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No coincidence…

There is this superstition among the Malay and ethnic communities that if you are offered something to eat or drink and you would not want it, you would have to touch it, at least, outside on the glass or cup or plate, or you can just take a teeny-weeny bit of it or else some untoward incident would befall upon you. The Malays call it keempunan and the Melanaus call it poonek. In fact, if you can get hold of a copy of 22 Malaysian Short Stories, an anthology of literary works compiled and edited by Lloyd Fernando (1963), you will find a story on this.

When I was very much younger, probably around 1970 or somewhere then, I went to Kuching and my friends took me to this restaurant, Ang Lee, at Carpenter Street for lunch…or maybe it was dinner, I can’t exactly remember now. I did not want a drink other than the plain water that I asked for but my friends kept asking me – three times to be exact…and it probably was a  coincidence that as we were leaving the place, I slipped on the first step of the wooden staircase, got up, slipped again, got up yet again and slipped the third time. By then, I was already on the ground floor – I did not sustain any serious injury but I can clearly remember that it was very painful for me to sit for at least a week.

A more recent and definitely a lot more serious incident would be when we went to KL that time when Melissa was very small. We had just checked into the hotel and my missus was making coffee for herself. She asked me if I wanted some and I said no…and soon after, we left for the theme park in the city. It was drizzling that afternoon. I had just bought the tickets and we had just entered when I saw somebody slipping on the slippery tiled floor, so I told Melissa and the mum to walk slowly and carefully. As I approached the stairs going down to the park, I felt myself sliding even though I was just standing still – it was that slippery. I slipped over the edge of the first step on the stairs and sat down. I guess it was sheer bad luck that my elbow hit the upper step and the bone broke into two.

There followed months and months of hospitals and eventually, surgery (to join the bone with a piece of metal and six screws as it failed to heal and reconnect by itself) and physiotherapy and I had to go to a Chinese sinseh for treatment before I could get my arm back to ALMOST normal again. I did write to the theme park and they replied paying me around RM200, the initial money spent at the hospital in KL, enclosing 10 complimentary tickets to the park – of course, I just threw them away and to this day, I would not go anywhere near that place again.

So was it sheer coincidence, fact or fiction? I wouldn’t know but I would take that bit about touching the glass, cup or whatever on the outside when someone offers you a drink or something to eat as good manners, a gesture of appreciation – thank you, but no, thank you.  However, personally, I would feel that if you had drunk or eaten a bit, you might as well drink or eat it all as nobody would want it anymore after that and it would such a waste to throw it all away…and whatever it might or might not be, it wasn’t because of this, that we were here…

Zen

…at Jalan Chew Geok Lin (formerly Old street) near the Chinese temple in town last Saturday for lunch.

We had not had Japanese for a while now, not since early December when Melissa’s friend from Sg Petani, Kedah came to town. I think she was craving for it for when she came back the day before, she dropped by the place for a very late lunch at around 3 something but it was already closed and would only reopen much later for dinner. In the end, she had no choice but to have something else…and that was why the following day, I took her there again so she could enjoy what she was hoping for.

I noticed that they had a nice new menu now…

Zen - menu

…though they could have done a better job with the binding – the middle page was already coming off.

We had this fried salmon dish (RM14.90)…

Zen - fried salmon

…which everyone liked. I would say that I prefer it done this way instead of the usual grilling on a pan as the strong smell of the fish which I do not really fancy seemed to have been toned down by the coating and the deep frying.

The soft shell crab sushi with meat floss (RM15.90)…

Zen - soft shell crab with meat floss

…was very nice too and they certainly seemed very generous with the floss and virtually buried everything else with it.

The inari kizami (RM6.90 for two)…

Zen - inari kizami

…was good as well but there was a bit too much of the roe on the ebiko sushi (RM3.90 for two)…

ebiko sushi

…and that made them a bit too salty.

We also had the tempura mortawase (RM13.90)…

Zen - tempura mortawase

…and the tempura don (RM15.90)…

Tempura don

…which came with a bowl of miso soup and a couple of watermelon slices. Both were ok, pretty mild tasting – quite typical of Japanese cuisine and one would be able to savour the original flavours of whatever one is eating…though I did wish they had fried rice instead of plain rice in that don thingy.

The bill came up to slightly over RM70.00 for the food and of course, Melissa enjoyed herself a lot and was very happy and needless to say, when she’s happy, the father would be happy too… Wink! Wink!

Green fingers…

One advantage of living in the country would be the fact that you have a lot of land all around you to plant your own fruits and vegetables and whatever. That, of course, is a good thing in this day and age with the escalating prices of virtually everything. Unfortunately, you can’t do that if you’re staying in high rise apartments and condominiums in the city or even if you do have a landed property, there will be so little land around the house to do much…and most people would rather use whatever they may have for landscaping to beautify the surroundings by planting flowers and decorative leaves and trees.

Unfortunately, not all can grow stuff successfully – one would need to have green fingers in order to do it well…and I am pretty sure that Melissa’s neighbour at the staff quarters in her rural school is pretty good at it. When I sent Melissa back there after the week-long holidays, I noticed that he has been busy and has planted a lot of things in the available land.

Now, let’s see if you can name all the things he has planted. I am sure many of you would know what these are (PICTURE 1)…

PICTURE 1

…and you probably can identify those with the five-petal leaves…

PICTURE 2

…but what about those with the heart-shaped ones (PICTURE 2)?

These are creepers so the guy had to put up those sticks for the  plants to climb (PICTURE 3)…

PICTURE 3

Later the flowers would appear and subsequently, the fruits.

You would have seen these in the pictures earlier (PICTURE 4)…

PICTURE 4

I love the sweet variety, selling at around RM6.00 for four at a shop near my house. What I know is they get their supply from out of town in bundles of 5 or 6…and they would untie them and take out 1 or 2 to make their own new bundles…and sell them all at the same price – RM6 for 4. Tsk! Tsk!

Many of you would know these too, I suppose (PICTURE 5a)…

PICTURE 5a

- it seems that they are not that tolerant of heat or direct sunlight so that is why the guy has built some kind of shed over the vegetable beds.

Here’s another look at the same (PICTURE 5b)…

PICTURE 5b

…and this one is pretty familiar too, I’m sure (PICTURE 6)…

PICTURE 6

Now, can anyone give me the names of all the vegetables in the photographs? If you can, you probably deserve a prize, right? Let’s see how it goes. Come, give it a shot!

Give…

In my younger days, I hardly ever got to go for any wedding luncheon or dinner unless it was somebody in the family who was getting married.

I do remember, however, how there would usually be two men seated at a table by the entrance or near it with a mini-suitcase by the side. In later years, that was replaced by the so-called “James Bond bag”. One of the men would collect the ang paos from the guests arriving and he would take out the money and count and then he would say the name of the guest out loud and the amount given. The man seated beside him would write it all down in  a thin exercise book and the money would be thrown into the suitcase, all of which would be handed over to the host at the end of the day.

That reminded me of the scribe and the tax collector in those Biblical days and I would not say that was a very good system, not that anyone gave two hoots and was in any way bothered about it, since it was the accepted practice at the time. However, there was one time when somebody gave RM100 in RM50 denomination and as he was walking away, he thought he heard RM50 only. So he went back and checked and true enough, only RM50 had been recorded in the exercise book. He demanded for the ang pao packet and the man took it out of his shirt pocket – the other RM50 note was inside. No one could tell whether it was accidental or intentional but obviously, this seemingly foolproof way of collecting ang paos may be abused by unscrupulous individuals if they were thus inclined.

I also remember one thing – the exercise book would have to be kept and when one was invited by one of those guests in the list, one would have to attend and give that same amount – you cannot give more nor less. Good grief! Way back then, people would usually give RM10.00 only per head. Imagine if I were to go to a wedding reception today and give, according to the past record, just RM10.00. That was quite a lot then but it is certainly too little by today’s standards.

People often lament when they get a string of those red “summonses”…

Wedding invitations

…as that would mean they would have to keep forking out the money for the ang paos.

However, things may be, at times, a little different here. I don’t know who started this trend but very often, one would get to see this…

No gifts

…in the invitation cards. Some would be more specific and state that gifts in cash or kind are respectfully declined…and some would also include congratulatory messages (in the newspapers).

Yes, at any wedding in town, there would be those people from the local Chinese dailies hovering around like hawks, waiting to swoop down on you the moment you’re seated. It wouldn’t be so bad if there is just one or two but more often than not, there are a number of them and it can get somewhat irritating when they come round to ask you again and again and at times, the same one even – they certainly are quite persistent. I think it costs RM20.00 per head to add your name to a list of others in a congratulatory message in the paper the next day or so. Actually, I would rather give an ang pao even if it means I would need to give more for I do feel that in cases such as these, the only people laughing all the way to the bank would be those newspaper companies.

I guess if you’re one of those rich tycoons in town, you can easily afford to throw a grand and impressive party anytime but rich or poor, I am pretty sure that any parent and the newly-weds would have saved up more than enough for the special and happy occasion. Still. I do feel it is better to let people give an ang pao

Wedding ang pao

…as a token, more in appreciation of the invitation than anything else. Tradition has it that when people give you something, you have to give something in return and the same applies here. They have invited you so an ang pao would be in order and the best gesture to show that you appreciate it very much, much better than buying a gift. I was told once that in the past, in western societies where giving ang paos is not the norm, the intending bride and groom would pass a list of things that they would need or want for their relatives or friends to choose what to buy for them – that certainly was a good idea and one would not end up with a dozen tea sets and half a dozen toasters and rice cookers. I’m not sure if they still do that these days or not.

If I’m not wrong, this practice of not accepting gifts, cash or kind, is quite unheard of outside of Sibu…and I am glad that people have done away with the “scribe and tax collector” system of collecting ang paos these days. It seems that they would just prepare a box and you can just drop your ang pao inside…like depositing cheques at the bank. Whatever it is,  I don’t mind really as I love going for weddings, meeting friends and mingling with the other guests, basking in the joy all around and enjoying the food…

Entree

Yum! Yummmm!!!! What about you?

Time…

I used to read a lot before but for some reason or other, I stopped. One reason, of course, would be the fact that books are extremely expensive these days and are no longer that affordable. The fact that one can deduct the amount spent on books in one’s annual income tax return is little consolation. Eventually, all that I would read would be the monthly issue of the Reader’s Digest and gradually, that too would be left unopened every time it is delivered – I am still subscribing as my girl wants to read it so these days, she would be the one enjoying it every month.

Actually, she buys a lot of books and very frequently too but it is perfectly all right as she enjoys reading a lot and will re-read those that she likes very much. Besides, she does not spend on much else so I do encourage her to do so and would take her to the bookstores to browse around and pick the ones she likes, not that we have a lot to choose from here, I’m afraid. Most bookstores here would be packed to the brim with workbooks, a sad reflection of the modern day kiasu society where everyone is fighting tooth and claw to attain excellent grades in one’s studies and neglecting everything else.

Anyway, I was doing some spring cleaning and rearranging the books and everything else on the shelves that day when I saw this…

TTK

I have read one only and that was because I happened to see the movie on television and loved it so much. Yes, the book is really great too…and I would say that to date, that is one of my favourites. In the end, I decided to give this one a go.

There are some parts in the book that I particularly like. Look at this extract, for instance:
Try to imagine a life without timekeeping.
You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays.
Man alone measures time.
Man alone chimes the hour.
And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creatures endures.
A fear of time running out.
(Sphere:2013 Page 8)
Now, don’t you think that’s absolutely thought-provoking…and isn’t that so very true?

The story highlights the contrast between two of the main characters – a teenage girl who was wishing that time would go by more quickly and an old man who was hoping it would go more slowly so he would have more time to spend in this world. I would say that it made me think about myself – then and now and some of the lines that caught my attention and got me thinking include this one:
Sometimes, when you are not getting the love you want, giving makes you think you will.
(Sphere: 2013 Page 117)
…and this one as well:
We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.
(Sphere: 2013 Page 138)

The book brings to mind this old-time favourite of mine by Glen Campbell:

Some people run, some people crawl
Some people don’t even move at all

Some roads lead forward, some roads lead back
Some roads are bathed in white and some wrapped in black
Some people never get and some never give
some people never die and some never live

Some folks treat me mean, some treat me kind
Most folks just go their way and don’t pay me any mind
Time, oh good good time, where did you go? Time, oh good good time, where did you go?

…and I would say that I quite enjoyed reading it though I very much prefer the other one by the author that I have read …in more ways than one. Personally, that one is still my favourite.

Close the door…

Well, by the time this post gets published, this café would have closed its doors for good or if the proprietor/s has/have plans for it, I would not know of them at this point in time but one thing that I do know for sure would be the fact that the Thai lady chef would have gone back by now.

Anyway, my friend, Jimmy, flew into town on that very day they were going to close and we managed to drop by and enjoy the Thai delights one last time. Needless to say, first things first, and upon arrival very early that morning, he was accorded the traditional Sibu kampua mee welcome…

RTM Cafe's kampua

Later, at around noontime, we proceeded to the café for lunch and we ordered the gaeng som

GS

- the mixed vegetable soup that my friend said was good and we did not get to try that on our previous visits and yes, it was indeed very nice and all of us liked it a lot.

The girl waiting at the tables suggested this phad prik thai dam, talay

PPTD talay

…which was some kind of vegetable dish and we opted for the seafood – it was all right, nice enough but not something that I would be craving for and coming back for more, not that I would be able to do that even if I wanted to.

Other than these two, we ordered the things that we had on our previous visits and liked so much that we would want to have them again…one last time. These included the pineapple fried rice…

PFR

…the bread cakes with prawn paste…

BC with PP

…and of course, our favourite of the lot, the Thai green curry…

TGC

We met somebody there who said that they went because they saw it in my blog (though they found what they had a little bit too spicy) and I also got to know that my friend, ah^kam_koko’, went there for dinner and he loved the tom yum very much. Sighhhhhh!!!! If I had known about this place earlier, I would have gone full swing in promoting it so that it would enjoy brisk business and that would probably make it worthwhile for it to stay open.

Nope, in case anyone is wondering, Jimmy did not bring me any of his delightful cakes as it is not that convenient to carry them inflight but he brought me those very nice scones from Kuching that I had had before and some of the local delights…

From Jimmy

Thank you so much, Jimmy. It sure is nice to see you again and I’m glad you managed to enjoy the very nice Thai lunch with us before they closed their doors…for good.

STOP PRESS:
If anyone is interested, The Kitchen here in Sibu – the people producing the instant Sibu kampua noodles, has come out with the ones with dark soy sauce now…

SKN 1

I got a packet to try and there were three sachets inside…

SKN2

- dark soy sauce, chio cheng (light soy sauce) and lard. I understand that there was a mistake in the packing and there should be one kind of sauce only and probably, the third sachet should have been one with fried shallots.

Well, I did not know that so when I was cooking a packet to try, I threw everything in…

SKN3

…but it was very nice. No, it was not too salty – somehow, the combination seemed to work really well and I enjoyed it very much despite the fact that I have never been a fan of kampua noodle, black – the ones with dark soy sauce.

I did notice, however, that there are now only five packets inside – they used to have six before but I guess those were their promotional packs. Anyway, the serving in each packet is now bigger – while I needed two before so that I would have enough, now I am fine with just one.

Incidentally, for those of you in Kuching, these instant Sibu kampua noodles are now available in the capital at GeorgPeck at Premier 101. Go ahead! Grab a pack and give it a try. You’ll not be disappointed, I’m sure.

What is it…

Actually, I blogged about it a long time ago, way back in 2008…but when I shared a photograph of it on Facebook…

Terbelus

…the other day, so many people said they had never seen it before while some have but they have never tried eating it and they do not know how to go about preparing it so they too do not have the slightest inkling as to what this fruit actually tastes like.

Well, this is called terbulus in Melanau and in Malay, it is known as buah engkalak…and like the dabai (local black olives), it is only found growing in Central Sarawak except that today, due to its popularity and huge demand, they have planted the dabai trees elsewhere in the state so it is no longer exclusive to this part of the state any longer.

The terbulus is green when it is not ripe and it turns into this nice shade of pink when it does and that would be the indication that it is ready to be eaten. For one thing, it is not easy to harvest this very delicate fruit that grows on very big and tall trees like the dabai or the durian. You cannot just take a long bamboo pole and poke it off the tree – that would damage it completely and render it unsuitable for consumption…and you cannot wait till it is ripe as it will be too soft and there is no way that the fruit will not be damaged.

We had a tree in the compound of our old house where I grew up and everytime, my mum would get this guy from the kampung (village) who would climb up the tree and cut off the branches (while the fruits were still green and unripe). Now, he could not just let the branches fall to the ground like that, no way – what he did was he tied a rope to the branch and let it down slowly. Then he and my mum would cut the fruits off the branch with a bit of the stalks still intact like what you can see in the above photograph, handling each and everyone of them with the uttermost care. Those would be kept in the house till they changed colour which would mean that they were ripe and ready to be eaten.

Now to prepare the fruits for eating, you will have to wash/rinse the fruits and remove the stalks and put the fruits in a stainless steel pot or saucepan…

Pot

…and sprinkle some salt over them and closing the pot/saucepan, you will have to shake it to toss the fruits inside to mix them well with the salt…

Salt added

Cover the pot/saucepan and leave it for around 15-30 minutes to let the fruits “cook”. You will have to toss the pot/saucepan at regular intervals, hitting the fruits inside against the sides but you must not do it too hard especially if the fruits are very ripe as the seeds and the white part inside would all come out and you will end up with a miserable mess. As I have said earlier, this fruit is very delicate!

Some people, my mum included, would eat it with sagu (toasted sago pellets) but I am not too fond of that so I would just eat it with rice. If the fruit is not really ripe, it is slightly green inside and not as creamy…

Green

My missus prefers it that way – she thinks it is like avocado but I would like it very ripe when it has turned all white and creamy on the inside…

White

…like ice cream. In the past, I would not eat the skin but I do now – it is edible and they insist that it is very good roughage so it is good for one’s bowel movement.

Well, actually it is good that not many know about the fruit or how to prepare and eat it because demand would be low and that would keep the prices down. They are selling at RM5.00 a kilo at Selangau bazaar and they sell them by the basket at the market here – RM5 per basket. As you can see, the prices are not as outrageous as those of the dabai and the durian which are not really affordable these days and I certainly hope that they will stay that way so that I can still afford to enjoy the fruit whenever it is in season.

Now, if I may digress from the fruit for a while, I just want to share a little bit here about these canned oysters…

CO

…that we use for cooking the Foochow-style tofu soup or what we call tauhu tear. I have yet to do that but hopefully, I will get down to doing it someday so I can blog about how to go about doing that then but in the meantime, I just want to mention that I used it to fry some bihun for breakfast the other morning…

FB1

…but although it was quite nice, it did not come anywhere near the bihun fried using the canned clams in soy sauce

CC in SS

Somehow, it lacked the taste and the fragrance…

FB2

…so now I know – when I need to fry some more, I’d definitely stick to the clams and not use the oysters.

Hey, it’s Monday today…and the long end-of-year school holidays have started! Any plans to go anywhere? Sibu, perhaps?

Bleeding love…

Traditionally, the Chinese believed that this would help cleanse their system and barbers especially would make it a point to eat it once a month to get rid of the bits of hair they had inhaled or any that might have got into their mouths and  ended up being swallowed. According to them, these would stick to the walls inside their system and only by eating this would they be able to flush it all out. I’m not sure whether they still do that now but anyway, I was out with my missus one morning a few days ago and we stopped by here for lunch.

I saw that they had stewed pork leg among the selections available for chap fan (mixed rice) so I made up my mind right away to have that and then I saw this…

PB

…and I just could not resist asking for a serving of it. I had not had it for a long long long time as this, among some other things (like duck, for instance), is in my missus’ black list – she does not eat it so she does not cook it and I do not get to eat it, simple as that.

I remember the last time I had that was in KL in 2009 at a shop opposite Low Yat where I stopped by to have some porridge for lunch and I ordered a bit of it. I did hear them say that one should eat it at the beginning of the month and not around the middle of the month as that would be when they would be having their period and it would be unclean – I don’t think there is any truth in that though as it can’t possibly be possible that they will all have their period at the same time in a month. Ummmmm….they do have their monthly period, don’t they?

Anyway, back to what I had, besides the stewed pork leg and the yummy pig’s blood, I also had some sweet and sour chicken…

SSC

…and fried paku (wild jungle fern)…

FP

…and I would say that they were all very good! For one thing, usually what they have at such chap fan places would be oily, salty and overloaded with msg – this one was different and I enjoyed what I picked so much that I surely would want to go back there again sometime. Well, I paid RM5.50 altogether for 3 meat and 1 vegetable – you reckon that’s cheap or expensive? I seldom have this when eating out so I am not too sure of the current prices around here or elsewhere at this point in time. I did think that they gave me a little bit too much rice though – I am not accustomed to eating so much – so I would have to remember to ask them to reduce that a bit the next time I go there again.

As I was leaving the place, I saw that one of my favourite bakeries in town has opened an outlet right next door so I stopped by to see what they had. They did not seem to have a lot then, unfortunately – probably, this place only does retail so they would have to wait for their daily supply of breads, cakes and whatever else from the main bakery in the vicinity of the Sibu Bus Terminal. I did manage, however, to get a pack of these cream puffs…

WC CP

…which were nice though not much nicer than the ones I bought the other day here but at least, these were cheaper – 4 for RM2.00 so that would work out to 50 sen each, 10 sen less than that other place.

I thought these were kind of pretty and cute…

WC cakes

…and I could not resist grabbing one to try. They were not all that cheap though – 4 for RM3.20 so that would be 80 sen each for that little thing. I think they were some kind of cake but they were a little bit crusty, not soft and not hard either and they had different kinds of creamy filling in them. The purple one up front (though it looks like blue in the photo) has the taste of peanut butter. On the whole, I thought they were very nice and I would not mind ordering that for dessert should I happen to be having a dinner party at home. Unlike a cake, it sure would save me the trouble of having to cut it and making a mess with the icing and all and these are rather dainty, sort of elegant, don’t you think? For RM80.00, I would get 100 and that would be more than enough to go round.

Incidentally, I went back to this shop recently for the kampua noodles (RM2.40)…

KM

If you remember, I liked it the first time I had it there but I did not bring my camera with me so I did not blog about it then. The second time around, I ordered the noodles with pian sip but it was kind of diluted probably because the lady…

KMS

…did not drain the pian sip well enough before adding them to the noodles and I was disappointed with what I had that morning. This time around, it wasn’t really dry enough but it was all right as it did not affect the taste of the noodles and I thought they were nice enough. I was kind of put off by the bleeding red colour of the imitation char siew (barbecued meat) though so I think if I were to go there again, I would ask for the noodles mai eng nik (Don’t put meat). For one thing, it was cheaper than many other places in town – 10 sen cheaper than most and in fact, I have heard of people selling theirs at prices ranging from RM2.60 to RM3.00 a plate now. No, thank you very much – they can all jolly well eat their kampua noodles themselves as I, for one, would not be a willing victim to be fleeced like that. Tsk! Tsk!

I did notice, however, that same day that they had a stall at the back of the coffee shop selling those fried noodle dishes and the like so perhaps, I would want to try those instead. We’ll see…

With these hands…

I had to drop by here again last Saturday morning as I wanted to place some advance orders for these

Instant Sibu kampua

…for my friends who will be in town around the end of the month. Indeed, word has gone round about it, spreading like wild fire, and everyone would like to get hold of some to try or they want more of what they have had and liked a lot…and the last I saw on Facebook was that someone in Africa has received his consignment of the stuff – one whole big box of it…and another very happy individual would be my friend, Annie-Q, in KL, of course – her mum dropped by KL and passed her 15 packs of the instant kampua and needless to say, she has been enjoying that since!

They make the noodles by hand…

Making 1
*The Kitchen’s photo from their Facebook page*

…and dry them in the sun…

Drying kampua
*The Kitchen’s photo from their Facebook page*

…with no preservatives added so they should not be kept too long – I hear that they’re good for around three months only. The production is not on a very big scale and is somewhat labour intensive…

Making  2

…done manually, step by step…

Making 3

…all the way…

Making 4

…and that is why if you intend to get hold of any especially when you want a lot, it would be best to go a few days earlier and place your order.

Well, since we were already there, we thought that we might as well have brunch and since Melissa had not been there before, I suggested that she had their very nice fish noodles…

FHN

…with the ordinary bihun and not the big variety, the hung ngang that my missus had previously and she enjoyed it very much…unlike what she had at Taiping, Perak when a coursemate took her and her friends out to eat and she had the same there.

It is quite obvious that my missus likes their fish tom yum hung ngang

TYHN

…that she had on our previous visit – she had that again and she was wondering whether everybody else would get so much fish as well as she thought that was really quite a lot.

I decided to try their kampua noodles…with stewed pork…

KM with stewed pork

…but it did not really tickle my fancy. The stewed pork was very nice – nicer than what they serve here or here but the gravy drowned out whatever kampua noodle taste there might be. It tasted fine, this much I would admit, but I’m afraid it did not taste like kampua mee as we know it. I should have ordered the usual kampua mee that is also on their menu and I could have made a more valid comparison. Incidentally, I did ask the girl and she said that they do not use the noodles that they make themselves for these – I guess they do not make them fast enough for sale and would be hard-pressed for any to use themselves.

While we were there. the lady boss gave us this Chinese green bean dessert…

CD

…to try, on the house. I think it is believed to be cooling and we found it very refreshing though I thought it could do with a little bit more sugar – it wasn’t sweet…but I guess that is supposed to be good, health-wise. I can’t remember what the white things in it are – can anybody help?

So having placed the orders and after having had our fill, we left to loiter around some places in the town and spend some quality time together on that Saturday morning before we sent Melissa back to her school the following day.

STOP PRESS:
Oh dear! Oh dear!!! Breaking news! The Kitchen has closed shop – or perhaps, it will be taken over by some other people (I think I saw someone there once, negotiating!) Hopefully, the new folks will have some nice things on their menu as well…and hopefully, I can find the place to collect the instant kampua noodles that I have ordered – obviously, they’ve set up their base some place else and will focus solely on making these.

Nature boy…

That previous Sunday, over a week ago, we sent Melissa back to her school in the Selangau district but she would have to come home again the following day as on Wednesday, after the public holiday on Tuesday, she would have to attend a course for teachers here at a leading hotel in town. Thus, we decided to spend the night there and make our way back after she had finished her lessons the next day.

With ample time on my hands, I was able to browse around, communing with nature and enjoying the peace and quiet and open air. I blogged about the olive tree over a month ago and why, I spotted one right behind one of the school buildings, dabai fruits and all…

Dabai, unripe

…but they were still white  which would mean that they were not ripe yet, in which case they would turn all black…

Dabai

…so these were not ready for the picking just yet. We bought some recently and I gathered that they came from Sarikei, selling at RM22.00 a kilo (RM18.00 only there). No, they do not come cheap, not anymore, that’s for sure, but it certainly takes a very long time for the fruits to ripen, like the rambutans at the back of my house. It has been some months now and finally, they have started to turn red…

My rambutans

…so it wouldn’t be long now before we would have some of the fruits to enjoy. Actually, I was kind of worried as for whatever reason that I do not know of, the green unripe fruits were dropping off the tree and carpetting the ground below it like nobody’s business, so much so that I was afraid there would not be any left in the end. Thankfully, it has turned out that my fears were unfounded.

Anyway, back to the vicinity of Melissa’s school and living quarters, I saw some durian trees…

Durian tree

…as well and lo and behold! They had fruits on them!

Durians

I’m not really crazy about durians but I do know that there are many people who love them so much. What I was thinking was they probably would be familiar with what the fruit looks like – outside and inside but they probably have never seen a durian tree before. These are the wild ones – the original, authentic durian trees that grow wild in the jungle and they are HUGE!!! I remember when I was young, I used to spend the night with my maternal grandma in the makeshift hut in her fruit garden across the river and nothing would please us more than the thuds we heard in the night – the ripe durians would be falling off the trees all night long and would be ready for collection the next morning to be sent to the market for sale. If I’m not mistaken, with the present day hybrids, the trees are not as big/tall.

Other than durians, I am sure there are people who enjoy those Chinese yam cakes, steamed or deep fried, or they love the yam in their bubur cacar or in some dishes like those cooked and served in claypots but they haven’t the slightest idea what the plant looks like…

Yam

Yes, it’s a tuber so you have to dig out the roots and use that part of the yam plants.

Incidentally, if you think that I’m kind of patronising and seem to have the idea that people do not seem to have an idea of pretty much of anything, you are right…especially the younger ones these days, those living in the big towns and cities, who would be quite happy, all engrossed in what they have on their ipads or smartphones and do not seem to have the interest or curiosity to want to know about things around them.

Many might have seen these…

RB

…dead and mounted in a glass or plastic case  for sale in the souvenir shops but have never seen one alive! For the uninitiated, that’s a rhinoceros beetle…and personally, I myself have not seen anything like this before…

Insect
*Photo taken using the camera on my ancient mobile phone*

…and I’m not too sure what insect that was either but it looked so amazingly nice that I just had to stop to admire and marvel at God’s spellbinding creations…and take a photograph of it.

Frankly, I find it very pleasantly relaxing and interesting in its own ways, living in the country…away from it all. What about you?

I’m so angry…

If you may recall, in this post the other day, I mentioned that I sent something to somebody but despite their claim that it is dijamin sampai hari esok (guaranteed to arrive the next day), it did not!!!

I’ve been using the services of our so-called national courier for a long, long time and so far, I have been QUITE happy with it. The things that I sent were delivered promptly most of the time and even though it may be quite expensive, I would still resort to this “fast and efficient” means to send anything. Why? I even blogged about it here and all this while, you have seen some of the things sent by my friends here, there and everywhere via them…but unfortunately, this time around, the bubble has burst!

I have sent stuff to KL and Selangor, to Penang, Sungai Petani in Kedah, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu…to name the few that I can remember but I have never sent anything to Seremban, Negeri Sembilan before. This was the first time and this too was the first time that something went wrong. I posted my parcel, consignment number EF053367732MY on Monday at their office here in Sibu…

POSLAJU 1

30-Sep-2013 15:28:16 Consignment posted over the counter PPL SIBU…and I expected it to arrive the next day, Tuesday. Unfortunately, it did not…
01-Oct-2013 18:25:14 Unable to deliver the item due to
Missed delivery – Item will be deliver next working day PPL SEREMBAN

So, I sent a message to them via their Facebook page and they replied very quickly, saying, “Any inconvenience caused is regretted. Thank you for the feedback!” Yes, the two sentences were in that order in their reply, I wonder why, and it did sound a bit odd to put it that way, don’t you think? Like they were simply brushing me off, who the hell cares…sorry, goodbye!!! But never mind! At least, they did reply and I waited and waited to see if it would arrive on Wednesday, 2nd October, 2013…
02-Oct-2013 09:51:13 Courier is attempting delivery PPL SEREMBAN

My friend even called their office and they just said, “Tak sempat hantar!” Good grief!!! Do they have so much mail to deliver? Is Seremban soooo big? But anyway, we just waited…and waited…and waited…and the thing never arrived. By evening, this had appeared on their TRACK & TRACE page:
02-Oct-2013 17:18:38 Unable to deliver the item due to
Missed delivery – Item will be deliver next working day PPL SEREMBAN

I was so angry! Like I said earlier, it was not cheap to use their services, I tell you and what I paid that day…

POSLAJU 2

…was at least double the worth of the things inside, if not triple.

I sent them this message via their Facebook page:

I refer to my earlier message regarding my consignment EF053367732MY sent from your Sibu office on Monday 30 September 2013.
30-Sep-2013 15:28:16 Consignment posted over the counter PPL SIBU

Despite your caption: DIJAMIN SAMPAI HARI ESOK, it did not arrive the following day, Tuesday, 1 October, 2013 for the reason given below:
01-Oct-2013 18:25:14 Unable to deliver the item due to
Missed delivery – Item will be deliver next working day PPL SEREMBAN

Today, 2nd October 2013, it appeared that an attempt was made since early in the morning to deliver the said consignment:
02-Oct-2013 09:51:13 Courier is attempting delivery PPL SEREMBAN
and I am MOST disappointed that it has yet to be delivered:
02-Oct-2013 17:18:38 Unable to deliver the item due to
Missed delivery – Item will be deliver next working day PPL SEREMBAN

The addressee called the Seremban office and was duly informed, “Tak sempat hantar!”

I have been using POSLAJU for many years now and have sent items to various states in the country and this is the FIRST time I have sent something to Seremban, Negeri Sembilan and something like this has happened. There is obviously a problem with your irresponsible and errant employee(s) there and I am sure you will agree that this calls for immediate action to ensure yourselves indeed worthy to be called the “national courier”.

Malaysia BOLEH. Thank you.

…and this time, I even forwarded a copy to the official Pos Malaysia email address.

The following day, I did get a reply on their Facebook page:
We are apologize to hear of your experience. Kindly email your feedback to care@pos.com.my or you may call Pos Careline at 1-300-300-300 for further assist. (Oh my English!!!)
…which I had already done but nothing was heard from their customer service in response to that email…so I told them that and this was their reply:
If you already sent an email, please wait as you need to bear with the response time for HQ to investigate the issue first ya. Apologize for any inconvenience caused. (And again, oh my English!!!)
…and in the meantime, the cycle continued…
EF053367732MY – 03 Oct 2013 09:14:05 Courier is attempting delivery PPL SEREMBAN
…and at a little over 1500 hours that afternoon, I got word from my friend that she had FINALLY received it.
03-Oct-2013 14:50:31 Consignment successfully delivered PPL SEREMBAN
Tsk! Tsk!

Lay peang arrived
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

Of course, being the courteous guy that I am, I felt I should acknowledge that and besides, I simply had to have the last word so I sent them a message on their Facebook page:
Kindly be informed that the consignment has FINALLY been received at around 1500 hours today – FOUR days from the day sent!!! That has got to be a record!!! Still, despite the sloppy & most disappointing service, I’d would like to say thank you very much. It’s about time you all pull up your socks and do something to improve. Cheers!
…and they replied in that same horrendous command of the English language:
Official : PosLaju National Courier
Thank you for the feedback, we will try to improve our service to ensure that the issue not occur in the future. Apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Well, I certainly hope so…I most certainly hope so!!!

Anyway, the harm has been done, I’m afraid…and I would think it is about time that I try using the services of those private courier service agencies. Anybody knows of any that is good and reliable?

Bye-bye, POSLAJU! It was good while it lasted!