Wouldn’t be a Merry Christmas…

It’s exactly a week till Christmas so how are your preparations going? We are not planning anything grand other than going to church for the service and maybe, a simple dinner among ourselves – no open house, nothing.

I love watching those Christmas adverts but this year, there is none that I particularly like unlike this very touching one last year…

As for the Christmas songs, I don’t think there are any new ones that I like, not since this one in 2012, the year when we went to New Zealand…and this one too.

I like this cover though…

I have the original on a cassette tape with an assortment of Christmas songs but it has never been my favourite – this rendition is much nicer.

Yes, the sentimental old fool that I am, I do prefer sad Christmas songs like this old favourite of mine…and then, I stumbled upon this one…

Wow!!! That’s really very beautiful, I thought.

I went and googled to find out who she was and found this: “I had this dream since I was a child to make Christmas music,” says the New York-born Chan, who left her high-power job as director of integrated marketing at Conde Nast/Self magazine in April of 2012 to pursue that passion. That was quite sometime ago but the above video clip was released last year and the one this year…

…is very very nice too.

What about you? What are your favourite Christmas songs?

Wait no more…

I had not been to a movie since December, 2014 and before that, the previous one was in June 2012 but I had been waiting for this one…

…all this time ever since I first saw the trailer early in the year. It was scheduled to open at Christmas and I thought, “Oh dear!!! That is going to be a really long wait!”

Then, I saw in the promo on satellite TV that it would premiere nationwide in Malaysia on the 8th of December…and yes, that’s right!!! I went to see it on that very day itself, the 2 o’clock matinee at the trioplex (thus named as there are three halls showing three movies simultaneously) to the left…

Jalan Kampung Nyabor Sibu

I couldn’t wait another day!

My girl went to get the tickets for us and came back with three RM10.00 ones. Oh? They had a special concession for the 10.00 a.m. show but for other shows in the day, it would be RM12.00 for adults and RM10.00 for children. More on this later!

In the meantime, I went around taking photographs of the pictures in the wall…

Movie audience

…including this one of popcorn…

Popcorn

…though I did not see any popcorn booth that one would see at cinemas elsewhere, just a stall selling all kinds of snacks and tidbits.

I loved the display they had for the movie…

SING

…with these cute pokes at well-known stars like Seal

Seal

…or Rihanna

Rihanna

…or Maroon 5

Maroon 5

LOL!!!

Going back to the tickets, we were about to enter the hall when the usher directed us back to the ticketing booth and passed them to the young and handsome boy there…without any explanation. Of course I knew the reason for it so as the boy re-issued new tickets for us, I commented, “Itu untuk budak kecik saja, ya?” (That’s for little children only) and he replied, “Ya!” and I added, “Kami kecik pun bah!” (We are also small) That little joke sure tickled his funny bone and he laughed out loud. I guess that was a welcome relief for him in his dreary mundane job day in and day out, nothing much to smile or laugh about.

As for the movie, from the opening scene with Jennifer Hudson as the young Nana Noodleman singing one of my all-time Beatles favourites, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It was like a pop quiz, “60 pops in 60 minutes” – the songs came fast and furious, some so short that even before I could guess the title, they had moved on to the next one. Well, if you are so into songs…

…like me, you would enjoy the movie to the max. The soundtrack includes some really old oldies ranging from Frankie’s “The girl from Ipanema” and “My Way” to the newer ones from the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

There are a lot of subtle messages pertaining to wife and husband/family, father and son, boy and girl relationship…and some very lovely and meaningful  quotations as well. I felt the finale was a let down though as the song they picked is not one of my favourites but on the whole, I would say it was very entertaining and I sure enjoyed myself…not quite the same way as how I enjoyed the classics like this one or this one but yes, I had a great time!

How you’ve grown…

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Sunrise, sunset…

Sunset over the mighty Rejang

…Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze…
*Lyrics from “Sunrise sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof*

Well, my friend/ex-classmate, Robert’s son, who happened to be a student of mine in school, now residing in Melbourne, Australia, just had a baby girl not too long ago so of course, Robert and his wife, Angela, have had the honour and privilege of being elevated to the status of grandparents. Quite recently, they were back in Melbourne again and this time, it was for their daughter’s wedding…and last Saturday evening, they hosted a grand banquet here…

Kek Sheng & Jacqueline's wedding banquet, Sibu

…for their relatives and friends in Sibu and I was one of them there to share the joy…

Main table

…of that very happy and special occasion.

It was not really bright, the ballroom, so I did not bother to take the photographs of all the dishes we had that night, just this Four Seasons platter…

Four Seasons

…and as always, here in Sibu, you can expect more than just four, everytime.

I certainly was glad that they had replaced the not-to-be-named soup with this very much nicer chicken and fish maw soup…

Chicken and fish maw soup

…and it came in such a huge bowl that everyone at my my table had more than just seconds!

Being in one of the leading hotels in town, of course, this place is halal…or pork-free, at least, so the usual stewed pork belly slices for stuffing the steamed mantao was replaced with some other meat…

Stuffed mantao

…and while the guys at my table were debating as to whether it was chicken or duck, I just ate! Hehehehehe!!!!

Among the other dishes, there was also this huge piece of fish…

Steamed fish

They said it was cod – I wouldn’t know as I am not all that good at telling one fish from another…but yes, it was very nice and I sure enjoyed it.

Robert got a country & western band all the way from Miri for the entertainment that evening and look at who was in the building!!!…

Elvis was in the house!

He’s an old friend of mine – we used to hang out at the same karaoke pub here in the 90’s but of course, he’s a much better singer than I ever was and he is still actively singing, going here, there and everywhere doing his Elvis impersonations while my vocal cords have already called it a day. For one thing, way back then, he was singing all the oldies but goodies by Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and the like while I had a much wider repertoire that included the more current hit songs like this one or this one or this one, just to give a few examples.

Anyway, getting back to the event, thank you, Robert and Angela, for the invitation and congratulations to you two too, the proud and happy parents…and congratulations to Jonathan & missus on your latest addition to the Chew family…and to Jacqueline and Kek Sheng, wishing you two everlasting happiness in the years ahead. God bless, all! Cheers!!!

Honey honey…

We were here two years ago

Honey Lemon Cafe and Zakka

…and once before that when it was under another name and we had not been back since as we did not have anything that would get us running back for more.

For the uninitiated, it is along Jalan Pedada (2.308429, 111.846071) right across the road from this building where the recently-opened Starbucks outlet is located…

Starbucks Sibu

However, I heard a friend singing its praises saying how good the lamb chop was and how she loved the mushroom gravy, so much nicer than all the rest plus those people had been pretty active lately on Facebook sharing the photos of the lunch box takeaways at RM5.00 each. That was why I decided to drop by the other day to check it out. Who knows, they might have a new chef now and what they have on their menu could have improved by leaps and bounds.

They have this photo printer…

Honey Lemon photo printer

…that you can make use of – you can take a photograph using your smartphone and use it to scan and print and take home or stick it on the wall along with all the rest…

Honey Lemon photos on the wall

Why, they even had one of the local Mandarin singing sensation from Sarikei, Nick Chung, but the photograph I took of that snapshot turned out blur.

As far as the zakka part of this place is concerned, it isn’t very different from what it used to be – nothing much, maybe even less than before. I did see these owls…

Honey Lemon owls

…and this one…

Honey lemon owl

…that may be of interest to my friends – the owl memorabilia collectors, Annie and Nick…and no, not Nick Chung – this Nick is more handsome. LOL!!!

My missus had this iced green apple 7-Up drink (RM4.90)…

Honey Lemon iced green apple 7-up

…and she did not say anything about it so I guess it was all right. I am more familiar with Ribena 7-Up that is available at a number of places here, there and everywhere.

She had the teriyaki chicken rice (RM11.90)…

Honey Lemon teriyaki chicken rice

…and the chicken was pretty good but from my personal point of view, the fried egg…

Honey Lemon fried egg

…that came with it was an absolute disaster.

The girl who came to take our orders could only speak Mandarin and I had a hard time trying to understand what she was saying especially the somewhat “technical” part regarding the making of the ice blended black coffee (RM7.90)…

Honey Lemon ice blended black coffee

…but I could make out that bit about it not being black, nothing like the very nice blended kopi-o-peng here and I decided to order it anyway. So what did I think of it? Well, I would say it was all right even though I am never into coffee with milk but at that price, I would probably go for something else should I ever happen to drop by here again.

I decided to try their nasi lemak with chicken curry (RM14.90)…

Homey Lemon nasi lemak with chicken curry

…and considering the huge serving for just RM3.00 more, I would think this would be a better deal than what my missus had but perhaps they could try and work a little harder on the presentation to come out with something looking a bit more impressive. Maybe if they had lined the plate with banana leaf, that would help a bit.

Hmmm…a sausage by the side in a plate of nasi lemak? I guess that’s ok and it was one of those ordinary sausages from the supermarkets, nothing special. My main concern whenever I have nasi lemak would be the rice and no, the one here was not lemak – I could hardly detect any santan (coconut milk) nor any pandan (screwpine leaf) fragrance in it but thankfully, it was not hard and dry and there were all those things in the platter to save the day.

The sambal

Honey Lemon nasi lemak sambal

…was completely out. No, no…it tasted all right, just that it was nothing like any sambal one would usually get with one’s nasi lemak, not even remotely close and eyewww….I can see the ikan bilis (dried anchovies) head! Frankly, perhaps they should just go and buy the very nice sambal at the roadside stall in the early morning at Bandong, just RM5.00 for one big tub, and dish out a spoonful of it every time somebody orders that.

I love this cheap salted fish…

Honey Lemon salted fish

…RM2.00 for a bagful, but I would usually soak in water prior to frying and eating so it would not be so salty…and the chicken curry…

Honey Lemon chicken curry

…was not too bad though that was the first time I had ever seen people garnishing their bowl of curry with fried shallots and chopped spring onions prior to serving. Hehehehehe!!!!

We did not get to try their lunch box takeaway – if I understood the girl correctly, those are not for eating in. You would have to call them to order and then come to collect to go and eat some place else. They are open from 10.00 a.m. in the morning right through till 10.30 p.m. at night and are closed on Mondays…and right now, they are giving a 15% discount in conjunction with the restaurant’s anniversary.

Well, we did not get to try the aforementioned lamb chop so who knows, we may just drop by again one of these days.

P.S.
Hey! It’s our National Day today so Happy National Day, folks! Keep the peace and spread the love and in conjunction with this special event. here’s a song by another of our local Sarawak’s own singers, Bob Yusof…

Lights…

It was some two weeks ago when there was a blackout here in Sibu. It was not very long, less than two hours from around 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. and it was still bright at the time so we could go outside where it was cooler but when that happens in the night, even though there may be the pleasant night breeze outside, one would have to fight with the mosquitoes and whatever that would be lurking in the dark.

Two days later, it happened again early in the night around 7.00 p.m. but that one was quite brief, around half an hour only, thank God!

I have the electricity board’s technical assistance number on speed dial so everytime that happened, I would call them right away. One had to be fast or one would never be able to get through – the line would be engaged and I wouldn’t know if some other people were calling or they just left the receiver off the hook. Tsk! Tsk!

These days, when you call that number, you would get through to their customer service and firstly, the answering machine would tell you to press 1 for English, 2 for Malay…and then if you want to report a blackout, you would need to press a certain number and so on and so forth. Finally, when all that has been done, they will tell you, “Sorry, all our lines are busy. Please hold!” So you would have to wait and wait and wait and listen to some horrible music and I was thinking, perhaps they should play some relevant songs instead like this one, for instance…

If I am not wrong, the people running that service are in Kuching and they would ask and say a lot of things and at the end of it all, they would just tell you that they would inform the people concerned. When? Don’t ask me…but what I can tell you is that if you are calling on your mobile, that would cost you quite a bit. Thankfully, I have free landline calls using the complimentary cordless phone that came with my internet package so go ahead – say what you want, take your time!

Coming back to the blackout, I was thinking of buying a fan that would run on rechargeable battery. I bought this one…

Emergency fan & light
*Archive photo*

…some two years ago for my girl to take to her school in the jungle. They have electricity there but are dependent on generators and those would break down sometimes. Thankfully, there had not been any need to use it and one fine day, she told me it was not working anymore. I heard somewhere that these things have to be used regularly or they would just call it quits for no reason whatsoever. Ah well! What can one expect for RM15.00 only and from something made in China some more? For this very reason, I did not want to get one of the same for her or for myself.

I remember seeing a box fan with a fluorescent light by the side at a shop in Selangau that time when my girl first went over to teach in one of the schools in that district…and I was looking and thinking of buying one for her but the mum went nag…nag…nag…so I just walked away and abandoned the whole idea. I was contemplating on going back there to see if they would still be selling it there but in the meantime, I decided to drop by the electrical shop a few doors away when we went here for lunch (we were there early, around one hour before opening time) that day and yes, they had this…

Fan

…tagged at RM145.00 but they were willing to let me have it for RM125.00. I told them I would be getting two and they reduced it further to RM120.00 each.

It is made in China too but these days, what isn’t? For one thing, you will only use it in the event of a blackout, sitting right in front of the 12-inch fan…

12-inch

…enjoying the wind while waiting for power to be restored and if it is in the night, there are these LED lights as well…

Lights

…so you would not be sitting in the dark and I do think it would be quite safe since it will not be running on electricity, just the battery in it. For one thing, it is very quiet unlike the aforementioned cheap one – I used that when there was a blackout before my girl took it to her school and I wanted to have a nap but the noise was so loud that it kept me awake the whole time. I guess when something is THAT cheap, one has no cause for complaint.

Of course, this one needs recharging as well! According to the manual, full recharging the first time would take some 12-15 hours and even if you do not use it, you would need to recharge for around 8 hours every 3 months. When it is recharging, the red light…

Charging

…will come on and according to the people at the shop, it will go off when fully recharged. So far we have not waited that long to see it happen. LOL!!!

Well, if anyone is interested in getting one…

Fan, in box

…as well, you can drop by the electrical shop at Laichee Lane here (2.290842, 111.829440) to see if they have any more stock. I hear blackouts are a lot more frequent in Kuching and Miri and a lot worse in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah…and thank God for small mercies, it isn’t so bad here but still, it pays to be prepared. In Malay, there is a saying, “Sediakan payung sebelum hujan!” (Get ready the umbrella before it rains!)

My woman, my woman, my wife…

I wonder how many of you know this song…

– one of my old-time favourites! I love the pleasantly soothing melody and the beautiful lyrics in particular.

Well, if you’re wondering about the relevance, it was my missus’ birthday last Friday and of course, we had to have the longevity noodles, the mee sua, in chicken soup with our traditional Foochow red wine…

Birthday longevity noodles

…first thing in the morning and no, Ken, we did not miss out the eggs and I had TWO of them! LOL!!!

I went out and bought a cake for her…

Birthday cake 1

…from this bakery – I wanted the Black Bavaria that my friend gave me for my birthday once and it was very nice but they did not have it that morning so I settled for this one…

Birthday cake 2

…something with hazelnut, lots of that in the cream in between the layers.

Our girl was coming home that afternoon and we waited for her so my missus could cut the cake with all of us together, singing the birthday song and all. It was very nice – not sweet at all and very light and since it was small, maybe a 6-inch square only, we did not have to struggle to finish the whole thing.

That evening, we went out for dinner here…

Ming Mei Shi Restaurant, new premises

This used to be one of our favourite Chinese restaurants in town – they have moved to their new own-owned premises now but that will have to wait till the next post. Stick around!

The end of it all…

They will announce the winner of the last season of this reality singing competition…

The final season

…today, Friday morning here and Thursday night in the USA after 15 seasons.

We did not get to see the first two seasons when the show started in 2002 as we did not have the show on the local television stations in our country at the time. That meant that we did not get to see the first-ever winner, Kelly Clarkson, one of the most successful of the lot, who gave this heart-wrenching performance when she guest-starred in one of the shows in this final season…and of course, we did not get to see Ruben Studdard either, who despite the win after beating Clay Aiken to second place, never really got off the ground.

Yes, after so many years, so many have won and so many have not managed to make it big in the music world and looking at some of those voted to become the winners, I certainly am not surprised as most, in my opinion, were really quite forgettable. On the other hand, there were others that I thought were really good but they were unceremoniously booted out, many even before they got anywhere near the finals.

So what about you? Have you watched the show at sometime or another? Who do you remember? Any memorable performances? I must say I do have a few like this one, for instance…

…who lost to the other guy by that same name in the finale.

I don’t think many would remember this lady…

…who was up against the likes of the eventual winner, Fantasia Barrino and also the very successful, Jennifer Hudson and this guy didn’t make it into the grand finale either…

…in Season 5 but he was on the recent Fox Live musical, The Passion, aired on Palm Sunday, playing the part of Judas Iscariot. Well, like many of the rest, he did not need to win either as he did have an impressive track record after he dropped out of the competition…and the same goes to this guy…

…that I was quite sure would win that year but didn’t…and how could this Filipino power pack of talent…

…not win? Tsk! Tsk!

Towards the later years, I did not watch the show that faithfully like I did initially and I do know of many who stopped following it as well, many out of frustration that some of the really good ones did not win or worse, were kicked out early in the show.

However, I did keep up with the updates online and I did watch some of the clips on youtube…and now that it has come to an end, I must say that I do feel a little sad but then again, there are lots of shows along these same lines here, there and everywhere all over the world. After all, as in the words of William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.