The other man’s grass…

The other man’s grass is always greener, the sun shines brighter on the other side.

The first time I had to fly to Langkawi on a working trip, a friend said to me, “You must buy the Kit Kat there!”

“Oh?” I responded. “Don’t we have lots of Kit Kat in our shops and supermarkets?”

“Theirs are imported,” she explained, “from Australia. They are creamier and very much nicer.”

Of course, I had to buy some but blame it on my retarded taste buds, I could not tell the difference and I would say that like our own locally manufactured products, not all imported stuff is necessarily good or better. For instance, the other day, my girl bought two packs of the imported Nice biscuits and two of the Teddy bear ones (that looked more like a lion to me) for me to enjoy. The expiry dates were drawing near so they were going for around RM4 something instead of the usual over RM7.00-8.00 each. They were all right but I do think our own Tiger biscuits are nicer though looking at the prices these days, they may not necessarily be cheaper than these discounted prices.

Of course, many have tried coming out with their own – here or in other countries overseas but none would come near those Kjeldsens Danish butter cookies and I do love those Scottish shortbread so much but unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy those to enjoy anymore these days. My eyes almost popped out at one supermarket that day – a regular-sized pack was going for over RM30.00! *faints*

It’s the same with these digestives…

Digestives

– this particular brand. I’ve tried others but somehow, they are simply not quite there. Not too long ago, I bought what looked quite the same, a bigger pack, but they were really horrible like they had gone all limp and the original taste was not there at all. I did not check to see where they were made but my girl could recall there were some Mandarin characters on the pack. But these came all the way from the UK and they are good and even at over RM9.00, I would buy once in a long while to enjoy.

They are only £1 in the UK…

One pound special

When I was there long ago, I used to look for these special offers – the ones selling at the regular prices were not quite within my budget, especially after converting them into our miserable ringgit. That should be over RM5.00 here but I guess those people would need to make a bit of profit after deducting the shipping charges, the overheads and all.

I am not a fan of ginger cookies but I do enjoy these…

Ginger nuts

…also from the UK…

From the UK

…going for around RM4.00 only so I would buy them sometimes to enjoy.

Then, the other day, I saw these…

Ovaltine biscuits

…and I decided to buy a pack to try, just over RM3.00 each!

I can recall during the British colonial days, people used to argue as to which one was better – Milo or Ovaltine. I don’t think I’ve seen the latter anywhere these days, just Milo…and I hear many complaining that it is not so nice anymore, nothing like what it was like in the good ol’ days when it was imported from England.

I checked the pack and found that it was not made in Malaysia…

Made in Thailand

…but in our neighbouring country.

I am not fond of biscuits with cream filling including those overly-sweet black ones with white filling, though I would not mind our Malaysian-made cheese crackers with peanut butter cream inside. To my delight, the filling in this one…

Ovaltine biscuits 1

…was so very nice. I absolutely love it! I wonder if that was the same as what I got from my Singapore friend sometime ago. I did try the other one and it was very nice and in the meantime, my sister saw something shared by somebody on Instagram or somewhere and he insisted it was nicer than Nutella so she asked me for it to try. Well, if it is the same, I would say it is really nice.

No, I will not be rushing out to grab a bottle – it is not available here, anyway but I sure wouldn’t mind buying some more of the biscuits…

Ovaltine biscuits 2

…but not that often. They are not really sweet but still, they are sweet and people my age should not be eating too much of those, everything in moderation.

I guess it’s like going some place to eat – not everywhere here or overseas will be good, we just need to know where to go and it’s the same with these biscuits/cookies. Most of the imported ones are a lot more expensive, of that we can be sure, but they are not necessarily nice(r) and on the other hand, we do have some usually more affordable and very nice local-made ones.

As the remaining lines of the chorus of that song in the above link go:
The other man’s grass is always greener
Some are lucky, some are not
But just be thankful for what you’ve got !

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.

One down, two to go…

Well, actually, it’s two down…and there’s only one more to go and if you’re all wondering what I am talking about, I bet this will ring a bell…

Bacon delights from Phong Hong
*Archive photo*

– the box of goodies that I received sometime ago from my blogger-friend, Phong Hong.

I tried their bacon jam spread on some baguette slices that I toasted lightly in the oven and it literally swept me off my feet. It was so so so good!!!

In the meantime, I did tune in to the interview conducted by my ol’ friend, Mag, from the TraxxFm days on AFORADIO, the online radio station when she spoke to the people behind this whole thing, John and Georgina…

The story

…and it seems that the name they picked – Five & Two Foods…

Five & Two Foods

…has some biblical implication. It is actually a reference to the 5 loaves and 2 fishes at the Sermon on the Mount and those of you who are familiar with it would know that they were distributed to feed a multitude of five thousand.

From the interview, I gathered that these products are not available on the shelves at the shops and supermarkets and anyone interested would have to order online at their website or Facebook page and they will send it to you, provided you live within the country, only in Malaysia, that is.

Well, I decided to try another one…

The original Bacon Sambal

…the other day and as we had a lot of leftover rice in the fridge, I reckoned I could use the sambal to fry it with.

No, I did not add a lot of ingredients – just a bit of finely-chopped garlic that I fried in a bit of oil till golden brown and then, I added around half a bottle of the sambal and then the rice. After sometime, I tried a bit and found that it was not salty. No!!!! I most certainly would not want to add the rest of what was in the bottle, the precious commodity – who knows when the next one will come my way again! In the end, I just added a few dashes of Thai fish sauce, two eggs and some chopped spring onions and dished it all out…

Bacon sambal fried rice 1

…and garnished it with some sliced chili and what was left of the chopped spring onions…

Bacon sambal fried rice 2

…and served.

It was all right, just that the taste of the sambal was lost in all that rice so much so that one could hardly detect it. I did have what was left with plain rice – just add a bit to the rice and eat and yes, it was a lot nicer this way and I enjoyed it with these crackers…

Bacon sambal with crackers

…too! Just dip one in, scoop out a bit of the sambal

Dip scoop eat

…and eat! Yummmm!!!!

Well, I would say that I liked the taste of the bacon jam a lot, very much more than this sambal which was, at best, all right, not really anything to get me real excited like the last time…and that leaves just one more to go – the Angry Bacon!

People say…

…it is expensive to eat here or at least, that was what I was told and she heard that from a friend just like what some people said about this place as well but personally, I feel that is a broad generalisation as there are many things one would need to consider – the place, the ambiance, the comfort…and of course, the food. If you order a whole lot of things including fish and prawns and lobsters or exclusive exotic stuff you can’t get elsewhere, surely you do not expect it to be anything but…cheap.

Let us look at what we had when we dropped by for lunch the other day. My girl wanted the phad thai (RM13.90)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen phad thai

…so that was what we had. This was the small but it was enough for the three of us so that would work out to RM4.00 something each. Expensive? You can see there were a lot of prawns and other things in it…whereas as some coffee shop stall, you may pay around the same for a plate with a whole lot of kway teow and soy sauce and lots of msg and egg, no prawns and even if there are any, you may just get a couple of miserably tiny ones.

For want of a bit more protein, I ordered the oyster omelette (19.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen oyster omelette

Not cheap, right? But wait a minute! There were a lot of oysters in it and those crustaceans sure do not come cheap.

For a bit more vegetables other than the taugeh ( bean sprouts) in the phad thai, I ordered the paku or wild jungle fern (RM13.50)…

Flavours Thai Kitchen paku

The small serving in a chu char restaurant would cost around RM10.00 but in this one, there was a lot more so much so that in the end, it was quite a struggle for us to finish all of it…plus it was much nicer too!

They charge 50 sen per head for iced water now and for that, they served us a big glass each plus a big jug full of ice cubes and water. They would charge you at any cheap coffee shop if you ask for ice cubes, don’t they? After all, they actually have to buy those from the factories these days – they do not make their own ice blocks anymore. The overall total on the bill came up to RM48.40 which would be more or less the same as what I had to fork out here or here and at a lot of other places in town and at times, even more!

In the meantime, we went to check out this place in town that is relatively new but I shall not mention the name nor show any photos of the place to avoid any unnecessary “complications”. It has some kind of coffee shop setting, maybe a little nicer than most, but at the end of the day, that is what it is – a coffee shop, non-air conditioned, no pleasant ambiance, nothing much really. Business looked very good that day – there were quite a lot of people eating there and that certainly showed a lot of promise.

Of course, what would be most important would be the food and I had their nasi bryani with mutton curry (RM15.00)…

Nasi bryani with mutton curry

…and it came in those stainless steel trays used in school and college hostels. Yes, I would say it was quite nice and yes, it was RM3.50 cheaper than here but the latter is a very much nicer and classier place right down to the way it is served there plus we do feel that the rice and curry there are way nicer than what I had here and the servings are more substantial as well. The tomato and egg and the cucumber pickle by the side were an added bonus but no, I did not think those were enough to save the day. Other than that, I saw some other people getting a piece of papadum with theirs but I did not get any with mine. No, I did not bother to ask for it – I just added that to the minus points I was giving to the place.

At this place that we frequent quite a lot, the nasi bryani with mutton curry, minus the sides but with a piece of papadum, is only RM8.00, up from RM7.00 in 2012 and I would say I like the one there a lot more, not just because of the price difference, of course – it is nicer and besides, the boss and everybody there are all very nice and friendly, all the smiling faces – something that I do not see here, not at all. I have never seen so many unhappy-looking people, to the extent of looking fierce or angry, at one place before and it made me wonder why they all looked that way.

My missus ordered their Sarawak kway teow (RM9.90)…

Sarawak kway teow

…that she said was nice and she enjoyed that though it got me wondering as to how it would qualify as “Sarawak” kway teow seeing that it was nothing more than just any other fried kway teow and with those two prawns on top and the banana leaf lining on the plate, I would think it was indeed way over-priced…for a coffee shop.

My girl wanted the ikan keli

Not available

– she loves catfish but we were informed that all the fish selections were not available that day. That is one thing that puts me off, my beta noire – to have an elaborate menu and in the end, this and that are all not available.

She wanted the Penang fried kway teow instead but I said that might have soy sauce in it so she picked the tom yam seafood kway teow (RM18.90)…

Tom yam seafood kway teow

…in the end. Yes, you read that right – RM18.90!!! At that price, I was expecting it to be teeming with fish, prawns and sotong (squid) but no, there wasn’t much seafood in it. “Mostly vegetables,” my girl said and I did see quite a bit of tofu puffs and some three or so not-very-big prawns…and though it tasted all right at that point in time, she complained about an unpleasant lingering taste on the tongue as we were going home, probably the result of an overdose of msg or whatever, I wouldn’t know.

The drinks were extremely slow in coming out – I had already finished my rice when they came and if I had known that the kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) would be that bad, I would have just ordered a small bottle of drinking or mineral water instead.

The total on our bill came up to a shocking RM49.50 so compared to the place I was talking about earlier in the post, with its more pleasant and comfortable surroundings, better service a thousand-fold and very much nicer food, it would be pretty obvious which one would give better value for money and besides, with the music blasting at ear-splitting volume at this place (which reminded me of the time I took the wrong turn and walked straight into Little India in Penang), I could not wait for the ladies to finish and make a run for it…out of there as fast as I could.

So honestly, when people want to say that some place is expensive, they should qualify their sweeping remark and specify exactly why they feel so, compared to what and where, to substantiate and validate their opinion…but at the end of the day, the money is theirs. If they feel a place it is expensive, they are free to go elsewhere. I would…especially when I see no good reason whatsoever to come back for more.

Do as you please…

Yes, we went back to the food fair again and this time, we went a little later, around 7.00 p.m. There were a lot of cars lined on BOTH sides of the road, leaving just enough space for cars to go through one by one…slowly. I just cannot understand why all those selfish and inconsiderate people would choose to do that when there were a lot of spaces left in the designated parking area right beside the fair grounds, not that they would have to walk really far.

There was a Filipino stall that was not open the previous time we were there so I was keen on checking it out. Unfortunately, I did not see anything that tickled my fancy – everything on skewers including pig’s blood, cooked on a barbecue grill, that was all.

I saw these steamed mushroom buns…

Steamed mushroom buns

…at one of the stalls – a lot of people had shared photographs of those on Facebook or in their blogs and I had the impression that they were so very very nice, something not to be missed so I bought a set of 3 (RM12.00) to try.

Inside, they had mushrooms…

Steamed mushroom bun, inside

…something like the creamy filling in chicken pie, minus the chicken and I would say it tasted all right but for RM4.00 each, I would much sooner go for this kampua daging

Sri Pelita kampua daging

here for that same price and derive a lot more enjoyment and satisfaction from it. But of course, it all depends on the individual – some may prefer these buns to noodles so at the end of the day, it is up to them to do as they please, to each his own.

Yes, we went back to the German sausage stall at the food fair and yes, he had a wide range of sausages priced at RM10.00 each, the cheapest…and RM15.00. We picked four but I cannot remember their names. I can recall there was a white sausage, most probably a Bavarian weisswurst and there was one called the Hungarian. No, we did not pick the chorizo – I am not particularly fond of that and as it turned out, they all tasted like that plus they were extremely salty and a dip in the German mustard provided made it even worse…all of them except one. I could not remember which one it was, fat and short but I thought that one was very nice…and we liked the one-foot-long one we bought the last time too, nicer and not so salty.

However, the total for the four sausages that we had came up to RM50.00 and that Sunday morning when I had the kampua daging, I also ordered the fried kway teow special (RM7.00)…

Sri Pelita fried kway teow special

…which was quite nice…

Sri Pelita kway teow

…and it came with a heart-shaped fried egg and a whole lot of the fried chicken…

Sri Pelita fried chicken

My girl had her tosai while my missus had their nasi lemak and inclusive of drinks, the total came up to over RM23.00 but the nice boss, Guna, rounded it up and asked for RM20.00 only.

At the food fair, I went and bought some drinks from some Thai tea stall and while we found them to be really very nice, they cost RM6.00 each, RM18.00 altogether but to give credit where it is due, the cups were HUGE, enough to be shared by two or maybe even three.

Still, the total with what I paid for the sausages came up to RM68.00, and a whooping RM80.00, if we include the mushroom buns, eaten in the dark under some canopy with tables and chairs put out for everyone to sit and consume their purchases, no fan, no air-conditioning, nothing. On my part, I do think it would make more sense to choose what is cheaper and also to me, a whole lot nicer…and not subject ourselves to such discomfort. But of course, as they say in Malay, jangan sik cuba – at least, we tried and now, we know better…and of course, as I’ve said earlier, it is up to the individual to do as he or she pleases. My girl, for one, would not mind having sausages sometimes…or ham or bacon and I am of the opinion we should pamper and  treat ourselves to things we like and enjoy once in a while sometimes, no need to calculate the costs all the time and deprive ourselves too much…but we must make sure that it is within our means, of course. What do you all think?

Loud and clear…

I was born a British subject by virtue of the fact that Sarawak was at the time a British colony and during that time, we used to get imported stuff from the UK. I remember how I enjoyed those Nice biscuits from Huntley & Palmers but unfortunately, we do not get anything from them anymore these days. It had been quite a while since I last had any Nice biscuits and the other day, my girl spotted these at a supermarket here (RM7.90)…

Arnotts Nice biscuits

No, they’re from Australia, the other side of the world and yes, I do recall the sugar coating…

Arnotts Nice biscuit

…but somehow or other, I was not really impressed by this one. I don’t know but maybe we were so deprived in those days that it seemed so very nice or perhaps, things today are not longer like what they used to be.

One thing I particularly like about these imported products is how they tell you exactly what they contain…

Imported products ingredients

…and they highlight the offensive ingredients in bold for the benefit of those who may be allergic to them.

You can see another example here on a carton of the imported Australian milk…

Devondale milk gluten free

…that I am drinking right now…and here, it states in no uncertain terms that it contains full cream milk…

Devondale full cream milk

…and nothing else.

On the other hand, let’s look at this packet of noodles (RM9.90)…

Penang-made millet noodles

…made in Bukit Mertajam, Penang that I bought at another supermarket here that day. I do know for a fact that millet is ok for those who are gluten sensitive/intolerant and the name of the product is the only clue as to what they are made of. Now, the question is…what else? We haven’t the slightest idea as nothing is mentioned in that little label. I thought there is a ruling that the ingredients must be specified in all manufactured food products? I even logged into their website to see what I could find there – nothing! Seeing that we are not entirely sure whether it is safe for my girl or not, in the end, we decided that it would be best for her not to consume it.

Going back to the milk, these days, I will usually buy this one from New Zealand…

Meadow Fresh New Zealand milk
*Archive photo*

…at RM5 something a carton. It certainly makes a lot more sense buying this instead of the Malaysian-made UHT milk that may set you back by some RM7 or RM8 a carton. Just the other day, I noticed that the New Zealand one was on offer – RM4.90 only a carton but I had already bought a box of the Australian one…

Devondale new packaging

…at another supermarket, also selling at RM4.90 a carton.

A long long time ago when this brand first hit the shelves here, it was only RM1.00 a carton…and people would cart boxes and boxes home including those from Kuching. Not only was it cheap, they said but it was much nicer and creamier than our local ones.

After sometime, they changed their packaging and it looked like this…

Devondale old packaging
*Archive photo*

…and now, they have changed the packaging again…with a new easier-to-open cap…

Devondale new cap

…than the ring that they had before and also the thin aluminium foil that we find in other brands, so thin that it is quite a chore to get the loose end out.

No, as you can see from the expiry date, they are not going cheap because it is almost due, and probably it is a lot cheaper than in Australia itself, after conversion. You can’t blame me for not supporting our own Malaysian industries, can you?