Are you Malaysian?
I am Singaporean.
Why do you blog about Johor food?
When I retired in end 2011, I wanted to spend my time meaningfully by contributing to a public good. But, I have very little means, except time and energy.
Around this time, it struck me that unlike in Singapore, there was almost no online record of the street hawkers of Johor. Many hawkers worked their entire lifetimes and retired with no record of their service to the community. So, I decided that I could help fill this gap.
I love to eat, travel, meet people, take photos and write short narratives, so food and travel blogging brings all these interests together naturally for me.
I chose Johor food also because it is within my limited means. I intend to pay for all my meals and Johor hawker food is still within my affordability as a retiree blogger.
The short answer is, there is a need which I can help fill with my limited resources.
What are the skills needed to be a successful blogger?
Blogging is a multi skill activity. A blogger wears many hats, so flexibility and resourcefulness are important.
The ability to write simply and clearly is essential.
Taking good photographs is important. A food blogger is a food, portrait and street photographer, all rolled into one.
A basic understanding of the workings of blogs and social media platforms is necessary. This know-how has to be constantly updated as social media changes everyday.
Empathy (I know this is more a personality trait than a skill), the willingness to listen, understand and feel for the people we write about is helpful. Appreciate also the needs of our audience so that our posts are helpful to them too.
When I first started, I knew next to nothing about Johor food and social media. My photography is also poor. My knowledge improved over time, so don't be discouraged by the multiple skills required. Anyone can improve when we put our minds to it.
Just do it, and improve along the way.
What is the greatest satisfaction you have gotten from blogging?
I get a lot of satisfaction making a positive difference for people whom I write about (hawkers), and write for (audience).
The smile in the eyes of the uncle or auntie who have been making and serving food for the past 30, sometimes 50 years, when I asked them about their story.
The messages from Johoreans overseas who told me that they reconnected with their hometown because of the food they saw in Johor Kaki blog. Food which they used to enjoy as children.
People also told me that Johor Kaki blog opened their eyes to rediscover their own hometown. They didn't know that their hometown have such delicious food and interesting people. They say they have newfound pride about their hometown.
All these feedback gives me great satisfaction.
Some of these people I got to know personally later but most I do not know.
What should your visitors be expecting while researching your blog?
I write from the perspective of a man in the street. I am no chef, food critic nor food connoisseur at all.
I am just an ordinary food lover who pens my experiences in a blog.
I try my best to describe the food in detail and as accurately as possible. I express my opinions about the food based on my personal preferences but the detailed descriptions also allow the visitors to decide for themselves if the food is for them or not.
I pen down my observations about the people and places connected to the food, to give the visitor a deeper idea about the food.
As they say, "a picture paints a thousand words" and since I also love photography, visitors will find
What is your definition of an ideal/perfect meal?
To me, an ideal meal is any meal that is lovingly prepared.
It doesn't need to be Michelin Starred or have a 1-year waiting list. It doesn't have to accord me bragging rights.
It could be mum's or pop's cooking. A quick and easy meal I cooked for myself. A partner's cooking. A friend's cooking. A hawker's cooking.
Old style chwee kway (rice cakes) from the old hawker at the street corner. The all-in-one-mouthful 一口飯 nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf and old newspaper from the friendly makcik at the dusty street side stall.
Just any food prepared lovingly is a perfect meal for me.
Because, it's a gift.
Food from which Asian country do you like the most?
I like Singapore and Malaysia food the most because of it's diversity.
Say, if I am in Thailand and visit a bustling food street. There are many stalls but almost all are selling Thai food. If I go to Hong Kong, a food street will mostly sell HK Chinese food. In Singapore / Malaysia, on the same street, I can get Chinese, Indian and Malay food all together at once.
That's why they are more special to me.
What advice would you give to other bloggers who just started their own food blog?
If you are getting into food blogging for the long haul, understand clearly why you are getting it.
There are many reasons for getting into food blogging and equally many reasons for getting out or giving up.
It's essential to have a true love or passion for food. Only when one has passion can one endure and overcome the many ups and downs that invariably come during one's food blogging journey.
For example, if "glamour" was the motivation, it's hard to continue when there is no "glamour". But, if you truly love food, the motivation is always there.
What do you wish to see more or less of the food blogging community?
Restaurants or their appointed Public Relations agencies are actively inviting food bloggers to tastings for marketing purposes. It is entirely possible to build a food blog based only on invited tastings and press releases.
I feel it is important to balance invited tastings with "discovery tastings" i.e. go food hunting and discover good food stalls, especially those that do not have the money and savvy to market themselves.
(Photo credit: I have taken the liberty to use photos of me taken by Sam Han, Uncle Bob, David Wang, 陈秐汐, Philip Lim and Benny Ng because
Date: 30 Mar 2015
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