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

In case you didn’t know…

I read in the papers not too long ago the report on the local assemblywoman making some noise about the new parking rates at the Sibu Airport after it had been taken over by the Malaysian airport authorities…

Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd
*Sdn. Bhd? I wonder who owns it?*

…and it has increased from RM1.50 to RM2.00. Well, it sure did not get me pulling all my hair out – after all, what has not increased in price? Besides, I do not go to the airport all that often.

Well, it so happened that I had to do just that the other day as my cousin and her hubby from the UK were dropping by Sibu for a couple of days and to drive into the parking zone, I had to press a button and get a card. I did not have a problem with that.

There were lots of parking spaces, obviously due to the price hike – that is quite typical of the people here and pretty soon, they will forget and the place would be quite full and one would have to park one’s car far far away from the terminal building.

A friend of mine happened to be there, about to leave, and he stopped his car beside mine and told me that they were using the auto pay system now and one would have to pay at the counter beside the Sugar Bun outlet there…

Sugar Bun Sibu Airport
*Archive photo*

…before one could get out of the place. When I shared about this matter on Facebook, another friend told me that she was stuck there for half an hour the day before because many people did not know this.

Again, I was fine with it, thanks to my friend for letting me know. As I was walking to the counter, I saw a few auto pay machines but there were signs on them stating that they were “under maintenance”. What? I thought they just started not too long ago. I wonder how much they paid for those machines and if they did work at all when they first started this whole thing.

Silly me!!! I went and paid…


…straight away thinking that I would have an hour since the time of entry and I waited for my cousin and her hubby to arrive. We were lucky that day as the flight was neither delayed nor cancelled. It was pouring cats and dogs when they landed and I told them to wait for me outside while I went to get the car to drive over and pick them up.

So there I went in the heavy rain and when I put the card into the machine, I saw the digital thing on it saying that my “grace period had expired”. I tried again and there was a voice on the intercom telling me to go to the counter beside Sugar Bun and pay. There was a car behind me and he honked at me impatiently. @#$%^&*!!!!! Blardy road bully, kurang ajar!I quickly reversed and re-parked my car and went back to the counter and paid an additional RM1.00…


…to get out of the place. The guy manning the booth said, “Lain kali, uncle, mahu jalan baru bayar!” (Next time, uncle, pay before you leave). Tsk! Tsk! I thought I could pay first and relax after that, no need to worry about it as I would have an hour at my disposal.

Well, in case you didn’t know all this, now you do! I wonder how long the “grace period” is because honestly, it is not near at all, the counter from the parking zone and imagine the not-so-agile warga emas (senior citizens) like me having to walk all the way there to pay and back again to the car to drive out of there! I hear at the UTC (Urban Transformation Centre), they have this autopay system too and it is printed in the payment chit that you have 30 minutes to get out of there – I did not see anything in the two that I got here that day.

Yes, by all means, increase the parking rates but they should, at least, make sure that the change is for the better and that their system is user-friendly, easier or more convenient for the people concerned…not worse!


Not bad at all…

Congratulations to the lovely people at Payung Café, Sibu…

Payung Cafe Sibu 1
*Archive photo*

…on their nomination as one of the finalists for the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award 2015/2016…

Andy & Peter at the Award Presentation Ceremony
*Andy’s photo on Facebook*

…for best kopitiamThey succeeded in grabbing the coveted award for Outstanding Food Outlet in the Kopitiam category in 2013/2014 but unfortunately, they are not that successful this time around.

As a matter of fact, their getting into the final three sure came as a surprise as even though I did know that the judges were in town (and as far as I knew, they were also in Sarikei, Mukah and Bintulu) not too long ago, I did not know that Payung Café was in the running again. I was the one chauffeuring them around the last time and from their reaction, I was pretty confident that Payung would win that time two years ago – it seemed to me that this time around, they drove all the way themselves so they had their own transport while they were in town.

zmun2 of did ask me once which place I would suggest if one had only one night in town and could only go to just one place here and my answer was obvious. We have Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, western and Italian restaurants here but there are all these restaurants everywhere – whether they are better than the ones here or not is another story but Payung is in a class by itself altogether.

No, it does not fall into any specific category. What they serve here might be something Peter, the boss, had tried and enjoyed somewhere and he came out with his version of the dish even though the name may be the same like their butter chicken…

Payung butter chicken
*Archive photo*

…for instance, which is quite different from the curry one would find at some Indian restaurant and their beef spaghetti bolognese is unlike what everyone would be more familiar with, that’s for sure, and personally, I would much sooner go for what they serve here.

Their otak-otak (fish)…

Payung otak fish
*Archive photo*

…is one of its kind and the mushroom roll…

Payung mushroom roll
*Archive photo*

…is the favourite of many.

I can go on and on about the food here but that alone is not what makes this place special – after all, there are many other places in town where the food is also very good and some may even feel it is better elsewhere.

One thing that puts this place a head above the rest would be the decor…

Payung decor 1
*Archive photo*

– how they are able to use those very simple stuff such as ordinary flowers…

Payung Cafe decor 2
*Archive photo*

…that no one would give a second glance at and make them look so good…

Payung Cafe decor 3
*Archive photo*

…and of course, there is the ambiance as well, the whole package…

Payung Cafe Sibu 2
*Archive photo*

My late aunt loved coming here everytime she came over from Kuching – she said she felt like in Bali and my ex-student/godson, Andrew, currently residing in Christchurch, New Zealand, said that it was like being in a completely different world and once out of there, it would suddenly dawn upon him, “Oh! I’m in Sibu!!!”

All these, along with the very friendly and efficient staff makes dining here special, a real feel-good experience.

Congratulations also to the guys of Café Café – they were one of the finalists for Outstanding Food Outlet in the restaurant category but sadly, they did not win either. They have two outlets here in Sibu, the original one in the town centre where it all started …

Cafe Cafe Sibu

…and another one…

Cafe Cafe@Giant
*Archive photo*

…at the Giant Hypermart Mega Mall that we do go to time and time again as parking is a whole lot easier there. They now have two more outlets in Kuching, one at Rubber Road and the other at Song Plaza, four altogether.

An immensely popular coffee place here also got into the list of finalists, in the café/bistro category but like the aforementioned two, they did not manage to grab the coveted award as well.

Still, it was not bad at all, all three of them, don’t you think? Our own homegrown from our good ol’ little town! Keep up the good work, guys! Better luck next time…and to the rest, try harder – your turn may come in 2019 for 2017/2018.

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 while Café Café, Sibu (2.287274, 111.826501) is along Jalan Chew Geok Lin in the middle of the block of shophouses on your right along that road – the Tua Pek Kong Temple with its 7-storey Pagoda is straight ahead and Café Café@Giant (2.325540, 111.853538), is located on the ground floor of the Giant Hypermart Megamall located to the left of SMK Bandar Sibu along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng

Let’s get ready…

There certainly seems to be a whole lot of events going on in Sibu this year but I guess that’s to be expected considering that 2017 is Visit Sibu Year.

Not too long ago, there was the Sibu International Dance Festival and just last week, the Sibu International BASE Jump attracted jumpers from all over the world. According to the news report, there were enthusiasts from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, United Kingdom, the United States and Malaysia.

Well, the Mooncake or Lantern Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn or Zhongqiu Festival falls on the 4th of October this year and preparations are on the way at the town square

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 1

…for a grand celebration…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2

…starting on the 3rd until the 26th.

The 1Malaysia Food Fair will be held simultaneously at the Phase 2 section of the square, right across the road.

I dropped by the other evening…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 3

…to have a look and it being the Year of the Cockerel this year, this…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 4

…has been given centre stage.

There were still a lot of people working on them but that did not stop members of the public of all colour and creed  from crowding around and posing to have their snapshots taken…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 5

These are lanterns made of cloth…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 6

…and of course, our Sibu iconic symbol, the Swan…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 7

…has not been left out but my favourite would be these elegant-looking butterflies…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 8

I am very sure they would look very nice when lighted up at night…

Sibu Lantern Festival 2017 9

…but I guess the only way to find out would be to drop by when everything is ready.

Come over…

2017 is Visit Sibu Year and Bubu


…the friendly crocodile, is the official mascot.

I stumbled upon this very nice display at one of the shopping malls in town the other day. It probably has been there for sometime, just that I did not drop by…or walk past that way and hence, I did not see it before this.

I thought it was very nicely done – I could see the buah dabai (our local black olives)

Dabai and all the rest

…and the duku or langsat and it amazed me to see how cleverly they managed to replicate the hairs on the rambutans. Can you spot our famous/infamous delicacy, the sago worm?

There is the buah manggis (mangosteen) and buah nangka (jackfruit) in this section…

The Hornbill and more

…and the pitcher plant aka monkey pot alongside a nice carving of the Hornbill, our state bird, and you can see the midin (wild jungle fern) here, there and everywhere.

Well, it is already September, less than four months left in the year so what are you all waiting for? Come over and find out for yourself all that this little town has in store for you.

If you come over now, there is a new attraction, a new pasar malam (night market) at the Sungai Merah Heritage Walk…

Sungai Merah

…where the Lovers’ Bridge is located…

Lovers' Bridge

One of the NGO’s here has set up this structure…

LOVE Garden

…in the vicinity…

Lock the Love

…so couples can attach their pairs of padlocks…


…onto the frame. I think I did see them selling those at a stall/booth close by so no worries, you do not have to bring your own.

As for the night market proper, I don’t know if we were too early that day or many of the booths/stalls were still vacant, yet to be rented out. There was one selling soya bean products…

Soya Bean stall

…and another one specialising in the bak kua (barbecued sliced pork)…

Loong Kee

…one of the better known names in Kuala Lumpur.

I was glad to see this guy wearing a mask…


…while doing the grilling. That is a good hygienic practice, I must say. Unfortunately, he was not doing it over some hot burning charcoal…

Pork satay

…but nonetheless, my missus did buy the pork satay (RM2.00 per stick) from him to try. It was very tasty but a bit too salty for our liking.

You can get to enjoy some fried chicken at this stall…

MR Fried Chicken

…if that tickles your fancy and there is kompia

Kompia stall

…our so-called Foochow bagel, at this one and there are chicken claws…

Chicken claws

…available here. Eyewwwww!!! No, thank you!

This one selling rojak and kompia and a lot of other fried stuff as well seemed to draw quite a lot of people…

Free testing

…and as I went closer to have a look, I could see what the attraction was. Free testing! No, I did not bother to sample anything – by then, I was feeling a bit hot and uncomfortable so we decided not to go any further. I think there is a stall further up selling roast chicken or duck or whatever – I could see something like that in the distance and no, we did not feel like having that either.

The sun was setting…

Setting sun

…when we crossed the bridge and went back to where I had parked the car and left.

As far as pasar malams or night markets go, I do feel that the main one in the town centre has an edge over this one – for one thing, there are a lot more things, especially our local Sibu/Foochow delights and on the whole, it is more interesting.

Having said that, you may want to check out this one if you are keen but most people who come here will probably stay for a weekend and maybe a day or two more so they may not have the luxury of time. Besides, if one is staying at a hotel, chances are he or she would be at the town centre, quite a distance from here and it would not be so convenient to drop by unless one has one’s own transport…or a local resident, be it a relative or a friend, to bring them here.

Cafe on the corner…

Now, who knows Bee Guan? Well, if you are as old as I am and grew up in this little town, you probably would know the shop at the corner of the Sarawak Building…

The Ruai

…where the Sarawak Hotel, at one time the No. 1 hotel in Sibu, is…

The Sarawak Building & Hotel

Bee Guan was the shop belonging to the Teo family and it used to be here then, along what was Cross Road, now Ramin Way, right next to the Rex Cinema…

Rex Cinema

…across the road from this Chinese primary school…

SRJK Chung Hua Sibu

That was where I would buy all my DC comics – Superman, Batman, Spiderman…you name it, I had it, and all my black vinyl records, LP’s, EP’s and singles by names such as Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell and our local talents such as Rose Iwanaga and the Avengers, the ones from Singapore like the Thunderbirds (and Heather), Naomi (Suriya) and the Boys (and Henry), Shirley Nair and the Silver Strings featured in this special video clip in conjunction with the island republic’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebration in 2015…

…and the list goes on and on and on. This was also where I could faithfully buy my copies of The Dolphin (a Borneo Literature Bureau publication) and every Saturday, we would go to collect my father’s subscription of the weekly tabloid from Brunei, The Borneo Bulletin.

Right now, there is a newly-opened coffee shop, the Ruai, occupying that little corner but the shop sign has not been put up yet. Well, from the name and some of the decor that they have put up here…

The Ruai decor 1

…and there…

The Ruai decor 2

…one would know what kind of food they serve here. No, they do not have those cabinets with sliding mosquito-netting doors…

The Ruai nasi campur counter

…so it is not so easy to see what dishes they have unless they turn the lids a bit like in the photograph – that probably would help a little.

I heard someone saying that the food “bay hak nang ciak” (not suitable for us to eat) but the fried mee and kway teow were quite nice. That was why I ordered their fried kway teow with kerang/cockles (RM4.00)…

The Ruai fried kway teow with kerang

…but there was no sign of the kerang at all. Eventually, I saw those microscopic canned clams in soy sauce in it. At best, I would say it was all right, not anything to get excited about and I just tried a bit and tapao-ed the rest home.

If you are wondering why I did not eat it all up, it was because we wanted to try the ethnic food that they are serving for their nasi campur. My missus had the sayur ensabi

The Ruai sayur ensabi

– they had the fresh ones not the kasam or preserved version that we used to have at this other place. I did not want that as people told me it was bitter but when my missus gave me a bit to try, I found that it was not, not at all and it was very nice; I sure would not mind having that the next time we drop by here.

She also had the pork cooked in soy sauce and the tapioca leaves that I also had…

The Ruai nasi campur

…along with the pansoh ikan keli (catfish cooked in bamboo).

The pansuh ayam (chicken cooked in bamboo) came out later so we asked for some (RM2.00)…

The Ruai pansuh ayam

…to try and yes, it was good just that the soup was a bit too salty; it went very well with rice though and we did enjoy it. Still, I would say that I very much preferred the catfish…

The Ruai ikan keli

…but of course, one would have to be careful with the bones. What my missus and I picked for our nasi campur came up to only RM9.00 altogether – cheap and nice and for sure, we would not mind coming back again for more. They did say that they would put up the daily menu up in front of the shop (after the Gawai), all the dishes available each day.

They open everyday from around 6.00 a.m., they said, till around 7.00 p.m. and for one thing, although we were there early, past 10.30 a.m., the dishes were ready already unlike at the other place where we had to go away disappointed more than once as they were not open yet.

THE RUAI (2.289479, 111.827220) is located at The Sarawak Building along Ramin Way, formerly Cross Road or Jalan Lintang to the left of what used to be the Rex Cinema, opposite the Chung Hua Primary School.