O Christmas tree…

It’s New Year’s Eve today.

If I am not wrong, like in previous years, there will be a countdown tonight at the Sibu Town Square…

Christmas at the Sibu Town Square

…and the winner of the Christmas Tree competition for this year…

Some of the Christmas trees

…will be announced.

The weather was fine that day, a few days before Christmas, so we went to have a look around and I was pleased to see that there were two out the many that depicted the true meaning of Christmas, this one…

Nativity scene 1

…and this one…

Nativity scene 2

In the past, if I am not wrong, they would insist on the use of recycled material to make those Christmas trees – I don’t know if the ruling still stands but it did appear that most did not bother to toe the line.

Of course, I grabbed the opportunity to take a snapshot of this one…

Peter's masterpiece

…that my good friend, Peter, the boss of Payung Café was commissioned to produce and he used those palm leaves that he had used before at his café or for the decoration elsewhere. If you look closely, you can even see the rattan baskets…

Recycled material

…that you will often get to see if you go to Payung to enjoy all the delights they have to offer there.

Thankfully, I was able to take some photographs before the sun went down…

Angels

…as it got dark quite quickly. There were not many people around that day, just some people walking around, taking selfies and wefies, and kids playing with bubbles here…

Bubbles 1

…and there…

Bubbles 2

I had expected a crowd but it was somewhat quiet and parking was a breeze and there wasn’t any traffic jam, not at all.

The annual food fair was on, right across the road, but we did not bother to walk over – those that we had been to before weren’t exactly anything to get us excited, nothing worth going back for more. Personally, I do feel that the organisers will have to think of something to attract more people to come. Generally, there would be the same things over and over again and the things sold are somewhat expensive and not all that nice.

It had been raining quite a lot  around that time, strong winds and all and I heard there was a short circuit and some of the small trees and one of those in the competition caught fire. They had repaired the latter so that one was fine when we went that day but the main one and all those around it were standing in the dark…

In the dark

Maybe that was why there were not so many people but I did see some friends sharing photographs taken a few days before Christmas and it did look like they had got everything fixed and the trees were shining brightly once more. Well, at least, in the dim light, I managed to catch a glimpse of Santa riding away in his sleigh…

Santa 2

So what plans do you all have in store for this evening to say goodbye to 2017 and to ring in the new year, 2018?

Coming to an end…

The holidays are coming to an end. We’ll be driving all the way to my girl’s school in the jungle early this morning for their staff meeting and while she is at it, her mum and I will pass the time doing some spring cleaning at her unit in her teachers’ quarters and then we will come back home again for New Year’s Eve tomorrow. New Year’s Day, we will be going back all the way again as the students will be reporting that same day and the very next day, the new academic year will begin.

Over the past week or so, we did not go to any place new in particular. One Sunday morning, it was raining so we dropped by here for breakfast as it was rather convenient, dropping them off at the shaded hotel entrance. My girl wanted the Thai-style beef noodles (RM15.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen beef noodles

…which would have been enough for three – the serving is that huge!

However, I could not resist ordering their very nice pad Thai (RM16.90, small)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai

…as well and we shared that between the three of us. That sure was a heavy brunch, enough to tide us over till dinner that day.

On another day, we wanted to have another go at the satay (RM2.00 a stick, beef)…

Colourful Cafe beef satay

here for lunch and I had their nasi lemak

Colourful Cafe nasi lemak biasa

…while the ladies shared their salad chicken platter (RM9.90)…

Colourful Cafe salad chicken

…which was so big that none of them would want to order that to eat on her own – they will never be able to finish!

We did drop by here

Le Cafe

…for lunch one fine day and we bumped into my friend/ex-classmate, Robert and his wife, Angela there. They had gone there for the very nice claypot chicken rice that we used to enjoy so very much before but we can’t have it now as there is soy sauce in it, not gluten free.

I had their beef rendang with rice (RM18.90)…

Le Cafe beef rendang with rice

…which I had tried a long time ago and yes, it was still nice, just not spicy at all so I did not really think it would be anything to get excited about, not to me, that is.

My missus liked her chicken chop with cola sauce (RM13.90)…

Le Cafe chicken chop with cola sauce

…and my girl enjoyed her sirloin beef with mushroom sauce (RM31.90)…

Le Cafe sirloin beef with mushroom sauce

They do have quite a wide selection here, some we would need to avoid as they are not gluten free such as those that are batter-coated and deep-fried, for instance, but there are other options on their menu for us to pick and choose, should we feel like coming here again another day.

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN  is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman – you can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance, and COLOURFUL CAFE (2.316673, 111.837539) is located in the Renew4U building at the junction of Brooke Drive and Lorong Kwong Ann 8, across the road from the Church of Jesus  Christ of the Latter Day Saints while  LE CAFE (2.299452,111.830832) is located along Brooke Drive at the Brooke Business Centre, on your left if you are driving from town, in that block of shops past Jalan Kumpang after you have gone past the building where the Sheraton Restaurant is.

Looking for something…

We dropped by this new coffee shop round the corner from my house once and I did drop by again early one morning to look for something else I could try when I had to drive out to the shop next door to buy some eggs as it so happened that we had run out that day.

After the very long wait for our orders from the chu char (cook & fry) place at the back, I was not all that keen on going through all that again. That was why I settled for what they had at the stall in front…

Ah Kau kampua mee stall

– their kampua noodles (RM3.00)…

Ah Kau kampua mee

…which I thought was just so-so, nice but not anything to get excited about plus I think there are some cheaper ones elsewhere.

A friend of mine said that he was here once too and he had to wait a long time. I thought he ordered some fried stuff from the stall at the back but he said no, he just had the kampua noodles and he added that it was not even very crowded when he was there – in his opinion, they were just plain slow.

Luckily, I did not face any such problem that morning. They had the mug of hot boiling water and the chopsticks and spoon in it on my table in no time at all…

Ah Kau chopsticks and spoon

…and my noodles came soon after.

I also asked for a small bowl of pian sip soup (RM2.20)…

Ah Kau pian sip soup, small

…to go with my noodles and that too didn’t take long and yes, I thought the pian sip was quite nice. I don’t know how much a regular bowl would cost though, probably RM3.00 too.

Then, on another morning, also very early – at the break of dawn, in fact, I had to go to the shop again so I hopped over for breakfast. No, like the previous time, I wanted to look for something else and did not want to go for the same things again. This time, I decided to order the Foochow fried noodles that my missus had that first time we were here except that it had completely slipped my mind – I did not remember her having that then.

Well, since it was so early, I did not want my usual kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) and asked for it hot (RM1.20)…

Ah Kow kopi-o

…instead. I was surprised that it was so cheap – the one with ice is usually RM1.60 or RM1.80 a glass. My! My! Those few cubes of ice sure are expensive…and actually, when the glass is filled with all the ice cubes, aren’t we getting a little less coffee?

This time around, the noodles came a lot sooner, piping hot (RM4.00)…

Ah Kow Foochow fried noodles 1

…from the wok and yes, it was very very nice, I must say.

There was this guy in Kanowit when I was teaching there, 1978-1982, Ah Lek, I think his name was. He would push his cart out in the evening and park it right outside a coffee shop to set up his stall. I loved his fried noodles, cooked differently from all the rest. If I am not wrong, I think he would fry the mee first for the much-coveted wok hei fragrance and then add water and simmer for the gravy to thicken and dry up. He has passed away already, of course, and his daughters (my students at the time) have taken over and I hear their fried noodles are just as nice but their lor mee pales in comparison to their late dad’s.

This plate of Foochow fried noodles…

Ah Kau Foochow fried noodles 2

…that I had here reminded me of Ah Lek’s which I enjoyed so much a long time ago. I sure would not mind going back there again for more of this.

AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) is located along Jalan Ruby, off Jalan Lim Han Swee, in the same block as Kim Tak Mini Supermarket, to the extreme left.

Passing by…

This chicken rice place…

Sibu Chicken Rice Coffee Shop

…has been around for a very long time – I heard that it is the branch of the immensely popular one in town (2.291822, 111.827655) that is always so very packed with customers spilling onto the road, so to speak. They do have quite a bit of business here too…

Sibu Chicken Rice Coffee Shop, inside

…but I had never stopped by any of the two before, not even once.

Well, that day, I passed by the shop – I was going to the bakery a few doors away in that same block of shops. This was sometime ago when the ladies were out of town so I was alone, living the life of a single bachelor, and my initial plan was to grab a chicken pie for my lunch. Yes, there were a lot – two trays, in fact…on the shelves which meant that those were booked by someone, not available for sale. In the end, I decided to just go for some chicken rice at the aforementioned place and be done with it.

I had the roast chicken drumstick…

Sibu Chicken Rice Coffee Shop roast chicken

…with the rice (RM4.80 altogether)…

Sibu Chicken Rice Coffee Shop rice

It was o.k. – after all, roast chicken is…roast chicken. I guess one can’t be much different from another and as for the rice, I thought it was just so-so, definitely not the best in town but also not the worst.

I also ordered this meat platter (RM5.00)…

Sibu Chicken Rice Coffee Shop siew yoke & char siew

…of char siew (barbecued pork) and siew yoke (roast pork). The latter was very nice with a strong fragrance of garlic and pepper that gave it an edge over some of the others elsewhere. The char siew, however, was rather disappointing but generally, I do feel that we can’t get really good char siew here or there is none around  that I’ve ever encountered that has swept me off my feet. So far, one of the few and far between that I quite like would be the one here

Chopsticks Chicken Rice char siew

The complimentary soup was good…

Sibu Chicken Rice Coffee Shop, complimentary soup

– a whole lot nicer than those so terribly watered-down versions (salted vegetable with a chicken claw in it) at many places around here that would taste almost like plain water.

I would not go out of my way for this but I wouldn’t mind dropping by, like that day, when it so happened that I was in the vicinity and felt like having chicken rice.

SIBU CHICKEN RICE COFFEE SHOP (2.310958, 111.831458), Dewan Suarah branch, is located along Jalan Dewan Suarah, on your right as you are entering from Jalan Melur, in the same block of shops as Aroma Bakery.

 

On a Monday…

Last Monday, it was already quite late when we got back from my girl’s school, around 5.00 p.m. so we decided to stop some place for an early dinner before heading back to the house.

Unfortunately, quite a number of places here are closed on Mondays. We dropped by the branch of this place in Permai but it was not open and likewise, a number of shops in the vicinity were closed too. I do know for a fact that this place and also this one have their off days on Monday too.

In the end, we stopped by here

D'Santai

…and my missus had the bumbu ijo ayam (RM10.00)…

D'Santai bumbu ijo ayam

…while I had their bebek or bumbu ijo itek (RM11.00)…

D'Santai bumbu ijo itek

I found the duck a bit dry and hard especially by the sides like the penyet that I had the last time and did not quite enjoy and though it was not that bad inside…

D'Santai bumbu ijo meat

…I could not detect the lovely taste of duck in the meat. My missus said that her chicken was more or less like that and was not really nice either.

I do not know how true this is but I heard that the authentic Indonesian way of cooking these penyet dishes would be to boil the meat first and then fry. Maybe that was the reason why it seemed to have lost its taste.

Thankfully, my girl’s  keli penyet (RM10.00)…

D'Santai keli penyet

…was very nice and so was the terung berlado (RM7.00)…

D'Santai terung berlado

…which was really nice and to everyone’s liking.

After we had had our fill, we made our way home. It certainly had been a very long day.

D’SANTAI CAFE (2.305748, 111.863080) is located among the shops to the right of Star Mega Mall, visible from the main road, at No, 20 & 22, Lorong 2A, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman (road to Sibu Airport), round the corner from the newly-opened TK Hardware store there.

Let’s go back…

Last Monday, my girl had to go back to her school as she was on duty for one day. A colleague of hers who stays with his family in the school was willing to help out in the morning but he had something on that afternoon. That was why we did not have to make our way there at the break of dawn and we were even able to stop at Selangau Bazaar for lunch before proceeding to the school around half an hour away.

We agreed to go back to this same place for lunch as we did enjoy what we had the last time around. That was a week before Christmas and I could see that the helpers in the kitchen were already in the mood…

Hua Kee, Selangau - in the Christmas mood

For our drinks, we all wanted their fresh durian Belanda (soursop) juice…

Hua Kee, Selangau soursop juice

…which was very good, very concentrated and even had the flesh (and some seeds) inside.

I saw that they had these Foochow-style sio bee (RM1.20 each)…

Hua Kee, Selangau sio bee

…in the steamer so I ordered a few to try. They were good, better than many that I had had around here but no, I would not place them among my favourites in town.

The tofu soup (RM7.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau tofu soup

…with salted vegetables was very nice, not as clear as the ones at some places in Sibu but we enjoyed it, perhaps even a little bit more.

The fried cangkuk manis with egg (RM7.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau cangkuk manis with egg

…was good too, cheaper than quite a number of places in Sibu but we encountered a little problem with the fish.

We asked them to deep-fry, no flour, no soy sauce, nothing and just serve it like that but it came out coated like this (RM21.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau fried bawal hitam

Thankfully, they used tapioca flour so it was gluten-free and my girl could enjoy it…and that, she certainly did.

After that lovely lunch, we proceeded to the school and later in the day, we made our way home. The weather was not very good that day, lots of rain and  lots of mud puddles all along the way so I had to go somewhat slowly and praise the Lord for His guidance and protection, we were able to go all the way there and come back home safely, all in one day.

It’s Christmas…

It’s Christmas Day today.

Christmas crib
*Nativity scene – Christmas crib at the Church of St Mary of Divine Mercy, Sibu*

I didn’t go round the malls to look around but at places where I did happen to go to like the hotels and the cafés and restaurants, the decorations seemed somewhat minimal, if at all there was any, just some Christmas trees…

Christmas tree

…here and there or a little bit of this…

Christmas stocking

…and that…

Santa

…nothing much really or at least, not anything that would make one go, “Wowww!!!”.

Even though the guys at Payung Café did not go all out this year with their decor as they were busy with the Christmas Tree competition in the town square, I do think that theirs still stood out, very unique and a head above the rest. As for the Christmas trees, at this point in time, we still do not know which of the many participating is the winner. They usually announce the results at the New Year Eve Countdown at this same venue…and yes, they did have the Annual Christmas Parade the other day and the crowd turned up by the droves…

Sibu Annual Christmas Parade 2017 1
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

It rained every year but thankfully, this year, the weather was just perfect…

Sibu Christmas Parade 2017 2
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

…for such a huge gathering and the parade of marching bands, all the people who had congregated for this very meaningful event and all the beautiful floats…

Sibu Christmas Parade 2017 3
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

…all around our little town. Unlike the commercially-inclined ones overseas, a whole lot of fun and very much more impressive though theirs may be, the one here highlights the true meaning of Christmas, the way it should be.

In keeping with the season of giving, my girl decided to give her prized collection of soft toys from her childhood years…

Melissa's toys

…to the church in the Selangau district, where her school in the jungle is, to be distributed to the less privileged kids there in the hope that they will bring to them some of the joy and cheer of this auspicious occasion.

No, she is not asking for anything in return but on my part, I am praying that God will bless her abundantly each passing day in the year ahead, guiding and guarding her in all that she does and help her find joy and fulfilment in her vocation…

To my daughter
*Source unknown – photo shared by somebody on Facebook*

…and if it be His Will, after some 5 years there already, may she get her transfer to a school closer to home, preferably in the town proper, of course. I certainly hope that on this very special day, everyone will join me and say a little prayer that mine will soon be answered and for that, I thank you all…very very much.

And talking about gifts, my friend, Alex, went over to Australia to attend a friend’s wedding and when he came back, he brought me this box of chocolates…

Chocolates from Alex

– an early Christmas present, he said. Isn’t that so sweet and thoughtful of him?

I received some Christmas cards this year – the first one was from my maternal cousin in Brisbane, Australia who was here in September…

Christmas card from Brisbane

…and I also got one from my uncle and his family…

Christmas card from uncle & family

…when they came to Sibu earlier this month.

This made it just in time for Christmas…

Christmas card from Perth

…from my paternal cousin in Perth, Australia. I loved the unique paper-cutting design and I do prefer to send cards that are for a good cause

All for a good cause

Nick came over to visit me here in Sibu in February this year all the way from Sungai Petani in Kedah and he too sent me a card…

Christmas card from Nick 1

I certainly hope that he will come again…someday soon…

Christmas card from Nick 2

…and of course, everyone else is most welcome to hop over – I love having visitors, family or friends, around.

Thank you to the aforementioned for the cards and gifts…and here’s wishing everybody, near or far, and all your loved ones a Blessed and Joyous Christmas. Joy to the world!!!