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Scratch…

Last Friday, I had to drive to my girl’s school to bring her and her new friend/colleague/housemate home for the weekend because the one who would give her/them a lift had to attend a course at another school in the district and would not be going back to their school and would drive straight home after that and anyway, that would be very much later in the day.

I was up early so I decided to cook something for dinner in case we would be home late or we might be too tired by the time we got back so we could just heat up the food to eat. I deep-fried one of the two tilapias…

Tilapia 1

…that my friend, Nancy, gave me sometime ago. I had cooked one sometime ago and yes, it was very nice, never mind what they say about the farmed fish…and so was this one. It was very lemak (oily, rich in Omega-3) and very tasty, very sweet and no fishy smell at all, plus there were no bones other than the big one down the centre and those at the sides/fins…

Tilapia 2

…I would say it was very much nicer than the somewhat bland and very expensive tangadak we had for our reunion dinner despite the fact that we had kept it frozen in the freezer for so long.

For our vegetable dish, I fried this thinly-sliced long beans with egg…

Long beans with egg

On our way there, my missus and I stopped by one of the coffee shops facing the market in the Selangau Bazaar for an early lunch. Boy!!! Eating in that little place could be so expensive! We had the chap fan (mixed rice) – my missus had the mini-squids with two vegetables while I had the squids as well plus the sweet and sour chicken and the kembong (which was not all that big) and a serving of bayam. I did not take any photograph of what we had but together with our kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee), the total came up to RM20.00!!!

Never mind, I thought! After all, it isn’t all the time that we will get to eat there and I would say that the food was pretty good. I decided to tapao two packets for my girl and her friend for lunch – rice with the chicken and squid and the bayam…and the total was RM17.00. Shocking!!! I think it was RM8.00 each and they charged 50 sen for the flimsy cardbox box for tapao-ing in place of the polystyrene containers that they used to use before.

We got there before noon and I parked my car by the side beside the parking shed of one of the teachers. Then we went to my girl’s quarters and waited for them to come back from work, change and have lunch before we went back to the car to drive our way back to Sibu.

OMG!!! I was so put off by what I saw!!! There was this metre-long scratch and dent…

Scratch and dent

…by the side of the vehicle!!! No, I was not blocking his way. He could have reversed STRAIGHT out quite easily or turned a bit towards the left (instead of right) and he would not have hit my car. All that was needed was a little bit of caution and attention, something that some young drivers these days seem to lack.

Now, I was really pissed off not so much because of the damage – it’s an old car, anyway, and no, I would not ask him for any compensation or anything – but he did not even have the common courtesy to go and look for me/us to let me know what he had done. Perhaps he was in a hurry to go for his Friday prayers, I wouldn’t know. I certainly hope that he did pray for forgiveness for his sin… Tsk! Tsk!

Each year…

Come Chinese New Year each year, in the evening on the 1st Day, we would ask my in-laws to come over to our house for dinner

CNY dinner with in-laws

…and this year was no exception.

My missus cooked most of everything and this year, we had these garlic prawns with sesame oil…

Prawns 1

…and the ones with sambal and pineapples…

Prawns 2

These were steamed minced meat on scallop shells…

Steamed minced meat

…and there was, of course, the chicken curry…

Chicken curry

…and the kacang ma chicken…

Kacangma chicken

…plus my missus’ very nice oven-baked chicken wings…

Chicken wings

…and the golden ngor hiang or lor bak (meat rolls)…

Ngor hiang

…and mushroom rolls…

Mushroom rolls

…with a lot of cheese.

The photograph of the satay beef came out blur and the one of the mushroom broccoli…

Mushroom broccoli

…wasn’t very clear either nor was the one of the noodles that I fried

Mee goreng

You probably would remember that time when I fried some and it turned out really good so I decided to buy 1 kg of the noodles and cook it again more or less the same way but this time around, I  had some big prawns in it. It was all gone in no time at all so that would be a clear indication as to whether it  was nice or not, right? Hehehehehe!!!!

Everyone enjoyed the dinner and had a great time – they’re very nice people, my in-laws and I would say that it has always been a pleasure to host such dinners for them everytime – though most of the time, I would not be the one doing most of the work. Wink! Wink!

The waiting is over…

It’s here – the Year of the Goat…and to welcome and usher in the new year, in keeping with the tradition and to preserve the heritage, we had our mee sua (longevity noodles)…

CNY mee sua 2015

…first thing in the morning.

After that, we headed to my parents’ place and after that, to my mother-in-law’s, to wish them a very Happy Chinese New Year and to pay our respects. Then we went back home to wait for friends and well-wishers to drop by.

We served them drinks, cakes…

Cakes

…cookies and everything else that we had prepared for this special day. I did mention in an earlier post that my missus did not make any cakes this year – we just went and bought our favourites at my regular Malay kuih stall at Bandong and the nice lady even gave me this kek batek mocha…

Kek batek mocha

- not the usual batek cake but one with a difference, thank you so much. Some liked it a lot but my favourite this year would be the kek belacan.

We also had the very lovely fruit cake…

Fruit cake

…that my cousin in Kota Kinabalu gave to me when he came to town and that was indeed very nice as well.

There was a steady stream of visitors the whole day, starting with my girl’s coursemates and a friend of theirs…

Mel's friends

…who were so sweet and thoughtful as to bring this…

From Mel's friends

…along to give to us, thank you so much…and thank you too, Azlan – my friend from the radio days with Mag & Pat in the afternoon on TraxxFm for this “gift of gold”…

Gift of gold

…and then, there was my godson, Andrew, home from New Zealand, who dropped by with his family…and an ex-student of mine working in Kazakhstan at this point in time but was also home for the festival. As always, Andrew did not come back empty-handed and this time around, he brought me these…

From Andrew

Hmmmm…interesting! I never knew that “sweet as” is Kiwi slang for awesome or good one. A big thank you to you too, Andrew…and I  also would like to thank everyone who took their time off to drop by and extend their Happy Chinese New Year wishes – that was so very nice of you all and I really appreciate it a lot.

The last group on the 1st Day left at around 10 something…and it was past 11.00 p.m. before we turned in for the night. We had a great time entertaining our guests and I would say that it sure was a wonderful start to this brand new year.

P.S.:
My ex-colleague dropped by the 2nd Day of the New Year and she gave me these -

From ex-colleague

- her mum’s own-made peanut cookies and some jelly powder. Nope, please ignore the bag – there was nothing in it that would be of any use to me, not that it would help one bit…but obviously, my ex-colleague is a regular customer. I had not seen her since I retired over 7 years ago and it seems that she got a transfer to Kuching soon after I had left the service and look at her now – so much younger, her skin so fair and so smooth! Ok, my friend! Don’t you think I deserve a special treat for that? Hehehehehe!!!!!

The day before you came…

This was on the the eve – the day before Chinese New Year’s Day came.

My missus was busy the whole day cooking in the kitchen while my girl and I did a bit of last-minute cleaning and put the finishing touches to the decoration inside the house…

CNY 2015 1

We didn’t go out to buy new stuff for the purpose – most were things that we had last year or even before that.

My missus did go and buy fresh pussy willows though…

CNY 2015 2

She said that one would need to get new ones for the auspicious occasion and true enough, she did come into a bit of money soon after she went and bought some – not much, just a bit and enough to pay for her purchases. Hehehehehe!!!!

There were, of course, the Mandarin oranges…

CNY 2015 3

…and we were done – all nicely spruced up…

CNY 2015 4

…and ready to welcome and usher in the Year of the Goat…

CNY 2015 5

That night, we had a simple reunion dinner…and in keeping with the tradition, we had fish…

Fish

- as they say, Nian Nian You Yu (年年有魚) or abundance year after year…and these golden meat rolls – the ngor hiang or lor bak

Ngor hiang

…as they are called in some places.

This was a once-a-year treat for us – the five-spice phak lor (stewed) duck…

Phak lor ark

My girl and I enjoyed it to the max and we would only get to eat this once a year as my missus does not eat duck. Ironically, nobody (outside) does it better – in fact, none would come anywhere near and the next best thing would be the regular roast duck, that’s all.

We also had these mushroom rolls…

Mushrrom rolls

…which tasted very nice but did not look as great – this would need a little bit more practice, I guess…and we did not think the beer-marinated chicken boxing…

Chicken boxing

…was all that nice – we prefer the way my missus would usually marinate chicken wings to bake on normal days, whatever ingredients she would use for those.

The scallop and crab meat and minced meat soup…

Soup

…that my missus cooked was simply out of this world, very very nice. We did not finish most of everything but this one, we literally licked the bowl clean! LOL!!!

It had been a long and tiring day. Believe you me, I went to bed early and slept through the 3rd World War and a 4th one thrown in for good measure – all the deafening fireworks and firecrackers all through the night, especially around midnight…

…but for many, this alone would make it worthwhile for everyone to make the trip home to Sibu for this very auspicious occasion and yes, it would be a good time to come and visit as well – just book your air tickets early as it can be difficult to get seats or it may be mighty expensive as the festival draws near.

Look ahead…

A new day, a new year, a new beginning!

QONG XI FA CAI to all, wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous Year of the Goat…

Happy Chinese New Year

My missus had been busy baking the cookies…

Missus cookies

…and cooking all her special dishes and everything. She did not bake any cakes this year, we just went out and bought some that we know would be very nice – she has stopped doing it since we got our new oven and her cakes turned out disastrous. It is very good for cookies though – all of them turned out really well and of course, that pleased her to no end. Hehehehehe!!!!!

I had been busy too with this and that, including cutting the very nice bak kua…

Bak kua

from Alfred, my friend from Singapore…and also from my ex-student, Johnny, who is currently working in the island republic…and of course, I had to go to the bank as well to get the sparkling new currency notes for the ang paos…

Ang paos

…to be given to those who will drop by my house today or over the next few days…but only if they are kids or still single.

There was also all the cleaning to be done, the decorating of our house, outside…

CNY decor

…and inside but we’re keeping it simple, just a little something to usher in the brand new year.

Do drop by, all of you who are in Sibu – our door is always open and we should be around to welcome you from the afternoon of the first day onwards. (We usually go to pay our respects to my parents and my mother-in-law in the morning of the first day and wish them a Happy New Year and after that, we would head on home straight away.)

Gosh!!! In the meantime, the things kept coming like it was never going to stop! I must say that I am truly abundantly blessed…and I really must thank my cousin, Doreen and her hubby, Bened, for these delightful gifts…

From Dorren & Bened

…for Chinese New Year – they even had to take a little time off during their lunch break to drop by my house and send the things over before heading back to work.

Thank you to you too, my nephew, John, who is currently working in KL, for these…

From John

…and don’t look at me! I did not touch the ngaku (fried arrowroot chips) but my girl loves it so much that she almost finished the whole tub in one sitting. Never mind! After all, this is what Chinese New Year is all about – to eat and enjoy to one’s heart’s content…and what a coincidence! I received a 2nd tub of the ngaku (and some other lovely goodies) from a friend who wishes to stay anonymous but thank you all the same for everything – you know who you are. You sure made my girl very happy!!!

Just when I thought that was it, the poslaju guy came honking at my gate and  pass me these…

From mun

My! My! It certainly looks like it is a bak kua year for me…for they keep coming! Thank you very much, zmun2 – it is really nice and thoughtful of you to go through the trouble of sending me all the stuff and the greeting card as well. Oooo…gold nuggets in a bag of the very auspicious red colour! Hopefully that is a sign of a windfall that is to come. Wink! Wink! LOL!!!

Well, a lot of people have shared this cartoon on Facebook…

Cartoon

…and yes, it had not been a very good year.

However, for me personally, the Year of the Horse was all right, other than the untimely passing of a very dear friend, and a few others as well…but there had been some happy moments – weddings in the family here, here and here and those of my ex-students as well, friends, old and new, who came to visit – from Trengganu, Singapore, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,  Australia/Vietnam and the US of A…and we had been blessed with good health and days that went by pretty smoothly one by one  so all in all, I would say that it had not been too bad.

But of course, we look forward to the new year, the Year of the Goat, with the hope that it would be a good year, one that would be a lot better than the last for one and all. For that we pray…

Love is in the air…

This was on Valentine’s Day…

Hearts

…that day when we dropped by the hypermart at one of the megamalls in town to pick up a thing or two and while we were there, we decided to stop by this place there for lunch. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along my camera that day and I had to depend on the one in my mobile phone so do excuse the blurry and less-than-satisfactory snapshots in this post. The fact that the place wasn’t exactly bright (as in the case of all their other outlets), despite it being lunchtime, sure did not help one bit…and I had to resort to using the little yellow lamp that they had on the table.

I had their mee mamak (RM10.00)…

Mee mamak

which I just had not too long ago because my missus wanted the char kway teow (RM10.00)…

CKT

Between the two, we all thought the mee mamak was nicer but the sambal belacan that came with the kway teow was really very very good.

Gosh!!! The servings were HUGE! One would be enough for three, at least, so the two would be enough to go round for a party of six. I really do wish they would reduce the size of their servings (and charge a little less) so that diners would be able to order some other dishes and have a wider variety to enjoy. As it is, halfway through, one would be struggling to finish what’s on the plate and like how the Law of Diminishing Returns works, even what seems so very nice initially would no longer be as nice in the end. As a matter of fact, my missus who absolutely loves chao chai hung ngang saw some people having it and the giant bowl in which it was served and that put her off immediately – it was so big like a basin…or I thought that was about the size of a tham phui (Victorian chamber pot)!

My girl felt like having something western so she ordered the grilled chicken with homemade brown gravy (RM18.00)…

Grilled chicken

…and she said it was nice. No, it wasn’t that orange, the gravy – blame it on the camera. LOL!!!

I also ordered their turkey ham and cheese toast (RM12.00)…

Toast

…to try but no, I do feel their tuna toast is nicer and of course, we just could not eat most of it and had to tapao the rest home.

My girl insisted on picking up the tab that day. She said that it was Valentine’s Day and the day is for all loved ones and she would like to give a special treat to the ones she loves. Wasn’t that so very sweet of her?

Incidentally, I went out for breakfast with two of my ex-students yesterday morning but that will be in a later post on another day. Gosh!!! It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today and the big day is tomorrow…and of course, many of them have come home for the festival. The two sweet boys gave me these…

Goodies for Chinese New Year

- one gave me TWO big bottles of his mum’s very special homemade acar (cucumber pickle) which of course, I would enjoy with my freshly-fried keropok (prawn crackers) and the other went out of his way and queued for over an hour to buy me this celebrated (some say it is the best in Singapore) airplane-brand Lim Chee Guan bak kua (barbecued meat slices). Thank you so much, boys – honestly, with such thoughtful students like you two, it sure makes it so much more worthwhile being a teacher. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

Chandelier…

When you see chandeliers…

Chandelier

…all over the restaurant and the captain all nicely-dressed up…

Smart

…and folding cloth napkins, no less, for the main tables for that night’s function and braised peanuts served as starters…

Peanuts

…you would expect the bill at the end of the meal to be quite high, you reckon?

Well, we dropped by one like that the other day for lunch and had their signature dish – their fish head curry…

FHC 1

…with a special request for extra vegetables thrown in…

FHC 2

…so that we could have a one-dish meal with rice and there would not be any need to order any other dishes to go with it.

That, by itself, was RM55 and absolutely worth it considering that they do it so very well here, better than any that I have had at other places. The peanuts were RM2.50 and rice was RM1.50 a plate. We all had iced water which was only RM1.00 a glass – I do know of a few places that charge much more than that!

Needless to say, we all enjoyed our lunch here…

Sheraton, Sibu

…and if there is anyone who does not know where it is, just drive along Brooke Drive from the town, past Telekoms and you will soon get to it on your left – the big, relatively-new Lin Clan Building is across the road, on your right.

Now, moving away from our lunch, these came via one courier agency here…

Via courier

…on Saturday afternoon from my very dear friend all the way in KL. Thank you, Mandy, for the lovely Chinese New Year card…

CNY card

…all red and gold for good luck and prosperity, and also for the very nice Mount Kinabalu t-shirt…

T-shirt & key card

…and thank you so much also for all the hotel key-cards to add to my collection. It’s so very sweet of you to remember to save them for me everytime you go travelling. You’re truly a gem, sweetheart – hope you will have a wonderful Chinese New Year celebration too and an awesome Year of the Goat! Cheers!

On a more solemn and very sad note, I would like to close today’s post with this special dedication in loving memory of my very very dear friend who left us very suddenly on this day last year

Missing you heaps, Jimmy. You will always be forever in our hearts.