Monday, November 20, 2017

Angels Watching Over Me

I've been suffering from a series of unfortunate incidents, which left me feeling really baffled. Why are they all happening one after another? The scariest of all would occur today ...

20 Nov 2017
I was heading home from work, driving along my usual route. The sky was grey and it was raining, and I was about 1.2 km away from home. I normally exited the main road and turned into a commercial area of about 3 rows of shops. I would exit from the back of the commercial area into a road leading to my house.

As I turned into the junction, a large lorry appeared from a lane at the back of the shops, and turned into my pathway ... it was an illegal turning for the lorry and to make matters worse, it was turning and coming so quickly. I steered and veered towards my left to avoid a head-on collision and I let out a scream as the lorry did not seem to show any signs of stopping ...  I veered more to the left and managed to steal a glance at the lorry. I saw the passenger in the cabin of the lorry alerting the driver .... and we both stopped our vehicles.


If there had been a head-on collision, given the speed, and the mass of the lorry, I'd most probably be suffering massive injuries or I'd probably just die there and then. And I'd die in vain.

Praise the Lord for sending angels to watch over me!! 

18 Nov 2017
I was going to attend a dinner function. I got ready quite early. I thought I'd be ready early, and then spend some time marking before I go to the function. I'd bathed and dressed and thought I'd style my wet hair. I'd just use my round brush to shape my bangs to frame my face.

I was right handed, so I started with my left bangs. I rolled the hair around my round brush as taught by my hairdresser, Peter, and then blew at the hair with my hairdryer. Only that it wouldn't unwind. The brush got stuck in my hair .... and the more I tried to disentangle my hair from the brush, the worst it got.

I panicked. Never mind if I could not make it to the function. What I feared was the possibility of having to cut my bangs to get the brush out. I'd look really hideous for months! I called Mom for help. She tried to get the brush out but after 5 minutes, she gave up.

We went to the hairdresser's. We went to the nearest one to us. Nearby my house was a salon - the salon was actually located inside a house. I'd never been there, but Mom had. So when we reached there, Angie - the hairstylist, and her assistant managed to slowly remove the brush. It probably took about 10 minutes.

My hair was frizzled upon release ... so they sprayed some water on my hair and blew it nicely for me for just RM10. I was not only in time for my dinner, I went there with my hair looking great.

When I told my friends about it, we had a good laugh .... but at that moment when I was going around with a hair brush stuck in my hair, the fear was real.

Thank God for Angie! She's really an angel! 

7 Nov 2017
I'd reached school. I exited the car. I went to the passenger side of the car and took out my bags. Then I went back to the driver side, I shoved down the lock and closed the door. Then, I glanced at the car ignition. Darn. The car key was still hanging there.

The problem was that Dad was in KL at the time, so he couldn't bring me the spare car key. Then, my house keys were locked inside the car too. Or else I could have asked someone to drive me home to get my spare car key.

I went to the staffroom, dropped my bags on the table. Actually, I had a spare car key in my handbag. This spare car key was the one I duplicated when I lost a whole pouch which contained my keys back in 2011. This key was always hung together with the keys to my desk drawers. Unless I had forgotten to bring my drawer keys, I would have that spare car key in my handbag.

I searched inside my bag frantically, and found that spare car key - The key was now slightly bent, probably from being caught as I opened and closed my desk drawers. If I straightened the key, I could, by right, use it to open the door.

I told my colleague D what happened and showed him the key ... he bent it a bit and it straightened. And he walked me to the car. He inserted the key into the lock. He turned it. It opened.

Phew! Thank God for the spare key in my bag. Thank God for D for being so helpful!

5 Nov 2017
I was cleaning my room. It'd been in a mess since I'd returned from my trip. I organised my wardrobe and drawers and packed my winter clothing back into my luggage. The luggage, now filled with my clothes, was heavy. So as I tried to put the luggage back to its storage place on top of my cupboard, I twisted my right wrist. I was in great pain that day, my right hand was rendered useless. I couldn't do the most basic of things with my right hand. I couldn't open my door. I couldn't wash my crockery, I couldn't hold my cutlery properly, and I couldn't even flush the toilet. I had to consciously tell myself to use my left hand. I couldn't drive at all on that day ... so I was glad that my cousin T was around. We went out that evening and I bought a compression wrap to put on.

The next day, I felt only slightly better. It was very dangerous but I had to drive myself to work with 1 hand - my left hand. My wrapped hand drew much attention and sympathy. There wasn't much I could do - I didn't think there were medications to take except for painkillers ... or I could go for alternative therapy - acupuncture? traditional massage?

My colleague, D, offered to massage my hand, but I turned him down. I wasn't sure whether he was skilled so I was afraid that he'd make the condition worse. He offered to help me many times, but I kept deferring it. But as I talked to D more, I was convinced that he knew what he was doing. Finally, last Friday - nearly 2 weeks after I had twisted my hand (I was still in pain even after so long!), I let D work his magic on my hand. He felt my wrist and said there was a bit of swelling there. Then he said he would realign the nerves on my hand. So he massaged my the back of my hand, my palm, my arm. His touch was firm but reassuring. And the effect was immediate! My right hand could function more normally.

Today, D massaged my hand for the second time and according to him, the swelling had reduced a bit, but for it to completely heal, it would take some time. I'm wearing the compression wrap even today.

Thank God for D! He's my very own healer! 

04 Nov 2017
I was on duty that morning. I had to be at school, watching over my students and giving them moral support, as they were sitting for their exam that day. At school, I went into the exam hall and helped with the final preparations. Then I went to the canteen to be with the students in case they had any last-minute questions.

Finally, the student were called into the hall. I walked back to my car to get my bag .. and I noticed that my front left tyre looked flat. How was it that I drove all the way to school that morning without feeling anything odd ... was it punctured? or just depleted of air? Hmn ... I wasn't sure at all ...

So I drove to the nearest petrol station and tried to inflate the tyre ... but there was no reaction at all ... worried, I drove home slowly. If Dad was home, he would help me bring the car to the service station right away. But since the folks were away, I had no choice but to wait till after work.

Back home, I exchanged cars. I took Dad's car back to school. It was about 2 p.m. when I'd finally got home again. I took my car and drove it slowly to the nearest tyre shop, all the while worrying that I could not make it. The worst thing was being stuck on the way to the tyre shop. I'd hate to be rendered immobile along the way and then to hold up traffic because of me.

But thank God, I made it. The staff at the tyre shop took a look at my tyre, removed it and then inflated it. He dropped the tyre into a pool of water, expecting bubbles to come out .... but there was none. There was no puncture. The tyre just had no pressure.

The owner of the tyre shop came out and looked at my tyres. After asking me a few question, he said that my tyres looked new, but had in fact, hardened. He advised me to have them changed if I had the budget.

Then he inflated all the other 3 tyres, and charged me RM5. I was good to go.

* * * * *

That's a series of 5 incidents that jolted me. November is certainly not my month .... I do not know what lies ahead of me in the days to come .... but I pray that God will always watch over me and send His angels to help me cope. :))

Friday, November 3, 2017

Day 1 : Kul - CXR - Da Lat

It's my first trip to Vietnam, but I did not go to Hanoi nor Ho Chi Minh. I went to the less popular Nha Trang and Da Lat. It felt very much like a family trip - because apart from C and myself, the rest were family. There were W and wife, CV and mom, S and son. It was mostly an enjoyable trip nonetheless.

I went to KL ahead of my friends. I wanted to visit my nephew, B as I'd not seen him since CNY in Feb. I had so looked forward to playing with him once I arrived. Unfortunately, my plane was delayed and B had already fallen asleep when I reached the house. Heh. Nonetheless, I did spend a good 2 days with B and only went to join my friends on Sunday night after dinner.

We checked into Myhotel at Jalan Tun Sambanthan, just next to Old Town White Coffee. This was a budget hotel ...

The room

The room and en-suite bath and toilet were rather spacious. There's air-conditioner, coffee and tea-making facilities, a tv. I wished the room was cleaner though. It being just beside the road made it noisy - I could hear the booming rhythms of a singing event from across the road, and I could hear the traffic. Most annoying of all was that I could hear people come and go, open and close the doors,  and talk loudly in the corridor. I did not sleep well. 

We woke up early, checked out and proceeded to KL Sentral where we boarded the bus to the airport. I'd not taken the bus for a while. So now it cost RM12.00 for one way to KLIA2. The bus departed at around 6.20 a.m. I slept a bit in the bus to make up for the lack of sleep the night before.  

We arrived at 7.10 a.m. and dropped our bags at the counter and went to have breakfast at the food court, Quizinn. I did not know what to eat, so ended up having nasi lemak ...


The nasi lemak set was RM9.50 with a cup of coffee. I splurged on the fried chicken, which cost RM6.00. So that made the whole breakfast set RM15.50. Hmn .... Pricey nasi lemak, edible, though nothing really special about it; coffee was served in a badly stained cup .... it was a little off-putting.  

Our flight AK204 delayed slightly from Kuala Lumpur. I sat along the aisle, and next to me were a Korean father and daughter. Flight time was 2 hours and 25 minutes, and it was a rather turbulent flight. I was so glad when we landed at Cam Ranh International Airport, Nha Trang.

The current airport 

The airport was small and dated. We did not fill in any immigration card at all upon arrival. After we went past immigration, we collected our bags and headed outside, where we met with our guide, David and the driver. Since there were 8 of us this trip - and we were provided with a sprinter van. It was rather comfortable actually - C and I had the back row seats to ourselves, so we had plenty of room to put our things.

David was formerly a Russian language teacher at a high school, so he was excited to find out that we were all teachers. Heh. David was a nice guide, really accommodating. We all liked him.

The new international airport being constructed. It's located just next to the old airport. 

It took 50 minutes to get to Nha Trang from Cam Ranh ... and we could see much development along the way. There were many resorts and hotels being built here, it being by the coast and all. 

Loved the view of the bay here at Cam Ranh

50 minutes later, we reached Nha Trang ... 

Nha Trang beach and the city centre beyond
There were plenty of shops and hotels there .... and I thought the beach looked so beautiful

Lunch was at Nha Trang View Restaurant just by the sea. We were served with many good food every meal throughout the week. 

Left to right, top to bottom : crackers, Vietnamese salad, mustard and pork ribs soup, bok choy, French beans and carrot stirfy, stewed pork ribs, clams in spicy and sour broth, another type of clams, brinjal

Hmn ... I have no idea what species of clam is this ....

I find the vegetables to be fresh and sweet, and enjoyed all the food served to us. It was indeed a lavish meal to me. My favourite dish for this meal was the Vietnamese salad - there were only vegetables in the dish, but they were fresh and crisp and beautifully flavoured with lime and fish sauce. The toasted peanuts added a nutty flavour to the dish. Yums. I polished off the whole platter when no one else wanted to eat it.  

CV and mom are vegetarians and they had 4 dishes to go with their rice .... 

4 vegetarian dishes

After lunch, we proceed to Da Lat ... it was a 3 hours ride by car. Da Lat, located 1500m above sea level, had a pleasant climate. During the days of French colonial government, officials came here to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands.

Before we began our climb uphill, we stopped at this rest stop called Ben Loi Quan. It had toilets, and a souvenir shop and a restaurant. We had an ice-cream here ... 

There was a river at the back of this premise ... 

After our short pit stop, we got going. As we climbed up, the air got cooler and cooler. Our driver turned off the air-conditioner, and opened up the windows so that we could enjoy the cool mountain air. 

Almost reaching Da Lat .... 
Lots of tents .... vegetables, fruits and flowers are grown in abundance here ... 

The streets of Da Lat

We reached Da Lat in 2.5 hours instead of 3 hours, and checked into River Prince Da Lat Hotel. This is a 3-star hotel ... and it seemed to be quite empty. Apart from a middle-aged couple, we did not see any other guests at this hotel. 

Our hotel lobby

Our room at River Prince Hotel, Da Lat
Spacious room with a spacious en suite toilet and bath; The room looked a bit old-fashioned, though it was clean. The room had no air-conditioner, but it was not needed anyway.

At 7.00 p.m., we had dinner a restaurant named Moulin Rouge ....

Tuna salad, omelette,  braised fish and roasted chicken
All the dishes tasted so good

Calamari rings, prawns, stir-fried cucumber and soup

I loved every dish served here at Moulin Rouge, and I think it was the best meal for the entire trip for me. 

Vegetarian dishes for CV and mom

Another dish cooked with black pepper for CV and mom

Cut fruits to share ....

We went to the Da Lat night market after that. We drove back to our hotel and David walked us to the night market so that we would know how to walk back ourselves later on. 

The night market 


Caps and scarves

Lots of tea! 

Atiso or artichoke tea is a product of Da Lat
Each meal, we were served with Atiso. We liked the taste and wanted to buy some back for our friends ... 


Chicken soup

The vendors did not allow me to take photographs .... so I wouldn't say that they are friendly at all. I did not buy anything .... and soon walked back to the hotel. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pe'an Waterfall @ Bengoh Dam

Today was an occasional holiday for my school as it was All Souls Day. Since a rare break such as this was hard to come by, a few of my colleagues and I decided to go to Pe'an Waterfall at Bengoh Dam, located along Jalan Borneo Heights at the Padawan area.

We started the journey at 7.15 a.m. and our first stop was Padawan, 10th mile Kuching. Here, we had noodles at a coffee shop called Swee Sen. Swee Sen was famous for serving their noodles with big prawns. I did not have that. Instead, I had the kolo mee special ...

 Kolo Mee special, RM6.00
Noodles, served with 1 prawn, 1 wanton, 2 fishballs, 1 meatball, and slivers of char siew. I ordered mine "pink" - meaning I wanted a little bit of the red char siew oil to coat my noodles.

Our noodles were served in a jiffy. I was disappointed with it the moment the bowl was placed in front of me. First of all, the portion was small. Then the taste was bland. I poured in the entire saucer of pickled chillies and its vinegar, but it did not enhance the taste of the noodles. My friends thought the noodles were just a tad uncooked and yet a bit soggy. Apart from the fresh prawn, the rest of the ingredients were ordinary. I did not feel satisfied at all with my bowl of kolo mee at all. So perhaps this shop was overrated. 

After breakfast, we drove to Bengoh Dam. We reached there at about 9.00 a.m. We had to register ourselves at the guard house upon entry to the dam grounds .... 

Bengoh Dam
This is a water catchment area, designed to secure water supply for Kuching and Kota Samarahan

The lake? The reservoir? Hmn ... I have no idea what to call this body of water .... 

 Small boats 
Ours was the first boat with the blue tarp - the one next to the yellow boat. We were charged RM60 per pax, and lunch would be included. 

We waited for our guide here; there were some locals here and they said our guide went to buy something .... we were to wait for a while. Soon, he arrived on a motorbike ... and we boarded our little boat. He couldn't start the engine of his boat, and had to borrow his friend's engine. Soon, we chugged off ... 

Some vegetation along the way ... 

Our boatman was Alex, a young and handsome youth from one of the villages in the area. The ride upstream was only 10 minutes long, though it felt like a long time. Maybe because the boat was slow-moving. Soon, we heard the loud gushing of water ... We docked, and trekked for 20 minutes to reach Pe'an Waterfall.

The trail wasn't difficult, as there were clear steps and a clear path. It was just that some parts were steep, so climbing upward left me breathless. Some parts were muddy .... so I had to watch my steps. The scariest part for me was crossing the bamboo bridge ... I was so slow because I was scared that I would slip and fall. I was really clumsy after all.

So I was so glad when we finally arrived .... 

Beautiful waterfall, which was pretty much unspoilt 
Some call it Curtain Waterfall but the locals call it Pe'an Waterfall. 

I took a video too!

The waterfall was beautiful. I was proud that we had such a wonder right at our own backyard. However, facilities were lacking here. No toilets, no changing rooms. There was only a shack with a long wooden table and 2 long benches. I did not bring any spare clothing so I could not swim in the cool water. So my friend AL and I stayed in the shack to chit chat, while the others enjoyed themselves soaking in the water.

Alex left us to hang out at the waterfall. He was cooking Ayam Pansuh for us, so he needed to look for his cooking utensils. He came back with a bamboo vessel, lighted a fire, and proceeded to cook for us ....

Very delicious and flavourful chicken which had been cooked in bamboo
The ingredients were minimal. There was only chicken, lemongrass, ginger and tepus .... and yet, the dish tasted so delicious. 

Packed rice which Alex got from his kampung 

Yummy! The rice was really nice - soft, chewy and so fragrant! I enjoyed it very much with the chicken ....

After lunch, we hiked back to our boat. It started drizzling as soon as we were settled in the boat. We were glad that it only started raining after we got out of the trail. Unfortunately, the rain became heavier and heavier ... the sky turned dark and there was even thunder and lightning. Rain sprayed at us and water gushed into our boat ... we were soaked to the skin. Our little boat slowed down and braved the choppy waters .... And none of us had life jackets on. There was none on our boat.

"Can you swim?" S asked me.

"Err, yeah ...," I replied. "But I don't want to swim," I wailed .... 

We had all thought of the possibility that the tiny boat might capsize. Heh. The 10-minute boat ride seemed so long and we heaved a sigh of relief when we glimpsed the concrete structure of the dam from a distance. We were drenched as we ran to the car ...

It continued to pour the whole journey until we reached town. Looking disheveled in our messy hair and our damp clothes, we went to Chang Swee Kang at Satok to have some snacks ... 

Belacan Beehoon, RM5.00 
The best thing about this belacan beehoon was the century egg. Otherwise, it tasted so-so ... 

Rojak, medium RM6.00
I liked the rojak .... the sauce wasn't too smelly and I liked that it was sweet and nutty

 ABC was of course yummy, RM2.50

Despite being cold and damp, we enjoyed our cold desserts and our snacks. It was sure nice to get home and get a warm shower though. It had been an interesting day. :))

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Japanese-style Potato Salad

I did not like potatoes. Fifth Aunt told me she ate lots of potato salad from the convenience store while travelling in Japan. When I went to Japan last year, I wasn't even tempted to try the salad. Because, well, I did not like potatoes all that much.

Last week, my colleague made some to share .... and I did quite enjoy it. Was I hungry at that time? Or did I actually find it yummy .... hmn. I wasn't sure. But then, it is something which is rather simple to make .... and so I made it on my own today.

I used 2 Russet potatoes, 1 hard-boiled egg, some cucumber and carrots, salt and pepper, and Kewpie mayonnaise.

My version of Japanese-style Potato Salad 

It was nice - what could go wrong with potatoes and egg and mayonnaise, right? Only that I think it needed more texture. Right now, there was more potatoes than there were carrots and cucumbers. I think I'd add more of those vegetables and maybe perhaps sweetcorn too next time around.

I couldn't finish the potato salad that night, during dinner ... and I kept some for the next day. I think it tasted even better the next day, especially because I could taste the cucumbers better. I brought it to school and had it with crackers .... and I did like it. :))

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Breakfasts In Kuching

Min Hong Kee, Jalan Padungan - terrible service on a Sunday morning; the tables weren't cleared and wiped, and no one bothered to take our orders for drinks. This coffee shop is for the early birds - the porridge here is ever so popular, and at 9.30 a.m., it is already sold out ...

Popiah, RM5.00 for 2 pieces
 Hmn ... I used to like it, but now I no longer do. I thought the vegetables were cut into pretty big strips and they did not soften enough for the sweetness to come out ... 

Sarawak laksa, RM6.00
Still one of the better laksas in town ... loved the coriander shoots topping the laksa

Kolo mee, RM3.50
I did not like it too as every mouthful tasted of lye water ... 

38 Food Street, iCom Square - I liked that this food court is spacious and airy .... 

Kueh, RM4.20
There was a variety of kueh to choose from ... just pick and choose what you want to eat ...

Beef noodle, RM6.00
Also one of the better beef noodles in town; the chilli sauce tasted distinctively of galangal 

Kueh Chap, RM6.00
No offal? Hmn ... dun like.

Premier Food Republic, Tabuan Tranquility - I loved the kueh stalls which sells A LOT of kueh. There are also many stalls here , but most of them being new, they hadn't established their reputation yet.

Xin Kung Fu dimsum - RM18.50 for 3 sets ....
I've never been impressed with their dimsum and had always found them to be overpriced. Anyway, the fluffy steamed baos were passable, but xiao long bao was terrible - dry and tasteless filling with no soup inside. 

Laksa, RM6.00 
Tasted funny 

Penang Fried Kueh Tiaw, RM6.00
Looking hardly Penang .. no clams ...... the deep-fried wantons were terrible as well as they were soggy; but luckily, the noodles tasted alright so I was able to finish it

The thing with the newer food courts such as this is that the stalls are not that established yet ... so the food isn't that good - laksa and fried kueh tiaw are both not impressive.

Song Corner, Tabuan Heights - another favourite place among the locals. So crowded it was!

Laksa, RM6.00
Very nice broth accompanying the noodles; to me, the laksa tasted quite authentic and this would be a dish I would return here for. Wish they are not so stingy with the broth though. 

Minced meat noodles, RM4.00
Springy noodles, passable dish ... I wasn't too impressed. 

Lui cha, RM6.00
Loved the crunch of the vegetables and the bittersweet herbal broth, not exactly the best broth but passable

Big Breakfast, RM9.00
Loved the presentation, made me happy just looking at it.  Loved the eggs and the coleslaw and the hash brown ... :)) 

Foody Goody, Jalan Setia Raja - popular coffee shop, packed on a Sunday and there's hardly any place to sit ... I used to like the youtiao, now shorter at RM1.00 and not so tasty ...

Kueh Chap
I liked the kueh chap, but Mom thought it did not taste like kueh chap should; tasted "different", she told me. She did not like the "sweetness" of the broth which she thought was artificial. Hmn ... I thought it wasted alright ...  

I was a bit disappointed with the laksa that day .... the broth, I thought, tasted funny ... that laksa flavour seemed to be different that morning. 

Ying Wah Yuen, Nanas Road - the other day, somehow not all the stalls are opened even though it was Saturday ... 

Loving the popiah here .... probably my favourite popiah for the time being ... RM3.00 per piece

The filling was on the sweet side, the vegetables were crunchy and the sauce was nutty; Mom thought it was too sweet but I liked it ;))

Kueh chap, RM7.00 
Not bad .... this one did not smell funky, reasonable portion of ingredients and noodles; rather enjoyable :))

Roti canai banjir
So salty!! Inedible at all. 

Mui Chin Cafe, Palm Road (prefer the old name) or Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce (what a mouthful!) - This small cafe is a nice place to eat breakfast, though the menu is limited. I liked both the kolo mee and the laksa ...

Moist and yet not oily, and very aromatic; healthy with a bit of greens too

What I liked about the laksa was that it was served really hot :))
Tasted very traditional too.

Small shop, friendly vendors tend to chat with you in between business ... :)) 

Yes Cafe, Trinity Hub - large place, loved the spaciousness .... 

Fried Kueh Tiaw, RM6.00
Moist, garlicky, smoky ... tasted alright, though I wasn't too pleased with the ingredients of fishballs, pork and egg .... 

Kueh chap, RM6.00
A bit smelly but tasted alright; the fatty meat was a bit too fat - next time must tell them I want lean meat. The kueh was thin and quite pleasant to slurp ...  

Kampua, RM3.50
Though quite aromatic, I thought the noodles were a bit overcooked ...  

Laksa, RM6.00
Did not look impressive nor appetising ... but it tasted quite alright, actually .... 

Plenty of places to eat, but well, we tend to order the same things ... heh .... Dad always orders laksa (though he insisted that he liked food courts where they were a variety of food sold ... lol), Mom and I sometimes have kolo mee and fried kueh tiaw or kueh chap. I loved a big, big breakfast on my days off. What are your favourite breakfast places? :))


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