Friday, August 03, 2007

The BIG Hairy Tarantula 'Chiak' The Tiny Spider

As I read and re-read what I last wrote, memories of so many events and experiences of my childhood which I thought were lost in the cobwebs of time came flooding back. A smile and a chuckle as I busied myself clearing some papers in the office or while on the road to my next appointment. I feel so good.

I smile as I remember the old Indian barber on his trusty Raleigh bicycle who came around the kampong every 6 weeks or so. He would park his bicycle underneath the huge jambu tree just beside my house and then open up his small rectangular rattan chest containing all his tools of the trade. Mothers would then call out loud for their boys…."Kar thau morrrrCome quick…" and within minutes a small queue would form. Sit the boy on the wooden stool, tie a piece of white cloth over the small frame and Raju went **krricck…kricck…krricckk….** expertly wielding the manual clipper through the head of thick hair. Next…next…next and next…over and done with the kids, it would be the adults’ turn. As my buddies had their hair cuts, I’d be squatting nearby observing and sometimes, when curiosity got the better of me, I’d be poking my hand into the rattan chest - a treasure trove to an inquisitive 6-year old. Wow…such cool stuff in there…brushes, razors, and extra pair of clipper, combs, talcum powder, creams and some bottles with colourful liquid – those were cologne and aftershaves, I was told. “Ahemmm…..jangan…jangan…”, Raju would admonish me for meddling with his stuff. Finished with the haircut, my friend would reach underneath the leg of his short pants, untie the rubber band used to secure the coins in his pocket and retrieve the 30sen to pay Raju.

I remember following momma on her shopping trips to the ‘Mola’ (a localised variation of the Malay word ‘Murah’) Bazaar along Penang Road. I remember it as a very crowded maze…walk through the nooks and crannies to buy anything from ready-made clothes, fabrics, shoes, school bags, accessories, cosmetics, etc. etc. I remember momma’s favourite stall…the haberdashers. Momma was a fussy shopper and she took ages to select her threads, buttons and sewing supplies. I would be so bored and I would then amuse myself by running my hands through everything on display and then mixing up all the buttons on the trays. The shopkeeper would then smack his forehead in exasperation, Alamak…you got itchy hands…how am I going to sort out this mess huh?” I would do my famous ‘jeling mata’ and go hide behind momma. Hahahaha….

I smile as I recall joining the boys catching spiders walking through the daun kadok patch next to my house. Our trained eyes look out for 2 leaves stuck together and then clasped the leaves with both hands and walk out to an open area…ah…I’d gently ease my prized catch into and empty matchbox or an old tobacco tin. Uncle Lee was surprised I dare to handle spiders and he commented that it would be fun to have his hairy tarantula eat up my tiny spider. **bawlsss…..**….Uncle Lee bully kechik….bully kechik….” Hahahha…

Spiders and cockroaches – no problems at all. I can catch them with my bare hands and I was the official spider catcher at home. Remember those grey-coloured spiders with long spindly legs and sometimes carrying a white egg-case the size of a 20sen coin, crawling on the wood beams in the house? See one and my sis would scream and run out of the bathroom, nevermind the shampoo still on her hair. Hahahah….But worms, snakes and caterpillars…I’d run a mile. I remember the huge white powder-coated caterpillar found rolled in a banana leafeeekssss….and the other caterpillars of about 4 inches long and covered with long spikes, found camouflaged among the tree trunks and branches…. eeekksss..eeekks Also those clumps of thread-fine worms found along the ditches….some of my friends would scoop them into empty tins and taken home to feed their pet fish….yucckkss….

I remember once I followed my friends to go catch tiny fishes from the ditches. I had been warned by momma never to go near the dirty ditches but that particular afternoon, after much coaxing from my buddies, I went along. It was pure excitement just to scoop the fish using the small nets and then carefully empty the catch into glass jars we brought along. I was thrilled to bits with my fishes. I covered the mouth of the jar with a piece of newspaper secured with rubber bands and then poke some holes to allow the fish to breath. I hid my fishes in a shed outside the house and each morning I would peep at them before going to school. Wow…my fishes grew fast and after a few days, it grew legs…my fishes got legs!!!! "Those are tadpoles lar, bodoh.” my wise buddy laughed at me. My home-schooling science lesson.

I remember buying those tubes of resin for blowing clear bubble-like balloons. Wrap a tiny glob of the coloured resin on the tip of a small straw and blow…out comes a thin bubble balloon. Its fragile, but leaky ones could be easily repaired by sealing it with your lips. And there was another type of paper balloon…its folded coloured paper…just blow into the hole to fill it up. Besides, we also folded our own paper balloons and paper sampans to sail down the ditch whenever it rains.

I remember wearing 'kha kiak' at home – everyone had a pair. No thongs, please. Momma said the 'kha kiak' would mould elegant feet unlike the thongs which she believed would cause the toes to spread out. Hmmm…not dainty at all, like that. Until today, I do not feel comfortable wearing thongs…my toes hurt. And I have always kept a pair of 'kha kiak' for use at home, even now.

I remember listening to Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Elvis Presley, Robin Luke, Skeeter Davis, Ricky Nelson, Chubby Checker and many others in the 60s. My sister and her friends would play their LPs and EPs on the gramophone and they would dance the Cha-Cha, Rhumba, Jive, Twist, Rock-And-Roll and I remember seeing them doing the Limbo Rock too. And at Malay weddings in the kampong, my brother and his gang would be doing the ronggeng and joget.

Then my sister left for college and the gramophone became silent most of the time, unless poppa decided to play his favourite record or two once in the blue moon. Then a neighbour convinced momma to subscribe to Rediffusion, a sort of private radio channel which played from 6.00am till 12.00midnight 365 days a year…all for RM6 per month. Rediffusion introduced me to Mandarin and Hokkien songs and for a few years, I only followed Chinese songs. I was a bathroom singer and could sing many songs by heart.

And every few months some temples or clan associations would hold celebrations and there would be stage shows. Earlier days, it was the puppet show on a make shift wooden stage and later the singing troupe, ‘koe tai’ became popular. My friends and I were crazy over the ‘koe tai’ and each night, we would cycle on our colourful mini bikes for miles just to catch the shows. Show over and we would feast on the food sold by the roadside..’lin chi kang…lor bak…oyster porridge….kueh teow soup…laksa….muar chee…pohpiah…curry mee…**burrpp..** and then pedal home. On couple of occasions, we were stopped by the 'mata-mata' because someone rode pillion on the bicycle or if the headlights conked out. Once we were chased by stray dogs too.

Late 60s, and the inevitable happened. Development came to the kampong. All the attap houses squatting on the BIGtime landowner’s property were paid some compensation and told to leave. The bulldozers came and the old kampung houses subsequently demolished. The big hairy tarantula chiak the tiny spider……...

posted by nyonyapenang at 1:50 PM, |


  At 4:33 PM Anonymous JL said:
oh i played with spiders when i was in my primary school... We gave our spiders canggih name like 'firetiger', 'skydragon', 'ninja' etc. :)
  At 4:40 PM Blogger savante said:
Played with spiders?!?! Eeeeww!!
The only time I played with spiders was to pull out all the legs on one side and watch how it was going to move. LOL

And the time when I went frog-catching near a ditch, as I was slowly sneaking up to a frog about 6 feet away, a snake suddenly came from no where and ate the frog! That was really scary!

The ol' days!
  At 7:30 PM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, Holy Smoke! I still cannot believe you dare catch spiders AND! COCKROACHES?
Nyonya, YOU! are the first and only girl I know not afraid of them. I had a lot of fights with my sisters for scaring them to tears with my spiders, as well other girls, and yes, I don't fool around with the ones like yours, mine was always jungle tarantulas, sure to win one! Ha ha, not only win, but eat the black 'daun kadok' one, arhaaa ha ha. Those with their favourite black ones will never fight with my King Kong! Arhaaa ha ha.
Yes, I too had my hair cut by the cycling Indian barber, or go to Malay street behind Mountbatten road beside the river and there can find about 15 Malay, Indonesian barbers, I have my favourite Malay barber, he has comics to let us read, 20 cents one hair cut.
I love your tadpole lesson, ha ha. And that wooden clogs? Haven't seen that more than 40 years! WHAT? You still wear them?
I remember the boys walking with that noisily at nights. You too, I bet.
Wow, Nyonya, I love this 'memories of your yesteryears'... waiting for your teen years. Next one?
Be cool, Nyonya. UL.
  At 9:07 PM Blogger ikanbilis said:
omg those spiders remind me of my laksa tragedy, you know where the cockroach popped in the laksa...

speaking of the penang bazaar, or more known locally as "jual murah" me and my family just bought lime green theme baju raya. well actually hijau pucuk pisang. it was actually for my uncle's wedding reception but we thought of keeping it as our this year baju raya. hehehe
nyonyapenang, that was so much fun reading ur post :)

My siblings and my thau mor was cut by my mummy when we were young :P and somehow I dont know y, everytime she cut mine, I'll cry like the waterfall hehehe

I'll scream and run from the cockroaches (esp those that can fly) and spiders while I wont run seeing the worms and caterpillars :P When I read that part of "Wow…my fishes grew fast and after a few days, it grew legs…my fishes got legs!!!!" I just cant stop laughing hahaha

Those tubes of resin for blowing clear bubble-like balloons, the last time that I played with this is with my 2 year old nephew and I can still remembered his laugh and excitment seeing those bubbles..:)

your pic of those 'kha kiak', I called then 'kok kok' shoes coz of the sound they make "kee kok kee kok" hehe and of course not forgotting mummy used the 'wooden board' to wash clothes.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful memories nyonyapenang!

you have a great day!
Eeeeeeee !!!

Definetly no. I am more to masak-masak type. I remember using sand and grass from our garden. And my brother will catch ants and what nots for me to 'cook'. That is when I will go Eeeee......

The clogs - Kha kiak - all of us have a pair when we were young. I like to make loud sounds whenever I wore it. My granmother will say I am so 'chor loh'.

Great post!
hi j.l.,
that was had names for your spiders! hahhhaa....
i remember keeping my spider in an old matchbox which i carried in my short-pants' pocket. and sometimes while pedalling the bicycle, i accidentally crushed the filmsy matchbox and crushed the little 'fighter' as well. kesian....
hi savante,
spiders got 'character' lar. must see them fight. :)
hi cocka doodle,
aiyoh....why lidat? pulled out their legs already and you expected the spiders to move?

i hate frogs...look so slimy.
was told by momma that whenever there are frogs, most likely the snakes are nearby too, so i never wanna go near them. takuttt.....
Hi Uncle Lee,
Spiders, cockroaches, dragonflies, grasshoppers....I am ok with these insects. There was once I hit a house spider which was carrying a white egg-case. I smashed the case and OMG, had hundreds of tiny 'transparent' baby spiders crawling all over the floor. That was grosssss....

Never played with tarantulas, scorpions and centipedes though. Momma said their stings can gua takut lar.

I have not seen those cycling barbers for a long, long time already. Now, the Indian barber at the shops here charge RM10 per haircut. Your time, a mere 20 cents!

hahahha....That tadpole was one of the many on-the-field science lesson.
Learned too, that caterpillars would turn into beautiful butterflies.

Re: the kha kiak, those days we can have them made to measure. Used to go with momma to a lady who lived 2 dirt tracks away from my house and got to chose my own colours and patterns. Cost about 50 cents a pair then.

Now, we can still get to buy these clogs from the small neighbourhood sundry shops. I bought mine for RM4.50, just a couple of months ago.

I am glad you enjoyed this post, Uncle Lee and I appreciate your comments very much.

Have a great weekend. :)
  At 3:12 PM Blogger ehon said:
i always like to pull the web out of the spider's ka ch'ng and then play with it like yo yo. lol!

the good old days. such thing never exist anymore in today's world. it's all about pc games, PS II, wII and what else? `
hi ikanbilis,
oh yuckkssss....I do remember your post. **pengsanssss** I guess the cockroach must be hiding on one of the rattan baskets the hawker used to keep the noodles.
I too, had a roach-in-dim-sum basket experience...eeeekkkss...sooo dirty lar...

Oh, you just bought your hijau pucuk pisang baju Raya from 'Mola'? Wow...that's a colour I like very much too. Remember to put up a post of you in your Raya finery, OK? :)

On my next trip to Penang, I must make it a point to go jalan-jalan at the 'Mola' again. On my last visit, I was hanging around Chowrasta Market at the secondhand bookshops.
hi winniethepooh,
You know something about mothers? They are self-taught hairstylists. My late momma was one too, and many people complimented me on my 'baby-bob' hairstyle....the one made famous by Mary Quant in the 60s. :D

Cockroaches that can fly? No problems - just take the badminton racket and hit at them and then squashed them under the kha kiak. **plehkkkk....**
I have sent many to cockroach heaven this way. ^O^

Oh, those resin balloon are still available...I have not seen any for quite a while liao. Guess now my boys are big, I did not take a closer at the toys dept.
Ya, I can imagine the fun you had with your 2 year old nephew...the squeals of laughter....

Oh ya, I missed out on the wooden washing boards. I tried washing on it once, but being inexperienced, I accidentally scraped some skin off my fingers. ** ouccchhh...**
I think now, you show the boards to the young kids and they may wonder what's that for. hahahaha...

So happy you enjoyed this post, Winnie. And I appreciate you comments. Thank you so much.

You have a great weekend.
  At 1:42 AM Blogger ADIEJIN said:
good posting..hahaha.. i oso got spider pet last time.. keep in match box.. then during recess, got spider fun
  At 9:40 AM Blogger ah nel said:
i c spider run far far liao lor...

i cousin ask me go drain catch tadpole b4 then i put it in kosong tin n my mom found out throw it away n i kena scold kao kao...
hi aiyah nonya,
your childhood masak-masak forays turned you into the great cook you are today.

and your wore the kha kiak too? my grandma would scold us too, if we walked too noisily in the kha kiak. she said the kha kiak will help train girls to be more 'lembut' - no dragging of the feet and to take light steps and never to walk like elephants on stampede. hahahha....

am glad you like this post and i sincerely appreciate your comments, as always.

you have a great weekend.
hi ehon,
wah....pulled out the silk thread and played spider yo-yo? hahahahha....

ya, i don't see kids playing those kampung games anymore. for one, my kids are very much into all those on-line games and luckily they do shoot some hoops too. if not, they'd be pc-potatoes nia lar...and that can't be too good.
hi adiejin,
oooh...spider-fights during recess ar? for me, i dared not risk taking my 'fighters' to my all-girls school. if caught, sure kena punished by running 5 rounds in the big school field. hahahaha..

and thank you so much for your kind comments.

you have a wonderful weekend. :)
hi ah nel,
what, you scared of spiders? hahahha...

my momma would have kasi me the rotan if she found out i went to catch fish near the longkang. so, i hide my 'fishes' lar....mana tau, those were tadpoles..yeeeeekkks..
  At 2:04 PM Anonymous marsha said:
eugh!!! spiders???? and cockroaches????? nyonya, lu u siow bor. geli-nya!!

but i really enjoyed reading this as it brough back lots of memories too. I never live in kampong before but reminds me of Penang days when my grandmother lived in kampong.

hi marsha,
you also scared of spiders and cockroaches ar? hahhaha....
spider fights are fun activities lar.

am glad you enjoyed this post and helped to bring back some memories for you too.

have a great weekend. :)
Hey nyonya penang,
Your childhood and kampong days were similar to mine in Singapore. We had quite a number of peddlers who came to the kampong. Daily we would have the roti-seller on bicycle, fish-monger in his old pick-up, ice-cream man... etc. Then there was the weekly Malay barber. :)

I dun catch spiders, mostly it's the boys. We girls play masak-masak using the easily available materials around us. :) Living in the kampong was fun.
hi eastcoastlife,
you grew up in a kampung environment too? am sure you have many memories to share too. :)

those peddlars of long ago pedalled on the 3-wheelers or some even used push-carts. now they come mostly motorised in converted vans.

i don't play much of masak-masak....was more out-doorsy...preferred to run and run and play in the open.

you have a good day.
  At 2:55 AM Blogger J.T. said:
Oh Nyonya, a wonderful post. Brought me down memory lane again. I remember hearing the sounds of wooden clogs late at night at my grandma's house in Malacca. The whole street could hear, in fact.

My mom also believed that wearing thongs made the toes spread out a little. She caught it in time. :D

I remember having to upkeep my bicycle too. Always made sure the lights were working. Miss those days when I could cycle till late evening... and it was so safe.

Thanks for the memories. :)
  At 10:07 AM Blogger Pi Bani said:
Oi Nyonya, like that you can become Spiderwoman lah! Then you can go slinging from one building to another... easier to get to work!

Sorrylah, your blog title also Merepek, kan... so I merepeklah...
Hi j.t.,
Hahahaha...Those noisy clogs must have awoken the light-sleepers. Kesian....
I think they purposely made a lot of noise with the clogs to frighten away stray dogs. If any dare to come near, just aim the block of wood at the dogs to send them running with tails between their legs.

Those days, the police will stop cyclists if the lights are not working. Now? I have seen some of the policemen's motorcyles with non-working rear lights. :)

I am happy you like this post, j.t. Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.
Hi Pi Bani,
Swinging from building to building ar? Soli lar, gua ini scared of heights. Once I was standing at the balcony of a friend's condo - I looked down and OMG, I peninggggg.....

All 'merepeks' are welcomed....:D
  At 11:24 PM Blogger PEARLY said:
HI dear :
I am like you I hate snake oh my god , if I saw one......No shoe to run I will run with the kha kiak ...holy moly sugar .but I am not scare of spiders and cockroaches ,, I teach my son to see and kill hahahhah.

Those kha kiak I remeber I use to have one and I love the song of it when you walk around the noise there make like having a highthill shoe hahah old dam day so young not allow to have those funcy highthill shoe huh so kha kiak can do ler hhehheh.

weldone again my lovely I enjoy reading your post make me think back all those lovely childhood too xxxxxx P/s I had bring you back some scone and devonshire cream tea but can post it cas my stupid PS still don't work with my sony K800 phone yet need to fix it you got to be wait hehheeheh
  At 9:26 AM Blogger Jonzz said:
LOL, thanks for that bit of sharing but somehow those striking tarantula pictures stole all my attention.
  At 11:50 AM Anonymous suituapui said:
My daughter wasn't afraid of creepy crawlies but was scared of I bought a rubber one to put in front of the TV to keep her away from it. It worked! But one fine day, the lizard disappeared. Till today, it has remained a mystery...what happened to it. Maybe she ate it. Was easy getting her to stay close by me then, - just make cicak sounds! (Sigh! Now she's in SP...and I'm suffering from the empty nest syndrome! How time has passed us by...and suddenly she has flown...!!!)
Hi Pearly,
Nice to have you back.

You are like snakes please!
I remember last time used to follow my momma go to the famous Snake Temple in Penang. OMG, I followed my momma so closely...held on to her hand so tight don't want to let go. I was so scared of the snakes coiled round some small plants and also on the altar and underneath the tables.

hehehe....The kha kiak was your first pair of high-heels...sure made you feel a few inches taller.

I am so happy you enjoyed this post, Pearly. And I thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

Oh, worries....I'll drop by your place when you are free and then we can have some English tea with warm scones and Devonshire cream. hmmm...think about it also want to lau nuar liao. :)

Have a great day, Pearly.
hi jonzz,
You like the tarantula, huh? I was told that the more striking the colour, the more dangerous the spider is. :)
hi suituapui,
lama tak jumpa. i miss you. :) your girl is in SP? Sg Petani, no?
Kesian, the Daddy' can sing 'Only The Lonely'....:D I know you miss her lots. BTW, you got a few more months to go before pencen, right? Then can pack your bags anytime and come visit her. I am sure she misses you too.

If you happen to be coming this way, please drop me a line. Let me buy you kopi-oh kau.

You have a lovely day.
  At 7:31 AM Anonymous suituapui said:
Will be in KL during August holidays. Going to Penang first to get my daughter from SP and then we'll go and spend a few days in KL and after that, we'll go back to Penang and when she goes back to SP, I'll come back...alone. If u can send me your contact number via email at I can get in touch with u when in KL
  At 8:15 AM Anonymous zeroimpact said:
I don't really remember the barber thingy but then again I think I don't have that thick hair for them to cut
I can totally relate to the spiders and oldies
I love the old days
you got tagged!!
  At 11:11 AM Blogger eve said:
Makes me think of my childhood times..Really enjoyed those times , though my family was very strict with us..
  At 7:41 PM Blogger William said:

I used to love to put my hands in sacks of rice and beans. And the only time I wore clogs was after the rain, to play in the puddles of water in the field.
Hi Suituapui,
Sounds great. :)
hi zeroimpact,
you had your hair styled by your momma when you were small, huh?
mothers are all rounders...semua pun boleh... :D

and you played with spiders too? wah...had very thrilling times watching those fighters, ya.
hi bibik nyonya,
hi eve,
are you strict with your kids now? :)
hi william,
you mean you mixed the rice and beans mixed them all up? aiyoh...charm lor.... hahahahah..
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