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Master Jack…

Gosh!!! You would be as old as the hills, like me, if you know this song…

…which was quite a hit during my time and received its fair share of airplay in those long gone days but no, we do not have a Jack here…just a Tan…

Master Tan 1

There used to be another makan (eating) shop here and I, for the dear life of me, simply cannot remember what my friend asked me to go and try and anyway, I guess I can’t do that anymore as they’ve closed shop and somebody has taken over.

I think they’ve renovated the place and spruced it up a bit…

Master Tan 2

…so it sure looks much nicer now than before.

I suppose anyone can jolly well guess what their specialty is simply by looking at the cartoon on the shop sign and the banner and that was what we all had when we dropped by the place to check it out last Sunday morning. Melissa had their original beef soup noodles (RM5.90)…

Beef soup noodles

…while my missus had their beef offal soup noodles (RM7.50)…

Beef offal noodles

Unfortunately, we thought the soup was rather mild and did not have the nice and strong beef taste that we would have loved very much in the broth. We could detect a hint of daun ketumbar (coriander leaves) in the soup and we’re not all that fond of it. Here, we would usually have daun sup (Chinese celery) instead…unlike in Kuching where you may find those leaves in most everything there. So if you’re not crazy about those as well, make sure you tell them not to add any when you place your order. Come to think of it, I wonder where they get theirs from as I do not think anybody sells it at our wet markets in town.

I ordered their fried noodles with beef (RM7.50)…

Fried noodles with beef

…and that was exactly what I got – fried noodles that came across something like fried Maggi (instant noodles) with a few pieces of beef and a complimentary bowl of beef soup. Ok…ok…I know some of you are waiting anxiously for me to say it so here goes: I do think that I can fry something much nicer at home. LOL!!! It was a tad too oily for my liking but with the chili dip that came with it, I would say that it was quite good. However, for that kind of money and those pieces of beef that I could count with my fingers on one hand, I don’t think I would be going back there to have this again.

I may want to drop by to try some of the other things they have on their menu though, just that we would not be ordering these that we have already tried. It seems that they have quite a wide selection to choose from including these…

Master Tan menu

…and I wonder if their soup power…

Soup Power

…is the same as the celebrated ones that they are selling at the Malay stalls at the hawker centres in town.

It does not seem to make much of a difference but yes, it will be a little bit cheaper if you drop by during their happy hour [SIC]…

Happy hour

…from 12 noon to 3.00 p.m.

Well, if you happen to do that and find anything that is really nice and worth trying, do let me know so I can head back there for the same. In the meantime, I’d probably go and look for something that’s cheaper…and most likely, nicer too, elsewhere.

Aloha Oe…

If you are as old as I am, you would probably know this song from the movie “Blue Hawaii”, starring the late King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley but when I was younger, this song was more popular than the rest from the original movie soundtrack. These days, however, my favourite would be this one…

…which I still sing time and again at karaoke sessions and it’s a great song for weddings, I would say – very appropriate.

Well, for reasons known only to the proprietors, they decided to call their shop by this name…

Aloha Corner 1

…and I think I would be quite right to say that it is one of the most popular coffee shops in town – always crowded all the time and very difficult to get a table despite the fact that parking can be a real pain where it is located…

Aloha Corner 2

The main attractions here, I guess, would be the Sarawak laksa and the Sibu-style egg-wrapped fried kway teow but when my missus and I dropped by for lunch the other day, she had the kampua noodles (RM2.70)…

Aloha kampua mee

…and it was pretty good. I could detect the fragrance of the lard used in the tossing of the noodles the moment it was served.

Actually, I wanted to go there for the sole purpose of giving their ayam penyet a try…

Aloha ayam penyet 1

I had had people telling me that the one here was much nicer than the one I had here, not as dry and so on and so forth.

Let’s start with the rice. For one thing, it was not wrapped in banana leaf so it did not have that squeezed texture similar to what one would find in nasi impit or ketupat and of course, it did not have the nice banana leaf fragrance either. It wasn’t plain white rice though – in fact, it was their nasi lemak. Unfortunately, there was so very little “lemak-ness” that one could barely detect the presence of its very very slight hint of it…and  that was why I thought they might as well not bother as one would hardly be able to tell the difference.

I don’t know if this is the sambal

Aloha ayam penyet sambal

…that you would get if you order their nasi lemak but if it is, then I would say that it is not all that great. I’ve had nasi lemak sambal at many places elsewhere that is a whole lot nicer than this.

The complimentary soup was very good though – chicken and definitely not the usual plain water with salt and msg added that you would get at many Chinese shops and food stalls.

As for the chicken, it was HUGE – one whole thigh…

Aloha ayam penyet - chicken

…but to me, it was just fried chicken…with traces of the oil used in the frying though not all that much. I could not see how it was any different as it was neither flattened not clobbered, and thus, not penyet. The only consolation was the fact that it was a bigger piece that the other place that I would frequent…plus it was cheaper by 50 sen.

All things considered, I wouldn’t think I would bother dropping by here for this again. In fact, I do feel that even the one that we had here would be much nicer…

It’s not easy being green…

This is my favourite brand, and I am pretty sure it is the favourite of many too, when it comes to instant mee goreng (fried noodles). I haven’t had any for quite a while now – usually, I would just eat whatever my missus buys and leaves lying around the house or I would cook something else for breakfast.

However, when I dropped by the shop round the corner from my house the other day, I saw that they have come out with this new flavour – green chili…

Indomie green chili flavour 1

…and at RM3.80 for a pack of five, I thought that was all right, less than 80 sen a packet…unlike some of the instant noodles that I see on the shelves at the shops these days.

I bought a pack and the other morning, I cooked one packet to try…

Indomie green chili flavour

There was a packet of bumbu (seasoning) inside, a bit of sweet dark soy sauce and some green-coloured oil. I checked the ingredients and these are the contents – refined palm oil, green chili, onion, spices and permitted colouring – chlorophyllin. That last one, alongside the green chili used, probably explains the colour.

I was too lazy to dig into the freezer or the fridge to see if there was anything that could go with it so I just fried an egg…

Fried egg

…the way my mum used to do it – in a wok, with the crispy golden frills all round. Like what she used to do as well, I splashed the hot oil over the yolk to cook it so it would not so orange and raw-looking and of course, I made sure not to overcook it…unlike what I would get at those makan stalls at the shops here, there and everywhere.

After boiling the noodles to soften, I tossed them with all the ingredients provided and served…

Indomie & fried egg

- with the fried egg by the side.

Yes, it was very nice. I liked it a lot – very slightly spicy with a hint of that green (chili) taste, almost like the original but not exactly. It did not look as green as in the photograph on the pack or the packet though. Ah well!!! I guess it is not easy to be green…

Have a delightful weekend, everybody…and happy holidays, kids!!!

More than anything……

It’s my blog’s 6th anniversary today. Yes, it has been six years since my first post on the 7th of March, 2008.

Dining in the dark
*Still eating after all these years…*

Many came and many went – I don’t think any who used to drop by and comment are still doing that these days anymore. If you care to look at the people who commented on that inaugural post, all the unfamiliar names that you will see would bear testament to that. Some were bloggers then though I don’t know if any of them are still doing that but some do keep in touch like the ones who would take the trouble to come and visit me during Chinese New Year, for instance…

Ex-blogger friends
*Archive photo*

I certainly am thankful and appreciate that very much even though I am not too sure whether they still drop by my blog anymore to see what I’ve been up to lately. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t…but it doesn’t really matter as it doesn’t change the fact that through my blog (and theirs) at one point in time, we became friends and have remained so to this very day.

Indeed, what I am most grateful for, after all these years of blogging, is the priceless friendships that I have made with all the wonderful people that otherwise, I would never have got to know. That alone is enough to keep me blogging and I certainly look forward to make lots and lots more friends in the years to come. As we would write in our autograph books in our younger days…
Make new friends, keep the old
One is silver, the other is gold
.

Six years. Six years of warmth, love and affection from you, you and you. Who could ask for more?

I have nothing, nothing at all, to give in return other than my friendship and all that you will get to see each passing day in this simple blog of mine which, I hope,will serve as a permanent record of everything especially all the happiness, all the joy that we have shared and will share over the years, precious times, precious moments to be cherished forever.

Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.

The last farewell…

It has been a week now since that fateful morning when, at the break of dawn, I received the devastating news of the tragic accident that took the life of one loved so dearly.

His father called me that afternoon and in between sobs, he thanked me and my family for our love and for always taking good care of his son. I told him that I would be at the funeral but he insisted that I should not go as it would be troublesome but nonetheless, there was no question about it. I just had to go. I just had to be there to bid him one last farewell…

It was held at the St Theresa’s Church…

F1

…in his hometown, Serian…

F2

It was a sad sad day for all – those who were not able to be present and all that thronged the parish hall that morning to say goodbye…

F3

He looked very good – like he was sleeping peacefully but the fact remained that we had lost someone so close to our hearts, leaving behind an emptiness that would be impossible to fill ever again.

F4

The school band, of which he was the teacher-in-charge, was there…

F5

…and when they played Amazing Grace, there was not a dry eye in the hall…

F6

…as everyone, even his students, wept uncontrollably. He passed away on Sunday and I heard that all day Monday, his students were lining up at the staff room in his school to leave flowers and messages on his table – they must have loved him so much too…just like me and my family and all his friends.

I flew to Kuching and got a ride to Serian for his funeral but I was not the only one who came from afar. Mohan, who was formerly his colleague in Bintulu and a very close friend, came all the way from Ipoh…and I met someone from Sungai Petani who said that she flew from Penang to KL to Kuching and made her way to the little town. There were many others from all over Sarawak as well and I felt very thankful to those who stopped by to say a few comforting words to me, those who knew us and how we were such great friends – I certainly appreciated that.

It has been a week now – the tears have yet to run dry, the hurt and the pain still remain…and deep in my heart, I know, for sure, that the memory of you, Jimmy, and all the happy moments we shared would live on and on forever in our hearts.

It has been a week now and to this day, I still ask WHY…why, Jimmy, why?

FOOTNOTE:
There will be a special Requiem Mass for Jimmy tomorrow, Monday, the 24th Of February, 2014 at 5.30 p.m. at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kuching. Those friends and loved ones in the city, do try to show up and pray for the repose of his soul, may he rest in peace.
Thanks.

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.

4 real…

Are they for real? Those reality shows? Sometimes I feel like they’re all fixed and the one that they want to win will win in the end. I’m no fan of those shows, actually, not those challenging ones that would tire me just from watching them…nor those that have got to do with cooking or dancing but I do keep in touch with the singing ones and more often than not, I would end up getting angry and frustrated over the outcome.

Of all those contestants this year, my favourite was this one…

…but I guess no young girls would vote for a 55-year-old grandma with 3 children and 7 grandchildren so it did not take very long before she was shown the door and after her untimely exit, I had lost interest in the show and was not too impressed by the rest that were still around. The fact that the eventual winners sang one of my current favourite songs did not change my mind, not at all. They did all right but I would think these two (unknowns) did a much better cover of that Great Big World with Christina Aguilera song…

Across the Atlantic, I was glad Sam Bailey won…

…not just because she sang another favourite song of mine and so very well too but I was rooting for her right from the start even though I was doubtful all along that she would win as she was definitely no spring chicken. Ah well, as they say, every dog has its day and a not-all-that-young rocker won in the Philippines – though I don’t think I would place him on my Top 3 for 2013.

Another one that I was hoping would win was this one…

…not because she was of Asian descent but I honestly thought she was the best of the lot even though I did not think she was as good as many of the others like this girl who did not win, for instance and I sure was happy this cute 18-year-old with a stutter (when speaking) won as well…

…as he certainly was really very good.

I was glad too that after so many years, finally the winner here…

…was one that I liked though, if I remember correctly, there were others that I liked better but they were booted out unceremoniously or perhaps those were in the previous years, I’m not too sure now.

I don’t watch these shows on tv as by the time we get to watch it here, it would be later in the day, at the earliest, or after many days or even weeks. Instead, I would keep updated via some websites and within minutes, the video clips would be available on youtube already. The wonders of technology indeed!!!

New Year’s Day…

It’s New Year’s Day, the 1st of January, 2014.

We have said goodbye to the old year and as we welcome the new one, here’s a special wish for you…

New Year's wish

…and for me! Cheers!!!

All around, I’ve been hearing moans and groans as to how terrible this coming year is going to be and chances are those same people were singing the exact same tune this time last year. Some things, it seems, will never change. On my part, however, I would rather cross the bridges when I come to them. After all, why should we spoil our mood? If it is going to happen, it will happen…and if it isn’t, at least, we would not have ruined the joy of this festive season not only for ourselves but for everyone else over nothing.

Haven’t we gone through the best of times and the worst of times? I do not know about the rest of you but I choose to be optimistic and believe that if I put my trust in God, I can weather through any storm that may blow my way and to Him, I pray…

Serenity Prayer

…and hopefully, all of you will join me too in wishing one another a Blessed and very Happy New Year, 2014. May God bless us all, everyone…

…Even heavy days have something to reveal
And the wounds remind us of the One who heals

When your heart has frozen over by a lifetime of regret
When the scars you wear have hardened into stone
May the spirit of the season come and melt the ice again
Thaw the coldest winter heart and call it home
And if we lose sight of all that we could be
May we stumble to the One who makes us see

So I say, God bless us
God bless us, God bless us
Everyone, everyone…

Reason for the season…

The shepherds are led by a star in the sky
On the outskirts of town, a new baby cries
No room at the inn, no crib to be found
Oh…but look at him now

Nativity

He is the reason for the season
He is the light that shines on our lives
The baby Jesus born in God’s grace
So we all might rejoice on this day
He is the reason for the season

It is a time for presents…

From Andrew 1
*From my ex-student, Andrew 1*

From Andrew 2
*From my ex-student, Andrew 2*

…and toys, tales of Saint Nick
Tidings of joy…

From QP & SK
*From Quay Po and [SK]*

From Elin
*From Elin*

From George Willie, KK
*From my cousin, Georgie, in KK*

As we celebrate the miracle birth
Oh right here on this earth

He’s the reason for the giving…

From the kucings...
*From smallkucing & family*

The joy that’s never ending…

From Annie
*From Annie-Q*

From Angeline
*From Angeline*

From Jimmy 1
*From Jimmy 1*

That comes on Christmas morning in the eyes of a child
It’s what it means to me and you
That’s the true meaning of this time…

From Jimmy 2
*From Jimmy 2*

…of this time

A Blessed and Holy Christmas to one and all, thank you for all the festive greetings & good wishes, the cards and the presents, love, peace and joy be upon us all on this day and throughout the coming year!

Beautiful people…

I guess everyone knows by now that Miss Philippines was crowned Miss World 2013 at the recent competition held in Indonesia – the first time ever for a representative from that country (even though two others had won the Miss Universe pageant before) and the first ASEAN beauty queen to bring home the coveted title.

I love the Philippines, the beautiful and friendly people…and I love how talented these musically-inclined people are and that was why I was following every round in the Voice Philippines 2013 that had just ended. Here in this video clip, you can see the winner, Mitoy Yunting,  singing with his mentor, Lea Salonga and Vice Ganda at the grand finale last Saturday night…

He was the favourite all the way, though not necessarily mine, so it came as no surprise when he emerged the winner. Some of you would know Lea from her Broadway hit, “Miss Saigon” and Vice is a popular transvestite entertainer from the Philippines.

What we call the Philippine pork leg…

PPL

…or the crispy pata is a very popular dish here but I can’t say I remember much of what I ate there. It has always been the music that appeals to me most of all and it has always been a joy to watch the singers at the music entertainment joints in cities all over the country like this guy who has been around performing in our country for a very very long time…

I saw him once in Kuching and again, in KL at the Holiday Villa Subang…and he was really funny and a joy to watch.

I was there a long time ago when my missus and I went to the Philippines on our honeymoon…

PJ
*The jeepneys of the Philippines*

…and I really enjoyed the bands at the hotel where we were staying in Manila like this one that was really very good with their renditions of songs like Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration”, ABBA’s “On and on and on” and the very beautiful duet by Billy Preston & Syreeta, “Love” that I heard for the very first time there and fell in love with instantly…

Manila band

…and of course, there was music too when we went to Baguio…

Baguio band

We stayed at the Hyatt Terraces Plaza there but it was completely destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1990 so I’m not sure whether there is a hotel there now or not.

I can’t say I can remember much of the places we visited at the time when the country was under the infamous Marcos rule but I do recall how virtually everything was accredited to his wife, Imelda…

Imelda Park

…and we did go on a boat ride through the rapids to some waterfalls while in Baguio…

Baguio rapids & waterfalls

I have always wanted to go back and visit that country again but after the People’s Power Revolution in 1986, there followed a time of political turmoil and instability and I was not sure whether it was all that safe at the time. I guess now it is perfectly all right to visit the country again and I am sure it is very different from what it was like so many years ago but I don’t know if I ever will…