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!