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East Coast Part 5 – Sungai Lembing

August 28, 2014 at 11:04 am

Continue from here.

♥Jun 8th Sunday♥

Although I was born in Kuantan, and lived there for the first 6 years of my live, I no longer go back for visits since my God parent’s passing. I don’t know which restaurant is good, which is a good place to visit. After lunch, instead of going to another beach, we decided to head to Sungai Lembing, an old mining town 40+km from Kuantan.

On our way to Sungai Lembing, we saw this monolith off the main road (something you won’t miss when driving from Kuantan to Sungai Lembing). Not sure where that was, we detoured and headed towards it, driving on small plantation roads.

We saw quite some cars parked at the foot of the hill, and found out this was Gua Cheras, which housed a statue of a reclining Buddha. Paying a small fee, we climbed some stairs to explore it.

Inside Gua Cheras, it was pretty mystical, as the whole place was shrouded by a thin layer of smoke from incense burning.

And then we saw the reclining Buddha.

It was very cooling inside, probably five degrees lower than the outside heat, the smell from the incense smoke was unpleasant though, so we didn’t stay there for long.

Reaching Sungai Lembing, we realised we’d missed all the morning crowd. It was quite quiet with only a few shops still opened. We stopped at Kedai Tea Lembing or 林明茶室 (No.6 jalan besar sg. lembing, Sungai Lembing, Pahang, Malaysia) which serves big bowl tea that was common for miners, and famous for their handmade duck egg noodle.

The rich soup for the noodle is charcoal boiled for many hours, but to us, it was too strong in pork taste. The Egg Noodle was very chewy and springy though.

The girls wanted some ‘adventure’ so we visited The Sungai Lembing Mines, an old underground tin mine, now a museum, preserved in it most natural and original settings.

It was quite eerie being under ground walking in these tunnels, the miners could not be claustrophobic to be in this profession.

I was quite glad to end the tour, and went back out to the surface. The girls have a great time navigating the handcar at the museum ground, experiencing what coordination was required to properly move the car front and back.

Back to the town in the evening, the place is almost dead.

But this is probably the best time for wedding shots as the tourists have almost all left.

After this, it was the long drive back to KL. Long because of the bumper to bumper jam on Karak Highway. What a stressful way to end a holiday.

Ohline Shopping Malaysia Fashion – Why Do People Prefer To Shop Online

August 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm

It is known with the existence of internet and modern technology, anything is possible including shopping. Nowadays, shopping online is seen to be getting a huge support especially for the individuals who are busy working. People will find it difficult to squeeze in time from their hectic schedule and tend to resort for the alternative way of online shopping Malaysia fashion. There are various online stores available in the market which sells gadgets, fashion items, car accessories and pre-loved items. If you are looking for a fashion online store in Malaysia, check out ZALORA as it offers a wide range of fashion products for both men and women. You could find your clothes easily from various local and international brands offered in ZALORA. There are many reasons people shop online compared to the traditional way of shopping. Among them are:

1. You do not have to move

The best thing about online shopping is that you do not have to move from the spot you are sitting. Just grab your laptop and start browsing through the website to get your clothes online. No longer have you to drive out through bad traffic on the weekends or stuck in crowds at the mall as you can do online shopping in the comfort of your home. You do not have to take your time to shower or dress up and shopping online is easy as a click of a button

Photo credit : Zalora

2. Much more choices

It is undeniable that there are a lot of brands and shop outlets you can find in malls selling the items you may want but also does online stores. Another extra advantage for online shopping is that you could easily scroll through the website and do a comparison of prices, designs and sizes without having to use your energy searching through racks in the shopping malls. There are much more choices and brands for you to choose from without having to walk in and out of multiple stores.

Photo credit : Zalora

3. Great prices and sales offered

Another luxury of shopping online is that customers can get affordable prices on fashion items online. Besides that, the sales offered online such as Eid Day sales, Christmas sales, New Year sales have a longer sales period compared to the sales in malls. Plus, the sales in online stores are opened 24/7 and you could participate in the sales anytime you want.

Photo credit : Zalora

NoQ Store For Book Lovers

August 14, 2014 at 11:52 pm

If you knew me personally, you’ld know that I love buying books. I was a book worm when I was younger and now still do a lot of reading, although I may not have enough time to read all that I’d bought.

I love going to book fest and book sales to find a good bargain, but sometimes I want a specific title which can be difficult to hunt down in our bookshop. For example, I like reading Qiu Xiaolong‘s crime thriller series and it’s not found in our bookshops; My best friend recommended me Half The Sky and I’d been searching for it but only found the Chinese translated version available.

And then I was introduced to NoQ Store, a subsidiary of Times Publishing, one of the most reputable names in book printing, publishing, distribution and retail in the Asia Pacific! It’s an online book shop with 14 million titles spanning across different genres and all of them at discounted price! What more? Shipping is free if your purchase is RM50 and above.

And of course, I found Qiu Xiaolong’s latest books and Half The Sky available there. I’d just ordered them and can’t wait to receive them.

If you are a book lover, this is a good place to shop for books. And here is something for you.
From 14 August – 31 December 2014, you will be entitled to an exclusive 15% discount on all purchases at NoQ Store. Just use code MYTWOGIRLS at check out.

Happy shopping! (Like I did)

Homemade Salted Vegetable / Hum Choy / Kiam Chai / 自腌咸菜

August 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Nothing beats homemade.

After seeing some videos/posts on how salted/preserved vegetables were made commercially, I’d actually try to limit purchasing of salted or preserved vegetables.

So I decided to make my own using a simple recipe I got from Best-ever Cooking Of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia & The Philippines. This is the 2nd time I’m making it, the end result is a crunchy salted vegetable with no chemical after taste like those you get from store bought ones.

♥Recipe for Homemade Salted Vegetable♥

Ingredients
1/2 cup of rice (actually this can be any amount, just make the amount you will be eating as porridge for that day)
5 cups of water (adjust the quantity according to how much rice you’ll be cooking, ‘rice water’ is what we’ll need to preserve the mustard green, and it has to be enough to submerge the vegetable)
500g mustard greens
35g salt

Method
1. Wash the rice, bring to boil in a large pan with the water. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain the rice, saving the liquid and letting it cool. The rice itself is not used in this recipe, so you can have the porridge like rice as a meal served with another dishes).

2. Wash the mustard green in lots of water and dry thoroughly. Using a kitchen towel to pat each leave and stalk. It’s important that they are fully dried.

3. Cut the mustard green into smaller stalks and mix with the salt in a non metallic bowl. Leave it for 30 minutes, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Salt will cling to the leaves.

4. Place mustard green into a jar, and pour over the completely cooled rice water, make sure the rice water submerge the leaves. Place the jar in a cool place for 4 to 7 days.

5. Drain the salted vegetable. Use immediately or store it in a container and refrigerate for later use. It can be stored up to a week in the fridge, but will taste better if used immediately. These homemade ones are not so salty, so you do not need to wash them before cooking or serving it straight as a dish.

Not too difficult right? The most tedious part of making this is the cleaning of the mustard green (they have lots of sand) and patting them completely dry.

Here are some photographs to document the steps.

Step 2 (Most tedious step) – Wash and pat them dry

Step 3 – Cut them, sprinkle with salt and let it sit for 30mins.

Cut the mustard greens

Mix with salt and leave for 30mins

After 30mins, the liquid in the mustard green will be drawn out

Step 4 – Place them in a jar with the rice water for 4 to 7 days.

Day 1

Day 7

Ready to eat

So how did we eat ours?

Cut a few stalks up and add into a bowl of noodle as condiment.

Stir friend them with chili, minced chicken with some salt and sugar, and drizzle a bit of soy sauce at the end.

(photos without watermark were taken from the phone, hence the bad quality)

East Coast Part 4 – Tumpat, Pantai Seri Tujoh, Kota Bharu

August 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jun 6th Friday♥

Early in the morning, the hubs drove to Kampung Kuala Besar, a fishing village near Kota Bharu.

The fishermen there seem to love to keep the Jambul or Red Whiskered Bulbul, a bird which they will use in bird singing competition.

Back at the hotel, we had another scrumptious buffet breakfast; after that the girls wanted to go back to Siti Khatijah Central Market to get more fake legos (yes, they sell them there at a very good price).

We stopped by at Loo Coffee for a drink and ended up chatting to the owner, Alice, for almost an hour about Kota Bharu and the Chinese community. Most of the Chinese there seem happy with the ruling party, PAS. When pork is sold at a little hidden corner with high walls in Klang Valley, they are sold openly in Kota Bharu. The market near by Loo Coffee had pork sold right at its entrance, a scene not available in Klang Valley. Unfortunately, when the hubs walked over there later, the market was already closed. Alice suggested that we go to the Thai border to see the impressive and huge temples built there.

We could have gone on chatting with Alice, but the girls were restless and nagging us to move on.

We drove out of Kota Bharu, and headed to Tumpat, which is a district at the Thai border (the other bigger Thai Border town Rantau Panjang is inland and further away from Kota Bharu); but to cross to Thailand (Tak Bai Checkpoint) from this side of the border, a ferry/boat ride across the Golok River is required.

The closer we got to Tumpat, the more Thais we saw. We actually broke for lunch at a small road side shed serving simple Thai food. Every one spoke Thai there, a guy had to take our orders in Bahasa Malaysia, and translate to Thai for the cook. Zaria was happy to have some pork to eat after so many days at the East Coast.

We stopped at the KTM station there, which is the eastern terminus of KTM’s East Coast Line.

As the station was pretty quiet, we went to the track and took some yoga shots. Eventually, the station master spotted us and shooed us away.

The girls, not toying with danger, stayed in a nearby shed, fooling around while waiting for us.

While driving to Pengkalan Kubor, the hubs decided to make a stop at Pantai Seri Tujuh. It seemed like a pretty popular beach for a picnic looking at how much rubbish had been littered and accumulated! I’d never seen a dirtier beach!

I’m disgusted at how we ‘take care’ of our beaches!

Luckily it wasn’t a wasted trip as besides being a popular picnic spot, it’s also a local favourite for kite flying. We saw some huge Wau Bulan or moon kites, being flown.

We even got to go on a horse carriage ride around the village nearby, as requested by the girls.

By the time we’re done at Pantai Seri Tujoh, and rushed to Pengkalan Kubur the Malaysian checkpoint at the Thai Border, the chekcpoint was already closed for the day (up till 6pm each day), so no crossing over to Thailand.

We drove back towards Kota Bharu, and searched for Restaurant Kampung Kulim (GPS coordinates) at Wakaf Baru as it’s a highly recommended restaurant.

It wasn’t an easy restaurant to find, as it’s hidden in some residential area. We has to ask around for direction before we managed to find it but only to know it’s closed for the week! (So that the workers can rest it seemed!) Anyway, if we were to be in Kelantan the next time, we’ll definitely want to try this place. We ended up eating at Cheng Mai Restoran, a Thai restaurant nearby Restaurant Kampung Kulim, but it wasn’t good that good.

♥Jun 7th Saturday♥

We checked out Hotel Perdana after our morning breakfast. It’s been a great stay there, love the clean gymn, the nice pool, and with super buffet spread we got every morning, and the service we got from the reception to the concierge was 5 star!

After another visit to Siti Khatijah Central Market for last round of shopping, we went hunting for Kopitiam Kita ( 4357-A, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, Taman Desa Jaya, Kelantan, Kota Bharu), another place highly recommended.

Crowded kopitiam, the place is famous for packed rice from different district of Kelantan.

However, most of the rice were gone when we got there. Only managed to grab 2 packs of Nasi Ayam Goreng Kak Wok.

The girls have some kaya toasts, and then some customers next to our table recommended us roti titab, famous in this kopitiam. It’s just a pan fried butter toast, top with soft boiled egg, with 4 dollops of kaya dotting the corners of the toast.

Something different.

This was considered our early lunch, before we took the long drive down to Kuantan. Our next destination.

Somewhere on the journey, we stopped at the road side for some kueh baked using brass pan over a fire fueled by coconut husks.

The brass pan was placed on top of the fire, and top with more burning husks to bake the kueh.

It was a very fragrant and tasty kueh.

Driving inland between palm oil plantations, we spotted some wild hornbills flying about kind of like playing, the hubs decided to chase after them.
.

All these stops made us finally arriving at Kuantan past 10pm. We felt so happy/relief to get into our cozy room at Riverview Boutique Guesthouse
.

East Coast Part 3 – Kota Bharu, Siti Khadijah Central Market

July 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jun 5th Thursday♥

After having breakfast at the hotel (which was scrumptious and part of the room rate), we headed to Siti Khadijah Central Market. Named after Prophet Muhammad’s entrepreneurial wife, it’s a name fit for this market which is mostly run by women.

This has to be the highlight of anybody’s trip to Kota Bharu. We like the place so much, we went there every day for the 3 days duration we were there!

This huge market has a tremendous variety of things being sold, from the regular produce you get from any wet market, vegetables, poultry, fish and fruits, to souvenirs for tourists, i.e. batik, keropok, serunding, copper ware etc.

First glance, it looked like any other wet market in Malaysia.

Until we moved to the centre of the market. The octagonal central hall of the market is probably the most visually attractive part of the market, it has vendors sitting on raised platforms surrounded with their enticing goods, i.e. colourful vegetables, pickled, sauces etc.

We were actually quite shock to see turtle eggs being sold by 2 or 3 vendors openly. I thought these were banned?

There are not that expensive considering these are from endangered sea turtles. The only consolation is during the 3 days we were there, we didn’t see anybody actually buying these eggs.

The central hall is best view from floors above, the glass roof ensures the whole place is bathed in enough light to show off the beautiful colours of the produce sold.

On the second floor, we found mainly dry grocers selling a variety of things. What attracted us was the wide array of salted fish available.

We went to one of the bigger stalls and asked for the best salted fish. The owner warned me it was very expensive, and asked me how many I would like to have. I gingerly (worried about the price) asked for 3 (they looked like these on the photo but lighter in colour), and waited for him to weigh and inform me of the price. Phew, they were only RM6 for 3!
(And by the way, they were delicious I regret not buying more!)

I love to see how spices and curry powder were sold in big bags by the weight, not pre-packed like how we get them in KL.

Serunding (dried meat floss) and keropok are being sold by a lot of the stalls here. I bought some back as well, not really that fantastic although they are cheaper than KL.

The 2nd flour is where all the batik sellers are. Lots of clothing, shoes, accessories can be found too on that floor. Zara got herself a fake Hello Kitty bag which was quite good quality.

Back to the ground floor, a section of the market is given over to ready to eat food. There’s wrapped tapai being sold.

Different kind of kueh-mueh (Malaysian cakes), some not seen before in KL. Most of them were not covered, and we didn’t dare to try them. However, we did buy a pack of Kuih Gomok (a round cake made with coconut and glutinous rice flour) and Kuih Ladu (pepper cake) each to try. Kuih Gomok is nice, but I can’t say the same for Kuih Ladu.

Not sure what this seed is, and a few stalls were selling this. We tried some and they tasted like lotus seeds.

Outside of the market, we saw this fish satay being sold. It’s 20sen per stick! We tried some. It’s not really fish pieces, but more like some fish flavored dough pieces. Still, it’s a cheap snack to munch on.

Not far from Siti Khadijah Central Market is China Town.

Most of the shops here have jawi written on their sign boards.

For lunch we went to Restaurant Nasi Ulam Cikgu at the Kampung Kraf Tangan. Food display wasn’t the most appetising looking (hence no photo), but taste wise it’s ok, lots of greens, ulam to choose from.

The rest of the day, we spent lazing in the hotel. Girls watched TV, while I went for a massage.

In the night, we went to try out Yati Ayam Percik (847, Jln Long Yunus, 15200 Kota Bharu). A big big disappointment.

We should have known when we stepped into the restaurant, with greasy floor and flies buzzing around. When the chicken (ayam percik) pieces were served, the girls asked if it was chicken covered in vomit, so unappetizing looking, and the chicken which was supposed to be barbecued was cold, cooked, probably many hours earlier. Even my neighbourhood Malay restaurants make better ayam percik than Yati. The vegetable that came in a clump with the rice was horrible as well.

We rarely walk out on a restaurant but this time we did, with our food barely touched. We thought we’ll only do justice to ourselves if we went to another place for dinner since we only have 3 nights in Kelantan.

Off we went to Kedai Kopi White House (1329-L, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, 15000 Kota Bharu.). Chinese owned, we understand that the owner’s grandfather used to be the Sultan’s chef, therefore their shop is so strategically located between the Muhammadi State Mosque and the Kelantan Sultan’s palace

This small place is constantly full, we waited a while before we got a table. Coffee, tea, toasts were great, and even the packed nasi tumpang was quite nice.

East Coast Part 2 – The Summerland Retreat, Pantai Telaga Papan, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, Setiu Wetlands

July 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jan 3rd Tuesday♥

After googling for a place to visit around Setiu, which is the district The Summerland Retreat is located, we decided to visit Setiu Wetlands; not knowing the place is so illusive.

We only knew we were supposed to head North, and then try to locate signage. There was actually no signage, so we had to ask around, finally locating the narrow village road that led us to Setiu Wetlands. We knew we were there when we saw some boats docked with mangrove forests nearby.

We asked around if anyone would bring us around, but the folks there were more interested in their game of checkers. Only a Pak Din was willing to show us around in his boat for RM150.

Pak Din mentioned that the place is not well posted with signage because they were afraid that big tourist crowd may actually cause harm to the environment, how true that is, we don’t know. Usually only university students come to the wetlands for research purposes, and they normally hire him to bring them around so he’s quite familiar with the area.

In his small boat, he showed us around.

One of the main income in the wetland area is generated through oyster farming. We passed by many of them, with floating platforms.

Pak Din docked at a mangrove forest, and got us to explore a bit. He expertly watched over the shallow pool of water (for bubbles rising from sand), and dug out a couple of big clams. I’d never eaten clams this big, but they seem to be quite popular in the East Coast. He asked if we wanted to bring home to cook, and when we didn’t want, he happily pocketed them.

Pak Din pointed out some strange stack horn like parasitic plants which could only be found here, according to him. They look like a big sweet potatos attached to the tree, with a few thin stalks with leaves sticking out at the ends.

He took his boat out to the open sea as well, just to show us how the Peninsular looked like from the sea. He also docked at a sandy beach near the Laguna Agro Resort, pointed to us where Pulau Perhentian Besar, Pulau Perhentian Kecil and Pulau Lang Tengah are. His boat stalled when we wanted to leave, and took a while to restart. That got us worried, so we headed back soon after that as none of us wanted to get stranded in the middle of the sea.

If you are visiting Setiu Wetland, do contact Pak Din to show you around in his boat. His number 0139030119.

After our lunch at Pak Din’s little shop (run by his wife), it started raining. Nothing much we could do, so we headed back to our vacation home. On our drive back, we caught these. A heard of goats squeezing together to shelter themselves from the rain.

Another peck of animals sharing a shelter together.

While this duck was enjoying itself in the rain.

At Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, we decided to try the famous Ikan Goreng Tepung (fried fish with batter). Not only fish, they have prawns, squids, and keropok lekor (fish sticks) and some other processed stuff like crab sticks, sausages and nuggets. We picked a few items for tea, and they were good as long as you don’t see how they were fried! I guess you can’t go wrong with fresh seafood.

The long wide stretch of beach at Pantai Rhu Sepuluh was nice to explore after the rain. It was so difficult to get the girls to leave.

Back at The Summerland Retreat, we went for a swim at the sea. The water is clean and shallow, and the waves so gentle and calm, it was the first time the girls actually enjoying themselves swimming in the sea.

At night, we asked if Oya and Ena could cook us a simple dinner since we were too lazy to go out again, we didn’t mind anything, even just a plain omelette. Instead we got fried black pomfret, omelette, chicken rendang, and stir fried celery ♥♥.

While having dinner, Oya shared her story of how both of them started the place together. Their story of 2 city girls giving up the city and choosing to live a simple life running a small place like this is so inspiring. Have I mentioned that one of the dreams I have was to run a small B&B in the mountains or at a beach? They are living my dream.

♥Jan 4th Wednesday♥

When in East Coast, we should all try to catch the sunrise. Well, not me, the hubs did. This was at Pantai Telaga Papan.

For the last 3 days we stayed at The Summerland Retreat, we’d been having breakfast at this eatery recommended by Oya. Located just across the Merang Mosque, this small eatery, which is hard to miss because there’ll be lots of cars parked next to it, serves one of the best nasi kerabu we’d ever tasted. Owners were friendly, and besides nasi kerabu, they have nasi dagang, nasi lemak, and nasi minyak (translate to oil rice) as well.

The hubs who tried the nasi dagang claimed it was nice, so when he had nasi kerabu, he added the fish from nasi dagang as well; the girls had nasi lemak for 3 days with fried chicken and they like it too.

I love the nasi kerabu so much, I didn’t try any of the other rice, and had the same thing 3 days straight. The plate of nasi kerabu which is RM5 comes with rice, fish cracker, a slice of salted egg, 2 pieces of freshly barbecued chicken, ulam (Malay salad), serunding ikan (spiced fish floss) a pickled onion and the secret sauce. So yummy I tell you.

It was then time to leave The Summerland Retreat and move to our next destination, Kota Bharu.

We used the coastal road. Nice kampung houses were seen all along the coastal road, although most of them now have Astro Satelite dish attached to them.

This small quaint barber was empty when we passed it.

We had lunch at Kuala Besut, the main jetty to get to Pualau Perhentian, and also had some sata, a Terengganu fish satay grilled on a gentle fire fueled by coconut husks.

Then we reached Kelantan state. We drove passed Tok Bali, a small fishing port, before we headed inland towards Kota Bharu.

There were lots of clam stall at the road side selling the big clams we saw in Setiu Wetlands.

It was meant to be a 2hr journey from Merang to Kota Bharu, but it took us 4hrs using the coastal road and making numerous stops. When we finally arrived at Hotel Perdana, our hotel Kota Bharu, the girls were so glad; more so we got upgraded to a Deluxe Premier room, a big and modern room.

After many days of having Malay food, we were craving for Chinese, so we went to Four Seasons Restaurant, a halal Chinese restaurant; it was ok food.

East Coast Part 1 – Chukai, Kuala Terengganu, Summerland Retreat, Pantai Telaga Papan, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, Kampung Mangkuk

June 24, 2014 at 7:52 pm

During the June holiday, we decided to take a road trip to the East Coast of Malaysia. It’s a long long drive, covering coastal area of Terengganu and then all the way to the Thai Border in Kelantan, but this part of Malaysia is beautiful, especially the beaches.

♥Jun 1st Sunday♥

We started the journey noon time, lunching on sandwiches in the car.

Back in 2009 when we visited Cherating, we had tea at the famous Hai Peng Kopitiam in Chukai, we recalled it was really good, so we drove into Chukai town thinking of taking a tea break there on our way to Terengganu.

Arriving at Hai Peng Kopitiam, we found that the shop has closed and relocated, and it has also been renamed, due to some ‘family ownership’ dispute. It’s now called Sukiyang Kopitiam (located at : PT11283 Jalan Belatuk, Taman Chukai Utama, Fasa 3, Terengganu).

We went searching for it, and arrived to find the Kopitiam almost full house.

What is the verdict? Service was lousy, had to wait so long for our toasts and drinks (coffee, tea and milo), and everything was just so-so. I bought a pack of ground coffee back, and it’s RM17.90 for a 200g pack, very expensive for local coffee. The worst is, this is not the same ‘kopi’ as what they served in the kopitiam, it was darker and not so aromatic. I . felt . being . conned.

Pressing on, we arrived at Kuala Terengganu at dusk. Not knowing where to eat, we used Tripadvisor to look for a restaurant and decided to try Adeq Sue Ikan Bakar (located at : Batu Buruk, 20400 Kuala Terengganu). We followed the Tripadvisor map, but it was WRONG! Googled more, and finally found the place using this map.

Worth it? YES YES YES!!

The 2 grilled fish with sambal petai was so spicy and so yummy; the girls loved their ayam goreng kunyit (fried chicken with turmeric) and fried kangkung; and the best dish was the Tomyam Poktek. A creamy tomyam filled to the brim with a variety of seafood (clams, crabs, fish, prawns), it was so full of flavour.

The place wasn’t easy to find, but it was worth the effort.

Another hour drive after dinner, and we arrived at our accommodation, Summerland Retreat which is located at Pantai Telaga Papan. So tired after all the driving, we went to bed after a shower.

♥Jun 2nd Monday♥

Summerland Retreat is just a 2 rooms vacation home set in a big piece of land. The friendly owners of the place, Oya and Ena, live about 50 meters away in another building.

We only took one room at the vacation home, the other one occupied by an Australian and Irish couple.

Room is clean and modern.

The charm of the place actually lies in the surrounding. The garden is beautiful, and there were the occasional Iguanas and birds that can be spotted.

A quiet beach, Pantai Telaga Papan, accessed/used mainly by the occasional locals, is only 100m away.

Sand is clean, soft and fine.

And the sea, clean, clear and calm.

We spent the morning there strolling at the quiet beach.

We then took a drive up a little North along the coastal road. Stopping at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh, a small fishing village with a beautiful beach.

Fishing boats used were pretty traditional, some were beautifully decorated.

We came across a Budu maker at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh.

Lots of anchovy like fish were being dried.

Budu is a kind of fermented fish sauce used as seasoning and eaten with rice or fish. The fermentation takes place in cement urns like these.
As it was not season to make Budu, according to the worker there, the urns were empty, but still leaving a strong fishy smell.

Driving further North, we wanted to have lunch at the famous Terrapuri at Kampung Mangkuk. Terrapuri is a resort with old Terengganu Malay Classic houses turned into villas.

Alas, they didn’t even allow us to enter the resort compound, claiming there were busy preparing for a big group of visitors arriving, and did not have enough staff to serve us.

We just explored the surrounding beach filled with tall coconut trees, with cows grazing peacefully among them.

As the hubs wanted to go back to Kuala Terengganu to photograph the Crystal Mosque at sunset, we took the 1hr drive back to the capital city.

We wanted to check out China town in Kuala Terengganu, as there were a couple of eateries listed on tripadvisor. Unknowingly we parked near the Turtle Alley (located at : Jalan Kampung China, Kuala Terengganu), and had a chance to check it out.

Just a small alleyway sandwiched between 2 prewar shop houses, it’s decorated turtle mosaics art, teaching the public about turtle conservation.

And at about 5pm, China town is almost dead. Most of the coffee shops are already closed, no opportunity for us to try out Madam Bee’s Kitchen.

We took one last stop near Crystal Mosque, just to view this beautiful mosque from afar, and then headed back to Merang area for dinner.

Continues here.

Making Zong Zi (粽子) or Glutinous Rice Dumpling

June 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I love to eat zong, probably because I love glutinous rice.

My early memory of zong was my Ah Ma’s (maternal grandma for Hokkien), with black eyed peas and fatty pork, which is out of this world. I remember she made them all by herself during the Duan Wu (端午节)or the Dragon Boat Festival or as and when someone was visiting my uncles in Taiwan, and she wanted to bring them some.

I remember she would prepare the ingredient, put them in small little bowls, then she would sit on a stool, meticulously filling each one up and wrapping them into pyramid perfection.

As I spent my first 3 years of primary education living with my Ah Ma, my early childhood memory of food was her cooking. Her simple but delicious kon-loh-mee (干捞面)ladened with deep fried lard cubes and a sprinkle of ajinomoto; and her dried vege pork soup (菜干汤) were some of the best food I’d tasted. Her bak zhang (Hokkien for pork zong zi) was also a legacy, no other zong zi I’d tasted later are up to par.

My Ah Ma has passed away many years now due to her grief for the loss of my mum (who lost her fight with cancer). I didn’t learn up her bak zhang’s recipe, as I wasn’t interested in cooking back then, when both the family’s greatest chefs were still around. My loss really.

Due to a vow I’d made I’d not been eating pork for almost 20 years now, finding a good tasting pork free zong zi is very difficult, most of them were expensive with not much fillings except for glutinous rice.

So 4 years ago, I decided to make myself, using good ingredients, replacing pork with scallop following a pork zong zi recipe, and I used split mung beans instead of black eyed peas like my Ah Ma’s.

The difficult part in making zong zi is not in preparing the ingredients, but in the wrapping. The 1st year I made them, it took me so long just to wrap them properly and secure them with strings (yes, most of them have to be tied with 2 strings or more!); and about 1/4 of them burst open during boiling. 2nd year was better, but still took me a long time, and a couple still burst opened.

Last year, I watched this recording from Wendy Kong, and that’s when I really learnt how to wrap them properly. With right technique, I spent less time wrapping them, they are better secured and fewer zong zi unwrapped itself during boiling.

Last Sunday, while the whole world is celebrating Father’s Day, I decided to use that free day to make some.

This is the recipe I used, adapted to our taste over the years.

(Estimate to make about 30 zong zi, but can be more or less depending on the size the zong zi, so usually I’ll prepare more ingredient except for rice and split mung beans, mission is accomplished when the rice is all used up)

Ingredients:
1kg glutinous rice (rinse and soak in water for ~4hrs)
500g split mung beans (rinse and soak in water for 3hrs, then drain thoroughly)
30 chestnuts (soak overnight, pick out the skin and boil until soft about 1hr)
hand full of dried shrimp (rinse and soak in water for 10mins then drain, then fry till fragrant)
30 dried small scallop (rinse and soak in water for 20mins then drain, then lightly fry till fragrant)
30 salted egg yolks
30 mushrooms (I soak overnight, then stew them in some sugar, salt and oyster sauce)
60 bamboo leaves (soak overnight, wiped and clean each leave and I usually prepare more just in case any of them are torn)
30 strings

Spices for the rice
9 tbs oil
12 cloves garlic (remove skin and chop)
15 shallots (remove skin and slice them thinly)
3 star anise (rinse)
6 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
6tsp light soy sauce
6 tsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp salt

For the rice
1. Heat up oil in wok, stir-fry garlic, shallot and star anise until fragrant. Add in oyster sauce and stir until fragrant. Add in drained glutinous rice and stir well.
2. Add five spice powder, stir fry until fragrant. Lastly add in soy sauce, sugar and salt, stir evenly. Set aside.

Wrapping and cooking zong zi
1. Wrap and tie Zong Zi following this recording, fill the cone with a layer of glutinous rice. Add other filings, top with split mung beans and cover with another layer of glutinous rice.
2. Base a big pot few bamboo leaves (I used the torn ones), add in 2 tsp of sea salt and water (3 cm from the dumpling surface after they’re placed in), bring to boil over high heat. Add zong zi, bring to boil again. Switch to medium heat, continue boiling for 2hrs.
3. Remove one to check if the rice has been thoroughly cooked at the end of 2hrs, if not cooked, continue boiling for another 15, 30mins (adjust your time accordingly based on your observation of the 1st zong zi).
4. Hang the zong zi in a well ventilated place in order to allow the water to evaporate.

In photograph, these are what we used.

Wrapping them take some skills and will improve with practice.

Boiling them take some time.

Hang to let the water to evaporate.

Viola, home made zong zi adjusted to our taste.

Duan Wu is almost 2 weeks ago, this recipe came a little late for this year, but who said you can only eat zong zi during Duan Wu? As long as you can find the leaves, this can be made any time of the year and adjusted to your own preference.

I’d made some according to the girls’ liking as well. Zara didn’t want the salted egg yolk, so I made a few without yolk for her, and double the amount of mushroom. Zaria didn’t want anything except a slice of mushroom.

Zaria asked as well, “Why do you make the dumpling using the same ingredients every year? Why can’t you change? Like putting sausages or bacon (what she likes), and instead of green beans, why not put baked beans?” Maybe I’ll accommodate her next time (but not baked beans zong zi though, that’s just too YUCKS).

Zaria’s Poem – Today I Roasted A Bunny

June 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Recently, Zaria wrote this in her journal instead of writing a diary entry.

A poem which she said she made up.

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