brothersMy wife and I had a great time during our recent trip to Penang, Malaysia.

Apart from some good food, sight-seeing, outings, and chit-chat, we also met new and old friends from all walks of life.

One night, after a nice long dinner, I sat next to this well-built man in the tour bus. The bus was crowded so instead of sitting next to my wife, Moon, I grabbed a seat next to a man who introduced himself to me as ‘Polo’. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, the topic turned to where we were from.

Polo was from Holland and I told him I was born in Hong Kong. He broke out into a big laugh and started conversing with me in Cantonese. It turned out that Polo’s parents moved from Hong Kong to Amsterdam and he was born and bred there. He now runs a chain of award-winning Chinese restaurants in Holland and it was voted the best Chinese restaurant there!!  A family/work conversation led to a boy’s chat – Polo’s colloquial Cantonese was full of colorful adjectives that he really made me feel like he was one of my old friends from the high school football pitch!!

A few nights later, Polo and a few other friends from Holland (Holland friends) visited Singapore. We had a dinner together. All in all, we had a few tables of new and old friends and Chang was sitting right next to me. I met Chang briefly in Penang at another outing last week.

Chang was like Polo, born in Holland with a family from Hong Kong. I overheard that Chang mentioned his family was from, NanTou, Shenzhen city (深圳, 南頭). Then I realized that his Ng clan (吳屋) was right next to my grandma’s Chan village (陳屋) and in between was my grandpa’s Cheng gang.  What a small world!! It happened that we shared similar childhood holiday memories: picking fruits from the lychee orchards, the fish ponds, and our Hakka tea kueh (茶果) and ‘poon choi’ (盤菜).

The family name of Polo, Chang and me are Chan, Ng, and Cheng, which made up our ‘family neighbourhood’. What a small world!! I never had male siblings in my family. I guess I finally found some younger brothers 🙂

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