Prelude to Paris

When I told a friend, I am going to Paris, he thought I was going to SS2 Little Paris Restaurant for dinner. LOL!

I just got back from Paris, France two days ago.. well, there are a lot of things to write about but I have yet to find words to it. I guess there are some good and bad moments. I am glad the good moments outweigh the bad by many miles!

I will get to it in a jiffy! I need time to sort out photos and to think!

Here’s a photo as “prelude” to the Paris posts. Enjoy your weekend, people!

Classic Paris!

Last Day In Miri

11th October 2010, Monday

It was our last day in Miri and JS didn’t want us to miss out on Sarawak laksa and some places of interest in Miri, which we didn’t go because we were too busy stuffing our faces the first two days!

Yum Yum!

Yes.. we practically stuffed ourselves silly with all these food on the last day!

Firstly, we stopped by at the wet market again for a plate of curry rice – consists of char siew and chicken curry, dian bian hu (a popular FooChow dish,of rice flour noodles) and Sarawak Laksa. After that, we had a short walk about Miri town.

Grand Old Lady standing tall

Then, we made our way to the Grand Old Lady. Sadly, the Petronas Museum next to it is closed on Mondays. So we didn’t get to go inside for the free air cond.. yes, we didn’t bother about the history, we were more interested to get away from the scorching sun!

Tg. Lobang.. I wish they had given this place a more glam name!

After a short visit, we made our way to Tg. Lobang –Miri’s coastline up to the Esplanade, overlooking the teh tarik colored South China Sea. It was quite a sight to behold – the strong wind and sea, so many little and medium sized crabs scurrying for covers as we walked on the brown sand. We saw a beautiful couple taking their wedding photos. We lingered here for awhile to soak up the atmosphere. Miri has been blessed with downpours while we were there, so it was good to be able to go outdoor for a change, other than stuffing our faces!

Midin.. beats paku pakis anytime!

We made a quick stop to buy white pepper, eat again before heading home to pack. JS’ dad again, cooked for us specialty dishes – the midin (a kind of fern) stir fried in red wine, pucuk keladi in udang kering and belacan and free range chicken with mushrooms!

This is how pucuk keladi looks like

It was indeed a good, short outing. We love Miri as it is – the friendly people, the less polluted air, the very quiet and colonial neighborhood and of course, the food! We are definitely going back there for another visit soon in the future!

For other pictures of this trip, please click here.

Please Observe Your Speed Limit!

10th October 2010

When you arrived in Brunei, the first thing you will notice is that, all the buildings have Arabic writing on them. Like HSBC here. Probably a smart move – since there are many rich middle eastern tourists flocking Asian countries nowadays!

HSBC in Arabic

After idling for awhile at the Illy’s Café, we made a stop at Hua Ho Department Store at Manggis Plaza. Yes, another supermarket.. again. Haha! Anyway, the things here showed that Bruneians are simply living in luxury. We could see many imported cars. Who would drive a sports car to go shopping? In the parking lot alone, we see many luxury cars line-up. It’s like going to a motor show. Since Brunei is so rich, even the parking is free! We don’t need to pay parking or toll at all in Brunei!

Bruneians are so rich that, even their shopping carts are coated in gold.

If these are used in Malaysia, long time hilang liao.

You can also find many imported goods here, though not as many as Miri – including the pineapple tarts from Taiwan.

After loitering around Hua Ho for awhile, we decided to eat again. This time, we looked for ambuyat – a local specialty. Again, we drove around using the GPS to find Aminah Arif restaurant along Jalan Gadong but were led to an empty tyre workshop instead.

“So we are having tyres for dinner?” me being sarcastic to the GPS.

Then, we passed by Sumbangsih Medan Selera so, decided to stop there for a meal but there was only one shop opened. It’s a Sunday and the whole town was empty. Sigh. However, we managed to find out from nice local people on where is the nearest Aminah Arif restaurant.

Colorful, diabetic inducing macarons

While getting lost, we bumped into Fleur de Lys, where they sell scones and macarons. I haven’t tried macarons before so I decided to hop down the car to buy some. Ended buying 10 macarons for BN$19.50. That’s pretty steep for small, little pretty things. However, they were too sweet that I had a sudden sugar rush! I don’t think I want to try anymore macarons in future!

The very susah nak cari Ambuyat

We finally found Aminah Arif! If you ask me for directions again, I am really sorry coz I don’t remember! At Aminah Arif, we ordered the local dish – ambuyat. It’s actually made from sago, in gluey mass form. It reminds me of my younger days of making kite, using kanji. Haha! The sago gluey mass is eaten with other dishes of choice – we had the beef tumis, paku sambal belacan, ulam and belutak. Belutak is also one of their special dish. I thought it was made from some cow intestines. I didn’t like the taste but eating it just for the sake of trying. Then I was told that it was actually cooked cow’s intestine encased in sheep’s intestines. Yucks. It was slightly bitter with pungent beefy smell. Not entirely bad lah.

Since it was almost 7 pm and the immigration closes at 9 pm, we quickly ate and made our way to Ayamku – another local delight to pack away 5 chicken wings and a drum stick! All for only BN$7.50. We pray that the GPS will not lead us to another wild goose chase.

Good Bye, Brunei!

We got really stressed up when the GPS didn’t say a word. “Please say something!” JS asked in exasperation. The GPS then said, “Please observe your speed limit”. Well, this is not what we wanted to hear lah. But at least, the GPS said something! We managed to get to the checkpoint, 22 minutes before closure. The checkpoint was rather empty and the officers were also too tired to even be looking at our faces. We even mistook the dilapidated booths at the Miri checkpoint as toilets.

e-Mart, where the small city never sleeps

We made a short stop at e-Mart to go to the toilet. There was a fun fair going on there and it was really happening. Then we found out that, actually, they were gambling there. Haha!

We tried to go to the Miri wet market to have the chicken porridge but unfortunately, it ran out of chicken porridge. Two uncles who were sitting with us, advised us to come when the shop opens at 7.30 pm. The porridge ran out by 9.30 pm, so you should have guessed how good it must be! Perhaps, in our next trip to Miri! We had the noodles instead the tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken! They were equally good.

Kolo Mee

That’s about it for our Brunei trip. Eat, bad GPS, eat, bad directions, eat, going round and round, eat, annoying “please observe your speed limit!”, eat, empty city, restaurants mostly closed, eat, good selection supermarkets, eat. It was overall a fruitful “overseas” trip, nevertheless. Haha!

Getting to Brunei

10th October 2010, Sunday
Miri – Brunei

As soon as we woke up, we were greeted by fragrant smell of chicken cooked in wine and ginger. JS’ dad cooked breakfast for us! By 6 am, Miri is already bright. I woke up around 7.15 am, and got dressed by 7.30 am. But it felt like 9 am already.

Mee sua special!

Introducing the chicken mee sua cooked in chinese wine and ginger. According to JS’ dad, he would normally whip up this special dish only on Chinese New Year, or whenever there is a guest visiting. We were very honored by his warm gestures. What a way to make a guest feeling totally welcomed!

After breakfast, JS’ mom took us to Tamu and introduce to us the many types of Bario rice. I was informed that you could not get genuine Bario rice as Bario people only grew enough rice for their own consumption. The ones that we find at the Tamu is normally grown in Miri itself, but using seeds from Bario. I guess we would be very lucky if we could have original Bario rice flown in from Bario itself! Then, JS’ mom drove us around Miri. I could see that Mirians are very proud of their hometown, which is an upcoming young city!

Immigration checkpoint at Sg Tujoh, Miri

We then, made our way to Brunei. We drove to Sg Tujoh check point – which is about 30 minutes away from Miri town. We passed by Curtin University, Miri and saw plans of building more universities around the area. If you want your children to concentrate fully on their studies, perhaps you can send them here. It’s a jungle out there. Haha! Both sides of the road heading towards the border are flanked by fields of lalangs! We passed by e-mart as well. Things are really dirt cheap here! It’s like a mini Cha-tu-chak.

To drive to Brunei from Miri, you need to bring along a copy of car registration that you traveled in. From Miri, we had to pay RM10 for use of the bridge to cross the river (I was informed that, they had to take a ferry many years ago to cross the river to the Brunei border). Upon reaching the immigration check point, you don’t have to get out from the car, just hand over passports to the officer to be stamped. Then, after the Malaysia checkpoint, follow the sign and drive towards the Brunei checkpoint. Again, hand over your passports to the officer and drive on to the custom check point. Here, fill up a form of your car registration. This is when the car registration form comes handy. For detailed directions, see this blog.

Isi form at the nearby parking bay

After custom clearance, we headed towards Kuala Belait. There is another toll where we paid BN$3. The road towards Bandar Seri Begawan was a long one! We decided to stop a bit on smaller towns before heading to BSB. First, we went to look for this place called Sushi Excapade in Kuala Belait where fresh and huge sushis were served! We were lucky that we managed to snag a spot since we didn’t make any bookings and the place was not packed. We were given an hour to use the table before the guests who had reserved a table comes. We agreed happily.

Sashimi at only BN$12

At first, we decided to only have a few dishes just to stimulate our palate, we ended ordering a bento set, a shashimi set, fried silver fish, fried soft shell crabs and a plate of California sushi. It was a lunch bomb! Sushi Excapade serves the freshest sushi and the cawan mushi is nothing like I tasted before even in those expensive Japanese restaurants in KL. It actually has a whole prawn in it and the ingredients were really fresh and thick! Almost every pieces of sushi has huge chunk of avocado inside! We were surprised that, all our food only came to BN$46! No wonder my colleagues in Brunei always rave about this place and they actually have dinner at this place at least 3x a week.

The next stop, we wanted to try some kolo mee in Tutong. However, the blog had given us the wrong addresses, so the GPS led us to wrong place. After we drove some distance to look for the Chinese food, we gave up and headed straight to BSB. On the way, I was already feeling too sleepy due to the heavy lunch and snored away throughout the journey while Datin and JS chit chatted away.

After a long drive to BSB, we were in dire need of caffeine fix so, we pried our eyes open to scout for the first coffee shop available. We made a hasty stop when we saw Coffee Bean. Parking was a breeze because the entire town seemed rather quiet for a Sunday afternoon. When we got down the car, we saw a bunch of foreign workers lining up and sitting down at the pavement near Coffee Bean. I guess they were lining up to send money home. We felt like we are foreign workers also, as we didn’t see any locals walking around on a Sunday afternoon!

Cafe latte and egg tarts

We plunked our asses on the sofa at Illy’s and ordered our coffee for the day. We also ordered beef curry puffs and egg tarts. The beef curry puffs were too sweet for our likings. I guess, Bruneians love all things sweet!

As we were enjoying our extreme leisurely time, news broke out from the little tv in the café – there’s a breakthrough on the Chile’s miners trapped in the mine for over 70 days! Such good news! We were all very happy! It’s like adding a cherry on top of already a good day!

Since this post is a little long winded, I will break it into two. Stay tune for second part tomorrow!

Glam Nation, Kuala Lumpur

Adam Lambert

14th October 2010, Thursday
Putra Indoor Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur

It was quite a night! Yuin, Meehoon Queen, my cousin brother and I gathered to have a quick bite (and Yuin, painting his finger nails black at the restaurant!) before heading towards Putra Indoor Stadium Bukit Jalil yesterday. Traffic was a little congested from the Puchong side, but we managed to reach the venue before 6 pm.

As we walked from our parking lot to the venue, there were already many people lining up for some snacks, taking photos, queuing up to get into the stadium. There was even a geisha walking past us! Some people totally dressed up to the nines! We saw many daughters coming with their mothers. Sons with mothers too, but very few fathers with their children. It was awesome!

We started to join the queue by 6 pm. Not long later, people were already making a beeline. There were occasional screams we heard whenever someone open the door at the entrance.

The entrance only open at about 7.30 pm and everybody was excited. However, the security was checking bags, so the queue moved on rather slowly. By 7.45 pm, we were already in the stadium! In the Pit! We didn’t want to risk any chances, so we just stood where we were, about less than 50 feet away from the stage. MQ said this is the first time she gets to stand so near the stage!

By 8 pm, the Pit was already packed to the brim. Everyone was chanting, “Adam! Adam! Adam!” but still no sign of Adam. The crew went up the stage and starting to arrange things. It’s very weird to see such things. Why are they not prepared earlier? There was a bald guy moving things around the stage, then a lady arranging water and towel to be placed on stage. The crowd was entertained by songs and MTVs. Whenever there’s a flashback on American Idol Season 8 with Adam Lambert and Kris Allen in it, the fans would scream. I decided to keep my stamina and energy when Adam is on stage.

8.30 pm, still no sign of Adam. The crowd was getting restless. Then, there was an announcement, everybody got excited and started screaming again. Mana tau… it was the opening act, some guy whom I don’t even know. Ok lah, perhaps I am not really up-to-date in entertainment world. Then, came in Daniel Lee from Malaysian idol 2 and the cute violinist. Everyone got really fired up and ready for Adam Lambert. It was then, the stage went quiet. The bald guy came up again to tune the instruments. I tell you… I was so fucking tulan. Memang potong steam habis habis!

Then, they just entertain the crowd with more songs and they got some giant plastic balls bouncing on and around the crowd. The crowd – with herd mentality started screaming and pushing everybody to get to the balls. Come on lah! Actually, some people took this as opportunity to elbow their way further nearer to the stage. It’s really sickening because, if you are fucking late, please fucking stand behind. The people in front, already lined up all day for good front spots! There’s this annoying skinny bastard, not to mention with SMELLY armpits standing next to me, with his equally annoying, simian-like friend started to jostle their way to the front. MQ and I started to lock our elbows to stop them from coming in front. What fucking morons!

By 9.05 pm, I was already running out of patience when suddenly Adam Lambert appeared on stage! It was all crazy! I soon forgotten about the smelly armpits and monkeys grinding against me. We were here for a good time! The sound system was rather bad! We couldn’t really hear what he was singing, no thanks to screaming shorty banshees behind us either. There was also a skinny guy with a heart-shaped placard which annoyed the shit out of everybody because he was blocking us with it! The banshees behind us screaming at him to ask him to move his placard coz he was blocking our view! Thank goodness he obliged and stopped waving his stupid heart-shaped placard.

It went on well – actually, everybody respected each other’s space except for the two simians who head-banged along all music. Adam’s hairdo- we wonder how much spray he had on his hair that it could even withstood the long hat he wore! I bet the hair would still stand like that even if he fell into a river! Haha!

As our ears gotten accustomed to the really bad sound system, we started to sing along with Adam. Adam sang most of the songs in his new album but, he didn’t sing “Time for Miracles” which is my favorite. Adam introduced his band and when it’s his bassist’s turn, Tommy Joe Ratliff – Yuin, MQ and I shouted, “KISS! KISS! KISS!” Lol! Adam gave us a mischievous grin. It was quite hilarious.

After that, Adam and the band left the stage. Again, another potong steam moment. “That was it?” We were all very confused. Then, the crowd shouted, “We want more! We want more! We want more!”

Less than 5 minutes later, Adam came back on stage much to the pleasure of the crowd and sang, Mad World and ended the night high and dry, with Placebo’s 20th Century Boy.

We find the concert rather short. Actually, we were still charged with adrenaline and hadn’t reached the saturation point yet, and the concert was over. When Adam bid good nite, the guitarist threw his guitar pick and the drummer gave away his drumsticks, we knew it’s officially over. The crowd was rather obedient. Everybody just left the hall in orderly manner.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening. I just wish that, it would last another 10 minutes or so. I think the stage was rather TOO SMALL for Adam’s greatness! And a better sound system. Our hearing was slightly numbed when we left the hall. Surprisingly, I thought I am going to be in pain for standing more than 4.5 hours last night but my legs are fine!

Adam’s set list : Voodoo, Down The Rabbit Hole, For Your Entertainment, Ring Of Fire, Fever, Sleepwalker, Acoustic set : WWFM, Soaked, Broken Open and Aftermath, Sure Fire Winners, Strut, Music Again, If I Had You and Mad World (Encore) and 20th Century Boy (Encore). *Instead of kissing Tommy, Adam blew a kiss to the fans during Fever. To read more, please click here.