Malacca in retrospect

Charlene journal 2 Comments

Singapore-Malaysia border Both my parents were born in Malacca, Malaysia, so as a kid, we went there at least once a year to visit family (mostly Mum’s though: my aunties, uncle and grandfather). A long while ago. It has been more than 20 years since I’d stepped into my uncle’s house. The place itself was largely unchanged, a cool, quiet …

Chee Ancestral Hall

Charlene journal 2 Comments

I was a bit obsessed with this place when I was little, thinking of it as The Palace On Heeren Street. It’s actually the ancestral home of the Chee family, an old Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) clan. It was built around the turn of the last century by Chee Swee Cheng, the first chairman of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), …

On the bus to KL

Charlene Small Stories 8 Comments

When I was growing up in Singapore, trips to Malaysia happened several times a year. Both my folks, being originally Malaysian, have family there, and my Dad also went game fishing in Malaysian waters all the time. It remains, for me, a place of myth and magic. Every supernatural tale I’ve heard originated there. These days i head for the …

Outside inside

Charlene journal 2 Comments

All is as if the world did cease to exist. The city’s monuments go unseen, its past unheard, and its culture slowly fading in the dismal sea. – Nathan Reese Maher Singapore to Kuala Lumpur: Fellow passengers make their way back to the bus, after a short break at one of the rest stops on the North South Expressway, Malaysia. …

Street hawker

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I’ve never seen street hawkers in Singapore, where I grew up. By the time I was old enough to actively think about my surroundings, they were gone, relocated to ubiquitous hawker centers found all over the island. Scenes like this never fail to make me think of home though. Not the sense of place, but situation. A communal meal with my family in Kuala Lumpur or Malacca, where …


Charlene journal 6 Comments

A devotee offers prayers at the Goddess of Mercy Temple in Georgetown. Built around 1800 by the Hokkien and Cantonese, it is Penang’s oldest temple and ‘home’ to 87 gods of the Taoist, Buddhist and Confucianist faiths. Penang, Malaysia.