Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year In Review: Personal Best Moments of 2013 & Welcoming The New Year!


It has been one amazing year for me, personally. While I don't want it to end, the book still has to be closed because the chapter is finished and today marks the last page. But let's not fret. Life must go on boldly forward because we have everything to live for in 2014!


A Recap of Best Personal Moments for 2013. 

1. Spend the early parts of the year away from home organizing events a week apart from each other... A buildup to the General Election. One Division after another, and always coming home feeling drenched and in need of a good rest. But with awesome colleagues, anything is possible. 

In the spirit of 1Malaysia la kan... against a potent choc brownies...

2. Breezed through the General Election 2013... because the hard and difficult parts have already been done earlier. 

3. Met Zamani in person! ... From Slam. He has always been my favorite local talent since school days. *Sigh* I couldn't believe he got so skinny!

Zamani Slam: Kembali Terjalin...

4. And got a free hug from Ironman!... The adventures my job brings me everyday. No Thor, but this will do.

Superhero overload...

5. Recruited a new blood donor. If this is member get member program, I'd have a cool downline. :) Because it is my only unselfish passion so far. And now I don't have to do it alone or look for a friend to accompany me. My husband is now my special moral-support partner!

And our blood group is the same as well...

6. First Valentine's celebration with Mr Right. At home eating simple home cook food. And gifted with my first silver cross necklace! <3 I foresee many Valentine celebrations will be spent alone together at home after this. 

To be worn close to my heart...

7. Ventured into Charms-making Business... Slowly and steadily, online and offline. This is another passion that I see should take off quite well, if only I have more time and focus. Tell you more about it later. Meanwhile for now, you may check www.eheartcharms.com

 Tranquility charms bracelet... from EHeartcharms.com

8. Cook more at home these days... because the guy I'm going out with loves home cook meals and especially Dayak food. 

Sambal nenas (spicy pineapple in prawn paste)

9. Visited Limbang! At last... And now the only Division I have yet to step foot on is Kapit. Although I've been to Song a few times. Wait ah 2014... 

For work, that is...

10. Ventured out of the country... to Phuket and Bali! To two countries at one time! -- Got my passport this year and well, ventured overseas for the first time. I know, I know... late bloomer and all. But two international island resorts in one go made up for it!


11. Got a surprise proposal! Every girl's dream, stuffs of fairy tale... to have a guy she loves go on one knee in public, open a beautiful tiny box and pop the question. What kind of girl could or even want to say No to that?  Oh you could also read about it HERE.

The precious props...

12. Went to Bangkok! ... an unplanned trip but an amazing journey nonetheless. 

Met and had coffee with George Clooney at Madame Tussaud, Bangkok

13. Got properly and formerly affianced... with the families' blessings and approval. And then it is made official because the earlier one was more of a personal engagement. 

Official engagement day...

14. Given an acoustic guitar by le fiance... An early birthday present, he said, 3 months away from the real birth date. The only guitar I ever had was given by my dad on my 18th birthday. It broke after I brought it back from college during my senior years. Some stuffs are to be cherished forever, more for the thoughts that count. 

Rocking good times...

15. GOT MARRIED! To this amazing guy on Dec 14 2013! The same one who proposed to me. It was the most beautiful, most memorable, most exceptionally amazing time of my life. Walking down the aisle in daddy's arms in daddy's tiny country church, feeling like the most blessed and most beautiful bride in the world. The day we exchanged rings, vows, and got united in front of God and men. A truly special day in any girl's life.

Getting all dolled up, morning of the wedding...

16. Went for honeymoon right after... to the islands of the gods, Bali again! No words can describe my state of happiness at this point.

Lounging good times in Bali...

17. Celebrated Birthday Bali style! ... because we were already there. Got serenaded by one of the coolest local acoustic bands I've ever had the honour to watch.

 The birthday kiss!

18. First Christmas as a newly wedded couple. With both sides of the family.

19. Moving to our new marital house. Right after the honeymoon. :) So by New Year, I'd be a driving a distant more to work than usual. 

20. About to spend New Year's Eve with awesome companies, awesome food, and awesome FIREWORKS display across the City!

So then, there it is. I may have missed a few milestones but that's ok. Next year I'll have a proper diary. In a rush now for the New Year's Eve get-together. Till then lovelies, here's wishing you...

What doesn't kill us last year will only make us stronger this year!

Wohoooooo! Release the fireworks!

Monday, December 16, 2013

News Update from The Wedding Bureau: COFFEE GIRL JUST GOT HITCHED!


 Walking down the aisle in daddy's arm...

Ok that was two days ago. Forgive the remiss. Yours truly had been real busy getting herself properly wedded. Only able to get hold of this laptop and recounting the extraordinary journey right now, in BALI nonetheless, on my ehem… honeymoon.

And hey, I am that word called WIFE now! That’s a promotion of the highest order in a girl’s life. Not to belong to someone, but to have found her soul mate and begin a wonderful journey together. It’s been really amazing. How I got myself into this position right now is beyond me. Only by the grace of God. 

Two rings to unite them all...

This is one of those times when saying it is just not good enough. It has to be shouted and proclaimed out loud because it deserves the special mention. After the surprise proposal in July (which you can read here), the proper official engagement in September (and here), and the following months of preparation plus countdown (and here and here), it comes down to this one memorable day in December:  THE OTTERS BIG DAY.

It’s so amazing it’s unbelievable. Have not been able to stop smiling despite been standing on 4.5inch heels all day, all night and then going a few rounds. And still standing! I must respect all brides before me. You think it was easy, and now you know. The extra inches helped to raise the confidence a bit but it didn’t matter after all because the groom is tall and it’s only fitting. But not complaining right here.  The little pain is nothing compared to the joy. It didn’t just tip the scale, it tumbled it!

The extra inches...

At some point, you forget all the exhaustion, the anxiety, the butterflies in the stomach, and just focus on making miracles and hoping for the best. And the smiles just came on naturally. We kinda just winged and well swung it, you know, like the saying goes, doing our best and letting the rest takes care of itself.
But you should have seen my groom. If the bride was radiant, then he was beaming! He’s never looked more handsome. My pillar of strength. My soul mate. My significant otter. My husband.
The signing ceremony. We just realised that the smile never left his face...

Oh don’t you roll your eyes at me, my lovelies. Haha! Allow me this moment right here right now because this does not happen to a girl every day and no matter what you say I will insist on writing too-sweet-till-your-tooth-ache posts like this. ^^

The whole journey including (and most of all) the preparations has been truly remarkable. A one of a kind adventure really.  Our respective families have been really supportive and fabulous too. I must say that couples who co-fund their own wedding made a lot of decision-making fairly easy because parents don't get in the way too much, although we try to compromise wherever we can to please both parties and listen to elderly advice as often as we can. Happy parents make happy future newlyweds, yes?

By the way, I’m not going to apologize because we didn’t serve liquor that night at the reception. I believe you don’t really need alcohol to have fun. Sober fun is real fun, right? But that's just me. Nevertheless I thank you that all of our friends and families in attendance were perfectly sporting. You guys rock!

Appreciation door gifts... Left for morning, right for evening...

Even the band was awesome! I actually found them via a friend who posted in FB pics of them performing. I went around asking and got the manager's number, and the rest is well, country history. They sang all my favorite songs (ones which I helped pick beforehand of course). It has always been a dream to have Alan Jackson sing at my wedding... and this was close to perfect. (p/s: If you want the contacts, buzz me...)

Country band, The Hybrid. Mr Paka, now a good friend, on the keyboard..

Oh did you hear about the surprise? I had a hard time deciding whether I should or not, and where I should do it… in church or during the reception. I almost bailed out because that was one heck of a reception dress I was wearing… heavy, real pretty, with a long train that made walking around nearly impossible. But after requesting the Live Band to prepare an acoustic guitar for me days beforehand, I just had to you know, make use of it. And after a split second decision, I texted the MC. Am not a professional guitarist, I only play in church, real stage-shy, and my voice is shaky at best… but I just gotta do it. There wasn’t a better time than the one currently presented to me. If I didn’t, I would forever regret it.

And so, for vanity's sake … Voila! 

Le groom... one hand holding digital lyrics, the other on his own phone...

I know it was never done. So yeah, that felt really good! I knew the Groom were especially astounded! Asking him to help me hold the lyrics on the phone was just a ploy to keep him standing next to me so I can have both moral support and well… in case I get too nervous and forget the lyrics. 

Most brides were afraid they might trip on their dresses while walking down the aisle. Me… I was so afraid I was going to cry during the solemnization ceremony because I know my parents were. If I were a parent, I would be crying too. And that would totally ruin my carefully applied makeup. But thank God I didn’t, although it was a real challenge not to.

 My playful flowergirls Lil Yaya (standing) and Lil Maemae on rehearsal night...

Even when my 6 year-old flowergirl, little Maemae kept staring at me adoringly when she thought I wasn’t watching, I could feel slow tears pricking my eyes. You know what she did? After the ceremony, she told her mom that after this I won’t be coming home again, and then she ran home to hide and cry. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with her. The little girl has so much love in her it just broke me up to realise how deeply she begins to understand life.

I supposed in life, you just have to lose some and win some. But never compromise where love is concerned. 

The official appearance at last... See who's beaming the most?

So that’s it for now all you lovely followers and silent readers!  I am so glad you all have been there for me virtually through thick and thin, and because Blogging is what sparked this romance in the first place. You do realise I’m sharing all this personal special details because I sayang you all right?
Tell you more about my preparation, bridal of choice, crucial wedding tips and the Bali adventure when I come back. Until then, hold that thought!

Lots of love,
No more a singular Coffee Girl.

Friday, December 13, 2013

And Here’s to the Final Countdown!

Well, how do you like counting down so far?

Getting dolled up for the prewedding shoot...
I have every intention to do a final countdown with this entry, but hey, I think I’ve hit the wall and now my writer’s mind is going on a silent strike. Blocked, is what it is. Or perhaps I’m just too many emotions all in one that I cannot simply put words into phrases without making one emotion less important than the other. Because they are all, of course, significant. 

 Timeless journey...

Nevertheless, cheer me on lovelies. Because with or without coffee and whether it will make sense or not, I will finish this entry.

In less than 24 hours and I will embark on the biggest most meaningful journey of my life. Some people waited a lifetime; some had this moment handed over to them. I, on the other hand, is about to cross that bridge because it’s finally here. And then, you will also have the pleasure to see me burn that bridge down. 

You see, a lot of people didn’t expect me to get married. In fact, even I did not expect me to get married! So the fact that it is happening is well… a little dreamy. A tad unrealistic but not altogether impossible. Hey, not owing anybody any explanation for that one. Right now I am merely accepting and embracing this little knowledge that soon I will have a permanent golden band to wear. 

 A vow made in front of God and men...

Who would’ve thought this day would arrive? I didn’t. But I sure do love the surprise it brings. So there’s hope. There’s always hope for a gift of life and love. 

The old saying is true. When you don’t look for it, that’s when it will find you. I was walking through one heck of self-destructive road when my future came along and handed me caramel macchiato, and I never looked back ever since.
The Bestman and the Maid Of Honour tool of choice ...
Oh I could write a whole novel about that. But I won’t because it won’t be a complete book.

And now it is time to bury the hatchet, lay down some stubborn ghosts to rest, torch the bridge, close the book, and sign off for the last time as ME-the single woman. 

 Reliving that perfect coffee moment where it all began...

I like the sound of that. I like the sound of that very much.

So you have fun! I’m gonna go and get myself hitched now! 

NOTE: Will return to post more after the honeymoon trip right after the function. Wheeeee!

COUNTDOWN TO THE BIG DAY - Part 3 and The Final!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Daddy had a shotgun ...

... and that was probably the reason you didn't see many young men cluttering the house at any one time or another although he had 5 eligible daughters then.

I'm kidding … about the boys, but not the gun. The game were aplenty in those days, back when some of them weren’t protected species. Squirrels, wild boars, foxes, eagles, lynxes, monitor lizards, pythons, and many more wild game have felt the wrath of the shotgun. Father was a great hunter, still is, although he has retired from the sport for years now. These days the shotgun gets rusty from lack of attention, although not broken but is now kept safe somewhere in his treasure trove. 

 Back in the 80s... Off hunting. Simunjan.

Oh don’t worry. He has a license for that gun. 

But truthfully, he didn’t need a gun to hold off those boys. He is ever the gentleman but there’s something about him that demands a quiet respect. With just one straight look in the eye and a silent composure, any faint-hearted boy would go speechless. I have seen that happened before and well, it was kind of funny really. My sister’s boyfriend didn’t stand a chance. Ha.

Father is a gifted writer. In fact – and I hope I am not bragging – I inherited my writing flair from him. I believe those two times I won the public essay competition awards back in my studying days, he was secretly pleased. I do still hope that. Now, IF ONLY DADDY HAD A BLOG, that would definitely be stuffs the publishers would die to get their hands on. 

*Yes I initially wanted to write about “If daddy had a blog”, but then again I had no idea of an introduction … nevertheless, I’m getting there now.*

Did I tell you he once had his writing published in a book? The book was a compilation of tall stories, myths and legends surrounding the Bidayuh community. Written in English, and published by the Swallow Publication (if I remember correctly). I read the book when I was 10. Dad's story was entitled "The Man From The Seven Hills." A story about a boy who went to hide on the seven hills, besieged by his father's murderer, grew up and trained alone, kept a bamboo whistle to scare his enemies, and eventually avenged his father's murder. It was a little dark but it was a brilliant story nevertheless. 

On the other hand, he can be really unpredictable. Like that day when I brought this young man – who is now my fiancé -- home for the first time, I intercepted him on his way out the door and whispered “Daddy, that’s my boyfriend.” It was an in-your-face no-holds-barred no-time-to-rethink devil-may-care kind of ‘Surprise!’ moment because I didn’t know how else to tell him. Then I braced for that fact to sink in. 

Less than 5 seconds and the surprise were actually on me! He didn’t blink an eye, but went straight to the guy. Father shook his hand with a laugh and said “Hello.” In my head, I went, “Wait dad, you’re not going to subject him to at least 5 must-answer-correctly subjective questions?” But in my heart, the whisper was a soft “Thank you Lord that THAT went well.”

And charming? Oh yes, father can be really sweet and indulging when he wants to. To his wife, to his children, to his relatives, to his friends and acquaintances, to his students, to his congregations. Was he ever strict? When the situation calls for it. Especially in bringing up his children, and where the Word of God is concerned.

Uneasily swayed? Well to put it simply, father is a man of principle. When he says No, it’s a No until the end. Humble? This man will never brag about his achievement. You would only hear them from other people. He prefers the company of the underdogs than those in high places. Conventional? ... is waaaay better than modern dads these days. Father most of the time spared the child and spoiled the rod.

Faithful? Oh yes. His holy union to mother has now lasted three generations. How did they do it? My observation says it’s thanks to mutual respect and love, sharing the burden, no secrets, keeping the sacredness of the marriage behind closed doors, and the belief that the couple who pray together stay together. A blessed union until the end.

The parents. Sharing this personal pic of vintage love everlasting...

It’s the same kind of relationship I desire for myself and my future husband, and one I hope to pass on to my children and their children onwards. Amen.

Father was a teacher by occupation. It paid the bills, put money on the table, and clothed us all. But perhaps that wasn’t his real calling. He left the profession to become a Pastor when I was just 6 years old. There were struggles in the beginning for everybody especially the adults, but eventually we all settled in and settled down back home, where our roots were. His firm belief was the promise of the Word that “My God will supply” and “Your grace is sufficient for me”. 

Well you know his faith and belief actually worked. He put us all through school and a lot more with his Pastor’s wage. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t meager either. It was just enough. He even managed to send me to university and look at where I am today. How awesome is that?

If he were to write an autobiography now, I’d say the main concern he would have is whether he did everything correct and accordingly in his life. I would gladly answer he did a lot of things right. With all his children. Whether or not any of us stray from his teaching onwards would be on our own heads.

Soon I will be the most blessed girl to have my father walk me down the aisle. Just like a mother, a father knows in his heart that the day would come when he would let go of his children one by one. Just as I know in my heart he prayed and continues to pray on every eventful day when he would deliver each of his daughters to the rightful outstretched hand of the young man who would take her home. 

 A firm believer in forehead kisses...

You got to love a man like that. 

He turned 73 this year, but in my eyes he looks like he’s only 55. His hair is slowly turning all gray now too but he is still my pillar of strength. I may not be able to linger around much in his presence once I cleave to my husband, but I will still be his little girl. Even writing this now makes me all emotional. Some love and sacrifices are really priceless and no amount of repayment will ever be enough. 

This one is for you father. I hope I make you proud.

Next: The untold story ... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

If my mother had a blog ...

... I could only imagine what she would write about.

She is this gentle soft-spoken lady who doesn't talk much, but speaks when the situation calls for it. By soft-spoken, I mean when she deals with friends and acquaintances or even strangers. But in bringing up her children, she is always assertive and will only raise her voice (or her eyebrow) when the situation becomes too much for both parties.

Of course, growing up outside of the technology era, childhood then was  more fun. No TV means no violent shows or soap comedies or daytime series where teenagers talk back to their parents etc. There were books, meager toys, and actual friends and same-age cousins who came over for playtime. Bringing up kids in those days were relatively easier.

I can imagine my mom writing a post about how her eldest kid excelled in babysitting the other siblings. How quickly they grew up and how she would wish she could hold back time. Or not... especially when the only boy in the family kept her on her toes all day.

She would probably write about the first day of school for everyone. Dad was a teacher then. He was transferred a lot, resulting in some of us growing up in different place, space and time hence the diverse childhood experiences.

My first day of school took place in Simunjan where my dad was the Headmaster. You'd think someone like me would be more obedient, or would love school because dad ran the school. Nope. I rebelled the first week of school. Throwing a tantrum (which lasted for a week) every time mom would wake me up. I can imagine she would post a picture of me hanging on the front door all teary-eyed and sniffly and looking unkempt while dad tried in vain to talk me into following him to school (with the other pupils watching). His gentle diplomacy apparently worked with the older kids, but not on the second youngest.

Lounging on the Throne: A cranky 3-year-old...

If mom had an Instagram, all of us kids would be a living journal then.

She would also probably write about her kids' achievement. Who got what place in class, who got how many A's, who wore what, whose friends bring what toys home, etc. It would be fun to read.

On the offhand note, she would also probably post about her adventures moving towns with dad after every promotion. She would probably hint of wanting to stay rooted or take permanent root elsewhere near home, but never would she write about her dissatisfaction. If she had any. She's the kind of woman who takes things all in stride. Back when she was adventurous then.

Being a teacher's wife and a mother of six -- all girls and just 1 boy -- probably has its own drama and adventure. I don't ever recall her complain about anything in her life. Not her wardrobe, her looks, not even her house which was always in a state of kids-chaos.

I was 7 years old when dad left the teaching profession to become a Pastor. And then the lady of the house followed suit and transformed to become a preacher's wife. I think she was made for her role, her humility and quiet strength just all fell into place. Dad must've been very proud to have her by his side throughout the transition. Even now.

I remember bringing my boyfriend (now my fiance) home about a year plus ago. She was always courteous even while sizing up the man who she suspected was the one to take me away someday. She didn't ask much question, didn't offer much information either, but just sat there indulging us with her quiet company. Sometimes she seemed far away in her thoughts that I was often surprised how astute her sense of hearing was. Mothers.

If she had a Twitter then, she would probably say "Daughter brought home bf today. Possibly the one?" or perhaps "Look who's joining for lunch today! The first time my little girl brought someone home who isn't a classmate or a former playmate" or maybe "Omg I cannot believe my eyes. My baby's all grown up!". I'm ancient, but it's good to read that if she ever did tweet like that.

And now closer to my wedding day, I suppose she would write about the going-ons with her future son in law. Her deepest thoughts on the whole interlada, and if she would agree on the man of my choice, etc. She won't write it all out -- knowing full well I'd be a follower of course -- but if there's one thing my mom is good at, it's saying things accurately without saying anything at all. A strange kind of apt vagueness that few people could read into. Something that I learned from her. Vagueness I mean.

Mostly, she would lay out in coherent words her own preparations for the big day. Giving advice to friends, maybe dispensing tips on weddings etc. Wait... that doesn't sound like her. Perhaps she would just write The 101 on how to let go of your second youngest daughter. [Second youngest kids are usually more cranky and needs more attention than the youngest due to them being in that position. Youngest kids get to have full attention what.]

My mother's daughter...

Sigh. If my mother had a blog, I  bet she would be a very good writer. She would hit her mark right on the spot. She would be vague, insightful, perhaps a tad sarcastic, dropping lots of hints, but always straight to the point... if you know what her points are. All from the single point of view of a wife and a mother. And a very sharp observer.

But, as it is, I am only imagining this. I wish she did, because then she could write a whole book. Those are stuffs of a good story. How can the world survive without stories like hers? To have seen the world and not write about it, to have lived and relived those valuable life experiences and not recount them, to have gone through and so much, and not record them?

Meanwhile, this is a recount of my own journey. Soon I will be someone's wife, and while I am still and will always be my mother's daughter, I foresee that I will have less time to spend with her. I hope by the grace of God, I am in her eyes, the woman she always prayed I would grow to be.

This is a dedication to you Mommy, the Queen of My Heart. <3. I thank God for you everyday. *sniffs sniffs*

Next: Now if DADDY had a blog...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rereading those old posts ...

PRE-NOTE: I found an old blog post dating back in April 2008. Back then while still new in the blogging world, I wrote a few amateurish posts. Correction. I wrote a few self-pitying posts all in the name of ranting with the hopes to unload negative vibes off my soul. I’m a little  embarrassed to share, but shame is sometimes an important emotion to feel, I believe. It’s corrective, like guilt. The key is not to let the guilt and shame overwhelm your ability to improve yourself and your behavior. 

The Worst Kind Of Fool...

… Acts without thinking, gets lead by the heart, rushes in deciding, enjoys the bliss way before the damages start to sink in, waits too long until it’s too late to turn back, blames herself for the unavoidable circumstances, and finds it hard to find in another person what she has always found in someone else.

The worst kind of fool is always misunderstood. Nobody takes her seriously, especially when she’s hurting. Nobody tries to reason with or understand her, they just be. 

The worst kind of fool heals harder and longer, if at all.

If I am a fool, I’d be all that. But what kind of a person would go through a life-altering experience and not be moved by it? What kind of a fool would die trying to find a silver lining in the midst of a brewing storm? What kind of a fool acts like nothing has happened when her very being has been destined by what she has seen, done and where she has been?

To all the worst kinds of fools out there… it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. If it doesn’t break your heart, it is not love.

Tomorrow is another new day. Take each step in faith. For I believe that everything happens for a reason, for if it didn’t, it won’t have happened. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day to better the kind of fool I am.


POST NOTE: Did I really write all that? Don't ask me what. But I feel like it sounded raw, like a fresh scar from a wound not quite closed yet but itching all over wanting to bleed.  I looked back at what I've been through years ago, and it's reassuring to know that I am still a whole person today, albeit a little jaded. But that's what life does to you. And I thank God everyday that I am able to look the world in the eye right now and say I have been the worst kind of fool and that has made me smarter. And Blessed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Coffee Girl, the quarter of a story...

When I started with this blog, I had half of an idea of what I wanted to write about. I barely remember why after filtering many possible names to call myself, I ended up with Coffee Girl.

Half of the truth behind the name was that this isn't the first blog I ever owned. This is the fourth after the rest were opened and shut down and opened and shut down one after another. And with each blog came a different heading, a different theme, a different idea, and a different name. After the bleak repose and the drama that came with it, the storms eventually calmed down. Coffee Girl came, slowly blossoming, and most importantly, stayed.

Of all the names I chose for myself before, this one is the least likely to live up to its name. Truthfully, I love coffee but so does a million other women in this world. Friends and peers of the fairer sex who took a daily dose of caffeine to enable them to look the world in the eye one challenging day after another. None of us can have that exclusivity. If at all, we all have that right.

What's in a name? I don't have a real agenda. But whatever and whoever has touched my life has made it into these pages. Their stories and mine connected, has been turned into words. Sometimes it makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I write incoherently, but surprisingly some readers get me. Sometimes I take aim and miss and sometimes I shoot straight into the air at nothing for reasons unknown or reasons not made known, or no reason at all.

It's the 5th day of November. This is the last month of my life as a single woman. I've always known someday that this part of my life will unfold and that path will be laid in front of me. Ask me if I am scared. Ask me if I am excited. Ask me if I am ready. There are no well-prepped answers for some of life's greatest mystery. The thing to do is have faith and take the reign and enjoy the ride.

Coffee Girl loves coffee, but lately she has revolted. She used to love writing, but now she hardly updates this blog, and apologizing for every remiss. She used to love country music, but lately she stopped Googling for good new songs. She used to love romance novel, but even the last book she bought a year ago stays untouched. She used to love the outdoor and getting sweaty with nature, but her snickers stopped stepping on mud after trekking back from Kinabalu Summit. Has she changed all that much? Perhaps.

Are those good or bad changes? Coffee Girl sees more of the world now, taking trips outside of her comfort zone, stuffs she thought she'd never do or never had the chance to in the past. She takes more care of herself now too, and caring for another. When it comes to evening things up, the lady wins after all. I mean, doesn't love do crazy things to people sometimes?

Writing a blog was the best decision I ever made. It opened the world for me, and the world open up to me. Who's to say what other good things will come out of this?

I don't know where I am actually going with this entry, but when I started, I had a whiff of an idea that some things need explaining. As I reach this line, I believe that some stuffs shouldn't really be explained. Some things are just bigger than what's right in front of you.

I run by a name, but this name isn't mine. This isn't about coffee. This is about life.

Yours truly,
One of the many true blue Coffee Girls.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Today is 'Increase Your Psychic Powers Day'

Oct 31st is what I just said a second ago. No seriously. Google it up. If you think you have psychic ability, you know I'm not bluffing. And if you insist you have psychic power, today is especially created for you.

How to increase it? Try this little exercise: Read my mind. If you can. Go ahead. Predict my next adventure. Need a little clue? 

I feel a hearty localized big-bang breakfast coming next Saturday. Read my lips. And today's short note is brought to you by a dash of coffee imagination and lots of caffeinated visualization.

Coffee and 'kuih cakoi' with coconut-custard filling

p/s: Fare thee well October! And may the odds ever be in my favor. Amen.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Here's to all the single ladies ...

Be kind to single people.

Hold that thought. This is going to a long one. I just suddenly developed the need to spill out some confessions, of my own, that is. But perhaps just a word of reminder: the words you will read henceforth will reflect my opinion alone, and not necessarily of others. Although sometimes it does help that they give me some valid points to share here.

You watched my surprised proposal video right? Yes I am right now happily affianced to the loveliest most caring most understanding most loving man on the face of the earth, pardon the superlatives. No kidding. I am just a few months away from getting properly married too, but I'll leave that details for later. But first things first.

Way before I get to this position, I was once single. Alone. But might I add, if it isn't too much to believe, not lonely at all? Here's to all the single ladies out there.

Confession number one: I am a late bloomer *and proud of it*. I seem to be doing or discovering most things a bit late in life. From blooming as a woman (biological stuffs, you know what I mean) to getting a good job that pays well to buying a property to getting hitched... it's like a life pattern. A story of my life really. Not that I'm complaining because I know things are in good hands with the Lord.

When it comes down to it, getting married later in life is not necessarily every sane woman's choice for herself. In fact, I can count on one hand alone just how many past relationships I have, including the  puppy loves but excluding the crushes that the subjects know nothing about. Being focused about other things may have been the main culprits like the pressure to get good grades and good education, or the pressure of pursuing a good career etc.

Google Pic & Courtesy of Dreamfilm.ca

So you see, I have been single -- as in unmarried, but not necessarily unattached throughout that period of time -- for quite a while before this event and my state of being solo has been the talk and grievances (for lack of a better word) of a lot of aunties and relatives including my married friends and acquaintances. Those in the married boat. Those who have kids. Those who look like they constantly need a holiday. Those who are no longer single and available. All those from whom cometh forth constant words of pressure to get into the same boat with them. Well granted, some say it in a much nicer way but still pressure nonetheless.

Which is what I don't get really. Why are they adamant on seeing single people get married?

Weird thing is: Even my parents don't pressure me to get married. Me, and my other two unmarried sisters. If at all, they just continue to love and steady us as we navigate life and life's choices. My dad once said "If I had it my way, I want all my girls to just stay with me." That may sound a little selfish, but trust me, when you look at it from my point of view, it's merely a dad being a father who doesn't want his little girls to grow up and someday potentially leave him to cleave to another man. Hearing him say that just made it easier to choose to stay single longer.

My mom on the other hand, only says -- in not so many words -- "If you want to get married someday, just please choose a good man. You need someone to take care of you after we are gone anyway." How to choose a good man? "Have faith in God that He will provide", she said. Sounds like no clue really, but my mom have always been the wiser one in all things.

Confession number two: I chose to stay unmarried for however long I could. It wasn't because I don't want to get married, or that I prefer to be single, or that no one wants me, or because I don't want anyone, or that no one had proposed or even showed signs of being interested in me, or that I was too career-minded, or that I was being too choosy, or whatever reasons you can come up with. If I were to name of a reason, I would say that it's because I don't feel that it is the right time yet.

Oh I do get that 'pity' look once in a while when other younger cousins or relatives or friends get married and I happened to be invited. I do hear those whispers behind my back sometimes. It gets more annoying as the years passed. Sometimes I choose not to attend to preserve myself from unnecessary pain. I'm human too, of course I get hurt if poked too often.

Come on. There is no rule on earth that says you must get married at a certain age in your life. No rule except the one made and dictated by society. No rule except the one practiced and handed down from generations. If society mandates that you must get married at 20, then what are you if you are still single by the time you reach 30? Old? If that is so, then I am ancient indeed.

If you are ready to marry at 18 even, go ahead. It is your choice or your family's. If you discover love and being proposed to at 40, why not? At 50? Why the heck not? What's the difference between you and that teenager? Don't laugh because you might not have the last laugh later.

I say, getting married is not the ultimate goal in a person's life. Get married only when you are good and ready. Not because everyone else is doing it. Not because you are pressured in doing so. Not because you are caught with your pants down. And definitely not because you are pregnant. Unless you have a gun pointed to your head, you better know what you are getting yourself into. Whatever age you choose to do it, don't let society dictate your one big-life choices for you. And for whatever reason you choose to go forth with it, don't let it be for reasons other than mutual feelings and understanding. In other words, do it for that butterfly-in-your-stomach feeling called love.

Google pic & Courtesy of Vimeo.com

Of course, this does not take into account that some of us might not be so lucky blessed in life or that some of us probably do not have any choice in the matter. But for those who do, well, this is for you.

Confession number three: Ruling out everything else and whatever society made of it, being single is fun, in fact, it isn't necessary lonely. Oh of course it had its moment, those awkward phases you go through, but at the end of the day, you still feel like you reign in your own world and no one would've been any wiser. The feeling of loneliness that sometimes come from being alone can only be felt if you try too hard to avoid it. Try embracing it. You might be surprised at the things you'll discover and the journey you'll travel.

Not saying that being single does not have its challenges because of course it does -- like being the odd one out in a group of couples' outing. Or having to go with your girlfriend to a movie date and people looking at you both funny.

I know a mother with five kids, one about my age. Her ultimate goal in life, it seemed, was ensuring they have good education, good jobs, and good spouses. So when the last of her children got married, she proudly bragged to my mother (and I had the misfortune to overhear the conversation) that her 'job is done'. My feeling at that time was like "Wow. That was it? This is what your life's biggest achievement is all about?"

But who am I to say anything about it right? Perhaps getting married is their ultimate goal. Then what's next ...having kids? It will always escalate. The society is never satisfied.

Once I asked my elder sister how she dealt with being single and she just shrugged and said "Why worry? We know better. Why do we need to explain ourselves to anyone for our own choices?"

How wise of her to point that out. People don't always get us one way or another anyway, so why not just let it go? Choosing to be single for however long one decides, is a choice one made and therefore should be respected. Besides, one should never ram one's view down another's throat while at the same time refuse to accept other people's view.

That being said, my little insignificant advice to all the single ladies out there: Chill and enjoy your single-hood. If your time isn't here yet, don't force it. If a guy doesn't show any interest in you, leave it alone, don't change his mind overnight. No matter how pretty you make-over yourself, if a guy isn't interested, chances are he just isn't. Never try too hard to please anyone, especially at the cost of your own pride or dignity. When you don't look for it is usually when it hits you. I mean, look at me. =)

Google pic & courtesy of http://samriddhirai.blogspot.com

And to the rest of the already married friends and acquaintances, be kind to single people. Weren't we all like that once? They have feelings too. Besides, marriage is a lifetime responsibility and the more you pressure people to join in the boat, the more you begin to look like you want out of the boat. Maybe not, I'm just wondering. But if we can relax about it, then you should too. There's a time for everything under the sun.

As for me, hey my time is soon up to close that chapter in my life. It is still my choice. Like someday it will be yours too. And since this is one long entry, you might not hear anything from me soon until it has come to pass.

Don't let anyone bring you down, make you feel down, or look down at you my lovelies. Timing is everything.

You have fun now!

P/s: By the way, my sister writes a very good post about The Single Life, exactly what I wanted to say, but she beat me to it months back. Hey ho. Read all about it in her blog HERE.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Little adventure in charming Marudi ...

When life hands you an opportunity for an adventure, pack your bag and go with an open mind and a ready spirit. Even if you're actually there for official tasks, that is. Killing two birds with one stone what. So here I am this Sunday morning, in charming small town Marudi, encrypting my short journey via an unstable network, while it's still fresh in my mind, before my flight back to Kuching this evening.

Marudi is a quiet homely town, about 2 hours plus drive from Miri via logging roads, or about 15 minutes flight from Miri Airport via Twin Otter , or about 2 hours plus via Express Boats from Miri to Kuala Baram. Marudi used to be tourists gateway to Gunung Mulu previously, and it still is until today for those who crave more adventure.

 Bound for Marudi...

Every time I board the Twin Otter, my adventure senses go on overdrive. Imagine that. And it was my shortest flight ever because I remembered I was just about to warm up the seat when the pilot announced "We will be landing shortly..." Since the plane flew low the whole time, I thought he was kidding until we actually touched down. Sweet short ride!

Clear low view...
Was it scary? Well only if you think about it. Sometimes when it rains or during thunderstorms, I'd like to say it's still relatively safe. Which is why you should never leave home without praying first. =) But the view from up there is really breathtaking man! You'd be too busy snapping photos and admiring the greenery to even feel scared. The Baram river looks tiny from above and you can see the stretch from end to end.

 Up the Baram river...

Here's a bit first-hand info on the rural town: Marudi is located along the Baram river up north of Sarawak, and is mostly comprised of highland tribes folk, collectively called the Orang Ulu. They even speak Bahasa Malaysia a little differently, more pronounced and with a soft lilt. Same like folks in other parts of the State like Limbang, Lawas, Bekenu etc. where you can hear the uniqueness in their accent if you really listen.

I have been to other small towns in Sarawak and I can safely say Marudi is smaller than Lawas but bigger than Julau, slightly the same size as Lubok Antu. Perhaps as big as Bekenu maybe?

 Marudi airport...

Standard facilities are available, except for well ... fast food outlets such as (even) Sugarbun. But why look for fast food when there are other available awesome stuffs here? Thanks to friends hailing from Marudi who told me all about the famous Marudi Char Kue Tiaw upon noticing my FB status ... and all this while who knew such delicious fare actually exist? They also recommended the Marudi steamed bread (or was it freshly baked home-made bread? I can't be sure...) but I didn't have enough time to actually look for one.

 Managed to take a pic with the indulgent proprietors...

Anyway, I googled where we could have the best Marudi fried kue tiaw and found this small kopitiam called Lai Lai Coffee Shop, right next to Mount Mulu Hotel (along Lorong Empat, if next time you want to try it out lah). The unique thing about this dish is the noodle (kue tiaw) is home made and therefore home-cut, so the result is unlike your normal flat and white kuetiaw, but rather fat and thick and cut not accordingly (some short some long some thicker than others). I had the feeling of eating fried carrot cake + kue tiaw all in once. Goes well with a hot cup of coffee (with milk).

Arguing ... No... Savoring life's little treasure...

However, if you must know, mostly Chinese coffee shops sell this fare. I have yet to find a Halal version (we even asked around) but probably there is, we just didn't have time to explore. Perhaps next time? Or perhaps if you do find one, do let me know.

Oh by the way, if you're taking the Twin Otter from Marudi, make sure you check in an hour or so earlier than your scheduled flight back to Miri. Business is brisk and sometimes really slow over the weekend in Marudi little airport, but they're efficient as ever. So they know you by name here. =)

Hey, this just reminds me of all other visits to other small sweet rural towns of Sarawak. Hopefully I'll find the time to write about those soon. Till the NEXT adventure!
Note: No bird was harmed before, during or after this post.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dine Around The World at The Raintree Restaurant, BCCK

When they said they had this last year, I began to wonder where I was at that time to have missed it. Probably went around the world myself no doubt, because I won't miss an opportunity like this -- to feast and file, gorge and gauge, chew and review -- for the world.

So anyway, as the Chef de Cuisine of The Raintree Restaurant, Ms Virginia Kedit said it, "the International Buffet is back by popular demand!" With special group booking packages no less. Let me get to that in a minute because right now the only and most important thing that you need to know is how I liked the food. My answer? Very much indeed!

The cuisines choices this year have more variety. Well honestly, I have to take their word for it because I didn't manage to try last year's to be able to make a comparison on it on my own. But if I say so myself, it was an impressive list of variety where international and local cuisines meet for that 'dine around the world' experience. They rotate the menu per weekly too. So, what's a body like me got to complain about? :)

As usual, before I lay down the pictures, I'll warn you that when it comes to BCCK and food, I never follow the food protocols. I'm Asian maa... my appetizers are my desserts and vise versa, and my main course is whatever I take in between. Whatever makes the tummy full, baby, and whatever satisfies the senses goes. Humor me. :-)

I don't know what the above is called, but it's pretty unique. See the yellowish cubes in the middle of the glass? That's mango in spicy paste (sambal asam), the bluish layer below it is jelly, and topped with fried prawn. It's probably the weirdest combination and I don't know how but it works for me. =)

And then there's the pumpkin soup -- just creamy and thick enough. Not really a fan of pumpkin soup but try dipping fresh bun in it when it's hot and you'll get the same sensation you do as with mushroom soup. But that's just me... The bread station is nicely decorated and replenished with freshly baked french breads etc.

Sushi anyone? The only problem I have with this Japanese cuisine is that the California roll has too little ingredient, unlike the ones I'm accustomed to at a proper sushi restaurant, but then I probably shouldn't hope too much.

Baked potatoes coupled with a variety of baked veges, done with just the right heat... a healthy choice.

Pan seared fish with tomato coulis! A nice addition for the already heavy laden dinner plate y'all! Haha

Some more appetizers to meddle with the senses: Mediterranean lamb tagine (bottom), dim sum variety (top) and something I don't quite remember the name but is pretty tacky and filling. What is that, zucchini wrap? Perhaps...

Ah. Buttered prawn. My all time favorite. Buttered to perfection. And seen at bottom pic is Japanese potato salad. I actually forgot to try that one out, but you can try it next time and let me know.

That one above is another dish I didn't manage to try. Sigh. Baked salmon with olives, herbs and lemon. Sounds like tiny little heaven. You shouldn't miss this, because you better tell me how it tastes like. I might just come back for it.

I told myself I was going to try each of these lovely looking marinated dish above when I took shots of them, but when I checked them out 20 mins and a few main courses later, they were all gone! *Sigh* All the more reason to perhaps, return huh. Top is the marinated mushroom, bottom left is the black olives marinated in olive oil, and bottom right is marinated capsicum. Those are sold-out dishes!

Baked chicken with olive and potato. Now that's one dish I can try to fix at home. The chicken meat was so tender, and it may looked oily but that's olive oil for you... good for vein cleansing.

Somebody made a huge hole in the lasagna before I managed to take a picture, so all I had was this. I've tasted good lasagna, creamy lasagna, fulfilling lasagna... this is all of that packed together. I would've preferred seafood lasagna, but here's hoping they would have that in the rotation next week. =)

This roasted beef is to die for! BCCK is quite well known for its whole roasted lamb (as per the Ramadan Buffet), so when I asked Mike Cheng, our Coordinator and host, he simply smiled and said "Oh that's the Ramadan specialty. But for this buffet, we give you something else of a similar quality." I have no complain there. The beef, soaked in black pepper sauce, was simply delicious... for lack of a better word. If you can't take my word for it, then take a bite.

Fried kuay teow! Another awesome dish, if that glistening picture is anything to go by. It's seriously nice though. It's only missing some fat clams, if I had it my way.

So we're wrapping this up with a proper dessert then... fresh fruits and ice cream! The usuals...
Puddings, various cakes etc... and chocolate fountain with fruit dips. Not exactly my thing... too sweet and too weird to be coating my fruits with melted chocolate, but you go ahead. To each his own.

And the last layer of goodness to settle them all down... a good dose of strong black coffee. Guaranteed to make you perk up and attentive during the mingling and mixing sessions with friends or new friends while you get better acquainted. :-) See how strong the brew is? I could literally carve my own name on it if I were given a toothpick. You may also ask for their specialty -- The Bristot Coffee -- now that I think about it, why didn't I ask for one that time ho? Never mind.

So if you feel like dining out or having a family reunion, or just looking for a relaxing and romantic place to take a loved one to, why not head to The Raintree Restaurant at BCCK (that stands for Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, by the way) and try out their International Buffet? The food is superb (you can take my word for it), the service is excellent (attentive waiters everywhere), the atmosphere is charming, and the panoramic view is simply, well, Sarawak.

Price per adult is RM72++, price for children aged 5-12years old is RM34++ per child, and kids below 5 eat for free.

And yes the special group booking discount! Every booking of 10 to 19 adults can enjoy the buffet for RM60++ per person and RM28++ per child. And every booking of 20 adults and above can enjoy RM55++ per pax and RM25++ per child. See, perfect for a family reunion!

Oh by the way, the International Buffet is available every Friday, from 6.30pm to 10.00pm. For reservations, call 082-392988.

Thank you Sarawak Bloggers and BCCK for this opportunity to have a go at one of the finest restaurant in town. As for you all... have fun dining around the world!