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Monday, June 26, 2017

Noodle Delight Cafe 斗湖生肉面鱼面

S recommended this shop to me and W. She kept saying that the noodles were good. Last Wednesday, we finally went there after work ....

Noodle Delight Cafe 斗湖生肉面鱼面 was located at Premier 101, facing the back - I think it was the same row as Hua Hee Corner. From its name, I would assume that it served Sabah-style noodles.斗湖 was the Chinese name for Tawau.

At about 1.00 p.m., there weren't many customers ... a young girl came to take our orders. While waiting for us to decide, her boss came to recommend us their in-house specialty. He told me that a lot of ladies liked their Tomato noodles with fresh fish - my friend S DID tell me that it was yummy - as tomatoes were not only appetising, but was good for the skin. It wasn't the Kuching-style tomato noodles - these used crushed tomatoes as their broth ....

I told him that I would try that another time as I really wanted to try the Sheng Rou Mian or Sang Nyuk Mian or 生肉面. There really weren't any nice Sheng Rou Mian around in Kuching ... so I had high hopes for this one. There were 2 sizes, regular RM7.00 and large, RM9.00. I could also choose the type of noodles I wanted. I wasn't sure about the "Yellow Noodles" stated in the menu - I was afraid that it would be the type of yellow egg noodles used for cooking Mee Jawa or Mee Mamak, because I would not like those in my Sheng Rou Mian. Boss assured me that it was not. They were using homemade Bai Mian 白面, he said. So I settled for an RM7.00 bowl of Sheng Rou Mian with homemade noodles ..... 

W perused the menu for quite long, and then he decided to have the fish fillet and salted vegetable soup with Bai Mian . S chose to try the BBQ Pork Noodle, which her kids loved.

Boss then suggested that we tried his coffee which he said was "different" from other shops' ...

Coffee, RM1.50 and homeboiled Chrysanthemum tea, RM3.00
W did not think the coffee was that great while I found the Chrysanthemum tea to be a bit too sweet

The food was served quite quickly ....  

Sheng Rou Mian
Thick noodles, coated with dark soy - noodles tasted a little sweet, and bursting with flavour of lard; very aromatic and addictive; may be too porky in flavour for some. Heh.

The soup
Generous slivers in pork, 2 slices of liver, pork balls, vegetables and topped with pork rind; soup was sweet and hearty, and again, exploded with the flavour of lard; the noodle and soup set cost RM7.00; if one only ordered the soup, it was RM5.00

 Fish fillet, salted vegetables and tomatoes , RM12.00
Very good broth, very fresh fish, very BIG bowl

BBQ Pork Noodles, RM5.00
I loved the pork - smoky, sweet, and thickly cut ..... the noodles were kolo mee flavoured with lard ,,. heh .... 

Heh. I liked the Sheng Rou Mian. I tried the fish fillet and the soup and I liked it too. I liked the BBQ pork and its noodles. I even liked the spicy and tangy ground chilli that was served together with the noodles. It's just that the noodle dishes here should be only indulged in once in a while - the lard and pork rind was very overpowering indeed! Too much of it would turn you off, really!

I'd come back though - I wanted to try the Tomato Noodles and the Pork Porridge ..... :)) 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pek - Kul - Kch Day 8

There were a lot of people at the immigration checkpoints. It took us 45 minutes before we were allowed entry the other day .... but exiting seemed to be easier and faster. We were only in the queue for about 15 minutes. Past the immigration was the security checkpoint ... and there was a jam here. We looked at the people in front of us getting checked ..... and indeed the officials were very thorough. I hadn't plan to remove my powerbank from by backpack but I was asked to. When I walked past the scanner ... my boarding pass was checked and I was allowed to go. Huh? How come I wasn't subjected to a body search like everyone else? Maybe I didn't beep?

Once we got past the immigration and security, we could buy drinks at the shops. My friend W wanted to spend all his RMB before leaving China ... heh .... I had RMB14 of loose change left. But since I did not want sweet drinks, I just filled up my water bottle at the water dispenser's.

Most of us were already sleepy when we reached the departure gate ... I sat around and had my eyes closed. Finally, the announcement came for us to board the plane. I got an aisle seat in the middle row. My friend C the other aisle seat in our row .... between us was an empty seat! Yippee!! We were sure glad to have more space in between us! I closed my eyes as soon as I settled down in the plane .

I was half asleep and half conscious. I knew we were in the plane for a long time and hadn't taken off. By the time the pilot announced for take off, it was already 3.15 a.m. We had been in the plane for more than an hour! The air traffic seemed so heavy at the airport here ....

The crew served our pre-booked meal later on .... not sure of the time ... I declined my meal and went back to sleep. Most of the time, I was drifting in and out of sleep ...

At 6.30 a,m., I peeled my eyes open .... and was glad to see that day had broken. I hadn't exactly had a good sleep, but was just glad that I had rested.

I claimed my pre-booked meal and bought a cup of hot coffee ....

Nasi dagang with chicken curry, and hot coffee 

 The food had sat around for too long; the rice was already soggy. I picked at the sliced chicken breast in the curry and ate some pickles ... and gave up ... 

After the meal service, I tried to sleep a bit more but failed ... and was more than happy when we landed at 9.10 a.m. Yippee! We waited for our luggage .... and then brought them to the departure hall to drop them in for our connecting flight to Kuching at 11.45 a.m.

Meanwhile, we went to Nan Yang Food Garden for some food. My friend C liked to eat here, while the rest of us had't tried this eatery before ...

A big cup of coffee and teh tarik 
Coffee was RM6.50, I loved that it was hot and aromatic. Loved it 

Duck Egg Char Kway Teow, RM17.90
Portion was reasonable for its price .... quite moist, edible but lack of oomph ....

Fried Hokkien Mee, RM17.90
Same as the above; lacked the oomph ....

C ordered ....

BBQ Chicken with wanton noodles ....  

Served with soup  

She said it was her favourite dish here .... I had a taste of the noodles and the soup; they tasted alright - not great, but edible.

CV is a vegetarian .... so he went next door to BMS Organics and ordered Mee Mamak. They refused to deliver the food to him at Nan Yang Food Garden. So he ordered it to takeaway ...

Mee Goreng Mamak ....

The only comment C gave was "spicy". Heh. 

After we ate our fill, we went into the Domestic departure hall, bought some Gardenia bread and went into the gate. What a surprise to bump into Mr. Ng - someone who relieved our colleague when she went away for her maternity leave - who was travelling from HK - KL - Kch. Had a great time catching up with him ..... 

I was so glad to get back home finally .... I showered, told Mom I'd skip dinner, and went to bed. I slept till the next morning .....  Heh ... 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Beijing Day 7

Last day in Beijing. We would be checking out at 9 a.m. this morning. Even so, we woke at 5.00 a.m., got ourselves ready and went downstairs for a leisurely breakfast at 6.30 a.m. .... The food at Maya Island Hotel was the same as usual. My friend W commented that he was already bored. Heh. C was missing ikan masin and sambal belacan. I wanted my kolo mee fix.

After breakfast, we checked out the swimming pool at Level 2 of the hotel, named Caribbean Pool ...

Nice decor 

Looked so inviting

And we regretted not taking the time to come for a swim over a past week. Sigh. No time to do so now. We had to go back to our rooms to finish packing. 10 minute before 9 a.m., we went downstairs to check out and got our room deposit of RMB100 back. 

The tour guide for that day was a man - I did not even get his name. He didn't talk as much as Apple did. For that I was glad. We were brought to a shopping outlet that sold products made from bamboo. There were towels, underclothes, slippers, food, etc. The setting was like a supermarket ... so we were free to browse along the shelves and pick out what we liked. I did not buy anything here, despite the prices being reasonable. 

Next up was lunch. It was mere 11.15 a.m. .... so early because there was nothing else on the programme.

Lunch
Lunch was quite enjoyable; the first dish to come was the steaming hot rice - somehow it smelled extra good that day, really aromatic. Singaporean Auntie laughed that I took a photo of the rice. Other dishes were soup, Kungpao Chicken - lovely, not overpowering with the smell of Szechuan peppercorn and I loved the roasted peanuts in there; cucumber, black fungus and egg; scrambled egg; mushroom and tofu hotpot; beancurd skin and chilli - I loved this dish too - spicy and sweet; steamed fish - Caoyu 草鱼- the meat was quite fine but there were lots of bones.

After lunch, we were brought to a shopping complex called 秀水街 Xiushuijie. This places sells clothes, and good quality counterfeits. And so there were fake Guccis and Pradas and Valentinos and Hermes and also fake Adidas and Nike ..... According to the guide, everything here was overpriced and we had to bargain till less than half of the original price.   Essentially, don't ask if you don't intend to buy.

We walked around ... browsed, but bought nothing ... till we chanced upon Miniso - a low-cost variety store, much like Daiso. With its price reasonable and fixed, we were more comfortable to buy things .... I bought a cute silicon purse and a stick massage hammer, each cost RMB10.

There was a supermarket at the top floor of the building ....

Neat display
The supermarket seemed quite deserted 

Premium fruits, nicely packed

There weren't many people at the supermarket ..... I bought little packets of pastries that I could give away to friends, and also a packet of dried rosebuds to make tea. The pastries were RMB6 per packet and the rosebuds were a mere RMB4. Nothing like the atrocious prices we were made to pay at the tea outlets that we were brought too.

We weren't interested to buy counterfeits .... so we sat down for snacks at Dunkin' Donuts ... 

Donuts, RMB 9 each

Coffee, special promo price RMB15 
The coffee was REALLY good - aromatic, refreshing, creamy and milky ..... so satisfying! 

We still had plenty of time to spare .... and the guide brought us to Vecchio Plaza; it was a big place - quite spreaded out I think; there weren't many shops in the building that we went into .. but we found Tesco. 

Tesco was HUMONGOUS. It was crowded. It was so NOISY. Both C and W said that it was the NOISIEST Tesco that they had ever experienced. Lol. 
 
Little sachets of snacks 


Plenty of fruits 

I did not buy anything at all here. Next, we went to OCT to watch The Golden Mask Dynasty. It was a musical that incorporated dancing and acrobatics. We had to pay RMB300 for the show. 

When Apple was promoting it to us the days before, I kept hearing the name Zhang Yimou. Apple said,
  • "Zhang Yimou liked all things big!" She was alluding to the scale of the musical and would make a dramatic impact. 
  • "Have you seen white pheasants? We all know it's difficult to find white pheasants. But Zhang Yimou has managed to find them all. You will see them in the show. So beautiful."
So it was only at the musical itself when I read the credits, that I discovered that it was not Zhang Yimou who directed the musical. Zhang Yimou's name hadn't appeared even once. Zhang Yimou had only casted the performers for the Beijing Olympics ceremonies in 2008. 

Urgh. I was annoyed. See. I did not like Apple. This was ANOTHER reason why I disliked her. She LIED without batting her eyelashes. How annoying it was that Zhang Yimou's name had been exploited to sell tickets ... If I were Zhang Yimou, I SHOULD SUE THE CHINESE TRAVEL INDUSTRY FOR EXPLOITING MY NAME! 

That evening, we watched the 4188th performance since its run. With our RM200, we were allocated the RMB480 VIP seating zone. Apple MADE SURE THAT WE KNEW THAT FACT. 

The pheasants 

The finale

Hmn .... though an acclaimed musical, the subtitles in English were not written accurately - causing meaning to be lost. This was essentially a love story between the Golden Mask Queen and the Blue Mask King; they were enemies and then lovers and then when there was tribulation, the queen sacrificed herself. Hmn .... not my kind of story ....  

What I liked was the effects, lighting, costumes ..... 

Everyone's favourite scene
When water splashed down from the stage, depicting a flood

It was an enjoyable experience - musical shows were always pleasant to the sight, sound. The seats, however, were very cramped - small seats, and there was not much of leg space. Nowhere to put the bags and everyone was hugging their belongings on their laps .... not comfy, if you asked me. 

Anyway, just search Golden Mask Dynasty in Youtube to find plenty of videos uploaded there .... 

Dinner time. Final dinner in Beijing. 

Dinner
Fragrant rice again; Wongbok soup - the fishballs were more like flour balls as they weren't bouncy at all; cabbage; soy bean sprout; cucumber and egg; potato slices; braised duck; meicai pork belly; kungpao chicken
I enjoyed the braised duck and the braised pork belly - both were very salty, but was nice to eat with rice; the pork belly also had a very strong flavour of fermented beancurd; the kungpao chicken was yummy too. 

After dinner, we said our goodbyes to the Singaporean couple; we'd talked to them more over the past 3 days and found them to be very pleasant. They would be staying for a few more days, and there was a van to drive them back to Maya Island Hotel.

We  then went to the airport. We would leave via the Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 2. The bus dropped us at the driveway. We each took our own luggage to enter the airport. As soon as I entered the automatic glass door and into the airport, I was ushered aside. A security lady swabbed my luggage and my arm ... and then I was given to ok. Huh? Testing for drugs? Explosives? Hmn .... I was not sure.

We went to one side of the airport, opened our luggage to put in all the things we'd purchased that day I hadn't buy much. My luggage weighed only 10.2 kg .... 1.2 kg more than I had come with.

After we were done, we proceeded to the check-in area. Our passports were checked before we were allowed entry to this area of the airport.  Since we were so early, the check-in counters weren't opened yet. Our flight was at 2.15 a.m., and the check-in counter would be only in operation at 11.15 p.m., that's 3 hours before. There were limited benches to sit down ... so we just sat down on the floor. We waited for about an hour before we saw a queue start forming. We dragged our bags and started queueing there for about 2 hours before we could check-in our bags. By the time we were done and processed at the immigration, it was already past midnight.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Chengde Imperial Summer Resort - Beijing Day 6

We were the only foreign occupants at the hotel. The rest were Chinese nationals. We were all at the lobby, waiting for breakfast service to commence at 6.30 a.m. When the cafe opened its doors, they rushed inside and made a beeline for the food which was served buffet style.

Heh. We were amused. We sat down at a vacant table, while waiting for them to finish taking the food. Looking at the mounds on their tray, my friend M thought it might be a good idea to queue up too, lest they finished the food and there was no refill. Hehe.

Hmn .... the food was very sad.

The worst breakfast of the week ... 

Hmn ... was it coffee or just water, flavoured with coffee; the drink was so diluted that I could not bear to drink it; a sliced of sausage - it looked rather artificial so I dared not eat more than 1 slice; shredded and salted potatoes (I think! Very salty) ; 2 hard-boiled eggs, white bread with jam, steamed buns with red beans filling, stir-fried cabbage, fried rice.

Together with the Chinese people's bad habit of spitting phlegm at anytime and anywhere, smoking indoors and all that noise, we could hardly stomach our breakfast. I merely nibbled at the food; my friends W and CV went back to their room and ate cup noodles. Lol. I wished I had taken out my Nestum 3-in-1 from my luggage and distributed them to my friends .... sigh ... that would have tasted much better than any of the food served. Together with the Chinese people's bad habit of spitting phlegm at anytime and anywhere, all that noise, smoking indoors and all that noise, we could hardly stomach our breakfast ....

I cleared my tray and waited outside the hotel to enjoy the cool morning weather .... M's eldest brother joined me outside and we chit chatted away ....

At 7.50 a.m., the tour guide arrived, and we set off. There was only 1 item in our itinerary and that was The Imperial Summer Resort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This attraction was only a short distance away from the hotel. The bus dropped us in front of the main entrance ….. and we strolled through the villa itself.

Approaching the villa ... 

The main entrance, Lizheng Gate 
Again, only the emperor was allowed through this gate  - probably from the centre gate which was bigger than the 2 gates on both sides ...

The signboard written by Emperor Kangxi himself
He wrote one of the characters with an extra stroke - for good luck, I think 

The throne ... 
This was the place the emperor received court

The grounds of the villa was quite cool - because the lush tall trees provided much shade from the sun.

Lovely compound ... 

I believed we only saw a small portion of the villa ….. the living quarters, the furniture still in the room ...
  
Inside one of the rooms ...  

Probably the lounge ...
Xianfeng Emperor died here. He was Empress Dowager Ci Xi's husband ....

There was a section of the villa where Empress Dowager Ci Xi was said to be residing while she was at the villa ... and inside the building were some exhibits like ornaments, pottery, and so on .... 

 Pertty slippers

We exited this area ... and then we were sold wooden combs, made from Nanmu tree .... it had a fragrance of wood and is supposed to be good for the hair. The promoters were saying that the combs could work wonders on the hair - prevent hair loss, promote hair growth, prevent grey hair. The catch? Press the comb firmly to the scalp and comb 100 times a day. The promoters used Empress Ci Xi as an example, for she was known to have thick, black hair even at the age of 79! 

RMB100 each ... 

Behind me, Singaporean Auntie commented that grey hair was due to stress. Lol. 

Anyway, I firmly believe that if I were to comb my hair for 100 times daily, I would be able to have lustrious hair - regardless of the type of comb used. It's the action of combing that stimulates the scalp and that helps to increase blood circulation to the head and thus nourish the hair roots and promote hair growth.

I needn't spend RMB100 on a comb. I could use any comb. Plus, I knew I wouldn't comb 100 times a day anyway. 

We next went to the Imperial Gardens, just behind the villa ... 

 A stone bearing the name of the villa 

 Lovely trees provided much needed shade against the heat .. 

Lovely lake ....  

Trees lining the walkway ....  

Fangzhulinliu Pavillion, built in 1709

A bridge crossing the waters to get over to the other side ...  

This little islet was said to be the place where the popular drama My Fair Princess or Huanzhu Gege was filmed 

More of the lovely landscaped gardens .... 

So lovely  

Then, we wrote on the electric car (RMB60 per pax) which took us to ... 

Beyond this entrance were a mound of rock .... 

 And beyond that we were asked to see the moon in the water ....

Where? Where? 


Heh ..... 

The reflection was from this little crescent shape hole on the stone ....

After that, we again rode on the electric car to 

Tower of Everlasting Blessing, a 70m pagoda built in 1751
The Emperors used to worship their ancestors and also worship Buddha here ... 

Tibetan prayer wheels on the ground floor of the pagoda 
We could not go up the tower .... too bad .... it would be great to see the view of the villa from the top of the pagoda ...  

A ride on the electric car brought us to this Peony Garden ... 

 Pretty blooms ... 



And a short walk away was Rehe ....

Rehe Spring
Literally translated as Hot River Spring; the water here was said to be at 7 Degrees Celcius all year round, and thus, it never froze. In winter, the surroundings would be covered in snow ... and yet water continued to flow at Rehe .... 

Rehe was the last spot we visited at this huge villa .... we exited and was brought to lunch. We went back to the shop we ate at the night before ...

Lunch
Potato noodles, this time stir-fried with celery. Hmn. I preferred last night's version. This one was overpowered by the taste of celery; Loved the chicken and onions - very lovely with the mantous; chicken and cucumbers; cabbage; mantou, egg omelette, braised pork - while this tasted better than the version served last night, I still didn't fancy this dish; egg-drop soup 

The guide tried to sell us local products - like jujube dates, hawthorn candy and wild almonds. I merely bought a packet of almonds

Baked wild almonds, RMB25 for 250g
The kernels were shorter and flatter and rounder than the normal almonds; crunchy, tasted of almonds - but the flavour wasn't as good of the normal ones that I was used to

Outside the restaurant was a peddlar selling fruits - apples, peaches, cherries .... 

Peach and cherries
1 peach for RMB5 and a handful of cherries for RMB5
Lovely sweet and crunchy peaches, and sweet and sour cherries became our snacks during our long ride back to Beijing 

We said our goodbyes to the guide .... and started 3 hour journey back to Beijing. Apple met up with us at the restaurant to bring us back to Beijing. We reached there late in the afternoon. 

It was a really HOT day in Beijing; there seemed to be a heatwave overnight .... it was oven warm and I was reminded of those days when I went to Changsha, Hunan Province.

We went to the Shichahai area; there were a long row of shops along the lake, sporting international brands like Starbucks as well as local stores selling mostly food and snacks. People could stroll along the lake, buy snacks to eat while admiring the serene waters of the lake.

 The lake 

It was so hot .... and vendors were selling ice-cream everywhere .... and I bought one each for my friends so that we would all cool off from the heat ....

Only RMB1
And it tasted good! Tasted like barley .... sweet and refreshing ... 

We spent about an hour at Shichahai and then it was time for dinner again.

Dinner
My favourite was the braised wongbok cabbage with mushrooms - loved the sweet broth infused with the flavour of the vegetables; braised duck; sliced fish stew, roasted chicken wasn't bad; stir-fried vegetable (spinach?); baby bokchoy; cabbage; soup

Apple signed off from our group after dinner. Yayy! I was happy that I wouldn't need to see her again. I DID NOT LIKE HER AND I DID NOT MAKE IT A SECRET THAT I DID NOT LIKE HER.

Our driver drove us back to our hotel, where we had to check in all over again.

This time, C and I were allocated Room 7303 ... it was a smaller room than the one we had on our previous four nights. But the decor was essentially the same. We unpacked and showered and then we went out to KFC, which was about 10 minutes' walk from the hotel .....

Hmn ... the menu was complicated. No English menu too at that. So I took a long time ordering because I had to ask the waitress verbally; so we were all actually holding up the line. And there was only 1 counter servicing customers that evening ....

At about 8.45 p.m., a lot of food had finished and there wasn't much choice. So I ended up ordering

Chicken wings
Yummy, but tiny .... Loved the chicken wings; Fresh chicken, crispy batter, very flavourful indeed! I couldn't remember the price of the 2 pieces of wings - probably about RMB9, so they weren't cheap.  
I think the chicken was much better compared to ours in Kuching

I also ate a strawberry soft serve, which sold for RMB8; And it was REALLY good - not too sweet, full of flavour and very enjoyable.

Chizza and fries
W bought this .. and I tried a piece of Chizza - which was schitzel with pizza topping; it was alright, but I think I preferred the plain old fried chicken 

We walked back to 7-11 after our supper to buy things that we could bring home ...... I bought 2 packets of pork jerky and a packet of roasted peanuts. C bought pigs' ears again .... she was going to bring it home. Heh. 

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