Ruby Tuesday…

Well, it’s Tuesday today…but actually, I went to the Ruby Restaurant here in Sibu (again) last Saturday.  It was my brother-in-law’s birthday, you see! So, following the age-old Chinese/Foochow tradition, the dinner had to start with mee sua (string noodles for longevity)…..

We had the fried version, with hard-boiled eggs on the side, gently deep-fried to give it that golden colour (for good luck). Normally, the noodles are boiled and served in chicken-red wine soup but lately, there is this alternative and Ruby does it best! After that, we had this…..

In the past, they used to cook this with sharks’ fins but owing to the depletion in the fish population, many are protesting against its consumption…so we had that replaced with sea cucumber instead. It’s much cheaper, anyway…and tastes the same! We also had the specialty of the house – pandan chicken but you can see that in other blogs so I did not bother to take a photograph of that…and neither did I bother with the plate of cangkuk manis and the fish maw soup that we had.

Now, let’s see what else was there! Ah yes! The salty crispy prawns…

Well, notice that a few of them had gone missing! You see, my outlaws in-laws did not know about this blogging thingy, so they must be thinking that old age had finally gone to my head and I had gone bonkers (Not you, bongkersz!!!), taking photographs of everything. As a matter of fact, everytime a dish hit the table, I had to snap quickly – the hell with all those focus, angle and what have you, because within a split second, they would all dive in and attack…!!! LOL!!! Anyway, we also had Thai-style jellyfish…

…and sweet and sour fish fillet…

All in all, there were 8 dishes for 7 people…and including the rice (Yes! In addition to all that, they had rice! I didn’t! Hahahahahahaha!!!) and drinks, believe it or not, the bill came up to around RM150 only.

Anyone’s birthday coming up soon…..???

Home (1)…

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you…

Last week, an ex-student from my Form 5 classes last year contacted me to invite me to a barbecue that they would be having to bid farewell to their friends who will be leaving for further studies – matriculation in Labuan, JPA scholarship and all that and I went….. I must say I was flattered as I was the only one invited (Or maybe the other ex-teachers are not so greedy so they did not show up! LOL!).

It has been a few months since I last saw them. I was there each day when they sat for my subjects in the SPM Examination just to give them a bit of encouragement and moral support…but I could not make it when the results were released due to some family commitments.  Thankfully, they did outstandingly well…and that means more than anything to me, their teacher.

There was a lot of food, that goes without saying. This is Jacky, one of the nicest students I have had in all my years of teaching, taking charge of the barbecue pit…

I don’t actually care very much for those chicken wings, fish balls and sausages…but that night, I just could not resist…

…the pork belly/three-layer pork and it certainly did not help one bit that they gave me one whole plate of it all to myself…

And that wasn’t all. They had a buffet spread catered from a local hotel/restaurant. I did not think of taking the photographs before everyone started eating (I was so hungry, you see!) but I managed to get a shot at one of the dishes…

Well, apart from the food, it certainly was nice to see all of them again and I hope the feeling was mutual. I remember something that Jacky wrote in some kind of an autograph book that they gave me on my retirement…

You leave no poem for the world to read, you leave no written words to tell…of your noble thoughts, your kind acts and deeds. But in the throbbing pulse of human life, there shines a brighter gleam of joy and hope…because you have lived and loved…and given of yourself unselfishly.  Your life is a poem in itself, not realised by those it has touched so richly through the years but living still…to spread its rays of gladness and of cheer within the hearts of all humanity.

That meant more to me than anything else in the world…and as teachers, we must realise that what we give today, we will one day, get it all back in return…a hundredfold! I have said in one of my earlier posts that it distresses me greatly that there are so many teachers who are disillusioned, who do not seem to see any meaning in what they are doing. I believe that is exactly what their students feel about or think of them as their teachers. Love them and you will be loved much more in return…

And to all the boys who were at the gathering and those who were not, I thank you all for the affection over the years; nurture it always in your hearts for it will surely help in no small way to make you become better individuals in the years to come. May God bless each and every one of you in your undertakings.

What’s the difference (1)…

Even if you were as old as I am, you probably would not know this song which was on the flipside of the hit single, “San Francisco” by Scott Mckenzie. But if you were growing up in Sibu at that time, most likely you would remember two coffee shops in particular – Kiaw Siong and Ban Chuan.  Both of them had nice kampua stalls but between the two, I would rather have the one at the former.  Now, what’s the difference, you may want to ask? Well, actually there can be a world of difference between the kampua at one stall and another, what more to say in between towns or countries. But I guess it all boils down to a matter of preference or taste.

In the past, we only had the noodles with a few pieces of thinly-sliced pork coloured red and a sprinkling of spring onions and fried shallots but today, we may get them with a slight twist or we may find a bit of variation from the original.  Some die-hards will search high and low for the authentic stuff but in my case, I do not mind a change time and again.

In an earlier post, I posted a photo of seafood kampua where other than the meat, you get a few shrimps, fish balls and crab sticks with the noodles. Besides that, there is also the kampua with goo tor soup (Those caterpillar looking things from the inside of a cow. The intestines, I think!) or one may opt for this instead…

I remember how in the 70s, I used to love the mee kosong (plain noodles) with gu bak cheng (beef soup) at Ah Mui located in the Open Air Market in Kuching but the last time I went a couple of years ago, it was such a disappointment! The soup tasted like salted veg soup! Well, we have something like that that here at the coffee shop behind the Sibu Kidney Foundation building – beef soup with plain kampua for only RM2.50. Nice! But do go earlier; by around 10, it would all have been sold out, and do avoid the peak hours – 8.30 to 10.00 a.m. because the lady always seems to be in a foul mood when under stress!

Or you may prefer the kampua at Rasa Sayang, near the Sibu Bus Station (They’ve got a new name now it seems, but I can’t recall what it is!)…

I think I’ve said somewhere before that it is more like a cross between kampua and Kuching kolo mee…considering that with the noodles, you do not get the few miserable pieces of meat, but instead they put some phak-lor (cooked with soy sauce and five spice powder, like what some people do with duck) pork and minced meat. This one is the cheapest in town – only RM2.00 whereas elsewhere, it’s at least RM2.20 now.

For those less adventurous people, one good place is Soon Hock at the Delta Commercial Centre here, a stone’s throw away from my house. What they serve here is more or less like the conventional kampua…but interestingly, if you buy back home to eat, even when it is cold, it still tastes very nice, or perhaps even nicer, unlike the kampua in some places. Of course, whenever I go, I would ask for pian sip (or kiaw as they are called in Kuching or wanton elsewhere) instead of the pathetic four slices of pork…and I would ask for extras. So for RM3.00 I would get this…

Indeed it is quite substantial, so I can have that for a late breakfast and then, skip lunch! Two birds with one stone!

Well, the weekend’s here!!! Having anything special?…Kampua anyone?

Don’t speak…

In one of my earlier posts – “I don’t love you”, in the Hubby’s letter to his ex-wife, he said, “My mother raised me not to say anything if I can’t say anything nice.” I bet everyone agrees that is the very essence of sheer politeness. Then, a few days ago, I received an email from my brother in NZ…and I’d like to share it with everybody.

THE TONGUE CAN BE YOUR WORST ENEMY!


Photo from cibolution.com (Uploaded by Frarytd, Flickr)

Your words, your dreams and your thoughts
have the power to create conditions in your life.
What you speak about, you can bring about.

If you keep saying you can’t stand your job, you might lose your job.
If you keep saying you can’t stand your body, your body can become sick.
If you keep saying you can’t stand your car,
your car could be stolen or would just stop operating.
If you keep saying you’re broke, guess what? You’ll always be broke.
If you keep saying you can’t trust a man or a woman,
you will always find someone in your life who will hurt and betray you.
If you keep saying you can’t find a job, you will remain unemployed.
If you keep saying you can’t find someone to love you or believe in you,
your very thought will attract more experiences to confirm your beliefs.
If you keep talking about a divorce or break up in a relationship,
then you might end up with it.

Turn your thoughts and conversations around to be more positive
and power packed with faith, hope, love and action.
Don’t be afraid to believe that you can have what you want and deserve.

Watch your Thoughts, they become words.
Watch your Words, they become actions.
Watch your Actions, they become habits.
Watch your Habits, they become character.
Watch your Character, for it becomes your DESTINY.

The minute you settle for less than what you deserve,
you get even less than what you settle for.
Watch how your circumstances and situations begin to change
when you change the way you speak.

REMEMBER: Life is like melted butter…
Once things cool down, it can be reshaped!

Well, it certainly looks like what we say affects our lives more than we may realise. That’s quite a substantial bit of food for thought that’s worth pondering upon, don’t you think so?

A little good news…

Imagine picking up the morning paper…and not having had your mug of coffee yet, your mind still groggy…and rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, you think you see the name “Bongkersz” in the headline!!! Good grief! What has he done? What crime has he committed? Front page headline some more!!!…You take a closer look, and what a relief! It is not what you thought you saw, after all…

Well, that’s the good news! It isn’t Bongkersz after all, but it’s quite close, don’t you think? Bongkersz and bonkers – both the spelling and the guy in actuality!!! LOL!!! Reading on, you find that it is actually…


…a report about monkeys! Some place in the Daro district, they are having problems with monkeys ransacking their houses for food and stuff. Hmmm…interesting! Monkeys! Can you see the resemblance?

…..ROTFLMAO!!!! Have a nice weekend, everybody!!!

Footnote: Bongkersz posted something about me sometime ago, so this is a return gesture. Hope you like it, Bong! LOL!!!

The winner takes it all (1)…

Ooo…I was so excited when I found out that the American Idol finalists were singing Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber this week but after the show, I must say I was not very impressed and in fact, somewhat quite disappointed.

Looking first at the ladies, Syesha Mercado has improved by leaps and bounds since she started…and her more recent performances have been very very good, but somehow, it seems she does not have a strong fan base…probably because she’s of the wrong colour or the wrong sex. The way things are going, it certainly looks like it’s going to be the guys’ year.

The Irish tattoo lady, Carly Smithson, was excellent with her rendition of “Jesus Christ Superstar” but she too, has not been very popular either all this while.  For one thing, she’s not very versatile and shines only when she’s doing rock or a fast number. Nevertheless, I did not, for a moment, expect her to be voted out. If anyone should go, it would have to be Brooke White…not just because of her faulty start which could have affected her performance, but I think she did not do a very good job with Madonna’s “You must love me” from “Evita”- the movie version…or maybe I was expecting too much for that is one of my all-time favourite songs and she, at best, was just so-so.

Jason Castro, singing “Memory” from “Cats”, was as Simon described him “beautiful” and someone reluctant but forced to sing grudgingly at a relative’s wedding, but his screaming fans would probably keep him around until the last three. I thought he was ok but David Cook seems to be the best singer among the three guys…

and his “Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera” was, I won’t say superb but very good. His forte has been more towards the rock genre, so much so that I was beginning to feel that he was a carbon copy of Chris Daughtry…but last night’s performance certainly showed his versatility. I would think he would be the one to emerge American Idol this year.

Finally, the sweet little kid, David Archuleta…

I have liked him since I heard him singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” and was hoping he would be the winner this year.  But somehow he does not seem to be very versatile…and would not do very well on the faster pop numbers. No doubt he has a good voice but he’s perfect only with slow Josh Groban-ish kind of songs. What a disappointment it was for me when he chose not to sing “Think of me” also from “The Phantom of the Opera” in its original theatrical/operatic form.  His voice would have been ideal for it, but no! He turned it into something that sounded like “More than words”, the Westlife version! Yucks!!!  Still with his charming, humble ways, he certainly seems very lovable…and maybe his hysterical girl-fans will vote him through.  One will never know with these reality shows. Somebody was commenting the other day that he resembles Alfred E Neuman of MAD Magazine…LOL!!! Poor thing! Anyway, I can’t wait till next week when they’ll sing Neil Diamond. I hope somebody will sing my faves, for instance, “Iam…I said” or “Play me” or “You don’t bring me flowers”.

Well, what about you? Who do YOU think will be the next American Idol?

Photos from www.americanidol.com