My father…

My father passed away on Wednesday, 12th July at 1.50 p.m…

Flowers 1

…and was laid to rest at the Nirvana Memorial Park here yesterday morning, the 14th of July…

Flowers 2

…after the funeral mass at St Mary’s of Divine Mercy here…

Flowers 3

– one of his final wishes, that is to have the service at the church where he would go for masses and services with my mum on Sundays and other days when both of them were fit and well.

Regular readers of my blog would probably be able to recall those occasions when we would take him some place to eat and he sure enjoyed those outings and as a matter of fact, when my girl was home for the mid-year school holidays, he wanted to ask her out for another round of the same the following day but that morning, when we dropped by the house, he said to her that he was sorry he could not make it as he was not physically up to it…

Flowers 4

…and since then, over these two months, he had not been well…and I did hint in my previous posts that I was “caught up with things at home” so I did not have the time for much else at that point in time…and last week, he came down with a fever on Thursday and on Friday, it got worse…and eventually, he was admitted into the Sibu General Hospital but things did not look too good so we were prepared for the worst, be it sooner or later.

My brother from New Zealand made it home in time on Tuesday and though it was not easy, we took our bed-ridden mum to the hospital to see him that same evening before he was called to our Lord in Heaven the following afternoon…

Flowers 5

…and I was thankful I was right there by his side at the hospital when he breathed his last. The grandchildren from Auckland were still in transit at KL then – they did not make it in time to see him one last time.

Born in the Year of the Ox on the 28th day of the 4th month, he always celebrated his birthdays every year following the Chinese lunar calendar. He was 93 at the time of his passing.

Eternal rest grant unto my father, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace…

Bag full…

This bag…

Chiller bag 1

…came all the way from Australia from one of the supermarket chains…

Coles 1

…there. My cousin who is residing there in Melbourne gave that to us on one of her trips back to Sibu a long time ago, filled with all the goodies inside to give to us.

It has been really handy all this while – we use it to pack all the foodstuff from the fridge or the freezer to bring to my girl’s school in the jungle even though it is just a 1 1⁄2 or 2-hour drive away. However, just the other day, one of the handles broke but that did not stop me, not at all. I stapled it back and sewed it down with needle and thread and it was as good as new and we could go on using it.

Well, the other day, I got this pretty one…

Chiller bag 2

…also from that same supermarket chain…

Coles 2

My aforementioned cousin was back in town on a flying visit to settle some business here and she brought that this time around and as always, it was filled with all kinds of things for us.

There was this shirt – 4XL…

Shirt & soap

…so that should fit me very nicely and the very special and fragrant soap. Hmmm…Mr Big indeed! I bet that brand made her think of me when she was out shopping. Hehehehehe!!!! Wait a minute!!! That sure looks like me…

Mr Big tag

…in the photograph in the tag, right down to the double/triple chin. LOL!!!

There were also all these gluten-free stuff…

Gluten-free

…for my girl and needless to say, she was thrilled to receive all those. We have that Australian Butterfingers pure butter shortbread at a supermarket here but not the gluten-free ones and she tried it for breakfast the very next morning and loved it to bits!

I did not try it myself as I can always enjoy these Scottish ones…

For me

…that were in the bag as well, along with the brand new line of Tim Tam…

Tim Tam

I’ve tried it already and yes, it was very nice, whatever that gelato messina may be. I so loved the caramel and vanilla in it but yes, it was very sweet so I just had one and nibbled little by little and will go for another one another day. Incidentally, that’s REAL milk in the toothpaste tube, not the palm oil sweetened creamer that they are selling at the shops and supermarkets here.

Going back to the bag, no, I would keep this precious brand new one and still go on using the old one till it is beyond redemption and cannot be used anymore.

Thank you so so so much to my thoughtful and most generous cousin for all the above and for carting the whole lot all the way from the Land Down Under.

Not too late…

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim members of my family, friends and readers…

Hari Raya greeting

Of course, by now, all the Ramadan bazaars everywhere would have come to a close and one would have to wait till next year, perhaps, to enjoy all the culinary delights that one would not be able to get normally unless one cooks one’s own, like this delightful charcoal-grilled lamb…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 1

…here…

Grill lamb leg slice

…for instance.

When my girl was home the previous weekend, my missus bought some for her to take to her school in the jungle to eat. She had it on Monday night and enjoyed it so very much, especially with its very nice mushroom and black pepper gravy…and could not wait to tell us about it.

Knowing that it would be too late by the time she would be home again (Thursday) as most of the stalls would have called it a day, I went the very next day, Tuesday, to buy some and keep for her to enjoy at a later date.

When I got there, the guy…

Adi Lamb
*That friend of his had just knocked off work and happened to drop by – I remembered him as the guy at his cousin’s or somebody’s burger stall, no longer in business for a long long time now.*

…had just started for the afternoon and was still getting his fire going though I did see some of the meat, raw, on the grill already…

Meat on the grill

…He told me I would have to wait for at least an hour and I found out that it was his last day at the bazaar, no more the following day. So, I told him I would like three of those slabs of lamb…

Menu

…and I would come back later to collect them.

When I got back around an hour later, they were done…

Meat on the grill, done

…so I was able to go home happily with my loot!

I did cut a bit…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 2

…to try myself and yes, it was indeed, really very nice.

I sure would not mind going back for more sometimes but unfortunately, the guy, Adi Lamb, he told me his name was, said he is not in this business, full time but if anyone is interested, they can contact him and place an order for say, a kilo or two or more, and he would even do home deliveries. I do not foresee hosting any home parties/dinners in the near future and I would probably not be ordering till say, Christmas or New Year or Chinese New Year next year. However, if anyone is interested, he or she can post a comment with a genuine e-mail address and I can forward to him or her Adi‘s handphone contact…or if we’re Facebook friends, you can always PM me and get the number from me there.

What I said…

My ex-student, Thaddaeus, now an RMAF Captain based in Kuantan, Pahang, tied the knot with his lovely bride, Grace…

Thaddaeus & Grace

…at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here in Sibu…

Wedding mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Sibu

…last Saturday and I was in the list of their invited guests.

I did not have many non-Chinese students in my school which was predominantly-Chinese and Thaddaeus was among the sprinkling that I had in my last Form 5 class the year I was about to retire.

What I will always remember was this incident when he came to class with an injured finger and I just asked in passing what happened. I cannot recall now whether it was a fracture or a sprain but I did give him some advice as to what he could do. It did not seem like anything much but somehow, what I said in that little show of concern touched him and left a lasting impression.

Sometime later, in one of his essays, he wrote about it and expressed his appreciation and gratitude for his teacher’s gesture, one that I did not think was of much significance. I guess it is true that we need to be aware of everything we say, no matter how trivial we may think it is, as some may take it to heart and it is a knife that cuts both ways.

Anyway, back to the wedding, in fact, I was not free that day but I made an effort to show up at the cathedral just to say congratulations to him and his wife-to-be, at that point in time, and I did stay till to witness them taking their marriage vows and the exchange of their wedding rings…

Exchange of wedding rings

…as the priest pronounced them man and wife and after the offering…

Offering

…I took my leave quietly.

There was a lunch reception at the house in the afternoon – I have no idea what went on there so I do not know if they had their traditional Iban wedding ceremony or not. I sure would love to go and watch – come to think of it, I have never witnessed one before!

Once again, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Thaddaeus & Grace, thank you so much for the invitation, and may your life together be abundantly blessed with love and happiness each passing day in the years ahead…and talking about Iban traditions, it is the Gawai Dayak Festival…

…today, the first of June…

Selamat Ari Gawai 1

…so it is a public holiday here and tomorrow as well…

Selamat Ari Gawai

I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to wish all my relatives and friends and all my blog followers celebrating this auspicious festival, Selamat ‘Ari Gawai!

Come and go…

In Chinese (Hokkien) we say, “Oo lai oo khi,” which may be literally translated as got come, got go, something along the same line as the give and take philosophy in life.

Well, last Saturday, after the nasi Arab lunch, we went to the supermarket round the corner to browse around and I picked up some stuff that I thought would be nice for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival coming up next week – the one who would give her a lift back to town every Friday unless there are matters arising and we would have to go and pick her instead which isn’t very often so that would save us a lot of trouble and cut our travelling/my driving by half, more or less.

No, she does not charge anything but my girl would chip in when they stop at a petrol station to fill up the tank and she would give her a little something (ang pao) periodically. That was why I thought it would be nice to give her something for the forthcoming auspicious occasion that she will be celebrating to express our gratitude and appreciation for her help all these years.

True to what they say, “As you give, thus shall you receive,” and that evening just before I went for the sunset service in church, I received word from my friend, Mary, asking me to drop by her restaurant the next morning as she and her crew would like to give me this steamed kampung chicken…

Steamed kampung chicken from Flavours Thai Kitchen

…for no apparent reason, just out of the goodness and generosity of her/their hearts. Isn’t that so very sweet of them?

When I went there that morning, Sunday, I decided to tapao my girl’s favourite, their pad Thai

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai

…home and those were what we had for brunch that morning before we made our way to my girl’s school in the jungle for just one more week before the two-week mid-year holidays starting right after tomorrow, Friday.

We made our way home ourselves, my missus and I and after dinner that night, I got a surprise call from my dear friend, Richard. Why, it’s that time of year again and in no time at all, he was at my house to give me some of his awesomely yummy out-of-this-world simply-the-best own-made nyonya chang (meat dumplings)…

Richard's nyonya chang

…like what he will do year after year, without fail.

I googled to check and I found out that this year, the Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival will fall on the 30th of May,  Tuesday next week.

I had just had dinner but no, I could not possibly wait another day and that was why I immediately took one, unwrapped it…

Richard's nyonya chang, unwrapped

…and ate.

Boy!!! This Richard keeps getting better and better each year and this year, it was exceptionally good – none that I’ve bought in Kuching or Malacca nor those from Singapore would come anywhere close and look at all that meat in it…

Richard's nyonya chang, so much meat
*Sorry for the slightly blurry pic – the challenge of night photography with the insufficient lighting*

Thank you so so so much, Richard, and also to you, Mary & everybody at Flavours, both truly unexpected but most welcome indeed and I do believe these were special blessings for the insignificantly small gesture on my part to get a little something for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival – what goes around comes around, got come, got go!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

The day you went away…

Nick went to Mukah for over a day to visit some university mates of his there so I was not able to see him, Thursday, and all too soon, it was time for him to leave.

We went to pick him up at the hotel early Friday morning. The initial plan was to go for dim sum at a restaurant nearby but I thought he would like to try another of our local Foochow delight instead as he would be able to find dim sum quite easily here, there and everywhere, even very much nicer ones, perhaps. However, this place was not open yet – it opens at 8.00 a.m. so we went back to where we came, the hotel where he was staying, to a coffee shop in that same block. I wanted him to try the zhao chai hung ngang (RM30.00)…

Tung Lok zhao chai hung ngang, prawn

– the big bihun in the sourish and slightly spicy preserved vegetable soup there. I asked for the udang galah (giant freshwater prawns) seeing that he did not get to enjoy the one in Sarikei so this was like killing two birds with one stone.

Yes, he liked it and he loved the prawn – he said it was very firm and very fresh. This was quite big – it had legs, anything smaller would not have those but according to the lady, one could opt for the bigger sizes going for RM45.00 a bowl up to even RM60.00 depending on the size of the prawn. I did not specify when I ordered so they just gave us the “smallest” they had.

My missus had the same but with fish – tapah (RM12.00)…

Zhao chai hung ngang, fish

…but I am not really into this so I opted for something else. If I am not mistaken, as far as this Sibu Foochow specialty is concerned, this place…

Tung Lok Corner Sibu

…is among the best, if not THE best, in town. It used to be here attracting customers by the droves but it moved here sometime ago in the same block as the hotel where Nick was staying…

Medan Hotel Sibu Bus Terminal

…at the other end, facing the Sibu Bus Terminal directly and they have been here since, still enjoying that same popularity as before.

I had the Foochow fried noodles with fish – tapah (RM12.00)…

Tung Lok Foochow fried noodles, tapah

…and yes, it was very nice but as far as the noodles were concerned, I would say I would prefer a few elsewhere.

Some paternal cousins of mine love the kampua noodles here so much so that they would bring any visiting siblings or cousins here every day for this. That was why I ordered a plate with pian sip mee (RM2.80)…

Tung Lok pian sip kampua

…but no, I certainly would not go there again for this and as a matter of fact, we left most of it behind, unfinished.

After having had our fill, we drove Nick to visit the Yu Lung San Tien En Si Temple Complex

Nick at the temple complex, Sibu

…reputed to be the biggest in South-east Asia. It is a little out of town but just around 5 minutes from the roundabout near the airport – on the way to Mukah or Bintulu or to my girl’s jungle school. We drove past every week for so many years but we never did stop by to walk around. That was why I was glad to get the chance this time around and I did take a lot of photographs while we were there – I may share them in a later post, we’ll see.

After a brief stop at the new township, also near the airport, Sibu Jaya, we dropped Nick off to catch his flight…

Nick at Sibu Airport, departure

…home.

I must say I had a jolly good time myself though it was somewhat limited and we could have done a lot more things if I did not have my filial duties at this point in time…and I certainly would love to welcome Nick back again someday to tie up whatever loose ends left dangling. Thanks for coming, Nick. I do hope I’ll be seeing you again…soon.

Not enough time…

On his third day here, Nick wanted to go to Mukah to visit his former university mates there but the bus was scheduled to leave at around noon which meant that I just had that morning to squeeze in whatever I could while he was here in Sibu, Sarawak.

I took him to Rejang Park here to see the making of the so-called Foochow bagel, our kompia

Making kompia, Rejang Park
*Archive photo*

…the traditional way and of course, we went to that one with the nice and friendly young boy, complete with his signature towel apron. Yes, I did get some and also a few of the softer and slightly sweet version, the chu nu miang, for Nick to try. Personally, I like the kompia here the best – crustier, not so chewy or rubbery, and more fragrant.

Next, I took him to the Sibu Central Market, reputed to be the biggest in the country, but no, we did not have that much time to go round the whole place. He just hopped out of the car to walk around quickly to see what he could see, take photographs the street art mural on the wall there…

Sibu Central market newspaper chicken & duck
*Archive photo*

…and the famed newspaper-wrapped chickens…

Newspaper-wrapped chickens
*Archive photo*

…and we were on our way.

After that, we stopped by here…

Wan Jia He Cafe

…for breakfast.

I picked this place as he wanted anything and everything Sibu – he did not want to go to any place that is Thai, Italian, Indian, Indonesian and all the rest that we have here, never mind how good they are as he can get those quite easily elsewhere, everywhere…and here, I could order a few of our local Foochow delights for him to try.

These were our drinks…

Drinks

I had my usual kopi-o-peng kao and he had the teh-c special once again. Yes, you may notice that mug of hot boiling water at the back – Nick did manage to go here (located somewhere behind the hotel where he  was staying) for the kampua mee and the pian sip on his own before he caught a bus to Sarikei that day and he sent me a photograph of the one he was given there asking me what that was for. I quickly replied to tell him that was not for drinking but for people to sterilise their chopsticks and forks and spoons – this is a requirement imposed by our municipal council on all eateries here.

I ordered the char bee lau too kha (fragrant root pork leg)…

Char bee lau too kha

…but no, Nick is not all that fond of those Chinese herbal soups so I could understand jolly well why he did not enjoy that very much.

He loved the mee sua in our traditonal Foochow red wine chicken soup…

Mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup 1

…though. He said it…

Mee sua in traditional Foochow red wine chicken soup 2

…was a whole lot nicer than the blood-red red wine mee sua he had some place else, but he could not remember exactly where.

However, his favourite was the Foochow fried noodles…

Foochow fried noodles

…as this dish has a much stronger taste than the mee sua and he liked that. The place was packed, so full of people that it was difficult getting a table and obviously, the lady was so very busy with all that cooking to be done, dishing out plate after plate, non-stop so she did not have time to worry about the presentation. It tasted really very good though – in my personal opinion, I would rank it as the best…or at least, among the top 3 in town.

Another thing that amazed me immensely was how I could just tell her my orders and my table number and she could remember everything without having to write it down…plus we did not have to wait long even though there were so many people that early in the morning, around 8.00 a.m!

Having had our fill, I took Nick here to snap a shot of the rooster…

Farley Chinese New Year rooster
*Archive photo*

He was in luck! They were beginning to take down the decorations as the Chinese New Year festivities were over but before that, we did stop here as well – the Kutien Memorial Park…

Nick at Kutien Memorial Park, Sibu 1

He sure took a lot of photographs there…

Nick at Kutien Memorial Park Sibu 2

…and he was particularly impressed by how Chinese the place was, like some place one would be most likely to find in China…

Nick at Kutien Memorial Park, Sibu 3

…right here in our good ol’ Sibu town.

Having done all that, I sent him back to the hotel so he could rest a bit and get ready for his bus ride to Mukah.