Online shopping trolley…

You can say that I was kind of paranoid when doing anything online so don’t expect me to do any shopping whatsoever but I did not have a choice when it came to purchasing airline tickets and making hotel reservations – some may require payment upon booking.

Well, I had a problem with my car temperature meter sometime ago but according to my workshop guy, the spare part was not available. The first time around, he managed to get a recycled one, second hand and he fixed it for me. It lasted for a while and then it began to get cranky again. It would not budge unless I slammed the dashboard hard and at times, it did require quite an effort to make it come alive.

Left with no choice, I went browsing around one of those online shopping websites and lo and behold! I found what I wanted!!! I wasted no time at all in making the purchase and waited for it to be delivered. That was on the 31st of October, 2019 and unfortunately, around that time, our national courier had a problem with people hacking their website so I could not track and trace. I could but it looked like the consignment was going all around the country and not coming my way.

Of course, that got me worried as I had no idea whatsoever what was going on and I was not sure whether I would get my order or not. I posted that on Facebook and did get some information on the website being hacked and anyway, they said the poor service was pretty usual and one said I could claim back my money if I did not get it by a certain date. Thankfully, I did…

Car temperature meter

…but to this day, it is still in the box – I have not got the meter replaced as the old one seems to be behaving quite well  so I would just go on using it until the time comes when it calls it a day completely.

No, my shopping did not end there. My garden shears…

BAJA garden shears

…weren’t in very good shape lately so I went back to the hardware store to get a replacement. They cost over RM50, believe you me, and they do not last very long. I think I did buy another one after that time in April last year but this time around, I was informed that it was out of stock and no, they had no idea whether there would be anymore coming.

Again, left with no choice, I logged in online to look for it. There were some German ones that cost a few hundred ringgit, no, thank you! Then, I found these made-in-Taiwan ones…

Made-in-Taiwan garden shears

– RM29.00 only from a supplier in Shah Alam and RM28.50 from one in Perak. I added two from the former and two more from the latter to my shopping trolley or cart, as it is called and promptly paid for them to close the deal. I received both orders within just a couple of days between each delivery.

Yes, I bought extra…

Garden shears, ready to use

…so I can use one until it is not that great anymore, time to throw it away and I can easily replace it with another one as and when necessary.

In the meantime, I’ve looked at some t-shirts and shirts my size…which is quite impossible to get here and if there are any, they are mighty expensive! I’ve ordered a few to see if they are any good but it looks like they are shipping them all the way from China! Well, we’ll see when the things finally come in – if they are any good, I may go back and buy some more. Oh dear!!! I certainly hope it does not get to become a habit, this online shopping thing. LOL!!!

What you give…

I was outside the house doing my gardening that day, all sweaty in my tattered and torn t-shirt and looking quite a mess when I saw a huge vehicle stop right outside my gate. I went to have a look and out stepped this tall and elegant young lady!

She was my student a long time ago, and her two brothers as well, but of course, they’ve all grown up now, all married with kids and it sure was a surprise to see her that day.

She came to pass me these angku kuih

Angku kuih

…and also this pulut with sambal on top…

Sambal pulut

…homemade by somebody at Jalan Berjaya, she said, thank you so much!

Yes, I do know of these very nice kuihs – I first encountered them at an event outside a supermarket here in 2019 and last year, when my Payung friends were catering the food for the international dance festival held here, they got them to cater the dessert. As far as I know, they used to be available at the Sunday market and also at a coffee shop at Rejang Park on weekends and you can get them on any day of the week at the Korean section of the supermarket in town.

In the meantime, my immediate neighbour gave me this…

Papaya

…from his garden and another neighbour further down the lane gave me this melon…

Melon

…also from his garden, the fruit of his and his missus’ labour. I wonder if anyone has cooked this before.

Like I’ve said many times before, I am truly blessed with all these kind and generous people giving me all kinds of things and I have nothing to give in return other than my prayers that all of them will be abundantly blessed each passing day in their lives.

Not always right…

Well, I must say that the things growing in my garden do not always turn out right. I have not had much luck planting chilies, for instance. I think I did get to eat a few once and another time, for reasons unknown, all the green chilies just dropped from the plants.

It is the same with the ones I am currently nurturing. I think there were some seeds among the kitchen waste that I buried and they sprouted and flourished and grew really well. So many chilies appeared but eventually, I noticed them starting to rot even before they ripened. That left me with no choice other than to pluck them and get rid of them.

There was this solitary one…

My chili

…however, that turned out really well. Hopefully, there will be a few others coming soon.

My cangkuk manis/mani cai is another thing that I plant that has never been doing all right. At best, I may get a handful of leaves for my masak sayur rebus but it does look a little bit better…

My cangkuk manis

…lately.

That day, I managed to pluck quite a lot…

Cangkuk manis leaves

…not enough for a dish by itself but I could have fried it with some baby corn or pumpkin or sweet potatoes.

In the end, I used it for my fried bihun with those canned clams in soy sauce

Fried bihun with canned clams in soy sauce & cangkuk manis

…for our lunch that day and I threw in that aforementioned chili, sliced thinly, as well.

Ah well!!! As they say, something is better than nothing! LOL!!!

Cross the road…

Now that I do not have to go and get my girl from her jungle school every Friday and send her back every Sunday, I am saving a lot on petrol and car maintenance. Those days, I would top up on Friday to make one trip and back and again on Sunday for our trip that day and that would not last till the next trip – I would have to go and top up on Tuesday or Wednesday so all in all, that would be around two to three times a week.

I sent my car for an oil and filter change every 7,000 km and because of the distance covered, I had to go back and get it serviced once every month or so plus I would get everything checked to make sure it was in perfect condition. I would not want it to break down somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The last time I got that done was in October last year and there were still 2,000 km left till the next scheduled oil change but I just went and got it done anyway.

While I was there, I noticed that the coffee shop on the other side

Uncle Lau

…has shrunk to half its former size. It used to occupy two shoplots but not anymore.

In the meantime, I heard that this coffee shop has closed down. I mentioned that on Facebook and somebody said that he heard they had moved here…

June Cafe

…so that morning, I went to have a look. Another friend went and had something from one of the stalls and the lady confirmed that she came from that aforementioned coffee shop. I did not see anybody familiar though (not that I am so familiar with the people there – I have not dropped by for a long long time) and the stalls did not seem ready to start the ball rolling except for the kampua mee stall and it was on my no-meat Friday so I was abstaining from that.

In the end, I decided to cross the road to this coffee shop right opposite where all the four food stalls were already in full swing at that point in  time. Nobody insisted on any SOP but there seemed to be some kind of social distancing at each table…

Kopitiam Fantasy social distancing

The people running the coffee shop did not look like the ones there before – perhaps, they are the same ones just that I was never all that observant before but the coffee that morning…

Kopitiam Fantasy kopi-o-peng

…was so so good, better than all the rest – the best that I have had for a long time now.

I ordered the sambal kway teow from this stall there and asked the lady to leave out the meat but I requested for one fried egg to go with it (RM5.00)…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow plus fried egg

I guess my regular readers would know right away that I was not too happy the moment it was served and why. LOL!!!

However, the kway teow in itself…

Kopitiam Fantasy sambal kway teow

…made up for the disappointment. It was super yummy, so very fragrant and very spicy and I’ve always loved the lady’s very nice own-made chili dip.

That was most certainly a delightful breakfast and I sure would not mind going back for more again…and again…and again.

KOPITIAM FANTASY, otherwise popularly known as Tiam Tiam Lai (2.292435, 111.835066), is located among the shops in the Jalan Chew Siik Hiong area of shops behind the Rejang Medical Centre, facing Jalan Mahsuri.

Not my first time…

It was Campari’s somewhat suggestive slogan some years ago that says, “The first time is never the best,” and I must say that there is some truth in that as far as my first time with the celebrated Häagen-Dazs branded ice cream was concerned.

I cannot remember exactly when that was, many years ago, that’s for sure, when I spotted it sold in cups at a 7-11 shop at Bukit Bintang in KL, across the road from the hotel where I was staying. I wasted no time whatsoever in grabbing one to try – the vanilla, and it was by no means cheap, around RM10.00 a cup, maybe a little bit more and that kind of money in those days was quite a lot actually…but I simply had to give it try.

I did not wait till I got back to the hotel – I just stood by the roadside outside the door of the convenience store and ate! Unfortunately, it did not sweep me off my feet and one thing I noticed was how it melted real fast and towards the end, I was like drinking milk from the cup.

Fast forward to just the other day when our local supermarket, the one that brings in all the imported stuff from countries all over the world, shared this photograph…

Wishing you joy

…on Facebook to tell everyone that Häagen-Dazs is now available right here at their place.

I shared the above photo, uncropped, on Facebook and it did not dawn on me at the time but my friend in Singapore posted a comment instantly, “…and happiness…but above all this, I’m wishing you love…and I…I…will always love you!” That Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston classic is an all-time favourite of mine! I must say that was a good one, Alvin! LOL!!!

Well, during the COVID-19 partial lockdown, I saw people flaunting online tubs of the ice cream delivered to their homes for them to enjoy and the last straw was when two of my (blogger) friends shared the special hamper they got from Häagen-Dazs – there were two one-pint tubs inside and one ice cream on a stick among some other things and I particularly love that rattan “suitcase” with everything inside. One of them commented on my post and said the cantaloupe melon was very nice but unfortunately, that flavour was not available here.

I checked online and found that it is priced at around RM30.00 in West Malaysia for one pint, cheaper if there is some kind of a promotion but it costs a bomb here – RM38.90, don’t play-play but bonjour! It is made in France…

Made in France

I was kind of disappointed that there were very limited choices in the exclusive freezer – I don’t know where they got the photograph from as there was no sign of any “festive edition” flavours. I did not want the matcha – I do not like anything green tea and even though I am a coffee guy, I am not a fan of it in ice cream. In the end, I got the two remaining flavours…

Cookies & cream and mango & raspberry

– the cookies & cream and the mango & raspberry.

I decided to try the latter first and when I opened the lid, I found that it was tightly sealed…

Sealed

The pictorial instruction seemed to suggest that I should wait for 10-15 minutes but I didn’t. I removed the seal right away and it did look a bit hard…

Open

…to me but when I scooped out a spoonful, I was so very pleasantly surprised to find that it was soft…

Nice

…nothing like the other brands where it would be quite a challenge to get anything out the instant you take it out of the freezer – as hard as a rock! However, with the seal removed, when we took it out of the freezer again, it was hard like any other and we had to wait a bit before scooping.

I gave it a try and boy, it sure swept me off my feet! That was so so so good! The mango ice cream tasted like fresh mango – nothing like the others which I never bother giving a second glance when I see any at the shops and supermarkets and it went really well with the raspberry swirls. The texture of the ice cream was so very smooth and so fine and it was so very rich and creamy. The ladies in the house tried it too and yes, they loved it!

Of course, at those prices, you would not see me buying all the time, God forbid! I was thinking it would make a really nice dessert at dinners on special occasions like Christmas and New Year – once a year ain’t too bad…and besides, I’ve stopped buying “numbers” even though punting has resumed a couple of weeks or so ago – yes, congratulations are in order as this means that I shall be saving over RM100 each week, over RM400 a month…and yes, I sure do deserve this reward, don’t you think? LOL!!!

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

In the pink…

When I was teaching, the students loved to write, “I am in the pink of health.” They probably picked that up from their previous teachers or those at the tuition centres. Actually, that is not quite correct – “in the pink” will suffice so you can write, “I hope you are in the pink,” that’s enough.

Well, talking about pink, I finally managed to get hold of this new line of ice cream from Walls/Magnum, their cherry blossoms (RM4.50 each)…

Magnum CHERRY BLOSSOMS

I’ve seen many bloggers trying it and some reviews did not seem all that flattering while most are more diplomatic – they did not say outright that they did not like it.

So what did I think about it? I liked the pink Belgian chocolate and bits of cherry on the outside…

Pink Belgian chocolate & cherry pieces

…but the taste of what was inside…

MAGNUM Cherry Blossoms, inside

…needed a bit of getting used to. I could not really tell whether the taste and “fragrance” came from the “sakura-flavoured ice cream” or those streaks of dark pink, whatever those were.

It reminded me of that time way back in 1986 when I went to a barber in Bukit Bintang in KL. After he was done, he gave me a head and neck massage and stopped short of twisting it off my shoulders! Then, he splashed some cologne on my neck and goodness gracious me! The “fragrance” was so strong that I took a cab straight back to my hostel on top of the hill in Lembah Pantai so I could quickly have a good bath to get rid of it. My girl tried and she said it was “like eating perfume”.

There is another new line out now – the Ruby. Of course, we will want to try that once it is available in town but in the meantime, our favourite is still this one (RM4.90)…

MAGNUM macadamia salted caramel

I had a glimpse at the prices mentioned in one of the blogs and it does seem that these are much cheaper here in Sibu, compared to KL. Hehehehehe!!!

Incidentally, if anyone is thinking of getting hold of this cherry blossoms line of MAGNUM ice cream (people have been asking where they can buy it), you can get it at the Malay kueh and cake shop beside KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen which is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road. They have a WALLS freezer there with all kinds of ice cream from the company.

Nicer…

It should be the same because it was the one and the same plant…

The original

Originally, it was one of those potted bamboos that people buy to display in the house during Chinese New Year for good luck. My missus bought one and somehow or other, in the end, she went and planted it in a pot and it grew, not that well but it stayed alive.

When I started gardening, I tried the best I could to spruce it up a bit and yes, it did grow quite well but eventually, it got too cramped inside the pot – all roots, not much soil left so I decided to dig it out and split it into two pots. Yes, both survived and are doing fine but the one in the other pot…

The new one

…looks a bit nicer with the broader leaves, lines and all. Don’t ask me why because I really do not know why they have turned out different!

Moving on from my plants, have you tried these…

Potato crisp

…before?

No, I’m not into junk food, none of those snacks that are the favourite of many and no, I did not buy these. During the COVID-19 MCO partial lockdown, my sister bought some of the vegetable flavour ones for my girl and she loved them very much. After that, she got her the sour cream ones and my girl said that between the two, the latter was nicer.

I gave them a try and yes, I too share the same opinion – they are very nice. Paper thin and very brittle, very crispy and the best part would be how they are not salty and overloaded with msg, unlike most of the rest – the potato chips, the prawn crackers and what not. As for which one is nicer, I think I like the vegetable one…

Vegetable & sour cream

…the one with the darker shade and specks of vegetable and seaweed. I don’t know how much they cost of course since I have never bought my own. You will not regret it, I assure you.

Under control…

I plant a lot of stuff in my garden that we can use in our cooking.

Of course, we can always go out and buy but they sell, for instance, serai (lemon grass) tied in a bundle for RM2.00 and we may use 2 or 3 stalks only and the rest would be thrown away. It is the same when we buy spring onions, RM2.00 and we can only use so much – keeping the rest in the fridge doesn’t help much. It will wither pretty fast and has to be discarded very soon…and don’t ask me how much they are selling pandan leaves for. I wouldn’t know because I never buy those – I have a lot more in my garden than we can use.

One thing that I did not plant was lengkuas (galangal) and I had a very good reason for that. When we bought our house, the previous owner had it in the backyard and it was growing out of control, even under the fence into my neighbour’s compound. I had to get some people to come to dig it all out, roots and all, to throw away so it would never ever grow again.

Usually, my missus would buy, say, RM2.00 worth, for use and store the rest in the freezer so she could have it as and when needed. We do not use a lot of lengkuas in our cooking, just a bit will do as the strong smell can be quite overpowering. It so happened that the other day, she had run out of it and she had not gone out to buy more so she asked me if I had any in the one that I planted.

Yes, I have it in a pot…

My lengkuas

I planted it when my neighbour harvested his and gave me some and I saw a chunk that was already sprouting. I planted it in a small pot and it grew and grew so I transplanted it into a bigger pot. No, I shall not plant it in the ground as this way, I can keep it under control but perhaps, I should transfer it to be a bigger pot so there may be a lot more beneath the soil.

There are supposed to be a lot more leaves than that but because the pot is so small and the stems grow so straight and so tall, everytime there is a strong wind, it would topple over. Trimming away the leaves seems to help.

So, that day, when my missus asked for it, I went to dig and see and yes, there was a lot! I just cut a chunk for her to use and then I went to get a few big fat stalks of serai and some Thai basil leaves for her.

She needed them to cook this lovely Thai green curry…

Missus' Thai green curry

…for our meals that day.

I don’t know if it is purely psychological but it seems that using these fresh ingredients, whatever one is cooking will turn out a whole lot nicer, compared to using stuff that has been stored in the freezer for ages.

Upgrade u…

The other day, when I got my regular computer guy to fix my built-in sound card problem, I told him I would want to upgrade my CPU and he could go ahead and start getting the things/parts required.

He did mention in passing, after I had said that, that the system was lagging and was rather slow and yes, indeed, it was. I would switch on the computer and I could go out for a breath of fresh air and come back before it had completed logging in. Logging out/switching down would take ages as well.

Everything would take quite a while and I just assumed it was my poor wifi connection. The modem is in the living room and my PC is in my computer room – the people who came said it would be faster if I had a wire connection but the wire was out of stock at the time. In the end, I just used a wireless USB modem that I just plugged into the CPU.

I can’t remember when he last upgraded my CPU – that was like so many years ago. Initially, he said he had got everything…

Parts

…except the new hard disk that he was looking for. He said he would be able to do it the following week but I would have to go on using the old hard disk for the time being.

Eventually, he called me to tell me of a change in plans. He would drop by my house to get the CPU on Friday night to work on it…

CPU inside

…over the weekend and he would send it back on Sunday. Much to my delight, he contacted me on Friday night, after he had collected the CPU, to tell me that the hard disk was already available so I could have a brand new one as well.

On Saturday, he called me again, this time to tell me that everything was done, way ahead of schedule and he could send the upgraded CPU back that evening itself…

Windows 11

…and I am so very delighted as to how very fast it is now. I would switch the computer on and it would be on instantly and the same thing when I switch it off – no need to wait for it to go round and round, logging off. Uploading photos is a breeze, just as instant and it is the same with everything else. All in the wink of an eye! Gee!!! I should have upgraded the system long ago!!!

In the meantime, I have one USB audio adapter, no longer of any use as with the upgrading, my CPU now has a new built-in sound card so if anybody wants it, just let me know and I can send it to him or her.

Not a sound…

The other day, I was watching a Youtube video, enjoying myself, when suddenly there was no sound. Oh dear, I thought! My antique speakers have finally called it a day.

I first started using them in 2011 when the set that came with my desktop computer conked out. They actually came with the first computer we had – my missus bought it in the 90’s when my girl was little for her to play games. I loved the sound reproduction with the sensurround stereo effect, something that the newer set did not have.

I quickly called my computer guy and he came over to my house to check. It did not take him very long – he was able to detect the fault in an instant. The built-in sound card was spoilt so he went to the shop at the nearby mall to get a spare. Unfortunately, it was out of stock and during this COVID-19 time, they did not know when there would be new stock coming in. He asked for the USB audio adapter but that too was not available.

In the end, he came back to my house empty-handed. That afternoon, he called to tell me that a friend had a second-hand sound card so he could come to fix it for me. Unfortunately, after hours working on trying to install a compatible driver, he gave up and decided to return the sound card to whoever he got it from. In the meantime, another friend called back (he had phoned him earlier) and he said he had the USB audio adapter…and even though his shop was closed that day, he was going there to get something and if my computer guy could meet him there, he would be able to sell him one.

Off he went and finally, he came back with this (RM50.00)…

USB sound adapter

…which he plugged into my CPU… …and he plugged the audio jack of the loudspeakers into it and the USB (of the loudspeakers) into the CPU as well…

Plugged in

…and lo and behold! There was sound!!!

I wanted to try and use my old loudspeakers but he advised against it as they might be faulty and had caused the sound card to be damaged. In the end, I asked him to get me a new pair of speakers (RM55.00)…

New set of loudspeakers

…which worked very well though the sound reproduction was not as nice as that of the old set. This one was USB-powered, unlike the old one which had a plug and I had to plug that into a power socket and switch on the electricity for it to work.

Perhaps if I had gone for a better (and more expensive) set, it would be better but never mind! As long as there is sound…

My new loudspeakers

…and as long as I do not have to watch “silent movies”, I’m fine with it.