Monday, April 23, 2007


Telecom Tower under construction in 1991

The Telecom Tower,
(formerly called as Tongkah Tower)
Rachadapesik Road. Thailand.

Mr. Teh, my cousin dropped by my house one day and told me that he was going to Thailand to assist his uncle to construct a 32 storey building for he has encountered many problems over there. I told him whether he needed me and he mentioned that he will ask his Uncle once over there. A few days later I received a call and he asked me to sent my CV over. Within a week time, I went to his Uncle house in Penang was immediately interviewed and was on the same flight with him and his family back to Bangkok.
Initial, the apartment I stayed was quite near but then due to the traffic jam, very normal over there, I have to leave for work before 7.00am in the morning and arriving 8.00am. If I left later than that I would reach the site office late.
Here all the workers speak Thai and I have definitely have the same communication problem. After going through so many oversea projects, I am prepare to over come this communication problem. The best solution to everything in the construction is by sketching out the immediate problem. The first day in the field, I was called by the carpenter to go up the building that was under construction and looking at the problem, I started to sketch the solution on the wall with my favourite 0.9mm technical pencil. Why carry such a big pencil lead? Well, normally when I am on site it will be very hard to find a proper piece of paper and the best piece of paper will be the leftover cement bags. In order to avoid disappointment, I would just start writing and sketching on any rough concrete surface and for that you cannot use a 0.3 or 0.5 for they will break easily but not a 0.9mm technical pencil. The bad point of using this 0.9mm pencil was that the lead will finish quite fast and it is costly. Anyway, by the time I finished my sketch, the Thai Foremen would have understand what I wanted them to do. Mission accomplished.
Thai are friendly people and in fact very soft spoken. The main problem with some of them( construction workers) are whenever they receive their salary, they would go all out drinking, " Kin Lao" and for SAFETY MEASURE, I have to give strict order to them that if they find themselves a bit tipsy the following day, please do NOT go to work.. I would also be SABAI SABAI for that day not full force will turn up for work. Sometime very tired for in this project we have to work until 3.00am in the morning for the hollow core slab cannot be deliver during the day except after 10.00pm each night. Traffic Jam!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Penang Projects.June 1984 to August 1991

The Prestigious Hotel Equatorial of Penang,Malaysia

Hotel Equatorial
5 Star hotel on the top of the Golf course

The "Kek Chan" (Hotel) was constructed in Penang and it was built on top of a golf course. My first day at the site was with my boss and also Project manager. Looking at the site, I asked my boss who was to carry out the survey and he mentioned that he has no contracted out the job yet. I told him in that case, I would carry out the survey job and he asked me what do I need? Well, I said 2 Theodolites (calibrated) and one standby in Kuala Lumpur, Head Office,. He answered ok . The following day with the surveyor plan in my hand, I started demarcating all the boundary stones and also the grid set by the License Surveyor. After that I started offsetting all the control points and also the Main grid of the Hotel. Final when the piler turned up, the excavator operator asked me where is the first piling point and I pointed at the peg that was the edge of the slope. The Piling supervisor told me that the excavator will be cutting a path to enable the piling frame to move to it piling location . So when the 1st piling platform was completed, piling started and have to stop for we encountered border below. Well construction for hill slope will always be encountering border most of the time. Not to worry for the experienced excavator, Ah Beng , started to expose and remove all the borders for every piling position before we move in. The next recommended person worth mentioning was the piling foreman, "Lau Chang", who has saved the piling frame from running into the golf course. This incident happened so sudden without the slighted warning and the witty foreman, "Lau Chang",shafted a Schedule 80 pipe into the sprocket of the piling rig to stop it. The piling rig swayed forward and backward before came to tremendous halt. When everything was back to normal, "Lau Chang"asked the operator to park the rig properly and then suspended the job for that day.
Constructing this hotel was very tough and all the survey points must be set once the piling stop. That mean when the operator stop piling at 6.00pm of each day, I have to peg new points immediately so they could continue piling the following day. On points that the piling frame failed to drive in the piles, micropile will be used to replaced them.
This project moved very smoothly except for the reccession. During the project, Mr. Ong Lye Seng, the Project manager guide me very well. Our boss who always turn up taught me what is hotel,from concept to finishing. He would always reminded me not to carry mud with my safety shoe into the hotel once it was in operation. Not to forget the Architect from William,Tong,Goo USA. and also the M&E clerk of work, Mr Chong Kok Mun, who assisted and guide me on the M & E services inside the hotel.
I might have the experience of heavy industries job but Hotel Equatorial was totally different and I have to start fresh, learning on the Architectural and ID work. When Hotel equatorial was completed I found out from the surveyor of the License Surveyor company that his boss was wondering who is this Kang that was carrying out the survey works by himself. He commented that his boss was very pleased with my work after they have completed the 'as built' survey of the whole job. Before I left Hotel Equatorial, I would like to thank, Hon Kee, for being so concern of my daily safety in the field work. He would stay back each day until I have returned to the site office normally around 7.15pm from the bottom of the hill.
There was a period of time before I went over to construct Inventec and during this period , I have managed to learn how hotel was operated and also assisted on the maintenance. Things that you build wrongly will be a problem to them (operation )when they took over the building.
Inventec Electronic Factory, Bayan lepas,Penang
The Inventec Factory ( Taken on 2007)

This factory was constructed within 5 months, if I am not mistaken. Mr Ong was talking to me one day on the new job that I will be constructing and I told him that the new project Excel Logistic factory will be very tough and has to be completed in 6 months time. He asked me not to worry for I have completed Inventec factory within 5 months. Do not worry for you would be able to do it was his last comment before leaving me in the coffee shop.
The first thing in my mind was that I have to start and finish this job as soon as possible for this a tendered job and not like Hotel Equatorial , an in house job. Somehow, I am quite confident I could get it done for I have the best of both Heavy and Building industries experience after completing Hotel Equatorial. As usual, I have do everything, from survey to completion ( Pao Sau, Pao High )but not to miss Mr. Ong who assisted in area that I missed and went wrong.
The tough part about this job was the reflection of the sunlight from the sand floor for this is a reclamation site. The fastest steel erection time that I have achieved. This was because I have done it in my oversea job and I personally ensured the bolts for the steel structure were casted and aligned and levelled properly.
The most memorable things of the job was when the Boss of Inventec, a Taiwanese, Mr Wu was standing beside me with an umbrella. He asked whether I need an umbrella and I said no and thanked him. About a few years, I asked my Eldest brother whether he knew of a person called Mr Wu in Inventec and he mentioned that he knows him. Well wishing ,Mr Wu, the very best in his business. I do not have so much remembrance of Inventec except the road which is 1 km .
Penang Development Corporation Town Centre
(PDC) Bayan Baru, Penang

Bayan Baru Town.

As for this township project, there was nothing special and after completing this job,I went back to Hotel Equatrorial. Continue helping the Hotel maintenance team for the defect works Left Lim Kah Ngam Sdn Bhd on August 1991

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Home sweet home.

Penang Bridge

"Pi Nan Su" (Penang in Hokkien)

Ma, Pa "Wa Tui Lai Liao" ( Mum and Dad, I am back home). These were the words that we would tell my Mum and Dad whenever we came back from somewhere during younger days. Before I departed from Singapore, my wife has made a trip back to Penang by train with all the books and stuffs. I once heard my mum commenting those words, how did she manage it, so many boxes. Well, on the final flight to Penang, our luggage were also overweight and one of the passenger was kind enough to let me check him in as our group so that his allowable 20kg could be added to us. Very lucky indeed. On arrival, we managed to find our
transport home.
Home sweet home. The first thing I did was to plan for my wedding room. Now I have to spend my money on bed ,wardrobe etc. If I could recalled the total cost was RM 2,500.
When everything has been done, my mum and dad told me one night that they were going to visit his eldest brother in China and the duration would take a month. What they did was to take a tour trip of China in Beijing and once completed they would go on their own way to Xiamen. I asked them who will be fetching them at the airport and they mentioned that the eldest son of his brother will be there and his name is Kim Hooi. Can he be trusted? Well, my father answered was "Yes". I remembered asking my eldest sister once on this person, Kim Hooi, and my sister said that most of the money that were send back to China were sent to him and he, Kim Hooi has distributed all of them as per instruction in my father letter. That including an old lady that once ask my father for help. She did not reply my father after receiving the money but when we were back to China on the my 1st trip( my father 2nd trip),we met her and my father asked her whether she was okay and also about the money that he has sent to her. She said sorry for not replying and she did receive the money. My dad told her not to return them and ask her if she required some money at that time.
(I remembered that my dad gave her some too on that day).
Kim Hooi, is the most trusted nephew of my father.
My parent went to China for 1 month and when they returned, we told them that we were also going for our honeymoon, East Asia tour , 21 days,comprises of Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. We did not stop over at Philippine for there was a Civil war in that country. During that time my Eldest brother was there with the whole family, sent by Citibank, and he told us to avoid Philippine at that time.
I did not spend on my wedding dinner but on the trip, RM3,500/pax. Just to mention the cost of modern marriage (year 2004) by a colleague. Photo Shot: RM 2,800;Wedding dinner( collectable from Ang Pow given during the dinner): RM12,000 (RM 290/table). Furniture for wedding room RM 1,700. Wedding eve RM 1000.
Well, from now onwards the cost will be higher. If my sons are to get marriage, my recommendation for them are to travel with the money, hopefully the cost of travelling will not be too expensive then.

I started to search for my job after my trip and manage to get one through my Elder sister.
Went for the interview and was very surprised when the boss called me up from Sarawak in the early morning asking me to meet him at 9.00am in the office for the job. Well, got the job as a Site engineer for the construction of Hotel Equatorial, Penang. Malaysia. Another job which I have to start learning again. Why was this so? Well, if you have read through all the jobs that I have done under Jurong Engineering Private Limited (JEL)in Singapore, they were classified as Heavy Industries jobs and for Hotel Equatorial, it will be a high rise building job. The best benefit of this new company, Lim Kah Ngam, was the boss encouraged me to go over to learn the exisiting project, 65 storey Komtar, that was under construction during that time. "Sin Me Kia, O bei liao" ( More new things to learn)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Persian Carpet

Making carpet is one of the occupation of this village people. This is how carpet is made

Me, in front of hand woven carpet and given permission to take a picture
The Persian carpet ( Cannot Fly!!!) and the Iraq and Iran War

Hasankif town is very small and is a tourist town for during Iran New Year which falls on April 21 of each year, most of the Iranian from Teheran will make a trip here to enjoy the break of Spring. Other than working, I also visited one most common carpet maker in this town. See above picture.

I can till recall how I managed to take a carpet back to Penang. During war outbreak between Iraq and Iran( Iraq attacked Iran) our company ,JEL and MELCO have agreed to suspend the job and and hence all of us have to retreat from Iran. Malaysia Embassy started to evacuate all Malaysian and Singaporean batch by batch for it was not as dangerous as during the Iran revolution. During that time one of the staff informed me that they have to line up at the airport and waited to be airlift to the nearest countries. According to them, Pan Am Airline took them to out Rome and from there return to Singapore by other available airline.

Well, our is not as Chao as before and hence as decided the safest journey,we took the Trans-Europe bus to Istanbul in Turkey for 2 days and 1 night ( if I am right). During this trip I decided to take a carpet back and hoping that I could get through the immigration at the border. From Teheran to the Turkish border, our bus driver has to report to a lot of Police stations on the way to get the clearance to proceed to the next town. Why? It was because there were still many Iraq planes in the air and the situation was very dangerous. Anyway we managed to reach the border immigration checkpoint safely. As usual we have to show them the amount of US dollar as we have earlier declared on arrival. In this case, mine is only US 200. when the immigration was checking me, there was a commotion beside me for the revolutionary army personnell was asking an Iranian to take of his belt. Upon examining the belt they found a lot of German Mark stitched inside the belt. All concentration were then focused onto that event and the officer let me passed without further checking of my luggage. Well , I was very happy after passing the Turkey checkpoint. Took 1 carpet back to Penang. The rest of journey to Istanbul was very smooth. Upon reaching Istanbul, my Project manager checked us into a hotel and at that hotel we contacted Singapore and was directed to a bank to get our money so as to rebook our flight back to Singapore. We took a short tour of Istanbul visiting the renowned Blue Mosque and the famous Bazaar. and 2 days later we flew back to Singapore via Pakistan.
Back to Singapore , we immediately went to the office to report to our Personal manager.When
he saw my Project Manager, he asked him where I was. I went over to him and he picked his phone and ask me to dial my Eldest Brother. I was wondering why the rush but I told him that I will call from his secretary place. I went over to his secretary and ask her what happened. Why is our Personal manager getting very excited over my call to my brother. She told me that a few days ago, he received a call from my brother and my brother asked about your my evacuation from Iran and left a contact no of Citibank. In case my brother was not around, please leave a message with his secretary. Immediately after that call, he,the Personal manager, called our company accountant and ask whether he knew of a person by the name of Kang working inside Citibank. The accountant said that he did not know and will check for him if he wanted it. A few minute later, the accountant called and tell him that Mr Kang was a Vice President in Citibank.
Oh,Oh was that the reason I became famous inside JEL? Hope not lah. Anyway, I called my brother and told him that I was back and will see him that night.. That night, I dropped by my brother place and told him about the story and my brother just Smile!
The next day,while I was walking down the staircase of my JEL's office, I met and wished my Personal manager good morning and followed with a smile. Well, that smile really helps a lot in my future work.There are many things that I have learned from my Eldest brother and one of them is always to be HUMBLE and SMILE always. O- Bei -Liao lah.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dog Training

My New Dog, Baby.

Today, I took my dog to a training class so that the teacher could assess her before allowing her to join the training sessions with the existing group of dogs. The result turns out good in term of her temperamental.The trainer is quite worry earlier for she is 1 year and 9 months old. She was given to us 3 weeks ago and has all the uncomfortable behaviour as compare to the rest of my 3 dogs. Well it is a pedigree, Labrador Retriever and comparing to my 3 dogs she has very high IQ as a guide dog. My 3 dogs were also given to us. one a
GSD( German Shepherd) and Labrador mixed, a dachshund and finally a blind chihuahua.
Why so many dogs in your house? You really loves dogs Eh!.
Well, my father use to have as many as 9 dogs in our plantation and as the story goes one of them could even track all the way from
Balik Pulau back to my farm. "Hoh liao Kow",( English meaning very good and intelligent dog)
In this group of 9 dogs, one was good in fighting and the other good in biting snake and the rest were average. Both dogs died opposite of their expertise that was the fighter died of snake bite and the snake expertise died of fighting with the neighbour dogs.
My wife and I went to the MPH book store and found a book called Old Dog, New Tricks (Understanding and Retraining Elderly and Rescued Dogs.) by David Taylor. Will read them tomorrow night. A surprised thing happened after I took her back to the house that was on the command word, IN, she leaped immediately into her cage. Has she been observing all the dogs training in the field when I was talking to the trainer? All the dogs were trying to jump over a hurdle and only the Japanese dog ,Akita, made it. Normally, I have to push her into the cage and you can just image how heavy it is. Even my neighbour Brother Hui, who always feed my dogs when we were away for a short holiday, also commented on its weight. Thing started to change. It stops using her head to push me but approaches me in the front to bark and asking me for something which I do not understand. Have to read the book to understand her better.Anyway it is not going for the training yet for she is on heat, Aya!!! has to move all the male dogs out of the way temporary.
Lost and found
When I was working in University Place project, during my lunch break, my friend and I was cruising along Green Lane and we noticed a dog being chased by passer by and none of them managed to catch it. I told my friend that the dogs must be frightened and wet due to the slight drizzle. My friend looked at me and asked whether we could rescue it and I reply why not and I let my friend took over the wheel and upon cornering it ,I went out to catch it. First think that I thought was how to catch it and upon reaching it, he tried to escape and stared at me. I was thinking that if this dog is a pedigree than there must be some command that it understood. Well to try it , I squatted down and used a command hand signal which I normal do for my dog and to my surprise he came towards me and start wagging its tail. I praised him and after wiping him a bit dry, lifted him up at the back of my Storm., we took him back to the site. All my friends were full of praised for it for it did not move out from it seated position until I took him back after my work. I went over to pet shop and informed them of what I have found and they try to help me to find the rightful owner by posting a lost and found ad through the Internet. A day later I received a call from them informing me that they have found the owner and asked my permission for the owner to view the dog on Sunday. That dog is a pedigree Bull terrier. The dog owner came on that day and upon seeing the daughter , presuming the handler, it turned all its feet upwards toward the sky and started to be on submission mode playing with the daughter. I told the owner that they can have the dog back.. Bye bye ,bull terrier.
A Blind Dog
My friend , Ah Too, called me one day to informed me that he has got a friend giving away puppy . I asked what type and he answered back ET. Anyway, I told him that was okay we us and he called me in the night asking me to pick it up. We were so exciting about this ET puppy upon checking with the dog book, we found that it is a Chihuahua.
On the first day ,it started to play in its new home and one night my younger son called me and told me that something was wrong with the dog for it keep on knocking on the wall ,cupboard chairs and so on. I told him that we will take it to see the vet and sad to said the vet confirmed that it is blind and ask whether we would like to put it to sleep and we said NO. The Vet charge only a few ringgit for medicine, worming tablet , and free on consultation. Even Vet has the heart.
Slowly the puppy started to avoid knocking on furniture around the house and we realised that we cannot move any of the furniture around and it started to get adopted to its environment.
Now it started to moved around the house by its own instinct without knocking anything even in the garden. Sometime we were asking our self whether it is blind or not. As the Vet has mentioned, let nature takes it own path, the puppy will be ok.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Farewell Singapore

Why leaving Singapore?

A question of why I left Singapore job and returned to Malaysia in 1983, the year when Malaysia started to encounter the recession always poke up
Before I left Asian Bintulu Fertiliser Plant, I witness the hoisting of the 100 ton silo. I have to tell everyone of you out there how it was done. Please look at the photos shot of the last posted article.
The crawler crane from Singapore arrived and started to assemble its counter weight, the crane has got it initial counter weight and on top of that there was rolling platform assembled on its back side and it rotated, swinged when the crane started to turned left or right.( you can said mobile counterweight. This mobile weight was only assemble after the crane has extend all its boom to maximum length. Apart from this, a pair of sling was also tied from the boom to counterweight that were casted in the ground, the distance and angle of this sling wire was very important. during the actual lift, two crawler crane were used , one the big heavy crane and the one was also crawler crane that has a minimum boom extended. Please go back to the photos that were posted. After lifted up vertically, the two slings at the back were loosen so that the crane could swing its body and lifted the silo up and put the whole silo on base, foundation. The route from the guard post was laid with 25mm steel plate all the way for this silo to come in until the lifting zone.
During my R & R back to Penang, my neighbour secretly informed me that my dad drove my mum to the hospital when she was sick one night. I ask my dad whether it was true and he said to me that it was true and I do not have to worry at all for he could still drive during the night, which I knew that it would be quite hard for him for his vision was not so good in the night and not a problem during day time.
On my way back to Bintulu, I started to think over this issue and felt very sad and ask myself when I can return to take care of them for their last part of their life. Well, why don't I be around and let us shower our love for them during the last journey of their life. My mind flip back to my younger days when there was lot love given to us even when time was bad. how tough my mum and dad have gone through to support 5 of us.
On reaching the Fertiliser Plant, my concentration on the job drop tremendously. Each night back at the camp, I found that it was very hard for me to doze off. Eventually after checking out the balance of work left at the Urea plant, I made up my mind that I could resign and let the other engineer to take over.
After submitting my resignation letter, JEL's Singapore called to offer a better salary increment but my Project Manager who was back in HQ told them that my mum was not feeling well and I have to go back. Even Kobe Steel offer me a job in Japan for they thought I was not happy with the company,JEL . I told them that it was not so. Kobe Steel finally gave me a warm farewell dinner and a testimonial for me to take along. and wishing and hoping that I have a good future ahead of me. I felt very sad and left them for Singapore to make my last report.
During the last few days, before I left Singapore, I went back to the office to thank everyone whom I knew and not missing, the Mechanical Project Manager, Mr Khor Kim Lee, who in spite of getting scolded by him in Iran over cabin plinth issue. He has taught me to think ahead before doing thing blindly. His last word to me was to see his brother in law who was working for the 65th storey Komtar in Penang. I answered OK to him which I did not do but eventually ending up meeting his brother in law at the new job, Penang Hotel Equatorial. I was also given by my adminstration staff a souvenir book on ISO published by ISO Switzerland which I did not find the usefulness until now under Ivory Properties Group, I was the MR ( Management Representative) for IS0 9001 (2008). Clearing my income tax with Singapore taxation department was very fast and they were very efficient due to the computer system. I left this department with some extra dollars for they immediately tidy up my account with them.

cont............................ do you know that during the overall period,5 years that I was in Singapore, I have never visited any of the tourist areas at all except Orchard road, enjoying my burger. I went back and start visiting them a few years later with my children.

cont............................ sorry pal,blogger, tidying up my all post with more pictures. Bought a book explaining all about blogging so I have to clear all my rubbish. will come back tomorrow night with a new post.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Asian Bintulu Fertiliser Plant, Bintulu, Sarawak

Asian Bintulu Fertiliser Plant

The Bali trip was the first trip I ever travel with my wife. Both us enjoy it so much for we managed to rent a motor bike and start going around to places further than Bali beach itself.For your info, I was given a Indonesia license by the authority in Balikpapan for the reason of me being in the Refinery. Upon reaching Singapore, I reported to my office and a few days later after collecting several documents I flew from Singapore to Kuching and than from Kuching to Bintulu. During the trip to Bintulu, I got a shock my life. When I was informed that I can board the plane, I took my bag and followed everybody out to the plane. One look at the plane I was a bit worry for the plane is a Fokker Plane and you can just imagined seeing the two propellers.
Once inside, my sit happened to be along the aisle and I could see the cockpit of the plane with the captain and his co pilot .Die lah!, I was so scare. You can just imagined from all the planes (747s Boeing and smaller one 737) that I were travelling in, I am now in a plane with 2 propellers flying to Bintulu. The door of the plane was shut and I could see the the plane taxing along the runway and the scope indicating the runway on the flight deck. All of a sudden, every light was turned off and even the curtain that separated us from the cockpit was drawn across. I just sit and quite pray that everything will be ok. Finally, I reached Bintulu and on seeing my Project manager from Iran , I was very happy and relief. We chatted about my job in Indonesia and he congratulated me for being outstanding at the refinery job. Before the this topic, I was very sad for the American Head that was in charged of the all plants in the refinery wrote for a testimonial and it was missed place in the Singapore Head office. My personal department could not find it and acknowledged that it was a very good later. Just imagine I could apply for other Oil and Gas job with that testimonial. Very well paid to be working in this industry.

First person I reported to was Mr Edo, a short and warmed Japanese with full of smile, from Kobe Steel. During my stay with the Japanese, I was very happy for they do not miss you out for any gathering and festival they are celebrating. The best is their New Year (1st of January)
But sometime you have your up and done for one day I was called into the office by all the Japanese head of department for a simple reason that was my decision of stopping all the concrete plant providing their supply to other section except mine. Well my explanation to them was very simple, I have to pour a 1000 cubic meter of concrete for the plinth of the silo.
My Japanese head supported me on this matter and the the rest of the department laid off this issue immediately but even than I was called into his office for a good lecture....
The second incident was that I could not lead the morning exercise. I was too tired that I could not wake up on time for exercise event but on time for my work. I was called by Mr Edo to explain and I told him that I was too tired for I work very late each day. He immediately clarified with my head and was felt very apologetic after finding out what I said was truth and apart from this I have to walk everyday back to camp around midnight each day. On that night , I was very surprised that I was offered by one of the Japanese engineer to drive a car to work at night and leave it in a box so that he could collect it the following morning.
Apart from these, I was instructed to be the camp chief for my bunker and this is the worse for most of the Japanese make alot of noise each night after a heavy drinking section at our inhouse recreation club where all the Karaoke facility were available. They were very happy everyday after finishing their daily job. The next thing happened at the recreation club for the Japanese said that I was very snoobish for not joining them and Mr. Edo found out the real reason was because I do not drink alcohol like them. Well, the following night they mentioned that I must joined them and upon arrival at the club I found out that there was a crate of Coke Cola with my name on it and the bartender told me that a lot more were reserve for me in his store ,FOC, as instructed by the Japanese Head. Everybody started to laugh that night. In order to thank them I borrowed alot of VCD. movies for them in Bintulu Town and that include a lot of "Omm Omm" movies. All these were paid by Kobe Steel.
New Year Celebration .
Today, 1st January, all Japanese started to pound and grind rice at the club house and that include all their wives and children. I was introduced to each family and that day.I learned not to bow after the other party has bowed back( if I am the first to bow). The children wore Kimono and were very cute. I could remember must about this New Year celebration but during that night everybody was given a gift after our karaoke in our club house.
Under this project, I have to construct the Urea area and have to be extreme careful on all concrete casting for all rebar must not be exposed for Urea will corrode any metal . The whole roof was made of timber truss .
In the above picture, the lifting of the silo was the first experience during the heavy industrial construction for me. It was carried by Singapore P&H company called Walter Wright.
The Computer Man
The most unforgetable Japanese was the IT programmer. I thought that I was the only staff working so late each day but one day I found out that there was one more staff who worked longer than me and he was the computer progammer. Well, nobody was allowed to enter his room and very strange he allowed me and when I asked him on his work he mentioned that he could perform better in the night. Just imagine seeing all the print out on the floor when entering the room. Each night I would go over to his room and wished him good night. The reason was to remind him to leave at 3.00am (I left at 12.00 midnight )

Reading and research to improve oneself.

University Sains Malaysia (USM)Penang,Malaysia

For every job that I did, I would further carry out research so as to understand the teory side rather than just keep on constructing the projects. I was very lucky to be amember of USM library through the recomendation of my Project manager, Mr. Ong Lye Seng who constructed the renowned 65 storey Komtar of Penang, Malaysia and at that time I was constructing Penang Equatorial Hotel . For your info, One of the librarian mentioned to me about 6 months back during my membership renewal that I am one of the oldest public member of this library approximately 24 years. Well as usual I smile back and ask a simple question that was I should be given an extra 4 books rather the normal 4 books which I am entitled. Just imagine that I have to drive all the way to Nibong Tebal ,USM and is only allowed to borrow 4 books at one time. When I was back to Malaysia after completing my Thailand project, I was offer a job in Kuala Lumpur and during that time I would drive all the way from KL to USM in Trong, Perak (3hours drive) to borrow books. On one of the trip, I was offered by a very kind librarian to have another library card under USM Trong for during that time all USM libraries were not linked by computer. I eventually got extra 4 books to take back to KL. I returned the card to them once all libraries were online. Thank you, Chief librarian.
What books do I read? Most of them Civil Engineering books and only on topic that I do not understand. For the membership fee, it was only RM50 and now Rm300. How do I come about learning the habit of reading books. Well, definitely to understand better on the each job that I was constructing or completed and secondly influence by my Eldest brother and Sister in law. What happened was each night after our dinner, they would be sitting in the living area reading books even with the TV turned on. During this time, I have a good neighbour who was lecturing in MU (University Malaysia ) and he gave me some of his lecture note related to my Civil Engineering subjects and encouraged me to read more since I was not studying in the Unversity.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Things that I learned from oil refinery.

Balikpapan Oil Refinery.
Hydrocracker Plant A
Duration: 9 months.

1. Types of pipe: Schedule 80 , Stainless Steel, steam pipe
2. Types of welders: All welders are tested in the refinery itself and classified by their abilities.
Welders tags are attached to the welding mask so that they can be identified easily by
inspectors. All welded samples are sent for X ray during the test.
Any welders caught welding on different pipes assigned for will be terminated immediately.
3. Riggers: Specialised in lifting and handling of cranes for installation. They cannot operate
the cranes( any types)
4. All pipes are X ray in the night to avoid human traffic. Security is very strict in X ray zone
5. Detail of spool drawing.
6. Sand blasting of pipes. All pipes are imported on arrival are sand blasted as quality control.
7. All sling use for lifting are tested and clamp in the fabrication plant.
8. Stringent control over individual job.
9. Coordination for all nationalities: American, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, Singaporean,
Indonesian , Japanese, etc.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Oil and Gas Job in Indonesia

Before I proceed with my Indonesia job, an article commented on how I could remember so many things about my passed projects Well, I would only say these, all the projects that I have gone through were full of fond memories. One example was that all my Project managers were good mentors and in spite being in the construction industry, they do not utter 4 letters words or scold staffs but assisted and guided solving problems that they encountered from the project. Other than these,the different cultures of each country showed me that there were many things out there that need to be told like those stories you will read them in Lonely Planet or any travel magazines.
Good and well respected Project Managers are very hard to come by. One incident happened to me in Iran. It was about 7.00pm, the end of the day, and I was to clock out when my Senior Project manager opened the office door and asked me to eat first before continuing my work so as to avoid gastric. Just for your info, I only met him today and he has just arrived at site(Iran.) Upon reaching the camp canteen, all the workers started to wish him too. You cannot find these sort of warm
atmosphere in most jobs that I have gone through. When will I be like him?

There were many stories untold yet about Iran. Stories like Civil war between Iran and Iraq,pictures on how carpet were made, my retreat from Iran during the outbreak of the war.
How I became famous when I arrived back to Singapore office and so on......

Balikpapan Oil Refinery

I flew direct to Balikpapan(situated in Borneo) from Singapore on a chartered flight. On arrival, I was greeted by my new project manager, Mr Goh Yau Hong. He was a mechanical engineer and was overall in charge of all Indonesia projects. My assignment here was to assist him in all Civil and Structure works within this water treatment project. He introduced me to a local contractor called Charlie, a local Indonesian. I started building the foundation for these job and when the base was completed, he took me into the oil refinery. We were seconded to Bechtel International, an American Oil and Gas company and all the teams were working at the Hydrocracker Plant "A". Upon arrival at the plant, I was very surprised to meet the piping sub contractor that did the first job, Pharmaceutical Plant in Singapore with me. When I was introduced to him by my Project Manager, he only laughed and asked me why I did not die yet. After I have completed my Singapore job, he heard that I have left for Iran and also the outbreak of the Iraq and Iran war.made him wonder whether I was dead or alive. My Project manager got a shock and was very glad that I knew him for he was the one that was going to guide me on Mechanical work. By the way, his name is Mr Lor Ah Chye. Why was this so?? I studied Civil Engineering and has no or zero knowledge of Mechanical engineering especially on piping except some in the first project in Singapore.
I have a very responsible position in this job, Area Superintendent and my ID card entired me to have a Toyota Land cruiser. Petrol was free and also full excess of the whole refinery ,club house facilities which were meant only for American and etc.. First time, I realised that I have so much authority and respect by holding this card.
To get started, he took me to a place where the whole project model was kept. I went with him and he was very surprised that the American who was in charge could print for me a full set of the Hydrocracker Train photos due to the pass I was holding. Slowing I started to know that I could also order crawler crane to lift pipes in other areas or departments.
Bechtel provided us with all the meals,breakfast to dinner and for lunch we will order the meal in the evening and took it before we leave the canteen in the morning. Since this is an international job,we have international food as well. First is the local food than the oriental type and final the western for there were American staying with us the camp. As for laundry, the maid will collect them when we were working and even put a marking for 4D meaning house no 4 and room D. We were provided also toilet roll and soap forthnightly. The camp warden was very strict that mean if ant one were caught bring a lady back without permission he will be terminated. They were very firmed on this matter for there was an American head who held the same rank like me, was terminated within 24 hours. No " play play". Even when my wife visited me, I was also given a specific time to clear my belonging and checked out after seeing the whole camp. Well, you know lah the company let me stay at the company quarter which was not under Bechtel.
After completed my whole project, I was again reassigned to go back to Malaysia for my Iran project manager has requested me to be transfered to Sarawak for the Asian Bintulu Fertiliser Plant at Bintulu.
How my wife went to Balikpapan was a very big surprised to me. It happened one morning when my personnel officer, Mr Beh came to see at the office and wanted me to go to the airport to receive a VIP from Singapore. When arriving at the airport, I was very surprised to see my wife stepping out from the plane. Mr Beh put his hand over my shoulder and told me that she was the VIP. I asked how and he mentioned that my project manager was very happy with my performance and has arranged my wife to flight over and before leaving Indonesia, we will be given a trip by the company to Bali!!!. Wow that was great ....
Regarding my job, I woke up at 6.ooam,take my breakfast at 6.20am and by 7.0oam, I will be in the job site. I finished my work at 7.00pm, leaving the refinery, and arriving at the camp at 7.30pm for my dinner. In spite of this, I still went back to the job site at night until 12.00 midnight. Just to check that those staffs working in the night were well taken care off. and help to resloved any problems. Dangerous to be in the jobsite at night for there were many areas out of bound due to X ray. All welded joints were X ray before we could proceed the rest of the length. Once the joints have passed, they were again under went heat treatment. This process helped the material at the joint area to be uniformity. Ah yah! this is Mechanical work. there are many like steam pipe, welder classification and etc...
Will continue ..............................

Interesting life in Iran

Fish, Fish

Well, there were many times that I enjoyed staying in Iran in spite of being homesick which I encountered during each 6 months. Why 6 months? Well, most of the time the company would send me back to Singapore for my R & R after 6 months working in Iran. My flight route would
always be from Teheran, Bangkok and finally to Singapore. During each trip back, I have to accompany a group of skilled workers to Bangkok and have a short holiday over there. The reason for being in Bangkok was to assist them with flight arrangement out of Bangkok. I have tried teaching them simple English so that they can book for their own journey out from Bangkok to Singapore but failed. Why my workers wanted to go to Bangkok? Well ,obeiliao!!! lah ,the workers would enjoy themselves. Just wonder if any of them encounter AIDS!!! Even in spite of the communication problem,(they cannot speak Thai at all)they could find their way to their sources.,fantastic!! Their favourite word, cheap and good.

Back to Iran. One day the driver took me to an existing site where all our staffs were working. It was called
Neka Power Station. In this power station, the internal turbine was cooled by drawing sea water from the Caspian sea into its system . The sea water will first be cleaned when passing a trash screen and after this stage only small item, fish etc could pass through. After through the trash screen, the water was passed through a cleaning department where you have all the brushes which are inside a glass container.You can see this process at our normal car wash. The only different was that they are not at the outside but in containers. As the water passed through this stage, all the remaining rubbish were filtered out including the fish. and these items were eventually poured into the outside drain with lead back to the sea. All of us would stand outside along this drain and just waited for the flushed out fish and just use our hand to pick them up. So simple EH!! The fish are very big
You can imagine the amount of fishes we caught each time, better than fishing. Some fishes were broken up into two parts.
The cook will think of how to cook with the fish, first"
Hu moi" (fish broth)""kiam hu,"(salted fish) steam fish, every fried vegetable we will use fish. In the end " Chea Kah Kia" ( eat until scare of it) no more using of fish as a ingredient.

Wild Goose.
One day, the army who were taking care of the Power Station security shot a wild goose and my Superman, Project manager ,Mr Khor Kim Lee, bought it and and asked the chef to cook it with Chinese Herb. During the dinner, we ate it and the meat was very fibrous. Lucky, I have very good teeth!! Hee! Hee!, still young lah.

Wild Fox
During winter time, we would suspend the work for that day. On this particular day, my Batching Plant operator decided to go hunting for animals. He found a claw mark in the snow and decided to follow it until he reached a hole. On further investigation, with the help of another staff, he found another holes. He insisted that the second hole could be an
escape route.
He went back to the Batching plant and started loading up the concrete truck with water and also installed snow chain to the 4 tires. Locking on the 4 wheel drive lever, he drove the truck until the first hole and started to poured water into it. At the outlet, a
bar bender was waiting
As predicted, a small creature came running out of the hole and the bar bender gripped the animal and
quickly put it into a bag. We took the poor animal back to the camp and after examining it, we found that it was a fox. Again that night, we started to cook the animal with herbal ingredient, "Poh Thong" in cantonese
The whole camp ate it and for that night, all the heaters,which we used during winter ( temperature dropping to -20C in the night as recorded by the
thermometer),.in the each cabin were turned off. Just imagine how warm our body was after eating the animal soup.
( Well, most of the Vietnamese ate dog meat for a simple reason that was shortage of food during the Vietnam war. So they have to cook dog meat to keep their body warm during winter.
I found out this after working with the Vietnamese workers working under Ivory's project in Penang.

Wild Boar.
We did not hunt for it but was informed by the village people the minute they caught or kill one.
We would follow him to the place and sometime we did not buy it for we found out that the boar was too old. This was our regular supply for pork in a Muslim country. "Bo Bah A Se"( will die without pork).

We bought frozen prawns from the Persian Gulf in
Teheran. Considered very lucky to eat it.

Help given to the village people
During winter, the head of the village would ask us for our help to push away the snow along the village road with our bulldozer. Other than this, we also have to pull up a car that went off the ravine with our concrete mixer which we have loaded it up with water and 4 wheel locked on before pulling it out.

I left Iran by surprise
One day when I was back to Singapore for my R & R, due to winter in Iran, my Japanese boss requested me to go over to Indonesia to assist in a water treatment plant project. My Project Manager did not allow me to go at the beginning but have no choice due the MD final decision.
My friend, Mr.
Chai Kum Fook, took back for me all my clothing's and books that I have left in Iran on his final trip out of Iran. Very sad for I did not have a chance to say goodbye to the Iranian Family.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The dos and don'ts of Qing Ming

Qing Ming etiquette as per expert, Taoist master Go bai Lin

Tomb -sweeping day or qing Ming, is when the Chinese honour their ancestors by tending to their graves.
4th of April which happen to fall on Wednesday is Qing Ming day but it is acceptable to visit the ancestral graves in within 10days before or after 10days. Under his adivice, people are advised not to go on the 6 day, April 10 for it is "Poh yat" day
The reason why people in the olden days are allowed the 20 days grace period in because in olden China , people has to walk back to the home, village and normally walking will take some time and hence the duration of 20days are allowed.

According to Go,the three best dishes are chicken , fish and roasted pork. Another must have is fruit but do not use fruits like watermelon,papaya,bitter gourd and winter melon for they all end up with cantonese sounds of GUA meaning DIE. the use of pumpkin (kam Gua) however , is accptable because kam signifies "Gold".

When offering these paraphernalia, it is unwise to fill one's name but just write ,"from your son" on it. It is also improper for menstruating women to go to Qing Ming for most of the time they have to step over other people grave and hence better to stay at home. Sometime this action will cause miscarriage!

The ancestors look forward to Qing Ming for it is only at this time that they able to come out and to see their grandson and they may not be expecting a feast but do not be stingy with your offerings for they have raised you up for many years and also this is the only time of the year that you pay them a visit

Monday, April 02, 2007

Qing Ming and The "Mee Suai" Affair

"Mee suai"

The process of home made "Mee Suai"
Qing Ming in Ayer Tawar, Penang.

In Penang, normally, our family would go to Qing Ming early that is on Friday so that my elder brother could attend. He comes from Kulim, a town in Kedah, where it is an off day for him. We would start from my house in Tanjong Bungah at 6.30am and reaches the cementery by 6..50am. Before entering the cementery, we have to pay RM 3 for entry ,last year was Rm 2. As usual, prayers to my parent will start after cleaning up all the shrubs and over flow soil surrounding the tomb. We will finish our prayer by 8.00am . The following day, we would go to my 2nd uncle tomb in Fettes park and finish praying by 8.00am too.
After completing the Penang side , on Saturday night we travelled to Ayer Tawar and reached by 10.20pm. The following morning we would start off at 6.30am and arrived at the graveyard by 6.45. The sun hasn't rise yet but using the light from the car headlamb, we would start cleaning the tomb and by 7.15am, all the relative would have arrived and the main ceremony started off by putting all the food ,fruits on top of the main alter. All start to pray with the eldest in the family starting it and then followed by the second,third and so on.
Today is very special for it started to rain when we were praying to my in law.
We were all wet but still managed to get it done
After completing the Qing Ming, we headed to town where we eat our favourite "loo mein" noodle soup ,hockchew style. Oop, my younger son Xing Yi missed it for he has to undergo his Hotel management training at Club Med. for 3 months.
After taken our breakfast we proceeded to the "Mee Suai" factory and purchased it since we were in Ayer Tawar. Here, we managed to see how Mee Suai were made.
The lady who stretching the mee suai is a relative to my wife.This technique of making "MeeSuai" was passed down from their parent. Hock Chew people cooks this "Mee Suai" with "AngChew"(English: Red Wine). Well ,with my Hock Chew's wife, I definitely enjoy this delicious dish regularly. That included my two sons.