Come and go…

In Chinese (Hokkien) we say, “Oo lai oo khi,” which may be literally translated as got come, got go, something along the same line as the give and take philosophy in life.

Well, last Saturday, after the nasi Arab lunch, we went to the supermarket round the corner to browse around and I picked up some stuff that I thought would be nice for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival coming up next week – the one who would give her a lift back to town every Friday unless there are matters arising and we would have to go and pick her instead which isn’t very often so that would save us a lot of trouble and cut our travelling/my driving by half, more or less.

No, she does not charge anything but my girl would chip in when they stop at a petrol station to fill up the tank and she would give her a little something (ang pao) periodically. That was why I thought it would be nice to give her something for the forthcoming auspicious occasion that she will be celebrating to express our gratitude and appreciation for her help all these years.

True to what they say, “As you give, thus shall you receive,” and that evening just before I went for the sunset service in church, I received word from my friend, Mary, asking me to drop by her restaurant the next morning as she and her crew would like to give me this steamed kampung chicken…

Steamed kampung chicken from Flavours Thai Kitchen

…for no apparent reason, just out of the goodness and generosity of her/their hearts. Isn’t that so very sweet of them?

When I went there that morning, Sunday, I decided to tapao my girl’s favourite, their pad Thai

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai

…home and those were what we had for brunch that morning before we made our way to my girl’s school in the jungle for just one more week before the two-week mid-year holidays starting right after tomorrow, Friday.

We made our way home ourselves, my missus and I and after dinner that night, I got a surprise call from my dear friend, Richard. Why, it’s that time of year again and in no time at all, he was at my house to give me some of his awesomely yummy out-of-this-world simply-the-best own-made nyonya chang (meat dumplings)…

Richard's nyonya chang

…like what he will do year after year, without fail.

I googled to check and I found out that this year, the Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival will fall on the 30th of May,  Tuesday next week.

I had just had dinner but no, I could not possibly wait another day and that was why I immediately took one, unwrapped it…

Richard's nyonya chang, unwrapped

…and ate.

Boy!!! This Richard keeps getting better and better each year and this year, it was exceptionally good – none that I’ve bought in Kuching or Malacca nor those from Singapore would come anywhere close and look at all that meat in it…

Richard's nyonya chang, so much meat
*Sorry for the slightly blurry pic – the challenge of night photography with the insufficient lighting*

Thank you so so so much, Richard, and also to you, Mary & everybody at Flavours, both truly unexpected but most welcome indeed and I do believe these were special blessings for the insignificantly small gesture on my part to get a little something for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival – what goes around comes around, got come, got go!

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.

Ladies’ choice…

It was my wife’s birthday last Saturday so I let her and our girl choose where they would want to go for dinner and of course, the ladies wanted to go to the Korean place…

Daksemari Korean BBQ

…here for the eat-all-you-can barbecue buffet dinner…

Eat-all-you-can barbecue buffet

…that we checked out not too long ago and liked a lot

Golden piggies

We also asked my Sibu brother-in-law and his missus to join us, five of us altogether.

It appears that now they have set lunches and also an à la carte menu that you can order from…

Daksemari lunch sets and a la carte menu

…but no, we were quite happy to just go for the buffet.

Most of the tables here would be just nice for 3 or 4 people and there are some for large groups so in the end, we were seated at the sole table for 5 by the door, right below the air conditioner and with the cold wind blowing straight ahead, I could feel the heat and was feeling most uncomfortable and was sweating profusely all night long. My girl also grumbled that she could feel some sprinkling of water from the air conditioner above our heads.

The buffet spread was more or less the same as what they had on our previous visit. They still had the eggs that I enjoyed a lot…

Eggs

…and this time around, they only had one choice of sushi…

Sushi

– there were two the last time around.

I think they did not have the sandwiches…

Sandwiches

…before but I would not think those were anything to shout about and I was wishing they could have a few different dishes at least, no need for too many – after all, they do have quite a selection on their à la carte menu.

My missus went and took the meat, plain…

Meat, plain

…and marinated…

Meat, marinated

…and I did get some of the prawns…

Prawns

…though there were just a couple of big ones while the rest were all rather small. I did not bother to take the fish – I think they were sardines but they were so small that they looked like herrings to me. I shouldn’t have bothered taking these crustaceans either as this hard-shell variety has a somewhat strong smell and is not all that nice and because they were so small, most of them, it really was not worth the trouble peeling and eating.

Once we had everything we wanted, we were ready to roll…

Let's start cooking

…and we waited and waited but the meat slices did not look like they were cooking at all so we called for help and one of the girls came and did something to rekindle the fire below and left. Still we waited and waited – the previous time, we managed to cook everything so fast and had to be quick so as not to burn everything we had on the hot plate.

I asked the guy this time and he came and removed the gas canister inside the grill and replaced it with a new one and everything was all right after that. Darn!!! They should have done that the first time we informed them that there was a problem.

For dessert, they had watermelon and honey dew and these slices of cheese sponge cake…

Cheese sponge cake

…and we also had the ice cream but trying to scoop our selected flavours out of the containers in the freezer was such a chore. They were all so very hard – I suspect they switch off the electricity at night and turn it back on in the morning and that is how the ice cream became more like ice, no cream.

Perhaps the novelty had worn off and we thought we enjoyed ourselves a lot more the first time around but it was quite obvious whether we would come here again or not would not make a difference – the place was packed to the brim which comes as no surprise at all with the current trend these days where most everybody is so into everything and anything Korean.

DAKSEMARI KOREAN BBQ (2.287332, 111.826574) is located at No. 8, Jalan Chew Geok Lin (formerly Old Street) that leads straight to the Tua Pek Kong 7-storey Pagoda Temple.

Temporary…

My girl sounded keen on going for a movie that was showing here that day – she went for the first one sometime ago with her friends but they have since moved to Kuching so I asked her if she wanted to go but she said no. Not one to give up so easily, I persisted and eventually, she relented. So there we were at the trioplex for the 4.30 p.m. show…and yes, it was nice and we did enjoy it and no, it was not all shoot, punch, slash and burn and all those stuff that would draw the crowd to the movies here. My girl, who insisted on paying for the tickets, was delighted that we actually liked it – she did not think that it was the kind of movie that would appeal to us and according to her, this one was nicer than the first. Probably that was why she was reluctant to go initially.

There was an emotional touch to it, mainly the part where the hero was looking for his father and he did find him eventually but he did not turn out to be who he expected him to be…and I loved this line towards the end, “Sometimes, the thing you’ve been looking for your whole life is right there beside you all along,” and there were things that I was familiar with – like the SONY Walkman…

…for instance, and when I caught a glimpse at the album cover of “Tea for the Tillerman“, I was probably the only one in the hall who knew right away that there was going to be a Cats Stevens’ song…and true enough, “Father and son” was one of the many familiar tunes in the soundtrack.

It was already almost 7.00 p.m. when the movie ended, too late to go home and cook dinner, so we dropped by here…

Halal Chinese restaurant at Bandong

…at Bandong on the way back. This coffee shop is supposed to be here and they have put up a nice new sign even so I do not know what arrangement the parties concerned have between them and whether these occupants would be here permanently but I guess it would only be temporary. Right now, there are massive renovations going on in the vicinity and these guys have a shop somewhere in the middle of the main blocks of shops opposite so they have to move here for the time being. They probably would shift back when everything is completed.

For our drinks, we had fresh coconut (RM3.50)…

Bandong fresh coconut

…and there was a satay stall in front, an ikan bakar (grilled fish/seafood) stall by the side and an umai (raw fish, traditional Melanau style) stall inside plus there was a lot of cooking going on in the kitchen at the back and that was only to be expected judging from the crowd sitting in front of the shop in the open and I did see a lot of people from the tables all along the Bandong Walk proper coming over to order this and that from here.

This grilled sambal sotong/squid (RM10.00)…

Bandong sambal sotong bakar

…was served first…but we were not given any cutlery nor were we served the rice yet. My patience was beginning to wear rather thin and I saw plates of midin (wild jungle fern) fried with belacan (dried prawn paste) being served to the other tables and I was quite positive that one of them was ours. Thankfully, our order (RM8.00)…

Bandong fried midin with belacan

…came soon enough and by then, we had been served our rice and given our forks and spoons and everything was all right after that.

We also had this plate of kerang masak kicap/cockles in soy sauce (RM10.00)…

Bandong kerang masak kicap 1

…and even though I specifically stated loud and clear that we did not want anything with soy sauce and wheat flour, all the instructions fell on deaf ears…obviously. I kept telling my girl not to eat that but she could not resist – she loves cockles – and helped herself to a  few…

Bandong kerang masak kicap 2

– thankfully, there were no side effects or none that she cared to mention to me.

We also had the grilled ikan sebelah muka/one-sided faced fish (RM20.00)…

Bandong ikan bakar

…or what we call in Hokkien, nor bin hu (two-faced fish) and yes, both this fish and the aforementioned sotong were really very good. The sambal was great and with the squeeze of the calamansi lime by the side, it sure brought the taste to a whole new level.

Considering how very nice and inexpensive the food was, we sure would want to come back again soon…but the next time around, perhaps we should make it a little earlier and hopefully, there would not be so many people around then.

THIS RESTAURANT (2.313918, 111.825898) is located at the corner of the block of shops in the vicinity of Bandong Walk, Jalan Bandong, right beside the 1Malaysia Clinic there.

Hot day…

It was so terribly hot last Sunday afternoon that even the cuttlefish took out their sexy and attractive colourful shades and put them on…

Asian Food Fest cuttlefish in sunglasses

LOL!!! Don’t they look cute? This was at the Asian Food Fest that was held here last weekend and despite the scorching heat, we decided to go and have a look around. It probably would have been a better idea to go at night but it would be too crowded, the traffic would be real heavy (that road is often jammed even when there is nothing on) and parking could be a pain and since this was held in the car park of the mall, that certainly would not help ease the situation one bit.

Some stalls seemed to draw a lot more people than others like this one, for instance…

Asian Food Fest Thai mango ice cream stall 1

…that was selling that Thai mango ice cream drink…

Thai mango ice cream drink stall 2

…something perfect for such a very hot day so my girl went to queue up and she bought me one…

Thai mango ice cream drink

…too. It was all right – I wished they would use only the ripe fruit as the not-very-ripe ones were rather sour and I did not quite enjoy that.

This stall attracted quite a crowd too…

Asian Food Fest stinky tofu stall

You would be able to tell what they were selling from the horrendous smell wafting through the air – the celebrated Taiwanese stinky tofu…

Asian Food Fest stinky tofu

My missus bought that, RM10 for a cup like that. It tasted all right, not smelly but not something that I would be dying to eat again. I really cannot see what all the excitement is all about.

I don’t know which country this was supposed to represent – fried crabs…

Asian Food Fest fried crabs

…but this is definitely Korean – the glutinous rice-stuffed squid…

Asian Food Fest glutinous rice-stuffed squid

My girl said she had this in Korea, the sausage in bread crumb-coated batter, deep fried…

Asian Food Fest deep-fried sausage in bread crumb-coated batter

…and she said it was not really nice. Personally, I did not think it looked like it would be something really spectacular.

I always thought this is Japanese…

Asian Food Fest fish with ice cream

…or maybe the Koreans have it too – the poor fish choked to death by the ice cream…and I’ve seen these spiral potatoes…

Asian Food Fest spiral potatoes

…at food fairs and at the stalls all over town and I did not know they are of Korean origin.

Hmmmm…so these bingsu shaved ice desserts…

Asian Food Fest Korean bingsu shaved ice dessert

…are Korean as well, eh?

Then, there was this boy making this pancake…

Asian Food Fest pancake

…so is that Korean too or some Taiwanese street food, anybody?

I thought this was interesting, the boy at this stall…

Asian Food Fest Thai fruit ice rolls stall 1

…hard at work making the Thai fruit ice rolls…

Asian Food Fest Thai fruit ice rolls stall 2

…but no, I did not buy any.

My missus went and bought the salt-baked chicken from this stall…

Asian Food Fest salt-baked chicken stall

…to take home, RM35.00 for one somewhat small bird and no, it did not sweep me off my feet, that’s for sure! The smoked organic chicken at the eatery round the corner, just a stone’s throw away from here, is only a bit over RM20.00, a lot bigger and very very much nicer…and no, my missus would definitely not want to buy one of these…

Asian Food Fest roast duck

– she does not eat duck! On my part, I was wishing they had put them in some glass cabinet or something instead of hanging them in the open like that. I saw the ladies at the stall wrapping the meat and I asked them what they were using and one replied that it was just the frozen popiah skin so no, I was not keen on buying – that is made from wheat. If they had used the ultra-thin egg skin like the ones at some restaurants, I might consider.

I heard people grumbling that everything was so expensive, nothing less than RM10.00 but I did see many buying the things at these stalls and all the rest – there were quite a number more but I did not take photographs of all of them. I do think it is good to have an event like this though as people can get to try the culinary delights of countries far and wide especially those like me who cannot afford to fly over to sample what they have to offer and besides, with the ever dwindling value of our miserable ringgit, it can be just as expensive or even worse in some of those countries – the ladies went to Korea and no, they said nothing was cheap there.

Invited…

Sometime ago, I received an sms from an ex-colleague, also retired like me but more recently – earlier this year, informing me that the school’s alumni would like to invite me to their annual reunion dinner…

SHOSA/SEOSA annual reunion dinner 2017

…last Saturday evening at the grand ballroom at a leading hotel in town. Last year, I was invited too but I was somewhat under the weather at the time and I had to give it a miss when the time came. Luckily, this time around, I was as fit as a fiddle and was able to show up.

Nobody told me that they had a theme for the evening, “Springtime in Shanghai” and everyone was supposed to show up in Chinese traditional clothes. In fact, I had taken out my Chinese outfit from my wardrobe but in the end, I changed my mind and decided to go casually-dressed instead. Anyway, many of the ex-students had special t-shirts made, special ones for their specific years so I was not all that informal after all and did not stick out like a sore thumb.

In my previous post, I mentioned that everyone was home for the Ching Ming Festival and many took the opportunity to hold their high school or class reunions round this same time. Of course, that evening, the roads were jammed, the vehicles barely moving and my good friend, Richard, who so kindly offered to give me a lift had to park his car far away from the venue. Good grief! I hardly ever wear shoes after I retired and after walking all the way, I was sure my feet would be killing me but thankfully, I was fine when I got there. Besides, it rained heavily that afternoon so it was rather cool or else I would be perspiring from every pore, drenched like a drowned rat or something the cat dragged in after the walk…and I managed to show up at the dinner, not a hair out of place…

Table of retirees
*Friend’s photo on Facebook*

Incidentally, the handsome young man standing up is the alumni’s president, also the much respected Resident of Sibu…and his daughter, now pursuing her further studies overseas, was in my English tuition class at one time. The others were some of my ex-colleagues at the same table that night, all retirees like me.

Dinner was good and it started off as usual with the more-than-Four Seasons…

Kingwood more-than-Four Seasons

…followed by a soup dish and then, the duck was served…

Kingwood stuffed duck 1

– my favourite at this place, the one stuffed with glutinous rice and salted egg and all…

Kingwood stuffed duck 2

…something like lor mai kai.

There was fish next, steamed, but it did not impress me much and anyway, the photograph turned out blur and a mixed vegetable dish followed, mostly cauliflower and I did not take a photograph of that either.

I liked the cereal prawns…

Kingwood cereal prawns

…that night. I had on a few occasions encountered those that were not so fresh and was really put off by it but thankfully, the ones we got that night were very good.

Lastly, we had the fruit platter – 7 dishes altogether. Gone were the days when we had 10…or 12 even but that was fine as I did enjoy the dinner and had more than my fair share of everything…especially the duck. Hehehehehe!!!!

I certainly had a delightful evening and what I loved most was the very relaxed mood, none of the hard-to-breathe and very boring stiffness of some official gatherings and I did move around quite a bit, meeting old friends from near and far, some I had not seen for dunno-how-many-years! I sure enjoyed that.

It was announced to everyone present that evening, around 140 tables altogether, that next year’s event will be held on Saturday, the 31st of March so those not wanting to miss it should book their air tickets early…and it would be a good idea to book your hotel room(s) way in advance as well.

Rescue me…

My rambutan tree…

My rambutan tree BEFORE

…had not been doing very well for a while now. If you are interested in its history, you can read all about it here. It did flower and bear fruit towards the end of last year but sporadically. The fruits were few and far between and besides, they were small, not fleshy nor juicy and sweet so we did not even bother to go and pluck them – we just left them there to wither and turn black and drop off the tree.

How did it turn out this way, you may wonder? Well, for one thing, it had been sadly neglected, terribly in need of fertilisers, surviving solely on the sunshine and the rain and another reason was that there were all the wild orchids…

Wild orchids and other parasitic plants

…and parasitic plants growing on the branches, absorbing all the moisture from them, drying them all up and choking them to death. I did try to get rid of some, the ones closer to the ground but my missus would not let me climb up the tree. “The branches are all so brittle,” she said, “and you are so fat! They will break the instant you step on them.”

It would be so sad to just let it die as it is the sole survivor here, the only one left but my paternal cousin in  Miri did tell me once that they had one tree there, from my grandfather’s fruit garden in Sg Merah here a long long time ago so if we include that one, there are only two left of this very nice and really special variety of the fruit.

I was absolutely delighted last Sunday morning when Peter (If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would know which Peter I’m talking about) brought his boys to my house to help get rid of those plants on the tree…

The boys at work

and saw away the branches that were dead and gone…

Sawn branches

…not just to get rid of them…

Dead branch

…but also to trim the tree a bit in the hope that this would encourage the growth of fresh new branches.

They even painstakingly scraped away the green moss on the branches…

Scraped branches

They said that it would be as bad as the plants and would kill the branches as well.

This is what the tree looks like now…

My rambutan tree AFTER

The foliage is not as thick as before and the sun can come shining through so it is no longer as dark and damp under those leaves anymore, conditions ideal for the growth of this wild orchids and parasitic plants as well as the green moss.

Thank you so so so much, Peter and the boys – I certainly would not be able to manage without your help. After this, I will have to do a little bit of weeding under the tree and dig the soil to add fertilisers and what not in the hope that the tree will be looking really good again…and fingers crossed, it will bear fruit in abundance come the end of this year!

When he came…

I was so delighted when he told me he would come to Sibu and pay me a visit, my blogger-friend, Nick, from Sungai Petani in Kedah

Nick

Never mind that I am caught up with all those things revolving around my parents at this point in time, I just had to make appropriate arrangements to slot in some time to take him around, sightseeing and eating some of the nice things around here…and look at all the stuff that the very nice guy brought all the way for me…

Goodies from Nick

I put him up at a small hotel here as I would not be home most of the day and at night, so he could be left to his own devices when I was not available to venture out and roam around on his own.

After meeting him upon arrival at the airport and taking him to check in, I took him here for the authentic ethnic Dayak delights for that special taste of Sarawak. It was already past 1.00 p.m. then so a lot of the things were running out and no, we did not have everything in a plate or a tray. For someone special on a visit, I insisted on everything served in separate bowls and plates like when I was here with my godson/ex-student, Andrew, from Christchurch, New Zealand that day.

He had the teh-c special…

Teh-c special

I hear one can get to drink this in Sarawak only, I don’t know how true that is but there were only two colours. Normally, I would expect a layer of green – either pandan or wheatgrass.

This was all that was left of the kacang ma chicken with tuak

Anak Borneo kacang ma chicken

…and the kasam ensabi with pork…

Anak Borneo kasam ensabi with pork

…but there was more than enough for Nick to get the taste of each of these delightful dishes.

I ordered this paku (wild jungle fern)…

Anak Borneo paku and cabbage

…with cabbage which I thought was an odd combination but I had never had it before and I wanted to give it a try. Well, personally, I think I would stick to our favourites here – the tapioca leaves and the cangkuk manis and pumpkin…

Anak Borneo cangkuk manis & pumpkin

…that we also had that day.

Of course I did not miss out the pansuh babi (pork cooked in bamboo tubes)…

Anak Borneo pansoh babi

…and to go with everything, I asked for the dabai fried rice…

Anak Borneo dabai fried rice

The total came up to RM21.00 and yes, Nick enjoyed all that we had – he said everything was nice and he particularly liked the unique kind of “herbal” taste of the dishes with all the natural ingredients used in the cooking.

Well, he’s leaving today but no worries, there is a lot more on his visit in the posts to come. Do stick around and see what else we have in store.

Thank you so much for coming, Nick. It certainly was my pleasure having you come and visit our little town…and I do hope you will come again someday…soon. All the best in everything that you do, take care, cheers!!!