Lazy Sunday afternoon…

My friends would come to take me out later in the evening so I was left to my own devices for what’s left of the Sunday afternoon. I had not had lunch (The nasi lemak treat at KK airport wasn’t exactly lunch…LOL!!!) so I decided to roam around the vicinity in search of some mam-mams. Well, it was past 2 on a Sunday afternoon so most of the eating places were closed including one that’s blatantly named “Klang Bak Kut Teh”…and those that were still open were not that appealling in my eyes. In the end, I decided to go for the set lunch at After 5.

I thought it was a western restaurant…but it appeared from the menu that they served Chinese food as well. I guess that explained what the mushroom soup tasted like…

Mushroom soup and toast

It was neither rich nor creamy and if I had known, I would have opted for the sweet corn soup instead. Just look at the kopi-tiam toast that came with it! Fortunately they used butter instead of margarine! The main course was grilled lamb chop and it was fine except that the portion was so small… 

After 5 grilled lamp chop

Even the plate was smaller than at other places. I could not help comparing that to what I would get for RM14++ at Garden in Sibu. Then there was ice cream and coffee. All in all, it was not too bad for RM18.00 but I could have found something better if I had scouted around long enough.

After the late lunch, I went back to the hotel and had a nap. Around 4 something, I was up and about again…and the moment I stepped out of the hotel this time, my sharp nose detected the fragrance of…satay!!!

Taman Indah satay 1

I had not had beef satay for quite sometime owing to the problem with the supply of beef here…so despite the fact that I just had lunch not too long ago, I simply could not resist…

Taman Indah satay 2

…indulging in a few sticks of satay and some ketupat to go with it. Incidentally, I noticed that there were mostly ladies in the area at that time of day. Probably the men were all sleeping off their hangovers after staying out late on Saturday night but there was a shop selling those bubble-tea drinks or whatever you call those…and it was packed with ladies only! I thought of taking a photograph but changed my mind in case the Amazons ladies would charge out and beat me to pulp, some 50 of them or so! LOL!!!

My friends came at 7 something and we headed to the English Tea House. It was too late for tea, and I had western for lunch and they say if you go to Sandakan, you must have seafood, so we just stopped for drinks there.

English Tea House Sandakan 1

I got to meet Tim, a radio friend I made on the TraxxFm afternoon show…and in case anyone’s wondering, yes! I was that cikgu…before the show ended (and I never bother to tune in to the station anymore after that!). Tim’s the chef there…and since he was working, it was more of a hello, goodbye thing! Didn’t want him to land in hot soup with his bosses…and in the rush, I forgot to take his photograph! He’s very young, maybe in his mid-20s…

The place was very nice – perfect ambience, very classy…but we should have gone there during the day to enjoy the scenery and the bird’s eye view of Sandakan town. You can dine in one of the gazebos or in the open air…

English Tea House Sandakan 2

…or in the main dining hall.

English Tea House Sandakan 3

For one thing, I noticed that all the customers (except us) were mat sallehs and my friends said they were tourists, not locals. Gee! Coming all the way here for a not-very-authentic experience of what they could get back home! That certainly reminded me of Tintin in Perth and his craving for nasi lemak or jeremychee in Brisbane and his kuih chap!!!

After our drinks, Lily and the others (You’ll see their photos in the next post, so make sure you come back!) took me for a seafood dinner. Do stick around, everybody! One seafood dinner coming up…..

Wind beneath my [mas]wings…

I’m home…safe and sound and in one piece! Anybody missed me?…Well, I left Sibu on Sunday morning and when I got to the airport, what I saw…

O fare, 0 passenger 1 O fare O passenger 2

…was not very encouraging. Times are hard…and even with zero fare, there were 0 passengers, or almost…

 O fares, a few passengers

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I was flying via maswings in their Fokker 50 aircraft. The thought crossed my mind that it was not a very appropriate name for an airline. I’m sure if you’re flying in a swinging aircraft, you’ll need a lot of hong eyew or minyak cap kapak (Axe brand oil)!

I flew to Bintulu where I had to disembark for immigration clearance and then I had to board the aircraft again…

Reboarding at Bintulu

The flight was pleasant…and we were served a packet of Milo from Sibu to Bintulu and from Bintulu to Kota Kinabalu, we were given this…

maswings inflight light refreshment

Inside, they had turkey ham sandwich and egg sandwich in cling wrap. You do not get to see them in the photograph as I had already eaten them all! LOL!!! Definitely nicer than the inedible, inpalatable stuff we get on the KL-Sibu-KL flights despite being packed in a classier and very impressive looking box. I would think that the box for this one is quite unnecessary too. Somehow or other, I would imagine certain individuals with “extra loose change” in their pockets derived from the lucrative deals, but this is just an uncanny suspicion on my part and not a statement of fact! Anyway, there was also a packet of Milo and a bar of KitKat in the box as well… 

maswings inflight light refreshment 2

The lady at the MAS counter in Sibu told me that I could only check in for the Sibu-KK sector and I would have to check in again at KK airport for my flight to Sandakan. Darn!!! The airport at KK was worse than a fish market! It was so crowded with mat sallehs and loud Cantonese-speaking Chinese (from Hong Kong probably) and it took me quite a while to go through the process. There were only a few counters and none for no-baggage check-in and the place was not air-conditioned, so you can imagine me oozing sweat from every pore…

Busy KK airport

I met a former student there, now a flourishing businessman…and he treated me to coffee and nasi lemak at The Mouth, the restaurant at the airport. I did not take any photographs as we were too engrossed in our conversation about who’s doing what, who’s married to who, how many kids and so on and so forth. I noticed this sign upon arrival though…

Sign at KK airport

I think the BM translation for “What’s that big one?” isn’t quite correct. What do you think? And I wonder what “big one” they are talking about! Hahahahaha!!! Well, I reached Sandakan at 1.20; there were no delays all the way so that’s one good thing.

Orang Utan mascot at Sandakan airport

No, that wasn’t Kpenyu waiting for me at Sandakan airport and that wasn’t his portrait on the wall either (though some may claim that there’s a resemblance! ROTFLMAO!!!). My friend, Lily, met me at the airport and brought me to the hotel…

Grand Hotel Sandakan

It is right across the road from some private Chinese school where I was going to give a talk the next day…and is located in Taman Indah which some say is the red-light area in Sandakan. Hehehehehe!!!! Ask no questions and I’ll tell no lies!!! When I went into the room, I was somewhat tickled at being welcomed by this very hospitable sign… 

Sign at Sandakan hotel

That was nice! I hate the stale cigarette stench in some hotel rooms that I have stayed in. Lily said she would pick me up later for dinner…but that will have to wait till the next post! Well, hasn’t it been said that patience is a virtue? LOL!!!

Please don’t go away…

Well, I’ll be flying to Kota Kinabalu tomorrow in this Fokker aircraft…

MAS Wings Fokker aircraft/Farispis' photo@www.flickr.com

…and then I’ll be getting on a Boeing 737…

MAS Boeing 737/Ly Ning's photo@www.flickr.com

…to Sandakan. And this is what I’ll be doing there…..

Motivational seminar

This photograph was taken sometime in late 2006…so by now, I would probably be older…and maybe bigger…or smaller. By the way, chris, do you recognise anybody in the photograph?

I hope I can go to the very unique English Tea House in Sandakan, not to have the English scones (Well, maybe that too!)…but to meet Tim, my friend from the now-terminated TraxxFm radio show – Pat and Mag in the afternoon. He is the chef there!!! I’ll post his photo when I get back…if I get to meet him there, that is.

So do take note, everybody, that I will be back by Tuesday. Please don’t go away but if you really really have to, do not stray too far as it will only be for a couple of days!!! I am sure I will have a lot to post once I get back! In the meantime, take care and be good…if you can!!! LOL!!!

Evergreen tree…

When I was a kid, I lived in a wooden house in a very very big compound and we had a lot of rambutan trees. The weather was very predictable then – hot in the middle of the year and rain (and flood) around year-end. The fruit season would always be at the end of the year and our rambutan trees would bear fruit in abundance.

Rambutans/tk-yeoh's photo@www.flickr.com

There were two types of rambutans then – the local ones with the soft, jelly-like flesh that usually would stick to the seed or the Singapore ones, as they were called then, that were crunchier and sweeter and those from our trees would never stick to the seeds, that’s for sure!

Rambutan/jrozwado's photo@www.flickr.com

We would tie the fruits in bundles and I would sell them to the people passing by our house…and many years later, they could still recall seeing that (cute) little boy sitting by the roadside selling his rambutans…ummm the fruits, I mean! Ah…never mind! ROTFLMAO!!!…Later my father sold the land and the family had to move. He grafted the tree and planted one in the backyard of the new house, or were there two? It/They grew very well and we continued to enjoy the fruits. Then they moved again; by then, I had already moved out to stay on my own. Once again, my father grafted the tree and gave the seedlings to everybody. I also got one and I just planted it at the back of the house. Believe it or not, everybody else’s died but mine survived!

It was about two-feet tall for many years and it never grew bigger…and then suddenly, it did just that! Probably the ground was very hard and finally the roots could break through. It bore fruits many times – exactly like the ones we had long ago in the old wooden house. It had flowered recently and now, the fruits have appeared… 

Baby rambutans

Sometimes, if the weather is too hot, these young baby fruits would drop off…but lately, the weather has been quite kind. Not too hot and quite a lot of rain! So hopefully, by the time Stella gets here next month from Down Under, she can get to enjoy my rambutans…the fruits, I mean! Arghhh!!! LOL!!!

Don’t cha…

Well, don’t cha like fish? I most certainly do! But my in-laws do not (They have this phobia because of the bones) so most of the time, when somebody gives them some fresh fish, they’ll pass them to me. The other day, for instance, they gave me this fish but I do not know what it is called. It is something like ikan terubok but has fewer bones and the flesh is whiter and softer. I just cut a few pieces of ginger and some chilli into thin strips and peeled a few cloves of garlic and scatter these over the fish. Then I took some Foochow red wine, added a bit of ikan bilis (anchovies) stock to it and poured that over the fish…and steamed it…

Steamed fish 1

The photograph was taken as soon as I had removed the lid of the wok…so that’s why it appears “steamy”! It tasted very good indeed. I would have put some Chinese celery (daun ketumbar/daun sup) or chopped spring onions on top as well but I did not have any in the fridge. I heard that the chopped garlic helps remove the fishy smell…but they look like bits of fish and I do not like the taste of garlic with the fish, so I will usually just put them in whole.

Sometimes, my in-laws will give me some ikan bawal putih (white pomfret) which I would also steam. Here, you can see that some salted vegetables had been used together with ginger, chilli and spring onions…

Steamed fish 2

Sometimes, I would use Thai fish sauce that is available in bottles at the supermarkets or oyster sauce. Well, frying is also nice but I guess steaming is healthier. Don’t cha agree?

Now, moving on from fish, I received these photographs via email from rubberseeds
Wild mushrooms 1

Don’t cha think they look too colourful to be eaten? These are wild mushrooms and the only wild mushrooms I’ve eaten before were kulat ta’un. I think the Chinese call those “chicken mushrooms” because if you cook soup with it with ginger, red wine and egg, it tastes like chicken soup. Nice to go with mee sua too! But it has been years and years since the last time I saw any…and I do not think the cultivated oyster mushrooms come anywhere close.

I have never eaten these colourful ones though…
Wild mushrooms 2

…so if you have eaten them before, do share with everybody your opinion and perhaps, the recipe as well. If I’m not mistaken, the dark ones in the second photograph are straw mushrooms. These are available at the native jungle produce section of the Sibu Central Market…..

Selling wild mushrooms

Well, the weekend’s here. Going to cook anything special? Fish perhaps? Or wild mushrooms, anybody?

This old house…

Yes, this is the old house where Chricaca used to live and she mentioned in one of her comments that she fell out of the window while playing hide and seek with her sisters…

Chicaraca's old house

Incidentally, this post is not going to be about anything specific in particular. I will just make some back references to a few things that had cropped up in the earlier posts. For instance, Gundot mentioned that the Sungai Merah chai pau (vegetable bun) is very nice, so the very next day, I went to buy some…

Sg Merah chai pau

Ok, Bongkersz, I know! You don’t have to tell me what they look like! It’s mostly skin…which is a good thing as the skin is very nice, unlike the yellowish and rubbery traditional pau skin that is typical of those local Sibu ones…

Sg Merah chai pau inside

As for the inside, it is mostly cabbage and carrots, not as nice as the homemade ones I had the other day…and there is so very little of it. And since I was in the Sungai Merah vicinity, I decided to stop for a bowl of kuih chap

Sg Merah kuih chap

This is the “special” and it costs RM5.50 (A normal bowl would cost RM4.00) but it was very nice. The gravy has this rich fragrance of spices such as cinnamon sticks and of course, I enjoyed the generous serving of pig’s innards. However, I was quite disappointed that there wasn’t any liver though! Anyway, moving on, we were also talking about nyonya kuihs in that post about chai paus, remember? Well, I had some more the other day…

More nyonya delicacies

Those pulut (glutinous rice) kuihs with gula melaka flavoured coconut on top are very nice…and you get three for RM1.20 (or was it four? Can’t remember whether I popped one into my mouth while taking the photograph. LOL!!!).  Yesterday Clare sent me an sms to gloat about the Wednesday-only popiah she had at Handsome Court at Nanas Road in Kuching. I know it is very nice as I had had it before…and all right, all right! You do not have to tell me how EXTRA BIG it was. This one that I had was from the SRB Chung Hua canteen and at one time, people were praising it to the skies. I thought it was just ok but I felt the filling did not have enough chilli and ground peanuts… 

Popiah inside

I prefer the ones sold in the mornings at Chopsticks at Pedada Commercial Centre. Of course, none can compare with Handsome Court’s. Drool! Drool! Are you going to post about it, Clare? Then everyone can see how BIG it is! ROTFLMAO!!!

So that’s about it for this post – just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Well, how has your week been so far? Good, I hope…..

So far away…

Normally, I do not venture very far from where I stay…even before the hike in the oil prices, but once a month, I would need to go to my bank on the other side of town. Initially, the branch was at Rejang Park, very near my house but they closed it down and moved to Cityvine in the Upper Lanang area…and since I was there, I decided to roam around the vicinity. This Sing Kwong Building has been opened for well over a year now…

Sing Kwong, Salim

There is the departmental store downstairs and upstairs, you have the supermarket. You can use the travelators to go up and down…

Sing Kwong, Salim inside

There are a few shops in the main wing as well, like Bata…and in the attached wing, there is the SOS shoe shop, one Pensonic outlet, a computer shop and lots of food outlets like KFC and Pizza Hut…

Sing Kwong, Salim Pizza Hut

and a Sushi Tie Kiosk…

Sing Kwong Salim Sushi Tie kiosk

as well as a bakery…

Sing Kwong, Salim French Bakery

…and they even have free wifi at the entire place!

Sing Kwong Salim free wifi

There’s a food court at the back and darn!!! Now I’ve to go back there again one of these days! They’ve got salted fish claypot chicken rice!!! I haven’t had that for a long time…and I wonder if it is any good. I was there past lunchtime and most of the stalls were not open.

I left the place and went over to the other side where Farley Supermarket and Departmental Store is. I dropped by a shop in that area sometime in May and I saw this Swiss cabin-size baggage that I really liked so much…

Swiss Army cabin-size baggage

I enquired about the price and was told that it would cost RM100 plus. Well, I am not an impulsive shopper so I did not buy it there and then. Instead, I went and tried to pull some strings to get it at a lower price. Eventually, I was told that I could have it for RM80. But the shop being so far away, I never went back until today…and when I asked the proprietor how much he was willing to sell it to me for, I almost fainted when he said RM50. I had to confirm with him several times to make sure that he was not selling it to me at a loss because of “the strings attached”…and finally, I paid him the money and left…feeling so very happy with the unbelievable bargain!!! Swiss, no less!!! Got class mah! ROTFLMAO!!!