tiger balm

When I was little the fatties and I really was afraid of the Tiger Balm smell, cause guama reeked of it! She’d use it as a cure-all for just about anything –

Colds: Generous amounts of it would be rubbed onto our nose*, chest and back.

Coughs: Generous amounts of it would be rubbed onto our nose*, chest, back and neck.

Mosquito bites: Generous amounts of it would be rubbed onto the bite area.

*When it was rubbed onto our noses, or more specifically the nostril area (not actually in the nostril, but you get the idea) it was almost like sniffing wasabi, I swear! It was so minty/spicy/whatever you called it that we felt it was kinda difficult to breathe because of it. The thing was, it usually worked cause the blockage would disappear!


“Ku za uu no kuang kai, ji kai ang kai, ji kai pek kai.. I like the white one cause that was what my parents always used on us. My dad would do the same for me, and I remembered I hated it so much! But the funny thing was that it actually worked, so as much as we hated it, we just had to bear it. ”

“Le toi uu ane joi kuang kai, tapi ji kai kuang si Singapore kai…”

Then she’d go on to describe the history but I don’t really remember it apart from there being 2 brothers in the business, the original one being the red one and then later on one of the brothers decided to make the white one. Or something to that effect, anyway.


There were times (usually after the Sydney trip when guama visits ah yee) that she’d tell us how the kiddos commented on the smell~

“Wa ke si hao ngk ah soi ti/Rhys kai pang keng…Wa ngk jik meh, ka teng ma meng ki ah ti ta ‘wah guama! your room uu hi kai Tiger Balm kai bi ho strong wor’ (laughs!) si ho chao bi meh? Wa yong ka joi liao si bo? Wa jai wa uu ji kai bi, tapi mm zai si mi si,┬ábo yong jik meh bo song wo..”

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