No time…

My dear friend, Mandy, was here from KL on a working trip but unfortunately, she was tied up with whatever she had to do the whole day through from early dawn till late at night so we had no time to meet up and go for dinner or something.

She said that she had to go to a place called Bukut, somewhere in the Selangau district, she said, where my girl’s school is. Gee! I did not know there is such a place there or anywhere, for that matter (I only know that’s the local name of a fish found in our streams long ago, dunno now) – I’m not sure but I think it is more towards the Balingian/Mukah area actually, not as near as Selangau but one thing that I am very certain of was that she had to go far inland from the main trunk road from Sibu to either Mukah or Bintulu…

Road to Bukut
*Mandy’s photo on Facebook*

…to some oil palm estate or whatever where some customer of her company’s heavy machinery is. Yes, conditions can be that bad the further you go into the interior and yes, there are inhabitants living in their longhouses and there are schools too! Thankfully, my girl’s school, though not really near to home, is not one of those and is by the main road, very easily accessible, praise the Lord for small mercies.

And yes, it is indeed very undeveloped, very very backward over here, unlike in the mainland of our country – maybe not so bad in the main towns and cities but there isn’t much really in the smaller bazaars and villages and even worse in the interior. I guess that was why a blogger-friend from Malacca, when she was sent over here to study at a university campus in Bintulu, complained a lot about that town and called it Been-to-Ulu…even though I would not say it was so bad a town – it is a whole lot better than many and it could have been a lot worse had the campus been located in the middle of the jungle like some universities, local as well as foreign, so I’ve been told. I guess it was just the unhappiness and frustration at being sent so far away from home to study – we had those same sentiments regarding where my girl was sent some years back…so far away when there is an institution of higher learning right here in Sarawak in Kuching and one that is running that same twinning programme with New Zealand (but with Dunedin, not Wellington) on the exact same scholarship that my daughter was awarded.

Anyway, back to Mandy, despite it being  a last minute thing and she was so busy and in a rush, she took the trouble to go some place and grab these goodies…

Goodies from Mandy

…for me. Since we did not have time to meet, she left them at the hotel counter and asked me to drop by there to collect…which I did. Of course, I could not just go empty-handed so that morning, I went to the Sibu Central Market to buy some of our very special Rajang hay bee (dried prawns) for her.

While I was there, I decided to go up to the hawker centre on the first floor to Stall No. 52…

Sibu Central Market - Stall 52

…as I had heard that their beef noodles was much better than my favourite here. Good grief!!! It has been rated a Grade C by the municipal council which is not very good. According to this newspaper report, “Food stall operators who received Grade D would be asked to cease operations if they failed to improve during the next round of assessments,” and yes, I did see a cockroach crawling around on the floor while I was there. Other than that, the floor, even though it looked really clean, felt very slippery like it was coated with all that oil used by the hawkers in their cooking. It sure needs one really good and thorough cleaning, I must say – word has it that somebody slipped and fell twice and on one occasion, he broke something so he sued the council and was awarded some RM100,000.00…which he donated to charity.

As for the beef noodle special (RM5.00)…

Stall 52 beef noodle special 1

…that I had, it was good and with all that beef, tendon and tripe, I would consider it very very cheap compared to the other place where a comparatively smaller serving of beef noodle soup with just beef would set one back by RM6.00 and if you ask for the special with the tendon and tripe added, be prepared to fork out a lot more (RM7.00 in 2012, probably RM8.00, at least, now)…and expect a little less as far as their portion size goes.

However, the soup in what we had here was milder – not as strong, not as fragrant…and I wished they did not add those curly vegetables…

Stall 52 beef noodle special 2

…as that would affect the taste albeit just a little bit.

Given a choice, I would still go for my regular one…but if I happen to be around here and feel like having this, I may just stop by for it – it sure is nice enough to merit a second round or more.