Sibu Ching Ming Trip Part II: Mom’s Grave ⚰️, Sarawak Laksa 🍜, Starbucks Sibu ☕, Central Market 🍖, Dinner @ Grandma’s 👵, Ah Beng Photo 🤙, Chip Chung Beef Noodles 🐄, Ak Kia Foochow Noodles 🦑

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! 👫

Sibu Ching Ming Trip Part I: Malu Apa Bosco? Big Prawn Noodles at Bosco Café, Sibu Pasar Malam, Kompia Burger, Ruby Restaurant

I just came back from a short trip back to Sibu to clean my mom’s grave. It’s Ching Ming, an annual practice by Chinese for remembrance of the dead. I brought along Mandy along and the first thing she wanted to eat was Foochow red wine mee sua. We headed to Happiness Café in Delta – they do one of the better versions in town. I wanted to eat kampua mee but I couldn’t resist ordering this too.

It’s a new stall selling kompia burger! Technically, this is chu nu miang – the sweet and soft version of kompia. I think it’s called thus coz chu nu means virgin in Foochow and virgins are supposed to be sweet and soft. Don’t quote me on that though. My Chinese is terrible and I could be making all these up. I asked the two ladies manning the stall if it’s their own stall but it turns out they’re only working here and couldn’t tell me the background of the stall.

The stall is called Zen Don Bin and they have different types of kompia burgers with beef, sausage and fish fillet patties. I asked for a recommendation and they unreservedly told me the Fish Fillet Burger with Egg and Cheese (RM 3.90) was their bestseller. This actually tasted pretty good! I liked the crunchy fish fillet and the creamy egg with the pillowy soft chu nu miang. Nice!

I also had my kampua mee fix. This is a tossed dry noodle that’s a Sibu specialty. You don’t find a lot of people making this with lard nowadays. There has been a trend of using vegetable oil on the pretext that it’s a healthier option. I suspect it’s also a cost-cutting measure too since lard is significantly more expensive. I love the ones with lard.

Mandy had the Foochow red wine mee sua. This is chicken soup with Foochow unfiltered red wine with sediment. It tastes surprisingly good. I’m not a fan of this dish but they do a really nice version here.

Of course, you can’t leave Sibu without trying the Big Head Prawn Noodles. These are freshwater prawns with huge heads that’s cooked into a Foochow style soup dish. The noodles are fried then boiled and it’s quite a distinctive local taste. The head juice from the prawn heads leach into the soup, adding tons of flavour.

This dish costs RM 38 at Bosco Café, which is considered a reasonable price. A lot of other places charge upwards of RM 50 for this.

My sister came back in the evening with my niece and nephew so we went to pick her up from the airport and headed to Ruby Restaurant for dinner. This is a favorite among our family. The must have dish here is their butter prawns but since my niece is allergic to dairy, we went for the Nestum prawns instead. It’s not as good, but decent.

We also had their famous pandan chicken. These are dark boneless chicken pieces marinated in various spices before being stuffed into a pandan leaf and grilled. It’s smoky, sweet and delicious!

I also ordered midin belacan – a type of jungle fern – for Mandy. You can’t leave Sarawak without tasting midin. It’s a crunchy type of vegetable with a core like okra – ever so slightly slimy.

This is sour lamb, another dish I always order at Ruby. The lamb pieces are tenderized till they’re melt-in-your-mouth and tossed in a sour mayonnaise based sauce. Very delicious!

We also ordered a tapah curry fish head since there were so many of us. Tapah is a local fish that’s similar to catfish. The flesh can be incredibly fatty due to their sedentary lifestyle but it’s a real treat – creamy mouthfeel juxtaposed with firm flesh. This is quite a small fish head but costs RM 63. Tapah is a local favorite so the prices tend to be higher.

The meal came up to RM 186 for the 4 of us plus 2 children. We usually run up at RM 50 bill for two pax so this seems par for the course. I feasted until I was absolutely stuffed! This is one of my favorite places to eat in Sibu.

Mandy has never been to the Sibu pasar malam before so we headed there after our dinner. Our pasar malam has lots of stalls specializing in pork. Sibu is a majority Chinese town so pork is the choice of protein here. You can get various different cuts of meat from pork belly to tail to even a full pig face!

I bought a few pieces of chai kueh and also a crispy apam balik. Both were dismal. I had better versions of both during my Penang day trip for work before coming back to Sibu.

It was still fun to walk around town and do all the things I normally wouldn’t do. It’s nice to see my hometown from the perspective of someone else too!

Part II of my Sibu Ching Ming trip coming soon!

20 photos from my trip to Kapit

Kapit Boat

I went to Kapit a while back for a 2D/1N stay. Kapit is a town 3 hours from Sibu by express boat. There is no other way to reach it – you can’t drive there and you can’t fly in either, the river is the only route.

Sibu Kapit

This is a uniquely Sarawakian feature, there are a lot of random towns that is connected only via Rejang River and lacks the proper highways or road connections to civilization.

Express Boat View

The funny thing is that you have to fill in a form detailing your name and IC number so they know who’s on board. This didn’t exist before, it was the high profile express boat capsizes and accidents resulting in multiple deaths that initiated it.

Live Chicken

I meant human deaths, not livestock. ;) You can find lots of interesting cargo onboard, including live chicken!

Kapit Sibu Express

Interestingly, they don’t overload the express boats anymore too. This makes it a lot safer compared to previous journeys. Previously, there would be people *on top* of the boat, hanging on to the side rails.

Kapit Jetty

We arrived in Kapit 3 hours later and had to disembark.

Sarawak Express Boat

You do this by walking along the side of the express boat. I’m used to it coz I’ve done it when I was a kid, but new people might find this disconcerting since the river is just beside you.

Kapit Town Square

Kapit is a very small town. You can walk around town in a matter of minutes and that’s what we did. We passed by Kapit Town Square on the way to our hotel.

Star Hill Inn

We stayed at Star Hill Inn, one of the best hotels there.

Kapit Hotel

I took a room and my bro Eddy took another room.

Kapit Shoplots

The hotel is in a shoplot, as you can see from the view.

Kapit Roti Canai Goreng

One of the highlights of the trip was eating roti canai goreng. This is a distinctive Kapit invention, they literally fry the roti canai inside a wok of boiling hot oil. Ingenious, and very tasty too.

Kapit Fair

We managed to have some time off the next day and went to see what was going on in Kapit Town Square. It turns out there’s a lot of games of chance, like an indoor funfair of sorts.

Fun Fair Games

I took a spin as well. You pay RM 1 for a can of soft drink and put it at a color of your choice. You get a 1 in 6 chance of winning equal odds e.g. you win 2 cans if you wager 2 cans.

Fun Fair

This works by throwing a tennis ball into a receptacle with 6 possible colors which matches the one on the table. You get unlimited tries, there’s no penalty if you miss or if the ball bounces back up. You simply try again until you get the ball into a color square.

Kapit Gambling

Behold! These are the high rollers of Kapit! smirk

High Rollers

Seriously though, these whales are betting cartons of 24 cans at once. We thought that was quite funny.

Durian Isu

I also managed to get some wild jungle durians to bring home. This is a native durian called durian isu. It’s very different from regular durians, it only has 4 segments. I’ll do a comprehensive review during the weekend.

Maggi Instant Noodles

We had a quick lunch of Maggi instant noodles at the wharf the next day before we departed…

Kapit Wharf

…and caught the afternoon express boat back. It was a really fun overnight trip with my bro Eddy. I haven’t been to Kapit in such a long time!

Roti Canai Goreng in Kapit

Roti Canai Goreng

I first heard about this wonderful creation a couple of months back. Fried roti canai is a staple in Kapit and one of those quirky inventions that can only take hold in a small town. I decided then and there that I must personally investigate this dish and planned to go on a trip downriver. Kapit is a small town that’s only reachable by boat – you can’t drive or fly there.

Roti Canai Goreng Kapit

The journey to Kapit takes 3 hours via express boat from Sibu and I went down with my bro Eddy for a night. It’s not just to eat roti canai goreng, but that certainly was a highlight (at least for me). Haha. The stalls in question are located at Gelanggang Kenyalang (loosely translated as Kenyalang Court). It’s an assortment of stalls under one roof, an indoor food court of sorts.

Gerai Makanan Islam Sri Suria

There is one stall that’s famous for their roti canai goreng but everyone essentially does it the same way nowadays. I went to Stall #25 Gerai Makanan Islam Sri Suria and the kind lady manning the frying pan told me about how the roti canai goreng is made. I was quite surprised to find out that it’s not grilled first – the raw dough of the roti canai is slipped into boiling hot oil and fried straight away.

Roti Goreng Kapit

The same treatment is done for the roti canai telur goreng (fried roti canai with egg). The egg is folded into the dough and deep fried till crispy. It’s served Sarawakian style with curry chicken and a sweet sambal sauce. The latter is truly local, I’ve never had this saccharine sambal anywhere else except at home.

Roti Canai Kapit

The roti canai goreng costs RM 2 and it’s plain roti canai that’s been deep fried. The dough is cooked through, with a crispy exterior. You can taste the sweetness of the dough by picking up the sliced pieces and munching on them. It’s very satisfying!

Roti Telur Goreng

Roti canai telur goreng comes in at RM 4 and it tastes totally different with an egg. I was surprised at how distinctive the two are! This one has a pockmarked surface (from the hot oil) and it tastes a lot more savory than the previous one.

Roti Canai Goreng Inside

Here’s a look at the inside. The egg is perfectly cooked from the heat of the cooking oil. The funny thing about the two roti canai variants is that the egg version is rectangle in shape while the plain is round and circular.

Roti Goreng

Roti canai goreng has a distinctive texture that’s very moreish. I could eat several of them, although it’s probably not wise to do so as it’s quite oily and I feel that excessive consumption would probably be bad for your cholesterol.

HB Eddy Kapit

This is definitely worth a try. I’ll come again just to eat this! You can only find it in Kapit, so if you’re ever in Sarawak and looking for something different, take a boat here and eat their famous roti canai goreng! :)

Bintangor: Famous Bintangor rojak, Bintangor orange juice and river travels!

Boat

My better half has never been to Bintangor before. It’s a small and sleepy town which is one of the major transit points to further destinations accessible only by river. We thought about dropping by the last time she was here but went directly to Sarikei instead.

Sibu Swan

Her parents were in town and I thought they’ll enjoy the small town vibe so I drove all of them down from our hotel in Sibu (after snapping a few quick photos at the swan statue).

Express Boat

It takes approximately an hour to reach Bintangor by car. The main feature in town is a passenger jetty with express boats departing to obscure villages and micro-towns like Dalat, Song and other similar places which can only be reached by the large Rejang River which runs along the entire length of Sarawak.

Jetty

The express boats are the only way to go to these places upriver and that’s why you’ll see them packed to the brim (with people jammed in every nook and cranny and even occupying the roof). Boats like these are supposed to carry 103 pax but regularly exceed that and it makes accidents a very real possibility – a capsized boat killed quite a lot of people last year.

Bintangor Me

There are no roads to the towns further down, you can only get there by boat or helicopter.

Bintangor Orange

I like how the major export of Bintangor is featured as a statue in the middle of town. There’s a local orange that features predominantly in the esplanade and the last time I was here, it was in a very sorry state – paint all peeling and unkempt. It’s been maintained better and the colors look more or less like what a real orange would look like. Trust me, it looked a lot worse in the past.

Bintangor Market

We also dropped by the Bintangor Market to check out their produce. They have a lot of interesting local vegetables, knick knacks and other assorted daily essentials.

Wet Market

I made it a point to bring them to the famous Bintangor rojak at Wong Hung Ping. This place is very popular even among Sibu folks, people would make the 1 hour drive to eat rojak during weekends and drive back down again. I ordered a large portion for us to share and my dear’s dad enjoyed it tremendously.

Famous Rojak Bintangor

There are steamed sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pineapples (from the neighboring town of Sarikei), fried crullers and other miscellaneous ingredients tossed in a sweet homemade sauce and sprinkled with toasted peanuts. I think what makes it so good is that everything is sourced locally and very fresh. The sweet potatoes are even cooked to order!

Bintangor Rojak

I also highly recommended the local Bintangor orange juice (RM 3) which is the squeezed product of the fruits grown just on the outskirts of town. You can’t get it fresher than this!

Bintangor Orange Juice

Her dad enjoyed the rojak so much that he bought a bottle of their homemade rojak sauce to bring back to KL!

Famous Bintangor Rojak

It’s a really fun day trip to do with my dear and the family. I haven’t been here in a few years and it seems like time hasn’t marred this small town like it has other places. Bintangor is still a serene little place you can escape to if you want a change of pace, to experience a quieter way of life.

8 photos from our road trip to Sarikei

1. Big Sarikei Pineapple

new sarikei pineapple statue

There’s a new twin statue of the iconic Sarikei pineapple in the older part of town! This is the “unripe” version, it’s green instead of yellow. smirk Technically, it’s not a statue since it’s not an effigy of a figure, person, or animal but a fruit – pineapples are the primary export of Sarikei and they’re famous for producing these prickly fruits.

2. The Journey from Sibu

sarikei 2014

My better half flew down with me from KL to visit my dad over the weekend. I decided to drive down to Sarikei since she’s never been there before so the three of us packed into a car and headed down to the small town. It’s roughly an hour’s drive from Sibu on a two lane road.

3. Entering Sarikei

red bridge

A beautiful red curving bridge is located at the border between Sibu and Sarikei. You can also reach there by a ferry service across the river but we took the route that takes us through Bintangor (another rural town).

4. Sarikei Clock Tower

sarikei clock tower

This is another famous landmark in town – erected in 1973, it’s been around for a while and recently the town seems to have found some funds to refurbish it. Yes, this is NOT the original clock tower – I have a photo of the earlier tower with a hollow center during my Sarikei trip in 2008.

5. Pasar Sungai Rejang

sungai rejang market

This roughly translates to “Rejang River Market”. Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia and connects much of Sarawak. This building houses the old wet market in town and there’s lots of interesting stuff in there!

6. Scenes from Sarikei Wet Market

sarikei market

There is a stall here that sells authentic home made Sarawak laksa paste but unfortunately it was closed by the time we arrived.

7. Salted Fish

salted-fish

Salted fish is a much beloved food item here. There are many different kinds of fish being dried, salted and sometimes fermented – everything from whitebait to local species to imported cod.

8. The Original Sarikei Pineapple Statue
(accept no substitutes)

sarikei pineapple statue

This is the original (bigger and ripe) Sarikei pineapple! It’s located by the waterfront and it’s almost bleached white from the constant cleaning. Contrast the Sarikei pineapple statue with a post I wrote when I went on a trip with a couple of friends during my winter holidays back from university in Melbourne – this is Sarikei back in 2002 where it’s a much dirtier but vibrant shade.

The Pursuit of Happiness

happiness

The United States Declaration of Independence has an oft quoted line – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It’s misunderstood by a lot of people. Your happiness is not guaranteed…the sentence is supposed to give you the basic unalienable human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (emphasis mine).

What is happiness? Well, it depends on the individual but it is your right to seek your own happiness. To me, happiness is a state of mind where you’re content with everything in your life.

flying

Happiness is something money cannot buy. A lot of people are unhappy about their financial situation but I believe that’s an unnecessary worry. The Chinese has a proverb that goes “Money is something that you can always earn back when you lose it”. There’s another phrase that goes “There will be water if God wills it” but that comes from the less reputable and more modern Dark Tower series of books by Stephen King. ;)

roman bath

Happiness is a state of mind that I always try to strive for. I’m happy when I’m doing the things I like such as travelling. It enriches me and makes me a more understanding and better person when I meet new people and learn about new cultures. I’m even happier when I’m spending quality time with loved ones – friends, family, my girlfriend.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget about the simple things in life that lifts your mood:

  • Finding a parking space as soon as you enter a full car park
  • The smell of freshly cut grass
  • Laughing at corny jokes
  • Having a baby smile at you
  • A fellow commuter stopping to let you drive out of a particularly busy exit
  • Waking up and realizing it’s the weekend so you can sleep in
  • Watching a sweet TVC that makes you smile

These are all little things which makes yout day just that little bit brighter. It has a cumulative effect and happiness is highly contagious – it’s like laughter. It’s meant to be shared. :)

I watched the Cadbury TVC and repeated it twice coz it was just so sweet. I found it adorable – the simple sweet joy (pun not intended) that permeates the entire commercial. It has all the elements done right – the humor, the camaraderie of neighborhood love, and a dash of romance.

resort

I took it upon myself to make a video similar to that. I was in Miri, Sarawak at that time to help my girlfriend move her stuff to KL. We spent a weekend in the Marriott Resort and Spa in Miri. It’s located right on the beach by the South China Sea and we booked a chalet facing the pool and sea.

You just need to open the sliding glass door to get out. There’s a balcony which is less than 10 meters from the pool – it’s almost like having a pool right at your doorstep!

view

I thought up the idea of having a series of unfortunate events much like the original TVC. The entire video was shot over a period of 2 days. I didn’t have a professional videographer so I had to think of how to get the scenes right.

I also wanted a “happy” vibe so everything is shot in daylight – it’s bright and sunny with no indoor scenes except the initial phone call. I’ll go through the more interesting bits to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the video. :)

The splash

tripod

The first mishap you see (the one where I exit the house just to get splashed by a wayward neighbor’s dirty mop water) is done using a tripod. The one holding the bucket is…*drumroll*…Jeanie herself. The bucket was too heavy for her and we had to do two takes. I ended up changing coz the first splash totally failed – she went into the scene, propelled by the momentum and weight of the bucket of water.

We filled it with less water in the second take. I didn’t want to use up the rapidly dwindling backpack of attire I brought along. :x

The car not being able to start

You’ll see the same car in the next scene so I did an extreme close up so you won’t see the make, model or color of the car. :)

The accident scene

car

This one wasn’t too hard to do. It only required the two of us to pull it off. I filmed Jeanie driving towards me. I told her to put her foot on the gas and not worry about hitting me.

After that part was filmed, I passed the camera to her and she filmed me being caught like a deer in the headlights as the car (apparently) came barreling down on me.

The next scene was me twitching on the car bonnet after being “hit”. It took some video transitions to make it look comically realistic (without actually hitting me with the car).

It was originally longer but I thought the bit where I ended up wandering about dazed after being hit was a little too much so I cut it from the editing board. You can watch the full original scene here:

I spent a lot of time editing the videos – it’s a good learning process but it took me the better part of 3 days of almost continuous tweaking to get the timing and synchronization right. I’m a newbie in video production, thus the learning curve.

The sea

beach

This is one of the scenes that I took out of the video as I thought it won’t contribute much to it. The beach walk also had to be sped up 4x so it won’t drag on.

The underwater scene

underwater

This is a bit of a retrofit. It was meant to be all fluff – a cool video taken underwater. I have a waterproof digicam and I figured it would be nifty to take a video underwater. I knew it won’t make much sense since I appear with my shirt on in the next scene…until I saw someone being escorted out by security.

pool

The Marriott has a strict policy – only guests are allowed to use the resort facilities and The Proverbial Light Bulb (TM) came on. It shall be the scene where I evade the guards! smirk

I put that in the caption (used the Confucius angle), and the rest, as they say, is history.

The end scene

people

After all those trials and tribulations, we finally shot the last scene beside the pool. There’s this comfy sofa and we enlisted the help of a kind lady from France who was more than obliged to help us film this scene. The inter-cuts you see at the end is filmed by us – I did her and she did me.

The chocolate

cadbury old

I swear this was the hardest part of the video – we went to several different shops in Miri but none of them had Cadbury Dairy Milk. They have others – the ones with nuts, Old Gold, and others…but not the original. It took us 2 hours before we stumbled upon a shop that sells it. I bought 5 x 75 gram bars.

cadbury new

I then realized that it was the old packaging when I chanced upon a shop with the new packaging. I bought more of it and re-shot some of the scenes again. I have a lot of chocolate now but I love Cadbury Dairy Milk so it’s all good. :D

cadbury dairy milk

We actually did share it – there were a couple of kids running around in the resort and I passed them several bars. I thought their parents would balk – candy from strangers and all that, but they thanked us for it and one even bought us drinks from the poolside bar.

poolside

The kids loved it. One of them came up to me and she showed me her toy – a launcher she was playing with beside the pool that launches a baby dinosaur up into the air by pumping air into the tube. That was the highlight of doing the video – sharing the Cadbury chocolate and seeing the little ones enjoying it by the pool during their holiday. :)

Here’s my masterpiece:

What do you think?

Do you need a dose of happiness? Join the Cadbury Facebook page and get some! :)

Nasi Lemak Naga Liar…it’s no Proboscis monkey!

joyce yong

I headed down to check out this legendary Chinese style nasi lemak establishment with Joyce during my last day in Miri. Joyce is a regular dining companion of ours during my fortnight over there. We usually have breakfast or lunch together and on the last day I realized something…I’ve never actually taken a photo with her! I thought I have coz we’ve been eating together almost every day but I don’t have a picture of her.

naga liar

Thus, we went down to Nasi Lemak NagaLiar for their acclaimed…er, nasi lemak. smirk I have no idea what the tagline is supposed to convey. However, the history behind this super packed establishment is rather interesting – almost a rags to riches success story.

nasi lemak miri

Nasi Lemak Naga Liar only serves nasi lemak and it sells out really fast. I think we went there at around 1 pm and the nasi lemak special is gone – only the regular ones remain. :x I could see a lot of people ordering packets to go – it seems to serve mainly office workers but it wasn’t always so.

naga liar nasi lemak

According to Joyce, the humble beginnings of NagaLiar Nasi Lemak started with a husband and wife team delivering nasi lemak to schools using a motorcycle (!!!). The proprietor used to go around the schools and sell the nasi lemak to students during recess. It became very popular but they didn’t open a brick and mortar shop until recently.

naga liar interior

I ordered Nasi Lemak Regular (RM 4) – it’s a pretty basic Chinese style version of the dish. There’s sambal, peanuts, anchovies, cool cucumber slices, an egg, a piece of fried chicken and of course, the santan (coconut milk) infused rice.

nasi lemak regular

The nasi lemak from Naga Liar comes with fried chicken by default but you can also order…

naga liar curry drumstick

…a side of curry chicken drumstick (RM 3). I like the curry chicken, but it’s also cooked Chinese style – it’s not as rich and has a distinctive taste like the curry chicken you get from chap fan places. The fried chicken is pretty good though – it’s dipped into a flavorful savory batter and deep fried. Delicious!

nasi lemak naga liar

Naga Liar’s nasi lemak is practically an institution for the people my age in Miri, who grew up eating this during high school. However, I didn’t find it to be particularly outstanding. It’s good, but falls short of greatness. I’m comparing it to Village Park nasi lemak in Damansara Uptown though so that might not be a fair gauge.

joyce

I’ll say that it’s good nasi lemak by Miri standards. More importantly, it was great to have lunch with Joyce before leaving Miri again. :D

200 chicken wings

200 chicken wings

There is an old man that sets up his humble grill in the afternoons at a coffee shop called Chatterbox Dessert and Cafe. It doesn’t even have a name. I first thought he was a customer, since he was just sitting at a table chilling there with a cold beer. Joanna ordered some chicken wings and the person told us it’s going to take 30 minutes.

joanna me

I finally met up with Joanna just now for a very late lunch. It turns out that she lives just one street across from where I’m staying in Miri. We’re practically neighbours and never realized it. Heh! She brought me to this legendary place which is supposed to have excellent chicken wings.

bbq chicken wings

I hear he only prepares 200 chicken wings every day. He doesn’t do more even though the demand is there. I’ve only seen ONE (1) customer in addition to us who managed to order his acclaimed chicken wings. The next one that came along was turned away coz he told them that he’s out of chicken wings.

Now, this is quite puzzling since we’ve only been there an hour and to the best of my knowledge, only two people ordered the chicken wings. It turns out that the rest were “reserved” – it has been pre-booked by another customer so he’s not even selling a single chicken wing to anyone else.

chicken wings

This is one of the rare instances where a stall successfully manipulates the supply and demand of his wares well. I think manipulate might be the wrong word to use here since the man doesn’t seem to be interested in mass producing inferior quality BBQ chicken wings. He displays passion – watching over the BBQ grill with a determined and almost ferocious intensity.

joanna ask

He’s a man that won’t be rushed too. He refuses to serve the chicken wings until it’s properly done according to his standards. Joanna went over after a while and said it’s okay, we’ll just take it as it is. However, the man politely declined with a smile and said it’s not done yet. It looks done and it smells done but he won’t serve it until HE DECREES THAT IT’S DONE.

You just gotta admire that. Heh!

The chicken wings costs RM 2 each. Joanna paid so I can’t be sure but 5 chicken wings at RM 10 comes up to RM 2 each, unless my math is way off the mark.

We also had chicken rice while waiting for the BBQ chicken wings to be done. I remember the last time I met up with Joanna in Sibu during Chinese New Year, we had chicken rice too. Or at least, I had chicken rice…she didn’t eat.

famous chicken wings

Back to the BBQ chicken wings, it’s every bit as good as I expected. It goes very well with the chilli sauce that came with it but I suggest you eat it au natural. It’s juicy and tender and the marinade he uses is sweet, producing a set of chicken wings that transcends into sublime culinary bliss. :)

BARcelona Spanish food and SOHO Irish bistro

barcelona soho

It was a lazy Friday night and we got a call from Wendy asking us if we would like to join her for dinner. She’s buying and we headed down to BARcelona for food and drinks. BARcelona is a place that serves Spanish food and the best thing about the place is that you can order stuff from SOHO (which is next door) too!

barcelona us

BARcelona and SOHO are located in adjacent lots and belongs to the same owner – you can sit at either one and order food from the other. SOHO specializes in Irish food and I’m pretty sure both establishments share the same bar.

There’s an outdoor patio type canopy that allows you to chill al fresco style. It’s Miri so there’s always a nice sea breeze going on at night. ;)

barcelona facebook

I am intrigued by BARcelona’s concept – they have different seating arrangements to suit everyone. You can have a private dining area or sit in one of the side booths where there’s a computer screen on the table. I saw a lot of people logging on to Facebook and showing their friends photos.

I facebook-like the idea. :) It brings social media back to the real world.

Anyway, the photos I took are really horrible coz I didn’t bring my dSLR here so I’ll use a thousand words instead. Heh!

Jeanie had the broccoli soup from SOHO. I like it – it’s very creamy and rich. I’m not a big fan of soups in general so that’s saying a lot.

barcelona salad

The other thing that surprised my friends was the large Cobb Salad (RM 15) which we ordered for starters. This also came from SOHO and contains organic mixed greens, honey roasted chicken, tomatoes, onions, bacon with blue cheese crumbles and hard boiled eggs. I don’t eat a lot of veggies but the salad uses a balsamic vinegar dressing which hits the spot and the bits of bacon inside helped a lot too. I ate quite a bit of the leafy greens – enough to hit my usual monthly quota. smirk

The chef also recommended several tapas dishes that we had. The most memorable one is Albondigas Picante (which will hereby be referred to as the meatball tapas). This is quite surprising since it looks rather plain at first glance. However, when the Taste Test (TM) is applied, it turned me into a believer. The meatball is firm but literally bursts with juicy goodness when you bite down into it. Nice!

barcelona tapas

There’s also the Patatas con Alioli Picante which all the others liked but I didn’t care much for. It does have very nice dressing but eating potatoes just doesn’t do it for me. To each his/her own!

The Baranjas con Salsa de Pimentas (eggplant with Spanish sauce) was good though. I love eggplant. It’s one of the few vegetables I like, mostly due to it’s creamy and rich texture. The tapas dishes all come with slices of bread to soak up the gravy.

barcelona paella

I love the Paella Marisco (seafood paella) too – it came with huge prawns, mussels and squid. You can request for them to use the more authentic Spanish rice instead of the regular rice tailored to local tastes – it tastes much better this way.

The rice is firm and each grain is distinctive. It’s flavorful and goes very well with the seafood. Trust me on this – ask for Spanish rice. :D

barcelona pizza

Next came another one of their specialties – the Valencia Pizza (RM 19). It’s 10 inches, made with a topping of onion, chilli, pepper, bacon and minced beef and comes in a proper thin crust. I had my doubts initially upon setting my eyes on it. Chilli slices on a pizza? It looks like the product of an overzealous fusion chef but when I bit into the thin crust and tasted the pizza, I fell in love with it immediately. I eat a lot of pizza and I usually forgo it when I’m eating out but this one tastes exquisite!

barcelona pizza closeup

It’s one of those rare moments when fusion cuisine works very well. I can see why it’s on the recommended list in the menu. I would recommend it too. :)

barcelona maghrita

Down to the cocktails, I had three – this is the Ultimate Margarita (RM 20). It’s done well and I love the sea salt lining the rim of the glass. It’s a small thing but you’ll be surprised at the number of places that don’t do it, especially in smaller cities. It’s not a proper margarita unless there’s sea salt on the rim. I like the attention to detail in BARcelona.

barcelona tea party

I also had their signature BARcelona Tea Party (RM 25). It’s listed on the alcohol menu as “Star & Strong Alcohol”. It’s true, the alcohol content is rather high in this long island tea variant. I love it! :D

barcelona wings

The best dish that we had that night was hands down the humble chicken wings. It’s oven baked and marinated with juices which complement the chicken very well. The skin is crispy but the meat tender – a wonderful experience. Do not miss this one if you’re ever in BARcelona. It’s perfect as finger food or a main course. Succulent.

barcelona neon

BARcelona and SOHO is located diagonally from Mega Hotel in Miri. It’s outside of the main clubbing distinct and as such, provides a nice change of scenery. The bill is affordable too – the tapas ranges from RM 5 – RM 10 and the mains are reasonably priced. It’s a great place to have dinner or drinks with a couple of friends.

barcelona me wendy

Thanks for picking up the bill Siaw Yin! You’re too kind. Next meal is on me. :)



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