O Christmas tree…

It’s New Year’s Eve today.

If I am not wrong, like in previous years, there will be a countdown tonight at the Sibu Town Square…

Christmas at the Sibu Town Square

…and the winner of the Christmas Tree competition for this year…

Some of the Christmas trees

…will be announced.

The weather was fine that day, a few days before Christmas, so we went to have a look around and I was pleased to see that there were two out the many that depicted the true meaning of Christmas, this one…

Nativity scene 1

…and this one…

Nativity scene 2

In the past, if I am not wrong, they would insist on the use of recycled material to make those Christmas trees – I don’t know if the ruling still stands but it did appear that most did not bother to toe the line.

Of course, I grabbed the opportunity to take a snapshot of this one…

Peter's masterpiece

…that my good friend, Peter, the boss of Payung Café was commissioned to produce and he used those palm leaves that he had used before at his café or for the decoration elsewhere. If you look closely, you can even see the rattan baskets…

Recycled material

…that you will often get to see if you go to Payung to enjoy all the delights they have to offer there.

Thankfully, I was able to take some photographs before the sun went down…

Angels

…as it got dark quite quickly. There were not many people around that day, just some people walking around, taking selfies and wefies, and kids playing with bubbles here…

Bubbles 1

…and there…

Bubbles 2

I had expected a crowd but it was somewhat quiet and parking was a breeze and there wasn’t any traffic jam, not at all.

The annual food fair was on, right across the road, but we did not bother to walk over – those that we had been to before weren’t exactly anything to get us excited, nothing worth going back for more. Personally, I do feel that the organisers will have to think of something to attract more people to come. Generally, there would be the same things over and over again and the things sold are somewhat expensive and not all that nice.

It had been raining quite a lot  around that time, strong winds and all and I heard there was a short circuit and some of the small trees and one of those in the competition caught fire. They had repaired the latter so that one was fine when we went that day but the main one and all those around it were standing in the dark…

In the dark

Maybe that was why there were not so many people but I did see some friends sharing photographs taken a few days before Christmas and it did look like they had got everything fixed and the trees were shining brightly once more. Well, at least, in the dim light, I managed to catch a glimpse of Santa riding away in his sleigh…

Santa 2

So what plans do you all have in store for this evening to say goodbye to 2017 and to ring in the new year, 2018?

Advertisements

Let’s go back…

Last Monday, my girl had to go back to her school as she was on duty for one day. A colleague of hers who stays with his family in the school was willing to help out in the morning but he had something on that afternoon. That was why we did not have to make our way there at the break of dawn and we were even able to stop at Selangau Bazaar for lunch before proceeding to the school around half an hour away.

We agreed to go back to this same place for lunch as we did enjoy what we had the last time around. That was a week before Christmas and I could see that the helpers in the kitchen were already in the mood…

Hua Kee, Selangau - in the Christmas mood

For our drinks, we all wanted their fresh durian Belanda (soursop) juice…

Hua Kee, Selangau soursop juice

…which was very good, very concentrated and even had the flesh (and some seeds) inside.

I saw that they had these Foochow-style sio bee (RM1.20 each)…

Hua Kee, Selangau sio bee

…in the steamer so I ordered a few to try. They were good, better than many that I had had around here but no, I would not place them among my favourites in town.

The tofu soup (RM7.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau tofu soup

…with salted vegetables was very nice, not as clear as the ones at some places in Sibu but we enjoyed it, perhaps even a little bit more.

The fried cangkuk manis with egg (RM7.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau cangkuk manis with egg

…was good too, cheaper than quite a number of places in Sibu but we encountered a little problem with the fish.

We asked them to deep-fry, no flour, no soy sauce, nothing and just serve it like that but it came out coated like this (RM21.00)…

Hua Kee, Selangau fried bawal hitam

Thankfully, they used tapioca flour so it was gluten-free and my girl could enjoy it…and that, she certainly did.

After that lovely lunch, we proceeded to the school and later in the day, we made our way home. The weather was not very good that day, lots of rain and  lots of mud puddles all along the way so I had to go somewhat slowly and praise the Lord for His guidance and protection, we were able to go all the way there and come back home safely, all in one day.

Songs that remind me of you…

I mentioned in this post that I dropped by here…

Payung Cafe

…that night but they had not started with their Christmas decorations yet as Peter was busy with the awesomely beautiful one at the Sibu Town Square so I stopped by again for lunch on Saturday last week.

Yes, they had something up…

Payung Cafe Christmas in Borneo

…but I think Peter was not too pleased with it…

Payung Cafe Santa

…so he had gone out to buy some lights and more decorations…

Payung Cafe reindeer

…to improve on it…

Payung Cafe Santa teddy

In my previous post, I was talking about the songs and music played at cafés and restaurants and how playing the right stuff can complement one’s dining pleasure at these places. Well, it’s Christmas so they were playing all the lovely Christmas songs that day and I was enjoying all of them, singing along to some even…until this song came on and the beautiful memories of the lovely people and the wonderful time we had with them in New Zealand in December 2012 came flooding back to my mind and I started missing them – I don’t know if we’ll ever get to meet again but fingers crossed, we will…someday.

Yes, I did take them here when they came to Sibu in 2011 and they liked the food, of course and a lot of the things they got to enjoy during their brief stay here. No, I don’t think the lamb masala (RM19.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe lamb masala

…that we had for lunch was on the menu at the time or if it was, we did not know how nice it was and did not order that then.

We also had their green curry chicken (RM16.00 with rice)…

Payung Cafe green curry chicken

…for lunch that day and yes, I am pretty sure they did not have that in the menu then and no, they did not get to try the lovely and very refreshing pomelo salad (RM8.00)…

Payung Cafe pomelo salad

…either. I am sure they would love these and a lot of the things they have on their menu now if only they would come to Sibu again…someday.

Well, if anyone is wondering what my favourite Christmas song this year is, it has got to be this one…

This goes out specially to all of you, my dear friends – so sorry I did not send you a card but you can be sure that…
“…I’ll think of you this Christmas
I’ll remember you every year…” 

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.

Location…

This new hotel…

Grand Wonderful Hotel Sibu

…is not located anywhere in or near the  town centre but Starbucks Sibu is just around the corner and Delta Mall and the popular eating places among the shops around it plus the Taman Muhibbah hawker centre at night are all within walking distance and the Italian Coffee is there, adjoining the hotel lobby…

Grand Wonderful Hotel Christmas tree

For the uninitiated, it goes all the way back to 2009 when I was still using my cheap handphone camera and then it moved to Ulu Sg Merah opposite the Wonderful Supermarket & Departmental Store there and now, it is here…

Italian Coffee cake

No, I did not try anything there as I just had brunch at the food court right next door…

Grand Wonderful Food Court

…and I walked over to check out their room rates. They start at RM75.00 only for a single queen and if you are keen on having a look at their rooms, you can click this link here to go to their Facebook page for a glimpse.

I saw flyers advertising their coconut pudding (RM2.50)…

Coconut pudding 1

…on the walls so I ordered one to try and yes, it was good…

Coconut pudding 2

…with the lovely taste of coconut in the pudding made with fresh coconut water and just the right texture, heaps nicer than the one I had before. Too bad they were out of the one with the young coconut flesh in the pudding (RM3.00) – I would have loved to try that one.

Both my missus and I ordered from this stall in the corner…

Grand Wonderful food court muslim stall

She had the nasi ayam penyet (RM8.00)…

Grand Wonderful food court ayam penyet 1

…which, according to her, was, at best, just so-so…

Grand Wonderful food court ayam penyet 2

– there are nicer ones around.

I had the nasi lemak special (RM5.00)…

Grand Wonderful food court nasi lemak special 1

…which was cheaper than most elsewhere but no, the rice was not lemak (rich in santan/coconut milk) at all, so much so that they might as well just use plain rice for their dish.

Thankfully, the nice sambal, though not spicy, and the salted fish…

Grand Wonderful food court nasi lemak special 2

…saved the day.

We certainly would want to come back again as there are so many different stalls all around the place selling all kinds of things – coming here, one would definitely be spoilt for choice and incidentally, this steamboat barbecue place is in the same building at the other end of the block.

GRAND WONDERFUL HOTEL & FOOD COURT and ITALIAN COFFEE (2.309601, 111.845163) are located along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Pedada, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Where you wanna go…

When my sister-in-law was in town, I took her around the no-longer-all-that-familiar places in Sibu and the new ones like the UniCity area and I drove her round the university campus after which we dropped by the Sungai Merah Heritage Walk but the recently-opened pasar malam (night market) there was such a disappointment. Only around 3 or 4 stalls were open and we did ask one of them and he said that all the others had called it a day. Ain’t that sad?

The place in itself was in dire need of maintenance – the Lovers’ Bridge looked so pathetic…

Lovers' Bridge

…and to think that this year, 2017, is Visit Sibu Year…

Visit Sibu Year 2017

…I simply cannot imagine tourists coming here and seeing everything in such a miserable state. Since there was nothing much we could buy to eat and enjoy, we stopped by here on our way home and had dinner there instead.

The next day, for our lunch, I wanted to take her for something that she enjoys very much so we stopped by here only to find that the people running the stall with the very nice own-made fish balls had terminated their business or moved elsewhere. I tried this place next but even though it was still early, around 11.30 a.m., the coffee shop was already closed. I did hear that the drinks people here would like to close early as they would open again in the evening and stay open till quite late into the night.

We ended up here…

Yong Chuan Fish Noodles House

…eventually and yes, my sister-in-law got to enjoy her zhao chai hung ngang (RM6.00)…

Yong Chuan zhao chai hung ngang

– the sourish preserved vegetable soup with the big bihun, one of the local Foochow delights, and they certainly were very generous with the fish slices and their own-made fish balls. She loved it so very much and kept praising it to the skies. She did say that they also have that in Kuching but the one she had here wins hands down.

I had the one with the clear soup (RM6.00)…

Yong Chuan fish hung ngang, clear soup

– fat people are not so into sour things while my missus had the sour and spicy tom yam version (RM6.00)…

Yong Chuan tom yam fish hung ngang

…of the same and she too enjoyed it a lot.

YONG CHUAN FISH NOODLES HOUSE (2.308016, 111.848896) is located among the shops on the right (next to WikiTea) along Lorong Sena 8, off Jalan Sena, directly opposite SMK Deshon.

We built this city…

This area is called UniCity, short for University City, by virtue of the fact that there is a multi-storey hostel…

UCTS Hostel

…for students pursuing their further studies at the university close by, with a supermarket and a departmental store on the ground floor and I did see a bakery section, probably an outlet of this one like the one at the mall closer to town.

Directly opposite the hostel is this hotel…

Li Hua Hotel, UniCity

…another one in the chain of hotels that includes this one and this one as well. This would be very convenient for parents accompanying their children coming for their registration or attending their convocation.

There are a number of blocks of shops all around though mostly unoccupied. At this point in time, there is a MR DIY outlet and this pizza place…

Piosa, UniCity

…and I did see a pharmacy as well but there are quite a number of coffee shops and that morning, we decided to go and check this one…

Kiing Huat Kopitiam, UniCity

…out.

The kopi-o-peng (iced coffee, black) was RM1.50 a glass, cheaper than at a lot of places but the kampua piansip mee

Kiing Huat Kopitiam pain sip mee

…that my missus had was RM3.00 a plate, more expensive than many elsewhere. It looked kind of plain – they did not even have the usual sprinkling of chopped spring onions on top but thankfully, it did not taste too bad.

I wanted the kacang ma chicken…

Kacang ma chicken, only on weekends

…but was duly informed that it would be available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

In the end, I ordered the pork leg rice (RM9.00)…

Pork leg rice

…from this stall…

Pork leg rice stall

…but I  would not say that it swept me off my feet, not at all.

It was mostly soy sauce and garlic…

Pork leg

…and did not have the fragrance of five-spice powder than one would use when cooking phak lor too khar (stewed pork leg).

One thing I noticed was that many of the stalls were not open – perhaps they cater mostly to the night-time crowd, probably the students having their dinner and loitering around to pass the time.

UniCity (2.342337, 111.831781) is located along Jalan Wawasan, on your left if you are coming from Bulatan Teng Chin Hua in the vicinity of the University College of Technology, Sarawak, Kolej Laila Taib and Woodlands International School, heading towards the Batang Igan Bridge.

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.