Yesterday…

…I went to the airport again. Gosh! I must have gone to and fro more than a dozen times these past few weeks. Well, my friend Jimmy is back in town and while waiting for his flight to land, I browsed around a diamond jewellery booth that was having a sale, and I ended up buying this…

STP's Christmas present

…so this is what the old lady’s getting for Christmas. Shhh!!! Don’t tell her yet! She’ll have to wait till Christmas! LOL!!! Now, on the way back from the airport, Jimmy and I and also my daughter stopped at the Mei Le Cafe at Pedada Commercial Centre here for lunch. We had this plate of roast chicken and roast duck (RM10.00)… 

Sibu's Mei Le Cafe roast chicken and duck

All the pork stuff – the char siew, BBQ pork ribs, roast pork belly/three-layer pork and so on – were not ready, so we could not have any of that. I also ordered this bowl of tom yam soup (RM4.50) which was very very nice…

Sibu's Mei Le Cafe tom yam soup

And since we did not have any for lunch, I decided to cook some roast pork for dinner…

STP's roast pork

…but we had a late dinner – 8.00 p.m. as we had to go to the airport AGAIN to pick the old lady coming back from Miri on a weekend working trip, arriving at 7.15. I wonder if she bought a nice Christmas pressie there for this old man??? Hehehehehehehehe!!!

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Grown up Christmas list…

Christmas presents

Which is your favourite Christmas song? There are a few that I like but this year, my favourite has got to be this one by Michael Buble (Words & music by David Forster and Linda Thompson). The lyrics go like this:

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well, I’m all grown-up now
Can you still help somehow?
I’m not a child, but my heart still can dream

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself, but for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in that blind belief can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end

This is my grown-up Christmas list
This is my only lifelong wish
This is my grown-up Christmas list

Don’t you think that should be everyone’s Christmas wish in this world of ours so pathetically torn apart by hate, strife and wars? Do click the link and listen to it. I’m sure you’re gonna like it too… Joy to the world, love and peace to all men!

Merry Christmas

Ride like the wind…

The other day, I did not feel like cooking, so I went to this place to tapao (takeaway) something for dinner…

Sibu's Rafie Cafe

This is one of my favourite Malay eating places in town run by a guy named Rafie and his wife…

Rafie and wife

As you can see from the caricature, the wife’s actually Chinese – Foochow, if I’m not mistaken…and as they say, “Behind every successful man is a woman.” They used to occupy two shoplots at one end of a block of shophouses but now they have taken over another shoplot at the end of the next shophouse block, and they have put up a roof over the space in between so that they can use that space too for their business.

Rafie is a big bike enthusiast, so on one wall, you can see these photographs…

Sibu's Rafie Cafe - big bikes

You noticed the Chinese New Year decor – those mini red lanterns? Now, on the other wall, you will see photos of well-known stars/personalities who have been there. I can see Dafi of Akademi Fantasia in the 1st one at the top…

Sibu's Rafie Cafe - star attraction

You can get a wide variety of food there – noodles like kampua or the fried ones, roti canai and so on but I usually go for the fast food. I went there at 4 in the evening, so there wasn’t that much available compared to the morning or around lunchtime. They have very good daging masak hitam (black-cooked beef), a Sarawak delicacy…and I simply love beef liver….

Sibu's Rafie Cafe - beef liver

…and don’t you think the fried paku (jungle fern) looks absolutely enticing?

Sibu's Rafie Cafe - fried paku

And what have we got here?…

Sibu's Rafie Cafe - Christmas tree

A Christmas tree!!! In a Malay shop! And earlier we have seen the Chinese New Year decor…and there’s even the national flag, the Jalur Gemilang!!! This, I must say, is a TRULY Malaysian shop!!! Two thumbs up for Rafie and his wife!

Cruisin’…

This was supposed to come before the previous one but I clicked the PUBLISH button by mistake and “Kampung Love” jumped the queue. Anyway, you probably would have concluded from the lack of food posts prior to these two that I have not been eating out that much lately nor have I cooked anything special these last few days. Actually, among other things, I did manage to get hold of some “poomba” though and cooked it but I had a post on that already sometime ago.

Besides, my daughter and I have been going round the town for things that she can’t find in Sg. Petani (Kedah) or aren’t so nice there, but I’ve posted on them before too. However, the other morning, she wanted some nasi lemak, so we dropped by this coffee shop here in Sibu…

Sibu's Huang Chuang Cafe

…for Huai Bin’s favourite nasi lemak

Sibu's Huang Chuang's cafe - nasi lemak special

This is the nasi lemak special and nope, Huai Bin, you can’t have it for RM3.50 anymore. The price has shot up to RM4.00 despite the dropping cost of petrol. We were there too early (After 10.00 am, good grief!!!) and they had not cooked the curry or masak hitam and could only give us some fried chicken (Breast meat some more!) for the so-called special! The rice tasted good but I’ve a bone to pick about the lack of condiments – they were generous enough with the sambal but there were only some tiny bits of cucumber and I could count the number of peanuts! You can go back to this post and see the photo of how much more one would get for the nasi lemak special at the Happy Garden Malay stall at Sg Antu here. That was RM3.50 then…but I haven’t been there for a while, so I wouldn’t know if the price has gone up too. 

Other than that, we did stop by this place in Rejang Park as well…

Sibu's Master Bakery Cafe

It’s a cafe, so you can order the usual fried noodles and stuff and I noticed that they had dim sum too…and it is also a bakery. I went there to get the butter pastry…

Sibu's Master Bakery Cafe - butter pastry

…selling at RM1.00 each. If you put it in the oven to warm it up a little, the butter will melt and the filling becomes extra moist and fragrant and the skin becomes flakier. I would love a bit more filling though even if it means increasing the price to RM1.50 each. They also have other kinds of filling such as peanut or char siew (meat)…

Sibu's Master Bakery Cafe - assorted pastry

…and the 4th type is either kaya (coconut jam) or tau-sar (red bean paste), I can’t remember exactly now. But if you ask my friend, Jimmy, he’ll tell you that the best are the butter ones and I have to agree with him on that. My daughter also had a post on this butter pastry, among other things, sometime back.

Moving away from food, that day, my daughter and I were on our way to Tom’s (No, not the cheesecake place in Kuching but Gundot’s hubby’s house here) and enroute, we saw this… 

Sibu's unique house 1

Goodness gracious, that’s a HUGE house with an open deck at the top…and just look at the number of spotlights! Gee! If they switch them all on at night, it will look like something from the movie, “Close encounters of the third kind”…and that’s not all! Just take a look at what it’s like at the back…

Sibu's unique house 2

Ah well…as they say, to each his own and if they’re comfortable and happy with that, who are we to say anything? After all, it’s their money! LOL!!!

Kampung love…

Hahahaha!!! Some of you may be wondering, “What? Is there such a song?” Well, the answer is yes, there is! It’s a Bidayuh (one of the Sarawak ethnic races) song that was a hit here a few years ago. You can click this link to watch the video clip. It’s really a cute and catchy song and you do not need to know Bidayuh to be able to understand what it is all about.

I’ve chosen that to be the title of this post because it is going to be about the kampung-style (village-style) fried rice that I cooked this morning…or more specifically, fried rice my style with sambal udang kering (dried prawns). Of course, in order to cook that, I would need to prepare the sambal and so I pounded some shallots, garlic and lengkuas (galangal) and chillies together and some udang kering (dried prawns) with a bit of belacan (dried prawn paste)…

STP's kampung fried rice - pounded ingredients

I fried the pounded ingredients in oil till golden brown and fragrant, together with some serai (lemon grass) and adding a bit of serbuk kunyit (tumeric powder) for a bit of yellowish tint and extra flavour. Then I added the pounded udang kering (dried prawns) and fried until it had turned a nice shade of brown and kind of crusty/crunchy before adding salt and msg according to taste.  The sambal udang kering was ready, so those of you who would like to prepare just the sambal to go with your rice, bread or crackers, that is how you can go about it.

After that, I added the rice and mixed it thoroughly with the sambal and as I had used a bit too much oil, I added two eggs as a solution to the problem. Hehehehehe!!! Then, the rice was ready…

STP's kampung fried rice

So there you have it – nasi goreng sambal udang kering (fried rice with dried prawns)! I garnished it with some thinly-sliced chillies, but you can also use chopped spring onions or fried ikan bilis (anchovies). Simple but nice!

Gift of love…

I was driving home one evening when I heard Dr James Dobson on the car radio. He had a very short but meaningful story in his “Focus on the family” feature that day. The moment I got back to the house, I sat down and wrote out my version of the story which I had included in one of my SPM English workbooks.

Christmas is just two weeks’ away and in conjunction with this festive season of hope and love, I would like to share this story with everyone. I have cut out a lot though so that it is much shorter and not so tedious to read. Well, the story goes like this:

Christmas was just around the corner. All the shops and complexes were gaily decorated with tinsel and colourful blinking lights on synthetic plastic trees, and cotton wool dangling from every nook and cranny in the bleak hope that it might pass off as snow. Shoppers dashed helter-skelter in search of the ideal gifts for friends and loved ones. Juggling with the boxes and bags in her arms, Mrs. Lim snaked through the crowd to her car, and finally headed for home.

No sooner had she reached the house than she bolted into the kitchen to get dinner ready, dumping everything on the table in the living room. “I’ve to start cooking, otherwise the whole family will have to go to bed hungry tonight.”

After dinner, Mrs. Lim settled down to wrapping the presents. The two older children were studying in their rooms while Janice was lying leisurely on the sofa, her eyes glued to the television screen, totally enthralled by the animated antics of Mickey Mouse

Christmas presents under the tree

Soon the much-awaited Christmas Day arrived. Everyone had gathered around the Christmas tree to open their presents. Donny and Marie ripped open all that had their names on them. In the midst of the excitement, Mrs. Lim spotted a quaint little box wrapped in newspaper.

Picking it up, she remarked aloud, “What is this? Is this from you, Janice” The little girl nodded, her eyes glowing. All eyes were on her as Mrs. Lim removed the wrapper.

“What is the meaning of this?” she shrieked; the anger in her voice was obvious. “It’s empty!” Turning to her daughter, she reprimanded, “Is this your idea of a joke, Janice? Are you trying to make a fool out of me?” At that instant, her palm landed on the little girl’s face, leaving streaks of red across her cheek.

Finally, Janice spoke. Through her incessant sobs, she said, “It’s not empty, Mummy. The box is filled with all my love and kisses for you.”

Mrs. Lim was stunned for a moment, and then, breaking down in tears and taking Janice in her arms, she pleaded, “Forgive me, darling. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s all right, Mummy, it’s all right. Don’t cry.” The little girl brushed her fingers over her mother’s face as the rays of the Christmas morning sun shone in through the window onto the mother and child below, entwined in each other’s arms.

Merry Christmas

Untitled…

I don’t mind the songs by the group, Simple Plan, but I must admit that I really like this one very much especially the video clip which is about drunk driving. You can click the link to listen to the song and watch the video if you have never heard it or seen the clip before. The message is very clear and one that everyone should take note of. 

It certainly seems that every holiday and festive season in the country spells doom for many as without fail, there will be numerous fatal accidents happening here, there and everywhere like the bus tragedy just the other day in Johore. Somehow or other, nothing seems to work to rectifiy this sad state of affairs.

Christmas is coming and here, I would like to share with everyone a poignant story that carries a message similar to the one in the Simple Plan song:  

On the last day before Christmas, I hurried to the departmental store to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. While browsing through the toy section, I noticed a small boy of about 5 years old, pressing a doll against his chest. He kept on touching the hair of the doll and looked so sad. I wondered who the doll was for. Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him, “Granny, are you sure I don’t have enough money?” The old lady replied, “You know that you don’t, my dear.” Then she left him there while she went to look around the store. The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand.

I walked towards him and asked him who he wanted to give the doll to. “My sister wanted it so much and she was sure Santa would bring it to her this Christmas.” Then he continued, “But Santa cannot bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mother so that she can give it to her when she goes there.” His eyes were so sad while saying this. “My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mummy will also go to see God very soon, so I thought that she could bring the doll with her to give it to my sister.”

Then he showed me a very nice photo of him laughing. “I also want mummy to take this photo with her so that she will not forget me.” Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes. I quickly reached for my wallet, took out a few notes and said to the boy, “What if we check again, just in case you have enough?”

“Ok,” he said. “I hope I have enough.” I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count. There was more than enough, with a little bit extra! The little boy said, “Thank you, God, for giving me enough money.” Then he looked at me and added, “I asked God yesterday before I slept for enough money to buy this doll so that mummy can give it to my sister. He heard me. I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mummy, but I didn’t dare to ask God for too much. But He has given me enough to buy the doll and the white rose. You know, my mummy loves white roses.”

A few minutes later, the old lady came back and I left. I couldn’t get the little boy out of my mind. Then I remembered a local newspaper report two days ago of a drunk man in a truck that had hit a car. A little girl in the car died right away, and the mother was in a critical condition. Was this the family of the little boy?

Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I read in the newspaper that the lady had passed away. I couldn’t stop myself,  went to buy a bunch of white roses and headed to the mortuary. The body of the woman was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest. I left the place crying, feeling that my life had been changed forever. The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister is hard to imagine and in a fraction of a second, a drunk man had taken all of it away from him.

(Story abridged & adapted; original source unknown)