Tuesday, 30 August 2016

People make Glasgow



Once voted as the world's friendliest city, Glasgow undoubtedly holds a special place in many of its visitors' hearts. Yes, most Glaswegians come across as really polite people to me, and they really take pride in their renowned hospitality: they will never get tired of whatsoever queries you'll ever have in regard to their city. So don't be too surprise to receive elaborate long-winded answers and explanations from the local community.





With its history dated back to the medieval period, it's no wonder you can find a multitudes of victorian-inspired architecture in every nook and cranny of the city. There are just too many good things about Glasgow. Well, what I am going to write about has no association with the array of attractions in and out of the city. In fact, I am just gonna share with you two things I have observed in the city that kinda give me a tad-bit shock.

1) Well, frankly, the streets are quite dirty. I have been walking down and up on the same streets like Buchanon Street and Sauchiehall Street for at least 10 times over the span of the past few days; and to my surprise, paper trash could be seen all over the place. I saw a restaurant worker just dumping out kitchen waste onto a bustling street. I bumped into a Malaysian living in Bristol who came to the city on vacation, and he shared the same opinion as me. He's been to some of the major cities in the UK but none of those cities was as dirty as Glasgow.







2) A lot of drivers in Glasgow will just turn off their car's engines while waiting in the traffic even if it's just a few seconds; and it is really, at most time, just a few fleeting seconds of a stationary traffic on the thoroughfare. I was on a airport passenger bus on the way to my intent destination. And the bus driver would just turn off the car's engine for every momentary stop at all drop-off points. Besides, some drivers would do the same thing at a red traffic light. Even the cab driver I met would stop the car's engine while waiting for the passengers to unload the vehicle. Well, I was told that the car fuel is hefty expensive so the drivers have to save on the fuel by hook or by crook.


                   

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sunny Hill Ice Cream, Kuching

Every single time I happened to be in Kuching, I'd make it a point to go to Sunny Hill to have my craving for their very nice ice cream satisfied. So here I was at Sunny Hill a few weeks back...

Outside of Sunny Hill
Inside of Sunny Hill
Inside of Sunny Hill










There were no explicit parking spaces in the vicinity of the place so most people would just resort to parking their vehicles along the roadside like this...


Sunny Hill is a very well known ice cream parlor in Kuching so it's not surprised to see the place to be crowded with customers especially on a hot scalding day. Nevertheless, it just so happened that I was there at the right time in that it's not overwhelmingly crowded.

  
The parlor offers different flavours of ice cream on specific days. There were only vanilla and strawberry flavours available during my last visit to the place, and patrons could choose how they wanted their ice cream to be served, be it on a cone or in a cup.

Mixed flavours (Rm 2.12)
Vanilla Sundae (Rm2.97)
Strawberry Sundae (Rm2.97)


I didn't have any preferences over a particular ice cream flavour. Both flavours were very nice and not too sweet, I reckoned. However, if you are not allergic to nuts, I strongly encourage you to opt for the sundae cup-version over the cone-version because the buttery fragrance of the crushed peanuts went so well with the ice cream, making it so nice to indulge in!  

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Anthony Bourdain's Favourite Sarawak Laksa!

If there's only one thing Sarawak is famous for, I would say that it's Sarawak Laksa. And one of the very renowned places for Sarawak Laksa in Kuching is Choon Hui Cafe, right beside the Grand Continental Hotel along Jalan Ban Hock.

Choon Hui Cafe
Choon Hui Cafe
The world-famous celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain even made it a point to include Sarawak Laksa from this particular eatery into the wish list for his food market in New York City after his visit to the town last year. The shop was brimming with patrons when I was eating there the other day, which was quite a common sight considering how highly acclaimed their Sarawak Laksa is.

Finding a vacant parking place is always a pain. The patrons will normally just park their vehicles by the roadside.
Crowded as usual
There were two noodle stalls: one was for the renowned Sarawak Laksa while another one was for Kolo Mee (click on the link if you wonder what Kolo Mee is). 

Kolo Mee and Sarawak Laksa stalls

Sarawak Laksa in the making
The Laksa menu had 3 options to choose from, namely, small portion (Rm 6), big portion (Rm 8) and 'special' (Rm10). I opted for the big portion one and this was what I got for my order...

Choon Hui Sarawak Laksa
It came with three succulent shrimp, Sambal (a spicy condiment) and lime. The highlight of the dish was actually its thick, tangy, aromatic coconut milk-based broth.
 
Rice vermicelli is used as noodles element in Sarawak Laksa 
This was the Kolo Mee from the aforementioned stall. It's not the best Kolo Mee I have come across, but it's still pretty palatable and worth trying out.
 
Kolo Mee
There's actually another small stall located at the entrance from the other side that sold very nice Kuching Popiah. Popiah is a Hokkien vernacular term which is known as spring roll in English. It is usually prepared on the spot so you can see how it's made. The main filling for Popiah is stir-fried savoury turnip. Shrimp paste, crushed peanuts and lettuce are complementary ingredients. 

Ingredients for the making of Kuching Popiah

Rm 5 for one roll
Here's a close-up of the inside of the wrap...

Tantalizing eh?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

22 days in Canada: The Butchart Gardens, Victoria

We headed to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia located on the southern end of Vancouver Island after visiting Vancouver. By getting there from Downtown Vancouver, we had to drive to Tsawassen Ferry Terminal, and travel via BC Ferry to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal located South of Victoria City.

Tsawassen Ferry Terminal some 40 minutes away from Downtown Vancouver

Uninhibited island caught on camera from the deck
The journey took us 90 minutes altogether and it costed 230 CAD for 14 adults and 2 children plus one vehicle. We made a beeline to Victoria Chinatown but did not stay long there before making a move to one of the most sought-after attractions in Victoria, the Butchart Gardens.

Chinatown in the distance
The Butchart Garden is a very renowned botanical garden which has a very long history in Victoria. It's comprised of a number of different themed gardens namely the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden, the Private Garden etc. Millions of visitors are compelled by its extremely picturesque scenery perfected by a wide collection of plants. In 2014, it was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Entrance to the Butchart Gardens
The vast land was originally a cement plant/ limestone quarry owned by Robert Pim Butchart and his wife, Jennie more than 100 years ago. It was then altered into a botanical garden after the limestone deposits were exhausted and started attracting tourists.

The information board




The building in the background used to be the Butchart residence a long time ago but it's since been changed into an award-winning fine-dining restaurant called The Dining Room as per the transformation of the enormous quarry into a major tourist attraction.

The dining Room

The restaurant offered a very scenic view of the Private Garden.


The most spectacular garden of all would be the Sunken Garden in which it's generally considered the highlight of the Butchart Gardens. The garden was once an abandoned exhausted limestone quarry but thanks to the relentless effort of a green-thumbed Jennie Butchart, it's become what it is like today. 

The Sunken Garden
The Ross Fountain which was named after the Butcharts' grandson, Ian Ross, was another attraction in Butchart Gardens. It could pump water 20 meters into the air in different patterns.

  
TO BE CONTINUED...






Sunday, 12 June 2016

Where to go if you're craving for Kolo Mee late at night in Kuching?


Kolo Mee is one of the most prominent, much-loved traditional foods in Kuching. It's basically prepared by blanching egg noodles, and then tossing them with Char Siew oil (red colour oil dripping from barbecued pork). The dish is typically garnished with minced pork, Char Siew (barbecued pork slices) and finely-chopped spring onions though the ingredients may vary in some other places. For the uninitiated, Kolo Mee is also called Sarawak Mee in some other states in peninsular Malaysia.   

So the question boils down to: Where to go if you're craving for a NICE plate of Kolo Mee late at night in Kuching?

Well, my pick would be here...

Petanak Central Market
It has been around for almost 28 years, and there are lots of parking spaces here so finding a vacant one shouldn't be too much of a hassle.  



There are an array of hawker stores in the second floor. Some of the hawker stalls are open until past midnight.

In search of the nice late night Kolo Mee
Here I am!
The hawker stall that sell very nice Kolo Mee is located towards one end of the second floor. It was already 11 p.m when I was there. There were quite a number of patrons at that time, all craving for their famous Kolo Mee.

The hawker stall : Hong Kong Noodles
 
Late-night patrons

I just had my dinner and since I was still full so I decided to order a takeaway instead of eating there. There's a price list so I snapped a photo for your reference should you need it. The stall is open from 7 p.m. until 2.30 a.m. daily but closed on Sunday.


The first step in cooking a plate of mouthwatering Kolo Mee is plunging a fistful (that's the rule of thumb in quantity control) of egg noodles into pipping hot boiling water.
 
Grab a fistful of uncooked Kolo Mee
While waiting for the noodles to be cooked, add Char siew oil, pork lard and taste enhancers like MSG, salt as well as light soy sauce into a bowl.

MIX MIX MIX
After the noodles is cooked, sieve the noodles and throw it into the bowl. Then, tossed the noodles with all the fat and spices thoroughly.

Tossing like a pro
Lastly, garnish it with barbecued pork slices!

DONE!
There's nothing fancy about Kolo Mee on the outside (just a plate of plain looking not-so-special noodles). But believe me, human's eyes are deceitful, your taste buds will tell you everything once you try it out! After all, there must be a good reason why Kolo Mee is so many people's all-time favourite in Kuching.