Ice Ice Baby, Dummy!


ice_increase

(Another good news for the die-hard BN supporters to rejoice for the coming new year – RM0.50 increase per bag and RM2.50 per block by the edible ice suppliers and you can bet your bottom ringgit that the restaurant and food stalls will put in their own increase on top of increase for sugar price for your iced drink. Reason for the increase? The notice mentions increase in electricity tariff, increase of diesel price, implementation of the “minimum wage ruling”, increase of salary, increase of raw materials and interestingly, improvement of food safety – now that is very scary!)

I saw the above notice when I read the papers this morning. This however was not a big surprise though – it is only natural for businesses to pass on the escalating operating cost to the end consumers. So do expect your iced Milo, iced limau, iced coffee, iced tea, iced water to cost you an arm and a leg from today onwards. Sooner or later, you may want to reconsider eating out and bring your own food from home (although price of vegetables & meat had gone up as well).

Having said that, here’s one that shows that some Ministers still sticking (rather stubbornly) their head into the ground:-

KUALA LUMPUR: TRANSPORTATION and logistic companies have been warned against raising their charges in view of the toll rate hike. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Hasan Malek said the ministry could take action against their umbrella body if companies that come under it raised their charges. “The associations can be charged under the Competition Commission Act 2010 if they influence their members to increase their charges.”

Traders were warned not to use the toll rate hike as an excuse to raise prices of goods. Hasan said the ministry would take action against traders who took advantage of the hike, adding his ministry had started checking in Klang Valley traders were increasing their prices.

“It is a difficult time for Malaysians. The traders should not push the burden to the consumers but, instead, share it with them.”

(Source)

Don’t you feel like want to puke when you read this statement ” It is a difficult time for Malaysians. The traders should not push the burden to the consumers but, instead, share it with them”? Which profit driven company in their right mind want to do that?

What is happening with the Government themselves realizing that it is a difficult time for Malaysians and curtailing their over the board expenses? Some of them are still flying all around the world with the same happy sickening face – obviously, times are still good for them (pressed further, they may even ask – what difficult time?).

One thing you can be certain – that you can be rest assured that more “Christmas goodies” is on the way from Najib’s Administration. Remember it well in the next general election.

When Service Really Sucks!


Don’t mind me, it has been sometime since I bitched about service at a restaurant or is it is because it is the weekend again.

Read these first:-

30mins

(I have walked off from restaurants couple of times before when there was no service or when my orders delivered late but it was a bit hard difficult to do the same when you have a family in tow. Image source: http://www.insightwithpassion.co.uk)

I did not realise that eating sushis for lunch (which was excellent and my son had a good run on the available choices) can make you really hungry later in the evening.

When we came back home, it was just nice for a quiet afternoon nap. And some hours later, my wife and my son was soon feeling hungry again. But since we were going off to see one of our aunty who were not well, we decided to go for dinner on the way later. Just then my mom and my sisters had came back from their Deepavali shopping and since my wife had not cooked anything for dinner, they asked if we can “tapau” some food back.

Someone mentioned thosai and the Indian restaurant just near the house where we once had our usual fare of good thosai, roti naan and roti canai did crossed my mind. However the problem is that their level of service is nothing to shout about – its sucked big time (a norm in some restaurants). You actually need to remind the morons at the restaurant several times on your orders and I have kind of had avoided going to the restaurant for some time. Which was unfortunate because the place is clean, the food is great and the price of food is quite reasonable. It is also quite near to the house and have plenty of parking spots near to the restaurant. These days we pick on another Indian restaurant couple kilometers away where their service is better. Unfortunately it is far from where the aunty resides and since my son now had started to complain that he is really hungry and could not wait another minute more, I had to make the dreaded decision – to head to that nearest restaurant where service is known to be bad. My wife tried to protest but since my son’s complaint had become louder, she kept quiet, hoping for the best.

As we pulled in to the parking spot in front of the restaurant, we could see that the restaurant was packed – the reason was due to another restaurant nearby (with the same level of service that sucks) had closed for the day and its patrons had decided to eat in this restaurant. I looked at my wife and told her that it looks like we need to wait longer for the food. That did not go well with my son but somehow he understood the situation. Despite the crowd, we found empty seats. Trays, plates and cups from the previous patrons left on the table. We took our seats and I immediately waved my hands asking the waiter to clean the table but no one came. One guy passed our table and only remarked “wait”. We understood that the restaurant had more patrons than usual and it will be slow. Sensing that someone will come over later to clean, we decided to wait for the table to be cleaned. But then on the other side, another group of patrons had left and to my irk, the waiter who told us to wait, was soon got busy clearing the plates and cups whilst the same remained on our table.

I was losing my patience – why they don’t clean tables where patrons are still waiting? They can’t be that dumb, right? We understand if they are busy with patrons who came before us. I waved to another waiter and he only came after I had raised my voice. He cleared the plates and cups but left his rag cloth on the table without cleaning the table. He left us rather abruptly to take order from another table. We saw another waiter but he seemed busy chit-chatting with the cook. The restaurant was crowded and the workers were very busy no doubt but it looked like they were not interested taking our orders. To make things worse, they were entertaining patrons who came in after us. If they are too busy with the existing patrons, I completely understand their situation and I will patiently wait for our turn. But seeing patrons who came after us getting their orders done did struck the right cord with me.

I had enough of the nonsense – I somehow regretted coming over to this restaurant in the first place. I should have just listened to my instinct and go to our usual place for our dinner. Never mind the traffic or the distance or my son saying that he is very hungry. I told my wife in a loud voice that if no one come over and take our order in the next minute, we are walking out from here – I did not realise I was loud but I guess I was rather annoyed with the level service. It was loud enough to be heard by the patrons near to where we were seated. Despite the need to disappoint my son who was complaining, we decided to have dinner at our usual place. It seemed this restaurant was “rich” enough to turn away customers.

Just when we was about to walk out and head to our usual restaurant, the earlier waiter then came back and asked us on our orders. His rag cloth was still on the table. My wife was about to tell her order when I stopped her. I looked at the waiter rather annoyingly and told him to clean the table first. We kept quiet until the table was really cleaned. Only after he had properly cleaned the table, we gave him our orders, expecting another round of waiting for the order to come (somehow I regretted this decision). But it was not the case. The food came without much delays – probably because I was keeping an eye on the waiter and the kitchen. Or perhaps the waiter knows that if the food was delayed or if patrons who came after us got their food first, we would have just walked out (it is not the first time I have done that).

Lesson well learned – 1. no point giving some people a second chance. Some people does not know what a good service means and take things for granted 2. just follow instinct and go to places known for good food and good service and 3. simply walk out if service turns out to be bad

Prepping in Malaysia Part 4


Now that the GE13 has ended and Pakatan had settled the issue of the Menteri Besar in Selangor rather peacefully (thank God!), probably it is a best time to go back to our daily routine and one of it would be on prepping.

Read these first:-

canned food

(The canned food in the storeroom. Having enough food and clean drinking water for the family draws the highest priority on my prepping list but of course looking for storage place without it is left on the open is fast becoming an issue – I blame this on housing developers not having basement as a standard house designs in this country. It’s time to be highly creative with storage)

The world did not end last year but it was not the end of prepping as we moved over to 2013. We still had sporadic water disruptions although it was not that bad at my residential area – the water supply resumes the same day although some of my colleagues still had water disruption for days. We have yet to hit the big one on natural disasters including solar storms and global wide pandemic. On the other side of the coin, the recent general elections went rather peaceful and things soon got into a routine just a few days after it had ended although politicians are keeping the fire up the wrong issues for their own political reasons (appointment of the “once banned, once running fugitive” Hindraf’s Waytha as a Deputy Minister and uninspiring Cabinet Ministers however could be good reason to be concerned). So the panic purchase of essential goods before the elections did not happen although I did see more people with extra rice bags in their shopping carts this time around.

There have not been that many changes to my own level of prepping at home other than rearranging some of the storage and cleaning out some of drawers to keep more things.

We now have at least two 10 kg bags of rice on “standby” – when we use one up and pour the load into a separate rice container (which holds about 15 kg of rice), this bag is quickly replaced with a new bag. We had stocked up more on salt, sugar & cooking oil (even since the local store ran out of sugar one day) – all that we use in our daily cooking and always in demand. Storage of the canned food now includes bottles of sauce for spaghetti (my wife nowadays cook them for dinner). I have also added couple bottles of honey – which will come handy if we run out of sugar and of course does not have any expiry date. Air-tight containers (recycled from long titbits containers) are a good way to store spices and other small items – containers are easily stacked up. Instant noodles remains one of the more essential items in the store-room and have a drawer on its own and we now 00include dry noodle packets – it’s cheaper and flexible enough when it comes to cooking them. We stick to the principle of “storing what we eat and eat what we store” – this is to ensure stored food does not expire and we always the “latest” food stored.

One key thing that has improved greatly compared to last year is the understanding among family members on the need for prepping – so they all help out whenever they can when it comes to prepping. Prepping is no longer “sounds Greek”. No more weird looks when I talk about prepping. Family members do their own sundry shopping and whenever possible, now adds to the number of items in the “prepping” storeroom. This of course puts more strain on the available space so we had to be more creative in storing. Despite the rearranging things in the storeroom, squeezing every little bit of space, it is clear that we are running out of storage fast – the renovation of my kitchen (we hoped to get plenty of storage space once done) had to be kept on hold as we have not finalised the contractor, design & the budget.

And when it comes to storage, we also have non-food items to content with – spare batteries, candles, water filters, toiletries, garbage bags and washing items. My son’s room had the space and with a large cabinet in one corner with some old clothes and non essential items taking up precious space, it was time for another round of house-keeping. We threw away 1-2 bags of old DVDs from my collection and at least 3 large bags of old clothes (this one will go into the neighbourhood recycle bin) – we had cleared enough space to store our bathroom essentials – packages of soap bars, tooth pastes, tooth brushes, shaving blades, etc. At another corner, washing essentials – floor cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, tiles cleaners – all kept in place with proper ventilation and far from reach of children. And just like anyone running a storeroom anywhere in the world, inventory checking is a must and we often do that before month end and before we prepare the next month’s shopping list. It also gives us the chance to check on the expiry dates, condition of the items in the storeroom, rotate or use them accordingly and work out the quantity in the storeroom.

Next on the item is drinking water. There is still no rainwater harvesting system in place but this year (thanks to the water leaking into the bedroom), we managed to fix the leaks up at the roof and the water tanks. We can now be assured that we will always have at least full water tank in place should the water supply disrupted without notice. The two 15 litres containers for drinking water remains unchanged – I thought of adding another container but space in the kitchen is at a premium. So I decided to maintain the large raw water drum in the storeroom with a planned replenish cycle of 6 months. There are no plans to add any new water drums / containers until perhaps after my kitchen have gone through the overdue renovation (I already can imagine one corner to stack up with water containers – actively used for drinking and cooking).

When it comes to prepping, one cannot run away from the concept of bug-out-bag or as some would call – “mobile prepping”. I thought I have a reasonable bug-out-bag which I bring along when I go out to work or on long distant journey. My version of the bug-out-bug is not extensive although I want it to be – most of the items are stored in the house instead of the bag. But the more I think about it and as more prepping is done at home, it is clear that my bug-out-bag still has a long way to go before it is considered a bug-out-bag is sufficient enough to sustain for the next 72 hours. So I decided to re-designate it as more of a “get-home” bag (with key things – food, water, utility knife and clothes) than a proper 72 hours bug-out-bag. Work on a proper bug-out-bag have to take a back seat for the time being although I have the right bag for it (tucked away somewhere).

There is still outstanding work to be done namely on improvement of safety and trying to grow own vegetables in our small garden to minimise costs. We tried it before with chillies and tomatoes but the vegetables that we grew did not do well after attacked by pests. We still have 7 months to go before end of the year, so there’s still time to get things done. Perhaps with a mini greenhouse for the plants. For those who have not think about prepping, there is always time and opportunity to start this. We should have “always be ready” mindset so that when the tough gets going, we should always have Plan B lying around somewhere.

To be continued and happy prepping…

Prepping In Malaysia Part 3


Update 1: Some 300,000 residents living in Cheras and Ampang will celebrate the New Year without water supply as it will take Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) up to one week to restore the service to their areas (source). Still think that we need a major disaster to happen before we start prepping? All it needs is a fault in the pump house and you are out of water for a week – that is a real case scenario right here in Malaysia.

Back to the original post

(Remember; when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed. — Steven Cyros)

Kuantan Flood

(Streets or rivers in Kuantan? Yes, it is a yearly affair for those who live along the East Coast but the West Coast has its share of flash floods too. We may not have killer hurricanes or earthquakes or volcanoes, unlike our nearest neighbours but we do have our share of natural disasters. And given the frailty of our infrastructure, maintenance and dirty politics, we are also exposed to possible blackouts and water supply disruptions. Are we ready for it? Image source: TheSun)

Welcome back, a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Just one more post on “2012” before the end of 2012 (please read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). The world as we know it did not end last week and we will likely to have a very smooth journey into 2013 but it did not deter me from prepping for unforeseeable disaster in the future. If you have been following up on this blog, I talked about Mayans and 2012 way back in 2007 (almost 5 years before the deadline on 21.12.2012) but I did nothing back then – no storerooms, no bug-out-bags, no canned food, no water storage, nothing. But then, counting down towards 21.12.2012 and as I realised the importance of preparing for emergencies, it has become a good excuse to be a prepper. Moving forward, the challenge would be to maintain the same prepper’s mindset beyond 21.12.2012.

Anyway, it was interesting to read the various comments in the net & mainstream media when the world as we know it did not end last week. Some were positive (especially from fellow preppers – they were determined more than ever) and some were not. Some even ridiculed the Mayans civilizations – an ancient civilization that had fully developed written language and a well developed understanding in art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy. What if we got the Mayan calendar all wrong and we are off the mark by couple of days or years? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Others ridiculed the fact that there are people prepping for doomsday. Was it a sign of people not believing in having Plan B or taking things for granted? – I don’t know but based on what I have read in the papers, there seems to be some misconceptions on prepping.

1. The world did not end on 21.12.2012 and nothing will happen in the near future.

Now if we analyse the hype of 21.12.2012, it merely mentions that the Mayan Long Calendar (by some extension and interpretation, the world) ends on 21.12.2012. The thing is Mayan had never predicated what would cause the end of the world (if one takes the end of the calendar to be the end of the world).

A number of possible disasters (both natural and man made) have been mentioned as the possible cause of the end of the world – major earthquakes, super volcanic eruptions, high possibility of a bull eye’s hit by large asteroids (or dark comets), ark floods, giant tsunamis, an all-out nuclear war (triggered by rouge countries or terrorists) and civil unrest, solar storms, drastic polar shift, ice age, break out of plagues, alien attacks, etc and even though we were lucky enough not to see it happening on 21.12.2012, some of it remains a major threat to mankind

Our rich history of mankind is dotted with incidents of major disasters that had wiped out thousands or millions in the past. We only need to turn to our history books and remind ourselves. Can we say for sure that nothing will ever happen in the future?

2. Prepping is a waste of time, resources and money – we can always get things from the hypermarket even on a bad day.

In the same manner we are grateful that we have a spare tire in our car when we hit a puncture in a dark lonely road or we had brought along the umbrella when it starts to rain, there is no harm coming up with a fall-back plan – a Plan B sort of. No doubt prepping takes time, resources and money but can we call it as waste?

Being in Malaysia where at the worst, our “disasters” are confined to flash floods, blackouts and water interruptions, we need not spend the time and money preparing for the worst. When disaster strikes, we simply wait for the Government to send help (in form of relief centres, financial aid and sundry items). Some may decide to spend time with relatives and friends until the time of disaster simply passes over. But what happens if we are to face a disaster that is not familiar to us – say solar storms and extended blackouts and water interruptions or a major plague (still remember H1N1? It’s almost end of 2012 and it is still here) and when it will some time before the Government can do something about it?

And don’t forget that we are also cursed with the usual mentality of doing things at the last moment. If we know that we need to hold-on on our own for a few days before we can rescued, rushing over to the hypermarket to stock up on food and water at the last minute could be overwhelming experience – not only we have fight our way to little food and water that may be left, buying things at the last moment could be expensive too (it’s a different story if one have been building up the storage over a longer period)

My grandmother was one of the earliest supporters in the family when it comes to prepping and she insists (to this day) that I am doing the right thing. She went through the Japanese occupation of Malaya and May 13 and she knows all too well the importance of storing up food, water and other essentials when disaster strikes and it is not safe to venture out.

3. Buying canned food as part of prepping is dumb as it does not last long and if nothing happens, it goes to the waste.

It’s a fact that canning is still one the best ways to preserve food and has a long shelf life, some with 2-3 years before it can be “unsafe” to eat. Canning has several advantages when it comes to storage too. It does not need refrigeration, easy to stack up, highly portable (great for bug-out-bags), completely sealed and well cooked during the canning process and this kills any bacteria that may be present and still keeps the nutrients intact.

My idea of prepping is to continue to store and keep something that we use and eat on a regular basis. Forget about keeping canned food for disasters – even normal days we still use canned food on a very regular basis and that includes sardines (and mackerel) which is great for curry or sambal and is a good source of protein, tuna spread (my son love it with bread for breakfast), baked beans and green peas. We simply decided to buy extra 5 cans instead of the usual 1-2 cans whenever we go for our shopping and over time, we would have stocked up enough cans that can be used for the future. So we did – we bought 5 cans, use up 2 cans for our usual cooking and keep the balance 3 cans in the storeroom and the cycle went on until we have a sizeable storage of canned food that can used in the event we cannot venture out to buy food.

All the canned food have been properly labelled and arranged based on expiry dates – the one with the longer dates are stacked up at the back whilst the one going to expire soon is stacked up at the front. And we only buy those canned food that we use on a regular basis (nothing exotic) – so this rotation of cans will make sure that we don’t end up having expired canned food and if nothing happens, we can still use it for our regular use (when I started prepping, my canned food was running out faster than I could store them).

4. All house water tanks are enough to last for 3 days (taking into consideration the 72 hours factor), so what is the big deal in storing more water?

We use water for drinking, cooking, the toilet and shower and perhaps to water the garden and wash the car. But when the taps goes dry, we need to conserve whatever water we have, primarily for drinking and cooking – we can only survive an average of three to five days without water.

When I talked about water storage for 3 days, I was talking about drinking water and for a family of 8 (5 adults and 2 children) and excluding whatever left in the house water tank. As recent as 2012, there are places in this country that had experienced water supply disruption lasting up to a week. My friend had water supply to his housing area disrupted for more than a week and after numerous complaints, they finally sent some water tankers for the residents but guess what, it was sent when most of them was away at work and it was not enough to cover all houses! That almost started a riot. And more recently there have been threats of water disruptions as well.

Ask yourself this question – will your house water tank last your family for at least a week? If yes, good for you but if it does not, what is your Plan B if you experience water disruption? Wait out for the Government water tankers who may or may not show up at your residential area or when you are away at work? Or rush over to your local sundry shop and buy crates of expensive mineral water (forget trying to replenish your water storage with the water kiosks in front of the shops – it may have gone dry too)? Or store up water upfront when you still had water in your taps and recycle them often so that the water in your storage remains fresh and safe? Which one is easier to do?

5. Preppers are people who are simply afraid to die (ya this was one of the more interesting one that I read). When it is time to go, nothing stops you from going.

Tell me one person who is not afraid of death? Suicide bombers perhaps. Yes, all of us have to “go” one day but does it mean we will leave it to our fate and go down without a fight? What about the people who have beaten the odds and survived from a near impossible situation? Still remember of those who crashed in the Andes and survived? The fact is no one wants to die and if you have people to take care (family, relatives or friends), you will do whatever it takes to keep breathing and survive. And you don’t have to be a prepper to do that – just ask anyone who have a family to take care of. So, it’s nonsense to link preppers to people who are afraid to die.

We are grateful that 21.12.2012 was not the end of the world but in the same juncture, it should be the start of prepping. The future is uncertain and we should not take things for granted. No one is forcing anyone to be a prepper but think about it, especially if you have small kids and elderly parents to take care of.

Prepping in Malaysia Part 1


Oh no, another doomsday post before the weekends…!

(Still think that EMP or Electro Magnetic Pulse is a distinct threat? The above was captured a couple days ago and if the sun storms are threatening satellites flying couple hundreds of miles from the surface of the planet, just think of the risk if sun storms gets more violent in the coming months as predicted by some scientists? )

I always think that tomorrow would better than today but at the same time, I also believe in preparing for tomorrow, today. If you are thinking the same and you are actually doing something about it, you can call yourself a prepper.

If you had been watching the “Doomsday Preppers” over at Nat Geo Channel (if you have not, you should), you will discover how some people will go to the extreme to prepare for worst case scenario and some people have been “prepping” for many types of eventuality (hyperinflation, collapse of the economy, end of the world scenario, major power blackouts, natural disaster, etc) for more than 2 years now. In Malaysia, we have yet to go on such large scale when it comes to prepping. Perhaps since we do not face any natural disasters and our nearest hypermarkets always well stocked and cost of good have always been cheap, we are taking things for granted.

But we also must keep in mind that we are not completely safe from events that are happening around the world – events that could and would disrupt our daily activities and turn the world upside down for us. One such event in the horizon is this:-

A new respiratory illness similar to the Sars virus that spread globally in 2003 and killed hundreds of people has been identified in a man who is being treated in Britain. The 49-year-old man, who was transferred to a London hospital by air ambulance from Qatar, is the second person confirmed with the coronavirus. The first case was a patient in Saudi Arabia who has since died. Officials are still determining what threat the new virus may pose.

(Source)

Add the above to the list of known & unknown viruses that are flying around on a global sense on daily basis, a number of WW3 hotspots around the world and out of the norm natural disasters, it makes more sense that we need to have some kind of “Plan B” in our pockets.

You need not take extreme measures. If you want to prep for any emergencies, you will know that it is not easy to be a prepper in Malaysia. As such, it would be interesting to share ideas and read on how others do their prepping for emergencies in this country and mind you, not all are preparing for end of the world. I am preparing for an unusual blackouts expected due to the predicted solar storms in the next few months (the sun is undergoing it’s 11 years cycle and scientists had predicted it to peak year end).

Prepping has been a challenge for me too (and it still is) and the first thing before we proceeded to anything was to find the space for storing. The obvious choice was the small storeroom in the house but it was full of items (mostly junks) and it seemed a nightmare to even think of cleaning it. But as one would say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, after I had spent a considerable time to clear out the storeroom in the house (we did not realize how much unwanted things can take up so much space in the little storeroom and it does nothing but collect dusts. It took us almost 3 rounds of cleaning before we managed to clear them) and then get it painted and stocked it with proper shelves (it was on fire sale at Tesco, so I bought 5 at one go), it was easier to start on the actual prepping tasks.

The first things that we bought for our “doomsday” storeroom was canned food and the obvious one in our list was canned sardines. A whole lot of them! It was not really cheap (there were cheaper options but we have never about that particular brand) but expiry date was in 2014 (which meant at least 2 years of shelf life) and it is something that we had for dinner on a regular basis. And slowly we added other canned items – canned chicken curry, canned green peas, canned peas in tomato sauce and canned tuna. It is easier to store (just need to stack them up) and it is safe as well. We wrote down the expiry month and year on the cans and we stack them based on the expiry dates (the earlier dates at the front).

Two 15 litres water containers was the next item on our list and with another 3 other containers of boiled filtered water meant that we have about 75 litres of drinking water at given time of the day. Experts recommend about 1 gallon (about 3.8 litres) per day per person during emergency and at least for 3 days. At the current stage, the water storage is enough to last the family for 3 days but certainly this is not enough on a long term basis. The next stage would be to increase this water storage capacity and I am planning to purchase large water containers to hold raw tap water. Rainwater harvesting system is another option for a renewal source of water in case the taps goes dry but as I mentioned in my previous posts, this option is not feasible in Malaysia if you don’t have the space (most of us don’t). You cannot simply have a large ugly expensive containers lying on your porch. There is still some work to be done here.

We then refocus back on our storeroom prep and we knew that we needed more than canned food. An incident a couple of days before the Hari Raya holidays reminded us on the stark reality of things to come. We went to our usual hypermarket and after we have fill our shopping cart almost full, we headed towards the counter when my wife remembered that we need to buy cooking oil. We walked towards the area where they had the cooking oils stocked and what we saw was rather shocking, the whole shelf was empty. Not one oil cooking bottle was available other than the more premium non-palm cooking oil and we had no other choice but to buy the premium non-palm cooking oil. But what will happen if this goes empty too?

So we added cooking oil into our storeroom items (unfortunately cooking oil is have very short shelf life) so we have to consistently keep an eye on it. We also added packets of rice although it does not make a good item for “doomsday” store as it finishes rather quickly and we have yet to try keeping rice in vacuum sealed packets which would keep rice fresh for 20 years or more. Then the usual stuff was added on the list – packets of maggi instant mee, chilly sauce bottles and biscuits. The next plan would to add “MRE” like food (although it is quite tough to find them in Malaysia) and of course, more canned food.

To be continued…

Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 4


(Countdown – 345 days to “doomsday”)

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here

Yes, still continuing with food post…

When one is in China and is having his food, one thing seemed certain – there is plenty of non-halal food and Chinese tea (of various grade and quality) to go around (although fast food and other foreign food seemed to be in favor at certain part of the city especially at the financial district). And there were also the highly nutritious mushrooms.

I realized now that at almost every dish we had for dinner, at least one would be mushroom dish and although we were wary of possibility of mushroom poisoning (being in China), it quickly became our must-have dish every time we have dinner.

Out of the many mushroom dishes we had, the above dish is our favorite – good enough to be eaten on its own, we had once ordered 2 plates of it. The dish was really simple but what makes the huge difference is the type of mushroom they used to cook and the way they cook it – a simple frying of the mushroom with sweet sauce and the juicy broccoli. When eaten it is almost crunchy with a smoother texture added to it and it is not that oily too. I am trying to find the same dish back home but have not seen one yet.

The above baby mushrooms dish was also good for our taste but the portions of the baby mushrooms was too small for us. The other things in the dish – vegetables and tofu somehow made up for the lack of portion.

Mixed vegetables (can’t recall what else was in there) – Shanghaian style – most of the bowls served is small sized, so when the waitresses serve our food, it is often served almost overflowing as you can see above and that makes it a bit delicate when one who is used to eat with spoon & fork, is picking the food (which is often made slippery due to the corn flour) with chopsticks.

Larger chunks of mushrooms and light soy sauce – another pure mushroom dish that we had but this time for lunch (we decided to pool our lunch money and go for cooked dishes instead). Interestingly it was not that salty despite it was rather heavy with the soy sauce (maybe because we had other dishes that compensated the taste or was it the tea that we were having, I am not sure).

Having plenty of vegetables seemed to be a better idea than having meat from an unknown source or fat laden meat – it was “light” on the stomach too. I rarely take mushrooms when in Malaysia – there are not many Malaysian dishes that goes heavily with mushrooms. The only time I encountered mushrooms (often button mushrooms) these days is when we go for Chinese food for dinner (or when one cooks soup at home).

To be continued…

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Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 3


(The next couple of posts in this series will be on food – my favorite whenever I travel, no doubt)

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here

(My very first dish in Shanghai – I opted for something familiar, rice and chicken with beans and cold salad. It was good but I then realized my mistake – the weather was cold but the food was not warm enough. No wonder others were having the hot bowl of noodles and soup)

One that things that often fascinates me when I travel is the local culture and way of life and one good way to experience this is through the local food. The same goes when friends from overseas come over for a visit to Malaysia (how we love the hot teh-tarik and roti canai banjir by the road side at 2 in the morning).

Over the years, from initially sticking to more well-known food (read fast food from well-known brands); I have learned that one (sometimes) need to be adventures enough to trying the local sampling (beers included) – jelly fish in noodles, oily lumps of mutton, kebabs, locally made plain yoghurt drinks, etc and it is the same thing for this trip. And being in China, one cannot run away from noodles, soup and non-halal stuff. We can find the same thing in Malaysia but there is some difference in taste, presentation and portion. We got smaller portions in Malaysia.

(The morning breakfast was rather tame and safe – a good spread of more western and oriental tuned food at the hotel breakfast buffet)

On the very first day we arrived, we decided to go for a local dish – a bowl of noodles and as the weather starting to cold down, made it more sense to order hot bowl of noodle soup. We walked out and a couple of meters of walk, we stopped by a small shop by the roadside. The interior was clean and because it was crowded and seeing a foreigner in the crowd, I guess, the shop owner led us towards the kitchen and out to a small backyard where the waiters quickly setup the chairs and tables for us (it was a big group).

I dreaded the “backyard” – we all know how dirty some of the restaurants backyard in Malaysia. But surprisingly the backyard was clean and from where I was sitting, I also noticed that the kitchen (where they cooked) was clean as well. I later realized that by local customs, the restaurant normally does not take order for drinks first – they take the order for food and only if we need something to drink, we ask for it. It is not like in Malaysia where you will be asked on your drinks first, then only the food.

We asked for something to drink and the waiter served us warm water – a far cry from the usual iced Milo back home. Other than warm water, the usual drink that is more common here is a pot of Chinese tea with small cups to go around. You can also get iced coffee and cappuccinos, etc from the many convenient stores but it is not so common in restaurants.

(A bowl of hot Noodle soup is one the best thing on a cold day – the portions were indeed more than usual – so is the price – but overall the taste was manageable)

We pay upfront for the food – my colleagues were kind enough to translate the menu for me but still, it all sounded the same. I opted for an easy one on my first day here – rice and chicken (instead of noodles). On the second day, I braved myself for a hot bowl of noodles and soup.

The portion for noodles was bigger than what I had expected. The soup smelled different but the taste was alright (I did not get that raw taste of mono-sodium glutamate). The noodles were soft and somehow felt more slippery than the usual noodles I had. Perhaps it is how the noodles were made here. Perhaps it is just how it is cooked here – damn, I was already missing the noodles back home. But the consoling factor was that this restaurant (and most restaurants) is that they have this small bottle of chillies to be added into the soups and this chilli is really spicy – much better than chillies that we get back at home.

To be continued…