I originally ordered a bouquet of blue roses but unfortunately, they looked rather worn down and sad when I arrived to pick them up before going to the airport (more about that soon). I wanted to surprise my dear with flowers at the airport but I didn’t want these miserable looking specimens.
However, the place was pushing flowers that lasts forever (or at least a good 3-5 years). These *forever flowers* are real flowers, not fake ones – they have been freeze dried, which preserves them and makes them keep their scent and shape for several years (more if you don’t expose the flowers to oxygen by opening the case).
I thought that was a pretty meaningful gift. I had RM 65 credit at the store coz I refused the flowers so I used them on this. I wanted our relationship to be like this too – something real, which lasts forever! <3
2. My dear flew down to Sibu
I was still in Sibu at the time coz of my mom so my better half decided to fly down as a surprise and told me to pick her up at the airport! It was just for the weekend, but I’m glad we managed to spend Valentine’s together – she flew in on Valentine’s Day itself (Friday) – and we both flew back to KL on Sunday.
3. We celebrated Chap Goh Meh and Valentine’s Day at my grandma’s place
Chap Goh Meh is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. My dad was flying out to Singapore the next day so we decided to go to my grandma’s to eat and only celebrate our own Valentine’s Day dinner the next night.
4. We had ice-cream in the car
It’s a simple thing to do but it’s one of the things that’s “ours”. It’s a bit of a tradition and something we both like to do.
5. Valentine’s Day dinner
I brought her out to Cafe Cafe (they also have a sister lounge called The Queen) for Valentine’s Day. It was a day late but we had a great dinner in Sibu. This is one of the better places to go if you factor in ambiance – just get a seat at the back coz the front is really noisy.
It was wonderful coz we didn’t have a lot of time together (just slightly more than 48 hours before we had to fly back) and the full day that we had was perfect!
6. She mailed me my Valentine’s Day presents
My better half thoughtfully boxed together a care package containing Granola Maple Pecan cereal and an assortment of candy bars, all with their own messages inscribed on them.
It was lovely!
She always takes a lot of effort in putting together something nice. I love you dear! *hugs*
7. I gave her a personalized fireworks show
Yup, I left two of my biggest fireworks cakes till she came back on Chap Goh Meh/Valentine’s Day (which falls on the same date in 2014) and let it off for her to see at night.
I also managed to convince her to light a few of the less dangerous ones.
I had an awesome 119 shot fireworks cake that discharges all the bomblets in an aerial barrage lasting probably 10 seconds, which is a pretty intense display.
It was a great Valentine’s Day and I’m glad I have my dear with me. :)
I’ve always wanted to eat poon choi. It’s a a traditional Chinese New Year feast in a bowl that requires at least 8-10 people to finish. There’s an interesting article in Wikipedia that has the origins of poon choi – it’s apparently prepared in layers and meant to be eaten layer-by-layer instead of stirring everything up.
I decided to book a table at Restaurant Lee Hong Kee (previously known as Restorant LYJ) since their flagship dish is poon choi. However, the restaurant is fully booked for all the dates even *remotely* close to CNY. Thus, I decided to take away and have it at home instead.
Restaurant Lee Hong Kee really is packed to the brim – there’s a sign saying “Full House” and all the tables are reserved. We sat down and waited about 20 minutes for our take-away poon choi to come. It’s served in a big, deep bowl and wrapped with aluminium foil and wrap to retain the heat.
The people there will also help you to move the poon choi to your car!
I also ordered some of their popular dishes like their signature roast chicken a.k.a. “Dong Tok” chicken. It’s literally a chicken that’s made to *stand up* with head and throat served intact. Since we had it to go, I couldn’t make it stand up without assistance, despite all my best efforts.
There were 11 of us that day – some are kids, but all of them are my dear’s brothers and parents. The poon choi is priced at an auspicious RM 338 and contains a lot of goodies – the top layer (dry) has ½ Hainanese steamed chicken, ½ roasted duck, abalone slices, fishball cake, a dozen large prawns (unpeeled) and a token amount of vegetables.
I found out that poon choi doesn’t have a lot of vegetables coz of the history behind the dish. There are a lot of premium ingredients though!
The bottom layer contains the “wet stuff” and other goodies which can absorb the sauces which drips down from the top layer – fish maw, roasted chestnuts, pig skin, bean curd, Shittake mushrooms, braised chicken feet and stewed pork, just to name a few.
It really was a wonderful experience eating the poon choi! I had it with my dear’s family and the 11 of us couldn’t even finish the bowl! It’s not called the Big Bowl Feast for nothing. The sauce is really delicious and we all ate till we’re about to burst! I highly recommend their poon choi, it really is something special due to the chef’s familiarity with preparing the dish.
The bill came up to RM 421 and it’s definitely worth it. I’ll happily eat the poon choi from Restaurant Lee Hong Kee again – according to my dear, it’s the best she has eaten to date.
Yes, it’s that time of the year again! :) This is the annual Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers roundup for 2012. There’s a lot of quirky fireworks this year – gift hampers, old firecrackers which I haven’t seen for decades and fountains which goes up over one and half storeys high! :)
Sibu has a fine selection of retro firecrackers and fireworks this year. However, the ever popular multishot fireworks cake barrages are the most prevalent and there are multiple places selling it openly…in the morning, despite the massive RELA and police presence due to the recent murders. Well, that’s Sibu for you. :)
All Chinese to English translations kindly furnished by my dad.
Chinese firecrackers (RM 100)
We have here one of the old skool Chinese firecrackers – the extremely noisy ones than produces massive amounts of smoke and tons of red paper.
This weighs 12 kgs and is unique in the sense that it has a large firecracker braided *on top* of two rows of smaller firecrackers, making a formidable stack of 3 in the string.
However, I can’t bring myself to use the word “smaller” with this since even the smaller firecrackers are about 6 times the size of Shun Lee Hung firecrackers.
See the grandma walking past? She was followed by a woman who told her in Hokkien “Ah Ma walk faster, he’s letting off the big firecrackers.”
…and being the neighborly sort I told them not to worry, I’ll let them pass before I light it and CNY greetings were passed. That’s the spirit! :)
I was standing quite far away (about 2-3 meters) coz my dad was holding the digicam and I had to walk back to him, but some of the firecrackers went past me, showering me with Chinese New Year cheer (and the possibility of grave eye injury). I like!
It was still smoldering on the ground after it finished its barrage. I let this off on the morning of the 1st day – woke up early just to do this. :D
Fireworks cake barrages / repeaters
These are the aerial firework barrages which comes in a “cake” configuration. It has several tubes which launch the projectiles into the air. It’s very popular in creating a sustained barrage (which is why some people call it that) of aerial fireworks and depending on the artisan’s imagination, can range from being mundane to impressive.
However these things has two major flaws:
1. Susceptibility to wind conditions
It is advisable not to let these off during high wind conditions. The initial propellant that shoots up the shells sends it from 75 – 150 feet (depending on the primer). However, the aerial shot itself is quite light and wind can send it in a totally unpredictable direction (usually diagonally) and limit its apogee, which can be quite disastrous. I’ve seen one send shots that explode 12 feet above and let me tell you, that is quite an experience since it’s supposed to go off 10 times that distance.
It had us all watching nervously and asking if anyone has a fire extinguisher and telling cars not to pass.
2. It can explode on the ground if poorly constructed
Despite those flaws (everything has a downside), firework cakes are probably the greatest invention since sliced bread in pyrotechnics. :D
Beautiful Mountain and Rivers (RM 220)
This 2 feet long, 68 shot beauty comprises of multiple artillery barrages that has mortar sizes ranging from 3” to 1”. It produces a rather nice finale and it’s this year’s crème de la crème of fireworks cakes in my stash – it even beats the more expensive ones above with the fanning effect (angled mortar tubes).
It was at the stroke of midnight that I let this one off so there is a lot of competition from other sources. However, you can see the effects of this aerial barrage quite well. :)
The finish was amazing, I love the “sparkling rain” kind of effects for an ending.
Well worth the RM 220 I spent though as you can see this class of fireworks barrages is not exactly meant for you to see (the optimal viewing angle is too high) so maybe if you live down the street, you’ll appreciate it more.
Celebration (RM 35)
This is a fast 36 shot fireworks cake barrage. It’s simple, effective and quite awesome. It sends up to 6-7 aerial shots in a row up which explodes in a burst of color up in the air.
It’s over in a few seconds but classic. :)
Glowing Beautiful Woman (RM 25)
This 200 shot baby is quite impressive despite the small mortar tube size and height. It’s 1/9 the size of my largest fireworks cake and it’s easy to dismiss this wonderful piece of carefully arranged barrage. Fireworks cakes are like flower arrangements…the mediocre ones are blah but the good ones is a work of art. This is the latter.
It doesn’t go very high but has a nice mixture of spinning whistlers, star bursts, and sparkling rain – it’s quite fantastic. I bought several of these and I’m glad I did.
It’s well worth the price, I’m grabbing more next year if I see it. Highly recommended!
Stepping Up (RM 35)
This one is representative of the general small fireworks cakes. It would be nice if it didn’t blow up on the ground though.
Stepping Up was the multi-shot fireworks cake barrage that blew up on me. I had to pick up pieces from 25 meters away.
I don’t know the price to some coz it was a gift or a throw in after a large purchase. This is one of them. The retail price should be around RM 35-40. It has a variety of different effects and launches it quite high up – you can tell from the size of the fireworks cake and mortar tubes.
I like the part in the middle where it “fans” out the aerial shots and the ending. Nice.
…and yes, we let off the cakes in the middle of the road in Sibu, which is why you shouldn’t drive on CNY eve at midnight. All the locals know that but just in case you’re visiting, be home by 11 pm or wait till 2 am. :D
Fireworks gift hampers
This is another unusual development this year. It’s priced at RM 85 and comes with a smorgasbord of fireworks – mostly directed towards children.
The total price of the items inside exceeds RM 85 commercially. It’s quite a good gift for kids, and it has a lot of nostalgic fireworks inside. I like the variety and there’s even one multi-shot cake/fountain inside.
This is a typical example of a fountain. It’s a small tube about the size of a salute (e.g. Thunder King) that you set on the ground and light with various effects.
The color on top of the fuse shows what it’s going to look like.
Desert at Night
I don’t know which category to put this in as it is quite atypical. It’s a fountain with very nice effects and it has 7 aerial repeaters built in.
Thus, you get a combination fountain and aerial shot cake. :)
Violets and Crimsons
Pretty mediocre. This came out of the fireworks hamper and is the smallest of the fountains. It’s barely taller than my lighter.
Volcano (RM 20)
Very impressive. This retails for RM 20 for singles and it slowly shoots up to a very respectable 1 ½ storeys high.
It’s worth the display. :)
I wouldn’t buy it myself but it came in the gift hamper. Interesting display.
Conic Fountain (RM 20)
I bought a pack of this for RM 20 – it contains 5 fountains and it’s supposed to have a different effect for each.
I found out the hard way when I let one off which is a plain fountain and another when my two year old niece was watching where it had loud reports. There is no sign of what you’ll get – you have to light it to find out.
This cylindrical fireworks fountain has height going for it but ultimately only has one effect.
It’s quite typical of a fountain, nothing to write home. I couldn’t find the fuse at first and just lit the entire paper on top before floundering around with it. I also used the tube for something else. More on that later. :D
Large Golden Flower
It’s quite mediocre.
Peach Flower in Spring
This is quite good actually! It starts with a screaming effect and just when you thought it was over, it keeps on going to another effect. I like. :)
Windmill / Spinners
Da Feng Che
This is supposed to be attached to a stick but I broke the stick so I lit it on the ground. Haha!
Honestly, I’m not sure it’s even safe to put on a stick coz I vaguely remember accidents from my childhood from the wheel actually spinning off the stick and flying off due to the rotational speed.
One of the fireworks I played with as a little kid. It has a dual (single?) fuse e.g. the fuse burns simultaneously into *TWO* tubes. That’s the interesting bit.
Ground Bloom Flower
This US made spinner is a fast one with various effects and colors. It’s a typical example of a spinner. I liked it.
I wouldn’t call this a salute per se – it’s just one of the firecrackers that dropped off the roll. I’m just showing how large and loud it is compared to the typical Shun Lee Hung firecrackers. Old skool is gold skool. :)
This is very, very old school. It’s a simple firecracker that contains flash powder wrapped into a triangle shape – the construction is easy and you can get bags containing 100s for little more than spare change. There are some strange imports this year though – Triangulinor which is definitely not from China.
It’s loud and effective. Fun to play. I had some fun playing fireworks with the neighborhood kids with this and one of the first videos I filmed back home was with my dad above. That’s what Chinese New Year is about. Family, friends and fireworks!
Hope you’ve all had a great Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fatt Chai everyone! :D
Chap Goh Meh marks the last day of Chinese New Year and traditionally sees the whole family sitting down for dinner. Unfortunately, none of our family members are in one place this year so my grandma did an early one with all of my favorite dishes.
I’ve always loved fish cooked with soy sauce. I can’t remember the name of this fish but it’s kinda like empurau in texture.
Century eggs are one of my favorite condiments…however, I only tend to eat it in Sibu for some reason. I love the rich egg yolk and it’s an instant appetizer for me. :)
This is hands down my favorite vegetable. It’s called chai bo and cooked with a bit of sugar so the taste is slightly sweet. It’s one of the rare foods that hits the umami G-spot and I can eat a spoonful with every bite. I love this and I could never find it anywhere else except at my grandma’s. It’s her specialty. <3
Pork leg with chicken feet. This unique combination turned up at the table during the Chinese New Year reunion dinner with fatt choy (black moss) and I was instantly hooked! I love the texture of pork leg – the chunky meat and exquisitely sinful layer of fat is divine. The pairing with chicken feet is quite ingenious – it’s the brainchild of one of my aunties. It takes hours to cook so everything comes out tender and juicy.
I ate so much I nearly burst but I’m so hungry right now it makes me want to repeat this gastronomic feat again. Home cooked meals with your family is the best – I only get to experience this once a year.
Happy Chap Goh Meh everyone! For those who understand, Chap Goh Meh in Hokkien literally means 15th night, the very fucking last day of Chinese New Year. I didn’t plan anything for the night, since I just got back from Langkawi and was nursing the tsunami from the duty free liquor available there.
Anyway, I was on Twitter and Jerine tweeted that she wanted to drink some vodka. It’s fine with me, we’re both orphans in this big fucking cold city called KL. However, I didn’t have any mixers (real men drink it neat from the bottle) so she brought a shitload of decidedly feminine mixers over.
She came over to my studio with mint leaves, Sprite and Yahweh knows what else.
It was good though. I was damn sleepy and nursing a fever but I haven’t had dinner yet, so Jerine brought over some Nando’s and I ordered Domino’s to balance out the meal. Yeah, I know, it’s not Chinese food by any stretch of the imagination, but hell, you make do right?
Stranger in a strange land and all that.
This is our yee sang courtesy of Eiling. She brought it over during the lobster cookout but we didn’t manage to eat it so I figured this is the last chance for CNY 2010 to be doing some good ol’ lou sang – see our wishes for the year. Jerine has a bit of an unorthodox wish, but hell, who am I to comment. Haha!
It was good, despite the Fast Food Inc spread that dominated our Chap Goh Meh dinner.
The best thing about Chap Goh Meh (which is supposed to be a reunion) is that you’ll be spending it with people so three cheers for Jerine for taking the trouble of catching a cab over to my place, cleaning up after and eating crap with me during the last day of Chinese New Year! =D
I was alone at home last night and decided to add some Chap Goh Meh cheer to the place. I had a couple of Chai Lei firecrackers
[sixthseal.com] around (it’s a loud firecracker) and I have let them
off in the enclosed space that I call home before without adverse
consequences. However, this time I had to man the camera AND light the
firecracker at the same time, and unfortunately God, in His infinite
wisdom only gave Man two hands.
I lost my lighter and had to use a match to light the firecracker
and me in my infinite wisdom, decided it was a good idea to light it
straight from the box which contains the rest of the Chai Lei
firecrackers. I lit the firecracker, prepared to aim the digicam at it,
and then I noticed that the shrink wrap on the firecracker box was
I tried to blow out the flames (again, me and my infinite wisdom)
and it just accelerated the burn rate AND the lit firecracker was still
in my hand. I had a brain fart and threw the firecracker away before
overturning the burning box into a towel and hoped for the best.
My hands were shaking from the nearly adverted catastrophe. It would
not have been pretty for the box of Chai Lei firecrackers to go off all
at once indoors.
I did another take and bad luck seems to come in twos (or is that
threes) coz I dropped the (still lit) match into the box, before it
bounced out, making it come into contact with an unlit fuse and
singeing it. I did not realize it and only noticed it after the fact.
The tip of the Chai Lei firecracker fuse nearly caught on fire and
would have set off a chain reaction which would probably burn the place
down (since I didn’t even know it happened).
The worst thing is, my fire extinguisher hasn’t even been inspected
since I moved in and I live on the top floor and the any fire-related
incidents would probably leave…er, collateral damage.
Yeah, I know, I’m the epitome of a responsible citizen. ;)
This is a perfect take. It’s fun to light Chai Lei firecrackers
indoors for a change. It’s also fun to throw several into an electric
kettle indoors and see if the metal/plastic would hold the blast or
send sharp shards all over the enclosed space.
Chap Goh Meh marks the end of the Lunar New Year.
Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days and Chap Goh Meh literally
means (the) 15th night. Firecrackers and fireworks are usually let off
liberally to mark the end of Chinese New Year. There is a wide variety
of firecrackers and fireworks available in Malaysia and the large
self-contained box type is the most popular ones.
I’m a big fan of firecrackers and fireworks (and everything else
that goes “boom”) and it seems that the trend in 2006 shifts markedly
to industrial grade fireworks. The market in Sibu and Kuching is
flooded with display shells – the catch-all term for the 3″, 5″ and 8″
shell that shoots up before exploding in fascinating pyrotechnics.
This is an example of a “consumer grade” display shell fireworks. Shellshock
comes in a box containing 12 pieces of “double break shells”. It’s made
in China, that’s where firecrackers and fireworks in Malaysia is
sourced (read: smuggled) from.
The Shellshock box opens up to reveal a foot long tube launcher
embedded into the package with 6 shells lining each side of the box.
The shells are inserted one at a time into the launch tube with the
flat end (base) making contact with the bottom of the launcher tube.
The 1.5″ shells is shaped like a gourd and there is a long
conventional green fuse bound intricately around the shell and held in
place by a colored string on the top indicating the color of the
display shell when it is…well, displayed.
Here is a closer look at this consumer grade firework. There are
double spheres in the shells – this is a double report, double flare
display shell. The shells have a flat base and a visible fuse starter.
This firecracker requires the launcher tube to launch the shells into
the air and the long fuse is to accommodate for the launcher length.
The Shellshock ones come in a disposable cardboard and plastic launcher.
The display shell type fireworks (regardless of grade) should always
be used in conjunction with a launcher tube to guide the shell upwards.
I’m sure everyone has tried not using a launcher tube at least once in
their lives (at least I did, with a 3″ shell) and the results are not
The Shellshock launcher tube does the job well enough…
It’s pretty dangerous since the shell just explodes on the ground,
sending out burning debris over a wide area. Notice how large the
dispersal area is when it’s airborne? That’s the coverage you can
expect when it goes off on the ground. Most residential areas cannot
accommodate for this kind explosive power.
…though it topples after each launch…and the cardboard burns.
The one time I did it resulted in a cracked glass door (with an
industrial grade shell), flaming explosions all over the front of the
house and shocked family and neighbors. Oh, and I set the lawn of the
neighbor on fire too. In my defense, it was dry grass. :p I never did
dare to repeat that stunt again, since I didn’t want to pay for damages
to vehicles, property and possibly human life. ;)
Industrial grade fireworks
Meet big brother. ;) This is a custom made launcher tube for 3″ industrial grade display shells.
The display shells (3 inch, 5 inch, and the expensive 8 inch ones)
are sold in boxes with instructions on the dimensions of the launcher
and the instructions are passed on to a local blacksmith (metal smith)
to be custom made.
It’s usually made of solid metal alloy so it can be reused without
the force of the initial primer explosion from the shells (which is
quite substantial) wearing out the launcher tube. The base of the
launcher tube is very important – perhaps the most crucial part of the
component – it must be heavy enough to hold the structure or wide
enough to allow other weighing material (bricks etc.) to weigh it down.
This is the launcher tube displayed with 3″ display shells.
These things are ordered in bulk and come with a sticker specifying the
exact pyrotechnics to expect from the particular shell (see below).
It’s sold in boxes made of heavy paper stapled together to form a
“box” of sorts and each box contains a mixed bag of pyrotechnics
goodness, with different “grades” of shells e.g. Grade A would be a
shell which goes “Purple with sparkling to red ball” (three stages with
large initial purple explosion bloom, followed by sparkling edges and a
single slowly descending red ball) while Grade B would be a shell that
goes “Green to silver” (one explosion, color change at fringe of
This is a close look at the grenade like display shells. It’s
wrapped with heavy reinforcing paper and these fireworks are considered
industrial grade as it’s the same ones that the government lets off
during official celebrations. Heck, some of them are even “diverted”
from official celebrations. ;)
The grenade like display shells are individually wrapped and come
with a label in two languages of what to expect from that particular
display shell. This Grade A shell goes “Red to Green to Crackling”.
This Grade B shell goes “Blue to silver” (two phase change) while a
Grade C shell would be a single phase explosion e.g. “Red & Blue
I have relatively large palms and this is a size comparison of what
a 3″ display shell looks like. It’s remarkably similar to a grenade,
except you have to use a launcher tube instead of igniting it on the
ground (which would cause a lot of Bad Things (TM) to happen).
The industrial grade shells are inserted into the correctly sized
launcher tube with the base of the shell level against the base of the
launcher, and with the fuse sticking up and out of the launcher tube.
I probably should mention that the industrial grade fireworks do not
have a long fuse delay, despite its looks. The fuse lights slowly at
the top and then *zaps* goes straight down the remaining length of the
“fuse” and its pyrotechnica!
The blast is pretty substantial and it’s fun to be close to the
launcher when it goes off. It’s a mini shellshock effect, right at your
Consumer grade fireworks, these are not.
Lest we forget our roots, these are the traditional Chinese firecrackers.
I love the 50,000 Horse Brand firecrackers.
It’s fast and furious, burning through 50k of individual sticks of firecrackers in the span of a few seconds.