From Borneo and Around

This blog is all about Borneo (and sometimes elswere) as I experience it. It's about places, people, fauna, food ... and anything I find pleasantly worth sharing in words and pictures.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Dining out instead of cooking has become the norm with my family, and why not? There is such a choice of “makan places” (eating out places) in Kuching and at such affordable prices too, that it would be almost unreasonable not to go out for a meal! Recently though, I went out solo to a very special dinner. Imagine a rustic tropical terrace on the Sarawak River’s Water Front, where patrons of Khatulistiwa Restaurant can enjoy Malay food and fresh fruit juices and, in my case, the company two very special men indeed: Borneo writers! Robert Raymer and TomMcLaughlin.                    
Robert Raymer
 It was Robert who had prompted what was to be a brain-storming meeting of expat writers: both Robert and Tom are American and both have married Borneo girls, while yours truly French enjoys life with a Borneo Teochew man. If you can read French, you can catch my story “Partie à Bornéo”  on my blog.    

Assuming you are a regular follower of this blog, as I’m sure you are (wink), you must be already familiar with Robert Raymer (check out my post “About Crocs”) who “[...] once held a live crocodile in his arms [...}”. When he does not cuddle crocs, Robert is a very productive and successful writer whose book “Lovers and Strangers Revisited*”, a collection of contemporary stories set in Malaysia, will now be available to French readers as “Trois Autres Malaisies” (Editions Gope).                                                                                                                                Robert is also the author of “Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an expat’s life in Malaysia” another collection of stories amongst which I truly enjoyed the whole series “ON BEING A MOVIE EXTRA” (alongside  no less than Catherine Deneuve (Indochine), Patricia Arquette and Frances McDormand (Beyond Rangoon) and Glen Close, Juliana Margulies and Cate Blanchett (Paradise Road). While recollecting his experiences in front of the camera, Robert simply treats the reader with contagious feel good humour!  
NB: Soon in stores, Robert Raymer’s new book   “Spirit of Malaysia”                                                        
Robert has his own blog: (you can see him with the croc in his arms.)                                                                              
Indeed we had much to celebrate since Tom McLaughlin aka Borneo Tom has recently publish his own story and sketch book “BORNEO TOM: Adventures of an Expat in Borneo” about love, travel and jungle family in tropical Asia. Tom, who is a retired teacher, is passionate about conservation and Orang Utans and chooses to use his pen to “raise hell” about certain subjects close to his heart. “BORNEO TOM” is now available at and Kindle. You can also follow and contact Tom through his website

*Lovers and Strangers Revisited, winner of 2009 Popular-The star Reader’s Choice Award

Monday, February 14, 2011


What is a Cheong Sam? You may ask, and I’ll tell you that it is a sexiest thing the Chinese have ever invented: a dress, fitted to follow the curves of a preferably slender body; it can be long or knee length and nowadays audaciously mini. No matter the length of the skirt though, the slit skirt half way up the thigh is a common requisite.

Every year before Chinese New Year, pageants are organised around the country to elect Miss Chong Sam. As luck would have it on the tenth day of the Chinese calendar, I found myself caught up in the midst of a Little Miss Cheong Sam pageant. 

Regrettably, I only had my mobile phone to capture the irresistible little misses who showed much elegance and confidence on a cat-walk made to measure for those tea cup-sized Chinese princesses. 

Busy little Misses
Do I wear Cheong Sam? You bet I do, well, I did, many moons ago that is. 

"many moons ago"


Here in Kuching and all around Malaysia, Chinese New year is very much about color and noise, lots of it, with trucks going around loaded with martial art troops dedicated to performing the lion dance to bless homes and their kitchens and be literally fired by loud crackers. Yes Chinese New year is always a blast I simply love to be part of.    

We... as in we, small branch of the Teos, do not celebrate at home. Our family is ridiculously too small for us to have fun, instead we visit our friends and traditionally set up camp on Helen’s terrace which operates as a card games and mah-jong den for the whole two weeks the celebrations last. Gambling which is “mostly” illegal in Malaysia is so much part of the Chinese tradition around that time that it is actually aloud in the homes. Because our group is a family and we wouldn’t want to rip each other off, so we play small. Others may not be so cautious though and the new moon is well known for bringing dramatic changes of fortune, make some rich and bring other to ruin who lose hundreds of thousands of ringgits and even their homes. As for me, I must confess that I have just lost again but only MYR50 lah!

"Helen’s terrace which operates as a card games and mah-jong den"

Mah Jong anyone?