We woke up bright and early the next day to head to my mom’s grave. 🌞 This isn’t a grave per se – it’s more like a tomb. The arrangement here is an above-ground sealed chamber where the coffin slides in. It’s not buried underground. Someone slides a slab of concrete over the entrance after the coffin goes in and seals it up with cement. I believe this is common in Christian cemeteries to observe how Jesus was entombed.
I helped clean up the grave and we sang hymns and my dad led everyone in prayer. That’s what we do during Ching Ming. It’s more like a remembrance thing for Christians. ✝️ There’s no burning of incense or hell paper and there are no offerings of food or fruit, although we prepared a flower arrangement. My aunts were there too, as well as Mandy.
We all went to Aloha Café in Sibu for breakfast after that. This is one of our favorite coffee shops in Sibu, primarily due to the Sarawak Laksa here. 🍜 Mandy loves laksa so I brought her here to check out arguably the best one in Sibu. She said the Sarawak laksa I cooked tasted a lot better. Hehe.
My dad went for his favorite Sibu style char kueh tiaw. This is fried with an egg omelette on top, a unique local twist. 🍳 It’s kinda like mee goreng Pattaya or omurice, but not completely wrapped. Our kueh tiaw is flat and thick too. I don’t personally like it but plenty of people do.
I went for the interestingly named Fried Kompia. Kompia is a local unleavened baked bread, much like a bagel. 🥯 This stall uses the kompia as the base for frying. This reminds me of the Kothu Roti I had in Sri Lanka. I wouldn’t say it tasted good but it’s certainly novel! Good to see people trying new twists and takes on existing local food, although I’ll never order it again.
I also got Kompia with Cheese. 🧀 These are baked kompia with minced meat (pork) filling, with the addition of a small slice of processed cheddar cheese. It tasted pretty good though. I would order this again although I prefer deep fried kompia and kompia soaked in gravy.
We needed a caffeine boost after that so I went with Mandy to Starbucks Sibu. ☕ This is the biggest Starbucks in Malaysia! It’s housed in its own two-storey building – a vast, open space. I didn’t even know this was the biggest Starbucks in Malaysia until a Sarawak Tourism video mentioned it.
The place is clean and spacious so we sat here in the comfortable sofas for a while. 🛋️ They even have a meeting room here!
I had my usual Iced Americano while Mandy went for a Frappucino. 🥤
Thus energized, we headed to the Central Market. Sibu Central Market is the biggest covered market in Malaysia. I also didn’t know that until a few years back. Haha. There are a lot of interesting, hyper-local products – produce you can only find in the jungles of Borneo. 🌴 It’s very interesting!
One of those examples is Keranji Madu. This is a type of dry fruit with a soft, crackable shell and a seed coated with sweet fibres. 🌰 I convinced the girl to sell me a small amount for RM 3. I remember eating this in my childhood when my dad bought some but I haven’t eaten it in decades. I can’t say it’s delicious but it’s an interesting fruit.
This is not salak fruit. We have that here but it’s not in season. This is another local fruit which I forgot the name of. It looks very similar to salak but is smaller and clumps together. 🍇
There are chickens nicely wrapped and ready for takeaway! 🐔 This is a Sibu invention – wrapping live chickens in newspapers and binding them with nylon string so they’re easy to purchase and transport back.
Mandy tried a local avocado ice cream which is made by hand churning. 🥑 It’s made from a powder mix so don’t get your hopes up about the flavour. It tastes quite artificial.
We saw some huge specimens of freshwater big head prawn. 🦐
I bought some ang chao (fermented red rice wine sediments) to bring back to KL. 🍷 These are not sold openly since wine brewing requires a license so they have to sell these under the table. RM 1 got me a sizable amount!
The most interesting item we purchased is engkabang butter. This is frequently called “butter from the rainforest”. 🏞️ It’s made with oil extracted from the engkabang fruit. This becomes a paste that’s stored in short lengths of bamboo and sold to be mixed into rice.
A small tube can cost RM 20-40 depending on the diameter! 🎍 I tried this the other weekend and it tasted quite unfamiliar. Unusual, but I can see myself getting into it. It’s like century eggs – a taste which may not be immediately appealing but can get quite addictive if you let it.
That night, we had dinner at my grandma’s. 👵 My popo just celebrated her 90th birthday and she has met Mandy during CNY over Facebook Live. This is the first time she’s seen her in person though. We had sweet and sour fish, mayo prawns, pork leg, dabai, chai bo – all my favorite dishes! I ate till I was stuffed and then ate some more. I wanted to be dangerously close to puking.
We went to a local mall after that to walk off all the calories. My niece and nephew were also in town and they wanted to get some toys. He’s really into Beyblades. I found a new dry type instant noodles – BruMee Kollo Mee Goreng. 🇧🇳 This is made in Brunei and quite expensive due to the exchange rate. Sarawak is adjacent to Brunei so we get their imports sometimes. The noodles aren’t really good but it’s spicy and Mandy enjoyed them.
I also bought a ciplak coconut ice cream to share with Mandy. 🥥 This is a ghetto Sibu version made with powder coconut cream (santan) so it tastes unpleasant and grainy. I struggle to find anything good to say about this ice cream. It’s like someone saw the success of coconut ice cream and made an El Cheapo knockoff version which only appeals to the unrefined palate of the least well-traveled local.
We wanted to eat Chip Chung beef noodles the next day so we woke up bright and early. 🐄 Their beef noodles sell out by 9 am and they start operating before 5 am! This is definitely something for the early birds. Our family used to eat this when they were located at the old Chopsticks in town but we haven’t had it since they moved.
Their noodles are tossed with a delicious garlic sauce instead of the normal kolo/kampua mee mixture. I remember this distinctive taste from childhood. This is how I developed a love for garlic. The springy and garlicky noodles go very well with their beef soup. 😋
The soup is served separately with a variety of beef slices and offal inside. 🥣 The hearty and savory soup is also something I’ve missed. I highly recommend this place but be warned, the lady can be a bit grumpy during service so don’t over-customize your order. She’s very friendly when she’s not busy though. My only complaint is the serving sizes, which can be too small for big eaters. The beef noodles here are excellent otherwise.
I had used up all my clothes so I picked something from my old wardrobe to wear. ✨ Behold my Ah Beng past in all its glory! Trust me, these hooks and chains were the height of fashion back in the day. Positively haute couture.
We were flying back to KL that afternoon so we could squeeze in one final spot for lunch. I decided on Ak Kia Foochow Fried Noodles. This is their fully loaded Foochow fried noodles with lots of pork slices and pork liver. 🐖 It’s the bomb! Ak Kia is known for some of the best Foochow fried noodles in town and these don’t disappoint!
I also ordered their Seafood Fried Noodles. This is another fully loaded plate with shrimp, fish slices and squid. 🦑 The noodles are cooked in white sauce instead of black soy sauce and it also tastes amazing. We both couldn’t decide which one we liked better. This was definitely a perfect meal to end our Sibu trip.
I only go back once or twice every year but I enjoy every trip back to my hometown. I spent most of my childhood here and I enjoy the flavors of Sibu. It’s my first time bringing Mandy back to meet my family too and that was fulfilling! 👫