3 Hunts For The Mad Ones

Sob and sigh….I won’t be able to make it for the Charis Hospice Hunt this year though last year, we won 4th placing.
Which was really a shock to us four women as we just went for the heck of it.
See what happens when you just proceed to have fun and disregard winning and then out of the blue, end up winning and besting the rest of the professional hunters? Man, it was a priceless moment. We weren’t really very clever but we worked smart and had fun!
This year I won’t be able to join as I’ve got a friend visiting from PJ. She had “booked” me a few months earlier so I can’t leave her sulking as I go out hunting, can I?
So if you are keen to support charity (and I know most Penang folks are), then join any of these 3 treasure hunts.
Closing date is 26 Feb so get cracking and find your treasure hunting partners if you wish to join!
Motoring Hunt Entry Form
· Duration about 5 hours (8am – 1pm)
· Registration fee: RM400 per team, 3-4 pax per team
For entry form go to http://www.charishospice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/motor-hunt-entry-forms.pdf
Children’s Nature Hunt Entry Form
A walking hunt for children ages 5-12years plus 1 adult.
· Duration about 2 hours (8am – 10am)
· Registration fee: RM120 per team, 2-3 pax per team
Co-organized with Friends of the Penang Botanic Gardens Society
For entry form, go to – http://www.charishospice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/nature-hunt-entry-forms.pdf
Queensbay Mall Hunt Entry Form
· Duration about 2.5 hours (1pm – 3.30pm)
· Registration fee: RM100 per team, 2 pax per team
For entry form, go to http://www.charishospice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/shopping-mall-entry-form.pdf
Charis Hospice is a non-profit organization offering free palliative home care services to patients with cancer, irrespective of race or religion.
All registration fees will go directly to Charis Hospice Building Fund.
Attractive prizes, souvenirs and post-hunt meal provided. Closing date 26 Feb 2010.
For more information, call Charis Hospice at 04-826 6757 or 016-452 5493 or email charishp@streamyx.com or click www.charishospice.com.
The event is co-organised by the Lions Club of Georgetown.

Best Buys of Borneo

Shopping in Kuching is quite a tricky thing. Modern malls are becoming a way of life but we tend to go for the other type of shopping when we’re here.
Local foodstuff and pottery are more of our kind of shopping.
First, pottery and ceramics are unique because Sarawak-made pots, mugs, lamps, decor items and vases have patterns which are distinctively Borneo.

Handmade vases from Sarawak, Borneo
Handmade vases from Sarawak, Borneo

We usually buy our table lamps when we are here in Kuching. They’re much nicer and cheaper than Semenanjung. The cool thing is you have the option of checking in your table lamps if you prefer not to hand carry them into the plane. Rest assured that these ceramic factories are old hands are wrapping up your ceramic pottery. The items are packed tighter than elephants in a phone booth and there’s nary a scratch or crack when you arrive at your destination.
Ceramic table lamps without lamp shades
Ceramic table lamps without lamp shades

Next, food. I like wandering in the aisles of local supermarkets here because by looking at what the locals eat, I get a definitive idea of the unique flavours of this verdant land.
Sago biscuits made from the pith of the sago palm tree
Sago biscuits made from the pith of the sago palm tree

Of course you cannot leave without some famous Sarawak pepper (black pepper and white pepper). You can get them in various denominations – coarse grind, fine grind, whole corns, in a sauce and in whole kilo bags.
Great gifts for everyone - famous Sarawak pepper!
Great gifts for everyone - famous Sarawak pepper!

You can also get them as pepper sweets which taste very much like peppermint sweets. Nic used to buy me pepper perfume but they smelled like regular cologne. It’s a novelty though.
Then there’s a local herb called Motherwort or what locals call Kacangma. It’s usually cooked with chicken for mothers undergoing confinement to get rid of ‘angin’ but it’s also a dish that many locals love. I’ve grown quite fond of kacangma but I only get my supply of this dried green herb when I come back to Kuching. I found some instant kacangma paste recently but have yet to try it.
Tradition goes upmarket - kacangma paste for people in a hurry.
Tradition goes upmarket - kacangma paste for people in a hurry.

Then there’s Sarawak tea. It’s not too bad though I think it lacks processing finesse. It’s not as fragrant as Boh tea but then again we cannot compare Sarawak tea, a lowland tea, to Boh which is a highland tea. It is worth a try though. (Did you know that Boh also has a lowland tea plantation in Bukit Cheeding, Selangor? Hah, betcha didn’t know that. Well it does. I wonder if what we term as Boh highland tea, with the romantic illusion of tea and scones, is actually mixed with lowland tea from the unglamorous Bukit Cheeding?)
Tea leaves grown in Borneo becomes Sarawak tea
Tea leaves grown in Borneo becomes Sarawak tea

And lastly, I never leave without buying some Sarawak laksa paste. Yesterday I saw instant Sarawak laksa paste! Cooking the laksa gravy is a tedious affair so I think having instant paste is godsend. But I also think anything that’s instant probably has MSG in it. Well, I bought some to try anyway.
Instant Sarawak laksa paste!
Instant Sarawak laksa paste!

I also saw some jelly sweets made from pegaga, another local herb. Didn’t buy that because I don’t want to load myself with too many things to carry home to Penang. After all, I still need to buy some kolo mee, kuih more-more, keropok and achar, fish chips and the list just goes on.
I’m Malaysian after all and food is my greatest indulgence!

Excuse Me, So You're Malay?

Was on the plane today for our yearly trip home to visit the in-laws. Yes, Penang-Kuching.
Sat next to Leslie, a German girl who was travelling solo in Malaysia.
Started talking midway during our 1 hour 45 minute flight when she saw me snapping photos of the clouds. Now you know why I love window seats. (We didn’t really get witness a proper sunset today. Sigh!)
When we got talking, she told me and Nic that she marvelled at the way Malaysians live together, all different people, all different cultures.
It was that one thing that captivated her.
Our ability to live harmoniously. Our ability to accept and celebrate each other’s cultures.
She said she missed Thaipusam but she noticed Chinese women wearing sarees and joining the festival.
She loved our true incredible fusion of cultures – like the Baba Nyonya of Melaka.
She was terribly amused how she saw strawberries in the supermarket (she was looking for local fruits) and how locals went agog over them when she took a trip up to Cameron Highlands. “Come visit our strawberry farms!” She was told over and over.
She thought everything was cheap except the beers. 😉
But more than that, her words gave a deeper meaning to what we’ve taken as fluff. As pure marketing by Tourism Malaysia.
Malaysia really is such a unique country, where we are Asians with different cultures yet we can come together to share our festivals. No other place can we find such diversity, such colours of life. And yet we spend time bickering. I still can’t get over the fact that our politicians are STILL talking about us being ‘pendatang’.
Like I was telling Nic, without our hardworking Chinese forefathers, what Malaysia can we speak of? If not for Yap Ah Loy, do we even have a Muddy Estuary to brag about? If not for the Indians brought in to work the estates and build roads, do we even have our roads and highways?
So think about this. Malaysia is built by everyone, who rightly contributed their share.
If not for divisive politics bent on creating artificial boundaries and hates, we’d really be like the Sarawakians here in Sarawak. I used to think they were ignorant of real politics but they’re really the best personification of what Malaysia used to be.
In Kuching, you can see how being Malay-Muslim or Chinese-Taoist or Native-Christian does not matter. They all share the same kopi-tiam table, each respecting one another yet being able to eat at the same table is something you’d never see in Penang. That’s true muhibbah for you. That’s more bloody 1Malaysia than any stupid sloganeering.
Leslie funnily noted, if she’s born in America, she’s American. If she’s born in Germany, she’s German.
“And if you’re born in Malaysia, you’re Malay, right?”
Nic and I looked at each other.
We were too stumped to answer!