7 years…

It has been 7 years.

It first bloomed in January, 2009 and again in May that same year and June as well but after the last time a year later in June, 2010, it never did bloom again.

It was my missus who planted it…in the ground and it grew well at the time. There was only a little bit of what was left of the dwindling, struggling-to-survive old plant when she transplanted it in a big pot and since I took up gardening, I have been able to take good care of it – all the weeding, replenishing the  soil, adding the fertilisers and of course, the daily watering and eventually, it started looking a whole lot better again…

Desert Rose 2017 1

In one moment of carelessness as I was watering the plants in my garden one morning, I caused some damage to this leaf…

Desert Rose 2017 2

…when it got caught in the hose I was using. It did not wither away and die though – obviously, this plant is a very sturdy one that can survive even in adverse conditions.

For one thing, that leaf did not look so nice and I was thinking of trimming it and throwing it away and thankfully, I never did that for out of that one leaf, I spotted these…

Desert Rose 2017 3

…and they grew and grew…

Desert Rose 2017 4

…and last Saturday, it sure looked like it was going to bloom…

Desert Rose 2017 5

…that night and it did…

Desert Rose 2017 6

…two blooms only on the 14th of January, 2017…

Desert Rose 2017 7

I have no idea whether there will be any more after this and one thing’s for sure, I most certainly hope so. Let’s just wait and see…

Forever as one…

Last week, right before the year drew to a close, I was invited to another wedding…

Wedding bells

…my ex-student, Ryan’s, now a doctor in his own right, to his colleague in that same field, Crystal. He wasn’t actually my ex-student – he was in another school but I was conducting free Literature lessons at the time for any student in the town who would be interested in taking up that extra subject, in my effort to keep it alive and he joined the class for a while but eventually, decided not to go on with it. In the meantime, we’ve kept in touch and when he was studying abroad, everytime he came home on holiday, we would get together like here or here, for instance, and also after he had graduated and started working.

Somehow this photograph…

Ryan & Crystal

…projected onto the screen in the church reminded me of Rhett Butler & Scarlett O’Hara. You probably would be familiar with those two romantic icons of the silver screen…if you are as old as I am. LOL!!!

There he was…

Ryan

…the tall and handsome young man waiting for his bride to walk down the aisle…and after their exchange of vows and rings…

Rings

…and a kiss for luck…

Kiss

…they were pronounced man and wife.

The wedding reception…

Wedding reception

…was held at this restaurant in town…

Restaurant
*Archive photo*

…and yes, the place was very nicely done…

Reception desk

…including the stage with its backdrop and the main table…

Stage and main table

…and for the door gifts for the guests, there were these lovely pairs of chopsticks…

Door gifts

 Food was very good but this awesome first dish alone…

Mixed platter

…was so substantial that after that, I was already full! LOL!!!

Of course, I did not take snapshots of all the dishes just this one…

Brocolli sea cucumber with abalone

– note the whole abalone on top and we also had one of those exclusive worth-its-weight-in-gold upriver fish, steamed…and there was also this one…

Sotong balls and whatever

– I loved those sotong balls, could bite into the whole bits of squid in it, very very nice…and we had my favourite or nee (yam paste) for dessert…

Yam & red bean dessert

There was, of course, the toast and the bride had difficulty opening her bottle but never mind, here came her knight in shining armour to the rescue…

Opening the bottle

…of his damsel in distress. Harder, Ryan, harder! LOL!!! It sure is good to have a man around, right? Hehehehehe!!!…

Pouring the drinks

To Ryan and Crystal, congratulations once again, thank you so much for the invitation and here’s wishing the two of you endless love, everlasting happiness and showers of Blessings in the years ahead. Cheers!!!

Coming…

My brother-in-law from Bintulu was coming to town to attend his friend’s son’s wedding on Christmas Eve so my missus was keen on inviting them over to our house for lunch on Christmas Day. Of course, I would be most happy to have him and his family here – they are very nice people and we would ask my other brother-in-law in Sibu and his wife to join us as well.

Wowwww!!! My missus cooked up a storm and the lunch spread that afternoon included these very lovely and tender stewed lamb shanks…

Christmas lunch - lamb shanks

…and there was chicken curry…

Christmas lunch - chicken curry

…too and satay beef…

Satay beef
*Archive photo*

The photograph of the latter turned out blur so I had to use this old one here though this time around, my missus did tweak the recipe a bit and it looked a shade darker and tasted a whole lot nicer.

She bought some Basmati rice to cook this…

Christmas lunch basmati butter rice

…but this time around, she used butter instead of ghee and with all the spices and other ingredients added, it was very nice too. We saw a tin of ghee at a supermarket the other day selling for RM32.00 a big can and normally, we would just use a tablespoon or two and stuff the rest in the fridge, to be thrown away eventually – such a waste…and besides, the brands available these days are not nice, not as fragrant as the one long ago in small green cans with lots of words all over it. I don’t know the brand but I would know it when I see it.

No, we did not have turkey for the simple reason that we are not that fond of the meat but that morning, my missus was about to go out to get one huge chicken to roast in its place like what she did before…

Roast chicken
*Archive photo*

…and to us, at least, it was a whole lot nicer but I stopped her in her tracks since we already had chicken in the curry and she had cooked so much meat, enough to feed a multitude of 5,000, like we were having some grand open house and expecting a lot of people to show up…when we were only serving lunch for 9 people.

We also had this salad platter…

Christmas lunch - salad platter

…with the traditional family dressing

Christmas lunch salad, with dressing

…specially made using this salad cream…

Waitrose salad cream
*Archive photo*

…that I got from my cousin from Kuching when she was here recently.

Other than that, we also had this pomelo salad…

Christmas lunch pomelo salad

…my missus’ attempt to replicate the one we always have here and I would say that she did a very good job and everybody loved it.

It was a good lunch, everyone enjoyed themselves and had their fill but this time around, we did feel the absence of my dear mother-in-law who passed away in August. All those times when we gathered together at my house like this, she would definitely be with us…and because of that, my in-laws will not be celebrating Chinese New Year this year so my Bintulu brother-in-law and his family would not be coming back to Sibu, something they would do every year without fail. That was why we were looking forward to grabbing this opportunity to have them over for lunch, Christmas day.

Christmas is here…

Yes, it’s Christmas 2016…

Christmas all over the world

…and…

For unto us a child is born

I received a few Christmas cards this year, a lovely one from my very dear friends who were in New Zealand before…

Friends in NZ
*Archive photo*

…but have relocated elsewhere and another one, Hallmark no less, from my cousin and her hubby and family in Perth Australia…

Cars from NZ friends & Perth cousin

…and I also got one from Phong Hong along with the lovely stuff that she sent all the way from KL, one from my uncle and his family when they were here recently and another one from my old friend in Adelaide who also sent me a whole lot of lovely things from Down Under

More greeting cards

…and this one made it just in time – from my cousin and his family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, a Hallmark card too…

From Georgie, KK

I love the message on the card and that “diamond” stud stuck onto the star sure is a lovely touch indeed.

So there you are – six altogether, but then again, I did not send that many this year – mostly to members of my immediate family and I just sent those that I received from the Mouth & Foot Artists – I did pay for them, of course but I did not go out to buy any this year. Come to think of it, I am not sure if I can find any really nice ones around town, now that sending Christmas greeting cards is becoming a thing of the past.

I am sending one less this year as my aunt, my mum’s youngest sister, one much loved and so dearly missed especially on special occasions such as this, passed away suddenly quite recently and that was why I flew over to Kuching – to pay my last respects. I would send her a card without fail every year for as long as I can remember. That is why at this time of year, our thoughts also go to those we have loved dearly and have gone before us and it would be just as important that we appreciate all that are with us as much as we can, never mind whether we did send a card or a present or not – a little prayer that God will bless us all on this joyous day and and every day in the year ahead would mean a lot more, I’m sure.

A Blessed Christmas to one and all. Joy to the world!

Do as you please…

Yes, we went back to the food fair again and this time, we went a little later, around 7.00 p.m. There were a lot of cars lined on BOTH sides of the road, leaving just enough space for cars to go through one by one…slowly. I just cannot understand why all those selfish and inconsiderate people would choose to do that when there were a lot of spaces left in the designated parking area right beside the fair grounds, not that they would have to walk really far.

There was a Filipino stall that was not open the previous time we were there so I was keen on checking it out. Unfortunately, I did not see anything that tickled my fancy – everything on skewers including pig’s blood, cooked on a barbecue grill, that was all.

I saw these steamed mushroom buns…

Steamed mushroom buns

…at one of the stalls – a lot of people had shared photographs of those on Facebook or in their blogs and I had the impression that they were so very very nice, something not to be missed so I bought a set of 3 (RM12.00) to try.

Inside, they had mushrooms…

Steamed mushroom bun, inside

…something like the creamy filling in chicken pie, minus the chicken and I would say it tasted all right but for RM4.00 each, I would much sooner go for this kampua daging

Sri Pelita kampua daging

here for that same price and derive a lot more enjoyment and satisfaction from it. But of course, it all depends on the individual – some may prefer these buns to noodles so at the end of the day, it is up to them to do as they please, to each his own.

Yes, we went back to the German sausage stall at the food fair and yes, he had a wide range of sausages priced at RM10.00 each, the cheapest…and RM15.00. We picked four but I cannot remember their names. I can recall there was a white sausage, most probably a Bavarian weisswurst and there was one called the Hungarian. No, we did not pick the chorizo – I am not particularly fond of that and as it turned out, they all tasted like that plus they were extremely salty and a dip in the German mustard provided made it even worse…all of them except one. I could not remember which one it was, fat and short but I thought that one was very nice…and we liked the one-foot-long one we bought the last time too, nicer and not so salty.

However, the total for the four sausages that we had came up to RM50.00 and that Sunday morning when I had the kampua daging, I also ordered the fried kway teow special (RM7.00)…

Sri Pelita fried kway teow special

…which was quite nice…

Sri Pelita kway teow

…and it came with a heart-shaped fried egg and a whole lot of the fried chicken…

Sri Pelita fried chicken

My girl had her tosai while my missus had their nasi lemak and inclusive of drinks, the total came up to over RM23.00 but the nice boss, Guna, rounded it up and asked for RM20.00 only.

At the food fair, I went and bought some drinks from some Thai tea stall and while we found them to be really very nice, they cost RM6.00 each, RM18.00 altogether but to give credit where it is due, the cups were HUGE, enough to be shared by two or maybe even three.

Still, the total with what I paid for the sausages came up to RM68.00, and a whooping RM80.00, if we include the mushroom buns, eaten in the dark under some canopy with tables and chairs put out for everyone to sit and consume their purchases, no fan, no air-conditioning, nothing. On my part, I do think it would make more sense to choose what is cheaper and also to me, a whole lot nicer…and not subject ourselves to such discomfort. But of course, as they say in Malay, jangan sik cuba – at least, we tried and now, we know better…and of course, as I’ve said earlier, it is up to the individual to do as he or she pleases. My girl, for one, would not mind having sausages sometimes…or ham or bacon and I am of the opinion we should pamper and  treat ourselves to things we like and enjoy once in a while sometimes, no need to calculate the costs all the time and deprive ourselves too much…but we must make sure that it is within our means, of course. What do you all think?

Across the miles…

He was my student in my English Language tuition class for two years when he was in Form 4 and the following year, in Form 5. I thought he was a very nice and simple boy, very  humble and pleasant but at that point in time, I did not know much about him nor his family. After he completed secondary school here, he left for the UK and he invited me to his farewell dinner here. Of course, I felt really flattered and made it a point to attend.

He did his A-Levels at the Concord College in the UK and that was where he met Hilda from Hong Kong…

Kho Peng & Hilda

They completed their studies there and went on to university together and both have graduated by now. Imagine one from here and another from the Orient, meeting across the miles in England and eventually, tying the nuptial knot. That’s quite a love story, don’t you think?

Well, he did get in touch with me when he came back to Sibu over the years and we did go out for dinner or for tea a few times and not too long ago, he sent me this gorgeous-looking invitation…

Kho Peng & Hilda wedding invitation

…to his wedding. Needless to say, I was delighted and was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, in the meantime, I received another invitation to a wedding reception that very same day, meaning that I would have to miss the service in church so I had to extend to him my apologies but thankfully, that one was at noon so I was able to show up for the dinner here…

Wedding reception venue

…that evening.

I don’t know which wedding planner they hired but the decor was very nice, very tastefully done…

Kho Peng & Hilda wedding cake & backdrop

…and there was even a live band in attendance…

Live band and VIP table decor

…singing romantic love  songs that were appropriate for the occasion like this one when the bride and the groom made their grand entrance…and this favourite of mine. Honestly, I would cringe with discomfort everytime I hear people singing songs like Unchained Melody or I will always love you at weddings – don’t they ever pay attention to the lyrics?

As for the decor, more often than not, you see the same floral display and everything being recycled over and over again…and from what I heard, they do not come cheap, not at all. I would much sooner not have those and channel all that money into the food instead…but then again, that’s just me – others may think otherwise. I loved what they had that night though, different from any that I had seen before and neither too much and overdone nor overly showy, and the lovely pastel colours somehow set a soothingly-pleasant mood, just perfect for the evening.

Everyone in attendance received this very special personalised door gift…

Kho Peng & Hilda personalised door gift

…of a set of chopsticks and spoon…

Kho Peng & Hilda door gift, fork & spoon

I understand there were only 65 tables that night – there was another reception two days later in Kuching and another one after that in Hong Kong so there was no need to get everybody together at one place. I guess for that reason, there was ample space in between the tables, not so jam-packed like the dinner I attended at this same hotel recently in the grand ballroom, one floor above with over 200 tables at one go! I do not know if it was because there were fewer people or the dinner was a whole lot more expensive but the service that night was heaps better too – though I did think the stone cold waiting staff could be a bit more friendly and at least, smile a bit when people say thank you to them upon being served. These little things sure go a long way in separating the men from the boys, the classier places and those no-class-at-all ones.

Food was superb that night, starting with this very impressive dish…

Kho Peng & Hilda wedding banquet dish 1

…of lobster salad and everything around it. I loved the stuffed crabs…

Stuffed crab

…and had at least three, if I remember correctly, but they were very small and that got me wondering as to where they could get such tiny crab shells for this.

The usual broccoli and mushroom dish came buried with these very sweet and soft whole abalone…

Abalone

…and yes, I did have more than one. Hehehehehe!!!!

The steamed fish was very nice too, probably one of those upriver worth-its-weight-in-gold ones but I did not snap a photograph of it as I did not know the family of 6 at the same table even though the lady did take a few shots herself using her smartphone. I just took another one, one of this exquisite dish…

Seafood stuffed pumpkin

…at the banquet with all the scallops on top and fish maw and huge chunks of sea cucumber inside a pumpkin, very nice!

Thank you so so so much for the invitation, Kho Peng and Hilda…

Kho Peng & Hilda
*Photo from their pre-wedding shoot collection on Facebook*

It was indeed my pleasure to be able to share the joy on this, your very special and happy day. Congratulations once again and may God bless the two of you abundantly with lots of happiness and all that is good in the years ahead. Cheers!!!

In the stars…

He was my ex-student some years ago, now a doctor in his own right. What I did not know until quite recently was that he was the son of my ex-classmate. After serving at the Sibu General Hospital for a number of years, he went over to the peninsula to pursue some course or something and has stayed on there since. In Malay, we call it jodoh…or in English, fate…or as they say, it is written in the stars and it was not very long after he went over that he met this fellow-doctor from Seremban and they registered their marriage sometime earlier this year…

Randolph & Evone

They came back last week and held their wedding reception here…

Grand Jasmine Ballroom RH Hotel

…at one of the leading hotels in town on Saturday afternoon and yes, I was invited…

wedding cake & backdrop

I don’t know how many tables there were but there was ample space to move around, not that I did a lot of that, and the service was top notch, ever ready and so very polite and friendly – I would give them full marks for that for it sure was a far cry from what I had to put up with once when I attended a wedding banquet at this same venue and also not too long ago at this dinner at another of those classy hotels in town.

I have heard people saying that the food here was not all that great but I thought it was pretty good. I loved the roast chicken…

RH Hotel roast chicken

…served old school-style with the keropok (prawn crackers) on top and I really enjoyed their lamb…

RH Hotel lamb chops

…especially with the nice brown gravy that had a hint of black pepper. I would not enjoy those drowned in black pepper sauce, the bottled variety, that I would usually have elsewhere. Some at my same table loved the fish too but while the food was somewhat to everybody’s liking, I wished they would not switch off the lights till it was pitch dark for the video shows or whatever. In fact, it was rather dim already in the first place…and once, it was so dark that I had to switch on the torchlight in my antique handphone so we could see what exactly we had been served – the broccoli and mushroom plus bean curd sticks.

All in all, it was good and of course, the most important part would be the opportunity to share the joy with the lovely couple and their proud and happy parents…

The toast
*Sorry for the blurry pic – I did not go near the stage and just snapped the shot from where I was sitting using the zoom facility on my digicam*

Once again, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations and wish them abundant Blessings and everlasting happiness in the years ahead as man and wife. Cheers!!!

A number of my ex-students were there and I did get the chance to say hello and also had a photo taken with some of them…

With the couple and ex-students and friends
*Ex-student’s photo on Facebook*

It sure was nice seeing everybody again.