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Pretty flowers…

I shared in this post some photographs that I took at my girl’s school of the bunga raya or the hibiscus – the national flower of Malaysia. It seems that there are so many different varieties these days unlike my growing up years, when usually, we would see this one…

Hibiscus 1

…and another variety that is not so curly.

I do recall those times in school when we were asked to bring some of the blooms to class and we would study the parts and examine the cross-section and then draw pictures and diagrams in our exercise books and label them. I wonder if those of you who are much younger than me did the same thing too – maybe you would get everything in one of those commercially-produced and sold workbooks or activity books and all you had to do would be to label them? Those were the days when we had to bring everything ourselves to the science labs – snails, frogs, rats! Nowadays, if you ask those students in the big cities to bring any of those things to class, I don’t think you will get to see any at all, I’m sure.

I remember when I was in Form 1, my Science teacher was this thin and tall lady with a somewhat nasal voice called Miss Tiong – I gathered from hearsay that she was from Singapore. At one time, we had to bring garden snails to class…and while the lesson was in progress, two of them turned horny and started getting into the act. All of us saw that and had a hard time trying to stifle our laughter and when Miss Tiong saw that we were all distracted, she turned to look and saw what the attraction was. She walked straight up to the two and tore them apart and went on with the lesson, looking quite pissed off. LOL!!! Teachers in those days were all so prim and proper, no nonsense in class….and that brings to mind this very funny Thai commercial…

…that some of you may have watched before. LOL!!!

Anyway, going back to the hibiscus, I remember we had these pink ones…

Pink hibiscus 1

…in our garden but they were much bigger. This one is quite small, about the size of carnations and I do think that the blood red ones are very nice – they look quite like carnations, actually. Unfortunately, I could not find any of those in full bloom and all I have at this point in time is this old snapshot of the bud…

Hibiscus bud
*Archive photo*

This one is  pink too…

Pink hibiscus 2

…and yes, it is small as well, one of those seemingly stunted varieties, though that is not so obvious in the photograph.

I wonder if all countries have a national flower. If I’m not mistaken, the Vanda Miss Joaquim is the national flower of Singapore and of course, the rose is England’s and hence the title of Elton John’s tribute to the late Princess Diana. Come, let’s see how many others you all know…

STOP PRESS:
I did manage to snap a pic of the very red carnation-like hibiscus eventually so here it is…

Striking red

I do like this one very much…with its striking red colour.

Indescribable…

When my Singapore friend, Alfred, was in Sibu, I told him about the Mulu Caves right here in Sarawak and I was surprised that he had not heard of them before – the Sarawak Chamber is “so big that it could accommodate about 40 Boeing 747s, without overlapping their wings“. Hmmmm…this probably goes to show how effective the promotions done by our Sarawak tourism authorities have been…

Anyway, what I told Alfred got him all excited and he immediately made plans to go and visit this UNESCO world heritage site and he did – last weekend.

To get there, he had to fly to Miri and from there, he boarded an ATR 72-seater…

ATR72

…which he said was like a toy plane. Hmmm…wait till he gets on our 19-seater Twin Otter – I did blog about it here once and yes, flying in one would indeed by an experience, that’s for sure.

The experience, the sights and the sounds and everything there, needless to say, are simply indescribable so I would just share a few of his photographs on Facebook in this post. I did not know that swiftlets will always lay their eggs in pairs…

Swiftlet's eggs

…not one, not three or more…and among the amazing stone formations, there is this one that looks quite erotic…

X-rated

…but one of the main attractions of course would be this silhouette of Abraham Lincoln’s face…

Lincoln

– don’t leave Mulu without having seen this and taking a photograph of it!

My! My! Alfred sure is an adventurous guy and he opted to stay on for the “night shift”…

Night shift

I bet he found it very interesting, if not exciting, and the next morning…

Morning comes

…he and the rest made their way downstream…

Going downstream

…after having explored 5 of the caves in the national park…and he is saying that he will want to go back there again as there is a lot more that he has yet to cover!

I’ve never been there myself, I am ashamed to say, and I guess, at my age (and shape and size), I will just have to sit this one out. I have never been to the Fairy Caves in Bau near Kuching even…as when I went with my friends either in the late 60’s or early 70’s, they told to wait by the lake as the climb could be quite perilous! In fact, when they came back, they told tales of how one of the ladies fell off the rope…and luckily, one of the guys, hanging on to the rope himself, simply stretched out his arm and grabbed her and saved her. It would have been tragic if she had fallen all the way down. Neither have I been to the Niah Caves – where they found the evidences of the early pre-historic civilisation. Some of my colleagues went and they told me of the long single-plank walk to the caves…and they said that I would definitely fall off after a few steps. Humphhhh!!!

Anyway, back to the Mulu Caves, if you are keen and adventurous like my friend, you may find more information here in their website…and you can plan a trip there while you are still young and able. Why go to all those other countries when one of the most amazing wonders of the world is right here at our footsteps?

Give it to me…

I was just about to doze off that day for my afternoon siesta when the air-conditioner just went off suddenly. Drats! A blackout again, I thought. I went downstairs to check if there was a power failure in my neighbourhood and saw that the switch had tripped so I turned it back on and everything was all right after that. I asked my missus why that happened out of the blue and she said that she went to turn on the air-conditioner in the living room and that did it!

I called somebody to come and check and he said the wiring and everything was all right so it had to be the air-conditioner so I should get someone to come and fix it. This one was really old – a hand-me-down, in fact, that was given to me by my father when he replaced it with something newer and better. The guy came and said that it was the condenser and instead of having that replaced, I might get as well get a new one…which I did. I was intending to change it anyway as it had been kind of cranky lately and the new energy savers would not consume as much electricity as these old ones.

To my delight, there was a free gift that came with it and I really liked it a lot – a ceramic pan…

Free gift

I have never heard of nor seen one, the goondu that I am…

Cross-section

…though I have seen the green one on the food channel on satellite television but I think that’s a completely different thing.

I wish I could have all four colours…

Four colours

…but then again, what on earth would I do with so many pans?

It sure has a lot of good qualities…

Characteristics

…but then again, we’ll never know until we start using one. I particularly like the fact that it is non-stick and non-toxic…

More characteristics

…but my missus would have to take special note of this…

Note well

She will ALWAYS heat up the wok or the pan till it is fuming hot before adding the oil and starting to cook. She insists that the food cooked at the restaurants is nicer because of the big fire and the extra heat so that is why she does that. Well, it says there: “Do not overheat the product while empty…”

Actually, I have changed two of my old air-conditioners sometime ago – the ones in the bedrooms and with the energy savers, my electricity bill dropped by half so hopefully, with this new one, it will go down a little bit more. For the first of the two, I got a nice non-stick wok, Tefal no less, and I gave that to my girl to use in her quarters in her school. This…

Free gift 2

…was what I got when I bought the second one. It did not get me very excited, this one, but my missus said that these Zebra products are actually very good and very expensive in the shops.

It sure makes me wonder though – why they give these cooking stuff when one buys an air-conditioner considering that they are not even remotely connected. Perhaps a comforter or a blanket would be more appropriate, don’t you think?

Can you find it…

Many would be very familiar by now with how we need to verify that we are not a robot before we can post a comment in some blogs. At one time, one had to identify the letters and there was a lot of unhappiness as very often, the letters overlapped or were not very legible or were very difficult to make out. Then, for a while, there were letters and at times, numbers that were as clear as day…but sometimes, there were pictures.

I guess most, if not all, would have  seen these already…

Select pasta

In the above, you are asked to select all the pasta and I guess this would be one…

Pasta 1

…and this one is the other…

Pasta 2

Pretty straight-forward, right?

These, however, look like noodles to me…

Pasta 3

…but I guess basically, they’re one and the same thing. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Now, that’s a steak all right…

Steak 1

– top row, to the left…and I guess we also call these slabs of uncooked meat…

Steak 2

…steaks as well.

And when it comes to sandwiches…

Sandwiches

…I guess burgers…

Burgers

…do qualify as such too, what do you think?

Initially, when one could not make out the pictures, one could click refresh and they would be replaced by words and/or numbers but of late, it seems that when I do that, I will get a new set of pictures…and go back to square one.

I do enjoy blog-hopping to see what everyone has been up to and post comments especially those of the ones who drop by mine and comment regularly – “Do unto others what you would want others do unto you,” and I do make an effort to read and look at the photographs and say something relevant…and at times, I may be a bit long-winded even. I may browse through other blogs as well and comment if it is anything of mutual interest even though the blog-owners do not come to mine…and I do not mind going through such security measures; actually, it was quite interesting at first but soon, the novelty wore out and of late, the pictures are repeated – you get the same ones over and over again. Hopefully, they will come out with something different soon…

Coming soon…

Malaysia is a land of festivals. After Christmas and ushering in the new year, we had Chinese New Year…and coming soon, at the end of this month, those of us in Sarawak will be celebrating the Gawai Dayak Festival while the Sabahans will be celebrating theirs – the Harvest or Kaamatan Festival.

I heard that the decor at this megamall in town is up and it is very nice so I made it a point to drop by and have a look…

Gawai decor 1

It certainly is very well done…

Gawai decor 2

…don’t you think?

The brass gongs sure look like real…

Brass gongs

…but of course, the sape

Sape

…isn’t anything like the real thing. This is the ethnic stringed-instrument or guitar, if you choose to classify it as such – the sounds are really so very pleasant and soothing.

They have all kinds of very unique and enchanting musical instruments, these ethnic races in the state of Sarawak and thanks to Sada Borneo who were in the reality talent show recently, many would have been enthralled by some of them…

…including the sape, I’m sure. As a matter of fact, I had never seen nor heard a few of those that they played before myself and was spellbound and so very impressed by the captivating sounds of each of them. Unfortunately, they did not garner enough votes to make it into the finals but at  least, they were the only Malaysian act to get that far in the competition and they did give a lot of people an insight into what’s in store here in Sarawak, musically and culturally, that is.

Back to the decor at the mall, they also have a bit at the entrance…

Star MegaMall entrance 1

…to wish everyone Selamat Hari Gawai Dayak

Star MegaMall entrance 2

They did a really good job for Christmas last year…

Christmas 2014 at Star MegaMall
*Archive photo*

…and the year before…

Christmas 2013 at Star MgeMall
*Archive photo*

…and for Chinese New Year…

Chinese New Year 2015 Star MegaMall
*Archive photo*

…earlier this year too and they have done it again. I must say that they do deserve a pat on the back for their good work everytime.

Just a little something…

I had to drive…

Road to Selangau

…to my girl’s school on Tuesday and bring her home as she had some official matters to attend to here the following day.

Well, it so happened that it was her colleague/housemate’s birthday so I cooked some longevity noodles (mee sua)…

Mee sua, dry

…and brought that along with me for her and all of them sharing the same unit at the teachers’ quarters to enjoy. I fried some sliced shallots and a bit of finely chopped garlic in oil and added (dark) soy sauce, chopped spring onions and a pinch of msg and pepper. I boiled the mee sua, drained and rinsed in cold water a couple of times, poured hot boiling water onto it to warm it up again and drained again before adding it to the ingredients and tossing it well.

No, I did not cook the version with our traditional red wine chicken soup as it would be quite a hassle bringing along any liquids while on the road. I did boil some eggs…

Hardboiled eggs

…too though and along the way, I stopped by the shop near my house to buy some roast chicken (RM12.50)…

Roast chicken

– half a bird (It is selling at RM25.00 whole and for one whole duck, it is RM45.00.) and a bit of roast pork (RM10.00)…

Siew yoke

…to go with the mee sua.

I guess it was nothing much really, just a little something for her birthday, her first away from home (Kuching) so hopefully, that would be some kind of consolation. I sure do remember how it was with my girl when she was away, furthering her studies in Sungai Petani, Kedah and also in Wellington, New Zealand and the gratitude that we owe to family and friends for everything they did for her at one time or another…and that sure meant a whole lot to us.

While I was at the school, I spotted this huge butterfly…

Butterfly

No, it was not the first and I am sure it would not be the last. We do get to see a lot of these things there that we do not usually stumble upon living in the bigger towns and in the cities. I went and googled and from what I found, I think this is the Lyssa Zampa Laos Brown Butterfly.

As we were leaving to make our way back the Sibu, there was a horrendous accident on the road outside the school, probably fatal – they all drive so dangerously fast along this inter-town trunk road here. Praise the Lord that we have had safe trips there and back over and over again and I do pray that He will continue to bless us and e’er protect us always.

You give love a bad name…

All my life, I was told that these…

Quail eggs 1

…were not good for health owing to their high content of cholesterol.

Well, it did not bother me that much as we very seldom eat them except when we had steamboat at home…

Steamboat

…and those eggs…

Quail eggs 2

…would be one of the many condiments…

Condiments

…that we would make sure we had.

Well, we are familiar with all those conflicting articles about this and that. At one time, they went all out to give our tropical oils a bad name but lately, they are praising coconut and all its by-products to the skies. It was the same with eggs – first they say you must not eat them, then they say it would be all right to have two a week and at one time, they said the danger would be in the yolk so you should just eat the white and after that, they said it would be fine if you would eat the yolk with the white…bla…bla…bla…and now they say lard is good!!!

Anyway, going back to quail eggs, I came across this article that says, and I quote: “Do quail eggs have cholesterol? Yes! The good kind. Quail eggs are rich in HDL cholesterol…” and somebody linked me to this very interesting article on cholesterol. It singled out Dr. Ancel Keys’ 1953 Seven Countries Study, which linked the consumption of dietary fat to coronary heart disease claiming that when Keys published his analysis that claimed to prove this link, he selectively included information from only seven countries, despite having data from 22 countries at his disposal. I don’t know how true this is but I do know for a fact that when some people do their research for their thesis, they would do that or even manipulate the statistics to prove their point.

Well, whatever it is, I do believe that it would be pretty all right if we would just consume anything in moderation…and when it comes to quail eggs, I have not seen them served any other way other than in our steamboat at home or being fried with some green vegetables at a restaurant and even then, I hardly ever see it these days. Considering that we hardly ever eat them, therefore, I am pretty sure that having them once in a blue moon would not bring about very much undue damage to one’s health…but that’s my two cents worth.

For one thing, I did read somewhere that 5 quail eggs would be the equivalent of one chicken egg…and at RM4.40 for 15, it works out to around 30 sen each, almost the same as one chicken egg and one sure would not be able to afford that many! Besides, they are not that easy to come by here – there may be a couple of supermarkets that have them on their shelves here or one would have to go to one stall at the wet market to buy them and that reminds me of the time when I went all the way to get some.

I bought a bagful of them and walked happily back to my car, swinging my arm as I went along. Somehow or other, the bag slipped off my finger and went flying in the air and landed some distance away from where I was. “Omigosh!!!” I thought. “There goes all my quail eggs!” I quickly walked towards the bag and from what I could see through it, there were some that looked intact…still. I rushed forward to pick it up but in my hurry, I could not stop in time and…I stepped on it!!! I was so pissed off that I simply refused to walk back to the market to buy some more. Tsk! Tsk!

What about the rest of you? You like quail eggs? Or are you one of those that have been avoiding it like a plague?