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The town…

To get the bearings for the locations of places in my posts, I used to go to this website that a commentor introduced me to sometime ago. It is convenient and easy to use but there are just the maps and satellite views that may be somewhat out-dated – at some parts of town, you may just find an empty piece of land and I do not know where they got the names of the roads from as some are not quite correct.

Well, the other day, my blogger-friend in Perth, Australia posted this comment:
“I looked up your geo-coordinates in Google maps and found that Sibu now has street view! Last time I checked a few months ago, it didn’t. I remember you mentioned the Google car has been around. Now I can enjoy cruising your city, but cannot taste the wonderful food!”
Gee!!! I could not wait to go and check it out and oh boy, I sure enjoyed “driving” around all over town!

You can click on this link here and click on “street view” (top left) to go around the whole town and have a look at what Sibu looks like…

Central Road Sibu

I don’t know when the car went around – probably on a Sunday afternoon when traffic was generally very light and many of the coffee shops were closed  and there were not that many people at those that were open. That’s the typical Sunday here for you – slow and easy.

It was quite busy at the Sibu Central Market though…

Sibu Central Market

– the biggest in the country or maybe the car went round on a different day.

You will see the places of interest like the Sibu Heritage Centre…

Sibu Heritage Centre

…or the Sibu Town Square…

Sibu Town Square
*See those vehicles parked all along the yellow lines, on the sidewalk and also the island! You’ll see many of the likes of those here! Tsk! Tsk!*

…or you may want to venture out of the commercial centre…

Old Street

…and go and see the huge mansions…

Sibu mansion

…here, there and everywhere. You will find that generally, the town looks quite different from those in the peninsula especially if you look into the nitty gritty details like the road signs and others. While you’re going around, you may want to count how many coffee shops there are altogether! LOL!!!

My friend in Oz blogged about how he spotted himself cycling on the road in the streetview of where he is located and lo and behold!!! When I went to check out my own house, I saw my car either driving in or out of my driveway! Going up the lane and turning back, the car was still there and I could get a glimpse of who was inside! Not me! Hehehehehehe!!!! Then I went to the shops that I frequent quite a lot because of their ideal location just round the corner from my house and there she was too, my car parked by the side of the road!!! That was really hilarious! All of us had a really good laugh over it! Well, I wonder how many of you have read this recent story in a newspaper – it certainly looks like there are others as well who have been caught “with their pants down”, in a manner of speaking. LOL!!!

I did hear at the time about the Google car being in other towns here like Sarikei for instance. Maybe I can go and “drive” around there as well…

I’ve passed this way before…

I was here

India Street

…that morning after the scrumptious kolo mee breakfast in Kuching but they are working on it at the moment. I understand they are going to put up a roof, probably something like what they have now at Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur. Yes, it was business as usual but one could only walk along the very congested five-foot way outside the shops, not something one would enjoy so I went into this narrow passageway…

Passageway 1

…that I used to walk through a long long time ago, probably in the 70’s to Jalan Gambir at the other end or from that road to get to India Street.

I seem to recall that it was very much narrower, none of those shops along the way…

Passageway 2

…and at the time, I would walk very fast as I had that feeling, a kind of phobia, that the walls would close in on me. I guess that was the result of watching too many of those Hercules or Maciste or Goliath sword and sandal movies when I was younger.

There is a mosque midway, the oldest in the state capital…

Mosque Gambir-India Street

…probably for the many Muslim Indians in all the shops in the vicinity and hence, the old name, Masjid India. I understand that it has since been changed to Masjid Bandar Kuching. Well, it certainly looks very well-maintained which is a good thing – personally, I am strongly for restoring and preserving these heritage places, instead of demolishing them and replacing them with those ghastly modern monstrosities.

As I neared the end of the passageway, I saw this man…

Sifting curry powder

…sifting what appeared to me like curry powder, a foreshadowing in a way of what lay ahead.

In no time at all, I was out on the other side, the Jalan Gambir side…

Jalan Gambir entrance

…with a glimpse of the roof of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (State Legislative Assembly) building…

DUN Sarawak

…in the distance on the other side of the Sarawak River.

As the name implies, one would see lots of shops selling spices and all the stuff…

Spices 1

…used in the cooking of curries and those kinds of dishes…

Spices 2

…commonly found in Indian or Malay cuisines in general…

Spices 3

I am pretty sure my friend, Opal, in the US would be enthralled by the sight of all these and would love this place so much.

I spotted this old-school barber shop…

Gambir barber shop

…close by that seemed to be surviving despite the competition from all those classy salons all over the city.

After walking around a bit, I headed back to the passageway and walked back to India Street.

I will wait…

My cousins were horrified when I told them where I would be going for breakfast the following morning and tried to dissuade me, saying that I might have to wait for as long as two hours and I would be able to get something just as nice or even better elsewhere. However, my mind was made up so there I was at this place, Noodle Descendents

Kuching Descendents shop sign

…along Jalan Padungan, somewhere in the middle…

Jalan Padungan Kuching

…in Kuching. It did not matter much to me as I was in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything so I just told myself, “Yes, I will wait!”

I cannot remember exactly the last time I had it but it sure was a very very long time ago, back in those days when I was involved in doing some work for the then-called Curriculum Section in the state Education Department and the office was a stone’s throw away in the old Pavilion Building, opposite the Kuching General Office. That would probably be sometime in the early 90’s when I went with my friends/colleagues to this little coffee shop at the corner of Bishop Gate Street beside its junction with Carpenter Street. I can still recall how packed it was but we did manage to get a table and a little boy took our orders – we were amazed by how he could remember everything even though each of us wanted this or did not want that and when we were served, we got everything the way we wanted it!

Well, they have moved from there to the present location for quite a while now and have changed its name as well. This current place is very nice and very clean, not quite the regular coffee shop kind of place and the noodle stall was right in front…

Noodle Descendents kolo mee stall

…at the entrance. That guy sure does not look old so my guess would be that he’s one of the “descendents” who have taken over the family business.

There are not all that many tables in that spacious shop so we had to share with one very friendly guy and it was a good thing that we did as he told us what we were supposed to do or not do. He said that we would just have to find a seat and sit down and wait. Somebody will come…eventually…to take our orders and yes, somebody did! It was way past 8.00 a.m. already and the guy making the drinks had not showed up for work yet so we could not order our drinks till he finally appeared. In the meantime, we sat and chatted…and waited for our noodles. The guy’s family who opted to eat at a coffee shop a short distance away came over as they had finished so he had to cancel his order and left with them but I did see him tapao-ing some of the noodles to take away with him.

This would be their regular kolo mee with meat (RM4.77)…

Noodle Descendents kolo mee, regular

…but I had their kosong (RM2.12)…

Noodle Descendents kolo mee, kosong

…no meat, and the mixed soup, small (RM6.36)…

Noodle Descendents, mixed soup

I don’t quite remember their noodles, how good they were that last time I had it so very long ago, but the fact that I truly loved their soup has always remained clear in my mind – that, to me then, was the main attraction…and yes, I must say that I enjoyed it very much that morning and the noodles as well.

I was kind of surprised though that they gave this with the orders…

Noodle Descendents chili dip

…as I am more accustomed with the usual sliced chili, red or green, dipped in vinegar at the kolo mee stalls that I have been to in Kuching but they do it a little differently here.

As for whether it was worth the wait – around one hour or so…

Worth its wait in gold

…I would agree with my cousins that one could have something just as nice elsewhere or settle for something that is second best without having to spend so much time sitting there before one would get served. In other words, if one is in a hurry and does not have all that time to spare, it would be best to head elsewhere but if one does not mind sticking around, chit-chatting…or reading the morning’s papers…or these days, many would be able to kill time easily browsing online on their smartphones, then this is a good place in the city to check out for kolo mee and the very nice soup.

This is their menu in front of the stall…

Noodle Descendents menu

…and if you look at the aforementioned prices, you do need to fork out a little bit more for the GST payable. Here, you pay for all your orders, food and drinks inclusive, at the counter a little to the back, beside the drink stall, after you have finished eating.

Incidentally, I did not know about this before but it seemed that parking would be for just half an hour per ticket. If you wish to park longer, you would need to come back every half an hour and put a new ticket each time – otherwise, the parking fee payable would be progressively more for the next half an hour and the next and the next. It is not like here in Sibu where it is 42 sen per half an hour, and if one would be gone for say, 2 hours, one can just leave 4 half-an-hour tickets or 2 one-hour tickets on the dashboard. You can’t do this in Kuching, it seems – the attendant will come round and issue tickets for over-parking and you would have to go to a booth some place to pay the surcharge.

Well, I came and I had what I had wanted – something that had been a lingering memory in my mind all this time…

I heard…

…that they have the best nasi kerabu in town here every Ramadhan so the previous Sunday, after sending my girl back to her school, we stopped by…

Kem Rascom 1

…on the way back.

This is one of the army camps around the Sibu area…

Kem Rascom 2

…and this one’s at the 10th Mile along the Old Oya Road past the road to the Sibu Golf Club, just a short distance away, both on your left if you are going in that direction.

They have a small Ramadhan Bazaar by the roadside outside the camp every year…

Ramadhan Bazaar

…and my guess is that the stalls are run by the wives and families of the army personnel at this camp.

I spent a bit of time taking snapshots of this and that and by the time I got to the stalls, my missus had bought the nasi kerabu from one of the stalls there, pre-packed. However, when I walked around the place, I saw this one…

Nasi kerabu stall 1

…that certainly seemed to be a lot more popular – everybody was buying from there…

Nasi kerabu stall 2

…and they let you pick what you want and once done, they would wrap everything up in paper, which is a commendable thing. The use of styrofoam containers is banned in Sibu and I certainly would not buy anything from any place that still uses that. The flimsy cardboard ones or those using some environment-friendly plastic (that I can wash and reuse again and again) are all right. Why, this one even had a banner at the back with their handphone contact…and one look at the girl would tell you this one would be very good – as they say, “Never trust a skinny cook!”

Other than the nasi kerabu, there weren’t a lot of other things around…

Ramadhan bazaar stall

…other than the usual stuff that one can get most anywhere else.

These young boys were very friendly and asked me to take their photograph…

Ramadhan drinks stall

…after which they asked me to buy their drinks but I said I should not take too much sweet stuff so they did not insist.

We had the nasi kerabu

Nasi kerabu 1

… that my missus bought for dinner that night and yes, it was very very nice…

Nasi kerabu 2

– very much nicer than the very good one that we would always go for here in the town proper and this was only RM4.50 a pack plus they also gave a bit of some kind of curry gravy separately that was very nice indeed and went very well with everything else including the rice. It is RM5.00 for fish and RM5.50 for chicken at our regular place and they do not give that stuffed chili. Besides, they also marinate the fish quite differently here, not the simple deep-fried ones that we would usually get – and this one’s a whole lot nicer as well, I must say. However, be forewarned that this one is super-duper spicy hot, so very hot that I actually felt I was blowing out fire as I was eating it.

My missus also bought this traditional Malay masak lemak perut sapi dengan rebung (tripe and bamboo shoots cooked in rich and creamy coconut milk gravy) dish…

Tripe

…from dunno-which-stall to try and yes, it was very very good too.

Well, we’re halfway through Ramadhan now and we only have around two weeks to go so if you would like to try the really very nice nasi kerabu and whatever they may have to offer here, you’d better make it fast…or wait till this time next year.

Wait…

Everyone can fly, the tagline says…but at times, it may be a case of everyone can wait. Of course, whenever I fly, I do not mind a little delay as long as I can get to my destination safely sooner or later.

No, I was not flying anywhere but I was at the airport here in Sibu to pick my friend, Philip, who is currently home again for the summer holidays. I must say it amazes me greatly, the wonders of the internet. These days, you can go to one of these websites and see the progress of any flight…

Flight route

…and they will also tell you if the aircraft is on time…

Flight details

…or delayed.

Well, Philip’s flight was on time and he even boarded the aircraft on time but when I reached the airport, I checked the website and found that it would land at past 6.45 p.m. instead of the scheduled time – 6.20 p.m. I went to check the information board inside the airport – no, it did not say the plane had been delayed but it was confirmed to arrive at 6.50 p.m.

So, I waited…and waited…and eventually, the word CONFIRMED was replaced by LANDED on the board but by 7.20 p.m., half an hour after the time it was supposed to have landed, still no one had emerged from the arrival hall. Oh yes! There were lots of people but they were on another flight, the MasWings flight from Kuching and whatever other flights from elsewhere. Maybe it was just my imagination but it sure seemed to me that when several flights landed at the same time, the budget airline would have to give way to the others. Perhaps that was why Philip said that he had to sit in the aircraft for a long time before it finally took off – maybe there were many other flights at KLIA taking off and landing at the time…so where this airline is concerned, everyone can wait!

He came out at around 7.30 p.m. and we promptly made our way back to the town…and as I had not had dinner yet, I gladly accepted his suggestion to stop by one place along the way, round the corner from where his mum lives…

Ying Siang Corner

…for a bite to eat. If anyone is interested, it’s at the t-junction of Jalan Teruntum and Lorong Merdeka 15 (2.305101,111.840016). You can go straight into Rejang Park, go straight ahead – past the shops and the defunct cinema in the commercial area – till you see a block of only two double-storey shops on your right at a corner of the aforementioned junction. Generally, this place is very crowded, lots of cars parked by the roadside, and is most popular for its steamboat.

I remember telling Philip that the food here would be pretty good but despite staying just around the corner, all these years, he had never got down to checking it out. I could vaguely remember that their fried kway teow with beef was good but when we were there that night, we were informed that they did not have it on the menu. Maybe they have discontinued the item as we can’t get fresh beef here and the imported ones do not come cheap…but they told us that they had fried kway teow with cockles so we decided to have that…

Fried kwayteow 1

…instead.

Wowwwww!!!! It was so so good! If there were others elsewhere that I loved before, they would have to step aside now and make way for the one we had…

Fried kway teow 2

…here. There were hardly any ingredients other than the egg and a bit of taugeh (bean sprouts) and whatever – even the cockles were so few and far between, so difficult to find but the taste, the wok hei fragrance sure blew us away! Both Philip and I enjoyed it a lot and the fried cangkuk manis with egg…

Fried cangkuk manis with egg

…was really good too.

Philip insisted on paying and when I asked him, he said that the total came up to RM15.00 plus, less than USD4.00. He did not ask for the breakdown but my guess would be that minus the drinks, it was RM6.00 for the kway teow and RM8.00 for the cangkuk manis, the standard price for a plate of vegetables at such places around town here. No wonder there are always lots of people eating here – not only is the food good but it is cheap too…but of course, that may depend upon what you order.

Well, since I did not have dinner at home that night and I don’t think the rest ate very much either after a late lunch and a trip to the Ramadhan stalls, there was a lot of leftover rice the next morning which I fried in my simple kampung (village) style…

Kampung-style fried rice

…and we had that for our breakfast and lunch before our special Dumpling/Dragon Boat Festival plus Father’s Day dinner that night.

It sure was nice seeing my old friend again and I really must thank him for these goodies…

From Philip

…that he brought all the way from the US. Ooooo…Godiva, no less!!!

Well, in  case anyone’s wondering what the crème brûlée dessert truffles look like inside, here’s the cross-section…

Godiva truffles

Nice – lovely creamy chocolate but very sweet. Thankfully, there weren’t all that many in the pack so no, I did not over-indulge…and no prize for guessing what I used the Made-in-Canada Ma Ling luncheon meat for…

Fried rice with luncheon meat & salted egg

Hehehehehe!!!!

I also sliced and pan-fried the rest…

Luncheon meat & egg breakfast

…for breakfast with my old school-style fried eggs and tomatoes by the side. Yum yummmm!!!!

No time…

My dear friend, Mandy, was here from KL on a working trip but unfortunately, she was tied up with whatever she had to do the whole day through from early dawn till late at night so we had no time to meet up and go for dinner or something.

She said that she had to go to a place called Bukut, somewhere in the Selangau district, she said, where my girl’s school is. Gee! I did not know there is such a place there or anywhere, for that matter (I only know that’s the local name of a fish found in our streams long ago, dunno now) – I’m not sure but I think it is more towards the Balingian/Mukah area actually, not as near as Selangau but one thing that I am very certain of was that she had to go far inland from the main trunk road from Sibu to either Mukah or Bintulu…

Road to Bukut
*Mandy’s photo on Facebook*

…to some oil palm estate or whatever where some customer of her company’s heavy machinery is. Yes, conditions can be that bad the further you go into the interior and yes, there are inhabitants living in their longhouses and there are schools too! Thankfully, my girl’s school, though not really near to home, is not one of those and is by the main road, very easily accessible, praise the Lord for small mercies.

And yes, it is indeed very undeveloped, very very backward over here, unlike in the mainland of our country – maybe not so bad in the main towns and cities but there isn’t much really in the smaller bazaars and villages and even worse in the interior. I guess that was why a blogger-friend from Malacca, when she was sent over here to study at a university campus in Bintulu, complained a lot about that town and called it Been-to-Ulu…even though I would not say it was so bad a town – it is a whole lot better than many and it could have been a lot worse had the campus been located in the middle of the jungle like some universities, local as well as foreign, so I’ve been told. I guess it was just the unhappiness and frustration at being sent so far away from home to study – we had those same sentiments regarding where my girl was sent some years back…so far away when there is an institution of higher learning right here in Sarawak in Kuching and one that is running that same twinning programme with New Zealand (but with Dunedin, not Wellington) on the exact same scholarship that my daughter was awarded.

Anyway, back to Mandy, despite it being  a last minute thing and she was so busy and in a rush, she took the trouble to go some place and grab these goodies…

Goodies from Mandy

…for me. Since we did not have time to meet, she left them at the hotel counter and asked me to drop by there to collect…which I did. Of course, I could not just go empty-handed so that morning, I went to the Sibu Central Market to buy some of our very special Rajang hay bee (dried prawns) for her.

While I was there, I decided to go up to the hawker centre on the first floor to Stall No. 52…

Sibu Central Market - Stall 52

…as I had heard that their beef noodles was much better than my favourite here. Good grief!!! It has been rated a Grade C by the municipal council which is not very good. According to this newspaper report, “Food stall operators who received Grade D would be asked to cease operations if they failed to improve during the next round of assessments,” and yes, I did see a cockroach crawling around on the floor while I was there. Other than that, the floor, even though it looked really clean, felt very slippery like it was coated with all that oil used by the hawkers in their cooking. It sure needs one really good and thorough cleaning, I must say – word has it that somebody slipped and fell twice and on one occasion, he broke something so he sued the council and was awarded some RM100,000.00…which he donated to charity.

As for the beef noodle special (RM5.00)…

Stall 52 beef noodle special 1

…that I had, it was good and with all that beef, tendon and tripe, I would consider it very very cheap compared to the other place where a comparatively smaller serving of beef noodle soup with just beef would set one back by RM6.00 and if you ask for the special with the tendon and tripe added, be prepared to fork out a lot more (RM7.00 in 2012, probably RM8.00, at least, now)…and expect a little less as far as their portion size goes.

However, the soup in what we had here was milder – not as strong, not as fragrant…and I wished they did not add those curly vegetables…

Stall 52 beef noodle special 2

…as that would affect the taste albeit just a little bit.

Given a choice, I would still go for my regular one…but if I happen to be around here and feel like having this, I may just stop by for it – it sure is nice enough to merit a second round or more.

Not so bad after all…

I know a lot of people love going to Taiwan and they praise the street food to the skies and of course, the bubble tea and dessert joints right here in our own country are always packed to the brim. Even in this little town,  there are so many of them around – it has slowed down a bit by now but at one time, you would see them popping up all over like mushrooms after the rain. I am not sure whether those are franchises originating from that island republic or some enterprising local people jumping on the band wagon and setting up their own along those same lines to cash in on the craze.

This…

I love yoo

…at the mega mall where we had the gelato that day is one of them and obviously, it is doing pretty well as it has been around for many years now, probably two or three, at least – as long as the mall has been opened for business.

I have never stepped into the place myself though and I am not even sure if it is one and the same or two separate entities. My girl went once and had the chicken chop from the stall on the left and she was not exactly thrilled by it so after that, she was not all that keen on dropping by there again. That afternoon, however, I insisted on taking a look at the fried stuff stall on the right – the “I Love Yoo!!!” to see what they had.

They had just finished frying the ham chim peng (Chinese five-spice doughnut) and were placing them in the glass case beside the yew tiao or yew cha koi (crullers) and whatever that was in between…

Yew tiao ham chim peng

We were not interested in those though but the balls caught our eyes…

Others

…and we decided to buy both flavours to try – sweet potato and yam.

I remember I had something like these when I visited the Cameron Highlands a long time ago and I enjoyed them very much…and if I am not wrong, they make those using sweet potatoes. These, however, were different – it looked like they used mostly sweet potatoes (or yam)…

Yam and sweet potato balls

…and very little flour unlike the Malay counterpart and I must say they were very very nice – not cheap, 5 for over RM3.00…but nice! I certainly wouldn’t mind buying more of those to eat should I happen to drop by the mall again but then again, when the time comes, I may decide to try some of the other things they are selling there instead. I wonder if their curry puffs are any better than the others that I had had…and whether their butterfly bun is anything like our ma ngee or horse’s ears. I think I would want to check those out as well and maybe, some of the rest too.

Incidentally, moving away from the post proper, I am sure everybody knows what this plant…

MIL's tongue

…is called – the mother-in-law’s tongue! That’s not very flattering, I would say and thankfully, my mother-in-law is very nice and not at all as sharp-tongued, not at all. Anyway, I saw my neighbour planting a few pots of this and I was wondering if he was doing that to keep away the many stray cats in our neighbourhood. They leave their fur, their paw marks, urine, claw scratches on our cars…and the worst thing is that ever so often, I would find headless bodies of rats or birds in my garden – they are deadly predators, those felines! I googled and found out that this plant is, in fact, poisonous to dogs and cats so if you have these in our house as pets, you should make sure you do not plant any of this or if you already have any, perhaps you should get rid of them or give them away. Anybody wants to give me theirs?

P.S.:
Somebody just commented – unfortunately, I have no way of verifying the identity – no blog, no website, no Facebook account so I am afraid I am reluctant to let the comment go through moderation. Anyway, he said, “Cekodok is actually banana. Its [SIC] like deep fried banana bread, not sweet potatoes,” and indeed, when I googled, that is very true – I got all the banana balls. My apologies – that was what my friends over there told me those sweet potato balls were called – we did not have such things here so I did not have the slightest clue what the name was. I have already amended that in the above post nonetheless, even though this cooking blog has it down as “cekodok ubi”. Thank you, whoever you are, for the correction.