Send me the pillow that you dream on…

In my younger days, we only had the cone-shaped changs (dumplings) but I did hear at the time, that the Cantonese had big ones that looked like pillows. Lately, these are available here too and I have had a few before this. Somebody was saying the other day that it seems the other dialects also have changs in this shape e.g. the Hakkas.

Well, it was the Duanwu Jie or the Chang Festival aka the Dragon Boat Festival last Thursday, but we did not bother to have anything fancy for the occasion. After all, my daughter would not be home for the holidays till the following day – Friday. So, in keeping with the tradition of the festival,  I went out and bought two pillow changs – one for myself and one for my missus…

Pillow chang 1

They were RM5.00 each but they were huge – 2 or 3 times bigger than the normal changs and there were a lot of things inside…

Pillow chang 2

…meat, slices of lap cheong (Chinese sausage), peanuts, yam, shitake, chestnuts and so on…

Pillow chang 3

It was very delicious and there was so much of it that my missus could not finish the whole thing.

My daughter came back the next day, so I cooked the giant prawns from Kpenyu for her, the same way I cooked them the last time – baked with garlic, butter and milk sauce…

STP's baked cheese & butter prawns 1

Those of you who have not seen my earlier post would probably be unaware as to how huge those prawns actually were…

STP's baked cheese & butter prwans 2

They were so big that my daughter was already full after eating…just one!

STP's cheese & butter prawns

These were the XL-sized ones – 4 or 5 in one ice pack. I still have some more in the freezer – L-sized ones, smaller but 10 in one pack. I think I will cook those before my daughter goes back to that God-forsaken place once her holidays come to an end in three weeks’ time. Perhaps I should try a different recipe – tom yam or curry. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Incidentally, I was caught in this massive traffic jam on my way to the airport that morning to pick my daughter. There was some kind of Road Safety Awareness Campaign going on and guess what I saw in the local English daily the following day…

Three-on-one

Good grief! Were they blind or what? There were THREE on the motorcycle…and they just nonchalantly and routinely gave out the free gifts and did not even notice that a traffic offence had been commited. Such recalcitrant offenders should be nabbed on the spot!!! I really wonder why they bothered to hold such campaigns – all for the sake of doing something, a mere formality, when something like this was happening right under their very noses! A sheer total waste of time and money, I must say! Tsk!! Tsk!!!

Crash! Boom! Bang!…

Towards the end of last year, around October or November, my friend in Bintulu bought a new car – one of those popular Japanese brands, not our own Malaysian-made ones. The other day, I had the shock of my life when he sent me some photographs via mms…

Going round the bendBroken wheel

He said he had just come from around the bend along that road, so he was not driving very fast…and suddenly, his tyre “patah” (broke). I did not know what he meant by that, so I asked him whether his axle broke but he did not reply.

The car 1

He just said that his car turned two times. Again, I was puzzled as to what exactly he was trying to tell me – whether it spun round and round or whether it rolled over…

The car 2

…but judging from the photographs, it probably somersaulted with him inside…

The car 3

…and luckily, he managed to escape unscathed. Since the accident, he has not had a car to use. It seems that the vehicle has to undergo some major repairs. I asked him why he did not demand for a brand new car since this one was still under warranty and told him that he should sue them if they refused. He just sent me a sad-faced smiley!

Well, with all the festivities in the next few days, remember NOT to drink and drive and do be careful when you are on the road! Drive safely!

It’s a holi-holiday…

It’s going to be a long weekend here in East Malaysia with the Pesta Kaamatan in Sabah on the 31st of May and the Gawai Dayak Festival in Sarawak on the 1st of June, so all of you West Malaysians can eat your hearts out! Tuesday, the 2nd of June, is also a public holiday…so if they are not getting an extended leave, they would only be back at work by Wednesday.

Here, I would like to wish Selamat Hari Kaamatan to my blogger-friends in Kota Kinabalu – Melbie and Mandy, and also to Mammamia and Phil and all the others in the Land below the Wind who are celebrating this festival…

Gawai greeting 1

…and to all my Dayak friends and relatives – Cibol, Mar and Fred (Ewek 83), Colin, Chris Anakapai, Buwau98 (Are you celebrating? Not too sure!), Sumuk, Aaron, Guztyne, Louis aka LJ, Gundot and wtf, Lindy, TOC and their families, 

Selamat Hari Gawai
Gaya guru gerai nyamai
Lantang senang nguan menoa

Gawai greeting 2

For the uninitiated, that is the way to wish them in the Iban language a Happy Gawai Festival, long life and good health and prosperity.

I hope I have not left anyone out. If I have, I assure you that it is purely unintentional. My apologies and the greetings of the season are hereby extended to you too. To the rest, happy holidays…and don’t drink and drive! 

The birds and the bees…

Somebody sent me this via email and I thought I would just share it with everybody. Ummm…truth be told, I’ve run out of things to post so I’m using this as a filler! Hehehehehe!!!

Well, I bet all of you know Phua Chu Kang and his nephew, Aloysius – that’s Chu Beng & Margaret’s son. In the dialogue below, Chu Kang was trying to teach the little boy about sex…

Aloy: Why is sex so enjoyable?

PCK: Aiyah, ah boy, enjolable becaws same like when you dig your nose with your finger mah.

Aloy: Do you think women enjoy sex more than men?

PCK: Of course woman lah! When you dig dig your nose, you think what? Your nose feel better than your finger, right?

Aloy: Why do women hate it when they get raped?

PCK: Aiyah! Say you walk along the load, den someone come over and dig your nose, you like it or not? Ehhh? Don’t pray pray ah!

Aloy: Why is it a woman cannot have sex when she is having her menses?

PCK: Oy! If your nose bleeding, you still go and dig meh? Siow ah! Use your blain, use your blainnn….

Aloy: Why is it most men don’t like wearing condoms when they are making love?

PCK: Ehhhh, when you dig your nose ah, you like to dig with a glove on your finger or not? Not the same shiok feeling mah! Colect or not?

Aloy: Why is making love carried out in private?

PCK: Ah boyyyy!! Use you blain! You go and dig your nose in front of your whole class, iz it? Stupid lah!

Aloy: Wah! Uncle Chu Kang, you are very good.

PCK: Aiyah…best in Singapore, JB and some say Batam!!!

And I think it was Gundot who emailed me these photos sometime ago. Well, she said that it was the apple that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden…

Eve's apple 1

Eve's apple 2

What do you all think? You believe her or not? LOL!!!

In the shadows…

Over in West Malaysia, people sing in praise of the Penang char kway teow or fried flat rice noodles and maybe the kway teow therng (flat rice noodles in clear soup) as well.

Here in Sarawak, however, it seems that the kway teow is always lurking in the shadows. When one talks about Kuching, immediately the kolo mee or the Kuching/Sarawak laksa comes to mind and in Sibu, it has to be the kampua noodles or the dianpianngu. Sadly, most of the time, little is said or heard about the kway teow dishes here which are, more often than not, sidelined in favour of the better-known delicacies.

Personally, I would go for the wet Foochow fried noodles (with sauce/gravy) anytime I feel like having something fried. However, at most of the stalls in the coffee shops as well as in the restaurants in Sibu, one can order the fried kway teow – Foochow style…

Fried kway teow - Foochow style

I may opt for this occasionally especially when I feel like having something different for a change like the other day, when I sent my car to the car wash and I hopped over to this Ah Ping Cafe in the vicinity of the Sibu Civic Centre (Dewan Suarah) for a bite to eat while waiting.

Together with one glass of kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee), it came up to RM2.90 which makes it cheaper than what I had at the Y2K Restaurant in the town. This cost RM3.00 for the fried kway teow alone…

Y2K fried kway teow - Foochow style

…and if you asked me, I would say that it was not as good despite it being a bit more expensive. The only saving grace was the fact that the restaurant was air-conditioned.

We do have fried kway teow – the dry version as well but without all the prawns and the clams that one usually finds in Penang fried kway teow and needless to say, it is not as nice…

Fried kway teow - Foochow style (dry)

…but one should not expect too much considering that it is only RM2.oo something per plate. However, there are some who love the Ah Tor char kway teow which was once available at the Kok Cheng coffee shop opposite the Cathay Cinema (now the Star Cineplex). In my younger days, there was this man named Ah Tor who would fry the kway teow and serve it sort of wrapped in egg like this…

Fried kway teow - Ah Tor style

…and up till today, there are people who like it this way. I am not sure whether the stall has moved back to the original coffee shop as I heard that at one time, they all moved to the one next to the Sibu Public Library. Some claim that the lady at one of the coffee shops in Sungai Merah is related to this Ah Tor and there are others who prefer the kway teow fried this way at the coffee shop behind the Sibu Kidney Foundation premises.

We also have tomato kway teow in Sibu…

Sibu tomato kway teow

…but I think the ones in Kuching are much nicer.

Whatever it is, we actually have a lot more to offer here in Sibu than just kampua mee, dianmianngu and kompia, believe you me…

This one’s for you…

Well, this one’s for you

Free tote bag 1

FREE…but only if you pay for it! Sounds like I’m contradicting myself, right?

Well, I was trying to keep a flu at bay, so I went searching for some fruit juices at the neighbourhood mini supermarket. They were selling this particular brand of fruit juices, pre-packed two by two, together with a tote bag that was supposed to come as the free gift, at RM11.70 each.

Fruit juices

However, I noticed that they were selling the individual packs at only RM5.30, so two of them would be RM10.60 only. That means that I actually paid RM1.10 for that tote bag! This certainly gives a brand new meaning to the word “free”!

There had been occasions also when I bought something and was supposed to get a free gift with it but they kept very quiet about it. By the time I realised it when I got home, I was too lazy to go back to the shop to claim the gift. Eventually, you may find them selling those “free” gifts for a ringgit or two just to make those few extra bucks. These business people really! 

I also hate it at the bigger supermarkets where they make you go to a special counter to join the long queue just to claim one miserable free gift!

Then, there was this one time when I bought quite a lot of things at a stationery store here. The sign said that I would get this free tote bag for purchases RM50 and above…

Free tote bag 2

I spent over RM100 at the shop that day, and they packed them all in plastic bags, including the free gift. When I got into the car, I checked and discovered that they had given me one tote bag only.

I promptly went back to the shop to claim the other bag but they told me that for purchases over RM50.00, I would be entitled to ONE bag only. I argued that I bought over RM100.00 and therefore, should get two but they were adamant in their stand. Then I said I could split the items into two and pay separately – each over RM50.00 and then I could get two bags. They nonchalantly told me that it was too late as I had already paid and the payment had been entered into the cash register. Tsk! Tsk! Now, who says that the customer is always right?

And I am not going to start on that misleading “Buy one, get one free” thingy, otherwise this will be one helluva long post!!! Tsk! Tsk!

What’s another year (2)…

My! My! How time flies…and in just a blink of an eye, another year has passed. This coming Thursday – the 5th Day of the 5th Month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Chinese community will be celebrating Duanwu Jie or the Dragon Boat Festival. If you do not know the history or background behind this festival, you can always go and google it up yourself as I am not going to delve into that.

In conjunction with this festival, everyone will be making and eating chang or those triangular-shaped rice dumplings. Here in Sibu, we can only buy the Hokkien chang which is darker and contains pork belly and maybe, shitake mushroom as well, cooked in soy sauce. My mother-in-law used to make this kind of chang but it does not look like she will be making any this year. Anyway, there isn’t much of a problem getting these and my favourite would be the ones sold at the Kim Tak Mini Supermarket just round the corner from my house at only RM1.80 each…

Hokkien bak chang 1

These are darker in colour than the nyonya chang that I will feature later in the post…

Hokkien bak chang 2

…and being made for sale commercially, do not expect too much meat inside. In fact, it seems that they use minced meat these days instead of the usual pork belly slices that one could find in the past…

Hokkien bak chang 3

…and even that, they only give you a little bit. Well, what can we expect – considering that the prices of everything have been going up?

You can buy bigger ones with a salted egg yolk inside at RM3.00 each which are also quite nice, and these days, they also have the pillow chang which I think, comes from the Cantonese community but some other dialects also claim it to be theirs. These are quite big and sold at RM5.00 each. To me, it is something like the dimsum delicacy – Lo Mai Kai wrapped in lotus leaves.

Pillow chang 1

Pillow chang 2

We can’t buy my favourite – the nyonya chang here in Sibu, only in Kuching. They usually wrap these using pandan (screwpine) leaves instead of the traditional bamboo leaves and inside, there is minced meat with shitake mushrooms fried with soy sauce and pounded ketumbar (coriander seeds, a kind of spice) which gives it that unique flavour that I particularly love. I was told that if you use pandan leaves, the chang may go bad quite fast, so my friend and ex-colleague, Richard, would put a piece of bamboo leaf inside and wrap the whole thing up using pandan leaves for its additional fragrance.

I remember this time last year, I was lamenting in my post over the fact that I would not be able to enjoy any of these nyonya changs when out of the blue, Richard posted a comment in the post saying that he would be sending some over to my house. Praise the Lord, my prayers were answered! LOL!!!

Needless to say, I was so delighted when I received a message from him on my wall in Facebook the other day, saying that he had not forgotten me this year and would be delivering some to my doorstep and that was exactly what he did yesterday evening…

Richard's nyonya chang 1

I don’t know how many there were exactly but I think there were no less than half a dozen or more. I did not count as I just could not wait to sample one of them despite the fact that I had just had my dinner before he arrived. As you can see, they are whiter than the Hokkien ones…

Richard's nyonya chang 2

…and being homemade for own consumption, he was more generous with the meat filling. It seems that he is not using pandan leaves this year, being harder and more difficult to wrap, but I gather that alternatively, he puts some in the water when boiling the dumplings instead.

Richard's nyonya chang 3

Just one bite into it and I felt like I was being transported out of this world! If anyone had told me at that point in time that Heaven was a place on earth, I would have just quietly nodded in agreement. It simply took my breath away and left me quite speechless…

Thanks so much, Richard, for the dumplings and thanks a zillion for remembering me again this year. For those in the know, he is the nephew of a family friend whom we would respectfully call Ah Hiok Ee (Auntie Ah Hiok) in her presence if we knew what was good for us. LOL!!! She was renowned for her cooking and baking, and it certainly looks like this nephew of hers has inherited her culinary skills from her.

Perhaps around this time next year, Richard, you can start taking orders? I would want at least 20…or 30, if you can manage that many! Hahahahaha!!!

You’re no good (2)…

I bought these otak-otak udang (prawn cake) from my regular Bandong stall the other day…

Bandong's otak-otak udang 1

They looked pretty good on the outside, so I bought 4 – 2 for my missus and 2 for myself, at RM3.00 each – totalling RM12.00. But unfortunately, they were not nice at all…

Bandong otak-otak udang 2

I did not like the taste. I wonder what ingredients they used as it tasted sort of peculiar. Normally, it should be fragrant with the use of kunyit (tumeric) and the leaves. Even the texture was all wrong. It felt as if there were grains of rice in it whereas I would expect it to be smooth and firm – something like the texture of fish cakes or fish balls.

I guess it is the same with people. Some may look very nice externally but you do not know what lies within. In the words of Shakepeare, “the false face hides what the false heart doth know.” Like these lines from this Carole King song go, “…people can be so cold. They hurt you, and they desert you, they’ll take your soul if you let them…”

But then of course, there are people who may not look very pleasant or may not be so pleasant to look at, but they actually have hearts of gold and there are yet others who are just as nice as they appear to be…like this char siew pork that I bought the other day from the Master Bakery Cafe where I used to buy those nice butter pastries…

Master Bakery Cafe char siew 1

There is a restaurant at the back alongside the bakery and I had been wanting to buy the irresistable-looking phak lor (braised five-spice) pork that had got me drooling each time I walked past the shop but I never did. Finally, that day I decided that it was time to do just that, so I went there only to find that they had done it differently – with char siew sauce. I went ahead and bought two slabs of the pork anyway, for RM14.00 altogether…  

Magic Bakery Cafe char siew pork 2

Not only did it look nice but it was very delicious too – tender and juicy (not dry as in the case of some char siew or barbecued pork from other places) but there was so much my missus and I could not possibly finish, so we had to save one slab for another day.

Well, compared to the otak-otak, it was just RM2.00 more and a lot tastier and satisfying in comparison and there was simply too much for two persons in one sitting. Don’t you wish sometimes that people are just like that – what you see is what you get – as nice as they look and much more? What do you think?

King of the road…

Last Sunday, I had to take the 8.50 a.m. MAS flight direct from KLIA to Sibu. That happens to be the ONLY direct flight daily from the national capital and in order that I could get to the airport on time, I had to leave the hotel in the city centre by around 6.30 a.m. It used to be earlier but I still think it is too early, preferably around 10.00 a.m. or later.

I could not have any breakfast, so I decided to stop by Burger King in the departure area for a bite to eat…

Burger King

This was the Double Cheese Swiss Mushroom burger, and if you turn it over, this is what you see…

Burger King 2

If I take them literally and can have it my way, I would eat and leave without paying. LOL!!! Inside, there were two beef patties with two slices of cheddar cheese and a topping of somewhat discoloured/dark button mushrooms…

Burger King 3

I cannot remember how much that was but if you opt for the value meal with fries and a drink, it would be RM11.90. I reckon it is cheaper elsewhere considering that things are sold at jacked-up prices at Malaysian airports but for that amount of money, 3 persons can go for kampua noodles and kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) breakfast here in Sibu and still have change.

If anybody needs to go on such early flights, I feel that a cheaper option for breakfast would be to buy packet/canned drinks – Milo, coffee or tea (unless he/she is staying in one of those hotels that have complimentary coffee/tea-making facility) and some buns, biscuits or cup noodles…instead of eating at the airport and getting fleeced.

They are encouraging people to travel (locally) but at such astronomical prices of food at the airports plus the current not-too-encouraging economic situation, I would much sooner stay at home. What about you?

P.S.:
This wasn’t in the original post and just in case anybody’s wondering, I just discovered how to post a video clip – the easy way…unlike what somebody taught me long ago that was way too complicated for my old brain! Now who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hehehehehehe!!!

Somewhere out there…

Teachers’ Day, May the 16th, came and went unceremoniously, I’m afraid. I did get a few smses from a few teacher-friends and as I was caught up in all the action over the weekend, I just gave them a short “Same to you” reply. However, I do not recall getting any from any of my ex-students which I must say was kind of disappointing. It brought to mind the lines of this Peter Allen song:

Baby saw that
when they pulled that big top down
they left behind her dreams among the litter
And the different kind of love
she thought she’d found
There was nothing left
but sawdust and some glitter
But baby can’t be broken ‘cos you see
she had the finest teacher.
that was me – I told ‘er

Don’t cry out loud
Just keep it inside
And learn how to hide your feelings
Fly high and proud
And if you should fall,
remember you almost have it all

Well,  it certainly felt like there was nothing left of the love we’d thought we’d found – just some sawdust and some glitter…but I didn’t cry out loud as I have learnt how to hide my feelings and I do remember how I almost had it all.

Then, just when I thought that all hope was gone, one of them sent me a message saying that he had some cakes that he had got for me from Secret Recipe in Miri – the marble cheesecake…

Secret Recipe marble cheesecake

…and some Swiss Liquor Chocolate that he had brought back from Labuan…

Swiss liquor chocolate

It was not so much the gifts but the fact that at least somewhere out there, somebody still remembered…but I was in KL at the time.

When I came back, he wanted to send the stuff over to my house but I suggested going out for lunch, nothing fancy – just this plate of Taiwan sui ciao (meat dumplings)…

Taiwan sui ciao

…and this chicken claypot rice for two… 

Chicken claypot rice

…but we had a great time, catching up with the latest developments in our lives. He has successfully secured a government overseas scholarship for outstanding students and will be leaving next month to do a degree in Education. Yes, he’s going to be a teacher…like me but of Chemistry.

I wish him nothing but the very best in his undertakings and in the years ahead. Good luck, Xavier, and thank you…

P.S.:

Happy Birthday, Gundot
The weather is so…hot
Let us go for steam…boat
Happy Birthday, Gundot

Hahahahahaha!!! At least it rhymes! Too bad I’m not in Kuching…