I’m here…

We flew via MasWings to Miri…

To Miri

…that day. It was by no means cheap – I had to fork out over RM400 per person, enough to fly to KL and lots of other places elsewhere and back! See how we are at the mercy of the airline that enjoys the monopoly here when it comes to inter-town travel in the state! We would have taken the bus (which would arrive at around 4.00 p.m.) had we known that my girl did not need to report between 2.30 to 4.30 p.m. as stated in her calling letter. Tsk! Tsk!

You will get this little packet of peanuts…

MasWings 1

…and a drink on the 55-minute flight and this is your in-flight entertainment…

MasWings 2

We arrived on schedule that day, praise the Lord! The airline is notorious for its delays and cancellations according to its whims and fancies.

Miri airport…

Miri airport

…has not changed one bit since the last time I was here many many years ago. Considering that it is now a city and there are international flights in and out of there, I would expect it to be a lot bigger and nicer than the one we have in Sibu.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, my Miri cousin’s wife met us upon arrival, together with my Bintulu cousin and her hubby, and in no time at all, we were somewhere in the vicinity of what is called Centrepoint there for something to eat.

My daughter had the roasted duck…

Roasted duck with rice

…with rice. I thought she should have something heavy as I wouldn’t know what the food would be like at the course venue. It all depends on the package – from past experiences, I know that if you do not pay “enough”, you can expect really terrible food…and it looked like that was exactly what happened and being in the middle of nowhere, there was no question of going out and eating on one’s own.

My missus had the mee mamak

Mee mamak

…while I had the mixed soup noodles (RM5.00)…

Mixed soup noodles

Mine looked a lot nicer in the menu but it did not matter as I found it to be very nice and I enjoyed it very much.

My Bintulu cousin had fried noodles too…

Fried noodles

…different from what my missus had, though they looked quite the same, but I cannot remember specifically now what it was that she had.

The hubby had their dianpianngu

Miri dianpianngu

…which certainly looked a lot nicer than the over-rated one in Sibu and he said it was good too.

My cousin-in-law had what I think was called hung ngang lung

Hung ngang lung

lung meaning egg…so it probably was the big bihun in egg drop and Foochow red wine soup. Wow!!! It was so red…with the red wine used.

I could not see the name of the shop as the sign was blocked by the awning that they had put up right beneath it but there was this young boy manning his stall by the side…

Yew char koi stall

…selling fritters and yeu tiaw/ yew char koi. We bought a few of the latter to try and it was really very good…unlike what I have had around here. It has been a long while since I had any nice ones in town, nothing like what I used to enjoy way back then in the good ol’ days.

There was a coffee shop opposite selling ethnic cuisine, Kelabit to be more precise. I did pop over to have a look but we were already full and we were not in the city long enough to go back and try. I hear they only open for lunch.

There you have it – our first food stop on our recent trip to Miri. Stick around – there’ll be a lot more to come!

Just looking…

I have a maternal cousin living in Miri and his missus met us at the airport upon arrival in the city and later she took us around sightseeing before sending my girl to the venue of the course she had to attend. Another maternal cousin and her hubby from Bintulu were in town too so they came along with us as well.

This is the view of another section of the city…

Miri city

…from the hotel where I was staying and that’s the first shopping  complex in Miri but I suppose it has long been overshadowed by all the new ones, all a whole lot bigger and very much more impressive.

First stop, Canada Hill…

Grand Old Lady

I vaguely remember going all the way up to see the Grand Old Lady, the first oil rig in Miri, once but that was so many years ago, probably somewhere in the 80’s. From the top, you can see the bird’s eye view of the city centre…

From Cananda Hill

Yes, it was a hot afternoon. I thought Kuching was hotter than Sibu but I found Miri to be even hotter than Kuching. They say that has got something to do with it being right by the sea.

We drove to Luak Bay and stopped by the beach there…

eLuak Bay beach

…and as it was so hot, we quickly snapped a few photographs and dashed right back into the car. Along the way, we saw some incredibly gigantic mansions – ummm…no, I don’t think they should be called mansions and for want of a better word, let’s just call them palaces. You’ll just have to see the grossly ostentatious display of opulence to believe.

Then, it was time to send my girl to the “golf and country club resort”…

G&CCR 1

…which was to be the venue of her course for the next few days…

G&CCR 2

It  certainly looks very nice, doesn’t it?

G&CCR 3

My cousin’s wife had to go and pick the son so she dropped us there to settle everything and she would come back later. We tried to register and check in but the hotel staff told us we had to go to the Mahogany Hall to do that, adding that it was very far from the resort’s lobby and she gave us a map to tell us the way. My Bintulu cousin quickly phoned my cousin’s wife and she had to make a u-turn to come to the rescue.

We got to the hall (which was mis-spelt as “Mahongany Hall” on the sign there) but there was not a living soul around. The participants were told  to report between 2.30-4.30 p,m, and it was well past 4 by then. The hall was ready, tea was ready…just that there wasn’t anybody around. In the past when I had to go for things like this, there would be the urusetia (secretariat) on standby to see to everything. Well, since there was tea and  there wasn’t anybody, we helped ourselves and waited. Eventually, some ladies appeared and they told us that they had checked in at the lobby where we were earlier and they were given their rooms…and no, there was no sign of anybody from the ministry, the organisers.

Luckily, my cousin’s wife had come back by then and we took her car back to where we started. My girl was given her room this time around and while she was going through the process, I saw the ministry people dressed up to the nines, overcoats and all…and also the facilitators. They had just arrived! Once my girl had got the key, we went to look for her place of stay in that sprawling resort…

Mel's chalet

Good grief! It certainly looked shabby inside and badly needed a lot of sprucing up and it was so very dim – I wonder how anyone could do any work in the chalet if they wished to do so. The air conditioner was not cold at all and while I was outside, I saw some of the outdoor units behind some of the other chalets. They were rusty and one was covered with some green moss-like coating. Good grief!!! I wonder when the last time was when they cleaned and serviced their air-conditioners. Actually, I saw their room promotion – only RM90++ for a standard double and I was thinking of staying there…but they were full. Thank God for small mercies!!!

While I was outside, I spotted the ministry people and the rest coming in the hotel coaster to look at the hall/function room. I asked one of them about the reporting and registration but she said there wouldn’t be any – the participants would just have  to show up that night at 8.30 p.m. for the first session. Now, that was not what they said in the calling letter. I was involved in a lot of such official things prior to my retirement and though at times, things might  not have been all that satisfactory, it was never as terribly messy as this. With the likes of these up there, no wonder everything is in such shambles these days.

I also heard that the food they were served was not good and one of the facilitators was overheard passing a remark that they would never want to come to Sarawak again…and I must say that I am not in the least surprised! Tsk! Tsk!

Nothing’s changed…

I can’t remember when the last time I visited Miri (Sarawak) was but the other day, I flew over,,,

MasWings

…for a brief stay there.

The flight was on schedule…

Landed

…and in no time at all, we were out of the airport and on our way.

I have stayed at many hotels in the city on my working trips before I retired for meetings, workshops, seminars or to conduct courses for teachers and give talks to students and this was one of them…

Dynasty Hotel, Miri

I managed to call them and book a superior twin room for RM170 nett with breakfast for two and checking in was a breeze. Why, they did not even ask me for my identification (other than my credit card that I gave to them for swiping upon checking in) – maybe, after all this time, they still have my personal details in their computer system. The lobby has remained unchanged…

Dynasty Hotel, Miri - lobby

…and is exactly the same as I remember it to be. They’ve changed the lifts though- nice, brand new ones, not that the ones they had before were old or anything…and they have refurbished their rooms too…

Dynasty Hotel superior twin

Of course, unlike those new hotels, the rooms here are very big and comfortable.

This was the view of a section of Miri city from the room window…

Miri city

…and I do recall that I enjoyed the food that they served at their cafe…

Cafe Rosita Dynasty Hotel, Miri

…where we had breakfast the following mornings…

Buffet breakfast

…during our stay there…

Egg station

On the first morning in Miri, I noticed that they had stewed eggs – braised chicken and stewed eggs,,,and I absolutely love my eggs done like that so I had two…

Breakfast round 1

…along with some of the other things they had on their breakfast buffet spread.

When I went for my second round, I saw that they had had sone refills – and in place of the fried kway teow, they had fried noodles instead so I had a bit of that to give it a try…

Breakfast round 2

…along with the rest.

Members of the staff were very friendly and helpful and you may request for free shuttle service to the main shopping malls in the evenings. Ah yes!!! There is something new here. You can get to enjoy free internet connection, absolutely free and it is very fast. I did not need to use my mobile wireless broadband modem that I had brought along, not at all.

All things considered, I do think this is a good place to consider staying should anybody decide to hop over anytime soon.

Don’t believe…

A Facebook friend of mine was raving about the pizzas at this place

Anson

…praising them to the skies and insisting that they were so much nicer than the ones here.

Well, we have been to this place many times already – and I would say that we liked some of the items on their menu, not all and we actually enjoyed the pizza that we had there once. They have some new flavours now so all this time, I was longing to hop over and try…and I finally did when we went there last Sunday for dinner.

For the starter, we had this salad (RM5.90)…

Anson Ceasar's Salad with breaded chicken

…with breaded chicken and it got the thumbs up all round – all of us liked it and thought that it was pretty good except that it came out very very fast and the bowl it came in was cold like it had been kept in the fridge for sometime. That made us wonder whether they had prepared part of it at least before hand ( to cope with the crowd there every night without fail)…and after adding the remaining ingredients and the finishing touches, it was ready to be served.

The smoked salmon pizza (RM19.90)…

Anson smoked salmon pizza

…wasn’t too bad but no, it definitely could not compare with the beautiful ones we have had at that Italian place in town, no way! The crust was a bit hard but thankfully, not as hard as the one we had here in Kuching and I thought it was kind of bland and quite tasteless – something like Osborne biscuits.

The teriyaki chicken pizza (RM15.90)…

Anson teriyaki chicken pizza

…that I’ve heard so much about was as good as it looked. No, no, I did not say that it did not taste good – just that with the chicken plus the seaweed, it did not taste like anything western. I should have realised that right from the start with a name like that and expected it to come across as something quite Asian, not Italian.

Well, the prices here are indeed unbelievable, there can be no denying that. Everything is so cheap and of course, if you intend to stop by here, do expect the place to be very very crowded. That is not much of a problem though for all the time I’ve been there, service has always been good, very prompt and orders would be served in no time at all. Those of you who haven’t the slightest idea where it is, the address is on the cashier’s receipt in the first photograph.

Now my Facebook friend has got over the pizzas here and are currently head over heels in love with the ones at a hotel in town. Well, I am not sure when but I probably would drop by to give theirs a try as well. Who knows I may agree with her on this one?

Just last week…

Gosh!!! Time does seem to fly. Just last week, we had the Easter weekend and before that, there was Good Friday, a day of fasting and abstinence though I’m exempted now – I am over 60. Nonetheless, I still tried to observe that as far as I could…and for the breaking of fast that night, Melissa cooked this baked smoked salmon pasta dish…

Melissa's smoked salmon pasta

…using the organic spaghetti that I got from my cousin in Brisbane

Organic spaghetti

…with bottled Ragu sauce, lots of cheese and everything else. It was really very nice…

Smoked salmon

…and all of us enjoyed it a lot.

On Easter morning, Sunday, after the morning service at a church here, we stopped by at this coffee shop in the town centre…

Aloha Corner

…for brunch.

Melissa had the fried pek koi or white rice cakes (RM3.50)…

Aloha fried pek koi

…which was not very nice as it was a bit too salty and kind of extra oily.

I had the highly-acclaimed Sarawak laksa special (RM7.00)…

Aloha Sarawak laksa special

…of which many have sung its praises. I thought it was good, very good but I would not say it got me jumping with delight and I wouldn’t be rushing back there for more, that’s for sure – not at that price…which is, in fact, enough for two bowls of kampua mee or fried noodles, Foochow-style and there will still be some change left over.

My missus had the old favourite, the Ah Tor fried kway teow (RM3.70, with extra egg)…

Ah Tor fried kway teow
*Archive photo*

…which is actually kway teow (flat rice noodles) fried with egg and with taugeh (bean sprouts) added, wrapped with egg a la Pattaya style. Like the dianpianngu, many would come from afar and head to this place just to eat this to appease their craving…but no, I am not really a fan and would much prefer my kway teow in other ways.

Well, though what we had was not really all that great, that was enough to tide us over till dinner which would be in the next post. Do come back for that, ok? See ya!!!!

I’m amazed…

Truly, I am so very amazed by the number of friends that I have made over the years through blogging, people from all walks of life here, there and everywhere, young and old. As it turned out, Azura is, in fact, the daughter of an old friend of mine from some 40 years ago. Isn’t that nice?

Well, over the weekend, another friend came to town for a 1-night/2-day visit. When I found out that Melissa was going to study in Wellington, I went all out to look for bloggers in New Zealand and make friends with them…and she was one of the few who responded. She is Malaysian, pursuing her post-graduate studies in Christchurch at the time but she has since come back and is currently based in Kuantan, Pahang, with her hubby. She’s no longer blogging though but like many of the rest, we still keep in touch via Facebook.

Of course, after all this time, I was delighted when she contacted me and told me she would be coming to town and hoped we get to meet for lunch – she and her hubby and me with Melissa and the mum. So there we were that day, the five of us getting acquainted in person finally, progressing from mere virtual contacts to being actual friends.

They had had our Sibu kampua noodles already earlier so I suggested that they could have the Foochow long life noodles served in chicken soup cooked with the traditional red wine (RM9.80)…

Noodle House Long Life noodles
*Archive photo*

…and they did, both of them…and they loved it, of course!

I also ordered the fried kompia, the ones stuffed with slices of pork belly (RM4.80)…

Noodle House kompia pork belly

…and the ones with minced meat (RM3.80)…

Noodle House kompia minced meat

– a must-try for anyone dropping by this little ol’ town.

Melissa had their sizzling chicken chop with creamy mushroom sauce (RM18.80)…

Noodle House chicken chop mushroom sauce

…that she had had more than once before and she loved it a lot those previous times when she had it but unfortunately, this time around, she found it a little too salty to her liking and it did not help one bit that the batter that they coated the chicken with was all soggy and not that palatable.

To go with it, she had the Mandarin lychee soda (RM6.90)…

Noodle House Mandarin lychee soda

…and it certainly looked much nicer than when my friend had it on one of my previous visits.

My missus had their kway chap special (RM7.90)…

Noodle House kway chap special
*Archive photo*

– something that she would always order everytime we drop by this place.

I loved their sizzling black pepper beef kampua but that day, I decided to try their daging masak hitam Sarawak instead (RM12.90)…

Sizzling daging masak hitam kampua

The noodles were perfectly done…

Noodle House kampua

…not overcooked and soggy and the beef was nice…

Daging masak hitam

…though I would say that I had had very much nicer masak hitam beef elsewhere in more places than one. I think I will try the beef rendang the next time I drop by there to see if it is any better.

Well, it certainly was nice meeting you, Ing Chia, and your hubby, Chee Seong – we had a great time chatting and getting to know the two of you better…

Friends from Pahang

…and thank you so much for the goodies that you had brought for me all the way from Pahang…

Goodies from Pahang

Do come again…and you really must stay longer next time.

Survival of the fittest…

My friend, who is currently working in the peninsula, stopped by in Sibu on his way home to Sarikei. He was a blogger a long time ago and I only met him once when he and a number of other bloggers, including peteformation, dropped by the hotel to see me when I was in KL and we all went for brunch together. Nope, all of them are no longer active – I am the sole survivor since that time in May, 2009. We still keep in touch via Facebook though and when he said he would be here in transit, I offered to pick him up upon arrival at the airport in Sibu and no prize for guessing where I took him

RTM Cafe kampua noodles

…for that special kampua welcome home!

Look at that gleam of delight on his face…

AT RTM Cafe

…just as he was about to dig into his much-longed-for bowl of kampua noodles! LOL!!!

I decided to try their fried hung ngang – the bigger version of the bihun (rice vermicelli)…

RTM Cafe friend hung ngang

– without meat so as you can see in the photo, they added those tiny shrimps and egg instead. It was nice but I think it would be nicer if I had that with belacan (dried prawn paste) like the noodles I had there not too long ago.

It sure was nice seeing an old friend again after all this time – we certainly had a lot of catching up to do and after that brief brunch stop, I dropped him off at the Sibu Bus Terminal to catch his bus back to Sarikei.

And talking about survivors, we have all kinds of things growing in our garden, some planted by my missus and some simply sprouted by themselves. We do water them quite regularly and once in a while, we would do a bit of weeding…and despite the state of neglect, many have managed to survive. One of them would be this potted plant of leaves with a sharp spiky end…

Seed or fruit

It flowers sometimes – not very nice flowers, white with some thin long petals but pure and white as snow…

Flower

The other day, however, I spotted this…for the first time ever! Now, was it a seed or a fruit? I wouldn’t know but it looked like a miniature peach. Somebody was saying that occasions when something like this would appear would be very very rare and insisted that it was an indication of a forthcoming windfall…but unfortunately, to date, that is all it is – forthcoming! Sobssss!!!!

Anyway, back to my friend, thanks for stopping by and do come again. Perhaps the next time around, you can stay a little longer so that I would be able to take you around to enjoy the best that this little town has to offer. Cheers!

Coconut…

When I went with my friend, Philip, from the US to Sarikei to eat the prawn noodles there…

Sarikei Glory Cafe's prawn noodles
*Archive photo*

…I saw a banner promoting the coconut pudding at that particular shop…

Coconut pudding at Sarikei Glory Cafe
*Archive photo*

It was only after I had left that somebody asked me if I had that and said that they made it themselves and it was very nice. Well, I wouldn’t know when I would be heading back there so I would not know either whether I would ever get to try theirs.

However, we do have our own here now (RM8.00)…

Coconut pudding 1

…from a local farm that produces goat’s milk, if I’m not mistaken. These are sold at selected coffee shops all over town and I am pretty sure I saw their base among the shops (next to a bakery, Joy, I think the name is) opposite/across the road from the POSLAJU office before the turning into Sg Merah.

I happened to drop by one of those coffee shops round the corner not far from my house so I grabbed hold of one to see what it was all about. I opened it and peered inside…

Coconut pudding 2

…and I would not say it got me all excited.

I scooped a bit out…

Coconut pudding 3

…and tried. It turned out to be something with the coconut flesh and the coconut juice/water used to make some kind of jelly to hold it all together…

Coconut pudding 4

I’m not really a fan of young coconut nor am I a fan of the drink even though I hear that it has a lot of health benefits so I would not say that it was love at first gulp.

I am pretty sure that this would be a lot nicer…

Sangkaya ice cream 1

This is some kind of coconut ice cream, so I’ve been told…and they’ve outlets/stalls all over parts of KL and the surrounding areas. I think there is one at Jalan Alor in the Bukit Bintang vicinity.

Sangkaya ice cream 2

Well, there can be no denying that it sure looks really good, right?

I don’t know if any of you have tried it or not but if you have, do share your feedback. Come, tell everybody whether it is as nice as it seems.

Thin line…

This has been out for quite a while now, the fettuccine-like mee pok version of the Sibu instant kampua (RM6.90, 40 sen more than the usual)…

Sibu instant kampua, mee pok 1

…from the original maker or the pioneer, the one who first started making this stuff for sale and to be sent here, there and everywhere. Mee means noodles and pok means thin as in paper thin…

Sibu instant kampua, mee pok 2

Recently, I went and got myself a pack to give it a try and for the uninitiated, to cook this, you need to bring a pot of water to boil and put the noodles in…

Step 1

Loosen the strands and let it boil for around 3 minutes…

Step 2

After that, you drain away the water…

Step 3

At this stage, you can toss the noodles with the ingredients and eat already but usually, I would go a little bit further. I would put them in cold water and rinse well to remove any excess starch so that the noodles would not be sticky and clump together.

Step 4

Then I drained away the water and poured in some boiling water and put the pot back on the fire to heat the noodles up a bit. I am sure it isn’t all that nice to eat them cold. Lastly, I drained away the water and tossed the noodles with the ingredients provided in little sachets – one of the lard plus onion oil and the other, the light soy sauce.

Finally, garnish with thinly-sliced boiled pork and fried shallots and chopped spring onions and serve…or perhaps, you may want to have it with roast pork belly instead…

Sibu instant kampua mee pok with pork belly

…or slices of roast chicken…

Sibu instant kampua mee pok with roast chicken

…or whatever. It’s all up to you.

It may look kind of plain but those of you who have tried this Sibu Foochow delight and have fallen in love with it…

Kampua lover
*Photo from www.smallkucing.com*

…will attest to the fact that the beauty of it is while eating, you can savour the fragrance of the lard and the fried shallots in it plus the flavours of the shallots added and the spring onions…and the added taste of whatever meat or any other condiment that you may be having with the noodles.

Incidentally, it seems that many have jumped on the bandwagon and have come out with their own versions of the instant kampua noodles. This one…

Imposter
*Friend’s photo on Facebook – sorry for the blurry pic*

…is selling at the Sibu Central Market at RM7.50 a pack and I was told that they are also selling the original there at this same price too. Gee!!! That’s easy money – just order and collect…and sell at a profit of RM1.00 per pack. I also heard that there are others selling at around RM6.00 or RM6.50 as well. Of course, I have not tried any of them…but if anyone of you has done that and finds any that is nicer, do let me know. I’d go and grab some right away. Thanks.

Whiter than white…

An ex-colleague told me that I should drop by here…

Uncle Teh Corner

…to try their pek koi (white cake). He thinks it is the best around but I would have to ask for the or koi (black cake) so that it would come out black, fried with dark soy sauce. In case anyone’s wondering, this coffee shop is right beside the Nissan showroom on the other side of the Sibu Bus Terminal commercial centre, a bit to the left of this place.

Well, it so happened that I was in the vicinity that morning to collect my orders for the instant Sibu kampua so I decided to drop by here and give it a try. Unfortunately, I neglected to tell them I would like it black so it came out like this…

Char pek koi

– white!

If any of you have not come across this in my earlier posts on the dish here or here, for instance, this is pek koi

Pek koi

…or white rice cakes. The dried pieces are sold, packed in plastic bags, at most grocery stores and supermarkets. In the past, the made-in-China ones would be so hard that you would need to soak it overnight to soften before you could fry them and eat. I hear that there are some these days, I don’t know if they are made in China or some place else, whereby you would not need to do that. It makes no difference to me really as I am not really a fan and you would not catch me buying any and cooking my own.

There are places around here that fry them black like char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) and there are others that cook them this way – with the canned clams in soy sauce and egg.

Char pek koi - ingredients

If I’m not mistaken, the one here had a little bit of thinly-sliced leek in it as well.

This was RM3.80 a plate, probably an increase of 30 sen from RM3.50 before…and I would say that it was nice and something one might consider having sometimes for a change but seeing that a plate of kampua noodles is RM2.70 or 2.80, a ringgit less, and many would agree that they’re a lot nicer, I guess occasions when I would go for this again would be few and far between.