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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Serapi Virgin Coconut Shake

Day 4 of Raya. Went visiting to my colleagues' houses today .... visited N who sits behind me in the staff room, a great teacher she is and I really do look up to her. We also went to R's house who's just nearby. And since they all live near the Matang area .... we decided to drive a little bit further afterwards to drink the famous coconut shake.

Happy orange-coloured theme at this shop just by the roadside at Jalan Kampung Telaga Air; It claims to serve the best coconut shake in town. 

We were there at about 1.40 p.m., but the shop hadn't opened yet. We weren't sure if it would be opened, since it was Raya after all. The counter was covered with plank so we couldn't peek inside the shop. He could hear music and some sounds coming from inside, though. 

So we walked over to a fruit stall nearby .... selling local fruits like custard apple, soursop, nangka .... I bought a bag of nangka for RM5.00. My friends thought it was too expensive because according to them, I could get a bag like that for RM3.00 in town. Heh. I really was not aware of the market price .... 

Anyway, while buying fruits, the fruit stall lady told us that the coconut shake shop would be open in 30 minutes. No coconuts, she said, telling us the reason for the delay. We decided to sit down and wait. Time passed quickly when we chit-chatted - made plans for a possible trip to Tanjung Datu in the coming months .....

And soon, the shop opened and we ordered our coconut shake. It cost RM4.00. One could add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream to the shake for RM4.50. Besides coconut shake, there was also mango shake available. 

I think there was only 1 person manning the shop ... and so we had to wait quite. Besides that, the shop was slowly filled up with customers. Not surprising on a hot day like this! 

Serapi Virgin Coconut Shake 
Pure white in colour. Like a virgin. Heh. 

Ok, so I was wondering why is the shop called Serapi Virgin Coconut Shake. Was it because of the colour of the shake itself which was white? Or does virgin coconut refer to young coconut? Or is there a legend or a story involving a virgin at Gunung Serapi - you know, like the Puteri Santubong story? 

So anyway, I poked my straw through the plastic cap and took my first sip. It was very cold, and that made it refreshing especially on a hot day like this. It was also thick, rich and creamy, sweet and coconut-y. Like drinking a sweetened cup of santan. It got a bit cloying when I drank halfway and by the time I finished, I was full to the max. Not bad to indulge in once in a while, though. 

I was wondering how the shake was concocted ... and tried to look into the kitchen to see what kind of blender they were using ..... but really, I couldn't see anything at all. But a search online suggested that young coconut juice and its flesh were blended together with vanilla ice-cream and ice. I guess it made sense.

Best shake in town? Would I drive all the way to get a cup of coconut shake? I wouldn't. But if I were in the vicinity, then yeah, why not? 
  



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Huong Hiong Confectionery 芳香

I bought some pastries today
Egg cake 鸡蛋糕, peanut biscuit, tau sar biscuit 豆沙饼

My friend ME gave me some pastries to try that morning ... and I liked them. So I asked her where she bought them from. I thought I'd buy some for Dad since he liked sweet stuff like pastries.

"7-story flat 七晨楼," ME said. In Kuching, we all know that the 7-storey flats refer to the KMC flats - these are housing estates rented out by the city council to the urban poor. They are located around Ban Hock Road.

Well, I hadn't known that there's a shop selling pastries as such over at that area. So I asked her how she came to know about it. ME told me that one of her church friends had bought some during a church camp that she attended, and she had liked them. She had been buying the pastries ever since.

ME said she had never had the chance to buy the egg cake 鸡蛋糕 yet because they were always sold out after school hours. The proprietor told her that he made 1000 pieces a day and they would be available from 9.30 onwards. He also told her that they sold very well and would finish in about 2 hours.

Another friend who overheard our conversation chimed in and testified that the egg cake was yum. Alright. I had to buy some.

After work, I went to look for the shop, which was easy to find. It's just by the road side, along Ban Hock Road. Since I came from Deshon Road, I could turn into the compound, and there were plenty of parking spaces in front or even behind the shop.

It was a very unassuming shop - its name was Huong Hiong and it specialised in Foochow confectionery. There were a few tables, and their baked goodies sat in trays on the tables.

I guess I must have been luckier than ME. There were plenty of egg cakes that day. 3 pieces for only RM1. Sibu-style egg cake, the boy told me. Yeah. Now I remember buying egg cakes at a shop near Premier Hotel when I was in Sibu.

The boy then urged me to buy the tau sar biscuit  豆沙饼 - because they were fresh from the oven. Filled with white tau sar, and still hot, he said. They sold for RM0.70 per piece.

I saw the large peanut biscuit on the table, and I bought 2 of those - not sure how much as I did not ask. The boy was telling me how they were made ... I wasn't paying attention .... I only registered that the filling had cooked peanuts. Haha.

Happy, I went home - Mom liked the egg cake. It had very good bouncy texture and wasn't too sweet. I liked the peanut biscuit which was coated with sesame seeds - so nutty they were and not sweet at all. The tau sar biscuit was fresh and yummy too .... when it cooled down, the flavour of the tau sar became more prominent. It was also sweeter than the peanut biscuit. All those freshly baked goodies were so good with a cup of black kopi

Freshly baked pastries with homemade fillings. Highly recommended, if you are in town. :)) 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Siniawan - Fairy Cave - Panchor Hot Springs

W was the self-appointed driver, tour guide, photographer, waiter, even. Heh. He'd asked a few colleagues and I whether we'd like to go to Fairy Cave. Of course we would!

At 7.15 a.m., we gathered at school. W arrived right on the dot and then we set out. All of us teachers in the car ... and there was so much of talk about school ... of our colleagues past and present. Lol. Soon, we arrived at CWC,

CWC

The main entrance

CWC stands for Christian Worship Centre. W and his family worshipped here. For so long, he had told us about his church and his Sunday activities. For so long, we'd listen to his stories, but we'd never come out this far to see the church for ourselves. Since an opportunity presented itself today, W brought us here. 

CWC was at Jalan Spaoh, which was off Jalan Sungai Pinang, which was off the Batu Kawa-Tondong Highway. Heh. Anyway, at the end of Jalan Sungai Pinang was the river, Sungai Sarawak Kanan. Across this river was the little township of Siniawan. 

Siniawan Old Town was just across the river ..... 

We went across the river in a small boat. The fare was a RM0.50 per person. Just drop the money into a plastic bucket in the boat. It took only 2 minutes to get across the river. 

Yong Tai Cafe
This was the most popular breakfast place in town. Well, I think the shop is popular at night too. Heh. We ate our breakfast here. 

I'd eaten here a few times before. The food was not bad. That morning, we had .... 

Kolo mee

Mixed Soup 

A set of noodles and soup was RM8.00. The portions were so generous! A huge bowl of noodles and huge bowl of soup! By the time they had finished their food, they could hardly sit straight. Haha. 

 Kolo Mee in Soup, RM5.00
Also a big serving of noodles, topped generously with many ingredients.

I ordered Kolo Mee special, slightly red. I wanted a bit of BBQ sauce to flavour the noodles. I asked the vendor what he ingredients he would put in a special bowl of noodles. Instead of answering me, he asked whether I ate prawns. Of course, I did. 

Kolo Mee Special, slightly red, RM12.00
This was fancy kolo mee. Heh. The fanciest ever that I had ever eaten. It was, nonetheless, a very satisfying plate of kolo mee, worth every bit of the RM12.00 that I had paid for it. The noodles were springy, moist, and very fragrant, with a bit of tantalising sweetness because of the red BBQ sauce. Fantastic. I also liked the generous ingredients - fish cake,  meatballs, wantons, liver, sliced pork, minced meat and 2 huge prawns - fresh, sweet and succulent. 

Wow! My friends gazed at my plate with envy .... heh ... it was a plate of kolo mee fit for a royalty. That morning, that royalty was me. Lol. 

Our drinks ... 

Steamed layered cake 
W bought this from one of the shops; the cake wasn't too sweet, quite springy and had a hint of santan. Not too rich ... quite pleasant to eat. 

After breakfast, we took some photos around the town and then walked back to the jetty for our ride back to the other side of the river .... 

View from the boat 

The boat
It transported motorcycles too .... 

What a beautiful day at Siniawan ... 

We then drove to Fairy Cave. There was only 1 other car there, so we knew that there weren't many visitors yet that day.

I was fully equipped - I had a torch and I had gloves. Gloves were so important to me when I visited caves. I knew I'd be hanging on to the railings, and I knew they'd be covered with dirt or even guano, and I knew I'd feel yucky touching those with my bare hands. Heh. So with my gloves on, I would grab on to the rails tightly while I maneuvered the tricky stone trails.

The entrance
We paid for our entrance fee at the little booth, RM1.00 per Malaysian adult. The smaller building further away was the toilet.

It was a 4-storey climb up the platform to reach the cave entrance. We climbed slowly and leisurely, stopping to catch our breath and to take photos .... 

The limestone exterior of the cave ... 

View of the field from Level 3 of the platform .... 
The view was covered by the thick foliage ..... too bad .... 

Before long, we reached the entrance. We felt the cool air coming from the cave. There were steps leading into the cave ... and then we had to climb up steep concrete steps through a narrow passageway into the cave itself. I think there were 3 flights of stairs up into the cave ... the third flight of stairs consisted of wooden planks, and they were a little rickety ... so be careful.  This part of the climb was also dark ... so a torch was helpful. 

I climbed ever so slowly, holding on to the rails .... pausing to breathe .... after making through the dark passage way, there were more steps to climb before we reached a large chamber. At least there was some light here so I could see better ... 

Glancing up from below, we saw 2 people coming down .... 

 The main chamber was huge!

There were 2 platforms at this chamber ... so we climbed up more steps to the first one. There were benches here to sit down and rest .... 

The stalactites which took years to form ... 

 Interesting rock formations

The ceiling of the cave 

A rotund mound of rock ... heh ... cute 

We spent about 30 minutes here before making our way down ... I always thought that going down was harder and more taxing than climbing up. Again we made our way slowly and carefully ...... 

A hut by the field 

The field ... 

Somehow this scene reminded me of Langkawi Island .... 

Next to this hut was a drinks stall - there were fresh coconut drinks and canned carbonated drinks sold here ... the lady operating the stall had just harvested cangkuk manis. She did not want the leaves, though they were still edible. She only wanted the stems to replant the vegetables. So she was more than happy to give them away to us .... 

 Helping ourselves to free vegetables ... 

Next, we drove to Blue Lake next ....

The mysterious Blue Lake
Beautiful mirror images of the sky, the cloud and the greenery reflected on the serene surface of the water. It was so beautiful. Looking at the lake, I realised that it was only blue when it was sunny, when it could capture the reflection of the blue sky. I came once on a cloudy day ... and the Blue Lake was not blue at all ... 

W told me of the incident where a bus plunged into the lake, killing 1 trainee teacher and 29 students. The incident had occurred back in 1979 ... and people still talked about it today. Hmn ... it's my first time hearing about this, though. How said it was.

We went to Panchor Hot Spring after that. It was 40 minutes drive away from Bau. Entry was RM4.00 per adult.

The hot spring entrance looked very welcoming .... 

The toilets and changing rooms were clean 

I was already in shorts and t-shirt, and I merely changed my shoes to slippers .... and then made my way to the pool area. There were about 7 pools here - 3 outdoor, 3 shaded, and 1 with walls enclosing it, for ladies apparently.

Lucky us, there were only a few people bathing at the time - an elderly couple and 2 Chinese families - probably about 12 persons. We heard that this hot spring could get pretty crowded at times.

Outdoor pool 

Outdoor pools
Wooden planks encircled each pool .... visitors could sit on the plank and soak their feet in the water

The water looked murky .... and there were bits of leaves and twigs floating on the surface, so all these could be a turn off for some people. The ground water was hot at 42 degrees Celcius. Most people were soaking in the shaded area. 

After surveying the pools, I went back to the shaded area. W had soaked himself in the waters, while AL and M were soaking their feet. I was talking to them when the elderly uncle in the pool commented that I should soak my feet as well. Slowly, he instructed, as I placed my feet in the water. Geez. Hot. My skin turned red and I sweated.

Uncle Hot Spring started to talk about how the water would be good for me - reduce the flabbiness of my tummy and smoothen my skin and improved my blood circulation and make me sleep better at night. He urged me to soak my entire body into the water. And I did. Hot. Beads of sweat trickled down my forehead. He said that I should not move too much in the water so that it would not be so hot.

Where did the water come from? I asked him. He said it was from Indonesia. Huh? Erm ... this needs verification. Haha.

Then he continued talking about how often he came and how he recovered from stroke after soaking himself in the hot spring regularly and how his wife's swollen legs were cured from soaking in the water, and how his daughter-in-law lost weight by soaking in the water ..... and he went on and on and on ..... he was 78 years old, lived in Kuching, but would drive all the way to Panchor regularly. He'd come at noon. He'd come again in the evening. He'd leave before the crowd arrived. He'd soak for 20 minutes and then sleep on the wooden planks and then soak himself again.

My friends who'd been only soaking their legs followed suit, immersing themselves in the hot water. Heh. None of them too, had initially wanted to soak their bodies. M and S who were fair, turned really pink. Hehe. As I soaked in the water, I could feel my heartbeat increase and I was thirsty. My friends felt sleepy. After 20 minutes, we got out of the water. We sat at the wooden plank, and continued to sweat.

Uncle Hot Spring then dispensed more advice - do not bathe immediately, do not drink anything cold immediately. I called out my goodbye to Uncle Hot Spring and left to change.

Yeah, I do believe that the natural ground water had minerals and healing properties. I'd love to come back some time to soak.

It was about 2.30 p.m., and M wanted to eat something. We drove to Siburan and to takeaway the famous triangular chai kueh and bak chang. Both were very yummy. Chai kueh was RM0.50 a piece and Bak chang, wrapped in bamboo leaves, was RM2.00.

The lady was friendly; she wrapped the chai kueh upon ordering

Bee Pang and peanut brittle from Goh Hak Hiang
These 4 packets cost RM11

W joked about this being a shopping tour - like the one we experienced in Beijing the other day. Heh. Of course it wasn't like Beijing. The things we bought today were reasonably priced, and we bought them out of our free well. 

We went to Chung Chai Poh - located at Lorong Barat - that little road just beside Eastern Mall. W raved about the Stirfried vermicelli with cangkuk manis. He had told us that the cangkuk manis was so fresh that the whole plate of noodles would turn light green. 

ABC with milk, RM2.00

Colourful ABC with lots of ingredients, not too sweet but very yummy

Rojak 
There were crunchy fritters, jicama, cucumber, tofu puffs, but no pineapples in there; the ingredients were generously coated with rojak sauce - but the rojak sauce was not pungent enough for me

Stirfried Vermicelli with Cangkuk manis
This noodle dish was surprisingly savoury. My super senses detected good quality ground dried prawns and lard. Combined with the rich flavour of the egg and the sweet distinct flavour of the vegetables .... this was a VERY GOOD plate of noodles. 

Mochi
I loved the warm glutinous rice cake which was soft and chewy; the coating of ground peanut and sugar was a bit too sweet, though 

Our stomachs full, we drove back to town. There was a jam along the way, so it took us an hour to get back to our cars which were parked at school. What a wonderful day it had been, thanks to W, our driver and tour guide, our friend. 

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 ... 

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