Do you know what is Tong Choi (Cantonese pronunciation) or Tang Chye (Hokkien pronunciation)? It’s the brown colour preserved vegetable that the hawkers add to your fish ball noodles and mee poks. Nowadays, tong choi is sold in plastic packets, but in our kampong days they came in earthen jars. Did you know that these jars can be turned into a simple toy pretty much like the Gelek Reng that my friend Chuck blogged about some time ago. Here’s how the game is played.
First you stand the jar on its side. Then you insert one end of a thin bamboo into the opening and roll it along on the ground. Those days of course the ground in our kampongs was unsurfaced. The bamboo should be flexible enough to bend a full 90 degrees as you pushed the jar along. In the photo below, I used a fishing rod as a substitute.
Two players can compete against each other by racing over a distance of say 20 to 30 metres. The idea is to keep the jar moving because once you stopped, it would topple over. At the same time, you should also try to keep it in as straight a path as possible. When we got tired of the game, we would simply crash the bottles by rolling them a full speed against each other. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because some skill is required to steer it properly.
I have been wanting to blog about this ‘toy’ for a long time because I think many of the younger readers would not know about it. But I was unable to find such a bottle at our supermarkets like NTUC Fairprice and Shop n Save. In fact, I couldn’t even find it in Ipoh. But recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in a neighbourhood mini-mart in Bishan and promptly bought a bottle. It cost only $1.20.
My problem now is: How to finish the whole bottle of tong choi alone, as no one else in my family eats the stuff.
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