Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day 8 In A Nutshell

Day 8 and it was pouring cats and dogs again. But that didn't stop us from going out for a drive around town. My brother-in-law was still on his annual leave and offered to take us out .

We crossed the Igan river to go check out this place I used to work at before I went away to Melbourne. Its a sawmill next to a plywood mill both owned by the biggest timber company in Sibu. Unfortunately after 16 years the place looks nothing like how I remember it to be and all the people I used to know are not there anymore.

Next we went to Jubilee Park in Sungai Aup where it used to be just a hole in the ground as I remember it. Now its a public park with lake filled with fish. We used to camp here in the hill before, in the pouring rain. Nobody slept a wink and we had the best time ever!

We had lunch there, couldn't resist another rojak and flush it down with a fresh coconut. They call it 'fragrant coconut', apparently there's the normal coconuts and there's fragrant coconuts so whats the difference?

We also must have some 'kompia' the original Sibu bagels. Kompias were invented in Sibu and its original to Sibu and can only be found here. Nowhere else in the world can you find these, they're the best when they're freshly baked, hot and steamy and crunchy!

Next we went to find a friend I've not seen in 3 years. He lives and works at 14th mile Oya road and owns a sundry shop and lots of lands! Very rich but doesn't know how to enjoy his money. We had a bit of catching up before we parted. Before we left he told us to visit this temple not too far from there that we should see. We went there but it wasn't completed yet, it'll have to wait till I come back next time!

On the way back to town we saw a sign by the roadside showing a new temple being built. The sign was kind of old and faded but that probably mean the temple must be built by now so we'll check it out. We had to drive for a kilometer or so on dirt track before we saw..

..this! Bare dirt. Empty land. We drove all the way to find this instead, what a waste of time. Lets head back home, I've heard of this forest park at Bukit Lima that might worth a look.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tian Mian Gu & Bengbeng!

The thing about living in Melbourne is that I tend to miss eating my favorite foods from Sibu and one of those foods is the Tian Mian Gu or literally translated as 'wok side glue'.

There's this place in Sibu located in a hidden alley near the old bus station where they make the best tian mian gu in town. I've been coming here to get my fix ever since when I was a little kid. Good thing is they're still there after all these years. And the place and people haven't changed at all, the same dirty stove and the same chef but its the son who's running it now. I guess the father's expired a long time ago.

This is what tian mian gu looks like. Doesn't look like much but its delicious, I guess only Sibu people will know of this dish but if you ever go to Sibu, you must give it a try. Watch how they make the 'gu' by pouring batter on the side of the wok, cooking it to form that white kueh tiaw looking type of noodle thingy that you eat. Comes with some type of fungus and other ingredients I don't really know what they are but I don't care, sapu saja!

So give it a go if you have the opportunity, get a small bowl for testing first before you go for the big ones! Because its in a soup form you will enjoy it best on a cooler rainy night! You drooling oredi onot?

After the tian mian gu session my phone rang and it was none other than my Sibu blogger buddy Bengbeng! What great timing, we decided to meet up and he came out all the way from home to pick us up. Bengbeng took us to this place called Rest & Relax near the new bus station. Gee..first the old bus station now the new, what a coincident!

The place is nicely decorated but being a week night there weren't many patrons but us and a couple of noisy friends of the boss customers drinking and smoking at the bar. I forgot that its not illegal to smoke inside a pub here so I had to bear it even though I didn't like the smoke.

Bengbeng is an anonymous blogger so I won't be posting his photo here. He's one hell of a nice guy. We met up again a couple of days later for dinner, this time with his very adorable son and later he invited us into his home to meet his wife and do a little blogging. Thank you and your family for your kind hospitality. Be sure to come visit us in Melbourne so we can do the same!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Day 7: Let's Go To Market

After the trip down to Sarikei and Bintangor we really had to take things slow and easy. Besides we're here for a holiday and not to over exert ourselves so thats why the next day we leisurely went down to say hi to my favorite uncle.

My favorite uncle is the bestest uncle in the whole wide world. He's very friendly and extremely generous. Whenever there's visitors in town he will take them out to eat till they burst. So when he saw us coming he decided to take us out to lunch but knowing what we like to eat, he personally went down to the Sibu Central Market to buy the fresh produces for the restaurant to cook!

This market is huge! It was built in 1996 at the cost of RM12 million and some said its the biggest market in Asia. *roll eyes* Anyway the council built this so they could force all the stall holders around town to concentrate in one area coz apparently hawkers are eye sores? *roll eyes again*

Politic aside, I'm here to check out the fresh produces like these small crabs some call 'pangi' if I'm not mistaken. They're soft shelled and I remember eating them, just soak with some sauce and down the hatch!

But these are more my type of crabs, they're mud crabs and I just love eating them though I didn't get to eat a lot of them on this trip. Gets a bit tiring eating them, I wish someone would shell them for me!

Poor chicken! Thou shall see no morrow's sun! But its a convenient way of selling these chicken, they're all wrapped up and ready to be carried away. The only problem is you can't see how skinny the chicken are!

Live balitongs and cockles! I used to love eating them too but nowadays I'll think twice especially the balitongs coz they live in mud and they're full of mud! It doesn't matter how clean you wash them there's still going to be mud inside them!

Last but not the least is the dabai. I believe you can only find these in Sarawak. Some call it 'oh kana' literally meaning black olives but they're not real olives. No need to cook them, just soak them in warm water for a couple of minutes, dip in soya sauce and eat! You'll enjoy it and keep the seeds coz you can play those childhood games with them before they start to rattle inside meaning the kernel is ready to be eaten. Break the hard casing and pop the kernel in your'll thank me for it!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Best Of Bintangor

So we left Sarikei and proceed towards Bintangor after lunch. We were heading to my friend's family farm where I heard there's still lots of durians in their backyard..and rambutans and so forth.

But before we reach the farm we had to make a stop at this place in Bintangor where rumour has it that it serves the best rojak in town so we just had to sample it. Don't ask me where it is coz all I know its somewhere in town.

The rojak turned out nothing spectacular, in fact it was quite ordinary. So much for the rumour as the best rojak in Bintangor. By the way Bintangor used to be called Binatang which in malay meaning animal so the residents decided to change it to Bintangor which I think was a wise decision.

Upon arriving at the farm we found out that they have dragon fruits growing there as well but there weren't any ripe fruits available so we didn't get to eat any. Bummer. We also found out that dragon fruits are actually from cactus plants!

Never did it cross my mind that dragon fruits are actually the fruits of a cactus plant! See the flower which will eventually be pollinated and ripened into a red delicious looking dragon fruit.

There were rambutan trees in the farm also, lots and lots of them. Lots and lots of rambutans to eat, couldn't eat them all and had to take them back but they were full of ants!

The most exciting fruit I've come for is of course the durians and we found some. Not many but enough to have another session of durian ecstasy. These are indeed the king of all fruits and I just can't get enough of them!

Mmm..tastes fantastic! Almost better than sex, orgasmic is the word. Excuse me while I spend some quality time with my durians alone..

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Best Looking Toilet Block In Town

I've always been apprehensive about using public toilets during my trip to Sarawak because of the bad experiences I've encountered in most public toilets I've been to so far. Sometimes they're rather dirty but most are clean nowadays due to the fact that they're cleaned everyday meticulously. But no matter how clean they can be they are usually wet inside, the floor's wet and slippery and the seats are too wet to sit as well! Or the last cubicle available is a squatting type!

Visiting the toilets sent me broke! Each visit is 20 sen and extra 10 sen for a few sheets of paper. We decided to bring our own papers from now on coz the amount of papers they give at the door is never enough. What to do? We drank lots of water because of the heat so had to go to toilets frequently and every toilets we've been to in Sarawak are not free so pay we must till I went pokkai lor! lol

However we did come across one toilet block in Sarikei which I consider to be the best toilet block in town. Its new and very very posh! The exterior wall's painted with bright colourful flora patterns which I think may be a bit over the top. A simple light clean colour will suffice.

But the inside is quite nice and clean and dry too! Its good to finally find a toilet thats nice and inviting. Now why can't all public toilets be as nice and clean as this one hor. I would gladly pay 50 sen to use this one!

There's no water splattered all over the place and urinals smell refreshingly nice! More importantly there's no occasional stray pubic hairs on them and the toilet bowls don't have skid marks in them! Hahahahaha..

I'll give this toilet block 5 out of 5 stars! So if you're ever in Sarikei and needed to use a toilet look for this toilet block. Sorry I can't tell you where it is but I'm sure you can find it, Sarikei is not that big.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Day 6: Going To Sarikei

Day 6 and just when I thought I could relax a bit after the great weekend we had in Kuching my brother-in-law suggested that we take a trip down to Sarikei and Bintangor. So no rest for the wicked.

The last time I was here we had to take a ferry across the Rajang river on the road to Sarikei. They were still in the process of building a bridge but nowadays the bridge is complete and driving to Sarikei is a breeze!

If you think Sibu is a quiet town then you obviously haven't been to Sarikei. Sarikei is even smaller and even more quiet than Sibu. However Sarikei is the last stop of civilisation before you travel further out the Rajang river and into the South China Sea!

Because of its close proximity to the sea Sarikei is well known for its fresh seafood. So my mother who came with us insisted on buying some fish to take back. Its still a long and hot trip back to Sibu and she wanted to buy fish? We gave in to her and bought the fish packed full of ice before stuffing them in the boot of the car.

At the market we bought some fresh fruits as well like these strange red ones that look like rambutans but locals call them lychees but I don't think they are lychees coz true lychees look different. If you know what they are please share it! They sell for RM4 per kilo.

Terese loves her pineapples and Sarikei is well known for their pineapples as well. Apparently they are the best tasting pineapples in the whole state! I won't argue with that coz they are indeed sweet and delicious. These sold for RM2 each I think.

Before we went back we decided to have some lunch in one of the kopitiams around. My brother-in-law took us to have the best malay chicken rice in town and it was really the best chicken rice I've tasted thus far!

We left Sarikei after lunch and continued our trip to Bintangor which is on the way back to Sibu. This time we decided to use a ferry to cross the river so we can go via a shorter way. My friend's family lives in Bintangor and they have durians in the backyard. Yoohoo!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Brief Introduction To Sibu

We left Kuching in the evening of Day 5 and flew half an hour to Sibu. Sibu is where I was born and lived for the first 25 years of my life. It will always be in me no matter where I live.

Sibu sits at the corner of 2 mighty rivers namely the Rajang river and the Igan river. The water in the rivers is forever muddy due to the silt that washes down from deep inside the interior.

Most of the old quaint buildings that I remember when I left in 1990 are still around with just a few new ones like the Central Market at the end of this street. Somehow the roads seem to be narrower than I remembered them.

Sibu is a very chinese town with the majority chinese being foochows like myself. Sadly I predict there won't be many foochow people in Sibu in years to come because most kids are taught to speak mandarin instead, they'll lose the foochow language soon enough!

The small green building you see in front of the car park used to be a cinema before I left years ago, now its a shop thanks to uncle ho everywhere. That white building behind it on the left is the Premier Hotel. When I left Sibu it was still the tallest building in town.. this building is. Its the newest and most modern building you can find here. You can see it from anywhere in town so if you ever get lost which I doubt you will, just look for this landmark to find your way!

Swan is to Sibu as cat is to Kuching. Everywhere you go you can see statutes of swans. Rumour has it that when the foochows came to this place long time ago and were lost, the swans guided them to this site where they built a bustling town it is today!

How true the rumour is I don't know but it was the first time I heard about this story when I was here! Some say its just a silly story made up by some politician to justify building so many swan statutes..or are they geese?

I will be staying in Sibu for a week so I will take it easy since I'm home now and will need a bit of R&R. There's lots of family and friends to catch up with and I'm sure will be eating lots and lots of foochow foods!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Day 5: One Last Post On Kuching Before I Leave

Its Day 5 and I'll be leaving Kuching to go to Sibu in the evening. We still had one day in Kuching and wasn't going to waste it. Friends of ours took us around the town and one of the places we went was actually a suburban park!

I can't remember the name of this place and my chinese is really bad but I think its some kind of friendship garden? C'mon Kuching people help me out here. This is the best looking suburban park I've ever seen and Unker Ho used to live here.

The park is modelled on traditional chinese architectures and there's even a man-made lake over which the buildings sit over. The main building is a restaurant but we didn't eat there coz we were full. We're here just to play tourists. Not funny, we saw tourist buses actually taking tourists to visit this park in the middle of a residential suburb!

There's pavilions and criss-crossing walk paths over the water like in the old martial art movies where you can go pahtoring and sing song with your girlfriend or fight with swords against your enemies depending on what you fancy!

Personally I'm just happy watching the fish and boy are there lots and lots of them! Thousands of koi live happily without a care in the world while they get fed everyday by silly people who find it therapeutic feeding them.

On the other side of the garden there's a statute of Admiral Cheng Ho looking all mighty and big. He's the guy responsible for all the chinese who are here in Malaysia now so blame him or credit him whichever you think is appropriate. Did you know he was an eunuch?

Kuching is actually 'cat' in malay and there are cat statutes all over the city. They named the city after them maybe because giant cats used to inhabit the land before humans came and wipe them out. Some say these statutes come to life and eat humans!

I was skeptical about the story of the human eating giant cats until the king cat 'pawed' me and gave me a good lesson to take with me. Never mess with the cats unless you're asking to get pwned!