Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gawai Break on the Beach @ Damai Sentral

When faced with long holidays, it is imperative that you get out of the house when you have a 2-year old toddler. Otherwise, chaos will run in your home as your sweet little one turns into a monster. We were fortunate this time around. Some friends suddenly had an idea for a trip to the beach on the 3rd day of Gawai & remembered to include us.

When Kay saw Nee packing her brand spanking new swimwear the night before, she wanted to go right away on that night. We had to restrain her & explain the concept of tomorrow to her: something about then being night & the need to sleep, and the sun needs to come up then the beach trip is on. When the next morning came at 7am, & the sun came up as promised,  her eyelids flew open at the mention of the word beach.

Here she was in heavenly bliss. Nobody was going to take the beach away from her now, for she would take it back.

Here she was doing something irrelevant like pouring seawater into the sand. I'm glad she wasn't hooked on this or else I'd be worried about her IQ level.

There were small fishes in the shallow waters but I couldn't catch them. Otherwise they'd be some BBQ going on.

By this time, it was all about the sand & her pail & shovel set. She hadn't really entered the water yet.

Pit stop: She gulped down one whole burger. Ah yes, you can see her girly painted nails here. They glow in the dark.

Part Two: It's water time again. See, it's just like the F1; refuel & run again.

I think hanging out with older kids helps to give her the confidence to get into the water. It's good to let her get a bit of salt water into her system & overcome that fear. Sometimes when the wave gets too strong, she'd wrap herself around my legs, 'Scared scared.'

By now, she's thinking that she's really swimming. I got her to place her hands onto the sand and let her legs float up, and I think she caught the feel. Pandalela baby!

One of those rare occasions that we'd get our family my photo taken; thanks to Eng Hean.

We managed to drag Kay out of the water & left for lunch when the crowd started setting in at about 11-ish. I promised her ice-cream cos food always does the trick. Learnt that from  the circus shows.

Lunch was at this little known place called Ah Soh Buntal Seafood. The owner of this place was an old man who would snap at you if you didn't behave. Steven called him a gangster, potential cabinet minister & political analyst. He'd sit down & rant his politics if you'd let him. We made sure he didn't get his chance.

And he made us get up to get our own drinks, and ice, and cups, and chopsticks. We almost wanted to ask him if we'd have to cook our own meals, but I think we didn't want to push it, less we'd also have to wash the plates.

The place is surrounded by a decent view of kampung houses, fishing sampans & the water. But it really doesn't look as good as the photos below cos I filtered them.

In the commercial world, you'd call this false advertising. But it's not relevant here cos I wasn't paid for posting this. 

Ok. I'd shut up for a while now & let you take the feel in.

This place was supposed to have good food at reasonable prices comparative to the other restaurants at Buntal. You'd just have to know how to take the old man's abuse.

This was Kay's favourite.

Steamed prawns, as fresh as they can get, literally from the sea in front of you.

This was kailan vege with beef I think.

Pretty good Oyster Omelletes; different from the ones I've eaten before in a good way.

Nee thought the tomato koay teow was just so so; not enough frying.

This could be the specialty of this place: roasted free range chicken. We both agreed that the herbs could have been stronger, and the salt, less. It was good but it didn't hit Nee's spectacular meter.

Kay had a whole drumstick.

See, did you realise that I was not in any one of the photos here?

I think I seriously have to start camwhoring.

This is the gang that we hang out with; loving & supporting friends who keep each others' feet on the ground. Food & Laughter is our motto.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kay's First Gawai Adventure: Day One

It's very rare that both Nee & I get a chance to drive out of Kuching, and it feels quite embarrassing that we've been to more places outside of Sarawak but we haven't even begun to explore our very own backyard. 

Therefore when Gawai beckoned, we hit the road to Kampung Bantang in Serian, without a single clue where that was. We just knew we were going to have our lunch settled there. Fortunately we had Ma (Nee's colleague) who had the directions, and we just trailed behind his car.

Here were the directions:
Drive towards Serian, and when you see a signboard on the left saying SMK Taee, take the right turn.

Yup. That was it. When you live in Malaysia, you do not get luxury GPS-precision directions. They don't spoil you like that. They'll just give you enough to get you going, and you'll only know the rest when you get there. Don't get me wrong, it could be a good thing. You learn survival skills fast that way.

But of course it came with a price. What was supposed to be a one hour journey ended up being two, with Kay puking all over mommy.

The real directions are available here on Google map.

This wasn't SMK Taee. I like taking photos of old houses & I found this at the intersection into Kampung Bantang. By the way, a word of warning, all photos on this post were taken on, edited on & uploaded from a Samsung Note 1. So please forgive me.

I must admit that there were a few points in the journey when I almost decided to just quit & turn back. I wanted to shout are we there yet a couple of times but I was the one driving, so I kept my mouth shut. Fortunately I didn't chicken out and the wild ride rewarded us with this breathtaking view when we got there.

There's something about living at the foot of a mountain with an awesome view like this. Just imagine waking up to this every morning. I don't think you'd need anything else. It wouldn't matter if the ruling government sucks, or that there was corruption, or that the new GST is setting in. That could exactly be the reason why the folks in the interior don't need anything else. They've all got a piece of land to build their houses on, plus another piece to farm on.

Oh wait, there's more. Up on this mountain, there's a cave where the locals gather birds' nests from, and the cave passageway runs from this village all the way to another. When the weather is dry, you can walk all the way through to the other side and the journey takes 24 hours.

And little beknownst to people of Sarawak, there's a gazetted cavern with cave writings/paintings somewhere up there.

On top of that, there's a natural cool water spring somewhere in the backyard. We didn't get to see any of these cos we were too busy eating but you can see how it looks like on this blog that I found.

Hey look, you can see the mouth of the cave!

Ok, this is going to be unfortunate for the foodies. We didn't take any photos of the food cos I wasn't intending to do that for this trip & hence didn't bring my DSLR. But I should have done that cos the food was really awesome & now I'm regretting it. Let me see, there was the bamboo rice stuffed with pork pieces which I thought looked very unassuming. But it tasted really good and Kay even asked for seconds. Apparently we learned that the rice was just freshly harvested & that was why the aroma was strong, and the pork came from their own family farm.

It seemed like this turned out to be very fun trip after all. There was the scenery, and the food, and it was like the old MacDonald's farm visit for Kay.

...and on his farm he had some fish

... and then some ducks

... and then a dog

... and then some pigs.

Look ma! I can stand! Evolution just happened.

We were brought to a family-owned pig farm just a short drive away. A fully grown pig can sell for about RM3-4K. My apologies, the pig couldn't control the bladder when he/she heard that.

I'm not sure which, but one of them was kept for the purpose of mating.

And there were the little cutsie ones too.

I thought this would have been educational for Kay cos half of her book collection had pigs in them. Now everytime she looks at the pigs in her books, she would probably be able to contextualise, and also smell them.

The farm also had a bit of dragon fruit, pepper & buah langsat trees, among others.

Fire those synapses girl. Work neurons, work! Daddy's doing all this for you. Otherwise we'd rather be sleeping at home.

I was apprehensive at first about making this trip cos my last Gawai experience many years ago had me driving & getting lost in the maze of kampung roads for 2-3 hours just to visit one single house. But this experience has regained my faith in backyard adventure & I am looking forward to more.

I really want to thank our hosts who have been so gracious to open their house & their dining table to us. Believe me, when we eat, it's not a pretty sight.

This trip was definitely an eye-opener cos the family that we visited was a Bidayuh with mixed Chinese-Bidayuh parentage. So it was really interesting to see both Chinese & Bidayuh relatives coming in & out through the door speaking a plethora of Bidayuh, Hokkien & Mandarin. We've always known that the communities in Sarawak had very strong racial integration but to be able to experience it personally reminded us that the integration is much deeper than we thought. Any attempt to politicise race would almost be impossible here.

The other thing which we've learnt was that it looks like corruption is not going to have any immediate impact on the communities deep in the rural interiors for now (unless if their lands are taken away from them, God forbids!). The new GST is not going to have any impact on them as they are self sufficient. They've got their own land, mountains, spring water, ducks, chickens, pigs, fruits and vegetables. If war happens, they'd still be able to survive.

I think I would need to start farming in my backyard soon. In the meantime, we would like to wish all friends and readers a very Happy Gawai & Gaya Guru Gerai Nyamai!

Nuffnang Ad