The quiet side…

After the disappointment on the first day of Ramadan – there wasn’t anything that tickled our fancy at the bazaar we went to and my girl and I did not buy anything at all even though my missus did tapao some sambal petai udang (stink beans with prawns) and sambal terung (brinjal/egg plant) which were very nice but very expensive and she got only a little bit of each, very little considering that she paid at least RM10.00 for one – we went to our preferred one on the second day, the one that we would go to every year.

It was a Friday so I asked my missus and my girl to look for some nice stuff that the latter would like for dinner, some ikan bakar (grilled fish) or sotong bakar (grilled squid) perhaps – it was our no-meat day so we were abstaining from all the alluring meat delights that we saw at the bazaar.

In the meantime, I walked around slowly looking at all the things they had in store at every stall…right up to the very far end of the bazaar, the quiet side which did not seem to get a lot of attention and was not so crowded. There, at the very last stall in the line, I spotted one with a very young girl and an even younger boy, probably the brother, sitting there waiting for somebody to stop by. Poor things, I thought! So, of course, I went over to have a look at what they had to sell and I decided I would buy something from them just to help them a bit in their undertaking.

In the end, I bought this sambal buah (RM4.00)…

Pasar Ramadan sambal buah mangga 1

…which they made out of unripened mango. It was very nice, with the right level of spiciness but very very sour so my missus added a bit of sugar to counter-balance the overly-sourish taste and it was just nice after that…

Pasar Ramadan sambal buah mangga 2

We sure enjoyed it with our rice for dinner that night and finished it all in one sitting.

They were also selling umai, the Melanau “raw” fish delight, daging masak hitam at only RM5.00 a tub (I saw some selling the same at RM7.00 at some other stalls but of course, they may have more inside, I wouldn’t know) and chicken curry too. I decided to buy their fish curry (RM6.00)…

Pasar Ramadan fish curry 1

…which turned out to be very nice too but it was a bit salty. I guess it is kind of difficult for those people to cook at this time of year when they are not able to taste their cooking to see if everything is all right.

My missus added a bit of water when heating it up and it was not too bad after that. The gravy went very well with rice and the fish…

Pasar Ramadan fish curry 2

…was good too, The girl did tell me the name of the fish but I am no good at those so it did not ring a bell.

I got this tempeh (RM2.00)…

Pasar Ramadan tempeh

…from another stall thinking that my girl would like it – she enjoys tempeh very much but unfortunately, it was in dire need of a lot more ingredients other than the few ikan bilis that I could see in it as it was, at best, just salty and not very tasty, definitely not anything I would want to buy again.

At another stall, I saw this kuih bungkur (RM2.00 for a pack of 3)…

Pasar Ramadan kuih bungkur 1

…which were smaller than the regular ones, usually sold singly and knowing how my girl loves this, of course, I had to buy a few packs home.

I was not too comfortable with how they had used the stapler…

Pasar Ramadan kuih bungkur 2

…to staple the banana leaves together – normally, they would use a toothpick or a lidi (skewer) but I guess as long as one is careful in removing it and getting it out of the way, it would not matter all that much.

Being made from ground rice or rice flour, this lovely pudding…

Pasar Ramadan kuih bungkur 3

…with gula apong (nipah palm sugar) at the bottom makes a very nice light dessert that we could enjoy after a meal.

Then, at another stall, I saw this tofu fa (RM2.00)…

Pasar Ramadan tofu fa 1

…with gula Melaka (palm sugar). Usually, at the Chinese stalls and shops, they will use sugar syrup which, I feel, is not as nice. Having said that, the texture of the tofu fa in this one is not that silky and smooth…

Pasar Ramadan tofu fa 2

…but it was all right and I did enjoy it very much.

So that was it for the 2nd day of Ramadan. Hang on to see what’s in store on the 3rd day. LOL!!!

THE BANDONG RAMADAN BAZAAR (2.314192, 111.825581) is located around the shops at Jalan Bandong and all along Bandong Walk, somewhere around the primary schools and the surau in the vicinity.

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Every picture tells a story…

On the 1st day of Ramadan, we went to check out one of the bazaars in the town centre but there wasn’t anything that we found appealing. In the end, we decided to walk over to the venue of…

Sibu Street Art Festival

…one of the festivals held here annually to have a look at what they had in store.

The festival for this year had already ended and from their Facebook page, I noticed that they had workshops and things going on at the time. I do not know how long they will leave the artworks there but it sure would be a good idea to have them around for visitors to drop by and admire and take photographs…

Having fun at the Sibu Street Art Festival

If anyone is wondering where the location (2.290047, 111.823891) is, it is by the side of the Sibu Town Square along Island Road (Jalan Pulau) near the Rejang Port Authority Building…

RPA & the Twin Towers

…not far from the Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri office…

LHDN Office

There are some very nice ones that one would not be able to see when driving past in a car – that was why I never bothered as I thought there wasn’t anything worth the trouble.

I like the message in this one…

Meaningful

…and this very colourful one is by the son of some friends of mine…

By my friends' son

– if I am not mistaken, he is also a foodie in his own right but on Instagram and I’m not into that.

This one by the people at the local university here is unique…

UCTS

…in the sense that theirs is not a painting but a carving out of plywood or whatever. There are lights hidden behind the panels so my guess is that it will look very much nicer at night.

I thought this one is very cute – depicting the birds…

The birds

…that would come in the evening, thousands of them like the ones here at Dengkil in Selangor…

Birds in the tree at Dengkil, Selangor
*Archive photo*

That is why when one is out somewhere in town at night, one must not park one’s car under a tree or something so as not to get their droppings all over the vehicle.

They also have one of the egrets…

The egrets

So many of them appeared here out of nowhere at one time that one would see places dotted in white like flocks of sheep but for some reason, they are getting scarce now. Maybe the heat these days is getting to them so they have migrated some place else. I did blog about a lovesick one sometime ago in 2012 if anyone can remember.

Most of them are about food though – many would agree that that is what Sibu is all about…

All about food

– the kampua mee, the kompia, the dianpainngu and the mee sua, the making…

Making mee sua

…and a bowl of it, ready for the eating…

Mee sua and chickens

…and yes, the newspaper-wrapped chicken (and ducks)…

Newspaper-wrapped chickens
*Archive photo*

…are indeed a tourist attraction – correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think one can see this anywhere else.

This one pays tribute to the coffee shops…

The coffee shop culture

…here in Sibu. There are so many coffee shops in the town, at least one or two or three or more in one block of shops unlike other places I had been to where I had to walk and walk and walk and still could not find a decent place to stop by and eat.

We sure enjoyed ourselves very much that day and if these are anything to go by, we certainly would look forward to the one next year.

This time every year…

It was Mother’s Day last Sunday, the second Sunday in May, and this time every year, I would buy something nice, flowers, a cake or cookies, something for my mum on this special day.

This is my first Mother’s Day without her – she passed away on the 4th of March this year so last Saturday, we made our way to our parents’ resting place…

To wish her a Happy Mum's Day

…specially to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. We brought some flowers, lighted some candles and after saying some prayers for the repose of their souls, we headed back into town.

We decided to stop by here for brunch, a little celebration of our own in advance as the very next day, we would be sending our girl back to her school in the jungle. No, we did not have anything special, just our usual favourites – I had their Bangladeshi lamb curry (RM19.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi lamb curry

…while my sister had their green chicken curry (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe green chicken curry

My girl also had lamb, her favourite lamb masala (RM19.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe lamb masala

…while the mum stuck faithfully to their kacang ma chicken (RM16.00, with rice)…

Payung Cafe kacang ma chicken

I could not resist ordering their version of the tempoyak or fermented durian (RM18.00)…

Payung Cafe tempoyak

…to share. I had run out of what I had stocked up in my freezer a long time ago and I really felt like having that that day.

This was on the house, their very nice pomelo salad…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and Peter, the boss also gave to my  girl and the mum some kim chi

Kim chi from Peter

…that some relative of his, a niece or somebody married to somebody in Korea and residing there, made when he or she was back in town. That sure sounds like it’s pretty authentic, eh?

No, we did not have anything grand, just this simple brunch, but it was of course, no less meaningful as all of us in the immediate family here had the chance to get together and to cherish the fond memories of our dear mum on this very special day.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

Tribute…

The Sacred Heart Old Students’ Association (SHOSA) and the alumni of our sister school, St Elizabeth’s Old Students’ Association (SEOSA) held their combined Annual Reunion Dinner last Saturday, 31st March, 2018 at one of the ballrooms at a leading hotel in town…

SHOSA & SEOSA Annual Reunion Dinner 2018

I was invited to the one last year, 2017, too and I did book a table myself and was there with my family and some of my ex-classmates in 2013 while in 2014, my good friend, Robert, also my ex-classmate, booked two tables and asked us to join him. I think it was in 2016 that they had this annual gathering at the school’s centenary hall and yes, I was invited but I did not feel well that day so I had to miss it…and I can’t remember what happened in 2015.

Anyway, this year, Robert booked a table again and yes, he did ask me to join them…

Robert & friends at their table
*Friend’s photo*

…but I had already accepted the invitation from the alumni.

I do enjoy this annual event as I will get to meet many of my friends including those good old friends of mine from the good ol’ days…

Group photo
*One of the girls’ photos on Facebook*

…and also many of my ex-students, some of whom I would only get to see once a year – at this much-looked-forward-to event..

This year, the theme was “Tribute”…

Theme - Tribute

…and the two former students’ associations were paying tribute to the retired teachers, 20 from my school and 10 from the girls’ school, and for reasons unknown, my photographs appeared in the local English daily as well as the Chinese one…

In the news

Each of us received this very nice-looking plaque…

In appreciation

…in appreciation of our services over the years. Actually, I was an ex-student of the school myself too – from Form 1 to Form 5.

They usually pick the date each year to coincide with the Ching Ming Festival but this year, the festival was a bit later – on the 5th, a weekday and perhaps the dinner coincided with the Good Friday/Easter weekend so probably there were some who chose to go to church for the Easter Vigil and there were not as many tables as last year.

Next year, it will be on Saturday, the 6th of April…and Ching Ming in 2019 will be a day earlier, on Friday, the 5th, (It will not coincide with Good Friday/Easter, on the 19th of April) so if anyone is planning to come back at that time for the festival and also to join the reunion dinner, it would be best to book your airline tickets AND your hotel rooms real early as  they would all be fully-booked as the time approaches.

Where did the time go…

Where did all the time go? In the blink of an eye, all the years have flown – the kids have grown into men and we would have grown much older ourselves while some would have gone ahead before us.

I was at my nephew’s wedding in Kuching and though it felt somewhat recent, that was 2 years ago in 2016 and I had not seen him nor his brother since then. That was why when they called me and asked me to join them for a get-together, I accepted the invitation without a second thought even though I had had my dinner already, an early one that evening.

There I was with the boys and their mum and the grandson plus the wife of one of them, a cousin of mine – the brother of their late father – and his wife, three generations altogether…

Gathering with the Ong's

…at this hotel café – every place else was full that night, the Ching Ming/Good Friday and Easter weekend. I was here a long time ago, in 2011 to be exact, after they had given the place a fresh new look but I was not very impressed by what we had so we had never come back since.

As I have said earlier, I had had my dinner already so I wanted something light and what looked kind of small in the photograph in their menu turned out to be huge, their club sandwich…

Bamboo House club sandwich

It was all right, nothing great – I had club sandwiches a whole lot nicer elsewhere.

My cousin and the nephew had this Cantonese fried kway teow

Bamboo House Cantonese fried kway teow

…and they were unhappy with the fish fillet in it – they said it had a smell like it wasn’t fresh so they left it by the side. Probably that was the frozen fish fillet we can get everywhere around town – I am never a fan of that.

They certainly were not very generous with the lamb chops…

Bamboo House lamb chop

…unlike what we would get here – I shall not compare the prices as one is just a coffee shop and yes, we do need to fork out extra when we choose to go to some place nice.

The satay, beef…

Bamboo House satay

…and chicken, were not well done enough but it sure made up for the lack of the charred fragrance by whatever they used to marinate the meat. It was bursting with flavours and I thought they were very nice and their peanut satay sauce was really good too. I sure would not mind coming back again just for this.

They did order a lot of other things but owing to the dim light at the place, the photos came out blur and anyway, we weren’t there with the sole intention of eating and leaving but more to chat and catch up with one another’s lives and enjoy the company. This, I must say, would be a great place to do that as it was not as busy as elsewhere, and not as noisy as many places as well…and like what my cousin said the two hours plus went by so quickly that it felt like 10 minutes!

Thank you, Nicholas and Edgar, for including me in the gathering – I sure had a delightful time and I sure am looking forward to the next time we can get together like this again.

BAMBOO HOUSE is located at the ground floor of the Premier Hotel (2.288946, 111.830218)…

Premier Hotel Sibu

…right beside the lobby, at The Sarawak House along Jalan Kampung Nyabor.

Mama…

Today marks the 7th Day after the passing of my dear beloved mum…

Flowers 1

She was into her 11th year, bedridden as a result of a backbone and nerve problem that caused her so much pain that she was unable to walk. My father, who was around at the time, decided not to go ahead with the surgery as the risks were high as she had heart problem, diabetes and anything and everything but knowing her for who she had always been, she put up with it all and was always cheerful and got on all right with her condition.

Of course, over the years, it got worse and the pain she was suffering from got more chronic and intense and she was somewhat depressed, especially after my father died and that badly affected her emotionally, her appetite, her physical strength and everything. There were all kinds of problems and ailments along the way…so much so that we are indeed thankful to God above that He has seen it fitting to grant her relief from all that she had endured all these years…

Flowers 2

We were always very close during my growing up years probably because I was the second of her two naughty boys and it was not until 9 years later that my sister came along.

Flowers 3

I was the one in the kitchen with her, doing all the peeling, cutting and chopping, all the pounding…and beating the eggs and the cake batter using that brass thing that looked like a spring and she had me keep an eye on the rice. We did not have a rice cooker then so we cooked that on a kerosene stove, later a gas cooker and I was thankful for that – in 1994, when I was in the UK, we did not have a rice cooker either and I could easily cook the rice without any problem at all – when the other guys in our house in the university campus did it, it would turn out uncooked or it became porridge.

I was the one who would accompany her to the market, carrying the rattan basket and everything she bought was wrapped in newspapers in those days and was placed in the basket which got heavier and heavier as we went along from stall to stall and at the end of it all, we would take the bus home.

I was the one who would accompany her to watch those Malay movies from Shaw Brothers and Cathay Organisation as well as the Hindi movies, the afternoon matinee at 2.00 p.m. I guess my dad was not into those, only the English and the Chinese ones that we would go and watch together at night – he had to work, running his business, during the day from early morning till late afternoon.

I was the one who would go to a pengillan with her, the Malay/Melanau wedding receptions at the kampung, go and nanggok in the stream beside our house with our maternal grandma – her mum, our maternal grand-auntie – my grandma’s sister and her sisters and cousin – my aunties. At the end of it all, all of us would gather around and sit on the floor to enjoy the fruits of our labour. How I enjoyed eating the luit, those little shrimps, still alive and jumping around, with the sambal that she would prepare.

Flowers 4

Of course, boys will be boys and there were times a-plenty when we got on her nerves and pushed it a little too far so we had to be taught a good lesson. Spare the road and spoil the child, so they say. I remember my dad as the sole breadwinner and yes, he provided for us very well all through the years but I do not recall him being the disciplinarian that my mum was but even so, he would just sit there and we would not dare make a sound. On the other hand, despite all the scolding, the caning and everything, we drove our mum up the wall!

She was a superwoman who did everything – the cleaning, the washing, the laundry, the ironing, the cooking from dawn to dusk, the gardening and mowing our massively-expansive lawn with no less than 10 rambutan trees in just one section of it, among all kinds of trees that we had all over the land where our house was sited and yes, she was the one climbing up those trees, harvesting the fruits for sale…and of course, I was there to lend a hand. Shudders! She even single-handedly slaughtered the chickens to cook for us and her chicken curry was simply the best – family and friends would flock to our house without fail every Christmas  and Chinese New Year just to enjoy it!

Come Christmas, my aunties – her sisters – would give us cloth by the yard, not the kind of gifts little kids would fancy and look forward to…and my mum would make identical shirts on her sewing machine for my brother and I in time for Chinese New Year when the two of us would don those shirts like identical twins, not that we looked anything like each other. No, we did not buy clothes from departmental stores then – there weren’t any at the time.

Flowers from Melissa to grandma
*Flowers from my girl specially for her dearly beloved grandma on the 7th day of her passing*

No, I would not say she had a hard life – I do think she found joy and fulfilment in all the things she did and yes, she loved us well. I could go on and on about the happy times, the wonderful memories from all those years – there is so much to remember and cherish and sad though I may be that she has left us, after all those times, watching her in pain, feeling so helpless as there was nothing much we could do other than to comfort her and be around for her and to pray,  I am thankful to the Lord that by His Will and His Mercy, she would have to suffer no more.

Eternal rest, grant unto my mum, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. God bless her soul, may she rest in peace.

Mother of mine…

The Good Lord has seen it fitting to welcome His daughter, Julia – my beloved mum…

Mother of mine

…into his Heavenly Kingdom yesterday, Sunday, the 4th of March, 2018 at around 3.00 p.m., thus granting her relief from her long years of suffering and pain. She had been bedridden for over 10 years, now into her 11th year already.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. God bless her soul, may she rest in peace.

As a mark of deep respect and profound love and affection, there shall be no updates in my blog till after the funeral on Tuesday, the 6th of March, 2018. Please say a little prayer for the repose of her soul. Thank you