Saturday, March 17, 2018

NYE 2018

Big Pau

On New Year's Eve (after a Big Pau Breakfast), reconnected with Peng and her husband after a long hiatus. Met them over lunch at Let's Joy Cafe in Kuchai Lama. For as long as I can remember, Peng was thin as a reed. Now I can see some padding on her. Guess we can't stay slim forever. On the other hand, her husband has managed to maintain his figure although he has a voracious appetite. The milk tea and Japanese curry baked rice at the cafe was pretty good actually. Plenty more to choose from actually. Even the dessert menu is extensive.

Big Pau (Cross Section)

Cheese Baked Rice

At 10:00 PM, mum and I went to church again. As usual, there was an NYE mass that ends with fellowship and fireworks. So unlucky that a lady knocked my phone out of my hand while I was recording the fireworks display. Got a small crack at the corner which prompted me to get a more protective casing. Hope your 2018 started on a better note than mine!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

East Coast Road Trip III: From Cherating to Calong and Celup


Although I wasn't happy with the hotel room, I slept like a baby anyway. When I got up, KH was randy and wanted to get inside me. I went to clean-up, then he got me nice and ready with foreplay. As he was poised to enter me, we got a knock on the door! Bwahaha. Time to get ready and have a walk on the beach. So we tucked our woodies into our shorts, combed our hair, and headed for the pool. SK already her morning swim on that dreadfully windy monsoon morning. If the weather was nicer, it would have been great. The beach was clean, but halfway through our walk, we were hit by sporadic showers. Anyway, we didn't have long to linger there as we had a breakfast appointment with the Y Tribe in Kuantan.

Windy Beach

Breakfast was the famous Mee Calong in Beserah. A fairly new addition to Kuantan's culinary dictionary. Created perhaps a decade or so ago. They brought us to Joe Warung Mee Calong dan Keropok Beserah, an open-air restaurant that's built right in front of Joe's wooden house. The Y Tribe's patriarch is actually one of Joe's suppliers, so they know each other quite well. Mee Calong is something like the Malay version of Chinese fishball noodles. Instead of fishballs, they use keropok lekor fish paste. Kinda like Indonesian pempek. The clear soup is a mixture of anchovies and Malay spices which gives it a delicious flavour. As the name suggests, Joe also specializes in keropok lekor. Truth be told, of all the keropok I've had on the trip, Joe wins the prize for best taste, and texture.

Mee Calong

Keropok Lekor

Riding on Joe's success, kuih and nasi lemak suppliers also sell their stuff there by consignment. Pretty decent really, especially the onde-onde, and kuih cara berlauk. Believe it or not, we extended our breakfast just to wait for nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah and rojak to be available. LOL. Whenever you're in Beserah, do pay this JJCM-awarded restaurant a visit.

Nasi Kukus


Aneka Kuih

I grew up in a government quarters called the Survey Quarters because my late father was an employee for the Land Survey Department. The whole compound had no fencing, and everyone stayed in identical single-storey houses, with red cement flooring. Living room, dining room, three bedrooms (to get to the master bedroom, one had to go through an intermediate bedroom), and a garage. The toilet and the bathroom are connected to the garage. So when I was a kid, it was a daunting task of unlatching the folding doors to get 'out of the house' to use the toilet in the middle of the night. Every house was fronted by a big field that when combined with neighbouring houses became a huge playground for me. Back then, it was also a very multi-cultural community-- Malay, Chinese, Indian, Punjabi, and Portugese. But that doesn't mean I didn't hear the occasional, "Cina Babi" heckle. That aside, it was harmonious.

I Grew Up Here II

Although my old neighbour had warned me that Survey Quarters ain't what it used to be, nothing prepared me for the sight of my old house. Firstly, the government decided to erect a high wall around the compound. Better security perhaps. Secondly, the houses had gone to shit. In this day and age, I think civil servants would rather rent a house outside with their housing allowance. Hence many of the houses were abandoned and subsequently 'claimed by nature'. My old house was one such example. It had a rumah mat gian vibe to it.

I Grew Up Here I

When in Kuantan, it's a must to buy salted fish. My hometown is well-known for a variety of salted fish known as mui heong which literally translates into "rotten fragrant". Perfect when used to steam minced pork or to add into claypot chicken rice. Jalan Besar used to be a hot spot for the salted fish business, but many of the shops have closed down. One big player still remains though-- Chen Hing. All sorts of dried seafood products can be bought here. A great one-stop shop.

Dried Seafood Shop

From town we made a quick detour into Bukit Sekilau so that I could take a quick look at my old primary school. Still remember the places I used to play during recess, and the field opposite the main entrance where a lady used to sell aiskrim ikat underneath a cashew tree.

I Used To Play Here


Then I visited my secondary school or whatever is left of it. The St. Thomas Secondary School is no more, as it is now Regent International School. There's some controversy surrounding the whole issue because the Ministry of Education deemed that the relocated St. Thomas school would be renamed to Sekolah Mahkota Abdullah, effectively erasing its history as a missionary school (established by Rev. Fr. Louis Guitat in 1950 and later taken over by the Brothers of St. Gabriel in 1960). The red sports house was named Guitat.

Regent International School

Just beside the old site of St. Thomas Secondary School is St. Thomas Church. Mum and I made a quick visit around its compound. I don't have much memories of it as I just attended mass there once in my life. The tall bell tower was just a landmark to me.

St. Thomas Church

Rushed over to lunch at Tanjung Lumpur. The Y Tribe's extended family was already waiting for us at Gerai Mok Na. So much East Coast Malay sin food under one roof. All my favourites were there-- otak-otak, satar, ketupat palas, ikan goreng tepung, keropok lekor, tebosa, pulut panggang, etc. I also got my laksam fix there. For dessert, there was pengat pisang and kuih asam gumpal. It was a very satisfying lunch! From there we bid farewell to the Y Tribe, and Kuantan as we were making our way back to KL.

Malay Goodies

Ikan Celup Tepung


But of course, we made a stop at Seri Jaya, for more food! Hahaha. Been craving for Restoran Sin Tong Kok's big pau. SK had to pre-order, else we wouldn't be able to get it. Ahhhh, a truly fruitful trip to the East Coast.

Famous Pau

And look at this coffee shop opposite Sin Tong Kok. It's weird enough that they have a pillar right in the middle of the entrance, but they made it more 'presentable' by installing a huge God of Prosperity on it. LOL. Only in small towns I guess.

Choi San

P.S.: I didn't get fat from all the food. Blek.

Friday, March 09, 2018

East Coast Road Trip II: Delicious Dagang

Lining Up

According to Lynn, there's this legendary nasi dagang at Kampung Atas Tol (quite some name eh?). Due to its popularity, we had to get there really early. Got to Kak Ros Nasi Dagang at around 7:30 AM, but there were no free tables, and a long line had already formed outside (we were the only Chinese there, something I often notice in KT). The side of the road was full of parked cars. The drizzle failed to turn people away from the allure of the nasi dagang. There were actually two queues, one for eat-in and the other for take away. The former is the slowest moving because people tend to take-away a lot of packets. Easily twenty packets per order. If you're eating there, they'll assemble you order on a huge metal tray, and you can carry it away one shot! To accompany your nasi dagang, you can also have keropok lekor (sedap jugak) and Teh Tarik Meleleh (literally translates to Dripping Pulled Tea). In my opinion, it's a like an overflowed tea cappuccino. The foams stays at the side of the cup long after you've finished the contents. After forty five minutes, we got our food and left.

Kampung Atas Tol

Nasi Dagang


Abang Sado

We had our breakfast at the hotel, together with The Tribe. Mum and the kids had just woke up! Made coffee from the provided Indocafe premix, and Big Monster was immediately hooked. In my opinion, the nasi dagang was really good. The rice was very creamy, and the kari ikan tongkol delicious. Big Monster gave his thumbs up for the nasi lemak.

Nasi Dagang

Next up, we packed our bags and checked out. Then went to Kampung Cina which is Kuala Terengganu's Chinatown. To get there we had to use the Sultan Mahmud Bridge which crosses the Terengganu River, and two inland islands (Pulau Duyong and Pulau Besar). Another landmark is the Terengganu Welcome Sign, which is a huge "Allah Peliharakan Terengganu" located on Bukit Besar. Kampung Cina is really touristy, very much like Jonker Street in Melaka. Whole lot of murals along the road lined with pre-war shop houses. And of course there is an oriental gateway there. And one of the narrow alleys was turned into Turtle Alley, dedicated to turtle conservation.



Street Art


Like Hobbits, we had a second breakfast which was Roti Paun Terengganu at T. Homemade Cafe. The cute six-pack buns were toasted and served with butter and kaya. They also sell a bun with tebosa (fish) filling which is pretty cool.

Roti Paun

Tebosa Bun

For shopping, we went to the local market called Pasar Besar Kedai Payang. On the ground floor, one can get fresh fish, poultry, meat, eggs (turtle eggs too!), fruits, and vegetables. Plenty of snacks and tid-bits too (like jeruk, keropok, and serunding). The units upstairs are mostly dedicated to clothes and crafts. There's also a food court there.

Market I

Market II


Turtle Eggs

Our last stop in Kuala Terengganu before heading out to Kuantan again was Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah, or more commonly called the Floating Mosque. The name comes from the fact that the mosque is built in the estuary of Ibai River. The white mosque seems to be floating when viewed from one side of the estuary.

Floating Mosque

Back in Kuantan, mum made a visit to her neighbour again because a reunion was arranged with another two neighbours. It was great that she could see old friends. We also made an appointment to see the kids that my mum (The Y Tribe) used to babysit. I used to sit the little one in front of the TV and shove heaps of rice into his mouth. And he loved to watch me play Worms Armageddon on my PC. Twenty years later, the kids are taller than me.

The Y Tribe treated us to dinner that night at Restoran Baru Hock Hin, a place famous for Foochow cuisine. That night we had steamed fish, oyster omelette, steamed tofu with ginger sauce (the tofu version of ginger steamed fish), red wine residuum chicken, and an excellent kung pao baby eel.

Ginger Tofu

Kung Pao Eel

Our accommodation for the night was at The Legend Cherating Resort, which was quite far out of town. In my opinion, the place is pretty run-down and in need of a face lift. The retro feel to the rooms reminded me of my stay at Manohara Hotel in Borobudur. The room was huge, but the bathroom door was a horrible plastic, the toilet roll was obviously wet before we checked in, dust was all over, and there was sand in the sheets! Cheered up with Hokkien mee that we tapau-ed from Restoran Kim Kee back in Kuantan.

Run Down

Hokkien Mee

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

East Coast Road Trip I: Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, and Keropok

Nasi Lemak

Ended 2017 with a road trip to the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The trip was for both business and pleasure. In case you didn't know, SK and I are both from that part of the woods. That's why mum and SK also tagged along to visit relatives and friends. For KH, it's to spend time with me and at the same time try to expand his Nu Skin network there. We started the drive bright and early, arriving at Gambang before 11:00 AM. Made our first stop at Restoran Zaman, Jalan Gambang, a place popular for its nasi lemak and roti canai. Their nasi lemak comes pre-packed in banana leaf, and when a tray comes out from the kitchen, it never has a chance to make its way to the front. In my opinion, the nasi lemak isn't very impressive and it doesn't have much condiments. The sambal is sweet, which is considered authentic, but not to my liking. And if you like your roti canai from scratch, do come here.

Roti Canai

From there, it was just a short drive to Kuantan. On the way to KH's first appointment, I spotted Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Pahang, my late father's old office. Stopped there for a quick shot. Unfortunately, the stall (he called it High Chapparal!) where my late dad used to bring me for teh halia nearby had moved. And since we were near Bukit Pelindung, I visited Tadika Assunta, my old kindergarten on a hill. Some years ago, I met my ex-headmistress at SIC during the CNY mass of 2014.


Tadika Assunta

After dropping KH off at Bukit Pelindung for his client follow-up, we went to visit SK's grandmother at an old folk's home in Kubang Buaya. The place was clean, quiet, and airy. SK's grandmother looked alert and her appetite was healthy judging by how fast she ate the roti canai that SK tapau-ed from Zaman earlier. Next up was a visit to my old neighbour from Survey Quarters. Six months ago, her husband passed away after a fainting spell on the staircase. Back in my childhood, her son and I were best buddies.

Visiting Granny

I also found the time to make a quick stop at Sekolah Menengah Teknik Kuantan, a place where I taught physics for two months. Being a temporary teacher while waiting for my STPM results was quite fun really. But those kids were quite hopeless. Haha.

Feeling quite full from the late breakfast, we drove on to Kuala Terengganu for our next appointment.  Arrived in town just before 5:00 PM. It was my first time seeing the capital of Terengganu. Our host was Lynn, an ex-neighbour of SK's at MaisonSK. Few years back, she relocated back to her hometown to start a business specializing in Malay bridal goods. We picked her up at her shop, and she immediately brought us out for food! Yass! When in Kuala Terengganu, eat what the locals eat for tea time-- kerepok lekor! Her recommendation was Kak Yah Keropok Lekor at Kampung Losong Haji Su. Really enjoyed sipping a cup of cold teh c while enjoying a plate of yin-yang keropok lekor-- one deep-fried, the other blanched (the healthier choice).

Keropok Lekor

Lynn felt that we needed to complete the trinity of keropok by trying the keropok bakar at Pantai Batu Buruk. Keropok Bakar is basically skewered fried lekor balls that are subsequently grilled. The beach seems to be a popular place for the locals with its carnival-like atmosphere. Believe it or not, there are horse carriages there, all pimped up like Cinderella's ride to the royal ball. Once can also ride horses and ponies on the beach. And if you're not a horse person, go for the ATVs. If that's too adventurous, you can fly a kit or enjoy the sea breeze on a swing.

Keropok Bakar

Horse Carriage


Horse Carriage Again

Before dinner, we went back to Lynn's shop for a short Nu Skin opportunity and product presentation.  Met her hubby and cute daughter as well. Her health condition was pretty uncommon with a health condition where a genetic mutation causes her body to accumulate excess copper. In the end, she gave the health supplements a miss, but loved the Galvanic Spa. After that, we went to dinner at D'Tunggal Seafood. The Tribe were also in town (an amazing coincidence), so we met up for dinner. The popular dishes there are fried quail (love the marinade), stir-fried bitter gourd (a wet eggy type that's so different from the Chinese), tomyum (really thick and creamy), ayam lap (something like a fried chicken cake), and fried fish (can't believe they ran out of sauce for grilled fish).



Halfway through dinner, it rained cats and dogs (monsoon season ma). And we still had another appointment-- Lynn's parents! She brought to her parent's home, and we had a nice talk with them, understanding their health condition and needs. Our day ended at midnight! Phew! Super tired by the time we checked in to ADA Hotel. A clean hotel by THAT kind of place standards. But the walls were a bit thin though, so no moaning out loud!