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Evergreen…

This was the theme for the annual reunion…

Evergreen

…the 6th time around, of a group of students who were together in Form 5 way back in 1980.

My first posting as a qualified trained teacher was in this town…

Kanowit

…in 1978. In fact, we were the pioneers – the ones who started the secondary school in the town (SMK Kanowit), around 10 of us…with classes from Transition up to Form 3 only. That meant that I only taught the ones in Form 3 that year for a year only and then they went back to the other secondary school in the town across the river (SMK Datuk Yakub or SEDAYA, for short)…

The old Sedaya

…(where they studied up till Form 2 before they moved over for a year) and continued their studies up till Form 5. It was not accessible by road then and students would have to stay in as boarders or use the sampan to go across from the town and back daily.

The original school is abandoned now (I hear the river is encroaching inland) and they have a nice new place about a mile away. I did not take any photographs there other than this one of the very grand and impressive entrance…

Sedaya 2

…into the main block of the buildings there and I would say it is a lot nicer than many other schools in the state or maybe, even in the country. However, it does not change the fact that I do think it is kind of sad that the students cannot go back to their old school to see their old classrooms and hostels and everything to talk and laugh about the memories that they share – for the simple reason that they are no longer there.

Well, despite the fact that I did not teach all of them, those that I did teach when they were in Form 3 in the town school invited me to join them and the other teachers from their school across the river…

Teachers and student

…to their reunion last Saturday. Helen, standing to my left, was one of those that I taught – she is currently based in Kuala Belait, Brunei and is the president of the Rotary Club there. Their teachers and I were indeed pleased to know that they are all doing very well here, there and everywhere. all these sweet kids – young, simple and innocent, that we had taught before.

I followed a few of them that morning when they drove to their old school and also to the town and we had a scrumptious lunch here…

Coffee shop, Kanowit

I cannot recall this being there when I was there, 1978 to 1982 but I did hear something about them…

Kitchen

…being in Sibu for some 30 years or so before going back to their hometown.

The food was very nice and I was so delighted that they had some ikan buris (lajong in Iban)…

Ikan buris

…freshly caught from the river that very morning and even though all of them were not very big, they tasted awesome. I had never eaten this fish cooked like this before and it was indeed very well done. I absolutely enjoyed it!

We also had this plate of roast pork…

Roast pork

…some fried noodles…

Fried mee
*Helen’s photograph, from Facebook*

…and fried cangkuk manis

Cangkuk manis

…plus another plate of vegetables – I was so busy eating that I forgot to take a photograph of that one! Hehehehehe!!!! I cannot remember exactly how many of us there were, around 15…and the bill, inclusive of drinks and some of us had rice as well, came up to RM160.00. That’s very reasonable, don’t you think?

That night, we had the grand and sumptuous reunion dinner here…

Paramount, Sibu
*Archive photo*

- five tables altogether.

There was this splendid mixed platter…

Paramount, mixed platter

- I particularly enjoyed the mussels!

One of the students donated the fish and we had it, steamed…

Tilapia

I hear she supplies those to the hotels and restaurants in the town and since we got ours from the source, you can bet what we had was very fresh and very very nice indeed.

We enjoyed this a lot too…

Paramount, pumpkin

- their baked pumpkin alongside the deep-fried fritters of chicken filling wrapped in pumpkin. I never had anything like this anywhere else and I sure would want to order that if ever I get the chance to have dinner at this place anytime in the near future.

The photograph of the roast chicken…

Paramount, roast chicken

…like the one of the fish above, did not come out too well (I am still getting used to my new camera especially when using it in not-very-bright conditions) and I was so busy enjoying everything that I forgot to take one of the sea cucumber and mushroom…

Paramount, sea cucumber & mushrooms

…but I did manage to snap one of the leftovers.

There were only these five courses, plus a fruit platter at the end, but servings were huge and there was more than enough to go round. Everyone thought the dinner was extra special and enjoyed what was served a lot – it was really different from the usual fare that one would get when attending banquets at such places in town…and most importantly, the other teachers and I were indeed so very flattered to be invited to this function. As one of them remarked, those in the town never bothered to invite their teachers to their reunions…and even if they did, they would only invite those in the upper forms and conveniently forget those who taught them when they were younger. I wouldn’t say this goes across the board but I do know of a number of such instances.

To wrap up, I really must thank everyone, Helen especially, for inviting me to join all of you this year – I had a delightful time going with all of you to your old school and to Kanowit and I truly enjoyed the dinner very much. All the best to each and everyone of you in your undertakings, God bless you all and your families abundantly as well…and hopefully, you will all invite me again next year. Wink! Wink! LOL!!!

Thankfully…

We went to this Thai place quite sometime ago when it first opened and never went back again for more reasons than one…and I can’t say that I was surprised that it closed down soon after. After a while, they opened this one…

Bug & Bee

…at that same location…

Address

…and because of the not-so-pleasant experience that we had the first time around, I was not all that keen on going back there again. Then I heard word going round that the food there was very good and so I thought we could just drop by sometime to give it a second chance.

We were very full from the longevity noodles and the cake that we had that morning of my birthday but my girl insisted that we went somewhere for lunch for a little celebration on our own. In the end, we agreed to drop by here for a little something. That was last Tuesday…

Opening hours

…but the tag on the door said “CLOSE” [SIC] – obviously they had forgotten to change it to “OPEN” and maybe that was why the place was completely empty. Anyone would have thought they were taking the day off and luckily, we did go in to ask!

They had redecorated the place but one might see some of the stuff that they used to have when this place was under a different owner and under a different name…

Bug & Bee 1

There seemed to be different sections, both outside…

Bug & Bee 2

…and inside…

Bug & Bee 3

…and somehow, I had the feeling that it was more a place for people to unwind and drink the night away.

I saw in their menu that they were serving Thai dishes…as well as western cuisine. I asked the lady what was nice but she was not able to tell me – potong satu markah dah!  My missus wanted the Thai green curry set but we were told that they had run out of green curry – potong dua markah dah!  My girl wanted the pesto chicken pasta and no, they did not have the sauce either – potong tiga markah dah!!! Oh no, I thought! Surely this couldn’t possibly be history repeating itself – one bad experience at the same place is already one too many.

In the end, I just asked for the phat Thai (RM12.80)…

Bug & Bee phat Thai

…and the baked creamy chicken chop rice (RM16.80)…

Bug & Bee baked chicken chop rice 1

…to share.

What a relief it was, when we tried our two orders, to find that they were really very good! We loved the phat Thai very much – definitely something that I would want to order should I happen to drop by here again. I was never too thrilled by the baked cheese rice that I had had elsewhere as they turned out to be something like fried rice underneath some layer of cheese and what not and put into the oven to bake but the one here was nice and creamy throughout…

Bug & Bee baked creamy chicken chop rice 2

…with a generous slab of chicken in it…

Bug & Bee baked creamy chicken chop rice 3

We thought it was very flavourful with whatever ingredients that they had added generously to it and the winning combination came across to us as really great – another thing that would be worth a try should anyone decide to drop by here.

The lady asked if we were from some place else as she saw me going around taking photographs but I said I did that to share online and tell people whether the food here was any good or not. Well, I would say it was and I would not mind dropping by again – hoping that they would have the things we would want to order from their menu the next time around though I would not think we would go here for dinner as it came across to me like one of those watering holes that would be a little too dim at night and any snapshots taken would not do justice to the food.

Moving on from our lunch outing on my birthday a bit, this lovely Christmas card…

From Singapore

…came on that same day from Sharon all the way from Singapore, thank you so very much. That’s really so sweet and thoughtful of you.

So there you have it, folks, all that transpired on my birthday this year…

All in a day…

It has been a week, more or less, now since my 62nd birthday

62nd birthday cake

…and I got a cake from the outlet of that franchise place in town. My girl knows my favourite – their white chocolate macadamia…

White chocolate macadamia

…so she and her mum went and ordered that for me but of course, in keeping with the Foochow tradition, we had to have the longevity noodles, our mee sua (thread/string noodles) served in the red wine chicken soup…

Long life noodles

…first thing in the morning plus the eggs to go with it.

We had dinner at home – it was a simple and quiet affair, just the three of us. My missus cooked these baked cheese prawns…

Baked cheese prawns

…and these lokan (deep fried clam shells stuffed with the lokan meat plus pork, minced)…

Lokan

…and this roast chicken thigh…

Roast chicken thigh

…and a dish of fried broccoli and mushroom…

Broccoli and mushroom

My brother-in-law dropped by in the morning to pass us these presents…

Presents from Singapore

…from my niece, working in Singapore, but I guess they’re for us for Christmas and not for my birthday…including that bottle of Bailey’s coffee liqueur in the stocking and the bottle of Davidoff’s Cool Water…

Birthday presents

…but yes, I did get some birthday presents other than what came in the mail the other day from my cousin in Kuching. My girl knew that I had been having problems with my camera so she went and got me a new one. Sometimes, I had to knock it against the wall to get it to work and the battery pack did not seem to recharge very well lately. My missus thought it was high time I put aside my antique mobile phone and use something more presentable…and right now, I’m slowly getting used to both. I guess old folks need a longer time to learn new tricks? The ang pao came from my sis and my good friend, Lim, and his kids dropped by in the evening and gave me this…

Durian cream cake

- another flavour that I love from that franchise cake place – the durian cream! He also gave me this slice of cheese cake…

Cheese cake

…and the chicken cornish…

Chicken cornish

Oh yes! We did go out for lunch, a very light one but I think I would just leave that to the next post.

In the meantime, I really must express my gratitude and appreciation to everyone for all the Happy Birthday wishes and blessings in their comments on my birthday post the other day and the hundreds on Facebook, thank you all so very very much.

It’s a beautiful day…

It had been raining quite a bit for a while now but that day, it was bright and sunny, a beautiful day indeed for a wedding.

There we were, all gathered at the church for the solemnisation of the union in Holy Matrimony of my niece, Jessica and her groom, Conelius. As soon as the bride had arrived in the bridal sedan…

Bridal sedan

…the father of  the bride walked her up the aisle to the altar where he handed over his daughter’s hand in marriage to the groom…

Over to you

I love church weddings…

At the altar

- to me, they’re so romantic, so beautiful.

After the vows were made and the rings were exchanged, culminating with a kiss, and the certificate was signed, the couple…

Happily married

…walked out of the church as man and wife.

There was a lunch reception at the groom’s house…

At the lunch reception

…and true to the close-knit communal kampung spirit, the neighbour let the family use their house and compound for the purpose as their own house might not be big enough to accommodate everybody. Usually, at such occasions, the whole kampung would show up to wish the newly-weds well.

Actually, they had something going on in the house after the bride and groom arrived but I did not stick around for that…as I had to go home for a quick nap and get ready for the big event that evening. I was given the honour of being the em-cee or master of ceremony at the wedding banquet here…

At the ballroom

…that evening, you see, and at my age, I had to make sure that I was fully-recharged to last the whole evening. LOL!!!

Owing to this, I was pre-occupied all evening and did not have the chance to take any photographs other than these…

Wedding cake

…that I took when I arrived…

For the toast

…before the whole event started…

Door gifts

Everything went well, I guess, starting from the grand entrance of the bride and the groom for which I had picked this very beautiful song…

…the English part of the song, that is, where the very beautiful lyrics go like this:
Stay beside me, stay beside me
Say you’ll never leave me
How I love you, how I love you
How I need you – please, believe me
In your arms, I found my heaven,
and your lips have done their part.
IL MONDO – your love is all I need in my world
Let tender kisses plead in my world
How could I ever live without you?
IL MONDO – my heart belongs to you – so take it
and promise me, you´ll never break it!
Say you’ll stay here in my arms!

Congratulations once again, Jessica & Conelius and may your lives together as man and wife be filled with lots of love and abundant happiness…and congratulations also to the proud and happy parents on this very joyful and auspicious occasion. Cheers!!!

Happiness is me and you…

…and indeed, nothing beats the joy shared at a family event like a wedding.

One of my nieces got married recently and I had blogged about the Malay/Muslim ceremony and also the grand wedding banquet…and another one tied the knot over the weekend and this time, they had the traditional Melanau ceremony at the house the day before the church wedding and everything else.

Despite my Melanau roots on my maternal side of the family, I had never witnessed anything like it before. I remember my mum taking me along to a pengilan (Malay/Melanau wedding) but most of the time, it would just be to eat – or at least, that is about all that I can remember…though I do recall seeing some bersanding ceremonies including the arrival of the groom at the bride’s house, complete with a kompang band and all.

This part of the Melanau wedding ceremony called the surung berian (loosely translated as the presentation of gifts, if I’m not wrong) started off with the arrival of the representatives from the groom’s side at the bride’s house…

Dais

…all in their traditional Melanau outfits. This was prepared – the daun sireh (betel leaf) in the traditional “server”, the whole works…

Daun sireh

…but I did not see anybody helping himself to that. I’ve been told, however, that it is not really meant for the eating bit so much. Instead, it has a very special significance at such ceremonies. I saw that it was placed right in front of the three representatives from the bride’s family in front of the dais, in the middle and after those from the other side had arrived, the one in the middle moved it to one side to mark the beginning of the discussion/negotiation.

While waiting, we had these lovely kek lapis (layer cake) Sarawak and coconut cake to enjoy…

Cakes

and soon, the entourage arrived. I did not see the groom with them so I asked and was told that the groom would not be coming. Oh? That was another thing that I did not know. The gifts were presented and there was a lengthy discussion over each of them including a sword/knife that looked like a brass antique one…

Knife

…followed by a golden ring in an antique plate…

Plate & ring

…and there was a lot of money too, probably the dowry…

Money

I noticed that in line with the traditional practice, only the men were involved – none of the ladies came with the group from the groom’s side, not even the mother-in-law to be. If I’m not mistaken, this special Melanau ceremony is only accorded to royalty, those with Abang or Dayang (the equivalent to the English Lord & Lady) attached to their names. I must say that I found it all very interesting indeed and was glad to be privileged enough to witness one taking place.

Eventually, all was settled and everyone was treated to a very elaborate buffet lunch. There was so much food but I only took photographs of a few of them like this nangka muda masak lemak (young jackfruit cooked in coconut milk)…

Nangka muda masak lemak

…and this lovely acar nenas (pineapple pickle)…

Acar nenas

…which came across to me as something like the Indian chutney – I love their mango one!

I did not eat the salted ikan kembong

Ikan kembong masin

…though on ordinary days, I could just eat this alone with rice…and I would go for a second helping, that’s for sure.

The sambal for the ulam

ulam

…was superb but I also had a bit of that only. No, I wasn’t shy or on any kind of strict diet – as a matter of fact, I was pre-occupied with these lovelies…

Chee loi

I had not had them for a long time because those that I would usually see at the market were very small, not to mention expensive as well, and not worth the hassle and the time spent on getting the meat inside out to eat.

The dashing groom did show up later for photographs on the beautifully-decorated pelamin (dais) with his radiant bride…

Bride & groom

…and all the members of the family present that morning.

Stay tuned for more!

I will never pass this way again…

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” I often see this quotation being shared on Facebook and indeed, there is a lot of truth in it.

Yesterday may be gone, people walk in and out of our lives but still, there are the lessons learnt or to be learnt, the memories to cherish. On the other hand, we do not know what the future holds, what lies in store for us…and we can only hope and pray that there will be some blues skies and everything nice.

What matters most is today…

2nd December

Each day that dawns, give thanks and praise that we are blessed with the opportunity to live our lives and it is up to us alone to live it meaningfully. The lyrics of this song says it best:

I will pass this way but once.
If there’s any good that I can do, let me do it now
for I’ll never pass this way again
I will see this day but once.
If there’s any kindness I can show, let me show it now
for I’ll never see this day again
Tomorrow may be too late, my friend,
to do all the good that you’d plan
So reach out to those who need you and lend them a helping hand
I will know this world but once.
If there’s any love that I can give, let me give it now.
Oh Lord, please show me how
for I’ll never know this world
I’ll never see this day
I’ll never pass this way again

Be kind

A year has passed and like any other year, it had its ups and downs.

Life is so fragile and we never know when it would be time for us to go. My ex-colleague who retired together with me, sharing the same retirement/farewell assembly seven years ago, had left this world and this year too, I lost a very very dear friend, someone who was so close and dear to me and my family . Yes, I do miss him a lot, all the joy and laughter that he brought into our lives. Every year, at this time, he would never fail to give me a present but this year, all I can hope for would be his prayers from Heaven that I may be abundantly blessed and will have a good year ahead.

I am 62 today.

The main event…

The wedding of my niece and her groom culminated with a grand banquet…

Wedding cake

…held at the sparkling new hall at this recently-completed building in town.

The door gifts…

Door gifts

…included a pair of lovey-dovey heart-shaped glass photo frames and a box containing personalised red velvet cookies and a slice of cake – if I’m not mistaken, it was the hati parek with its lovely rich taste of fruit (raisins or prune).

Upon the arrival of the newly-weds, they took their places at the pelamin (dais) and there followed the bersanding and menepung tawar ceremony…

Bersanding

…with the blessings by the distinguished guests and the immediate members of the couple’s families.

After that, the couple proceeded to the main table…

Couple with guests-of-honour

…where they were seated with the guest-of-honour, the bride’s paternal grand-uncle, my maternal uncle.

Dinner was served in what I always call “the dome” – I used to have that very frequently at hotel restaurants and other venues on my working trips here, there and everywhere in the peninsula prior to my retirement but this was the first time I had seen this here. Selections included the ayam masak merah (red-cooked chicken)…

Masak merah

…and the Sarawak’s own daging masak hitam (black-cooked beef)…

Masak hitam

I loved the pineapple curry…

Kari nenas

…and the acar ikan masin (pickled salted fish)…

Acar ikan masin

…though the latter was a tad too salty. It would be good to soak the salted fish first so it would not be so salty in which case, I would be able to indulge in more of it. Hehehehehe!!!!

There were the acar limau (calamansi lime pickle) and fruits as well and to go with all those, we were given a choice of white rice or nasi kuning (yellow rice)…

Nasi kuning

I would say that I enjoyed the dinner very much, a nice change from the usual Chinese dinners at the hotels or restaurants.

In the course of the evening, the sister of the bride…

Sister of the bride

…gave a very delightful and entertaining speech.

Gee! I love weddings, I really do and I would say I enjoyed the evening very much, basking in all the joy and the splendour…and there will be another one coming up at the end of next week – I’m certainly looking forward to that.

In the meantime, here’s wishing the two of you again, Nadya and Helmi, everlasting love and happiness and all the best in the years ahead. Cheers!!!