Yours, not mine…

This goes back a very long way to the time when somebody commented somewhere that she liked Ah Pui’s pao (steamed buns) the most. I asked her where I could get them and she said Lanang Road. I replied that it was a very long road so she would have to tell me exactly where but she never replied. Sighhhhh!!!

I have seen a lot of people posting photos of nice food on Facebook but they never mention where and when somebody asks, they would give the name of the place and when they ask where that is, they would give the location but I can never imagine how anyone can ever find the place when the directions are, more often than not, so vague or at times, even misleading. They might as well not bother sharing the photos at all – honestly, I cannot see why they do that!

It so happened that I saw a coffee shop with more or less that same name and I did go to check it out but, no, that wasn’t it! Well, finally, at long last, an ex-student said that he liked Ah Pui’s pao, the vegetable one especially and when I asked, the direction/location he gave was pretty clear and when I went to Google Maps to look and see, I managed to find it…

Kung Fung Food Industries

For one thing, there was no Ah Pui (Fatty) there, except for the guy in the logo, just a lady selling the paos in the steamer…

Steamer

…and it is a few metres from a roundabout so anyone driving past would have his or her eyes on the oncoming traffic from the right and will not be looking left to where the shop is.

It sure looked like they had a very large order…

Big box

…that morning and they had packed everything in a big box, awaiting collection or delivery.

The filling of the vegetable pao (70 sen each)…

Vegetable pao

…is similar to the ones the old lady at the market sells and is even nicer, I must say. It seems fresher or not so overcooked. However, I did not like the skin. It was so white, probably one of those bleached flour specially for paos that I’ve seen in the shops and supermarkets, and it is so fine and dense, obviously over-beaten by machine, nothing like the pao skin of those in the good old days.

The char siew pao (RM2.10)…

Char siew pao

…was not as nice as the ones here, as far as the filling goes and of course, the skin was not to my liking either and as for the filling in the bak pao (also RM2.10), the minced meat is pressed into a lump, something like a meat ball, just that it is not round…

Bak pao

I did not get my hopes up too high but when I bit into it…

Bak pao, filling

…I found that it was really very nice, tasted a bit like luncheon meat and there was a bit of an egg, hard-boiled, in it though barely noticeable. Too bad about the skin, otherwise I sure would not mind coming back here to buy this particular one again and maybe the vegetable pao as well.

In the meantime, I went and bought these (RM2.00 each)…

Swee Hung pao

…at the shop near my house. They have been selling these homemade paos for as long as I can remember but I never felt inclined to buy as I did buy some from the shop at the end of that same block and they did not get me all excited.

I was pleasantly delighted to find that the skin…

Texture

…was almost like what I had been looking for, not quite old school but pretty close. You can see that it is not so dense, more airy and cushiony and very much more to my liking.

The filling…

Filling

…is very nice too and there is a chunk of egg inside.

All in all, I must say that I was kind of disappointed with Ah Pui’s – after looking for it for so so long, it turned out that it may be the favourite of a lot of people but no, it isn’t mine! I would prefer the latter a whole lot more and it’s cheaper too!

KUNG FUNG FOOD INDUSTRIES (2.279053, 111.837881) is located along Jalan Lanang in the last block of shops on your left a few metres from the roundabout at the junction of that road and Jalan Aman and SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket. Kim Tak Co. and Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.

Silly…

My girl had something to send to the department’s office in Selangau so I went to the POSLAJU office near my house to do it for her. I do recall sending stuff there before and as far as I know, they did get everything in the end, no problem at all.

However, that morning, the young man at the counter told me that it would be outside their delivery area and they would redirect the mail to the General Post Office in town and the people from the office in Selangau would have to come all the way to Sibu to go there to collect. I don’t know if that was what had been happening all this while and this time around, it was addressed specifically to an officer at the office and the guy said that she would be contacted by phone and asked to collect the mail personally – somebody else from the office would not be able to get it for her.

I told him that would be so silly as if she had to come to town to get it, she could just go straight to my house and I could hand it to her, no need to pay them all that money for doing nothing. Over the years, driving to and fro between my house and my girl’s school in the jungle, I did see the POSLAJU van a few times but I did not know where it was heading, Bintulu perhaps…and as far as the van was concerned, it certainly was LAJU (fast) though I would not say the same about their service and their delivery.

Anyway, the wife of an officer at the Selangau office, an ex-student of mine, is my girl’s colleague so I asked my girl to ask her if she could pass the letter to pass to him to take to work and pass to the officer concerned…and of course, that was not a problem at all so things worked out o.k. in the end.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I decided to drop by this bakery…

Yat Bakery

…in town in the area of shops behind the medical centre where my mum used to be warded everytime she was unwell. My dad loved the buns…

Yat Bakery buns

…the ones with the pandan lotus paste filling…

Pandan lotus paste filling

…while I prefer the pek tau sar (white/mung bean paste) but these two were not easily available, always sold out.

That day, there wasn’t any of the latter left but there were two packets of the pandan lotus, RM2.20 each (probably RM2.00 only in the past), so I just grabbed them both. There were others like the red bean paste, the peanut and the butter but I was not interested in those.

In the meantime, I thought I would just buy their swiss roll for the aforementioned ex-student’s wife to show a bit of appreciation for her/their help. I remember we used to buy them before and they were very nice, RM6.80 each (maybe it was RM6.00 before) but they certainly were a lot bigger than the rest. I got her the vanilla and I decided to try the strawberry…

Yat Bakery swiss roll, strawberry

…which turned out really nice – so soft, very nice subtle fragrance of strawberry, definitely much nicer than the strawberry cakes that we bought before from the more upscale bakeries in town as far as the texture and taste went except that it did not have any fresh strawberries inside. I think should anybody’s birthday come around, I shall go here to order the cake…or I’d stick faithfully to Marcus’ – his cakes are, of course, second to none.

A friend on Facebook saw the above photograph of the swiss roll when I shared it on my timeline and he commented that their coconut roll bun was very good too – I think I did see that that day but I was never into that. Perhaps I’ll grab one to try the next time I drop by there.

YAT BAKERY (2.293035, 111.835887) is located along Lorong Chew Siik Hiong 1A, directly opposite Uncle Dom, at the other end of the block of shops where Sushi Tie is in the commercial centre behind the Rejang Medical Centre.

Times have changed…

When I was still working, school started at 7.00 a.m. and by 6.00 a.m. or earlier, I would be on my way even though it would only take around 5-10 minutes for me to reach my destination. More often than not, the place would still be pitch dark and at times, it would still be all locked up when the caretaker/groundsman was running a little late.

Driving at that time of day was sheer delight as there would only be a sprinkling of other cars on the road, if any. These days, there are so many cars…and though I am thankful that there are no traffic jams (yet), what I simply cannot understand is why they have to drive so fast. There IS a speed limit here, 60 kmph in the town area…and they will weave in and out of traffic, changing lanes as and when it pleases them. People have the impression that cars here are not equipped with indicators as they will NEVER signal to let you know their intention when they turn left or right.

Frankly, I fail to understand what their hurry is – school does not start till after 7.00 a.m. and Sibu is such a small town that even before one song finishes on the radio, you would have reached your destination already! Maybe they are in a foul mood having to wake up so early to send their kids to school or maybe they are in rush to drop off their offspring and head back home to bed and sleep some more before it is time to go to work…or maybe there are a lot more cars these days and they have the tendency to drive in that unruly manner, I wouldn’t know.

Another impression that I get is that these days, people are real lazy. At that time of the morning, except for a few odd ones out, most of the coffee shops are not open yet.

I dropped by a hawker centre one morning and most were not open so I went to the market instead to see if I could buy some fish and prawns. On the way back, I saw one already open so I asked if I could order something for breakfast. They replied in a not-too-friendly manner (some people are simply not in a very good mood when they wake up in the morning) that they had just arrived and were not ready to start their business for the day yet – and that was past 6.30 a.m. going to be 7.00 a.m. soon.

In my younger days, coffee shops opened way before the crack of dawn and unlike many today, they did not close at or before noon either and if you wanted a plate of kampua mee at a very odd hour like 3 or 4.00 pm. they would only be too happy to restart their fire to cook the noodles for you and a plate was only 30 cents (without meat) or 50 cents (with meat) then. They must have worked so very hard and scrimped and saved to be able to afford their children’s fees and living expenses overseas unlike what some people think – that all of them were so very rich!

Well, I spotted one coffee shop that was open…

Happy Sweet Garden Food Centre

…the other morning so I decided to stop by for a plate of kampua noodles for breakfast. Now, this is another thing about drivers these days – there were ample parking spaces all around, no parking fee at that time of day but no, as you can see in the above photograph, they just had to park right beside the shop to go in and eat. I am quite sure they would drive right into the coffee shop if they could! Tsk! Tsk! I really wonder about the mentality of people nowadays and what has gone wrong along the way.

Now, if I am not wrong, that guy at the stall…

Kampua mee stall

…is Ah Kow’s son. We grew up eating his father’s kampua noodles every Sunday after church, our weekly special treat, but only if my brother and I behaved well throughout the service or we would head straight home and have rotan (cane) for breakfast instead.

When I got to the coffee shop, I was amazed by the number of people there – it was almost full! It appeared to me that they were all parents bringing their children for breakfast before heading off to school. Is that why they drive so fast? They have to stop somewhere for a bite to eat first?

Golly gee! Don’t people cook and eat their own breakfast at home anymore? All throughout my schooling years, my mum would get up early to prepare breakfast and by the time we were up and ready for school, all would be ready and we could eat before getting on our bicycles and making our way to school by ourselves. For one thing, I cannot imagine those kids eating all the msg in the noodles every day and drinking those unhealthy drinks as well – no wonder we see news reports of young boys and girls getting ill, coming down with diabetes, cancer…heart problems and stroke even! It probably has something to do with the way of life these days.

Anyway, back to the kampua mee (RM2.70)…

Kampua mee 1

…that I had, it was pretty good, cheaper than many around here by 10 sen or 30 sen or more and I liked how they did not dye the meat red…

Kampua mee 2

…plus they did not use a plastic plate even though they did use a plastic bowl for the soup.

Well, since most other places are still closed, I guess if one wants kampua mee so early in the morning, this is one place they can head to.

HAPPY SWEET GARDEN FOOD CENTRE (2.301085, 111.835842) is located at No. 16, Jalan Merdeka Barat, back to back with the Sibu Polyclinic, Jalan Oya.

It doesn’t matter anymore…

In the late 70’s, I was posted to teach in a school in Kanowit. I stayed in a small rented room above one of the shops with nothing else other than a bed and a writing table…and a small table fan. I was literally living out of a suitcase and no, I did not have a tv.

Those were the days of black and white tv and being musically-inclined, there was a weekly programme that I particularly liked at around 5.30 p.m. on Sundays, Ready To Roll, a top hits chart show from New Zealand, if I am not wrong, and I do recall that this song, the cover by some girly singer, was Number 1 for a few weeks.

In order that I could watch the show, I had to go to a coffee shop in that little town to join many others there and because this song was not the favourite of everybody else except me and it was very long, they would all moan and groan and declare that when the song came on, it would be a good time to go to the washroom.

Anyway, the title of the song that I have used for this post makes me think of what we had to go through week after week after week picking my girl from her school in the jungle and bringing her home on Fridays and sending her back on Sundays and to say that driving on the still-under-construction Pan-Borneo Highway, otherwise known as the Pain-Borneo Hellway, was a nightmare would be an understatement. Well, the good news is, as the song goes, it doesn’t matter anymore!

The official letter was released on Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 and my girl was supposed to report in her new school on that day itself. However, it so happened that even though a copy of the letter had arrived at the office in Selangau, there was nobody dropping by that day to collect the mail so she could not leave her station just yet.

That was why on Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, my missus and I made our way to the school, stopping by the office along the way to get the official copy of the letter, duly endorsed by the officer…and before school was dismissed that very day, there was a special assembly to bid farewell to their teacher and she would be walking along that wooden bridge from her quarters…

SK Sg Sepiring

…to the car one last time after over 6 years since the day she reported for duty in March 2013.

I did notice when we sent her back to her school on Monday, after the two-week mid-year break, that the road had greatly improved…

PBH 1

…unlike the horrendous conditions in the first half of the year and it was getting worse by the day.

Now, many parts have been completed…

PBH 2

…and are open for use…

PBH 3

…already and even though there are still those sections that are in a rather deplorable state, these good stretches…

PBH 4

…are indeed a welcome relief.

I don’t know if these are going to be part of THE highway eventually or only temporary but whatever it is, I will no longer be going that way again, praise the Lord, and I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again – it doesn’t matter anymore!

Extra…

This…

Mee Daddy 3-in-1 X-tra

…was my late father’s favourite when he was still around. On some days, he would get the helper to cook him a bowl for breakfast and on some nights, he might cook it for his supper himself. I do like it a lot too but I am not very particular about which brand I eat and usually, I will just go for the cheaper ones.

For one thing, it is more expensive than most, if not all, of the rest, over RM4.00 for a pack of five while there are many others going for around RM3 something and I do know of some Indonesian ones selling for around RM2.80…and at times, there may be 6 in a pack even.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when there is no necessity for them to pay for transport and shipment, I cannot understand why, when it is made right here in Sibu…

Made in Sibu

…it cannot be a little cheaper. Is it because flour costs more here since we have to import that from elsewhere?

Anyway, I spotted the word x-tra on the packaging the other day and I was wondering what that was all about so I grabbed a pack and took it home. There is nothing on the packet to explain what that extra-something is and my guess is that there is more noodles in this one than in the regular packet. I do know for a fact that some people would need two packets – one will not be enough.

Of course, these days, when I cook instant noodles, I will boil the noodles first and then drain away the water and after that, I will rinse it well. In the meantime, I will boil some more water, empty the sachet(s) of seasoning and whatever into it and add the noodles before serving. I’ve read articles online about how they coat the noodles with wax or whatever and cooking it this way will remove it and render it less harmful to health.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons why we should not consume instant noodles too often but looking at the shelves and shelves of these at the supermarkets, it sure looks like people simply do not give a damn. These days, the Korean ones, though a whole lot more expensive, are very popular.

Anyway, back to how I cook instant noodles, usually I would just use half of the seasoning which I am sure contains a lot of salt and msg and throw away the rest. However, with this brand, I would use all of it…

Contents

…as I find that it is not as salty as the rest and I do not feel the msg overload all that much. There is also a sachet of onion oil (Oooppsss!!! I got it upside down in the photograph!) or shallot oil as I usually call it and of course, I would add all of it for the fragrance and the flavour and when I cook it the other morning, I also sprinkled a bit of chopped spring onion from my garden on top…

Mee Daddy, cooked & served

…before serving.

I had it with a lightly-grilled sausage and egg and some sawi manis so I would say that was quite  a balanced meal. don’t you think? There are carbohydrates, protein and vegetables – not all carbohydrates like when people just eat it on its own.

Whatever it is, it is best not to consume this way too often and in my case, I will just stock up some in the pantry for days when there is  nothing else to eat in the house.

Better way…

When my girl was first posted to her school in the jungle in March, 2013, the Sibu-Bintulu Trunk Road was not all that good or maybe I had no experience driving long distance then so I drove very fast there and back for fear that I would not get home before dark. In the meantime, there was an on-going upgrading of the road and the construction of some overtaking lanes and after a couple of years, I started to enjoy the leisurely drive every week.

We would leave home early and stop at Stapang or Selangau, roam around the market to see if there was any jungle produce that might tickle our fancy and have a bite to eat at one of the coffee shops at those places before proceeding to our girl’s school before lessons ended for the day.

Then came the construction of the Pan-Borneo Highway or what we would “affectionately” refer to as the Pain-Borneo Highway or Hellway. It has been gong on for a few years now and it sure does not look like it is ever going to end. Usually there are not many people working, just a few here and there and I simply cannot imagine where it is going or where it is coming from.

It would not have been so bad if they did not make a mess of the original road plus there are so many lencongan (diversions), one after another so one would be driving in a zig-zag manner all the way so what once was a 99 km drive is probably now at least 200 km. Talking about the diversions, I can go this week and find some very nice new ones and the following week, they will look like an earthquake has struck! Such poor quality work! I certainly hope that if ever they get the highway done, it will not be like this.

Anyway, sometime ago, I was at my regular petrol station and I was chatting with my friends there, the petrol attendants and I was telling them how horrible the road conditions were. There was a boy there wiping and cleaning the pumps and he suggested that I used Jalan Pasai Siong…

Jalan Pasai Siong

…adding that the road would be a whole lot better, no potholes, no diversions, nothing. However, it was only after my girl’s colleague mentioned that same thing to her that I decided to give it a try.

Not far after Stapang, you would get to a junction – you can see a road sign pointing right to Jalan Teku Pasai Siong and to Sibu/Sarikei straight ahead and a little further up, there is a bigger signboard with one arrow pointing to Sibu and the other, Bintulu/Miri. Instead of going straight like what I usually did, you turn right. You can see from the above photograph that it is a very narrow two-lane road, one coming and one going, not too winding but kind of hilly so one would go up and down smoothly as the slopes are not steep.

Before I embarked on my little adventure, I logged into Google Maps and went on a “drive” along that road. It felt so very long, nothing but jungle on both sides of the road and frankly, it does feel that way when you are driving along this road, like it is never going to end. However, I kept track of the distance and found that it was only 35 km (21.7 miles) and if you are driving along the Sibu-Bintulu Trunk Road, SMK Luar Bandar is 21 miles away – and that was before they had all those lencongan (diversions), still quite a distance away from this Jalan Pasai Siong/Sibu-Bintulu Trunk Road junction. Maybe I was not driving very fast as I was not that familiar with the road yet so I found that we did not really make good time, perhaps by 15-20 minutes only.

Not far from the aforementioned junction, you will pass by this very nice temple…

Temple

…and along the way, other than the oil palm estates, the pepper gardens, the pineapple farms, you may see some country houses…

Country house

…and padi fields and some longhouses…

Longhouses

…too.

If I remember correctly, there are two streams and bridges…

Stream and bridge

…to cross and when you get to these shops…

Shops

…where the 1Malaysia Clinic, Teku is, you will know that you’re almost there.

When you get to this roundabout…

Roundabout

…turn left into Jalan Ling Kai Cheng and go straight ahead to the traffic lights at its junction with Jalan Deshon (Selemo junction), the sole traffic lights the whole way and none of those horrendous lencongan (diversions), none at all to make your driving a horrible nightmare!

Besides, there are hardly any cars so you can just cruise along happily – no F1 Grand Prix driver-wannabes, no road bullies tailgating you at a dangerously close range when they cannot overtake, no excessively-overloaded lorries, long trailers and inter-town buses behaving like it’s their grandfather’s road, overtaking when they please – no signal, no horn, no warning whatsoever, never mind right or left and scaring the living daylights out of you. Here, along this somewhat deserted/quiet road, if you come across one that is slower than you, it is so easy to overtake because there are no other cars, none on-coming and none going.

There is a part somewhere in the middle where the patching and repairing have made it kind of bumpy so the ride would not be all that smooth but that is chicken feed compared to the torture you have to go through when driving through those diversions. Do be careful and watch out for unexpected curves, just a few here and there – you may be speeding uphill and when you reach the top, you may find that suddenly, you have to turn right or left and not go straight over the edge!

The school holidays are here, praise the Lord so I will not have to drive to my girl’s school in the jungle for the next two weeks but when it reopens, no prize for guessing which road I would take!

*Photos taken from Google Map and adapted/edited for use in this post. I did take a few that I shared on Facebook sometime ago but when one is driving, the photographs taken may not be all that nice.*

I don’t care…

I had those garden shears from Mr DIY that I found very handy for trimming the grass when I do the weeding…

Weeding & trimming

…in my garden. Unlike those huge ones whereby I would need both arms to use and end up with muscle aches all over my shoulders, I could conveniently use the ones from there single-handedly.

Unfortunately, the last one that I had was no longer sharp and I think I got the blades all crooked when I tried to cut a little bit more than I should so I had to throw it away. Much to my disappointment, when I went back to all the outlets here in town, I found that they no longer sell those. Finally, I tried the hardware shop near my house and I found this brand…

Garden shears

…for a whopping RM50.00 plus! The ones from Mr DIY were only a little over RM10.00 each. I have the garden scissors, this brand too, from a shop here and they were over RM30.00 each. It sure looks like everything from them does not come cheap but I must say that the quality is really good and long lasting.

Talking about prices, do you go around here and there making comparisons before buying something? I don’t…and I don’t care if what I buy is a little bit more expensive than what others have paid for it. If it is something that I want, I would just grab, pay and leave like these cans of luncheon meat…

Porkies luncheon meat

…that I got from the supermarket near my house. My friend, Annie, in KL was in town at the time and she got those for around RM6.00 a tin only but that was on offer in conjunction with the opening of a new supermarket in town but I sure would not want to join the crowd – the cars were all queued up along the road to go inside that big place so I could imagine the long lines at the counters, no, thank you. I paid over RM8.00 for mine.

These…

Highway corned beef

…cost more than my favourite brand, over RM11.00 a can, but by around RM1-2 only. I did not see the latter at places where I went to – not that I actually went round in search of it so I settled for this instead. I think I did try it before and it was good as well. Well, I was at the grocery store here the other day and I saw a whole lot on the shelves. Maybe the current stock has arrived so they are easily available now. Of course I did not buy any as I still have my two cans in the pantry, yet to cook and eat it.

While I was there, I asked them about those canned clams in soy sauce but they told me they are no longer available. They suggested this…

Sunstar clams in soy sauce

…instead and insisted that it is the same. I remember a friend sharing on Facebook a photograph of the bihun she fried and when I asked her, she showed me the photograph of what she used – it was this same brand. We use their satay sauce to cook our satay beef dish and it is very good, as good as the brand we used before but is no longer available. I decided to grab a tin to try but I have not got round to doing it yet. When I do so, if it’s any good, I certainly would blog about it.