Archive for the 'Kuching' Category

Last night in Kuching

So my holiday in Kuching, my hometown, is finally over. We’re flying out to Singapore early in the morning then heading back to Perth in a few days.

The weeks have flown by. I have really enjoyed this retreat back home. It was exactly what I needed to reenergise my body and recharge my soul.

Both kids are asleep so my parents and I shared the last bowl of Sunny Hill pandan ice cream. I think I have successfully converted ah Ma to be a fan of this ice cream.

My parents went all out to make sure I was well rested and enjoyed my holiday. During the brief periods when Saitaoha was napping, ah pa would stay home to tend to her while ah Ma would drive us out to go shopping or food hunting. I didn’t even request to go anywhere, but she would drive to Sunny Hill even though she was unsure how to get there, because she knew I loved the pandan icecream there.

Yesterday I went to 拜 my gung gung. I apologised to him for taking my parents away from mah mah but said that I knew he would understand. I told him that Mah Mah was well looked after, but in a way I wish her suffering would end because she no longer recognises us or is aware of her surroundings. I don’t know that she is happy and I can only imagine how sad my father is when he sees her in this state. During Chinese New Year, I told ah pa that Mah Mah turned her head towards me because I was holding Saitaomei and she was crying loudly. A few days later we were with Mah Mah in the garden and Saitaomei started crying. Instead of asking me whether she’s hungry or hurrying me to tend to her like ah pa usually would, he asked me to hold the crying Saitaomei nearer to Mah Mah. So I put Saitaomei on Mah Mah’s lap but Mah Mah didn’t even flicker. After a while ah pa sat back resigned and motioned me to go soothe Saitaomei ‘eh sai liao (可以了)’ he said. My heart broke.

I said goodbye to Mah Mah this afternoon, I asked her whether she remembered how whenever I visited her during uni holidays she would hug me and say ‘Mah Mah ju lai ju eh, lu ju lai ju kwang (Mah Mah is getting shorter and you’re getting taller).’ It’s been almost a decade since my grandparents’ home was sold and they moved in with us, but I always look out for their house whenever we drive pass it. My lasting memory is of Mah Mah standing in the porch waving and shouting ‘bye bye!’ to us. We would roll down the car window and wave and shout ‘bye bye Mah Mah!!’ I wish we could return to those days.

I have savoured staying in my family home. R and I are from the same hometown, so for the past years when we’ve been home, I’ve stayed at his house.

This time there are so many things that I noticed about our house that I took for granted. Like our extra high ceilings. And lights that have been changed. And walls that seem to be of a different colour from what I remember. I asked my parents about these changes and they tell me all these little improvements were made when my sisters got married or before my brother’s wedding. I’d never noticed how much effort my parents put in to make sure our family home looked good for these occasions.

I will miss our lush and green garden with the graceful trees that are now so tall. When I was young these trees and their branches were still within arms’ reach.

I took photographs of Saitaoha on this swing. This swing means so much to us because this was where my grandparents sat every evening when they visited us. When my siblings and I were kids, this swing was our imaginary train and ship.

Ah pa’s organ which he still plays. When we were young, ah pa would play on the organ while waiting for us to get ready to go out for Sunday breakfast. We grew up with music played by my father.

I will miss our collection of books. Some so old and worn the covers are taped up. Some are new and brought back by my sisters and myself whenever we returned home from Uni.

I had a really good look at the many photos around our house this holiday. This caricature of my parents was drawn at Sanrioland during our family trip to Japan during Sakura season. Most of our family photos are taken at famous landmarks around the world. My parents brought us for family trips every year. We travelled to Europe, US, Japan, South Africa and many other countries. It was only when I was older that I realise how expensive these family trips were and how much my parents sacrificed (not to mention the work!) to ensure we could see the world.

I love these stickers on our bed frames. We bought them during our US trip to Disneyworld. When I was young, I would touch these stickers and believe that they were magic and bring us luck.

I love my family home. It’s my sanctuary. When I was struggling in Perth, I kept dreaming of my home. Some day this house will be sold, but the memories will remain. I hope my parents will eventually settle in Australia and I can help to create a home for them that will bring them as much happiness as our family home in Kuching.



I don’t know whether I should stop blogging on Dayre! At first I thought I would continue till the last day of 28 Feb but now they’ve extended the closure date for a few weeks?

I should really just bite the bullet and stop. Or else my sister will be like ‘eh we still have to save for you ok!!’

It’s our last few days in Kuching, sigh I’m going to miss home so much.

The glorious food, gosh I will miss this bak kut teh.

Their pork leg rice is so good too.

We had a good chat with the stall owners today, it’s surreal to think we’ve known them for at least 20 -30 years?? Gosh time really flies. My babies, please don’t grow up too quick. Saitaoha is already growing way too quick for me, I miss her baby days.

This kid ah, is really enjoying a holiday a bit too much. Diet totally gone out the window. She’s most comfortable when we’re back home eating home cooked food though. But glutton mummy has to indulge so err baby has to come along for the ride. Never mind, detox when we go back ok?

We finally had good news today, the five minutes phonecall in the car was nerve wrecking. I was crossing my fingers and pretending to be all cool and calm while ah Ma went ‘ya? Ya??’ on the phone. But it’s all good so hooray!

This feels like a year where we have to jump through a few hoops and obstacles to get where we want to be. I guess it’s not that bad because although it’s a longer route, we always get to our destination in the end.


I love this traditional 民国 outfit that ah pa bought for Saitaoha. This Chinese New Year I’ve been having fun dressing up the kids. I am slowly getting sucked in to the joy of dressing up daughters. So many pretty and cute dresses…

This little girl is such a bad sleeper but such a sweetie pie. She’s in a sailor dress gifted by her yee yee. I think my girls are mostly dressed by their grandparents and aunties.

Saitaoha’s matching dress, also a gift from her da yee. I love this dress too.

Jiejie kissing meimei, but meimei doesn’t look impressed. Saitaoha is actually pretty good with her little sister, she comes running to me with her sister’s dummy if she hears her crying. There are times when she demand for my attention when she sees me carrying her meimei, luckily that’s not too often.

Saitaoha is really having a great time this holiday. So am I. I’m getting to spend a lot of quality time with my daughters and my parents without the stress and exhaustion. I’m starting to miss R and we’re talking a lot more online across the ocean than when we were face to face under one roof.

Tonight Saitaoha was accompanying me in the kitchen while I was warming up her milk. We both heard the sound of fireworks going off and she gasped. I carried her up in my arms and we looked out the kitchen window to see fireworks bursting in the air. For the next minute, we just stood there admiring the pretty sparks as they fell in front of us. It was bliss and I felt so happy to be able to share that magical moment with my baby.

Gong Xi Gong Xi

The first day of the Lunar New Year is almost over. It was a different sort of 初一 without my siblings and R, but still a memorable and good one with my girls and my parents.

Saitaoha was cranky because she slept late last night and didn’t nap much in the day. Luckily she cheered up in the afternoon after a good nap. We went to Spring to stock up on fresh milk and stopped by Sugarbun for a soft serve icecream. Due to Saitaoha’s obsession with ‘aiji’, we have been indulging her this holiday and it feels as if there are lots of heartwarming scenes of us eating icecream and soft serves on the steps of TP hub, in our TP flat, in our kuching home and all around town.

It’s going to be a quiet CNY, we’ve hardly prepared for it knowing that lots of people won’t even know my parents are home and therefore we won’t have visitors. I think the peak of our CNY visiting was over since my grandparents became unwell. We didn’t like it much then and found CNY visitors a hassle. I remember us siblings huddling behind our living room on the staircase where we would sneak CNY snacks, peer out at our parents’ visitors and gossip about them. I miss those days now.

Ending this post with a few photos of the kids.

Bak kut teh

Today we had bak kut teh for brunch, it was my most satisfying Kuching meal to date. This bak kut teh stall is special to our family because we’ve been eating their bkt since we were kids. It was our Sunday brunch go to place, sometimes we ate there so often I was even sick of it. But now it is our must go place whenever we return. Over the years they have shifted locations and at one point the uncle even retired. So glad that he got bored and 出山 again.

The couple that run the stall know us so well and have seen us grow up. I wonder how they feel now that they see us with our kids in tow.

We usually order two pots, one with lean meat for my ah pa, one ‘Cham Cham’ with mixed porky bits for us to share. It’s really delicious and comforting stuff.

We also always order a serving or pork leg rice, my sister especially loves their intestines, always disappointed (like today) when they don’t prepare 大肠.

Hehe Saitaoha loved the bak kut teh too! I wonder whether this stall will still remain open and the kids will eat this growing up. Hopefully uncle won’t retire for years to come.

The Kuching food post

I seriously wonder whether there is anywhere else in the world besides Malaysia that you can find the dish below, ju hu eng chye meaning cuttlefish and kangkong (water convolvulus).
2015-01-05-12-54-31_decoju hu eng chye
can be loosely described as a salad of some sort, with a pungent shrimp paste dressing though, it’s not exactly vegetarian.


Western style (and yet so not Western) mixed grill dish from your local steakhouse stall in Petanak market.This is what you call a bit of everything.

You know I’m back in Perth when I start posting a myriad of Kuching food pictures. Sigh, it’s back to harsh work reality tomorrow but I’m indulging in one day of post holiday blues. In fact, I had indo mee and a kopi (instant Old Town pack sigh) for lunch to console myself and feel a little closer to home.


My childhood Moonlight pandan icecream stall has closed in Kenyalang *sob* so had to make do with second best Sunny Hill pandan icecream which Darren’s friend kindly bought for us. I had a couple of scoops of this and it was sooo good. I would buy an icecream maker just to make pandan icecream if I could recreate the same texture and flavour.
Even though I didn’t post up pictures of durians, it was durian season in Kuching and we pretty much had durian every day! We also had the local mangosteen, which is very sweet and picturesque with its purple hue and white flesh.
Funnily enough, I remember always having to draw pictures of mangosteens for art class or tuition at school, but I hardly ever ate any mangosteens back then.
A new discovery of good bbq meats and noodles, well not actually new because my parents told me they’ve been going to this kopitiam for ages, but new for me.

I’ve never been much of a roast meat fan, but man, we really need good char siew like this in Perth. It was the perfect combination of crunchy charred bits, sweet charsiew sweetness and tender meat.
No more Yi Ann kampua mee this year, instead I had the kampua at Sin Popo (another popular local kopitiam) which has its own fans. I think I might like it better than the one at Yi Ann.


Another foochow hawker fare, this is a dryer version of ‘char ju mein’ which was noodles stir fried in fragrant foochow ‘red wine’ (ang chiew) and red wine residue. Speaking of red wine, we managed to bring back a bottle of ang chiew to Perth so I will be making red wine chicken soup in 2015. If I have time, I may attempt to make my own red wine again this year.
This is a typical home cooked meal at R’s house. My father-in-law is a great cook and whips up these banquet meals in no time. I think R put on 6 kgs in two weeks!
Speaking of home cooked meals,the ribs that Darren made turned out fork tender. We were probably a bit too heavy with the salt but the spice rub was very tasty, must attempt this at home.
He’s not going to be happy I posted this (but luckily I don’t think he reads my blog) but this was the day Darren was discharged and returned home, woo hoo. I don’t know why I refer to him as the kid or that boy sometimes seeing he’s a grown man in his *gasp* late twenties, but I guess he will always be my little brother in my eyes. I will miss hanging out with him and wish desperately that we were all together in Perth. Maybe some day.


Another local fruit the mighty star fruit which is not only pretty to look at but very refreshing. It’s a pity I didn’t get to eat jambu (bell shaped local fruit) this time.

Ok that ends my Kuching food post for the year, hopefully I’ll get to visit before the year ends and will be posting more pics of Kuching food soon. Meanwhile it’s back to the start of the working year for me, so hopefully I’ll successfully switch off my post holiday blues tomorrow. Wish me luck!


A timely rain is worth its weight in gold

So I didn’t expect my 2014 to end this way.


It started benignly with a visit to Carpenter Street or Ah-tap Ke as the locals call it. A difficult and narrow street to maneuver. As kids, we never used to venture into the street unless we had to visit the goldsmiths which line the street. Or have a very good bowl of fishball noodles.


The famed fishball noodle stall is located in a unique location where there is a temple inside and also a temple opposite. I remember the location being very stuffy and sweat rolling down our temples as we dug into a bowl of fishball noodles which always seemed so delicious probably due to the rarity of us venturing there for a meal. I’m told the family carries out the fishball making in secrecy and behind locked doors haha.


Are the fishball noodles still good? Not bad to be honest. But also not as fantastic as I remember. I think I prefer the fishball noodles in Singapore.


My brother’s next meal unfortunately, was in the hospital. And it wasn’t for many hours later when we were advised that emergency surgery wouldn’t be necessary (phew). Poor fella had to see in the new year in the hospital. My parents and I retired to bed early and there was no countdown to 2015, for me, it was due to a mixture of relief and nerves.

I’ve never had much experience being in the hospital (thank heaven) but I understand the anxiety, fear and apprehension that comes with a loved one being in hospital. I thought of those people on tv shows such as Fear factor where they’re terrified of spiders, or heights, that’s nothing compared to fear throbbing in your heart when your loved one is sick and you’re not sure what is wrong or how to fix it. The fear when you want him to rest but you’re afraid for him to close his eyes. I don’t believe I have, but this has taught me to never ever take my family for granted.


On the bright side, my brother is home now and we’re having american style spareribs for dinner. He prepared the spice rub himself, it’s the first time that I’ve ever eaten anything that my brother has prepared so I have high expectations!

In 2014, I finally completed my decade long resolution of getting a driver’s license. So what’s next for 2015? I am going to keep a personal journal (this is something I picked up from my brother and will aid in self reflection and improvement) and I will lead a healthier lifestyle. I am also going to have much better work life balance and spend more time with my family and loved ones! I’ll report back in a year.

Happy New Year folks.

March 2018
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