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Monday, July 31, 2017

Mount Singai & Siniawan

I've not been to Mount Singai for quite many years .... I can't even remember when I last went. AL had never been there before somehow. So on a whim, we went there after coming back from Annah Rais. Heh. Well, we did not attempt the summit. I think we were all too unfit to do so.

All we did was climb up the staircase trail that took us to 228m, where the church was located. We took about 30 minutes to complete the stairs, huffing and puffing along the way. The steps were rather steep at places, but there were plenty of resting areas thankfully .... so we rested till we were ready to climb up again.

There were 14 such crosses along the staircase trial ... 

A viewing platform just after the 12th cross ....

View of below from the platform 

The church was currently under renovation 

Grotto of Our Lady

Going down the steps were painless as compared to the climb up, and soon, we found ourselves back on lowland ...

Coconut drink to reward myself after the climb ... 
There were a few stalls near the parking lots .... our coconuts cost RM3.50 each ... I enjoyed scraping the flesh to nibble on ..... :)) 

Next, we headed to Siniawan Old Town for dinner .... 

  Lovely at dusk .. 

 Oyster omelette 
Teochew style, wet omelette was rather tasty ....  

BBQ Pork & Char siew
I thought the char siew was tastier than the BBQ pork

 Cangkuk manis with longevity noodles
This did not look like much, but it tasted alright .... 

Char kueh
I quite liked the flavour of this dish .... I thought the egg tasted good and I liked the bits of chopped preserved radish embedded in there .... 

BBQ stingray 
The sambal had lots of dried prawns in it .... so it was nice to nibble on over our beer and gossip ... 

It was a really fun day .... we'd been out for 13 hours - bathing in the hotspring and the river, visiting the longhouse at Annah Rais, walking up the stairs at Singai and finally dinner at Siniawan. :)) 



Sunday, July 30, 2017

Annah Rais Hotspring and Longhouse

We started our journey at 7.30 a.m. 4 of us - J, C, AL and myself. J was our driver. We drove to 7th mile Bazaar or Kota Sentosa ... and had our breakfast at a coffee shop called Poh Lok Cafe. There were plenty of choices of food to eat. Each of us ordered a dish to eat. I had ...

Char Kway Teow, RM6.00

The kway teow was too charred till it tasted bitter. So I did not like it at all, and somewhat regretted the fact that I ordered it.

So on we drove to Annah Rais Hotspring, it was rather far. We drove for an hour,  but with our lively chatter in the car, we all felt like we arrived too quickly.

Beautiful drive! 

Entrance fee was RM5.00. We walked about 30 minutes on a proper cemented pathway to the hotspring which is situated in the river or stream. There was an enclosure in the middle of the fast-flowing river ... and when I looked further down the river, I saw 2 more enclosures of different sizes.

 The pathway to the hotspring .. 

The water in the enclosure is warm ... 

There were 4 cubicles - 1 was the toilet and 3 other were showers and changing rooms. They looked pretty shabby. Hmn ... could really do with some upgrade.

So we changed into our shorts and waded into the water .... brrr ... very cold, but refreshing water. The current was quite strong and the river bed was stony .... so it was quite difficult to move about in the river. My friends and I soaked in the hotspring for about 20 minutes .... and then we bathed in the cold river ...

What's nice:
1) Soaking in the warm water amidst the natural surroundings of the jungle.
2) Bathing in the cool refreshing waters of the river - the current was very strong though ...

What's not nice:
1) The hotspring was quite small, it could get crowded with lots of people as you can probably see!

2) The water temperature wasn't consistent - scalding hot at certain places, lukewarm at others

3) One was susceptible to insect bites! Bring insect repellant

I didn't really enjoy the soak as I did at Kampung Panchor Hotspring the other day. I think if you wanted therapy, Panchor would be the place to go. Annah Rais would be for leisure and recreation.

We next went to the Annah Rais longhouse, where we were welcomed with a shot of tuak each. Tuak was sweet rice wine - it was really tasty. I bought a bottle for RM12.00 to bring home.

Had a shot and was tempted to ask for seconds .... heh ... 

Our tour of the longhouse started with this visit to this sugar cane crusher ...

First time I'd seen this! 
This massive structure was used to crush sugar cane to make sugar ... according to our guide, a long time ago, this village wasn't so accessible, and folks couldn't get to the nearest township for supplies .... so they made their own sugar.

The longhouse corridor was lined with bamboo ... the bamboo would be changed annually 

Our guide told us that one could move about from house no. 1 to house no. 9 without coming out of the corridor; the villagers' greatest fear were headhunters .... 

Peeking into the headhouse

I did not dare go into the headhouse, an elevated house situated along the corridor ... there were real human skulls in there ....our guide did share about the significance of headhunting in the days past ... because I did not go into the headhouse, I missed all of his stories ....

 Some beaded handicrafts for sale at the longhouse ... 
  
A river behind the longhouse ...  

Inside the showhouse ... 

As you entered, the kitchenette is on the left, the hearth on the right, and an open space thereafter for dining, sleeping, living .... there's a loft too, where crops would be kept.  

Street art on one of the walls at the longhouse ... 

Lunch was next at Macheree Homestay at the longhouse itself. It was served to us buffet style, and featured local dishes. I hadn't planned to eat .... but when I saw pounded tapioca leaves, I was bought. I loved pounded tapioca leaves .... I could eat that alone with a big bowl of rice.

Ayam pansuh or chicken cooked in bamboo ...
Not sure if it's really cooked in bamboo or not because it was served to us in a huge pot ...  

Stir-fried gourd ... not sure what gourd it is ....  

Stir-fried pounded tapioca leaves .... my favourite ....  

Stir-fried ferns and bamboo shoots 

Rice cooked in bamboo ..  

 My delicious lunch! 
I found the rice a bit hard; the chicken soup tasted alright, but I liked the vegetables very much; the ferns and bamboo shoots were crunchy, and just likely flavoured so I could taste the natural sweetness of the vegetables. My favourite was the pounded tapioca leaves; I could see that it was pounded by hand and not by the food processor; that meant that the texture would be good. The tapioca tasted rich and satisfying, and I had to have another serving ...  

Full from lunch, we thanked our guide and walked back to the car .... on the way, we stopped to buy some tapioca crackers .... 

Tapioca chips, RM2.00 
Very distinctive flavour of tapioca, very crispy, slightly sweet and salty too ... these made great tv snacks ... 

It was my first time to Annah Rais .. it was educational, it was fun. :)) 


Friday, July 28, 2017

Kuching Food Festival 2017 : Stuffed Chicken Wings with Fried Rice

Well, Kuching Fest has just commenced today. I was there at about 5.00 p.m. after my walk around the park, and it being the first day, many stalls were yet seen to be prepping their things. Heh. They must be running a little late. Only that there were already a lot of people there by 5.00 p.m. Heh. Kuchingites are all excited for food.

Many stalls as usual .... saw some newcomers like a Melaka-style satay celup, Hokkaido toast, and a Japanese matcha flavoured snacks, Korean food, and so on. Food looked quite pricey this year - a cream-filled choux psstry cost RM9, deep-fried cuttlefish cost RM14.

I walked and walked .... wanted churros but the stall hadn't operated. Wanted deep-fried chicken fillet but the trays all looked empty. Stood a long time at 2 stalls selling deep-fried cuttlefish but no one bothered to take my orders. Then I walked past a stall selling stuffed chicken wings with fried rice and thought they looked really good - fat and juicy and glistening chicken wings lined the counter tops and were waiting to be grilled.

A short line of people were queuing up to buy .... Heh ... every year there seemed to be a popular stall that attracts long queues of people. And this stall seemed set to be the one this year.

I decided to join in the queue ... the wait was about 10 minutes ....

Fat pieces of chicken wings waiting to be grilled

 Taiwanese snack of grilled stuffed chicken wings with fried rice ... the guy could work on 24 pieces on the grill at a time .... 

 Once on the grill, he brushed the chicken wings with a glazing sauce and just before they are done, he sprinkled some sesame seeds on them ... 

You will be asked whether you wanted the chicken spicy .... and if you did, they will sprinkle chilli powder on the wings. I bought mine spicy. 

RM8 per piece 

Filled with fried rice 
The chicken wing was really compactly filled with fried rice

The chicken wings smelled distinctively of five-spice powder. But luckily, it did not taste too prominently of five-spice powder. The chicken meat was well-cooked, smoky. The rice inside was lightly-flavoured and had some vegetables and little squares of ham in it. The spicy chilli powder added much heat to the chicken wings and they were really quite fiery spicy.  

Well, so much for my first visit. I have no specific plans about visiting the food festival. I do walk at the park next door quite regularly. I might just drop by once in a while ... :))

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mui Chin Laksa

It was 6.05 a.m. It was still dark, and I'd just reached my school as usual. I parked my car at the near-empty parking lot - the only other car being my colleague CCV's. I lingered a moment in the car to take out my bags. I normally had 3 - a backpack, another bag for my food and drinks, and my handbag, and I was struggling to hold on to them properly ....

So I'd just closed the car door and walked a few steps, when a saw the headlights of a car driving towards me. It manouvered past me, honking. I could not see very well in the dark, and for a while, fear gripped me. For all I knew, it could have been a bad person. The car stopped, the driver reached out to open the passenger door .... "Come, let's go for breakfast .... " the driver said.

Lol. I realised that it was W, another of my colleague. He told me to dump my bags in his car and then run to the staffroom to clock in first and that he would wait for me. So that's what I did. I opened the back door of his car, threw in my bags, shuffled to the staffroom, thumbed in and shuffled back to W's car. We drove a few minutes away to Mui Chin Cafe ... a firm favourite breakfast place for a few of my colleagues, W included. True enough, when we reached there, another of my colleague H, and his family were there having their breakfast. H would be there almost every morning, apparently.

We sat down and ordered coffee and laksa ....

The laksa arrived before long, a generous serving of noodles in spicy broth, topped with 4 small prawns, egg omellete strips, steamed chicken slices, blanched beansprouts. I picked up some noodles and placed it on my spoon, scooped up some broth and had the first taste of the laksa ....

Laksa at 6.18 a.m. in the morning ... heh .... 

"Nice," I told my friend, W. This was top-rate laksa. Very yummy indeed.

I liked that the laksa because it was served piping hot. It warmed my stomach, warmed my mood, and made me happy. :)

I liked the broth - its blend of spices was just right, producing a well-balanced flavour and an authentic taste. Nowadays, at some places, the laksa broth did not taste like laksa broth anymore ....

The next thing I liked was the chicken slices - freshly-steamed chicken which was moist and tasty. Yummy.

I must come back again. W also recommended the kolo mee and the vegetables bao. The vegetables bao would now only be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in limited numbers.

Not only must I come back to this coffee shop, I must bring my parents here. I think they would enjoy the laksa here. And most of all, I must come early .... because here at Mui Chin, food gets sold out very early. :))

W and I finished our breakfast in 20 minutes and went back to school in time for our morning briefing. What an adventure! :))

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Really There!

And so after work today, I headed over to Guardian Pharmacy, where I bought Cetaphil Moisturising Cream last Thursday. It was there, where I had last used my lost credit card.

So I walked in and saw the manager behind the cashier's. Well, I know she's the manager because I've seen her all the time when I bought stuff here at this particular Guardian Pharmacy that's near my house. Anyway, the manager was assisting the cashier with a transaction. So I waited for her to finish before asking her whether I'd left my credit card at the shop ...

Her reply was affirmative. She asked me what kind of card it was and asked to see my IC ... and then she proceed to a small office at the back of the shop. I waited outside the office, but through the open door, I could see her opening a small safe inside there, and taking out my credit card which she'd kept  in a ziploc bag inside the safe.

Coming out from the office, she returned the card to me, saying that she would keep customers' cards safely. Heh. I would suppose that there would be such incidents when customers left their credit cards behind from time to time. The manager then asked me to check whether the card had been used .... I assured her that I'd checked with the bank already. I shared with her about I realised that the card was missing ... and she was really sympathetic. Heh. I thanked her profusely before I left. It actually made me feel good that she had taken care of my card, keeping it in the safe and all. I'd give her the highest commendation!

Gosh! How careless and absentminded I was to have left my card behind at the shop! I must have been overly stressed about the condition of my face to fully concentrate on my shopping. But then, of course it wouldn't have been fair to blame it entirely on me. The cashier too had probably forgotten to give it back to me.

Anyway, I do really appreciate the shop manager for keeping my card in good hands. I appreciate her honesty and integrity.

Update of my face. Condition has improved. The skin was still dry and a bit tight. I felt a tingling sensation on my left cheek since last night and all morning - the part that was probably the worst damaged However, the colour had lightened substantially. I still look a bit tanned, and I still can't do without Cetaphil. I'm certain that I'm on the mend. Slowly, but surely. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Distraught

Wednesday. My face was feeling tight. Didn't think much of it.

Thursday. My face was dry and tight. I looked into the mirror. It was slightly red and puffy too. I decided not to use any make-up that morning. I slathered my face with more moisturiser than normal, and went to work. After being in the air-conditioned environment for the whole morning, my face felt painful. It stung, was a bit itchy, and I felt uncomfortable. I had a bottle of hand lotion on my table and I couldn't help but apply some of that to the dry parts of my face. On the way home from work, I bought Cetaphil Moisturising Cream at Guardian Pharmacy. As soon as I reached home, I washed my face with my usual cleanser. By now, my face felt extremely rough, and it was sensitive to touch. I applied Cetaphil, and it did relieve me of the tightness and pain. However, it still looked red and puffy and swollen.

Friday. I went to work, bare-faced. No make-up. Only Cetaphil. By now, people were noticing and started asking. Hmn ... my face was a darker shade than it usually was, a bit swollen. It felt like it was stretched tight, and parts of it were painful. After work, I came home and I harvested a stalk of Aloe Vera from the garden, and massaged my face with its gel. As soon as the gel dried up on the face, however, the skin too dried and tightened. So I slathered some Cetaphil. Looking into the mirror, yeah, the face was puffy, red, dry, the fine lines visible, the pores were prominent. That evening, even Mom noticed something abnormal with my face. Mom's the least observant person I know. Heh. Dad said it might be an allergy. Mom gave 101 reasons for the cause, including body heat, toxins from the body, radiation from my gadgets. Sigh. Mom's not being very logical. But then, Mom's remedy was propolis - supposedly good for many ailments. 15 drops of propolis in a quarter cup of water. It tasted very bad. But I was willing to try anything to make my skin better. Looking back, my face was at its worst on Friday night.

Saturday. Mom brewed a big pot of chrysanthemum tea, to dispel heat in case I was too heaty. My face was not as swollen. It was still dry and tight and scorched. It felt rough to touch. It's chrysanthemum tea and copious amounts of Cetaphil the whole day. In the evening, I took propolis again.

Sunday. I felt better. The face wasn't as tight - still dry, but there was improvement. The pores were less prominent. It still looked scorched though. Today, Mom made mung bean soup with honeysuckle flowers. She said it was good to dispel heat and toxins from the body. I drank a big bowl gladly. I harvested another stalk of aloe vera to rub on the face. Third day on propolis.

Sunday night. I was organising my purse and my handbag for school the next day. And I discovered that I'd lost my credit card. It wasn't in my bag. It wasn't in my car. It wasn't in the dustbin. I panicked. I tried hard to recall the last time I'd used it. That's right. It was on Thursday when I bought Cetaphil at Guardian Pharmacy. I must have been too preoccupied with my face to think straight! Even now as I tried to recall, I really had no idea whether I took back my card or not. I think I did .... or did I? Hmn .... or perhaps I misplaced it ... or it dropped ... sigh ... I had no memory whatsoever.

Anyway, I checked on my banking website, and was relieved that there hadn't been any suspicious transactions. Thank God for pin-protected credit cards! I contacted the bank immediately to have it blocked. Phew!! But then, a replacement credit card would cost me RM50. Darn.

***

My skin had never been known to be sensitive. Most beauticians would say that my skin was dry. I agree. But it had never been this dry before. When I came back after holidaying in Chengdu 2 years ago, I remembered my cheeks got so dry that it hurt. But it was  quickly cured after a few days of moisturising it with Rosken.

I was thinking back and there could have been a number of contributors to this crisis:

1) Aging - the skin loses more moisture now that I'm older. 

2) Harsh cosmetics - I'd been using the facial foam that sil left behind in the bathroom. There's just a little bit left and I thought I'd finish it before throwing the bottle away. So I had been using it before throwing it away on Wednesday morning ... ; Last Sunday, I dug up a clay mask and applied it on my face .... Then either on Monday or Tuesday morning, I used quite a substantial amount of serum on my face. So these were the 3 products that could have been the culprits. If so, this would be the first time in my life that I'd have such reaction to otc cosmetics .... That serum I'd been using all this while though .... hmn ....  

3) Allergy from insect bite - on Tuesday afternoon, I was bitten on my right thigh. I distinctly remembered the incident - I was online checking out air tickets while whatsapping my friend AL ... and I distinctly remembered feeling itchy around the thigh. I scratched and applied ointment on it. Early Wednesday morning, I woke up with a start and started scratching the back of my right thigh, just near the knee ... then I went back to sleep. The next morning, I felt 2 hard lumps, one on the thigh and one at the back of the thigh .... I applied some ointment and then the lump subsided. I checked online .... and my wound looked like spider bites .... hmn .... 

4) Sunburn - I walked the short distance from the car to the bank on Monday. I remembered feeling hot as the sun bit the unprotected skin on my face and arms. I'd have to carry umbrellas around next time .... 

5) Hormonal imbalance? Sigh. The period is late. 

6) Stress?

***

Sigh. Of all the possible reasons, I think the most likely one was chemical burn due to cosmetics. If the condition does not improve, I'll have to visit a dermatologist. 

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