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


Qong Xi Fa Cai! A Blessed and a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year to one and all…

Mandarin oranges

It’s the Year of the Dog and whoever said that “it’s a dog’s life” sure had it all wrong looking at how these man’s best friends are so well-loved and pampered nowadays. Let’s hope that our lives would be just as great in the year ahead.

Thank you once again to all those who sent me gifts for this auspicious festive occasion, the first being my blogger-friend, Merryn, who went through the trouble of sending me her super-nice own-made cookies

Cookies from Merryn
*Archive photo*

…and I got this packet of bak kua (barbecued pork slices)…

Bak kua from Mandy
*Archive photo*

from my dear friend, Mandy and these two…

Bak kua from Wilfred
*Archive photo*

from my ex-student, Wilfred, in Singapore and of course, my cousin, Jude, in Kuching sent me these…

Bacon jam from Jude
*Archive photo*

which almost did not reach me as his sister, who went through the chore of packing and sending, did not include the lane so it was declared an “invalid address”. LOL!!!

These traditional Melanau/local delights…

From Ah Lek

…came from my cousin and his wife and family and my ex-student/friend, Justin, is home for the special occasion and he gave me these…

From Justin

– one pack of the celebrated Musang King – truly a gift of gold, like the D101 he gave me the last time he was home and one pack of the sio bee from Johore plus one pomelo…and no prize for guessing who gave me these…

From the folks at Payung Cafe

Yes, they’re from the wonderful people at Payung – their otak-otak and Payung chicken and their kuih bangkit.

My niece, the one working in Singapore who said that she would not be coming back this year had a change of heart after seeing those heart-wrenching Chinese New Year commercials depicting old parents having the reunion dinner alone at home, their children are all not coming home…and she brought us this…

From niece in Singapore 1

– more bak kua, one of the celebrated most established brands in Singapore. Gee!!! It certainly looks like we have enough bak kua to last the whole year through. LOL!!!

I guess she picked this…

From niece in Singapore 2

…up at KLIA2, the branded pop corn that a lot of people had blogged about or shared on Facebook but we all thought that it is somewhat over-rated and the ones we got from my old friend, Jasmine, in Adelaide, Australia were very much nicer.

I also got these much-coveted groundnuts, a must-buy for anyone coming to Sibu…

From Toh Chin Hock & family

…and kuaci (pumpkin seeds) from my ex-student, Chin Hock, who is also home for the festive occasion from Singapore, thank you so much to him and the Toh family, the ones in this line of business here in Sibu.

Moving on from all the gifts that I received, thank you also to those who went through the trouble of sending me Chinese New Year greeting cards this year.

The first came from another cousin of mine in Kuching…

Card from Tina

She did send me one for Christmas but the aforementioned cousin-who-always-left-out-the lane gave her the wrong address so it never reached me. This time around, she made sure that did not happen again.

Yvette, my paternal cousin in Perth, Australia sent me this one…

Card from Yvette

…and I got one from my blogger-masterchef-friend, Elin, in Ipoh, Perak

Card from Elin

…and this one came from my young and very handsome blogger-friend in Sungai Petani, Kedah, Nick

Card from Nick

…who came to visit me here in Sibu around this time last year.

This one came from a dear friend’s firm in Kuching…


…but he passed away recently – God bless his soul, may he rest in peace…but I guess I am still in his company’s mailing list so like for so very many years gone by, I did get one again this year.

Chinese New Year will be very low-key for us this year as my father passed away in July last year and it has not been a year so with all due respect, following the Chinese customary practice/tradition, there shall be no celebration within our family this year.

Wrong address…

My cousin, the one who would come to Sibu every year with his parents and sister(s), sent word that he would be sending me something for Chinese New Year. The sister dispatched the parcel on Friday via courier service – no, not our national poslayu or poslambat, take your pick –  and tracking showed that it arrived in Sibu the very next day, Saturday. Soon after that, there was an update that afternoon saying that the address was invalid.

I called them but there was no answer so I drove to the place and I found that it was closed. I guess I had no choice but to wait till Monday morning and I was there as soon as they had started working for the day.

It turned out that my cousin did not indicate the lane in my address so they could not deliver it and there was an extra digit in my contact number so they could not call me either. They passed the parcel over to me without any fuss whatsoever and I took it home happily.

Ripping off the layers of thick brown paper with a FRAGILE sticker on  the outside revealed this box…


…inside. Oh? I wouldn’t need a toaster anymore now that generally, we do not eat bread as it is not gluten-free.

Opening the box, it looked like I was getting some essence of chicken…

Essence of chicken

…or so I thought. Hmmm…perhaps they reckoned that this old guy could do with a little bit of energy boost especially after all that hard labour I had to go through harvesting my rambutans.

After removing the layers of bubble wrap, I saw this golden seal…

Golden seal

Nice touch! Signed, sealed…but almost didn’t get delivered! Hehehehehe!!!

Opening the box, I finally got to what my cousin had sent me…

Bacon jam

– the bacon jam that I got sometime ago from Phong Hong and out of the three that she sent me, I liked this one most of all. Oh? I noticed that one of the two had whisky in it – gotta try that one soonest!

Thank you so much, Jude and a Blessed and Happy Chinese New Year to you and your dear parents and sweet sisters. May God bless you all abundantly in this Year of the Dog…and thank you, Sabrina, for the very elaborate and meticulous packing and going through the trouble of sending it over to me. All’s well that ends well.  Cheers!!!

No time at all…

I received a surprise message from my very dear friend, Mandy, one morning. It seemed that she was in town on another of her working trips and as always, she had no time at all to herself and we could not get to meet for a bite to eat or something – it certainly has been quite a long while since the last time I got to see her in person way back in 2015.

Well, she asked me to drop by the hotel where she stayed the night as she had left something at the reception counter for me and that was what I did.

When I got there, I saw the Chinese New Year decoration

Peter's CNY decor at Kingwood

…and it certainly looked like I was right – it was stretched vertically to fit the wall but personally, I do think that it was nicer horizontally.

The ever so thoughtful and generous Mandy sent me this packet of bak kua (barbecued pork slices)…

From Mandy

…for Chinese New Year – I’m not familiar with this brand so I have no idea if it is any good or not; I’ve yet to open it to try.

It was good that coincidentally, Mandy came right after the horrendous flood that hit the district where my girl’s school in the jungle is located. It was so terrible at some places and I was worried that she might not be able to come home and would be stranded there last weekend…or worse, for Chinese New Year! Mandy’s company has a base/workshop in Selangau so she had to go there and thankfully, the flood had subsided right before that very day – she told me that there was no flood, everything was pretty much back to normal and all the potholes had been patched. I was indeed so very relieved to hear that and glad that my girl was able to come home after school on Friday as usual, no problem at all.

Moving on, on Saturday morning, I received a call from the sister of my ex-student who is working and living with his family in Singapore. He did send word earlier that he would not be coming home for Chinese New Year this year as their second baby is due very very soon but he would be sending me something through his sister…

From Wilfred

It is indeed so very nice and sweet of him to remember this old teacher of his without fail every year. Last year, he did not come back either and he sent me this tin of almond cookies

Almond cookies from Wilfred
*Archive photo*

…through my niece, the one also working in Singapore.

Thank you so much, Mandy and Wilfred. Qong Xi Fa Cai, a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year to you and your loved ones, may God bless you all abundantly in the coming year and other than that, Wilfred, may your missus have a safe and smooth delivery when the time comes.

Hmmm…now it is quite obvious what I will not be buying to enjoy and usher in The Year of the Dog, right? LOL!!!

Dinner for two…

*This is NOT a paid post* and no, despite all the unfounded rumours circulating around town, I do NOT own this café nor am I one of the co-owners so let it be known here and now that I have NO vested interest in the place whatsoever.

Yes, I do go there quite often – I like the food, the ambiance and the people are very nice and hospitable and yes, they have helped me in more ways than one but make no mistake, I am just a regular customer and like all other customers, I have to pay the regular prices for everything that I eat there though some would insist that the servings I get SOMETIMES, not all the time, do seem a little more than usual. They do not charge me for the water that I drink there though but yes, according to the menu, under normal circumstances, it is chargeable and I may get to try some nice dishes they are having for their own lunch or dinner.

Well, in case you have not seen it on their Facebook page or heard about it, they are going to have something special for Valentine’s Day – the 14th of February, Wednesday….

Payung Cafe Valentine's Day special

…at RM55.00 per head but if you book before the 8th, this Thursday, you can get a discount of RM10.00 so you will only need to pay at RM45.00 per head, RM90.00 if it is going to be a romantic dinner for two.

For that amount of money, you get to pick ONE of the main meals – the chicken chop (usual price: RM25.00)…

Payung Cafe chicken chop

…or the chicken or beef spaghetti (usual price: RM17.00)…

Payung Cafe beef spaghetti

My guess is the hot and spicy curry lamb is what we often had, their Bangladeshi lamb curry (usual price: RM19.00)…

Payung Cafe Bangladeshi lamb curry

…and of course, their butter chicken (usual price: RM18.00)…

Payung Cafe butter chicken

…is one of our favourites here.

We tried the sedha beef (usual price: RM20.00)…

Payung Cafe sedha beef

…also a Bangladeshi dish, once but it did not really tickle our fancy – at best, I would say it was all right, non-spicy, not even a bit.

It so happens that Valentine’s Day this year coincides with Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence (from meat) for Catholics and unfortunately, there is no fish or prawn dish in the list but no worries! I spoke to the Payung people regarding this and they assured me that if anyone is thus inclined, abstaining from meat, he or she can let them know when calling to make the reservation and put in a special request for their very popular Payung otak-otak (usual price: RM13.00)…

Payung otak-otak

…or their very nice Payung fish (ikan keli/catfish: usual price RM15.00)…

Payung fish

…and they will arrange for it to be served that night.

They also have two prawn dishes – their belimbing prawns and their tom yam prawns but I hear those crustaceans are kinda scarce these few days. Of course the sellers will put the blame on the current bad weather but we all know that they are hoarding them for Chinese New Year that is coming right up at the end of next week when they can jack up the prices and fleece the customers. Tsk! Tsk!

Like in previous years, I would expect a somewhat elaborate buffet spread and other than the main meal of your choice, you can help yourself to all the mushroom soup (usual price: RM5:00)…

Payung Cafe mushroom soup

…that you like and also the salads which I am pretty sure will include our favourites here, the Payung rojak (usual price: RM10.00, small)…

Payung rojak

…and their pomelo salad (usual price: RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…and their herbs salad and probably their papaya salad…

Payung Cafe papaya salad

…as well.

For the dessert, it is most likely that they will serve the very nice dreamy nite…

Payung Cafe dreamy nite

…and their banana cake…

Payung Cafe banana cake

…but I am not sure if you can get to enjoy their durian or mango ice cream or not or their Mulu ice cream…

Payung Cafe Mulu ice cream

Drinks will be free flow – I expect they will serve my girl’s favourite here, the pineapple ginger soda but there may be other options to pick and choose.

So, if anyone is interested, you can call them at 016-8906061 or 011-53375498 to make your reservation. I’ve never been to any of their Valentine’s Day dinners before but I did hear that the response in previous years had been very good, a full house no less, so it would be best that you book early to avoid disappointment.

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.

Pride and joy…

Yes, you can say that my rambutan tree is my pride and joy especially when it is the sole survivor here out of so many trees in my grandpa’s garden in Sungai Merah a long time ago and some 10 trees or so in our own at No. 96, Race Course Road (now renamed Jalan Awang Ramli Amit). You can read the complete history of the tree here.

I never took good care of it – it did bear fruit regularly but most of the time, they were small and not very juicy and there were a lot of ants so more often than not, we did not even bother to pluck the fruits. It was in March last year that I noticed that the tree was not doing very well because of the wild orchids and parasitic plants growing on the branches so I got Peter and his boys to come and help and it improved by leaps and bounds after that and was growing really well since then.

I did get Peter and his boys to come again one more time to trim the branches that were touching the roof at the back of my house for fear that the ants would use them as bridges to cross over and go indoors. It was already flowering and bearing fruit by then, lots and lots of them but for reasons unknown, many did not stick – they all dropped to the ground, turned black and simply dried up but thankfully, a lot were spared…

My rambutans

I gave a lot away to family and friends and it most certainly swept everyone off their feet. The flesh is thick and crunchy and at the same time, so very sweet and juicy…

Thick and crunchy, sweet and juicy

…and the best part is how it does not stick to the seed and no, unlike some rambutans, the hard outer layer of the seed does not come off with it at all…

Doesn't stick to the seed

However, one fine day, I discovered that those fruits growing closer to the ground had simply disappeared into thin air! I did not see anyone taking them nor do I have any proof so I shall just let it rest at that and will not say anything more about it. Thankfully, there were still a lot of fruits higher up so I was able to pluck those and distribute left, right and centre.

Unfortunately, eventually, only the ones very high up in the sky…

High up in the sky

…were left and no, there was no way I was going to climb up the tree to get to those…

Come and get us!

The only way I could get them down was to saw the branches…

Saw the branches

…and pluck the fruits.

Of course I had to dispose of everything properly and no, I would not burn them in my backyard and pollute the air. What I did was to saw the branches into shorter lengths, short enough to fit into my car boot…

Saw them short

…and tie them up in bundles…

Tied in bundles

…and I would pack all the leaves in one big plastic bag.

Once I was done, I would take them to one of those places with the refuse disposal bins placed there by our municipal council for the public to use and I would throw everything in one of those. I would get rid of the leaves and take the plastic bag home and reuse but more often than not, the twigs would cut slits and leave gaps by the side so in its condition, there is no point taking it home and I will just have to use a new one instead.

Yes, that sure was a lot of hard work so don’t you say that I am badly in need of some exercise – I sure get more than enough of it doing this!

The tree is rather bare now…

The tree

– it probably will be worse once I’m through with it but hopefully, with tender loving care, new branches will grow soon and by the end of this year, there will be another round of my pride and joy…

My pride and joy

…for all to enjoy – guaranteed 100% organic, pesticide-free, no chemical fertilisers used.