Pulau Ubin Stories

Stories, old and new, about Pulau Ubin, Singapore

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"Flying elephants do not cross the river"

"World has turned, but have we?" by Richard Lim
The Sunday Times, Page 4, Sunday, 25th May 1997.

"In Chinese chess or xiangchi, one player has two elephants, among other pieces, and his opponent, two ministers, because the two words sound alike (xiang). They are roughly the equivalent of the bishops in chess, except that the elephants and ministers cannot cross the half- line of the xiangshi board, which is marked by a river.

An age-old proverb has come out of this rule: fei xiang bu guo he, or "flying elephants do not cross the river". There are just some things that one cannot do.

But in 1990, two elephants swam across the strait from Johor to Pulau Tekong, and in the following year, another one swam across to Pulau Ubin. I remember a former colleague laughing about it then - another truism turned on its head."

Originally posted to Pulau Ubin Mailing List, 3rd April 2004


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