When I wake up…

This was the 3rd time I stayed at this hotel – the first was in 2005 on our way home from Auckland, New Zealand and I stayed there last year when I went over to meet my daughter when she was coming home for the summer holidays (2010/2011) and here I was…back again!

Via their page on Facebook, I requested for a room in a terminal (that’s what they call each block of chalet-like rooms) close to the main building where the hotel lobby is and they did! My room…

Concorde KLIA king

…was the 2nd one in the block on the left and straight ahead would be the hotel lobby – very near, very nice and convenient…

ConcordeKLIA Nov 2011

The first time I stayed there, we were given a room in the terminal furthest away and with a whole lot of luggage, it was quite a walk…or at least, for me, it was.

I also asked for a room with very cold air-conditioning. Because the terminals are all one-storey blocks, it can get pretty hot on scorching afternoons…and I guess they saw to that as well and thus, I was able to enjoy a nice and comfortable two-night stay there.

Actually, I was supposed to stay for one night only – meeting my daughter the following morning and flying home that same day but I had some problems with the dates and was forced to change our flight bookings back to Sibu – if you remember what I had shared in this post. I decided not to change my date of going and since I had no plans to do anything in KL, I decided to just stay here since it is so convenient…and besides, the taxi fare to KL return would be MORE than enough to pay for one night at this hotel – government rate, of course. Other than that, I thought I needed a break – just laze around and do nothing…and rest and relax a bit before going back to my daily routine at home.

You get complimentary breakfast for two at this hotel and one good thing is that they start at 5.30. Most hotels would start an hour later and some even at 7 – those guests catching the early flights would have to skip breakfast and leave because of that…but not at this hotel.

I went for breakfast when I woke up the first morning I was there and I was quite surprised that there were actually a lot of people staying at the hotel…

Breakfast at Concorde KLIA

…despite its somewhat isolated or remote location.

Breakfast was the usual fare than one would expect at any hotel and to start off. I had this…

ConcordeKLIA breakffast 1

I simply must have that sliced beef bacon – something I would not be able to eat often as we do not get that here or even if we do, it will be very expensive. I did not like the chicken sausages though – they might as well use those frozen ones from Ayamas which I personally feel are much nicer.

Then I had a second helping and this was what I decided to try…

ConcordeKLIA breakfast 2

Everything was fine except that when they say “vegetable pao/bun”, they actually mean bean paste or tao sar pao and their scrambled egg is like what I get at most other places/hotels – a miserably messed-up omelette. Perhaps I should put up a post on how to get them to be very nice, soft and creamy – the way that I would like my eggs. Slurpssss!!!!! LOL!!! Don’t let your imagination run wild now! Tsk! Tsk!

For one thing, service here is excellent. I just went to get my second helping and when I got back to my table, they had cleared everything…including my cup of coffee which I had not even drunk yet.

The following morning, I had this for breakfast…

ConcordeKLIA breakfast 3

Yes, yes… I just had to have some more sliced beef bacon before I left. The fried kway teow and nasi lemak were good but nothing to shout about; as for the quiche lorraine, it was so very nice that I wished I had not taken the other things and had helped myself to half a dozen of those instead. I certainly loved it…a lot!

I also had the porridge…

ConcordeKLIA breakfast 4

– they had a lot of condiments to go with it but not the usual stuff that I would like to go with porridge, things like century eggs, fried dace with salted black beans, fried salted vegetables and so on.

Well, my daughter arrived at around 7.10 on the morning of the 26th and after meeting her upon arrival, we came back to the hotel for her to have a rest after her long flight from Auckland. We checked out before noon…

At ConcordeKLIA lobby

…and took the free shuttle from the hotel to KLIA for our flight back to Sibu via Kuching.

The first night…

Ivan came over after he had finished work and later, took me out for a really delightful dinner at this place called Dengkil – if I’m not mistaken, he stays in the vicinity.

He ordered this kway teow dish that is called Moon River…

Moon River

I had this a long time ago at this place in Sibu and I loved it a lot though I am a little bit wary with the raw egg.

Ivan was very anxious for me to try all the nice things at this place and he ordered the fried pan mien, pork fat crusts and all as well…

Fried pan mee

This was very nice too! Loved it! Gosh!!! Two noodle dishes at one go – I was wondering how we would manage to eat anything else after those but we did!

To my surprise, they had fried paku there…

Fried paku

No, my NZ friend…it was not heavily-laden with belacan (Annie-Q would love this! LOL!!!), not like the midin (wild fern) you had in Sibu. I liked  it a lot though.

And omigawd!!! This was heavenly!!!

Pork with mantao 1

Stewed/braised pork with lightly-fried mantao (steamed buns)! This is different from the ones we have in Sibu. I wouldn’t say which one is better as each has its own taste and one is as heavenly yummy as the other. The sauce in this one seemed a bit like char siew but not exactly – whatever it was, I really loved it.

Pork with mantao 2

I don’t know how much it cost as Ivan insisted on treating…but he did hint that it was in the region of RM30-40.00, inclusive of free-flow of Chinese tea. That sounds pretty reasonable.

Then after dinner, Ivan took me on a night tour of Putrajaya…

Putrajaya by night 1

It is such a beautiful place but it makes me sad that there are so very few people around enjoying a leisurely stroll, the nice night air and the beautiful sights in the vicinity…

Putrajaya by night 2

…but in a way, it probably wouldn’t be as nice had it been so crowded and busy like at the KL city centre.

Putrajaya by night 3

So after a nice relaxing walk around, we went back to the hotel pretty early by KL standards (and knowing me, you would probably know that I don’t usually stay out very late anyway) – but Ivan had to leave for work very early the next morning…

Slight change of plans…

Ivan was supposed to be flying back from Phnom Penh, arriving at the LCCT around the same time when I would land…so it would be just nice for him to give me a lift to the airport hotel where I would be staying. Unfortunately, he was given an unscheduled flight duty – to fly to Singapore and back that same day and he would only be available after four. That called for a slight change of plans and I managed to get a friend of mine to drop by instead and after checking in at the hotel, we went for lunch at the restaurant.

I saw the advertisement promoting their current Penang Food Fair so I was looking forward to having that but again, it did not turn out as planned. We looked at the buffet spread and was not too keen on having that – I think we can get better and more selections at some nasi kandar shops…and for the Penang char kway teow or mamak mee, one would need to place an order for it to be fried. Somehow the idea of having to go through all that did not seem too appealing. In the end, we decided to order a la carte instead…

@ Melting Pot Concorde KLIA

We had the so-called fresh young coconut…

MeltingPot young coconut

…which was not really young and I did not bother to scoop out the hard flesh to eat.

I had the fish and chips…

MeltingPot fish and chips

…which was very nice. I prefer the fish fillet coated with bread crumbs like this instead of the conventional batter so it  was done just the way I like it.

Unfortunately, my friend’s choice from the menu was quite disappointing…

MeltingPot pasta with rendang sauce

This was their pasta with rendang sauce. Gosh…I would expect rendang to be of a darker shade than this and the gravy was so watery – I thought it would be thick and rich.

So after the brief lunch, I went to my room to settle in and wait for Ivan to drop by when he returned later that evening.

I feel fine…

Well, there was no delay – the flight was on schedule…so one thumbs up for the airline…

Air Asia

…despite all the moaning and groaning, the cursing and swearing that I saw on Facebook prior to my departure to Kuala Lumpur that day.

I was attracted by the sight of the mist cascading down from the air-conditioning vents as the aircraft was taking off…

Air Asia cabin view

,,,which, somehow or other, reminded me of some kind of rock concert. LOL!!!

We flew over the majestic Rejang River…

Air Asia over the Rejang River

…en route to the nation’s capital, less than two hours away by air.

Perhaps it was due to my poor internet connection that day but I was quite positive that I had “bought” a seat nearer to the front, switching from the original designated seat…

Air Asia - 18F

…and I did not notice that I was still stuck at 18F until just before boarding. I, for one, would not block a window seat as I had knocked my head on the panel above in aeroplanes more than once as I was getting up and besides, when sitting in the aisle seat, I would be able to enjoy the extra space. But it was no big deal really as it was only a two-hour flight and I was in no hurry to go anywhere anyway.

However, it did not help one bit that on the day in question, my fellow-passengers in Seats D and E, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, were much bigger than me in no small measure. The baboons squeezed in and bulldozed me to the wall and there I was, pathetically pinned down against the window. The sweet and nice flight stewardess must have noticed my plight so she suggested that they could move to some empty seats at the back in the almost-full flight…but the gorillas simply refused to budge. So there I was – caught in the most awkward position…and as if that was not bad enough, one of the sumo wrestlers dozed off to sleep and started snoring. Thankfully, it was not like one of those bellowing fog horn or a constipating cow kind of snore – it was something like Darth Vader’s heavy breathing…and no, it did not turn me on – it didn’t! Muahahahahaha!!!!

When food was served, I got what I wanted…

Air Asia pre-booked meal

That costs RM12.00 online…and I understand that you would enjoy a 15% discount if you book your meal online. You will not get that little bit of water free plus you will need to pay RM13.00 instead if you buy the same thing on board during the flight. Another advantage if you book online is that you can get what you want – if you buy on board, you may find that they have run out of most things and you will not get much of a choice. By the way, for the uninitiated, they call the cutlery a “spork”, being a combination of a spoon and a fork.

The nasi bryani was good…

Air Asia nasi bryani

– a bit heavy on the spices but I love Indian food and I love the fragrance of the spices so, it was all right by me.

The aircraft landed at the much dreaded LCCT…but I had not been at the terminal for a while and I was happy to note that there are now a lot more eateries – including Passage Thru’ India…but the crowd moving here, there and everywhere or sitting on the floor…and everything else are still there – very much the same as before.

All in all, I had no cause for complaint – I felt everything was generally fine by me…

One or the other…

I did not have any internet connection until the end of 2006, I think when, for my birthday (or Christmas), my missus and daughter registered with a service provider and got me this external modem…

Huawei external modem

It was the cheapest package – RM68.00 a month but it was good enough for me and I was able to do everything that I wanted.

Then, my daughter, who was in Sungai Petani at the time, complained about how poor and unreliable the wireless broadband connection in her teacher training institute was so I went and registered with the same provider so that she could have internet connection of her own as and when it pleased her. I took up the RM98.00 package for her so as to be sure that she would not have any problem with the connection and this modem came with it…

Vodafone external modem

At the end of 2009, before she went over to New Zealand, we decided to terminate one of the accounts and we decided that the cheaper one that I was using would be the one to go – we were thinking that when subsequently, she would have to go back to Sungai Petani for her final year, she would be able to use this one again.

Unfortunately, the modem decided to call it a day so I moved the SIM card to the old modem and thus, I was able to go on enjoying the connection.

However, if you may recall from this post, I had a problem with the connection and in frustration, I took up another package of my own and this time, I got this modem…

Celcom external modem

The following week, I went to settle the problem with my daughter’s connection – I got a new SIM card – they replaced the old faulty one with a new one free of charge and I went and bought this new modem which cost RM128.00…

ZTE external modem

I am keeping my daughter’s account alive so that when she comes home today, she can have instant internet connection and she can bring this modem with her to Sungai Petani when the new semester starts in 2012. At least, it is not so bulky – being small and handy and she would not have to go through the hassle of bringing along and connecting the wire all the time.

The connection has not been very good lately (unlike when I first started going online via this provider – probably there were very few subscribers then) – as a matter of fact, lately, I’ve been paying for 3G broadband connection but most of the time, I am online using EDGE or GPRS – their mobile phone line. One good thing that has come out of this is the fact that I have become a very very patient man.

Then, the other night, there was completely no connection whatsoever – using their own CELCOM external modem…but I was still able to go online using the ZTE’s modem but only with their GPRS connection. So, I called their customer care service to find out what the problem was.

I pressed 1 for ENGLISH and did all the other steps exactly as I was told. After a few minutes listening to all kinds of adverts and promos, a girl’s voice came on the line. I explained to her the problem and then she asked me to hang on. So it was back to the adverts and promos – the same ones over and over again and after what seemed like an eternity (I was considering whether I should hang up and call again), the girl came back…and told me that there was a service schedule (I think she meant scheduled servicing)…and everything would be fine again by 12 noon the following day.

I asked her whether we would be given a rebate for the lost time – seeing that they would be taking so long and why the customers were not informed via sms – we would get a lot of those asking us to buy extra bandwidth and a whole lot of such things…and she could not explain to me why I could go online using my daughter’s line and modem…and not my own – with their own CELCOM’s modem. The girl was struggling with the language and barely managed to give some vague and evasive answers all the while and eventually she switched code and spoke to me in Malay…

That was the last straw! I scolded her for not being proficient in English and I had pressed 1 for English. If I had wanted to  speak in Malay, I would have pressed another number…and I was so tempted to say, “You ingat you ini jual nasi lemak ke apa?” but I was civil enough to refrain from doing so having been forewarned that the conversation would be recorded and to be fair, my nasi lemak lady can speak fluent English! So I just went on ranting to my heart’s content, “You cannot speak proper English and you want to work for an internet company? Bla…bla…bla…”

The next day, I found out that it was NOT a scheduled maintenance thing – there was something wrong with their fibre optic that day and thus all connections were interrupted and they were in the process of repairing it. That girl could have told me that…but perhaps, she was too handicapped by her limited command of English to enable her to do so.

Now connection is back to NORMAL and mind you, that does not, in any way, mean that it is good…if you get what I mean. Sigh!!!

We do it like this…

I have had a number of posts already featuring our local kampung (village)-style of cooking this soupy dish that we called sayur rebus. Literally, it simply means boiled vegetables and these are the basic ingredients – some belacan (dried prawn paste), a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and chillies.

Sayur rebus - ingredients

You dump all those in some water and bring it to boil and then you let it simmer for as long as you can to let the flavour of the belacan and the ikan bilis seep into the water so that you will have the most delicious stock for your soup.

The list of combinations that you can put in is endless – you may want to throw in some paku (jungle fern) and young/baby corn…or some cangkuk manis and sweet potatoes or pumpkin or perhaps, you would like some d’rian mentak or unripe durian…

D'rian mentak

I had some not too long ago that an uncle of mine in Kuching sent to me to cook for my mum as she was asking for it and there was none available around here. I followed my uncle’s way of cooking it which I thought was very nice but my mum did not really like it that way. She prefers it simple – the way we would usually cook sayur rebus.

Then the other day, I got some more from a cousin of mine. Her hubby has a kebun (garden, a fruit garden to be more precise) in his kampung and his durian trees are bearing fruits but since there isn’t anybody standing guard, by the time the fruits ripen, the people in the vicinity would “help themselves” and they themselves would not get to enjoy any. So he decided to pluck some and cook since most of us love to eat it this way.

To cook the d’rian mentak, you will have to split it open to remove the seeds…

D'rain mentak - seed removed

…before throwing the flesh into the sayur rebus stock that you have prepared. Once cook, the durian would have turned soft…

Rebus d'rian mentak 1

…and because the belacan and ikan bilis are already salty and there is the sweetness of the durian, there is no need to add salt or msg unless you so desire…

Rebus d'rian mentak 2

If you love belacan and you enjoy this kind of simple but exotic ethnic style of cooking, you will love it…a lot, this much I can assure you.

Cabbages and kings…

I cooked some cabbage once when I had some friends at my house for lunch and they were amazed at how I had cut the vegetable – into very thin strips.

STP's fried cabbage 1

Well, I’ve been eating cabbage like that all my life – my mother would cut and cook it that way. It was only after they had mentioned it that I realised that they would have it cut into big pieces to cook at those economical fast food places. The Malay food stall at Bandong that I frequent quite regularly would have cabbage every day but I would never buy – it does not look like I would like it very much…and I had cabbage as one of the sides with my terrayaki chicken at this place and I gave it the thumbs down.

Normally, I would just fry it with garlic and egg (and perhaps, some chillies as well) but the other day, I decided to add some ikan bilis (dried anchovies)…

STP's fried cabbage - ingredients

Actually, you may use prawns as well…or lap cheong (Chinese sausage)…or even bak kua (barbecued meat) cut into thin strips as well.

Of course, the cabbage must be cut into very fine thin strips…

Cabbage cut into thin strips

…the same way you would cut it if you are making coleslaw.

Rinse the cut cabbage in water and drain just before throwing it into the wok – that’s all the water you will need. Most people will add some more to cook the vegetable but it may end up overcooked and way too soft and not to my liking.

So, to cook the dish, heat a bit of oil in the wok, throw in the ikan bilis and stir till it has turned a bit brown before you add the garlic. Keep stirring till they have turned into a nice golden brown colour before you add the chillies and the cut cabbage. Push aside a bit in the wok and break an egg into it…and mix thoroughly. Add salt and msg according to taste and dish out everything and serve…

STP's fried cabbage 2

This has to be done in a jiffy so that the cabbage would still be nice and crunchy.

I prefer it this way and it’s the same when it comes to frying tau geh (bean sprouts). How on earth could they cook them till they’re limp and translucent…and still eat it, I wonder! Shudders!!!