Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Dalat got its name

For a lot of modern Semenanjung kids, I’m assuming Dalat is the only place they know in Sarawak besides Kuching, as it was featured in the secondary school’s literature curricular.

It was also because of “How Dalat got its Name” that I was intrigued to go and find out how does the real Dalat looked like.

A little bit of geography - Dalat is located approximately 40 minutes or 50ish KMs by road from Mukah.

The first impression of Dalat was that it was quite modernised.


The market square was full of modern shop houses, market stalls and even a fuel station. 

However there do exist little enclaves of time warped images of yesteryears, like this quaint hair-dressing salon neatly juxtaposed by the modern-defining VCD store next door. 


This is Dalat’s most famous and sacred landmark – the Jerunei. It is the place where ancient Melanaus put the corpse of a dead king – and together with it a fair maiden was left to starve to death on top to accompany the king into the after-world.


The Jerunei was craved out of a Bellian tree and intricately designed.


Like many small towns in Sarawak, Dalat is situated next to a river, with a jetty filled with plying boats offering to send passengers to the kampungs across river.


There was also the ubiquitous Chinese temple by the riverside. This one looked newly refurbished and somehow reminded me of a koala bear.


And of course, being a Melanau-dominant town, there’s this big Melanau umbrella offering lepaking kids shade from the sun .


So there goes the mystique and allure of Dalat, another place unfortunately torched by fast-paced modernisation. I guess I expected the town to look like Oya, situated between Mukah and Dalat, where the town square consists of a row of colourful wooden shops with flies buzzing around in the lazy afternoon sun.


There was no lingering signs of the kampungs and warriors of the story in Dalat – confined it is, to be a fairytale of a bygone era, forever.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sibu makan trip

Early Nov and it was a short trip to Sibu – a 3 1/2 hours worth of bumpy bone massaging trip from Mukah. It was a trip of Kong Pia, Kong Pia and more Kong Pia:


Wet and dry version of oven baked kong pia


Deep fried kong pia (right side)


Someone is bringing bags and bags of raw kong pias back to sell in Saratok.

And with Sibu being a food haven, there was really a lot of makan, makan and more makan:


Dien Bian Hu 


Kampua Mee


Foochow Mee


Big fatty pork leg, 1kg of crabs and bidin.

Lucky no one had the kong-pia face at the end of the trip. 

There’s also a few nice places to lepak in Sibu:


The new Sibu heritage centre and also Wisma Sanyan at the back.


Bukit Aup Park.




Biggest wet market in Malaysia.

Nice relaxing trip.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First ever conference attended as a pharmacist

Way back in October, I attended my first ever asia-pacific conference as a pharmacist.


It was about diabetes, four days long, held in Borneo Convention Centre back in Kuching, and costs RM800. Lucky the government paid for it.


In the conference we listened to endless lectures, symposiums and throng the various booths selling diabetes-wares.


Plenary Lecture


Symposium with panel of experts


Besides consuming the nice and delicious food.


It was an interesting and insightful experience, albeit some of the topics being boring at times. At least there’s some angmohs lectures. How I missed listening to their English…



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Malaysia Day

In Mukah, there is this cafe called Kafe 1Malaysia.


I had never been inside, but then since today is the first ever Malaysia Day, I thought, why not go and have a look to see whether there’s some celebration going on.

Alas, the whole cafe is empty. Deserted. Only a couple of flies humming around in the lazy afternoon sun. The same applies to the whole Mukah town. Apparently the spirit of Malaysia Day had not caught on. One of my staff is even unsure why we are having this holiday. Okay, maybe here people lives so harmoniously that they don’t need a holiday or some celebration to remind them that we should treasure our independence.

Nevertheless, it is amazing that it took 47 years for those higher ups confined in their plush KL ivory towers to admit the fact that, well maybe, we can’t hide that elephant anymore.

That jumbo being the fact that the true day our nation achieved independence is Sept 16 and not August 31. Even though they called today “Malaysia Day” instead of “Independence Day”,  lets just accept it and give them some face. It’s hard to admit a mistake.

And so today was the first ever Malaysia Day holiday. A day where all Malaysians are given the day off, so that they hopefully can search within themselves or online what actually is Malaysia Day all about. Or maybe to attend the various state and national levels govt sanctioned speech and dance combos.

Well, unfortunately I know, this is being optimistic thinking.

In Australia, Anzac day saw masses throng the streets to ponder and remember the sacrifices of their soldiers . The realistic truth is, Malaysia Day will see most people will just use the day to sleep in, play games and jalan-jalan cari makan. We just aren’t a country with first world mentality.

Do we have the spirit of 1Malaysia? Do we use this day to reflect and contemplate? To be thankful that despite being in an imperfect nation, we are still living in relative harmony?

Just wondering, in this Malaysia Day, what had you done?

Whatever, Happy first ever recognised Malaysia day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chocolates (Bite 2)


She is a beautiful young lady, as often complimented by her friends. Svelte and slender, one said. Hazel eyes with long lashes that can melt if you caught her fleeting attention. Long flowing black tresses with a hint of auburn finished with a frontal straight fringe that swayed ever so elegantly in the soft zephyr.

Her suitors are numerous and varied, a cacophony of human morphology. They came like roaring waves or trickled water, depending on the seasons, bearing fruits of their toil. And chocolates of course, because they all knew: oh, how she loves them. Sweet, dark, milky and bitter. Dainty little pieces or rough huge chucks. It is a guaranteed failsafe to her heart. Or so they thought, for every time the tide ebbed and waned, it leaves behind a spotless beach without the tiniest hint of even half a footprint.

She had flipped though their names in her mind like a virtual Rolodex as she stared intently at the macaroon, willing it to blurt out the answer. Alas, this stunt does not match any of their signature moves. When the rocky road also chose to remain silent, she knew she had to do something.

Long before the clock chimed nine on Wednesday, she was already crouched by the window which gave a partly unobstructed view of the door. She felt the adrenaline flowing inside every single cell of her body. The apartment was eerily silent and dark except the soft glow emitted by her laptop.

Just before the luminescent hand of her watch tethered over to twelve, the guy appeared, a thick coat covering most of his body. Her heartbeat picked up as he shuffled nearer. She craned her neck a little for a better look. Alas, the surrounding darkness camouflaged him well, and he wore a hood over his head. She was getting despondent until he stepped onto her doorstep. Oh my god, it’s him! She could hear herself wonder aloud. For as meticulous as the guy was, he forgot to mask the distinct purple laces of his shoes!

She saw him placed the cardboard box carefully in the middle of mat and pressed the doorbell, before beating a hasty retreat. She waited until his footsteps melted into the night before retrieving the gift, her brain a cacophonic mix of thoughts and feelings. The revealed white chocolate praline topped with a glazed strawberry slice with leaf intact looked at her, puzzled at her intense expression. If only it could talk and offer a dime for her thoughts...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Chocolates (Bite one)

It had been a while since I let loose my vocabularies to have a run in the pen, Mukah being the sort of place where tranquillity (itself a better word than boredom) can lull your brain to sleep.

Actually it had been more than a year.

Luckily, the recent dose of cold Melbourne air had been a blast of freshness, the breathtaking city and beautiful people providing a revitalizing effect. 

This short essay is named Chocolates. First part appears as below:



The silver ribbon unravelled upon the delicate touch of her dainty fingers. Like a flower bud on the throes of blossoming, the petals of the pearl white cardboard wrapper wavered momentarily, before slowly springing outwards to reveal the sweet gem enclosed within.

It is a rugged piece of chocolate brownie, dusted with an uneven patch of cocoa powder and with dark chocolate rivers oozing deliciously from the seams at the side. She can discern a faint smudge of a fingerprint on the wrapper, peaking from underneath a corner of the cake. It jumps up like a playful taunt, a suggestive allure from the mystery cake deliverer. Now you got my fingerprint, find the police and search for me! She feels a tingle of excitement running down her spine.

Tonight is the sixth night in a row the chocolate themed treat appeared right on her doorstep. The first time it happened was on a slow dreary Monday night. She was immersed in the dreamy world of Grey’s Anatomy on her pink laptop when the ding-dong of the doorbell suddenly chimed, echoing the ninth and last mellifluous note of her Made-In-Japan angular analog clock.

She rose and went to open the door of the apartment, curious to know the identity of this unexpected late night guest. She was greeted by a blast of cold empty air, and the blackness of the wintery night stared back at her. She was flummoxed for a moment, before she glanced down and saw it. There it was, as it had appeared today, an exquisite whitish square positioned grandly right in the middle of her oval rattan woven mat, exuding a classy glow under the fluorescent porch light shining on it, taking in all her attention like a film star on stage.

She had picked it up tentatively, eyeing it with suspicion. She scrutinized the four sides slowly for clues and found that it was blemish-free. She opened the box with trepidation, her heart picking up pace, unsure of what she will find inside. She caught the aroma of the warm cocoa smell before she saw the perfectly round chocolate macaroon inside. A yellow stick-it note adorned one side of the interior wall. It contained her name and the neatly written Especially for you. It was unsigned.

With clockwork precision, the parcel reappeared on Tuesday. The only difference was that it was a chocolate rocky road, with fluffy pink marshmallows, crunchy hazelnuts and fine flakes of desiccated coconut sandwiched between the generous layers of chocolate. These sudden surprises filled her with apprehension, yet she found her insatiable curiosity piqued. Who is this cake delivery man, shrouded in mystery?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Home improvement series

Using my lousy webcam to snap these pictures as I’m lazy. I had developed a few nice photos while in Kuching, and they now hang proudly in my new home.


Some of the masterpieces adorning my bedroom:


And thank goodness its going to be Raya soon. Raya sale had been good, been able to get the throw pillows, flowers, vase and hanging picture for cheap. Those little things above the sofa are actually photos.


I am actually quite happy with the flowers I arranged together; tulips of three different colours mixed with two green long somethings. And it is next to my flower motif cushion and throw pillows. 


Right on top is this picture of a tulip farm, giving the illusion that the tulips in the vase below is plucked fresh from there. =)


I had also bought a comforter set in Kuching for my bedroom. To welcome my use of the comforter set, Mukah gave me two of the hottest night I had ever experienced here.


Well, I think Mukah heard me complaining, so the next day she sent a wind so strong that the papaya tree on the back of my house snapped cleanly into two.

Now am thinking of my next home improvement step. Maybe its time to start hunting for furniture…

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back through the looking glass

For a place revisited, there existed less excitement for the need to brandish out a camera and snap the moment for cold storage.

Yet, there are some places in Melbourne where somehow, in the long four years I was there, I never step foot into.

Embarrassingly near home is the National Gallery of Victoria, home to drawings and artefacts by mostly dead people. It was a nice place, a visit there made me feel very cultured.


Not very far away is the Weribee mansion and the associated rose garden. The splendour of the house transported me back to the world of grand yesteryears with grand balls and attending butler. Unfortunately, the rose garden is more of imagine what colour will the rose growing on this barren stalk be.


Further down the coast, a 3 hours drive away is Wilson’s Prom, home to this beach which squeaked, as well as freely wandering kangaroos and wombats.


Yes, I managed to squeeze all those in my short 1 week holiday. Not to mention the twice visited newly minted South Wharf Direct factory Outlet (DFO).


For nostalgia sake, I visited my old rental places, and stepped into the buildings where I earned my degree. In truth, 20 months is too short for big changes. 88 Palmerston street was still there, the only difference being a line of graffiti stencilled on the wall. The cafe in College Square had changed to a Chinese looking eatery. And Uni? the poster I did for PISA 2 years+ ago is still on the notice board. What the heck…

That’s all about these empty space fillers, the colourful background of the nice long collage that’s my short holiday to Melbourne. =)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mukah tales

It had been an eventful week in Mukah.

A YB came to visit. Even though I never heard of him before, he is quite a bigwig, being a political secretary to the CM and all that. So on a fine Thursday morning off we went congregating in the multi purpose meeting room and hear him speak. Not bad. Politicians can really speak well. Of course there’s food afterwards. Everything here got food afterwards. =)

And Saturday was Mukah Hospital family day. There’s carnival sports in the morning,  BBQ in the evening and karaoke all night long. Its quite fun, seeing the staffs dancing and cute kids playing. Mukah people really loves to shake their bodies. Once they hear music, they break into spontaneous jigs. Perhaps its a reflection of the stress free life in Mukah, or a cultural thing.


The ever-present kids blow balloon event.


The couple tango dancing session. The whole hospital is really one big happy family made of interlinked nucleus families. Mukah is that small.

Work? Nothing much different. Same old, same old. Current project is documenting amount of scripts received with errors in it. Pharmacists are evidenced based after all. Hot topic of the week? Leptospirosis and preventative medicines for diabetes.

Home? I did some DIY home improvements. Now my house looks a little bit more like home. Step by step..


Curtains reborn: Previously adorned my room in Kuching, now adorning my room in Mukah. I put the railings up myself. Super proud haha.


Pictures reborn: Previously adorning my room in Melbourne, now refreshed and recycled and used in Mukah. =)

Speaking about Melbourne, I am super excited. Because by the end of the week, I will be there.


Melbourne, here i come!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

20 months

Is 20 months a long time?

Depends on the context… maybe.

Memories do fade…. exponentially.

Tinkering of the brain… sometimes failed to bring out the keys to the past.

Lucky there are photos to bring some of them back. Bits of memories.. to be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.

I do still somehow miss that place. And the people that dotted it.

It’s really time to take another dip into the pond.

But somehow, its hard to take the first step.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunset by the sea

Just a series of photos of Kuala Dana beach, which is within walking distance of my place of work cum residence. If I have the will, I can watch sunset by the sea every single evening. Now this  is actually quite a plus point of Mukah. Anyone want to join me here? ^^








And yes, I’m now back in Kuching for a whole week =).