First Ching Ming In Eight Years

I was actually thinking whether or not to publish this entry. I wanted to put it here for the sake of documenting my life, but the comment-whore in me was scoffing at myself. After all, what can be so interesting about visiting a graveyard?

In the end, I concluded that documenting events in my life is more important than producing exciting entries and gathering comments anyway, hence the reason to this post. Btw, this is not meant to be a humourous post. I love it when people recommend to others citing that I’m funny, but most of the time I’m just a normal 20-something who wants to write about his life, and his enormous balls. So if you find this entry funny, man you must be crazy! Go watch some Si Qian Jin video or something!

Despite the fact that Ching Ming is something almost every Malaysian-Chinese observe every year, it is still a refreshing experience for me to witness the customs and practices my extended family follow. This is my first visit to the cemetery in eight years. It is also the first time I visited my late grandmother’s burial place since she passed away in 2001. I was still in Australia when that happened and I regret I wasn’t able to be by her side during her last days. I wasn’t even able to attend her funeral.

All these happened two weeks ago so its kinda old news. But what the heck.

Ching Ming Morning

Its not as scary as it looks

Like most people we woke up at 6am in the morning to beat the crowd. Turned out that we didn’t even need to do that because it was raining damn hard in Kuching that morning and the crowd was scarce. My mother stayed at home to look after my father and my sister hadn’t return to Kuching yet, so it was just me and my brother joining our extended family to pay respects to our late grandparents. I didn’t bring my digicam along as I think its rude to snap photos of the cemetery, but I had my camera phone anyway. 🙂 Most photos are deliberately cropped/blurred for privacy reasons.

Oh and I still have to reiterate to people who knows me in real life, PLEASE do not mention this website to any of my family members or anyone else in Kuching who knows me personally. They are sensitive about this sort of things, so please keep whatever you read to yourself so I can write more stupid things about myself. Deal?

So we headed over to our grandparents’ tomb which was re-decorated since I last remembered. The cemetery is surprisingly clean and mosquito-free, which is good because I had recurring nightmares of me as mosquito-breakfast from when I was a fat 14-year-old.

Ice cream umbrella

Somehow an ice-cream umbrella over a tomb didn’t quite look right

We propped up a bright red ice-cream umbrella over the tomb. It looked odd. Too bad I didn’t get any request from people asking to suck my ice-cream.
umbrella head

Malaysia’s answer to Doraemon

There’s a guy with a small umbrella attached on his head. I thought it was kinda cute. I wonder if he’s gonna fly away Mary-Poppins style if the wind blew harder.
Ice cream umbrella

My umbrella is bigger than yours, sucka

Mr Umbrella-Head looked kinda cool. I knew I have a bigger umbrella than him, but I felt like closing the little umbrella on his head and carry him around like a regular umbrella.

The currency of other world. Too bad I can’t use them here ‘cos I’m seriously broke.

These are yuan baos, or rather paper notes folded into the shape of gold ingots used in ancient China that my aunts have prepared. I remember when I was young and my grandmother was alive, my siblings and I would join her and fold bags and bags of these paper notes for our grandfather. Its a somewhat sad yet sobering thought that we are now doing it for our grandfather and her as well.

All these vegetarian food and imitation meat. Not something I wanna eat.

These are offerings, which are mostly vegetarian dishes since that’s what my grandmother ate when she’s alive. There’s also two bunches of small sticks next to the fruit basket if you noticed. Those are skins off the bamboo stems.
Loko Hun

These are what smokers will have to put up with if the price of cigarettes keep going up

Here’s a closer look at the pack.
Loko Hun

It looks like something illegal I know, but I swear its not!

You put some tobacco leaves (I think) onto the bamboo skin, roll it up and smoke it like a normal cigarette. My uncle called it Lo Ko Hoon, which he described as the cheapest form of cigarette.
Loko Hun

Skinny as, but it does the job when you haven’t got much money

Its the first time I see this sort of thing. My uncle bought it because apparently that was what my grandfather smoked when he was alive. My aunt shared stories about how she used to sneak these cigarettes for my grandfather even when he was lying on his death bed.

My grandfather passed away when I was 1 years old so I hardly get to know him. All I know was that my grandparents married when the Japanese ruled Borneo during World War II. My family was very very very very very poor until when my father started his business. Looking at that RM1.00 pack of “cigarettes” is a sobering thought how lucky I am I got to study overseas.

While we were chatting amiably about our late grandparents, a family not far from us were doing something interesting…

Nice tent! Too bad the rain stopped soon after they put up the tent! HAHAHAAHAAAA!!! One hour worth of effort… GONE!

Heh, I think they came on the wrong show lah. They should be playing Survivor.

Anyway, when we figured its about time to leave, my uncle did this special ritual involving two coins. He kneeled in front of the tomb and threw two coins. Its a game of probability: two tails meant my late grandparents were not satiated yet, two heads meant they’re smiling on us, and a head and a tail meant that they were full and we may start packing and leave. I thought it was an interesting custom.

Ok this is starting to really look like Survivor

We left the cemetery in a big way by burning all those yuan baos and other unfolded paper notes. I’ve seen others burning all sorts of funny things like cardboard beer cans and houses, but we weren’t into those kinda things. So we packed and left and had lunch together and that was that.

I think Ching Ming is great tradition to observe. I never realised its importance until today. I guess the best part is that we shared stories about our late grandparents, reminiscing the good ol’ times and how life is better for us now because of them.

Somehow talking about grandparents made me feel that a part of them in my heart still lives. 🙂

22 Replies to “First Ching Ming In Eight Years”

  1. awwww…:) so guys really did alot of the traditions..
    don’t know why my family so lazy!!!!
    anyway, i just posted up photos from my malacca cheng beng experience…. erm, yeah.. i think i was being very rude snapping photos at the cemetery…other families were looking at me. but my family were POSING for me, with my grand dad’s urn even.

  2. Kinda sad, I never actually attended a single cheng beng in my life.
    This is because non of my family actually died during my lifetime (3/4 my grandparents died when my parents were still teens). The only one was my grandma who passed away six years ago but for every cheng beng held since then, I would be stuck in the UK. Must try to attend the next one.

  3. My great grandmother, grandparents and uncle are cremented. So, it wasn’t much hastle. Just go to the temple, layout the dishes, wait for 20 minutes, throw the “thing”. They say “Ok”, burnt stuff and bye bye~! Will pay them a visit this coming dumping festival. 🙂
    Ching Ming is really not about cleaning up the grave yard or pray to them. Its a day to gather family members after all.

  4. Kenny
    Is that a pink colour tombstone? That is so different from what we have here in Penang. All sombre granite only. Hmmm…make mental note to request for pink colour tombstone next time.

  5. yer umbrella story is so farni. hehehe. and Lo Ko hoon ciggie is another great way to put weed in it. hmmm. and da…. that vegeterian food u put on de grave looks delicious.. too bad, they can’t serve food for de deads during all souls day..hmm.. n oh, i love graveyards, i know im pretty weird but i love de atmosphere. my klan and i used to have lil picnic there every sunday night, and had lil party wif sodas n booze, sang songs and played guitars. its nuthin scary after all. and also we werent intend to disrespect de deads. we were enjoying de moment wif ‘them’.

  6. our family never do ching ming… we just go to our grandparents’s, father’s graveyard whenever. Only put a bunch of flowers. Take pictures, clean up and go. Thanks for sharing. Interesting custom. ~Blackwidow~

  7. Yah…actually, my family never did ching ming, because we’re the christians. The only time we did ching ming was when we went up to desaru to visit my grandmother’s grave, i think, and then while my uncles and aunties burnt incense and everything, my family just helped pluck weeds and things like that. It’s interesting where religion and tradition intersect, and what bits survive changes in fanily ideology. We still go to clean our dead relative’s graves, but they don’t get any offerings. I suppose, at the end of the day, we still feel filial…but are we?

  8. the pics looks so scary. =) never been to the graveyard before so wouldnt know how it looks like. somehow passed through karakatta or watever the spelling is the grave there seems nice and pretty =p
    chinese graveyards are somehow scarier then ang mo one and chinese ghost haha looks scarier too. hmmm.. make sense?

  9. I would like people to burn mock credit cards for me when I die 😛
    And yeah I haven’t attended Qing Ming for the longest time too.

  10. hey dude, when I was little I hate to go visit granspa’s grave, the cemetery was un organisezed, everyone have their fung sui requirment in position and height..sometimes to go across longkaus, we walked on a bridge which conveniently was a coffin cover. Spooky shit. Of course when I grew older, cemetery seems to be a place to practice BMX jumps

  11. Hmm… I miss Qing Min a lot. Been a few years didn’t go to one. This is a nice post. The last pic was a good capture. My father’s side oso practive throwing 2 coins. They call it Shing Pui when one up one down.

  12. NSDS3, did you ask your mom to buy you a paper blowup-doll as well?
    Jolene, I won’t exactly describe it as fun… but yeah, no one complained when I whipped out my camera phone so I supposed that was ok.
    Jon, there’s always another time. Just hope that its you doing the visting and not you being vis…. nevermind. 🙂
    Jason, I guess cremation would be the sensible thing to do these days. At first I thought cremation is cruel because you might accidentally burn someone alive. Then I thought it might even be worse to be buried alive a-la Kill Bill 2. Cremation just makes it much convenient for everyone. Why am I talking about this?!
    5xmom aka ching-ming-“lover”, it *is* indeed a pink coloured tombstone among the blue and the green that were there. What lah, pass on liaw still wanna look fashionable is it?
    Victoria, *stunned* did you just say you partied at the graveyard? Morbidddd!
    BlackWidow + E, ummm… take pictures and do BMX jumps??!
    J Schnorng, its true that its the thought that counts. I think Ching Ming is just a date conveniently picked so that those who lived do not forget those who have departed.
    Chrissie, the cemeteries in Aussie are so organised. The ones here are all over the place. Big ones in between a few smalls ones and all that.
    JiaYuan, mock credit card?! Who are they gonna send the credit card bills to? The living? They’re gonna have the shock of their lives learning that you were splurging on Zara and MNG in Hell.
    tomo, you need to grab some medicine. 🙂
    TBG, i had dreams of myself doing weirder things. like blogging.

  13. Hi Kenny:
    I’m not commenting on this post, but using this thread to reach you regarding usage of your items by BorneoPost. I replied to your Email (thanks for keen observation) directly. but it bounced back as “undeliverable”.
    Briefly, it’s via Yan of,ho I accorded “the most honourable guest” at my cyberhome being the FIRST visitor! We exchanged conversations a lot, and she kindly accepted to use “Two lucky countries” as she has great NewSense!
    Maybe you can email her via her Blog, or better, giving your Email address (cc: to me too), as I did use my discretion to CC the failed email reply to Yan about the potential use of your cheeky hilarious post!

  14. I agree with you in the first place that you said this post will not be a funny post but the thing is you injected some really funny things that happened throughout the ching ming. i only laughed at two things tho…one is the doraemon-cum-umbrella guy and the 1-hr made to last shortly after rain 🙂
    thanks for all the funny jokes!!

  15. Both my paternal grandparents were cremated. We have to get up at 5am and ‘chope’ table for our offerings at the temple every year.. It’s stressful.

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