My little town…

Sometime ago, Archie was asking me to post something about Sibu. Well, I managed to snap a few more photos to share with everybody in this post. The first one shows glimpses of something old and something new. Those buildings with the red roof (Obviously, the old roof had called it a day, so they probably had it replaced) are the old shophouses and in the distance at the back (the blue one) is the tallest building in Sibu, Wisma Sanyan.

Sibu old and new

And this one shows you the street scene in the town. This was around 1 something in the afternoon, peak hour and see! No traffic jam! Ain’t that great?

Sibu street scene

The next pic shows you one of the fountains that contribute towards enhancing the attractiveness of the town. The tall building at the back is one of the better hotels around here…

Sibu fountain

…and to solve the parking woes, there is this multi-storey carpark.

Sibu multi-storey carpark

One thing that impresses me most about my little town is that it was notoriously known to be the dirtiest town in the state, but today, I must say that generally, it is quite clean…even at the market!

Sibu Central Market

This is the section where they sell all the jungle produce…and where I will buy the fresh water prawns (udang galah), paku and midin (ferns), daun bandong (tapioca leaves), terung Dayak (Dayak brinjal) and so on…. Doesn’t everything look neat and clean?

Jungle produce section

I bought a big bundle of daun bandong for RM1, enough for frying one big plate of it…and using the rest to cook soup with ikan buris and anak jagung (young corn) which cost me RM1 a packet. However, I guess if you visit Sibu, you will not be buying those things…but I would insist that you buy some of these pineapples to eat (if you’re not going to Sarikei, that is). They’re different from those available elsewhere…and are sweet and nice, and the best part is they only cost RM1 each!!!

Sarikei pineapples

Well, that’s about it for this time. Do stick around…and I certainly will post more stuff such as these when I’ve more to share with everybody regarding my nice and pleasant, little Sibu town. 

By the way…

Well, I am not going to focus on anything in particular in this post and will just ramble about odds and ends from my recent trip to Kuching. Well, every morning, this would greet us once we stepped out of the hotel room…

Corridor

My daughter saw this photo and she said it looked like something from a horror movie. LOL!!! That’s from watching too many of those shows and a hyperactive imagination. But still, I would think that hotels should not limit the decor to the lift lobby area on each floor only. Some nice pictures and potted plants would certainly enhance the ambience, I’m sure.

We were there during the Gawai festive season…and in this particular hotel, instead of some pleasant, soothing piped-in music, they had Iban songs playing throughout the day. If you ask for my frank opinion, I really wonder why Iban music has NOT progressed since the days of the Linang Sisters, Christopher Kerry and Christopher Kelly through to the days of Michael Jemat, Richmond Allen or something like that…and to this present day, or perhaps they were playing some old “favourites”. I wouldn’t know as I hardly ever tune in to the local Iban stations but if that is what they have to offer today, the music has not changed one bit, still that pop yeh yeh genre that will conjure images of ladies in tight sarong kebaya and beehive hairstyles and horn-rimmed glasses doing the twist… And Teresa Teng would turn in her grave if she heard what they did to her beautiful and melodious “Yeh Liang Tai Piao Woe Ti Sing”!!!

Anyway, moving on…it certainly appears that Kuching is attracting a lot of visitors from all over the country as well as overseas. Every morning, the cafe would be filled to the brim…

Brassierie Cafe

Then you will see them leaving in the Bas Persiaran (tour bus) for the places of interest such as the Sarawak Cultural Village, the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and so on. There were a lot of school students from West Malaysia and Singapore; they certainly were a privileged group for as far as I know, many of MY students had hardly ever left Sibu all their lives! One evening, I saw a busload of women disembarking from one of those buses carrying bags and bags of stuff. Obviously they had been to that border town where the Indonesians peddlars sell very nice things at very low prices, ranging from poultry and vegetables to fabric and fashionwear. The thought crossed my mind that they would have to pay through their teeth for excess baggage if they were travelling by that cheap airline.

I would think that Kuching is a very good place for West Malaysians to go on a holiday. Hotels are cheaper! Capitol in KL charges around RM180 these days for one small miserable room…whereas for that kind of money, in Kuching, you can stay in a BIG triple deluxe room at Grand Continental, inclusive of breakfast for three! Other than that, you get all the (even more?) delicious delicacies Kuching has to offer at very much cheaper prices compared to KL and Penang…and a lot of people shop for rattan mats, handwoven blankets, those exclusive Sarawak pottery…and even ikan/telur terubok masin.

And by the way, while I was in Kuching, I spotted this sign….. 

STP sign

Now, what on earth could I be distributing? Hmmm…with the rising oil prices, perhaps I could make a fortune from distributing all my fat to be converted into petrol!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!

Heigh Ho…

Last night, my family and I had dinner at Mr. Ho’s at Crown Towers in Kuching. I understand it is a West Malaysian franchise…and they’ve got an outlet at Mid Valley. Somehow I never noticed it…and so far, I only had dinner once at Master Choo’s in Sungai Petani, Kedah but I don’t think they’ve any connection.

For one thing, I liked the open kitchen concept…

Mr Ho's, Kuching

In most restaurants, you will never know what the chefs are doing in the kitchen.  This guy was very interesting to watch as he prepared all the dishes…and I noticed that when he cut the meat, should there be any loose ends, he would just pop them into his mouth. Gee! I wouldn’t mind working there!!! LOL!!!

We went there with Sophia and her daughter again. We really owe her one for taking the time off to take us around and to all the best dining outlets to eat; otherwise, we’d probably end up having our meals at places near the hotel. Kpg Nangka Boy’s sister, previously known as Cooking for STP, joined us as well…and she had that Mr. Ho’s signature dish, the Curry Laksa…  

Curry laksa

She had heard fave reviews from her acquaintances and so she decided to give it a try…and she loved it.  My daughter had this pork chop bratwurst dish…

Pork Chop Bratwurst

The portions were so huge that she could not finish…so guess who cleaned up the leftovers.  The pork chop was ok…but I loved the sausage because I could taste the flavours in it. I know! I know! Don’t keep telling me what it resembles, but don’t all bangers look like that? Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

Sophia had the pork steak while my missus had the roast pork dish…but the photos didn’t come out too well, so I will not be inserting them in the post. Sophia’s daughter had this…

Prawn pasta

This is the prawn pasta and it got the thumbs up from her too. Now, what did I have? Well, I decided to try the lamb shank (Gee! I wouldn’t dare go to New Zealand now…for all the sheep would attack me for sure for eating up their siblings!!! Hahahahahahahaha!!!! Didn’t I hear them saying that about dogs? LOL!!!)…

Mr Ho's lamb shank

It was nice but the meat was slightly a bit too tender. The gravy was a bit spicy; it tasted good but I still prefer the one at Junk. My one complaint was the carrot was raw…and I could not cut it with the knife. The brocolli was also on the hard side but it was nice and crunchy. I wish they had been more generous with the mashed potatoes like Junk. On the whole, Junk wins hands down…with its yummy gravy that goes well with the mashed potatoes and the salad vegetables and all…but this one is defintely nicer than Westwood with its mushroom gravy/black pepper sauce options and a lot better than what I had at Mum’s in Sibu. I liked the Irish stew at Secret Recipe…but I’ve heard complaints about quality control and things served while they were still uncooked inside, probably because the employees did not defrost the meat/fish properly.

All right, Cibol! Stop calling me flogger!!! Brings to mind those sadomasochism stuff. Hmmm…probably he is thus inclined, I won’t know! But what I do know is that the next few posts will NOT be about food…!!! (But somehow I’ve a feeling that it won’t be for long!!! ROTFLMAO!!!)

Back home again…

As in that John Denver’s song, yeah…it’s good to be back home again! Gosh! I’m totally worn out and I really wonder why people go for holidays to rejuvenate and yet come home more exhausted than before they went.

Anyway, to wrap things up, yesterday Sophia took us to visit a relative and after that, we went back to the Sarawak Club for lunch. It was almost 2 then…and I was famished, so I totally forgot to take pictures of what we ate except for the pasta carbonara that my daughter had…

Pasta Carbonara

She said it was nicer and creamier than what we had at Blue Reef…and immediately after lunch, we went back to the hotel. Gundot was back from celebrating the Gawai festival in the kampung, so she came over to take me to India Street…and we ended up at the Open Air Market for Jiuhu Engcai (Cuttlefish and kangkong)…

Jiuhu Engchai

I noticed that the Ah Mui stall is no longer there but there’s one “Gu bak terng” (beef soup) stall which wasn’t open at that time. The famous/infamous sio bee and pau stall was enjoying roaring business though I wonder why! I do not like those, nor the ones at Fock Hai now at Padungan…near Soho. There was a kolo mee stall open…but I was toooo full already and wanted to save some tummy space for dinner. Dinner was at Mr. Ho’s at Crown Towers but I think I’ll have a separate post on that.

It was a good thing that we were leaving because at the hotel, I think the chef had completed one cycle already and we were having repeats of some of the things we had the first morning we were there…

GrandCon breakfast 4

There was the sayur lodeh (that didn’t taste as good today) and beef curry, the ketupat (which was too soft and soggy this morning) with satay gravy…but they had fried rice instead of the tomato rice the first morning, and I didn’t want any…and the kway teow wasn’t really tasty either. In fact, I prefer the kway teow in West Malaysia which is finer and translucent and tastes much nicer regardless whether it is served in soup or fried. There were two choices of dimsum fare but they were not great either…

GrandCon dimsum

It was raining, otherwise I would have gone to that wooden shop next door where they sell one of the best Sarawak laksa in town and the Chef in Black described the kolo mee there as the best noodles he had ever tasted! Thumbs up for the popiah there too!!! And around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, you can see all the cars parked by the roadside;it seems to be a popular place for the authentic kaya and toast (roti kahwin) too.

Anyway, we’re home sweet home…..but I will be posting on some other things in the next few days, so do stick around, ok?

The morning after (1)…

Groan…woke up with a headache!! No, I didn’t have any of these last night…

Margarita and screwdriver

While they had their Margarita and Screwdriver, I just had a glass of shandy. But before that, we had dinner first at the Sarawak Club and of course, we had to have the butter prawns…

Swak Clib butter prawns

and we also had the sizzling beef and braised tofu, as well as the baby kailan in oyster sauce…

Sizzling beef

Braised tofu

Baby kailan

…and after dinner, we headed to the pub and had karaoke all night long. We sang our hearts out…and this time, I did Whitney’s “Where do broken hearts go”, Janet Jackson’s (No! No wardrobe malfunction! Don’t worry!!!) “Again”…and P. Ramlee’s “Bila mama pakai celana” (The previous time I was there, I did “Madu Tiga”…;you think I can audition for P. Ramlee-the Musical? LOL!!!!)…and believe me, I was very disciplined and had excellent self-control. I didn’t touch a drop of the hard stuff!!!!

Well, headache or no headache…nothing’s gonna stop me from going for breakfast. I had fried noodles mamak style with sauteed potatoes, sausages and omelette…

Grand Con breakfast 3a

…and I also had a bit of murtabak with chicken curry gravy. They did provide the dhall stuff but I never like that very much.

Murtabak

After all that, presto! The headache was gone…!!! LOL!!! Well, just one day left…and we’ll be back in Sibu tomorrow and hopefully, there will not be so many food posts from then onwards!!! Start saying your prayers!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Another day in paradise…

We’re into our 3rd day here…and of course, it began with breakfast at the hotel. Today I had nasi lemak and also fried hor fun or lau su-something (ekor tikus); the latter was very nice. As for the nasi lemak, I prefer Cititel Penang’s…or even those that I had posted about in Sibu. I also had the do-it-yourself Sarawak laksa…and it was delicious, more delicious than what I had in the shops outside.

GrandCon breakfast 2a
GrandCon Swak Laksa

My daughter had french toast with beef bacon and omelette and some creamy cauliflower cheese…

GrandCon Breakfast 2b

After that, we all ventured to the so-called Kuching’s Golden Triangle. This is a tourist attraction where lots of visitors to this pussy-city (LOL!!!) would have their photographs taken for remembrance. The Sarawak Plaza is in the background with the Holiday Inn right next to it on the left…and on the other side is the Riverside Shopping Complex adjoining the Riverside Majestic Hotel.

Tourists in Kuching

We shopped at both these places and also at Tun Jugah Complex…

Tun Jugah Complex

…and we had lunch at the Food Gallery there.

Tun Jugah Food Gallery

I had this plate of mixed rice – with real yummy chicken liver rendang and tantalising sambal prawns plus cangkuk manis and paku fried with udang kering…all that for RM7.50. I had something like that at the nasi kandar shops in Penang on on both occasions, I had to pay over RM10.00…

Mixed Rice

Both my missus and daughter opted for the sizzling mushroom and beef noodles – RM6 only and RM7 with an extra egg…and both of them loved it a lot!!!

Sizzling mushrrom beef noodles
At 5 in the evening. Sophia and her daughter came and took us to St Peter’s Church in Padungan for the evening mass…

St Peter's Kuching

I bumped into profhiggins and also the headman of the Jackfruit Villagers (my community/group on Facebook) there. After the service, we went for dinner but I think I’ll leave that till the next post…

Yesterday…

Well, yesterday we had breakfast at the hotel. The food here is very nice…but I felt that the buffet spread was normally what people would get for lunch. I had tomato rice, fried mihun, ketupat with satay gravy, beef curry and sayur lodeh…..

GrandCon breakfast

…and after that, we headed to Boulevard…

Boulevard Kuching

to do some shopping and then, we had lunch. Manhattan Fish Market was full…unless we wanted to sit outside, which we didn’t – not in this hot tropical heat!!! So we ended up in Sushi King instead and I had the Double Udon set…

Sushi King set meal

and we had other stuff like tempura and plates and plates of the sushi and what not that came around on the conveyor belt. I didn’t take any photos of those except this one that I thought was kind of cute… LOL!!!

Scallop sushi

and after that, we went back to the hotel to rejuvenate for the evening… We decided to go for hor chian (oyster omelette) at this place called Venue…

Oyster omelette

It was nice…but I think I prefer the ones at some place in Buntal. We also had midin and the Lemon Chicken which was crispy and nice…

Lemon Chicken

…and the herbal pork trotters. I haven’t had this anywhere else…and I liked it very much albeit the fact that all the fat wasn’t that good for me, but never mind!!! I don’t eat that every day…LOL!!!

Herbal Pork Leg

After dinner, we wanted to go to Tom’s for dessert but it’s closed till June the 8th or 9th…so we ended up at…

Secret Recipe

Those of you who subscribe to the local daily will be able to see the special feature in PostMag today. Needless to say, they gave all kinds of fave reviews (I would too, if I could eat everything free. Hahahahahahaha!!!!)…but truth be told, the cakes were VERY rich and nice. We had the Chocolate Indulgence…

Chocolate Indulgence

and the White Chocolate Macadamian…..

White Chocolate Macadamian

So there you have it, my food log for the whole day yesterday. Anybody drooling yet??? LOL!!!

One day at a time…

We left Sibu in the pouring rain; the flight was delayed by some 20-30 minutes. This was the scene at the boarding gate before the crowd arrived and the mad scramble to get on board the aircraft. Gee!!! I just can’t understand this kiasu mentality; after all, the flight’s only half an hour or so! Simply ridiculous, these people!!!…And they’re SO stingy they would not pay a bit extra for express boarding facilities…AND I’m sure they didn’t pay the RM3 for checked-in baggage either for each of them was lugging no less than TWO bags even though only one’s allowed as hand luggage. Well, as they say, some things NEVER change…..

Sibu airport

Anyway, Gundot and daughter were waiting…and upon arrival in Kuching, we headed straight to Satok for Peterson’s hay pia (fried prawn ‘cakes’).

Peterson Kuching

Ummm…they were so very delicious. I ordered 6 pieces along with some of the other stuff…and later, ordered another four pieces…and hopefully, we can go back there for more before we return to Sibu in a few days’ time. For one thing, it seems that to him, taste is what is important and presentation is not one of his priorities…

Paterson hay pia

Probably someone should give him a few pointers and serving suggestions. LOL!!! Having had our fill, we went to check in at the hotel and after dumping our things in the room…
Grand Con triple deluxe

…we went to Spring, the new shopping experience in town…;the ethnic decor that you can see in the pic is in conjunction with the Gawai Dayak festival.

Spring 1
Spring 2

and in the night, Sophia came and took us out for dinner at…

JUNK sign

and her daughter and friend came along as well…

Sophia's gril and friend

Good grief! When did she grow to be one sophisticated, gorgeous looking lady? How time flies…!!! Sob! Sob! That can only mean one thing – I’m growing old!!! (Finally he realises it,you say? LOL!!!) Thank your lucky stars, everybody because right now, I do not have any photos of the lamb shank and the fisherman’s basket to insert in this post. The place was too dark to do those out-of-this-world dishes any justice. My daughter took some nice pics with her more technologically-advanced handphone so maybe I can get them from her to post at a later date.

By the way, I saw this on display at the hotel where we are staying…

Wedding dinner display

and that got me thinking! When was the last wedding dinner I attended? I went to one last year but it was because my father could not go…and I had to go on his behalf…and the one before that was in 2006, I think – an ex-student’s and I was invited to sing for the bride and the groom. Hmmm…so when will the next wedding dinner be? Archie? Cibol? Bongkersz? Tintin? KNB???…..In the words of JZ/Linkin Park, “What the hell are you waiting for…?” Hahahahahaha…..

Down by the river…

Archie was complaining about the deluge of food posts but all of you can’t blame me really! It’s just that my daughter’s home for the holidays and I make it a point to take her out to eat all the things that she loves.

Over there, the place where she’s studying has a canteen but they don’t sell much there…when they’re open, that is. I really wonder how they can survive and stay in business! There are a few food stalls outside the gate, right across the road…but the swarm of flies!!! And they do not even cover the food!!! Gee! Where are the Health Department people? Things are definitely much better here in Sibu!

Anyway, to move away from the topic of food, I was driving past Sungai Merah this morning, so I decided to stop and take a few photographs for this post. This was where the earliest Chinese (Foochow) settlers led by Wong Nai Siong first set foot in the region.  The small riverine town got its name “Sungai Merah” from the river that flows through it. It is literally red in colour due to the withered leaves that fall from the trees upstream. It had been murky and muddy at one time but obviously, the authorities have done something to restore its original reddish-brownish hue…

Sg Merah

Besides, they’ve also revamped the place by building a nice waterfront along the river banks with nice bridges of Chinese-influenced architecture. This would be an ideal place for taking photographs for remembrance as it is after all, a place of historical significance…and a good spot for evening strolls too…

Sg Merah waterfront

For one thing, I wish they had restored and preserved the old wooden shophouses for posterity…but they’re all gone now and in their place stand new ones like these…

Sg Merah new shops

There is a small park built in memory of Wong Nai Siong so shutter bugs can snap a few more shots here…

WNS Memorial Park 1
WNS Memorial Park 2

…and should you be feeling hungry, don’t worry!!! There are coffee shops all over selling all kinds of delicacies you’ll defintely be spoilt for choice.

And if you’re interested, you can take a leisurely drive along the country roads through the lush green rainforests to the smaller towns neraby like Kanowit or Sarikei.  Huai Bin has just posted a good write-up on Sarikei, so you can just hop over to his blog to have a look.

Well, I will definitely go around the scenic spots and places of attractions here to take more photographs for my future posts, so do make sure you keep coming back so that you won’t miss out on any of them…Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Home (1)…

I was born and raised in Sibu,…left at the age of 20, and came back 10 years later…and I’ve stayed here since! I’m not going to go into the history or the geography of the town;I bet you can find that in other blogs or elsewhere but I must say that previously, it was notoriously known to be the dirtiest town in Sarawak, and indeed it was! Visitors from other towns would just litter indiscriminately even though they would not do that in their own place; they said that the whole town was already so dirty anyway, so it would not make a difference! Pedestrians ruled the roads at the time (like the trishaw pedlars in Penang in the 70s); cars had to swerve to avoid them or stop to give way! And there were so many bicycles then!

Anyway, sometime back, the town council chairman then decided that it was high time for a change and  took the initiative to do something about it and due credit must be given to him and all involved for the massive facelift that changed the image of Sibu completely!…

Today, after the makeover, it is definitely a nice town…pleasant, not too busy, not very big and comparatively CLEANER than in the past and cleaner than many other places in the state/country.

Well, what’s the attraction, you may ask? The food, of course! Very nice and very, very cheap! Don’t worry, I’m not going to dwell on this as I’ve had quite a number of posts already about the food available here (And there are many more to come, I assure you! LOL!!!)…and you can get to see lots of that in other blogs as well.  For one thing, if you come to Sibu, perhaps you should take the opportunity to try the local delicacies, be it Foochow…

 

…like this bowl of dianpiangu or Melanau – the umai (raw fish) or the see-ert (sago worms) or Iban – the ayam pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo), the babi kasam (fermented preserved pork)! You’ll be spoilt for choice, I assure you! What I just cannot understand is why people go all the way to a place and insist on eating the same kind of food that they have back home.  Many Asian tourists to Western countries, for example, would insist on having Chinese food provided in their tour package…or foreign tourists coming all the way here, would choose to eat at McDonald’s. But anyway, before I start straying off to the point of no return (…which I always have the tendency of doing!!! Hehehehehe!!!!), let’s get back to my post proper…

Other than the food, perhaps you would like to do a bit of shopping? Well, what do people do when they go to KL? Shop and eat! What do they do when they go to Penang? Shop and eat! Singapore? Shop and eat too!!! See!!!…..I rest my case! Well, some may have signed up for some tour package, so the guide may bring them somewhere to see how rubber trees are tapped or how they make pewter handicrafts!!!! Zzzzzz…..!!! You can shop for some real cheap bargains here; a friend will never fail to come here every December to buy his clothes for Christmas and Chinese New Year.  According to him, he can get the same in Kuching but at twice the price.  However, don’t bother to look for branded items or designer goods. Even if they are available, we won’t know whether they’re genuine or imitations. But, as far as I know, many people from West Malaysia or other countries will buy souvenirs – the native handicrafts e.g. the pua kumbu (handwoven blanket) or the rattan mat or they may want to bring home one of those beautiful Sarawak vases, a few salted terubok (fish) or the roe , and a kilo or two of the STRAIGHT udang kering (dried prawns). I always buy this for my friends in West Malaysia, and they always ask me why they are straight.  My answer is simple, “Because…they’re not gay!!!” LOL!!! It can be quite pricey now; the last time I bought some, it was RM70 a kilo.

But if anyone insists on sight-seeing, he can start at the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre)…

  

The cultural museum on the ground floor can give visitors an insight into the history of the town and the cultures of the people. Then there are a number of memorial parks around…but one must not miss the Sungai Merah waterfront where the first Chinese settlers landed and lived. Here are some glimpses at the historical bazaar, the way it is today…

Anybody knows the person after whom the road is named? Well, for one thing, I do wish that the people concerned had restored and preserved the bazaar in its original state.  Today, hardly anything of the old settlement remains…and I feel that somehow it has lost its authentic rustic charm. Well, as they say, time changes everything, so we’ll just have to move on….. 

So, to do just that,  what on earth do you think this could be? The stairway to Heaven???

Well, in a way, it is…or to the Catholics, at least! Those are the stairs up to the inside of the majestic Sacred Heart Cathedral.  It is huge…and may be worth a visit. Well, when we go to Thailand or perhaps, China, what do we visit? Temples…temples…and more temples!!! Here, there are a number of churches, a Tua Pek Kong temple with a pagoda that is one of the landmarks of Sibu…or you may prefer to drop by the Central Market! The live chickens wrapped in newspapers with their heads sticking out and all tied up in bondage are a tourist attraction.  I’ve seen many bloggers posting photos of the poor birds!!!

I will not recommend a visit to the nearby longhouses as they are all very modern so you won’t get to experience much that is authentic. For that, you will have to take a ride in the Boeing 747-lookalike express boat to Kapit or past the infamous Pelagus rapids to Belaga and visit the longhouses there…but you will need a number of days to do that.

So, if anyone would like to visit Sibu, you can fly MAS or Air Asia from KL, JB or Kuching…or from Singapore via JB or Kuching…or by MASWings from Kota Kinabalu!!! Come, “ngui neng ting nee neng li lor wo!!! (Translation: In Foochow, “We are already waiting for you all to come!”)