That’s a good idea…

My blogger-friend, contact.ewew, in responding to my comments on her post about curry puffs, suggested that I could just go out and buy those frozen ones at the supermarket and bake them…which I did! In her exact words, she said, “…if you don’t like it fried, you can always buy the frozen ones and bake them at home.

I got hold of this brand…

Frozen curry puffs 1

…at RM6.50 for 10, 65 sen each…

Frozen curry puffs 2

…and I liked that “spicy/pedas” bit in particular. I saw three varieties – beef and potatoes, chicken and potatoes and sardine and of course, I chose the beef.

I looked at the instructions at the back but no, they did not say anything about baking, just defrost for 5 minutes and then deep-fry. Never mind! I just thawed them a bit and brushed the top with egg and placed them in a baking tray…

Ready to bake

After heating up the oven, I put them in for around 30 minutes and left them in the oven for another 15 to bake a little longer in the residual heat.

They came out, looking pretty all right…

Baked

…but it wasn’t puff pastry so there weren’t those layers that one may find in some curry puffs.

Unfortunately, some of them leaked…

Leaking

…so a bit of the filling came out. Other than that, everything turned out fine.

The fragrance filled the whole house while they were baking in the oven and I was pretty sure then that it would taste really great…and yes, they did! I loved the taste of the filling…

Filling

…which was, as indicated, spicy…but the pastry was very thin and reminded me of those fortune cookies but of course, it was not that hard plus the taste was different.

I would not say they were cheap though as they were very small and though I liked the filling more, I prefer the pastry…

Farley curry puff
*Archive photo*

…of the ones here that I do enjoy very much. These would be about the size of two of the frozen ones so at even at the current price of RM1.20, I would say they would be a better buy and I would not need to go through the trouble of baking them myself.

Ah well, at least I have tried and I did enjoy them somewhat. Here, wanna have some?…

Curry puffs

A few days later…

After our delightful lunch at one of the hawker stalls here, we went back there again a few days later as I wanted to pick up a few things at the supermarket opposite…and we decided to drop by there for a bite to eat.

I saw the girl at Stall No. 10 that I was chatting with on our previous visit, busy frying her cucur (fritters)…

Girl at Stall No. 10

…so I ordered RM1 to try…

Very nice cucur

– for that amount of money, you will get 6 of them and yes, they were very very nice and went absolutely well with the dip which, I thought, had a hint of rojak sauce. She did say that they were selling cucur bubuk too but there wasn’t any hint of the dried shrimps in these so I guess they must be the plain vegetable ones.

No, we did not go back to the stall with the African guy but stopped by this one instead…

Simpang Tiga food stall

My missus wanted the kampua noodles but I urged her to try the ayam penyet rice as the sambal in the photograph looked really nice and she agreed to my suggestion. Unfortunately, despite it being almost 11, the lady said the ayam penyet was not ready so my missus had to go back to her original choice – the lard-free halal kampua noodles (RM4.00)…

Simpang Tiga kampua

It was good, not bad at all but RM4.00 is really too expensive when I could get something that is a whole lot nicer here for only RM3.00.

I ordered the nasi lemak special…

Nasi lemak special

…for myself and asked for the sambal kerang (cockles) for which I had to pay a ringgit extra so in total, that cost me RM6.00.

I should have gone for the sambal sotong (squid) instead of the sambal kerang

Sambal kerang

…as they used the canned ones and I think there were around 3 inside only and I was kind of disappointed that it was not spicy at all, not even a little bit. The rice was very nice, not hard and dry like some and quite lemak (rich with santan/coconut milk). The small miserable-looking piece of chicken was nice too and I loved that salted fish that they gave with those few peanuts, in lieu of the ikan bilis. All in all, I would say it was not too bad but I would much sooner fork out another RM1 to go for this one…

Colourful Cafe nasi lemak
*Archive photo*

…that I had at this pork-free place here with the double-the-amount very spicy and so very nice sambal and the generous serving of the masak hitam beef plus the peanuts and ikan bilis and everything else in that one much much bigger and a lot more satisfying plate.

Ah well, as they say, we would not know unless we tried…and yes, I’ve tried and now I know better!

Driving along…

I was driving back from my girl’s school when a car flashed its headlights at me. Oh? Somebody that I know, I thought. I am hopeless at cars and numbers so if you pass by me on the road, I would not know it is you…so my apologies for not acknowledging your presence. Then, another car did the same thing – blink…blink! Oh? So many people that I know on the road today, I wondered? But when the third car started flashing, that was it! I stopped by the side of the road and got out to check. No, there was nothing wrong with my car, everything was perfectly all right. Hmmm…I was bewildered!

I continued on my way and round the corner, I saw that there was a police road block. I stopped and a nice young policeman approached my car. I asked him if something had happened and hence, the road block in the middle of nowhere but he said no, it was for the Ops Selamat (selamat meaning safety and ops is short for operation) – I guess that was a precautionary measure to ensure road safety since the Gawai Dayak Festival was just around the corner. “Panas hari! (hot day)” I said…and he just smiled and asked for my driving license. When he was done with it, he returned it to me and I said thank you, bye bye…and went on my way.

Now, that brings me to my question. If I were doing something wrong, why would those car drivers see the need to give me a warning? No, I was not going very fast, just around 80-90 kmph, the limit along our pan-Sarawak trunk road. No, my license plate numbers are all of the standard size…and no, my glass was not tinted black (unlike many that I see on the road). Now, if I had violated any traffic rule in any way, why should I be warned so as to evade arrest? I would think that I would deserve to be caught and fined heavily…especially if what I was doing would endanger not only my own life and the lives of those in my car but also the lives of others on the road.

When I got home, I had a look at my driving license and oh me oh my!!! It was due to expire in around a fortnight on the 5th of June. I did not realise that but anyway, I had the reminder keyed in onto my old handphone so I would know about it sooner or later – that is why I still keep my old handphone active (My new one is good for 25 reminders only and that is hardly enough to go round). The next day, I told my sister about it and goodness gracious me, hers had expired over a month ago and she did not realise it and she told me later than when she shared this with her contacts on whatsapp, she was not the only one – some for half a year, some even for one year or more!!!

Well, I usually renewed my license at the post office for a nominal fee of RM2.00 but she told me that I would have to go to the Land Transport Department office…

JPJ office

…where they would take my photograph and do everything necessary and I would get a new driving license just like my MyKad (identity card), not like the old one – just a slip of paper with all the details and my photograph stuck on it, laminated.

What? A photograph??? I quickly went home and got my hair nicely done and put on a decent-looking t-shirt and made my way there. Normally, I would not bother to comb my hair so if you meet me in town, I would look like I had just got out of bed and I never bother to dress up so you may see that my clothes have seen better days and are not quite presentable or at least, not something I would want to be seen wearing in a photograph that I would be carrying around with me for the next five years. Unfortunately, the moment I stepped into the office, the security guard said that their equipment was not functioning and the lady at the customer service counter said I could go to the post office to get to it done instead.

Ah well, I thought! I guessed I could just use my old license and have another of those laminated slips of paper with the updates stuck onto it using cellophane tape like the way it had been for the past 10 years…and I quietly made my way to the post office at Rejang Park here. I used to drop by here at least once a month but not anymore now that I am paying all my bills via auto-debit to my credit cards or through online banking. The air-conditioners, all three of them, have not been functioning for a long time now…

Air conditioner at Rejang Park post office

– according to the guy at the counter, it has been way over a year and they all have their own little fans (varying from 3 or 4 inches to 6 inches in diameter)…

Mini-fan
*Sorry for the blurry pic*

…that probably would help a little in their case but not for anyone going there for whatever business they may have at hand.

I noticed that they have had two wall fans put up, one on each side of the waiting area – there used to be one ceiling fan and the office was completely open on one side but since they had air-conditioning, they had put up a glass wall and glass doors which made the place really hot and stuffy (and smelly) especially when there were a lot of people. I would not think those would help very much but that day, the doors were wide open and the chairs had been arranged in such a way to get everyone to queue while waiting of their turn…

Queue at Rejang Park post office

The machine that printed out the numbers to indicate your turn had called it a day too, it seemed…

Out of order

It did not take very long to get my license renewed for five years, RM150.00 plus RM2.00 extra for doing it at the post office and 10 sen for the 6% GST. Thankfully, the equipment was functioning all right and no, I did not need to have my photograph taken (after going through all that trouble to get my hair done and dress up nicely) – they just used my MyKad and got the photograph from there…

New driving license

– very fast, very efficient and kudos to those wonderful people working day in and day out there, seeing to our needs, whilst enduring the not-very-conducive conditions in that miserable place. We only drop by a short while and already, we are complaining – you all obviously have to put up with so much just to serve us, the general public, thank you so very much.

Back to the driving license, it seems that now, when you renew yours, it will expire on your birthday and if your original date and your birthdate is more than six months, they will charge you 50% of the annual fee. Mine is around 5 months away so I did not have to pay that extra RM15.00. Now, mine will expire on 2nd December, 2020…and looking at the way things are going, it certainly appears like that so-called “vision” will not become a reality by then.

I googled to check and I read somewhere that the rationale behind having your driving license expiring on your birthday is to make sure that you will not forget. I suppose that may be quite logical if you renew your license for a year every year but for people like me who will always renew it for five years at one go, I am sure it would just go by unnoticed – now, let me go and key in the new date onto my old handphone…lest I forget.

Incidentally, since I was in the vicinity, I dropped by my favourite kompia shop to buy these chu-nu-miang

Chu nu miang

…for my afternoon tea. Thankfully, the price had remained unchanged – 4 for RM1.00 and a little more for the kompia – 3 for RM1.00 but I would say that I like theirs more than the rest around here and in fact, when my cousin from Kuching, while she was in Sibu that day, bought some of the above from that celebrated shop at Market Road in the town centre, I was shocked at the sight of how small and how out of shape theirs were. Their kompia was sold out and though there wasn’t really a queue, there was quite a crowd there, all wanting to buy the same things. I do think that when people sing their praises of a place, it is best to take it with a pinch of salt – at times, they may be grossly overrated and what they say may not necessarily be true…or what somebody else likes, you may wish to differ. Like I always say, to each his own!

What’s good…

The other day, I stopped by the outlet of this bakery…

Bread Sense Bakery
*Archive photo*

…near my house to see if there was anything that I would like to try.

We had been going in and out of this place buying this and that like these that I bought quite a long time ago but I did not think there was anything that really stood out from some of the stuff at the other bakeries in town. Oh yes! We went there to buy the New York cheese cake that we thought was very nice and my girl’s colleagues loved it very much so I would buy one quite regularly for her to take back to her school to share with them. I think theirs is baked, not chilled to set in the fridge…but like all those cheese cakes, there is about this much that one can eat so of late, we have not gone back there to grab more. I did notice that day though that the price was RM20.00 and I do remember somewhat vaguely that it was not a round figure way back then, maybe RM18.00, if I’m not wrong.

While I was there, I spotted these Portuguese egg tarts (RM2.20 each)…

Bread Sense Portuguese egg tart 1

…and I quickly grabbed two. I love egg tarts, these or the regular ones but my girl likes this type only so I was thinking that if they are nice, I would go and buy some more for her when she comes home at the end of this week for the two-week mid-year school holidays. We had pretty good ones once from this bakery (and some say that theirs are the best in town) but parking in that part of town is always such a pain so if the ones here are good, we would be able to buy and enjoy them more regularly.

To my delight, they were indeed very good! I loved how crispy those thin layers of the puff pastry…

Bread Sense Portuguese egg tart 2

…were and the texture and the rich creamy taste of the egg custard…

Portuguese egg tart 3

…were simply perfect!

Their chicken mushroom pies (RM2.20 each)…

Bread Sense chicken pies

…looked rather tempting so I bought two of those as well.

Yes, they were good, nicer than those at some of the other bakeries, and there was a lot of meat inside…

Bread Sense chicken pie

…and bits of mushroom as well. The filling tasted great though I would say they could cut down a bit on the msg used (but maybe those who are more comfortable with the stuff would not agree with me on this) and the pastry was not exactly hard, just a bit, but sadly, it lacked the nice buttery fragrance of my favourite here. Those are bigger too but they were selling for RM3.50 each, up from RM2.80 originally…and I hear it has gone up again and are now going for RM3.70 each. Tsk! Tsk! Still, on the whole, I feel those are nicer and would rather go for them instead of these…if ever I feel like having some chicken pies.

The Dragon Boat or Chang Festival or the Duānwǔ Jié is round the corner on the 20th of June, 2015. Of course I prefer the nyonya ones but since we do not know how to tie those dumplings, I don’t think we will get to enjoy eating any this year…unless some kind soul makes or buys some for me (Hint! Hint! LOL!!!) so we will just have to be happy with what we call the Hokkien chang that we can buy here. Unfortunately, of late, even those leave a lot to be desired – those that they sell at the Chinese stalls or shops. The prices keep going up from RM2.00 to RM2.50…and then RM3.00 and I hear they are selling them right now for RM3.50. They still taste good but you would need a microscope to be able to find any traces of meat in those…and the last time I bought one with salted egg yolk inside (can’t remember the price, RM4 or RM4.50, somewhere around there), it was not much better. I could detect the taste of the salted egg in the dumpling but I could not see any!

Well, this bakery (as well as the one on the other side of town – the one with the curry puffs that I like very much) makes very nice ones (RM2.80)…

Bread Sense chang 1

…never mind that it is not a perfect cone…

Bread Sense chang 2

…and being pork-free, they use chicken and the best part is that one can actually see the chunks of meat inside…

Bread Sense chang 3

I’ve tried the lor mai kai too and yes, theirs is not too bad, I would say, but they were RM3.00 each two years ago – I dread to imagine how much one would cost now.

Generally, I would say this is definitely one of the better and more popular bakeries in town. There may be some hits and some misses, but judging from the branches/outlets that are opening here and there, it is pretty obvious that they’re doing well and are here to stay.

Africa…

If you’re wondering what I cooked for my girl last week when she came home, well, there was the beef stew in my previous post…and the next morning, Saturday, for her breakfast, I fried her an egg, one of the two chorizo sausages that I got from my Kuching cousin recently…and I also added some of the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms from the stew…

Breakfast

…and she certainly enjoyed that.

For lunch that day, we headed to the hawker stalls here to try what I had been wanting to go back and try for sometime now. As a matter of fact, we did drop by the previous weekend but the sign there said that it would be closed till the 21st…and this time around, it was open, of course.

They did not have the shajira, whatever that is, and no, they did not have the ayam percik either even though it was stated on their menu board that it would be available on Saturdays and Sundays. This was the guy manning the stall…

African

…and I was telling my girl that he did not look Malay, more African or African-American and she agreed.

Both my girl and I had the Moroccan rice with grilled chicken (RM9.00)…

Morracan rice with grilled chicken

…that came with their own-made peri-peri sauce and a very nice salsa-like dip of tomatoes, chili, onions and lime plus some spices as well.

I loved the rice a lot – it was bursting with flavours with all the raisins and spices…

Spices

…that went into the cooking and the chicken was tender and tasted great too…and yes, I enjoyed all that was in the plate with the sauce and the dip.

My missus had the “pili pili” rice with grilled chicken (RM9.00)…

Pili-pili rice with grilled chicken

…which was very nice too but a little milder so I thought it paled a bit in comparison – between the two, I would go for the Moroccan!

They kept promoting their soto jawa (RM4.50)…

Soto jawa

…so I decided to order that to give it a try. It was all right, nice but nothing to get excited about and it was chicken! I think I would prefer that in beef soup or sup tulang (beef bone soup).

After having had our fill, the ladies went to the supermarket opposite to stock up on my girl’s rations for the coming week while I walked around the place to see what else they had in store and I stopped by this one…

Stall No. 10

…where I bought the tumpik before.

My attention was drawn to it by this sign…

New from the tumpik stall

Oh??? They now have two new varieties of the traditional Melanau delicacy? One with midin (wild jungle fern) and another with bubuk (dried tiny shrimps)? Of course I could not eat anymore so I ordered both to take home for afternoon tea later. They said that they had run out of midin so I had no choice but to order one only – the one with bubuk.

I looked around the stall and saw that they were also selling these (50 sen each)…

Tauhu goreng

…served with rojak sauce…and among the things for sale on the counter were these sagu‘ (toasted sago pellets)…

Sagu

– another Melanau delight!

They were out of the fritters that they were selling including the cucur bubuk and the girl there was cutting the long beans and the chives to make some more. While waiting for my order, I chatted with her and I asked her about that African-looking guy at the Moroccan rice stall…and true enough, he was African, married to a local – the boss at one place here!!!

Our delightful small talk came to an end when my order came and I left the place to head back home. Back in the house, I opened the packet and took out the tumpik bubuk (RM4.00)…

Tumpik bubuk 1

…that I had bought. It was slightly overdone but some people may prefer it this way as there would be the added fragrance and that, with the fragrance of the toasted grated coconut and the bubuk within…

Tumpik bubuk 2

…would bring the taste to a whole new level, along with the gula apong (attap/palm sugar) dip that came with it.

There wasn’t anything else at the other stalls that appealed to me – just the usual stuff like the nasi bryani, nasi lemak, mee jawa, Sarawak laksa…and if I were to go back again, I wouldn’t mind having another go at the Moroccan rice – it was that good albeit being a tad too pricey, in my opinion.

Hangin’ tough…

How do you all get your meat to be nice and tender, I wonder?

I used to have a slow cooker, two in fact, and be it beef, lamb…or even pork leg/trotters/knuckles or wild boar, the meat would turn out really tender, just the way I would love it. Well, the first one, I think, was a gift I got for my wedding. One fine day, I got impatient and moved the crock pot to the gas stove and turned on the heat. There was a loud crack…and my slow cooker went straight to Slow Cooker Heaven, just like that. Then I bought another one real cheap – RM60 something only with the coupons collected at a departmental store here. It was very good too…but not for chicken unless you are into chicken floss, all separated from the bones. For other types of tougher meat, it was absolutely great. Eventually, my missus spotted a hairline crack at the base, not that it was leaking or anything so I got rid of it. Now I am slow cooker-less…and my birthday and Christmas are both in December, still a long way to go. Hehehehehe!!!!

Now I would have to resort to one of the more traditional ways and those would include using papaya leaves…

Papaya leaf

I would pound them well…

Pounded

…and rub the meat with it and leave it to stand…

Leave to stand

…for an hour or so. After that, rinse the meat well to get rid of all the bits of leaf but I guess if there are traces of any left, it is perfectly all right. After all, I have heard of the wonders of papaya leaves in the treatment of dengue fever patients.

Of course, for those of you living in the big cities, it may hard for you to get hold of any of those leaves but they do sell this in bottles, liquid form with a picture of a papaya on the label. That is good too! Once I marinated the meat in the morning for a barbecue at my house and left it for the whole day till evening. The meat turned out like tofu…or one of those vegetarian meat, so soft that it hardly had the meat texture anymore.

Another way would be to make sure that you cut the meat across the grain…

Across the grain

…so that it would come apart easily when chewed or maybe, you would like to try my mum’s way which would be to put a porcelain spoon in the stew or soup. She said that according to the old folks, the hardness in the meat would “fight” with that of the spoon and of course, the meat would lose and be rendered all soft and tender.

Anyway, I bought some beef that day as I wanted to try this…

Beef casserole mix

…that my cousin in Australia sent me sometime ago.

I got all the other ingredients ready – the onions, carrots and potatoes…

Onions carrots potatoes

…and since we can’t get fresh button mushrooms easily here, I just used the canned ones…

Mushrooms

They sure made it sound so easy…

Easy

…on the label and I would say it was!

Incidentally, I had no intention of cooking it in a casserole in the oven – my plan at that point in time was to cook it as a stew so what I did was to put the meat in a pot and let it cook on very low heat till all the juices had come out…

Cook on low heat

…and then, I mixed the contents of the packet with water…

Mix plus water

…and poured that in. I did not have any tomato paste in the house so I added this…

Barbecue sauce

…instead – barbecue sauce. After all, there is tomato paste in the ingredients along with all the other things.

Once I had brought it back to boil, I added all the aforementioned ingredients, brought it back to boil again and let it simmer on low heat for an hour or so.

It turned out really nice…

Beef stew

…except that initially, when I tasted it, I thought it was very strong on those herbs and spices that one would find in western cuisine and some people may not be all too fond of those but when all the flavours from all the ingredients added had come out, it tasted really great and we sure did enjoy it a lot.

The beef was all right, not tough, quite tender…and if you’re wondering which method I used, I actually used all three – except that I do not have a porcelain spoon in the house so I threw in a stainless steel teaspoon instead. Hehehehehe!!!!

Hello Dolly!…

…or Dollee, to be exact!

Well, if you’re wondering what I am going on about, not too long ago, my friend in Sydney, Australia cooked some curry laksa using this instant paste…

Tean curry laksa paste

…and the bowl in the photograph that she shared on Facebook sure looked good. Obviously, you can buy this Down Under and in that post, she also asked if this…

Dollee curry laksa paste

…was any good. A friend of hers was quick to point out the error in their spelling of kari (curry in Malay) as cari (pronounced as cha-ri, search) but when I looked carefully, they did get the “Pes Kari Laksa” absolutely correct – I wonder if that is in another language.

No, I had no intention of cooking that very popular noodle dish in the peninsula – what I had in mind was to try and use the paste to cook some sayur lodeh or what we call sayur masak lemak here. I’ve tried this brand but no, it did not turn out like the real thing, not at all. The only time when I did manage to get it exactly the way I wanted it was when I used this brand from Singapore but that is extremely expensive – around RM18.00 a box now, if I’m not wrong, and I certainly would not want to fork out that amount of money just for this.

Well, I had some prawn stock in the freezer (from boiling the heads and shell of some prawns that I bought some time ago) so I did not need any seafood to enhance the flavour of the broth. I just brought the stock to boil and emptied the contents of the packet, the Dollee, that is, into it. Then I added the sweet potatoes…

Sweet potatoes & baby corn

…peeled and cut into chunks and boiled those for a while first, considering that they would take a while to soften. Then, I put in the baby corn, cut into quarters.

The bean curd sticks, soaked in hot water to soften…and the tofu puffs, cut into quarters, went in next…

Bean curd sticks, tofu puffs and cabbage

…and after that, I added a box of santan, the same brand I used for my pankek that day, and once it had started boiling again…

Boiling

…I added the cabbage…

Cabbage

…and turned off the heat to let it cook in the residual heat and that was it!

A word of caution here – do not add too much of everything unless you want to end up with a huge cauldron that would take ages to finish. Other things that we sometimes add to our sayur masak lemak include paku (wild jungle fun) or cangkuk manis, for a bit of green colour, young buah tupang/pulo and corn on the cob cut into short lengths would add to the sweetness, that’s for sure. Usually, we would use our udang galah (bamboo prawns) – our freshwater prawns and that would give the dish a touch of red and you can add fresh chilies for that same purpose too, if you want. My mum would add tang hoon (glass noodles) as well but that would be best added right before serving or they would soak up all the broth and you would end up getting something quite dry.

So what was my verdict? Well, I would say it was very nice…

Done

…and spicy though a little bit salty (maybe I did not add enough water or there wasn’t enough stock) but generally, I would say that the soup would make a lovely bowl of curry mee, as nice as any that I had had before in KL or in Penang or here, maybe even nicer…but no, it was nothing near what our sayur masak lemak would taste like.

Now, if you are not familiar with the dish and are wondering what it is like actually, you can go for a bowl of Katong 328 nyonya curry laksa – that, I would say is exactly like it! Perhaps if I use half a packet of the paste instead, and dilute it a bit more so the curry taste will not be all that strong…and maybe, add a bit more santan, I may get something a little closer. I will try that with the other brand.

Anyway, the next morning, I still had a lot of the broth left, not much of the ingredients so I used it to cook this curry laksa bihun

Curry laksa bihun 1

…for breakfast and yes, it was absolutely perfect. Very very nice…

Curry laksa bihun 2

…and not salty anymore (I did add a little bit of water to it.). I most certainly enjoyed that bowl of goodness! Yum! Yummmmm!!!!

Pretty flowers…

I shared in this post some photographs that I took at my girl’s school of the bunga raya or the hibiscus – the national flower of Malaysia. It seems that there are so many different varieties these days unlike my growing up years, when usually, we would see this one…

Hibiscus 1

…and another variety that is not so curly.

I do recall those times in school when we were asked to bring some of the blooms to class and we would study the parts and examine the cross-section and then draw pictures and diagrams in our exercise books and label them. I wonder if those of you who are much younger than me did the same thing too – maybe you would get everything in one of those commercially-produced and sold workbooks or activity books and all you had to do would be to label them? Those were the days when we had to bring everything ourselves to the science labs – snails, frogs, rats! Nowadays, if you ask those students in the big cities to bring any of those things to class, I don’t think you will get to see any at all, I’m sure.

I remember when I was in Form 1, my Science teacher was this thin and tall lady with a somewhat nasal voice called Miss Tiong – I gathered from hearsay that she was from Singapore. At one time, we had to bring garden snails to class…and while the lesson was in progress, two of them turned horny and started getting into the act. All of us saw that and had a hard time trying to stifle our laughter and when Miss Tiong saw that we were all distracted, she turned to look and saw what the attraction was. She walked straight up to the two and tore them apart and went on with the lesson, looking quite pissed off. LOL!!! Teachers in those days were all so prim and proper, no nonsense in class….and that brings to mind this very funny Thai commercial…

…that some of you may have watched before. LOL!!!

Anyway, going back to the hibiscus, I remember we had these pink ones…

Pink hibiscus 1

…in our garden but they were much bigger. This one is quite small, about the size of carnations and I do think that the blood red ones are very nice – they look quite like carnations, actually. Unfortunately, I could not find any of those in full bloom and all I have at this point in time is this old snapshot of the bud…

Hibiscus bud
*Archive photo*

This one is  pink too…

Pink hibiscus 2

…and yes, it is small as well, one of those seemingly stunted varieties, though that is not so obvious in the photograph.

I wonder if all countries have a national flower. If I’m not mistaken, the Vanda Miss Joaquim is the national flower of Singapore and of course, the rose is England’s and hence the title of Elton John’s tribute to the late Princess Diana. Come, let’s see how many others you all know…

STOP PRESS:
I did manage to snap a pic of the very red carnation-like hibiscus eventually so here it is…

Striking red

I do like this one very much…with its striking red colour.

Once more…

Yes, I dropped by this place once more the other day with my missus. I think I did mention before that my house is close by so it is quite convenient for us to stop by for lunch before going home and we would not need to worry about cooking…till later in the day, for dinner.

So what did I try this time around? I’ve had their nasi lemak and the char kway teow, the Sarawak laksa and the beef noodles too so that morning, I decided to order the chicken curry rice (RM5.50)…

Colourful Cafe chicken curry rice

…to see if it was any good. The curry was nice though it was not at all spicy so I was not too thrilled by it. Other than that, I think it came with plain rice – I was hoping it would be something like what they have in Kuching where they serve chicken rice, topped with char siew, roast pork and steamed or roast chicken and drowned with curry gravy (never mind that it is rather diluted usually) but of course, that would not be possible here as it has been designated as a “serves-no-pork” place.

I do think it would be nicer if I had ordered the nasi lemak special (RM7.00) and asked for the chicken drumstick curry to go with it but between this and the masak hitam beef that I had the other day, the latter wins hands down, no question about that.

My missus had the Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa

…that I had the other day and yes, she liked it very much and the sambal belacan dip…

Colourful Cafe sambal belacan dip

…that came with it was pretty good too. They did not seem too generous with it though but I guess if you want some more, you can always ask. I would not think that would be a problem.

While we were there, I decided to order something else and as I did not feel like having their bitter gourd bihun, I had the kampua noodles (RM3.00)…

Colourful Cafe kampua 1

…in the end. I did not get my hopes up too high since this being a pork-free place, there would not be any lard in the dish so there would not be that much-coveted fragrance that true-blue kampua mee lovers would go for.

The noodles were firm, not quite like what many here seem to enjoy – they like it soft but if not cooked to perfection, they may come out too soft and soggy and I am no fan of that, of course. I guess if anyone wants the noodles softer, they can tell them to cook them a wee bit longer but it was perfectly all right by me. As for the missing lard taste, it was replaced by the really nice fragrance of the fried shallots…and I was  able to detect some fried garlic in it as well…

Colourful Cafe kampua 2

All in all, I would say it was very nice and I sure would want to have that again. I wonder if they sell it kosong (empty) or not (at a cheaper price, of course) as I did not quite care for those strips of boiled chicken breast meat.

I browsed through the menu and I saw this…

Colourful Cafe menu

It seems that if you are entertaining at home and you are too lazy too cook, you can order some of the items from here. I can vouch for the daging masak hitam and the sambal bilis…and I would have liked the chicken curry that I had more if it had been a lot spicier. The insurance guy next door told me that he had bought the paste to try and the amount at that price was good for 3 kilogrammes of beef, less than RM7.00 a kilo so it is not a lot more expensive than those packs of instant curry paste that are flooding the supermarkets around here. As for the rest, I have yet to sample them so I am in no position to comment on those.

They have some stuff on their evening/night menu that are not available in the morning/daytime so I may have to drop by again sometime to see if those are any good but if the ones that I have had are anything to go by, I guess they should be pretty o.k. as well.

Indescribable…

When my Singapore friend, Alfred, was in Sibu, I told him about the Mulu Caves right here in Sarawak and I was surprised that he had not heard of them before – the Sarawak Chamber is “so big that it could accommodate about 40 Boeing 747s, without overlapping their wings“. Hmmmm…this probably goes to show how effective the promotions done by our Sarawak tourism authorities have been…

Anyway, what I told Alfred got him all excited and he immediately made plans to go and visit this UNESCO world heritage site and he did – last weekend.

To get there, he had to fly to Miri and from there, he boarded an ATR 72-seater…

ATR72

…which he said was like a toy plane. Hmmm…wait till he gets on our 19-seater Twin Otter – I did blog about it here once and yes, flying in one would indeed by an experience, that’s for sure.

The experience, the sights and the sounds and everything there, needless to say, are simply indescribable so I would just share a few of his photographs on Facebook in this post. I did not know that swiftlets will always lay their eggs in pairs…

Swiftlet's eggs

…not one, not three or more…and among the amazing stone formations, there is this one that looks quite erotic…

X-rated

…but one of the main attractions of course would be this silhouette of Abraham Lincoln’s face…

Lincoln

– don’t leave Mulu without having seen this and taking a photograph of it!

My! My! Alfred sure is an adventurous guy and he opted to stay on for the “night shift”…

Night shift

I bet he found it very interesting, if not exciting, and the next morning…

Morning comes

…he and the rest made their way downstream…

Going downstream

…after having explored 5 of the caves in the national park…and he is saying that he will want to go back there again as there is a lot more that he has yet to cover!

I’ve never been there myself, I am ashamed to say, and I guess, at my age (and shape and size), I will just have to sit this one out. I have never been to the Fairy Caves in Bau near Kuching even…as when I went with my friends either in the late 60’s or early 70’s, they told to wait by the lake as the climb could be quite perilous! In fact, when they came back, they told tales of how one of the ladies fell off the rope…and luckily, one of the guys, hanging on to the rope himself, simply stretched out his arm and grabbed her and saved her. It would have been tragic if she had fallen all the way down. Neither have I been to the Niah Caves – where they found the evidences of the early pre-historic civilisation. Some of my colleagues went and they told me of the long single-plank walk to the caves…and they said that I would definitely fall off after a few steps. Humphhhh!!!

Anyway, back to the Mulu Caves, if you are keen and adventurous like my friend, you may find more information here in their website…and you can plan a trip there while you are still young and able. Why go to all those other countries when one of the most amazing wonders of the world is right here at our footsteps?