The day…

I did mention a couple of posts back that Facebook has this special feature where it will allow you to look at something you shared a year or more back and one of them the other day reminded me that it has been four years since the first time I drove my girl to Selangau to report for duty at the District Education Office there. That means that I’ve been driving along this road…

Sibu-Selangau road
*Archive photo*

…to her school, 99 km. from Sibu town, every Sunday, excluding school holidays, and at times, on other days as well, for not one or two or three but four long years now. It’s not a highway, just a trunk road linking some main towns in the  huge state of Sarawak, with just two lanes, one lane going and another lane coming back.

I remember it was not a very smooth drive at the beginning but with some upgrading works time and again…

Sibu-Selangau road, upgrading
*Archive photo*

…it became a lot nicer but of late, it seems that it is getting quite bad – potholes everywhere and shoddy patching jobs that do not last very long and with the construction of the pan-Borneo highway, a lot has been going on for sometime now. Hills are being levelled, people have been resettled and their (long)houses have been shifted or demolished. They have not started work on the highway proper but with the soil exposed, the rain would wash it all onto the road and it did not help one bit that there are people who will not slow down, rain or shine.

Last Sunday, there was a terrible storm and of course, my car was splashed all over each and every time those hell-raisers drove past. I do not understand why these recalcitrant characters do not seem to value their own lives nor do they have any respect for others. By the time I got back home, the whole vehicle was a terrible mess so I had to send it to the car wash right away.

My mechanic told me not to ask those people to clean my engine but he never explained why – he just said it would not be good. That was why I had to do it myself, wiping away till it was clean enough…

Car engine, cleaned

Well, the week-long school holidays are here which means that I would not need to drive down that road this Sunday so it should stay this clean for a while, at least.

With my girl home, she will be able to spend sometime with her grandparents – on working days, she is only able to drop by to see them once a week, on Saturdays. I don’t know if my father will want us to take him out or not. We just did that the other day – it was time once again for his fortnightly haircut.

While he was at his regular old-school barber shop, I browsed around the coffee shop next door and I saw this…

Pig's blood with chives

Gosh!!! The last time I had any was coincidentally four years ago as well, way back in 2013 at that coffee shop/food court in Sungai Merah that has since closed down for reasons unknown. I did not want to buy any as I knew my missus would not touch the stuff but she went and bought some home for dinner – it was very nice and she had the chives while I had the coagulated blood. Yum yummm!!!

Of course, after the haircut, we had to take my father to his favourite place in town for his Foochow fried noodles with added char siew (RM5.00)…

Y2K Cafe Foochow fried noodles with added char siew

…and I also had the same. He also tapao-ed a plate home for my mum and my missus had this so-called Singapore fried bihun (RM5.00)…

Y2K Cafe Singapore fried bihun

…which was nice with its pleasant wok hei fragrance but it was just fried bihun with curry powder added and other than some bits of char siew and some taugeh (bean sprouts) and egg in it, there wasn’t much of anything else so personally, I would not want to go for that, not at RM5.00 a plate.

I had gone to get the car when my father picked up the tab and on our way home, my missus told me that he had to fork out RM25.00 for the four plates of noodles and our two glasses of kopi-o-peng (my father did not want anything to drink). So does that mean that the coffee here is RM2.50 a glass, a lot more than at the regular coffee shops? I will want to find out next time but of course, this place is air-conditioned and I often saw people sitting around having some drinks, not eating, and chatting away the whole time we were there – maybe that is why, I wouldn’t know.

WU ZHAO PAI (2.289093, 111.827338) is located opposite Standard Chartered Bank at the bend turning into Ramin Way from Central Road and Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753) is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located. The back entrance actually faces the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School.

Temple of the king…

The Jade Dragon Temple or the the Yu Lung San Tien En Si Temple (玉龍山天恩寺) is located 27 km away from Sibu town. It is believed to be the largest not only in Malaysia but in South-east Asia as well, comprising 3 different forms of practice under one roof – Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

The colourful wall fronting the main Sibu-Mukah/Bintulu & Miri road has a nice dragon design…

Dragon on the wall

…on top.

There are a few big temples inside including this one…

Temple 2

…and this one…

Temple 2

…for instance, and other interesting structures…

Possibly, acknowledgements

…and arches…

Arch

…and pavilions…

Pavilion

…all over the sprawling compound and some intricate carvings (or carved tiles) and lovely paintings…

Fairies

…here and there…

7 fairies crossing the sea

There is also this circle of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac/horoscope surrounding a feng shui ball…

Chinese zodiac animals & feng shui ball

Probably, there is a fountain in the middle but it was not turned on when we were there that morning.

I did mention in an earlier post that we would drive past every Sunday when we sent our girl back to her school some 99 km away from Sibu but we never stopped by despite having heard a lot about this place of interest. That was why when my blogger friend, Nick, from Sungai Petani in Kedah, was here, I took the chance to come here on a visit.

If I am not wrong, this had been earmarked as a must-visit for tourists to Sibu but when I looked around at the place, I was somewhat disappointed by the dire need for good and proper maintenance. Some of the tiles had come off or were cracked or badly stained and there was some litter here and there. The toilets were obviously hardly ever used, not exactly dirty but I would not say they were very clean – as a matter of fact, the one that my missus used was not functioning properly – there was no water in the tank.

I don’t know if there is a permanent staff there to look after these things – I did see some building material and equipment being dumped all over the place but there wasn’t anybody working other than the two guys who were giving the wall a new coat of paint. 2017 being Visit Sibu Year, the authorities concerned should get into action quickly to spruce up the place so that it…

View of the main road from inside

…would be truly a place worth visiting while one is in Sibu.

Second choice…

I did mention in my previous post that I went out with a few of my cousins for brunch that morning when I was in Kuching. The initial suggestion was to go some place in Jalan Song for the Kuching laksa but when we got there, it was closed so we settled upon some place else instead and ended up here…

Number 6 Kopitiam, Kuching

I had the Kuching laksa but I seem to have deleted the photograph by mistake. Anyway, I did not think it was all that photogenic and though it was all right, nothing to shout about, I would say that there are a couple of places even here in Sibu where the laksa has an edge over that one there. The kolo mee that I had…

Number 6 Kopitiam kolo mee

…was fine but it did not sweep me off my feet – there would be some places in the city where the kolo mee would be a lot nicer.

One of my cousins had the nasi lemak

Number 6 Kopitiam nasi lemak

…and I did try a bit but no, the nasi was not really lemak and of course, with all those stuff by the side, it would definitely be quite nice.

Another cousin had the ark mee (duck noodles)…

Number 6 Kopitiam duck noodles

…and yes, that would get my double thumbs up! I certainly would not mind ordering that should I ever happen to drop by here again.

The kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) here was pretty good, a far cry from the Nescafe-O that I had earlier that morning.

One of them went and bought this bingka sarang

Number 6 kopitiam bingka sarang

– a variation of the kek sarang semut (ant’s nest cake) or what is called honeycomb or beehive cake from this stall…

Number 6 Kopitiam kuih stall

…and it was so very nice that I had to go and buy a few pieces home.

I saw that she was also selling nyonya chang and I could not resist buying a few to try…

Number 6 Kopitiam nyonya chang

…but no, it was so very soft one could not even hold it and would have to eat it with a spoon plus there was hardly any hint of the ketumbar (coriander) and the only thing nyonya about it would be the blue bunga telang stains. Of course, it tasted all right but if it is nyonya chang that I am looking for, my vote would go to the ones at the Green Road old lady’s stall – those are really very nice.

After our brunch, we dropped by this bakery to collect my orders. I don’t recall them having these nice boxes of different shapes and sizes before…

Aloha Bakery boxes

It sure looks like they’ve upgraded a bit since the last time I was here last year.

My girl loves their pies so I got a few of the chicken ones…

Aloha Bakery chicken pie

…and also the beef…

Aloha Bakery beef pie

…to take home for her to enjoy. The beef pies are a lot thicker than the very nice chicken pies here, almost double, I think…and though they come pretty close where the taste is concerned, both pastry and filling, there is a whole lot more filling inside the ones from this bakery…

Aloha Bakery beef pie filling

…and even at RM5.00 each, RM3.50 for the ones in Sibu, I do think this is more value for money especially considering that they are a lot more substantial and beef is a whole lot more expensive here than chicken.

I did not manage to go round much this time around but I guess it is pretty obvious that I sure did not go home empty-handed.

Who’ll stop the rain…

I got up early in the morning, around six, thinking that I could walk around and look for something nice to eat but it was raining!

I had that Anthony Bourdain’s favourite Sarawak laksa place in mind, located to the left of that hotel…

Rain in the morning

…straight ahead – so near yet so far! I did enjoy that special Kuching delight there and I liked the kolo mee and the popiah (spring rolls) too but that was so very long ago, long before I retired. That was why I was keen on going back there for those and they say the loti kiap or roti kahwin (toast sandwich) is very good too.

In the end, I just had to go to the coffee shop right beside the hotel where I was staying

Coffee shop

…for my morning coffee…

Coffee and kuihs

…and I saw these nyonya kuihs there and I decided to give them a try. Unfortunately, they were not nice at all – maybe very slightly better than what we can get here in Sibu but no, don’t ever bother eating those. They’re such a waste of calories, really!

The Nescafe-O (black) that I had wasn’t much better either – at home, I would just put one tablespoon of the instant coffee powder in a mug, pour hot boiling water into it and drink and it was good enough for me to start off the day. I really wonder why they can’t even get that right – maybe they just use one teaspoon…and I’ve had their own-brewed coffee before and let’s just say that I would never want to order that again.

They had some choices for breakfast such as the fried noodles that I had…

Fried noodles

…which was all right, though not anything that I would want to go back there for. I was early and later, they came out with some fried rice, fried chicken and eggs. I would not mind having the latter two with my noodles – perhaps, those would help make what I was having a little more appetising.

For one thing, I only had to pay RM5.60 for everything and I thought that was not very expensive and quite a consolation for a not-so-enjoyable breakfast.

I went out for brunch a little later that morning but that would be in a later post and that afternoon, a cousin of mine managed to get hold of this out-of-this-world homemade serimuka

Homemade serimuka 1

…for everyone to enjoy and needless to say, I had my fair share of it. That sure made up for all that disappointment early that morning.

They do have some very nice ones here and there in Kuching but if I were to give a perfect score of a 10 for this one…

Homemade serimuka 2

all those good ones around would pale in comparison and probably manage, at best, just a 6 – it’s THAT good…and I really must say a very very big thank you to my cousin for going through all the trouble and out of her way to get that for me/us to enjoy. I had so much and enjoyed myself so so much that I really wouldn’t mind if I do not get to eat serimuka again for a long long time to come. Betul-betul makan puas-puas (Really ate to one’s full satisfaction)! *insert happy smiley here*

Days gone by…

These days, we have gelato…and all those branded creamy ice cream as well as those sold in the supermarkets.

Then, there is also the soft serve ice cream like the ones at McD’s or if you are in Kuching, at Sunny Hill and there are some shops selling that here too – I know there is one in Wisma Sanyan. We never had that during our growing up years until somebody brought in a machine making and selling that at a popular coffee shop in town, Ban Chuan, and how we loved it! American ice cream, we called it then.

All the while, what we knew as ice cream then would be the local made ones that they would bring around in cylindrical vacuum flask-like canisters to sell in scoops in those pink-coloured wafer cones. I can’t remember how much we paid for those then, probably just 5 sen a cone…and the Apek (old man) would go round either on foot or on a bicycle with two canisters, one on each side – ringing his bell, selling what might come in different colours – pink or yellow depending on the artificial flavouring and colouring used.

Despite what we called it, it was far from creamy. I think it was more like finely blended ice…

Dad's original gula apong ice cream

…something like the coffee I had the other day and that was what the gula apong (nipah palm sugar) ice cream that I had in Kuching that day was like.

I have heard or read of the popular places, one at the Open Air Market stalls and another in Padungan, beside this totem pole-like cat monument

Totem pole cat monument Kuching

…and that was the one I went to check out, the latter…

Gula Apong ice cream shop, Padungan

…that claims to be dad’s original recipe, the best in town and it seems that they have five other outlets…

DP gula apong ice cream outlets

…elsewhere in the city besides this one here.

There is this handsome young boy there, taking your orders…

Boy 1

…and getting the gula apong ice cream from the machine…

Boy 2

…and squeezing the gula apong syrup all over and sprinkling the crushed peanut or chocolate rice or both on top…

Boy 3

I did not want those add-ons even though they do not charge extra for them, or not that I know of, so I just had the ice cream with the syrup, unadulterated (RM2.00)…

Gula apong ice cream, Padungan

…and I only asked for the small cone as I just wanted to try to see what it was all about. You can go for the RM5.00 one, if you are thus inclined.

I thought it was all right, nice for the very hot days that we are experiencing ever so often currently but no, it did not sweep me off my feet. I think I prefer the more expensive one I had here in Sibu, RM3.00 each…with the soft serve ice cream plus the gula apong syrup and if you want, you can pay extra for the topping or toppings of your choice and even that one did not get me running back for more.

Goodbye and hello…

My girl had planned to go to Korea (Busan and Jeju) with her colleague and her colleague’s friends since last year and they started making the air ticket and hotel bookings way back in January…and she specially wanted to take her mum along seeing how she is so hooked on those Korean dramas and Korean food which explains the ever ready supply of kim chi in all those jars in our fridge at home. Thank goodness she is not into K-pop – well, for that matter, she is not really into any kind of music and songs…and no, I am no fan of kim chi or anything Korean and I had heard of people going on their own and all that walking and climbing and running here and there to visit all the attractions…and losing weight more from the lack of nice (and affordable) food than all that exercise –  no, thank you!

They were leaving that very same day when I was flying off to Kuching for my nephew’s wedding. I had booked my ticket on the evening flight at 6.30 p.m. just so we could go to the Sibu Airport together…

At Sibu Airport

…and I would be able to say goodbye to them and wish them well – they departed earlier at around 3.

Once they had left, I dropped by here…

Sugar Bun, Sibu Airport

We had noodles for brunch that morning, no lunch and with  3½ hours to kill, I decided to do what I do best – eat!

The fish fillet…

Sugar Bun fish fillet 1

…seemed to have shrunk by at least one-third and I prefer the coarser bread crumb coating they used to have before. This one came across like one of those fish fillet sold in boxes at the supermarkets in town. Well, if it was any consolation, I thought it was all right…

Sugar Bun fish fillet 2

…and so was the broasted chicken…

Sugar Bun broasted chicken

…that came in the plate along with the pickles…

Sugar Bun pickles

…and the savoury rice…

Sugar Bun savoury rice

…but I thought RM16.50 for that plus one free drink was somewhat on the high side.

I went for one round on one of those Rest & Go massage chairs, 30 minutes and I did go online on my laptop to reply to some comments on my blogpost that day…but no, I don’t think there is free wifi at the airport – I had brought my girl’s wireless modem (that she uses in the jungle to go online) along. Then I went outside for a bit of fresh air a few times and I walked around – really, time does seem to stand still when you’re waiting! It actually seemed like forever, going by so so slowly…so to kill time, I decided to check this place…

Aero Kopitiam

…out.

It’s a nice small eatery…

Aero Kopitiam counter

…right beside the arrival gate and these are the things on their menu…

Aero Kopitiam menu

I had a glass of pretty decent kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) and this plate of mee goreng (fried noodles)…

Aero Kopitiam mee goreng

…which was all right too – more or less what one would get when eating at many Malay shops and stalls in town, nothing really to shout about but at RM9.00 for the drink and the mee, I thought that would be a much more preferred choice should you be at the airport in Sibu and are hungry and looking for a bite to tide you over till the next meal. Something there smells really nice – I had noticed that every time I landed and was walking out of the airport but I never did go and check. Maybe it was the dishes for their nasi campur…but it sure would not be the mee, that much I can say.

If you would like something lighter, maybe this snack shop…

HS enroute cafe

…would be an option or maybe you can pick up something from the convenience store…

Sibu airport convenience store

…but I did check out their Walls’ Magnum ice cream once though and I found that the prices were a lot higher than what you would need to fork out at the shops and supermarkets in town.

There is another café…

Sibu Airport departure lounge

…in the departure lounge and a convenience store beside it. I learnt something that day – one can’t take nice photos while shakin’ all over sitting in a massage chair. Yes, I had another round of that – 30 minutes…before I boarded the plane and flew over to Kuching.

The Air Asia flight was on time, a little early, in fact and a cousin of mine was there waiting for me to take me to my uncle’s house – he was hosting a pot luck party, all the aunties and cousins in Kuching bringing something and all those of us from out of town were invited. Hello, everybody!!!

There was this kaki babi pansuh (pork leg cooked in bamboo)…

Kaki babi pansuh

…and this attempt by my cousin at cooking Foochow fried noodles…

Cousin's fried noodles

…which was not quite there but very nice, much nicer than the real thing at some of the shops in town here, I would say…and I think she made this salad too…

Cousin's salad

…and somebody brought this roast chicken and duck combo…

Roast chicken & duck combo

…and there was suckling piglet, babi masak hitam, chang (dumplings) and so on and so forth but unfortunately, most of the photographs came out blur.

Gosh!!! There was so much food, all over the tables all over the house that I was wishing I had starved and saved all my tummy space while waiting for my flight at Sibu Airport. Thank you so very much, everybody. It sure was nice to see everyone again and what can be better than a happy get-together with so many of one’s much loved and dear ones all at once. We really should do this a lot more often…

Go our own way…

Some of us had left earlier, the day after the wedding but there were some of us who stayed on for one more night before we went our own way and on our last night in Kuching, those of us who were still around were invited by an aunt and a cousin of ours to dinner at the exclusive Sarawak Club

Sarawak Club Kuching

…right across the road from the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre)…

Dewan Suarah Kuching

…in Kuching. They even had some decorations put up…

Gawai decorations, Sarawak Club Kuching

…in the lobby for the Gawai Dayak Festival, ain’t that nice?

I can’t remember the last time I had dinner at the Chinese restaurant…

Hornbill Restaurant, Kuching

…there…

Table setting, Hornbill Restaurant, Sarawak Club

…but I am pretty sure that it was quite a long time ago.

No, this wasn’t what we had, the plate of fried rice…

Fried rice

They specially ordered that for a cousin’s two little kids who seemed to enjoy that very much but the parents had to tediously pick every carrot and sweet corn out and put them aside. LOL!!! Don’t we all love little kids? Muahahahaha!!!! They had that with the creamy corn soup…

Creamy corn soup

…that we all had as well.

One of the two children, the boy, loved the signature dish of this place, their creamy butter prawns…

Sarawak Club butter prawns

…except that for some reason, the two-year-old kept saying it was curry.

We also had this very nice dish of tofu

Sarawak Club tofu dish

…and midin (wild jungle fern) fried with traditional Foochow red wine…

Sarawak Club midin

…and I loved the Chinese-style beef steaks…

Sarawak Club Chinese beef steaks

…but everyone kept complaining that it was tough. All right, I would not say it was all that tender but no, it was not really tough either. Even I could manage, despite being quite toothless…so since everyone had a slice each only, I had the pleasure of feasting on all the rest. Hehehehehe!!!!

There was also this plate of fried noodles…

Sarawak Club fried noodles

– I think this is what is commonly known as the Cantonese style with the wat tan hor egg gravy. If it had been the Kuching style, the noodles would be deep fried till crispy this same way and the gravy would be the same except that there would be tomato sauce added as in their tomato kway teow, something very popular there too alongside their kolo mee and Kuching laksa…but no, there would not be all that sliced Chinese cabbage usually.

It sure was a very nice dinner that night, thank you so much to my aunt and cousin…and that, more or less, marked the end of my really enjoyable trip to Kuching.