Tuesday, October 30, 2007
A Visit to Kuantan
The Streamyx connection I have at home has been quite fickle lately. At times the internet speed would be okay but at other times the connection would slow down to a halt. I guess this is considered normality here. Despite the fickle internet connection, I have to struggle to finish several blog posts, upload pictures into my facebook account and answer all my emails by today as from tomorrow we will travel back to Shah Alam and the slow internet connection would change into "no" internet connection :(
I'm happy to report that Sarah has, to my eyes, adapted very well to Malaysia. She is particularly fascinated by the domestic wildlife (haha, an oxymoron!) found here, especially cicaks which she calls "lizards". One evening, she saw a particularly big cicak scampering up our living room wall and excitedly shouted, pointed and asked my father to catch it for her. Being the obliging grandfather, my father said to Sarah - these lizards usually hide behind pictures - he peeked behind a Quran wall hanging - and indeed two cicaks sprinted in opposite directions. The cicak running towards the floor was unlucky though, as it was swiftly apprehended by my father (by hand no less!).
The cicak ended up in a mini fishtank, under Sarah's close and constant scrutiny (somehow, Sarah and the cicak reminds me of the dentist's niece Darla in Finding Nemo) - while Mama Sarah, my mom & my sister Nurul tried to avoid Sarah and her cicak as much as possible.
After just a few hours though, Sarah felt sorry for the cicak and asked my father to open the tank and let the lizard go. I'm not sure what kind of goodbyes she uttered while letting the cicak go but my father didn't let the moment pass without wiggling the cicak in front of my mom and Nurul first!
Sarah also seems to enjoy the food, especially if it is within the vicinity of the beach. In the evenings if it is not raining Sarah insists we take her and Amar to the beach where she likes to play with the sand. She is scared of the water as three years ago - at exactly the beach spot near the restaurant in the picture below, Sarah was hit with a wave while bathing. She is scared of the sea ever since - it's amazing she still remembers what happened three years ago (she was only one years old then).
What is nice about the beaches here, are the restaurants selling fresh catches from the local fishermen including octopus, squid and many types of fish - caught and fried on site. Apart from seafood the restaurants would also have banana fritters, banana dumplings and ABC (urm ABC stands for Air Batu Campur in Malay, it's liked shaved ice topped with sweet syrup, corn, peanuts etc2).
Another kind of restaurants by the beach are the franchise types like KFC and A&W, pictured below is the A&W located at Batu Buruk, Kuala Terengganu. Look closely at the picture, especially at the guy in pink and you may notice he is our friend from London & Nottingham; Uncle De. Not only is Uncle De in Malaysia, he's also followed us to Terengganu (see the pattern here guys?). Uncle De is here in Terengganu for work and would go back to his house in KL for weekends. I think he's here until the middle of November but it's a pity we're here only until tomorrow (i.e the 1st of Nov).
Friends and family are definitely among the best things in Malaysia and last weekend we traveled to Kuantan to meet more of our blogger friends. We set off from Kuala Terengganu at around 6p.m, quite late for a journey that would take around 4 hours in good conditions. The conditions were NOT good when we travelled - there was heavy rain, and worse; heavy traffic along the way. Parts of the roads were stilllllllllllllllllllll being built (the length of that word corresponds to the number of years the roads are in the works) - so it wasn't uncommon for sharp bends on the roads would occur without signs, for the road to diverge and then suddenly merge without warnings, for the only source of illumination would be the dragonfly in the bushes by the road and for the road to be cratered with holes.
Thank goodness that halfway to Kuantan we were invited for dinner at Mama Sarah's cousin's house in Paka where we found one of Sarah's 7 look-alikes in the world (rumour has it that each person would have 7 other people who would look exactly like you) in the form of Eisha, Sarah's cousin. They looked like twins.
Spot which is Sarah??
After fully caffeinating and urinating, we continued the journey to Kuantan and finally arrived at around 12 a.m. Orang-Kilang and KKL had to get us from UIA as we couldn't find the way along the newly-built, and scarcely-signposted roads.
We were greeted on arrival by Orang-Kilang and KKL's ...... cats. Sarah and especially Amar squealed seeing the cute cats. Amar laughed heartily seeing the cats prancing a feathered stick which Sarah wiggled at their faces.
When it was Amar's turn to wiggle the feathered stick he was a bit too, urm, "enthusiastic" with the cats. In the end , the cats had to be locked up - in their own fully airconditioned, en-suite, 3x3 metre room (!!!).
Our visit to Kuantan, just like the one to Perak, had a weird event. The night we arrived in Kuantan, Sarah woke up at 3 a.m. and woke up Mama Sarah and myself to let her out the room. "Ada orang kat luar pintu ajak Sarah main dengan kucing", she said.
"Mana ada orang kat luar," Mama Sarah said
"Ada, tu ... Sarah nampak tu", replied Sarah - pointing towards the door's crevice.
Sarah kept begging to be let out of the room to play with the "person" and the cats but fortunately she didn't seem possessed, just her normal self and Mama Sarah managed to persuade her to sleep after several minutes.
The next morning, we were telling our family, O-K and KKL about the event. It turned out that at 9 p.m. the night before Nurul was telling my father she thinks there is a "resident" spirit playing with the cats inside the cats' room. Fortunately the resident is quite benign, according to Nurul. So it was probably the spirit asking Sarah to play with it and the cats... it is an understatement saying that we all felt spooked out that morning - especially our hosts, all "three" of them (haha)!
O-K and KKL has a pergola housing a dinner table and so, we were enjoying all our meals outdoors. The breakfast that morning was made even more delicious by eating it outside!
Our main event for the day was visiting Ikelah and DITH, their house was around 20 minutes away of KKL's and O-K's.
DITH prepared us a wonderful lunch, and we heard rumours that she was working on the food since 8 a.m. that morning! (our meeting was at 1 p.m.). Well, if the rumours were true the effort certainly paid off . I was particularly impressed by the Ikan Patin dish - I could imagine the taste till today, and I even have asked my sister to try and cook it again!
DITH had to go to work very soon after our visit at 2 p.m. Since Ikelah wasn't at home yet at that time, we had to wait until 3 p.m. for Ikelah to arrive.
While waiting, Sarah and I walked to the beach - just a 5 minute walk away through several village houses. The hour ticked away as Sarah chased after crab-holes & toiled around.
Back home, Sarah was particularly impressed by DITH's collection of russian Matryoshka dolls and busied herself disassembling then re-assembling the dolls.
When Ikelah finally arrived home, we had a long conversation - especially regarding digital photography - over a nice, warm cup of teh tarik.
We went back to Ikmal's house right before maghrib, and soon after prayers Ikmal, KKL, Mama Sarah and Nurul scurried around the kitchen preparing dinner.
Of special note, was O-K's roasted chicken. The chicken was one reared by KKL's father, what is called an "ayam kampung".
O-K seasoned the chicken with a measure of different spices, even taking the trouble of rubbing the spices under the chicken's skin.
The chicken was then skewered and put in their oven, capable of rotating the chicken - wow.
O-K affectionately called his grilled chicken that night "Ayam Kampung Beyonce" *chuckles*.
The reason why the chicken was named after Beyonce was that, while the chicken was rotating in the oven - Nurul, O-K and I couldn't stop looking at the chicken's spinning, fat and (literally) hot backside. Hahaha.
Mama Sarah: "If you cheat on me mynn, this is what I'll do to you" - no she didn't really say that.
Meanwhile, Amar was bonding with his auntie Nurul while watching his DVD and his favourite small screen DVD player. And by "bonding with auntie Nurul" I really meant "wrestling with".
Dinner was great that night: excellent food and atmosphere, and excellent company of course!
Ikelah and DITH's family joined us at around 10 p.m. that night - soon after DITH had finished her work in clinic.
So, O-K and KKL (seen above making a "Pongki" face i.e. an expression usually made by their cat of the same name) thank you so much for having us in Kuantan. It was great seeing you guys again, and it was wonderful getting to meet Ikelah, DITH and family - the first time for Mama Sarah. I really had fun watching High Definition movies on O-K's Sony Bravia TV and enjoyed the nice surround sound. The food was excellent.
Thank you so much for having us & for all the trouble! It was a great weekend. My only regret was not being able to go Fook Yew something. (urm, Fook Yew is the name of a store in Kuantan, apparently - so is Yew Hoe, apparently).