Minh’s Portrait high up on the main wall. I was glad that we had a chance to view some of the war time brutal military traps and the amazing experience of crawling inside the tight, dark Cu Chi Tunnels. That was an exciting experience of a life time. Thank God nobody had beans for lunch before we squeezed our lean bodies into the narrow dusty tunnel as we were four-legged, crawling very intimately one after another in the stuffy darkness. Can you just imagine what it would have been like for the rest of us if someone had the need to get rid of his/her excess stomach gas because of the curried beans they ate earlier!!! Potential Danger Zone indeed!
We were well fed throughout the week in Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine is colourful, tasty and delightful. Towards the end of our trip, we had a dinner boat cruise with professional singers and performers entertaining us right at the dinner table. We also went down the famous Mekong River, checked out Coconut Island and Orchard Island. Our flimsy little boats, filled with water inside, constantly rubbing against the tall lush tropical greens on both sides as we were paddled through by the local old women. I took a picture of a very interesting outdoor meal with the world’s biggest JEAN DUI (they call it the Dinosaur Egg) and the Stand Up Fish. Watch it, Kan Yu Tung, it’s about time you take a little break from it. Wasn’t that gigantic JEAN DUI so toothsome? Folks, here’s a shot to get your saliva gland going. Well, some of us fell in love with the Vietnamese language. Some fell in love with the local cuisine. Some men quietly fell in love with the pretty Vietnamese women. Others fell in love with the Vietnamese customs and culture. All in all, we had a great time in Vietnam. I was fascinated, bewildered and got blown away at times. It was great that we were able to let our hair down. A pack of us sitting at the back of the bus, joking and laughing our heads off the whole time. Mind you, we were never pretentious, our laughters did not come in subtle tints at all. I have to admit that we were borderline to out of control most of the time. Lin Jeh would have told us to double rinse our mouths with Listerine as a daily ritual had he been on that bus. Hey, we were just learning some simple, innocent everyday conversations in Vietnamese, which incidentally or unfortunately sounded like some graphic swearing in Cantonese. And that’s just the beginning of the fun parts throughout the trip. On a serious note…. Yes, there’s definitely room for growth in Vietnam, but for at least now, there’s peace and quiet and everyday normal life for the people in general. No more daily meaningless bombings, merciless death tolls, heartbreaking gun shot wounds everywhere, and no more crazy spraying of deadly herbicide in the skies all over the forests. You can see Vietnamese men relaxing, laughing, drinking, playing chess and sitting around lazily on the streets these days. Here’s a picture of the awesome Vietnam crew - our grand finale as we were making our victory exit at our hotel in Saigon, heading to the airport for our outbound flight back to Hong Kong on Day 6.

Finally, my dear friends:
Let us not forget that our 40th Grand Reunion was here to confirm and remind us of the great legacy which we all are part. And let the end of our Vietnam Trip not mark the end of our Grand Reunion, but the beginning of our endless creative friendship renewals for many, many more happy and healthy years to come. Like Lin Jeh always says, “May God Bless us all!”

Reporting from Toronto, Irene Tsai of 1C, August, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Together on the Yangtze


To view more group photos of our Yangtze Reunion Cruise, please click here. Thanks to Fred and Pauline Cheng for these photos.

Reflections of Our Vietnam Trip (Part 1)

Irene Tsai refects on our friendship and our reunion trip to Vietnam and sends this report from Toronto which will appear in this Blog in two parts. Please enjoy.

Back on the Canadian soil, I am sipping my first cup of genuine Vietnamese coffee, reflecting how lucky I’ve been.

My first job after university wasn’t my high school teaching job. I started out with a very cushy job with Ontario Hydro (now Hydro One) as I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into teaching yet. With my first few pay cheques, I bought myself a decent stereo system. It was Sansui G4700 with two big loudspeakers, 200W each. Music was very important to me in the ‘70s. While hooking up my new stereo system in my living room, I suddenly heard the shocking 6 o’clock breaking news, the American exodus in Vietnam!!! I dropped everything, glued my face to the monitor, watching the desperate crowds hanging onto the swinging ropes hanging down the ascending helicopters, massive chaos, screaming and shouting. That was an unforgetable evening, April of 1975. Visiting Vietnam one day had always been on my mind since. I was living downtown at the time, leading a carefree single life, no husband, no kids, no responsibilities. Thirty-two busy years later, not only I’ve changed job, I have also retired from my high school teaching job, my curriculum leader job, have even gone two-third into my second career, been divorced for 15 years, my daughter has just turned 29, leading a happy life of her own in Geneva. And I myself have moved back to the city from the suburb consciously and subconsciously, living on the Yonge subway line the second round, feeling young and free all over again.

I must say life is good and mother nature has been pretty kind to us all. Hey, life is just so full of charming and strange surprises and happenings. ‘This is the best time of our lives, you better enjoy it’ as pointed out to me by that insightful Fay Lo Au Man Chung awhile ago. How time has changed many things for us, and how our lives have evolved from doing ok, to good, and then to really good, over the last 40 years. I just can’t believe that not only I’ve finally made it to Vietnam, I have also made it there with my dear old friends from far and near, pals from 40+ years ago!!!! And the strangest thing is that I do NOT feel 40+ years older whenever I am with them. Unlike Yau Lop Poon and Martin Kwong, I glanced left to right, up and down, puzzled and looked close and around, I just don’t see the same things they see. I don’t see people with gray hair, I don’t see faces with wrinkles, I don’t see anyone wearing bifocals either. Sitting next to La Bay and Sammy Leung, I don’t remember them as doctors, chatting to Ng Man Tung, I don’t remember her as a pharmacist. Talking to Fay Lo or laughing hysterically with Kan Yu Tung, I don’t remember these are some God damn international entrepreneurs. Joking with Ho Kit May or burning Lau Ki Chun, I don’t remember them as some smart or shrewd accountants, and naturally I never ever remember my role being an educator either. Well, you can tell me I’ve failed my eye test alright. I could only see the sameness of my good old friends. Chan Hing Wah is the same Chan Hing Wah, talks and walks the same way as before. Chi Sin Mei’s the same calm and cool chick except I couldn’t find her chubby cheeks this time. Mok Lo Gwoy had only changed his glasses, still the same Lo Gwoy… no more, no less. I seem to still see the humble-looking model scholar from 1B, Martin, leaning at the door of our 1C classroom during the morning breaks, signalling the tiny La Bay or that little smart ass Sammy Leung to come out for their regular private chats. The trios had always looked very suspicious to me. Frankly, everyone is still very unique and original, fun and inspiring to me after 40+ years. Like what they say, “Once acquainted, never forgotten”.

August in Vietnam? There weren’t a whole lot of options weatherwise. By default, we were all YUET NAM SIU JU (sizzling roast pigs). We were all sun-kissed and sun-hugged to death. Our daily walking sauna baths were indeed quite challenging, especially the ones who have lived in the cold countries for the past 40 years, Needless to say, sweating bullets all day is just an understatement, we were literally drenched in our own sweat every minute of the day. Pretty gross, eh? Some were covering their necks up with wet Ho Chi Minh towels walking around town with bright red cheeks, we were definitely making a fashion statement on the streets of Vietnam. Nobody would have recognized us anyway behind those huge dark sun glasses and our very Gucci and sure Georgio Armani outfits. But, despite the intolerable heat, we were all having tremendous fun throughout the entire trip. Hey, Yau Lop Poon, you should have come along. There were no mosquitoes, and no childhood bullies the whole trip, because 50% of that team had returned to the windy city and the other half was too busy getting drunk and stuffing his face with duckling eggs, Vietnamese style! Hehehe!

We flew into Hanoi, did a city tour relaxingly, checking out some old temples, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Museum, President Palace, City Park, etc. before we took a boat cruise out to the beautiful Ha Long Bay, which is about 170 km east of Hanoi, near the Chinese border. It is one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, over 1,600 islands and islets, forming stunning seascape of limestone pillars. Ah Ping (our 1st tourist guide) said that people consider Ha Long Bay more scenic than the famous Guilin in China. What do you think of that?

Click here to read Part 2 of the report.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007



本是二十二人的越南之旅,遺憾的是Ms Ng身體欠安,提前回紐約去了。這團是挺國際化的。有澳洲來的張潔文,美國的靳羽東,梅麗儀姊妹,區碧雲一家,加拿大的蔡恩瑩,黃慧梨兩口,劉紀榛兩口,何潔美毋女,香港的夏文傑,劉鈞澤兩口,曹禮信兩口以及鄺海疇兩口。