Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being a Yunnan, a recollection.

I was told that our great grandfather, Ali or better known as Pok Ali Yunnan came from China in a ship. He was with his wife Halimah and his mother in law which came to Palembang/Singapore and later settled in Terengganu. Two more people were with them; Abdullah and Musa.

Pok Ali has made his name known until today with his massage oil, Minyak Pak Ali or we call it as ‘Yok Yau’. Abdullah or Pok Loh Yunnan was known around town for opening a book shop, Abdullah Al-Yunani (the name later changed to Alam Akademik, and probably has closed down recently). 

They are called as Yunnan, but they are not from that part of China. They are actually from Guangdong. But since in Yunnan most of the populations are Muslims, they related themselves with Yunnan to tell that they’re born-Muslims and not newly converts. Thus people in Terengganu started calling them as Yunnan starting from that point.

When I was a child from 3 to 12 years old, every Hari Raya I would go to Masjid Putih with my late father and later we would gather with other Yunnan family members and we would ‘beraya’ to all the Yunnan families’ houses. We would go from house to house that was scattered all around Kuala Terengganu town on our foot. I was always excited and can’t wait for the khutbah raya to end because I was thinking about all the ketupat, satay and air sirap that were waiting for me. This activity stopped a few years later because most of the Yunnans who stayed around town moved since their lands at the heart of the town was developed. They moved away around the state. I hope I get that right.

My mother don’t always talk in Chinese (she said they call it as ‘Kung Fu’ –err not the martial arts. It sounds quite similar to Cantonese), but when she’s negotiating the price at the pasar malam, she’d always talk in Chinese to the vendors. Then they’d go on and on talking and my mother would say that her grandfather is from China and they’ll laugh and stuffs. Me and my siblings, errr…we often use Chinese words while conversing such as ‘shi shi’ for peeing, ‘hang ka kai’ for going out, ‘lo lo fong’ if our nephew is acting mischief and ‘pom pei’ for farting. We also supposed to call our elder sister and female cousins as ‘che che’ or ‘ache’ and ‘ko ko’ or ‘ako’ for elder brother and male cousins like some of our cousins do, and the list goes on.

My mother also used many Chinese words when talking to her siblings and my late grandmother, Alo. I used to try to learn and jot down some Chinese words when Alo was staying at our house. Simple stuffs such as ‘Lu Kong’ for husband, ‘Lu Po’ for wife. I felt like I should know a little bit of Chinese since I’m a cicit of Pok Ali Yunnan. 

cucu, cicit and piut Pok Ali Yunnan at Yunnan's kubur, Masjid Ladang 2012.

As been written before, the name Pok Ali Yunnan, my great grandfather is still being talked about until today. This is because he created a massage oil and it's still being sold and used until today by our family, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. When I was in primary school, sometimes when we go back to our hometown in Jalan Air Jernih – I would see my uncle preparing this oil. There would be big bottles, tubes and stuffs. Then when I was in secondary school, each small family started to prepare it ourselves. So, my house in Kuala Ibai turned to be some kinda factory if we were in the process of preparing it. 

We had to buy a few big bottles of cooking oil. We would buy some herbs and stuffs from the Chinese medicine shop in town as well as some herbs and stuffs from the Indian shop. I would sometime be given the task to go and buy these stuffs as well as the bottles. I still remember the first time my mother prepared the oil for the first time. All of the ingredients needed were copied from my aunt and it's all in Chinese characters even my mom can't read it. We just brought the lists to the shops and they would prepare it for us and we would take them when they're ready.

All of these stuffs would be cooked for more than eight hours straight. I remember one time our house got so smoky and we coughed and my eldest sister vomited several times. As this session ended, the whole house and all our clothes would have a very strong smell of the oil. Then while watching TV, we would line-up to finish the process of pouring the oil into small bottles, wiping the bottles and the last person would slap a sticker label onto the bottles. Then voila, the massage oil is ready to be distributed to the shops or individual customers. 

The massage oil, Yok Yau  is suitable to cure stomach ache, insect bites and hundred other sickness and pain. It's available almost everywhere throughout Terengganu. At makan shops, retail shops, stationary shops, kedai jamu, any medical related shops and just anywhere imaginable. Every adult in Terengganu should know about it. Since we used this oil since childhood time, we don’t even once have Minyak Gamat or other oil since we use Yok Yau for everything. I used it on my pimples and even for toothache. Even though it’s stated that it’s for external use only. One user in Batu Burok told me and my mom, they even drank one drop of this oil to cure stomach pain (if I’m not mistaken).  

Then, recently my mother’s siblings got into discussion and decided to change the overall operation and started a legal business and started to hire a factory in Bangi to manufacture Minyak Akar Kayu Pak Ali. They got the certificate from KMM and all. We don’t have to prepare it ourselves just take it from the factory and sell them. 

About our food, my mother and grandmother would always prepare very soupy dishes. Quite similar to the Chinese dishes. Sometimes my siblings and our cousins would eat using chopsticks especially when our grandmother was still around. I still love soupy dishes until now. There are a stall with the name 'Nasi Ayam Yunnan' in Pantai Burok Terengganu...but they might just borrow the name 'Yunnan', not a part of Terengganu's Yunnan family, as confirmed by my mother.

Around the time I finished secondary school, the Yunnans had a gathering during Raya at pantai Marang. My uncle Ah Kau Majid published a book with our history, photos and family tree charts. Every single one of us is included. Hopefully our family's copy is still safe somewhere in Kuala Ibai.

There is a song I heard a cousin sang to his baby brother many years ago. Nowadays my siblings started to sing to our little nephews, nieces which include my little daughter too. I should sing it to her too sometimes. My mother said that the song means something like this: A bird is approaching you, and it wants to poke, but then it flew away to the neighbors’ house.  

Ti cong cong
Cong cong fei
Fei hei kak lei
Lai chi kei

Meng ngau ngo
Ngo sam chai
Kak lei too
Selamat Hari Raya.

caution: there might be mistakes here and there so do correct any mistakes here. Thank You.

other links about Yunnan in Terengganu]


Mince4AM said...


nizamuddin ahmad said...

sbb apa english? sebab semangat Awang Goneng menyererapi diri.

Anonymous said...

sy nak beli 1 dozen minyak ni. sila call sy 0126650599