heartbreaking fun of taking a crap

  photo by stevie

At a state-run commie hotel in Xinjiang, my sister had a bad breakfast and needed to use the toilet.

“May I have a roll of toilet tissue?”

“We don’t have it.”

“What do you mean you don’t have it?”

“We gave it to you yesterday.”

“But I need more now!”

“We don’t have it. You had your ration.”

“What the f#@k, you want me to use the bath towel?”

The housekeeper walked off.

Taking a shit in Xinjiang is always a difficult business; becoz toilets are very hard to come by.

apprehensions before the toilet photo by eloise

And when you finally found one, you’re likely to face the above problem.


But to tell you the truth, living without toilet rolls is nothing new to my family.

My grandfather built our first family home with his own hands and he was a really fine carpenter. The attap house had sliding wooden shutters, a double-leaf front door that pivoted on upside-down liquor bottles, and it had an attic where we kids loved to play in.

Fifty yards away, between the main adobe and our vegetable farm was the pigsty and the outhouse that shared a very large open cesspool of potential organic fertilizer.

Inside the outhouse were two wooden planks where you squat on and do your business, and to the side a bucketful of flat bamboo pieces measuring about 6 inches long and half an inch wide.

Those bamboo pieces were used for scrapping ourselves clean after crapping.

It’s more or less like shaving with a straight razor, if you’re still wondering how it was done.

What you really need to know is that you need to pucker up your anus properly; otherwise the chances of getting hurt in the ass are rather high.

And if you have external haemorrhoids….., then God bless you.

And so this method of cleaning up oneself with bamboo lasted for another couple of years after the local tuck shop started selling toilet rolls and we soon learned to wrap the bamboo sticks with toilet papers.

Toilet tissues were such novelty during those days we kids went to the outhouse in unnecessary high frequency.

Shitting was really quite a lot of fun back then.

STORY by Stevie Chan a.k.a YouTiup

Guest Chef:- Chocolate Souffle by Miss Adriennely


Introducing Adrienne, my little girl who left for Melbourne at 16. I wanted her to experience life and study abroad which I had missed when I was younger. Now this little girl just turned 20, having a ball “growing up” and “being in a relationship”.

Growing Up

Well, I wouldn’t say Adrienne isn’t exactly spoilt. Well, you have to know that she is firstly, a LEO and secondly, the only child. So that speaks a volume. Anyway, she grows up heavily reliant on her grandma or amah to get her room habitable  and stomach filled. Today, 4 years of living away, we made discovery that Adrienne is actually quite kitchen savvy. At least now I do not have to hear unsavoury remarks from her future in-laws, if storming out a feast is wife material.

She loves food, adventurous and has great palate for taste, go size her up on her blog, Miss Adriennely. However, I shall reserve my comments on the keeping of her house.

In A Relationship

My princess, Adrienne took a holiday back to KL during her short winter break. That gave her a chance to spend time with the family, especially with my parents and her boyfriend Jose. I had bad experiences with long distance relationship, will try to understand why every little opportunity to meet up is precious, especially for new lovebirds like Adrienne and Jose.


My princess baked us a Tropical Pavlova but it collapsed into an Eton Mass. Agnes and I thought it was as delicious though. The combination of mangoes, kiwi and passion fruits was heavenly. She made redemption by baking us Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes and it kind of turned out perfectly as Molten Chocolate too. Deliciously served warm, delectable chocolate oozing with every bite.

Chocolate Souffle Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

INGREDIENTS:- makes about 9

  • 6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) (86 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) espresso or instant coffee powder or chocolate powder
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons (97 grams) sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. In this case we used a cupcake tray and a few ceramic molds.
  2.  Stir chocolate, butter and cocoa powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. Put the butter underneath the chocolate in the pan, so that it protects the chocolate from the direct heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
  3. Using electric mixer  beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form.
  4. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.
  5. Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack, embrace it) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.

Sweet as it is, I wish them a great journey of self discovery.

Happy Chan Family: Mr. & Mrs. Chan


But honestly, I did not put myself on eBay and my wife did not find me while foraging for bargain sex toys.

Yes, we first made acquaintance online, but it wasn’t on eBay.

I just have to make this very clear.

An anonymous blogger who calls himself Aisehman has put my blog on his blogroll (pretty good shit) and that’s how my wife started reading my drunken rants and found “that kid” interesting.

For the longest time she thought I was a college student. That how childish my blog was, if you really want to know the truth.


(above pics by luke ding)

And so one day I received this “fanmail” offering me a certain camera lens after I complained about my Leica M being stolen and I have this Canon camera body without a lens.

The lens doesn’t fit but we started trading emails, and then I started reading her blog, and she kept reading my rants. Basically that’s how we sized each other up.

Before Twitter, you know, blogging was really big.

Blogging was… you know, deep shit, and people took it seriously.

Bloggers love to think that they threw Pak Lah out of his office; that’s just to show you how big blogging was.

But none could beat me, of course, I got myself a wife from blogging.

pic by adriennely

I want to tell you more about what was going on in my life when I was a soldier-of-fortune in Shanghai, which eventually led me to ask for Jo’s hand, but I will save it for another day.

They are very emotional stuff.

pic by joanne sun

I don’t know how much I could tell you before hurting others’ feelings.

But I will tell you all, and that is a promise.

I have seen some funny shit that could make you cry.

pic by joanne sun

My wife and I didn’t really go on dates prior to our wedding.

We’ve met only 3 times before I proposed to her. Online.

For that I wish to register my apology to her.

But I have my reasons.

pic by irene ngoh
pic by irene ngoh

My wife often asks if I love her, and to my knowledge I have never given her a straight answer.

That’s because I don’t believe it is a worthy question.

But here it is:

it’s love by whom (my beautiful friend) the gift to live is without until:

…love was and shall be this only truth (a dream of a deed, born not to die)

— e. e. cummings

story by stevie chan, a.k.a. youtiup

Pengat Durian


A non-working Saturday  to Mrs. Chan, means a lot. It means I get to “lepak-lepak” or laze a bit doing nothing much or it could turn out to be a very busy day doing “happy chores” eating a hearty breakfast and grocery shopping at the wet market.

Being new to the Old Klang Road neighbourhood, we are pleased that Irene volunteered to bring us around and get acquainted with this charming place. This morning,after our grocery shopping we sat in front of the busiest coffee shop in Happy Garden, we discovered that the parallel row opposite has so many Chinese medicinal halls cum mini-markets and stand-alone specialty produce shops. Agnes and I find visiting such places a privilege and therapeutic, almost a fulfilling stand in for fashion retail therapies we once had. I know, we probably getting old. (smile)


We take a liking to a tiny store here which sells a wide variety of rice; from Pakistani Basmathi to California Short grain; organic stuffs and plenty of my old favourite cookies sold by the grams in very large yellow tins. Got excited when we saw a row of  palm sugar in cylindrical blocks wrapped in tiny poly-bags. Perfect sweetener for local desserts, no overpowering sweetness but a hint of caramel. After all, since the durian season we had been saving up lots of surplus durians frozen in the fridge for either a sambal tempoyak or a durian pengat. So, pengat durian it is for our Saturday afternoon dessert!!!


Well, Agnes and I are not exactly made to toil in the kitchen. Maybe a perfect dish here and there. However, as a “team” we have been able to share courage to explore on dishing out new platters. I need to make a shocking declaration here, I not only do not know how to cook a Pengat Durian; I had never ever tasted it before. I thought it gross and repulsive. Anyway, I was prepared to be a sport. I even asked Twitterjaya if anyone has a perfect recipe. No one replied, I guessed it must have been the fasting month thingy. Anyway, between Agnes and I, we checked the internet and found many fascinating versions. We agreed on a simple and basic one.


PENGAT DURIAN RECIPE adapted from Makan Apa.


  • 3 cups of durian pulps (we used delicious durian tempatan)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown organic sugar
  • 80 ml fresh thick coconut milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 daun pandan or pine screw leaves
  • 2 tablespoon of sago (decided to give this a miss)


  1. Set stove medium heat, put water, pandan leaves and durian into a ceramic pot and cook durian till soft.
  2. Pour in palm sugar and brown sugar and let it simmer.
  3. Put the thick coconut milk last,  5 or 10 minutes before you are ready to scoop it out and serve.

Best eaten with steamed glutinous rice, dunk with white bread or even neat, by itself……heavenly, durian!!!!


Happy Chan Family: Fargo & Shauna on A-Kon

What is A-Kon? It is a 3-day event of mad fun! Where you will find loads of anime-related information. You can meet people in the gaming industry. Artists. There are educational panels on a variety of anime topics. One can play games. Many people cosplay favorite characters. If you like, you can be in a cosplay skit. Also, you’ll find loads of anime-based merch. There are rave dances, an abundance of glow! And the concerts… my favorite! This year two Japanese bands! That alone is worth the cost of registration. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

One might say our family had been preparing for the convention for nearly a year. Costumes were planned. We pre-registered months in advance. It’s much cheaper that way. And we reserved our hotel room well in advance. Rooms go fast!

And so, off we went early Friday, the first day. Truck packed with food, frocks and full of excitement.

When we arrived, parking was close to impossible. And a touch pricey. It was to be expected. A-Kon is a huge event. And well, it is Dallas.

After finding a place, far, far away….. We managed to get the hotel room and make the trek to the infamous pre-reg line. A very long maze-like line that encircled the entire room. And that room is very large. Though, because we brought our young children with us, A-Kon staff took pity on us and placed us near the very front of the line. Nice! This occurred more than once throughout the convention, I might add. Benefits. Haha! Also, it is worth noting, small children are very much welcome at the event. There are very few exceptions regarding this.

We received our pre-reg badges and moved on to the madness.

Yes, I dressed up as something. Though the only photo I have of the ensemble is blurry! This, because everyone was in a tremendous hurry to hit the convention floors. I snapped the photo with kids under foot, their way out the door. Did I mention it was hot?! Whew!

My costume, in the beginning, was to resemble Riese, from the steampunk series of that name. It wound up being a mish-mash of pieces, though still very much steampunk. I even made my own aged-look brassy-like goggles. I do have the exact ammo belt Riese has. I’m very proud of that. Actually, in our household, we have two! Husband sported one of them, complete with snacks, cellphone and cash. Mine contained a brass nautical compass. Handy, no doubt.

The eldest daughter and her friend dressed as popular anime characters and had many photos taken of them. My little man chose to be a ninja. Little daughter, opted for Sailor Moon. Her ensemble was a last minute decision and put together rather quickly out of what was on hand. She received many compliments and relished it every bit.

And so, we went with the flow. The huge crowd, like a river winding through large rooms and small corridors.

The big event on Friday, the concert. Two Japanese bands. Blood Stain Child and D for the first time in the U.S. What a privilege it was to see them!

And now, I have learned what visual kei is. Men dressed in feminine clothing with a full face of makeup can be very appealing and oddly quite masculine.

The interesting thing is they are indeed beautiful to look at, though their music is very metal and hard. A fascinating contradiction. I was transfixed and instantly a fan of both groups. Though D is particularly seductive.

The voices of Blood Stain Child clash, but in a vibrant harmonious way. The harshness of Ryo’s voice is the edge. The beautiful Sophia’s sweet melodious voice is like light winding through the rubble.

Then there is D. The visually stunning D. Their performance took my breath away. They instantly commanded the stage and my attention was fixed. And though the songs are sung in Japanese language I do not know, the beautiful voice of Asagi is so full of emotion, I was pulled into understanding. I could go on and on. But, I’ll spare you the gush and keep the sweet memory to myself. Let’s just say, the audience was very much a part of the journey. And it was lovely.

My only regret, the one thing I’m very sad about missing was the autograph sessions with both bands. We may never see the groups again, I realize. Every opportunity to savor the experience must be taken. And I missed it! Never again, I vow. Next year will be different.

As for the rest of the convention…
The rave, my second favorite thing to attend. I’ve always loved dance music. And glow sticks! The two combined, well, it is almost a heaven.

There were so many events. To be sure, I missed many of them. And, as the year before, I have learned what I overlooked and pledge to not miss so much!

In a nutshell, that is my experience. I suppose one can never get too old for such random fun. \(^.^)/

Here is just a glimpse of us and some of what we saw.

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Story & Pictures contributed by Shauna Chan, Dallas.

Guest Chef: Braised Pork Belly by Irene Ngoh


Irene promised us her famous home recipe, Hokkien Braised Duck. Unfortunately, that particular Saturday Mr. Quaky was not seen at the Happy Garden market. As she had shared with me earlier, this very useful recipe is very adaptable for all kinds of meat like pork or even chicken; either whole or parts like wings or thighs. She adapted.


She chose the best part of the pig, the secret pork belly. When choosing, one can either select the slim waist that consists very lean meat or the sinfully layered ones with more fats. The Chans prefer the slightly fatter part for braising. You can consume it with less guilt as the long braising over medium to low heat would have drawn most of the lard out. The result, a deliciously honeyed braised meat so tender it almost melt in your mouth.


Irene’s recipe has very few ingredients and very simple steps. I am not a big fan of anise and 5 spice powder; like most kids. I just love the simple taste and I am certain children would welcome a braised chicken wings or drumsticks using this recipe.




  • 1.5 kilogram of secret port belly of your choice
  • 8 tablespoon of sugar
  • 5 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1 bulb of garlic, coarsely minced
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • water
  1. Wash and cut pork into strips of desired width. Wipe dry.
  2. In a wide deep wok, put in oil when wok is hot.
  3. Add in the sugar, cook till melted.
  4. When sugar starts to caramelise and bubble, put in the strips of pork belly.
  5. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes making sure that all pieces are properly coated.
  6. Pour in just enough water so that all meat is in a pool of it.
  7. Add light soy sauce and salt.
  8. On medium heat, cover the wok and cook for 30 minutes. Stirring and turning the strips.
  9. When stock is reduced into a thick golden honey gravy

XINJIANG: Life Is Sweet

I was completely charmed.

Standing at the wooden box, his left hand steadily churning, while his right, holding a long, skinny bamboo stick, deftly picking up the nearly invisible ‘wool’ riding the hot air from a little cavity, and twirl it into a delicate cotton candy.

I have always thought  the cotton candy is a ‘modern’ invention, made by pushing a red button on a machine placed in amusement parks.


This artisan of sugar, like most Xinjiangers we have met on this trip, lives a life so basic he needs to work only 6 months in a year. “In the winter, I relax, and sip my baijiu,” he said.


It doesn’t matter how you eat it for that is secondary to the joy of seeing how it was made, literally out of thin air.


Margaux is so young she probably wouldn’t remember this artisanal cotton candy for too long. But that’s her privilege.


At 65, he has been doing this for the last 30 yrs. “I drink baijiu every day,” said the cotton-candy man, “it keeps me healthy, maybe you too, should do it.” I could only laugh, it was late, and I didn’t want to burden him with the long sad stories of my drinking problems.


I have a habit of imagining elderly persons as young boys or girls. I find it way too easy to forget that the olds were once young, and perhaps spunky, or perhaps naughty, or perhaps hungry.

But tonight, we met an old man who has no doubt that his life is beautiful, that his life is sweet.

STORY by Stevie Chan

3 cheers

Agnes played host to the LevArt Xinjiang 2011 gang, a role she plays so effortlessly.


Although there are 11 of us in this silk road tour, we have to discount four Chan’s because we are in a family. The seven new found friends have very interesting personalities. There is ChiaChi, a lawyer working in Singapore ; Easy Yashashii who is pursuing her doctorate in Hong Kong; Yen, a savvy businesswoman in the rag trade; Karen who distributes UMW generators; WeiLing who is in architecture; Irene sells lorries and Eloise in logistics.

We clicked instantaneously, despite the big age gap, especially for Margaux. We were a little concerned if she would be overwhelmed by the taxing journey, heat and socialising with unknown travellers. All turned out well, except for her little trip to the hospital. Everyone adores her and she comfortably made new friends with a bunch of adults, a bunch of very beautiful people.

We picked August 6 for this post-Xinjiang gathering to suit all our busy schedules. A little sad that Yen and Easy aren’t able to join us due to distance and commitments. The Chan’s volunteered to host while Irene gladly accepted my invitation to be guest chef to share her recipe on Braised Pork Belly, a popular Hokkien dish.


Everyone traveled from various destinations in order to make this afternoon happen.


Agnes drove to Melaka to fetch Margaux who was spending her school holidays with our parents. ChiaChi happily came in from Singapore for this little do before she heads home to Penang. She is busy spending time with love ones before starting her class in Japan in a month or so. Karen flew in from Kuantan. (Beautiful shots by Irene Ngoh)


While Agnes was in the kitchen busy preparing us the Seafood Platter Baked in Sea Salt and Xinjiang Steamed Chicken Salad, our guests cheered themselves with our homemade Ribena Lemonade.


As the afternoon progressed, we ate a light Pao Paw Salad of raw papayas made by Pao, our Cambodian helping hand. It was great accompanied with samplings of Irene’s perfectly braised pork belly.

To celebrate, Stevie  made these lovely ladies each a gin tonic served with lime and mint leaves. Cheers!


Irene shared with us 2 bottles of Fleur de Cap’s prized Noble Late Harvest from South Africa. I particularly enjoyed this sweet wine that was such a great pair to the Seafood Platter Baked in Sea Salt. While the party began with plenty of yamsengs, Mrs. Chan went to prepare Pumpkin Sweet Soup and French Apple Cake for our guests. I was all tipsy and high. Cheers!


We had such great time together and talks of a trip to Japan popped up. I know Agnes is eager to organise this and I look forward to travelling with this bunch again. It will be great to visit ChiaChi there, and Margaux thinks it was a great idea.

pic by Irene Ngoh

One group photo for the album. Wished you were here, Yen and Easy.


“No rock so hard but that a little wave may beat admission in a thousand years”

– Lord Alfred Tennyson


Clean energy bursting, roaring loud and clear.


Despite the tiring flight, we so looked forward to put on our forbidden YELLOW TEES in support of our comrades back home. On this 9th July afternoon, the LEVART Xinjiang 2011 gang marched on 4688 kilometres from home in support of Bersih 2.0


Set against a backdrop of  Xinjiang’s wind farms along the Silk Route, we are determined to fight alongside fellow Malaysians to demand for electoral reforms.


These windmills look small in the pictures, but that’s deceptive. It takes a 22 wheeler truck to transport a single propeller fin, even then 20 feet of it will be sticking out from the truck.


Six years ago China could barely produce enough electricity for a city. Today, they have not only became the world’s second largest producer of renewable energy through wind turbines but are now exporting their technological know-how.

#BERSIH energy through winds of change, how an idea can come to it’s fullest potential!

CLEAN and renewable energy is the way to go!!

XINJIANG: Lunch at Ajehan’s


We started the day at  Jiaohe, a 3,000-year old desert dwelling, then moved on to see historical relics and rhino fossils at the Turpan Musuem before making a stop at the Turpan Water Museum to understand Karez, the mind-boggling ancient underground irrigation system.

Upon emerging from the ancient karez, Agnes and I hurriedly bargained and bought some of the best raisins we’ve tasted. Xinjiang is famous for it’s grapes, today we have driven pass a 150km-length of vineyards but didn’t have a chance to take a closer look. But this longing was soon satisfied.

Lunch was at a traditional Uighur family house right next door to the water museum. Our host, Ajehan, his wife and 2 kids live in this beautiful family home with his parents while his twin brother who works in the city would drop by on Sundays.


Our first course, the Xinjiang Polo (our briyani) was a little too sweet for Agnes and Stevie while I truly welcomed them as my first familiar comfort food. The extremely dry climate begets sweeter produce; I find their yellow and orange carrot very delicious and mistaken them for pumpkin. While we were rating their home-made raisins from last season’s harvest, Ajehan and wife were busy cooking up our next course, the laghmen noodle, or ramen.


The Xinjiang Laghmen, the staple that we have learnt to love but later overdosed on.


Xinjiang boasts the best, plumiest, and sweetest tomatoes, really delicious.


The briyani here is no match to our Malaysian ones, no chunky generous lamb and the rice is not the long fluffy basmathi.


I really liked the idea of outdoor dining, eating under a canopy of grape vines was truly unbelievable. Naans, assortment of raisins, bright golden dried pineapples for appetisers were all neatly placed in the centre of our dining table, a very unique one. It was a large rectangle table stacked up on another carpeted larger rectangular platform.


It was pleasant to discover during Stevie’s short chat that a Malaysian filmmaker has actually made a short film here and Ajehan played a speaking part.


Margaux bright and cheery on the 2nd day of our Xinjiang travel.


We had a relaxing time there, and I almost doze off after such a hearty meal. It was the best local meal we had throughout the travel and in my next few postings, you will understand why.


We then bade farewell, made our final visit to a clean modern toilet (which is a rarity here), and then off to our much anticipated destination, Kumtagh Desert, Shan Shan.