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Family | Ruth Tshin

Photos: The pleasure of eating in Indonesia

Eating in Southeast Asia is incredibly sensual – being enveloped in a cacophany of sights, discount rx sounds and smells.  It’s three-dimensional eating: motos buzzing, order buses roaring, children screaming, dishes clattering, garlic sizzling, spices wafting, soups steaming, waiters gesturing…

I’ve travelled to Indonesia since I was 11 months old, thanks to 98% of my family still living in Jakarta and Bandung and am fortunate to have enjoyed the plethora of foods available from street stalls to catered family gatherings.  Here are some meals I remembered to photograph (oh so many plates were devoured without being snapped) during my August trip for a family reunion.

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Indonesian bakery goods, including lemper, risoles, and croquettes
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Indonesian bakery goods, including lemper, risoles, and croquettes01-Aug-2012 13:24, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320
Iced tea, Indo-style
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Iced tea, Indo-style01-Aug-2012 13:27, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
Lemper - coconut rice with chicken
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Lemper - coconut rice with chicken01-Aug-2012 13:31, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 640
Central javanese food: fried chicken, beef skin and coconut egg
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Central javanese food: fried chicken, beef skin and coconut egg02-Aug-2012 13:43, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 800
Gado-gado or "mix-mix" salad, Central javanese style
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Gado-gado or "mix-mix" salad, Central javanese style02-Aug-2012 13:45, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
Pickled tofu (it's under all the sprouts)
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Pickled tofu (it's under all the sprouts)02-Aug-2012 13:46, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Grilling sticky rice cakes in Lembang, a hilly resort area outside of Bandung...
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Grilling sticky rice cakes in Lembang, a hilly resort area outside of Bandung...04-Aug-2012 14:28, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 125
...serve with a fermented sauce called oncom (oops, forgot to take photo!).  Learn more about oncom from food expert Alan Davidson: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/encyclopedia/definition/oncom/1711/
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...serve with a fermented sauce called oncom (oops, forgot to take photo!). Learn more about oncom from food expert Alan Davidson: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/encyclopedia/definition/oncom/1711/04-Aug-2012 14:29, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 4.0, 10.775mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80
Oncom before it's prepared with chilies and spices.  The cakes are made from what is left after oil is pressed from peanuts or from tofu by-products.
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Oncom before it's prepared with chilies and spices. The cakes are made from what is left after oil is pressed from peanuts or from tofu by-products.04-Aug-2012 14:31, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 160
Mold can be beautiful
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Mold can be beautiful04-Aug-2012 14:31, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 160
Advertising various hot drinks for sale!  One of my favourite childhood memories in Indo is drinking fresh cow's milk, boiled with a bit of sugar.
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Advertising various hot drinks for sale! One of my favourite childhood memories in Indo is drinking fresh cow's milk, boiled with a bit of sugar.04-Aug-2012 14:29, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 4.0, 6.1mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 125
Frying tempeh
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Frying tempeh04-Aug-2012 14:32, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 3.2, 8.898mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 160
Raw tempeh
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Raw tempeh04-Aug-2012 14:33, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 3.2, 8.898mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 160
Crunchy protein!
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Crunchy protein!04-Aug-2012 14:47, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 160
Selling all sorts of various fried tempeh
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Selling all sorts of various fried tempeh04-Aug-2012 14:35, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 160
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04-Aug-2012 14:42, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 160
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04-Aug-2012 14:43, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 160
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04-Aug-2012 14:44, Canon Canon PowerShot G12, 2.8, 6.1mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 160

If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate, just one day out of life, it would be so nice

I’m so behind on posting that I’m putting up holiday photos two months later…It was a 3 week whirl of activities and the most diverse vacation I’ve ever had, malady from Palaung villages to hi-so Bangkok eateries and beach to mountain, skincare with co-workers, friends and beloved family from Canada and Indonesia.

Wat Tham Pla Plong in Chiang Dao district

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Teacher on holiday after reports completed! Yara on the temple steps overlooking Chiang Dao

Words to keep you walking up the bloody stairs of the temple

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UHDP staff spreading Christmas cheer at Palaung village in Chiang Dao district

Palaung grannies kicking it up

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Ket and Lue at UHDP's annual Christmas talent show at the farm

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On the other end of the spectrum, holiday cutesy-ness outside Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok on Christmas Day

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My Bangkok family: Anne (Art's sister) and Namo (Anne's daughter), Art and Dan

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Practising the art of artsy-fartsy camera angles

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Relaxing at Dan and Art's apartment. Notice the smart phones/gaming devices. Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds and Jewels were the names of the games during the holidays!

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Camera balanced on a wineglass to capture al fresco evening at Spring/Summer/Winter restaurant in Bangkok

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Namo all tied up in a hammock while the adults enjoy Cha'am beach (New Year's with Art's family)

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Cha'am: Namo with her stylish Aunty Art

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Building sand castles with Aunty Ant

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Dan, Namo and Em joy-riding through the beach cabin compound we stayed at for New Years

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Angry Birds on ipod and a delighted five-year old

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Anne puts her travel photography skills to work documenting our New Years lunch

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Splendour of the sea - shrimp caught fresh earlier in the morning

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Blue steel

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When the chocolate is gone, my dad is sad (in Chiang Mai)

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These facial grimaces are genetic, methinks...Freezing cold at the Royal Project Doi Inthanon. Dan and Art made a trip back up to Chiang Mai to surprise my parents, so we took a road trip up the mountain when they went back to Canada.

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The perfect end: stunning view at the peak of Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest mountain

Thanksgiving

My first Thanksgiving in Canada in 5 years.  The holiday may have passed, click but my heart remains thankful for:

My parents, brothers and sister-in-law.  Aunty Susanna, Lisa and Michael.

Friends nearby (BC, Markham, Mississauga,Milton, downtown) and in far-flung corners of the globe (Ethiopia, NZ, US, Thailand…)

New family at Rexdale Alliance Church.  Wow, it’s been an answer to prayer.

Lisa showcasing her egg-white based coffee and orange loaf. Ahh...the product of working in product development at Loblaws.

Aunty Kie slicing up the beef. 4 kgs of it. I set aside my incredulity at excessive North American meat consumption and ate 2 slices smothered in gravy.

Apple galette a la Chez Panisse by way of epicurious.com. The first pastry dessert I've made in YEARS. And it was scrumptious.

Michael, my dad, Uncle Wilkin, Uncle Don. This is what "candid" looks like with them.

Pretty purple flowers at Erindale Park

Lovely Lisa eating the tree

We walked around in the cemetery of St Peter's Church and I saw this lovely tree.

RIP Grandpa

My grandfather Tan Hap Soen passed away on Sunday Aug 16 in Bandung, page Indonesia after being admitted to ICU a week before and being hooked up on life support.  I flew to Indonesia last Wednesday to attend funeral ceremonies; it was another experience in re-discovering my Hokkien-Chinese/Indonesian roots.

On Wednesday night, heart after wrestling to get my suitcase at Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara “International” airport (Bandung’s immigration/carry-on luggage scan/baggage claim exists in an area smaller than a bachelor pad in Chiang Mai; add at least 75 Indonesians jostling in the same space), hemorrhoids I headed to the funeral home where my grandfather’s body rested.

Immediately after his passing, people arrived from all over Indo to pay their last respects to him; apparently there were at least 300 people a day for the past three days.  The room was huge and could accomodate at least said 300 people; a light meal and snacks were provided to all visitors.  According to Chinese custom, visitors approached his white coffin first, bowed three times at his portrait and then went over to immediate family members to express condolences.  Then they could socialize with other friends (I think most were members of the Hokkien Chinese community in Indonesia) and catch up on local gossip.  There was a lot of hand shaking and cheek kissing in local tradition.  Outside and inside the room, flowers and wall hangings inscribed in Chinese expressed condolences.  I remembered my dad’s father’s funeral – white clothing, crowds of people and Chinese hangings fluttering in the wind.

Thursday was the farewell and cremation services.  Everyone dressed in white and black, rather casually in comparison to Western tradition.  Indonesian and Mandarin were used, hymns were sung and memories expressed by a church group my grandfather was involved with.  Afterwards, we were escorted by military police on motorcycles to the cremation centre up on a mountain overlooking the city.  The gravesites there were chosen according to feng shui practices – I’ll admit I thought it was better to have homes for living people there to enjoy the view instead of just graves.  Interestingly, another family arrived at the cremation centre shortly after we did.  They started their ceremony just as my grandfather’s coffin was loaded into the crematorium; slightly surreal as their singing drowned the sobs of my family.  Josuan, my grandfather’s driver of more than 20 years and Sari, the young nurse who took care of him since his stroke, openly cried. When my uncle hit the switch to turn on the flames, I looked at my grandma and she just looked tired.  After 65 years of marriage, she is officially a widow.

Escorted again by military police, we arrived at a Chinese restaurant and ended the day by eating together.

Another family emergency in Indonesia

Yesterday, audiologist my uncle (dad’s sister’s husband) died from a fall in Surabaya, Indonesia.  He leaves behind three children (in Indonesia and Puerto Rico), his wife and five grandchildren.  My parents are flying out to Indonesia for the second time on Tuesday.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers: for travel safety and time spent in Indonesia supporting my aunt.  Thank you.

Update on my grandfather

He’s at home in Bandung with two nurses taking care of him now.  My mom emailed me today saying his feeding tube (through his nose) has been removed and he can eat mushy foods now.  He’s also able to sit in a wheelchair and is cognizant enough to say he wants to go to China for visit!

Thanks again for your thoughts, website prayers and encouragement 🙂

Family matters

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers for my grandfather.  He’s doing better – he moved back home with my grandmother last week, cialis 40mg and there are two nurses who are helping take care of him.  His left side is paralyzed so he’ll be needing continued physio and other therapy.  But, cost he can sometimes eat a whole bowl of food, which is great because he still has a feeding tube in his nose.

Even though it was hard not to regress back to being a kid around my rellies while I was in Indo, I got to connect with my cousins,their significant others and kids.  I even met my grandfather’s adopted younger brother from Fujian, China, for the first time.  And it was good to realize that I enjoy being with my huge, dysfunctional, spread-all-over-the-world family, warts (ie different worldviews and lifestyles) et al., and that, with some boundaries in place and some cousins agreeing that we’re dysfunctional and weird , I love belonging with them.

Family emergency in Indonesia

I’m in Bandung, sick Indonesia right now, posting from the canteen of Immanuel Hospital.  My grandfather had a stroke a little over two weeks ago and I flew in from Chiang Mai on Friday morning.  He’s progressing each day but has little to no movement on his left side.  He has also been lying in bed, being fretted upon by nurses and relatives, every day – and he’s tired of being treated like “a doll”.

I’ve not really been physically close to my immediate family in Indonesia.  We flew in every three or four years since I was 11 months, but it was difficult for me to establish bonds that I see in other people’s families.  Now that I’m in Thailand, I pretty much jumped at the chance to go back to Indo even though I missed my brother’s birthday party in Bangkok.  It’s funny though…I regress to being a little kid when I’m around my family.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’m 31 this year and that I can make choices for myself and act accordingly.  It feels a little…suffocating to be back here, as much as I’m really glad to see my grandpa.  I don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia, nor do I have a way of getting around (you pretty much need a driver), and my relatives are all preoccupied with their own businesses.

On the other side of the coin, I’m happy to see my mom “in action” with her brothers and sisters, and to see that our family is organized: there is a schedule for all the aunties and uncles to visit my grandpa at the hospital, including sleeping over to keep him company.  Today grandpa’s younger brother flew in from China with two other relatives.  The younger one slipped into the bathroom to cry, and I welcomed the sight.  I struggled to hold back the tears myself – not wanting to show vulnerability? – when I first saw Gong Gong Friday night.  Sometimes Chinese folks are so practical to the point of pushing emotions away, when expressing them would be so much healthier.

Gong Gong seems to have his wits about him, but I’ve been told he is frustrated at being stuck to a bed.  For as long as I’ve known him, he has taken walks in a stadium every morning, and visited his textiles factory.  He used to also sit quietly with his right leg over his knee, and observe the comings and goings in the household, chuckling and smiling to himself at something that amused him.  It’s been hard to see him in a hospital bed, one side paralyzed and not able to speak clearly.

Please pray for my grandfather’s health and spirit.  And pray for my relatives here, who are balancing taking care of my grandfather and grandmother as well as running their own businesses.