"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharal Nehru

Friday, October 19, 2012

Square hats

Sorry, no updates for a little while.

Gonna be wearing a square hat and a magicians cape! 
Maybe I can work some magic!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

'Tis the season for mossies to bite me, falalalala-lala-lala!

No, this isn't a laughing matter. Mosquitoes are the bane of my life. For some reason, they abound and have been going on a feeding frenzy. Victim: ME
The other people living around the clinic do not have the same problem. 
Must be my Semenanjung blood!

Counted more than 20 spots on a single arm!

Damm itchy. I hope they don't leave scars!

I've tried almost anything to keep them at bay.

Bug sprays
I tried 2 different kinds!

Electric mosquito mats

A new anklet - A Mosquito band
Seems to attract mosquitoes instead of repelling them

Nothing worked! In the end I resorted to this...

Sleeping under a 'kelambu'

Had to modify the kelambu as I didn't want to go knocking nails into the walls. So tied one end to both the windows and the other end, I just hooked onto my clothes hanger!

It gets stuffy and hot sleeping underneath the netting, but I sleep well. Without having to scratch myself every now and then.

How then am I gonna keep this little buggers away at all other times of the day?
Any smarty pants out there with suggestions?

Monday, October 15, 2012

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig!

Sings: "To market, to market, to buy a fat pig, Home again, home again, jiggety-jig"

Unfortunately, did not get to buy a fat pig at the Teresang Market in Kapit. Dunno how I'll be able to carry it back on the ferry to Song. Instead bought some dabai & buns.

To me a market is microcosm of the population it serves. Anywhere I go, I never miss a visit to their local market. I've been to markets in Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe and there's always something new to see, interesting people to meet & bits to eat!

Here's a glimpse of what Teresak has to offer!

Although Teresak Market is open every day of the week, it is busiest on the weekends as folks from the nearby rumah panjangs will descend to get their supply for the week and catch up with friends.

Busy Teresang on a Sunday morning! 

The market is basically a huge shed with sellers at their counters and along the walkways. Rent for selling along the walkways is cheap - only RM 1.00 so many of the ladies from the more ulu areas come down to sell their jungle produce here.

Jungle veggies 

Some kind of bark shavings 

There's the usual veggies...

What a riot of colours! 

Pretty bunga kantan 

Hot, hotter, hottest!

Mani chai or changkuk manis
Found back home too, but why doesn't anyone sell it?

... and there's those which you can only get here.


? Wild banana flower

The fruit section...

Humongous bananas - with my foot for comparison


Dabai - olives of Sarawak
Sarawakian are crazy for them but can't really say likewise

No metric or SI units here!

Still looking for my elusive empurau. Apparently it's RM800/ kg. So far had a taste of baung, semah and tengkalah. Must say the tengkalah is really good, although you really have to work to savour it. Plenty of bones!

Ikan Sultan

Batang Rejang catfish

Local clams

Yay! Finally learned how to prepare it!

Ikan jeruk
No idea what sorta fish this is!

The poultry section...

Cock a doodle doo!

Chickens all ready to go.
Chickens bought live as a trip back to the longhouses may take hours.
Furthermore, no electricity. So 'sembelih' when you want chicken for dinner!

The exotic meat section. Usually there's wildboar, rusa, musang. If you're lucky you will get pangolins.

Doe - a deer!

All ready for the pot.
The fur is torched off with a blow torch!

After the walk around around the market, got my appetite working so stopped at the famed Ung Tong Bakery.

Buns - hot out from the oven

Ung Tong Bakery has been around for maybe ?2-3 generations so they're a household name in Kapit. The breads are a little tough and chewy even if they're fresh. Told it was because they do not use preservatives while baking. My favourite has to be their butter cupcakes! Washed it all down with a cuppa of 'kopi-o'!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The next best thing...

That must be Kapit... the capital of Kapit division, where all the big government offices are. When I first arrived, I had to get myself there to report to the District Health Officer (DHO). So after doing the necessary, I decided to stay back to explore the town abit.

Kapit is located 1 hour up river from Song. All the express boat from Sibu ultimately ends up in Kapit as their final port of call. Unfortunately, not all the express boats do a pit stop in Song so if you're coming my way, make sure you don't take the Sibu-Kapit direct. If you accidentally do, wait an hour or so and come back down to Song.

This way to Song or Kapit

In terms of population, Kapit has twice the ammount of folks Song has. Approximately 60,200 according to the 2002 census (figures plucked from Wikepedia). From what I heard, Kapit has lots going on. In fact, the Sibu folks call this place "LITTLE HONG KONG" and many come over just for the weekend in search of exotic food (think jungle produce) and booze. There's plenty to choose from - tuak, ijok, langkau, cap ah pek and a whole selection of duty free beer (smuggled in thru Miri) from Korea, Poland & Russia. These are brands I've never heard of - Zorok beer anyone? No wonder my FMS friend here mentioned that lotsa her patients have sky-high TG levels.

Not too sure if there's women in the equation.


Anyhow, the old boarding house where Pits and I stayed when we visited Kapit in 1999 is still standing. This was the place without curtains, so we had to use our parios to cover the windows and the bedsheets were more than a little threadbare. This was also where in the middle of the night a little old Iban man came knocking... "Ada amoi kah?" Anyway, you get the drift right?  

Pits, remember this place?

So far, this place hasn't changed much. Still same-same from what I remember from 1999. Old building are getting older. The market is still a hive of busy activity. Airport & airstrip has gone so derelict it is now a jogging track! Robert Mayau https://www.facebook.com/robert.mayau (whom we met while chilling at the wharf in 1999) still owns a little tattoo parlor in Kenyalang Square even though his skill and artwork using the body as a canvas has seen him rise to international fame. Probably the only thing that's different now is the brand spanking new wharf, the presence of 3 different banks and daily traffic jams caused by the lack of parking lots. Most of the middle class here own pick-up trucks and cars. The terrain around Kapit is hilly and most of the housing estates are away from the town. The town dies down by 4-5pm and all activity moves to the new township located about 10 minutes. Out there, there's dangdut joints, karaokes and even a restaurant selling pork chop! (which was worth every cent I paid - yummy and large helpings). 

Kapit is like this frontier town and many are seeking new opportunities here. I saw 2 Pakistanis play cricket in a vacant lot. Struck up a conversation with them - seems their boss, a Pakistani owns 4 shops in Kapit. 2 Shah Rukh Khan Furniture & Carpet Store, Kedai Runcit Shah Rukh Khan and Restoran Shah Rukh Khan. Ahhhh... for the love of Bollywood!

Here's a tour of Kapit...

Tempat melepak - Kapit Town Square

Gelangang Kenyalang
Hawker centre (roti canai goreng found here)
and Robert Mayau's tattoo parlour

Teresang Market
Lotsa weird & wonderful to be found here

Construction in progress
A behemoth in the making

Fuel up

Traffic jam? More like a boat jam!

Kapit's one and only fast food outlet - SUGAR BUN

Kitschy toys

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1 month

Yes, its officially been 1 month since reporting here in Sarawak

 ... but sure feels like I've been here longer!

Rejang Epicurean Epic Part III

Went to visit one of my rural health clinics in Nanga Tekalit. Was in for a treat! After consultation, the staff prepared a fine lunch for me and the other visiting staff from KK Song. What was special about this meal was that all food laid out on the table was either self grown or sourced from the nearby jungle or river. 

Couldn't help but reflect...

As West Malaysians, we take many aspects of our life for granted. For example, when we're hungry, we just head out to the nearest hawker centre or mamak for some chow. We're spoiled for choice. Chinese, Malay, Indian, Japanese, Italian, etc... Whatever we want, we've got it. If we feel like cooking, we head over to the nearby kedai runcit or Cold Storage to get our fresh ingredients.
Here up river, don't even dream of finding a restaurant or stall. Can't even find a kedai runcit to buy provisions! The nearest is in Song, a 40 minute boat ride away!

Kalau mau makai ikan... tangkap sendiri!
Kalau mau makai ayam... jaga dan sembelih sendiri!
Kalau mau makai sayur... tanam sendiri!
Kalau mau makai midin... pi cari sendiri! 

I salute the people who work here, be they teachers, MAs, nurses, etc... Being a government servant, they could have easily asked for a transfer once their "tour of duty" is up but yet they choose to stay on to serve the people here, sans electricity & all the trappings of modern life. Makes me wonder if I'm really made out for this!

Back to the feast...

A real treat!

Prepared by the staff of KK Nanga Tekalit in the Dapur Sihat

River prawns caught by MA Anthony
Cooked in a broth of garlic and ebiko (prawn eggs)
Don't ask me how Anthony only managed to catch pregger prawns
or for that matter differentiate male and female prawns!

Deep fried river fish
Crispy till the bone!

Mawang fruit salad
Only found here in Sarawak.
Fruit looks like a humongous ciku and the insides looks like mango

Tapioca leaves 'lecek'ed
Sauteed with garlic and ikan pusuk

And cause one of the nurses here was Melanau, we also had some sago to eat with our rice. These little balls are addictive, so she gave me a whole tupperware full as a snack.

I've also been told that a certain tree grows only along the Katibas region.

Ijok palm

The ijok palm produces a sap that is alcoholic. Apparently, it is quite sweet & nice. I can only imagine that it tastes something like toddy. At the moment, it isn't the season so I didn't get to taste any. Rest assured, Anthony promised me some the next time I visit (notice the ladder propped up next to the palm?)

Rejang Epicurean Epic Part II

Apologies for the silence. Had bridesmaid duties to fulfill. More of that later...

Anyway, will continue with what I promised in the last post. Food from the Song/ Katibas area. Most of the food here is home cooked and prepared with love. Whether its nutritional content its up to standards, I leave that for you to decide.

Yup, you read that right! In KL, Friday nights are a blast... Clubbing, drinks, alco, the works! In Song, the grill is lit up, healthy doses (or more like unhealthy doses!) of beer and tuak is thrown in for good measure and there's also a karaoke set to belt out Golden oldies, Malay jiwang songs or Iban "orang kampung" style!

Light the grill! It's time for a barbeque!

Here's the reason its call a BA-BI-Q!

Babi Cina or better known as 'siew yok'
Nicely done with just a hint of carbon for the crunch!

Babi hutan
Leaner & tougher than the Babi Cina but still a tasty treat!

Preparing the babi with a nasty looking machete!
The staff prepared a few other dishes for good measure including midin - a local fern, pusuk goreng cabae - anchovies fried with green chilli, pucuk manis goreng - stir fried tapioca leaves but my favourite dish would have to be this...

I have known idea what's it called...
It's a kuchai & BBQ chicken wing salad,
dressed with sea salt & a squeeze of lime.

Musang masak hitam
This one had iron supplements in them
- shot gun pellets that almost sent me to the dentist for a dislodged filling!

Food is definitely a good mixer. Throw in a few pints as a binder. Friday nights can be a blast here in Song!

Bon Appetit!