Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fashionista's Review: Iftar at Riung Kuring

I promised myself that I wouldn't dine out during Ramadhan so much this time. If possible, I'd like to try to minimize dining out. The thing is, I have the tendency to overeat whenever I'm having my food other than at home and this Ramadhan, I'd like to lose some weight, instead of gaining them. Anyway, my resolution has stuck so far, so I've been eating out only twice (and this is the 6th day of Ramadhan so I'm feeling pretty good). 

The owner of Riung Kuring (also a friend of hubs) asked us to dine with him at the place on the 4th Ramadhan to which we readily agreed. His previous establishment was Restauran Daun in Satok and the place was absolutely delicious! It wasn't until this year that he decided to start up Riung Kuring and unfortunately close down Restoran Daun. However, you might be glad to know that the modus of operandi of both restaurants are the same, they sell Indonesian food, specifically, Sunda food. Sunda is one of the ethnic races in Indonesia and to know more about them, you can click [here] (note: that post is in Indonesian language).

They're offering buffet at only RM18 for adults and RM9 for children. 

The crew setting up the buffet line. What do they serve? Well, I do think that the buffet spread might be a little bit different everyday but there might be some staples. On that day we were served steamed white rice, barbecued chicken (ayam bakar), buffalo lungs (peparu sapi), chicken feet soup (sup kaki ayam), dhal, steamed fish, four different chili based sauce (sambal), tempe, bubur pedas, omelet (the omelet was mixed with salted eggs and some veggies, definitely not something you see with normal omelets), fried anchovies with leaves and many others.

For dessert, there's also an assortment of traditional cakes and fruits. And next to the dessert table, there's also a stall offering bakso

And this is what I ate. On my plate there's rice, dhal, barbecued chicken (there are two different types of barbecued chicken, couldn't make up my mind so I took both), omelet, buffalo lungs, fried anchovies and tempe. Oh, I also took a bowl of chicken feet soup. See? I told you that I tend to eat more when I'm dining out *sigh*. 

Post dinner, I had ice-cream as dessert. There's six different flavors to choose from and I chose chocolate, mint and corn *yummy*. 

I didn't manage to take photos of the main buffet line as well as the bakso stall and ice-cream stall. But, I plan to dine at Riung Kuring again this Saturday so I'll certainly update this post with more photos later.

And this is what I had on 28th of July 2012:

Bakso. Except for the extremely spicy sambal (which I had it removed later) the bakso is actually really really nice.

Sambal petai and tempoyak. Absolute yum!

For reservations you can call 082-235504/ 016-8503888/ 013-8103888. The restaurant is located just behind RHB Satok (it was previously the establishment for Restoran Udang Galah).

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fashionista's Book Review: A Doctor in the House

It took me more than six months to finish reading this book. You must be thinking that I'm the slowest reader ever, and maybe you might be right. I kind of like to think of myself as one of the contributors that helps to increase the number of books read by Malaysians; Malaysians used to be known to read only 2 books in a year, fortunately that statistic has now improved, Malaysians now read an average of 12 books annually, to read more about the Malaysian reading statistic you can click [here]. But that is beside the point, the point of this post is my review on Dr M's latest book, A Doctor in the House (there's also a Malay version, Doktor Umum).

I was given the book in November and I only recently completed reading (and I mean really reading, not skipping the pages) the book last night. That means it took me about 9 months to complete the book. Why did it take me so long? No, not because there's more than 800 pages to read, because some parts of the book was really heavy reading and I had to stop and rest my head for a while (that rest took about three months, I'm afraid, that's why it took me so long to complete the book). So, now back to the book:

The book chronicles the life of the man we know as the father of modern Malaysia, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. The beginning of the book starts from his childhood days and from then on it kinda flew up to his university years in Singapore where he met his wife, Hasmah. The heavy reading starts when he starts describing his experience during the Japanese occupation in World War 2. However, the interesting part starts when he began his political journey and from then one, I find this book to be one of the enthralling non-fiction books that I've ever read.

What I like about the book is the way it's written. During the time when I was reading the book, I felt like I was being told a story (just like a grandpa would tell stories to his granddaughter) and it was like the story of Malaysia started to unfold, from the beginning, being governed by the Brits, then the Japanese occupation, then back to the British and finally our own independence. And then Dr M started to chronicle his own journey, from opening his own practice to politics and finally becoming the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He elaborated stories that we (the public) would never have known, what happens behind the scenes in our country.

To me the book is an amazing read. What is even amazing is Dr M's remembrance of names, events, dates and so many other things. Although I do find that the book is slightly biased to Dr M's point of view, after all, he did write the book, but I would recommend the book to be used as one of the references for the subject Malaysian history. Those reading his book would certainly have a better appreciation for our country.

For those who are still wondering whether or not they should read the book, let me tell you this: if you want to know how the planning (and design) of Putrajaya came about, the building of the tallest twin towers in the world (KLCC), our currency crisis in 1998, why KLIA is located in Sepang and the start of LIMA, well, it's all explained in the book. And the book also includes stories that are political of nature, some of it regarding Anwar's entrance to UMNO, his rise up the ranks, his ousting from UMNO and his sodomy trials. The book also included stories of failures and mistakes that the government may have made.

In all, I'd say the book is written but someone who was the most powerful man in Malaysia, but still, he retains his humble beginnings and despite all that has been said about him, it is without a doubt that he is very, very proud of being a Malaysian.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of the book, you can click [here].

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fashionista's Travels: Ming Tombs

Aside from the Great Wall of China, we actually were lucky to also have the opportunity to visit Ming shi san ling (or translated as the thirteen tombs of the Ming dynasty). I've never fancied visiting a burial site or a mausoleum before but there's a first for everything, right?

Here's me with the help of the English - Mandarin dictionary trying to converse with my new friend, whom I've met on the bus when we were on our way to the  Great Wall the day before. 

As with our trip to the Great Wall, in which we took the bus, this time we also took a bus to the Ming tombs, specifically, to Dingling. Dingling is located about 50km away from Beijing, so the bus trip took roughly about an hour or so. We took bus no 925 from Deshengmen (the bus terminal not far from Jishuitan station, the same bus terminal where we took bus no 919 to the Great Wall) to Dingling. The bus took us directly to the entrance of Dingling so there's no need to change buses as some of the guides on the web would tell you.

There are actually 13 tombs in all (out of all 16 emperors from the Ming dynasty). Unfortunately, only 3 tombs can be visited and out of all three, only Dingling (the one we visited) has been excavated. 

The entrance to Dingling. For those who are interested in visiting, the entrance fee is around RMB60 (roughly MYR30). 

And this is what they have written on the board that Raden is reading: 

Located at the eastern foot of the Dayu Mountains, Dingling is the joint burial tomb of the 13th Ming emperor Zhu Yi Jun and his two empresses. Zhu Yi Jun (1563 - 1620) whose reigning title was Wanli and posthumous title is Shenzong, ascended the throne at the age of 10 and ruled for 48 years until he died at the age of 58. It took six years to build Dingling, construction of which started in November 1584 and ended in June 1590. Dingling covers an area of 180,000 sq meters. 

The Underground Palace of Dingling is the only one of the Ming Tombs excavated so far. With the approval of the State Council, the trial excavation started in May 1956 and was finished one year later. With a total floor space of 1,195 square meters, the Underground Palace is composed of five stone chambers: the front chamber, the middle chamber, the rear chamber, and the left and right annex chambers. More than 3,000 pieces of cultural relics were unearthed from Dingling. In 1959, Dingling Museum was set up at the original site and was opened to the public. 

From the main entrance...

It's quite a long walk from the main entrance to the inner courtyard of Dingling.

Met a fellow Malaysian, Syed Danial who arrived at Qianmen Hostel (where we were staying) from Russia (he took the trans-siberia train) on our third day in Beijing. So we invited him to join our journey to Dingling and he agreed. We're friendly that way =). 

It's quite a journey up, but the view is magnificent.

Souvenir shops in the courtyard.

As can be seen, expect plenty of tourists if you plan to visit Dingling. And most of them are actually from mainland China. 

As usual, in his true Malaysian style, my brother can't resist acting against the advice displayed on the board.

I wasn't able to take photos of our entrance towards the Underground Palace because of the tight security, scanners (just like when you'd check into the departure lounge at the airport) and warnings of no photography allowed everywhere. Post entrance, we had to walk a few flights of stairs down to the burial chambers

The Underground Palace (as the mausoleum is called) is fitted with air-cond so it's actually quite cool and breezy. Money donated by tourist at Emperor Wanli's coffin.

This is the rear chamber. 

According to the board put up in the rear chamber, this is the main chamber of the Underground Palace. Inside the chamber there was a coffin bed on which the coffins of the emperor and empresses were placed (note: when the emperor died, the empresses were buried with him so that they could accompany him to the afterlife). The coffin of the emperor is in the middle and flanked by the empresses on both sides (note: there are two empresses). Jade materials were found between the coffins. The burial articles for the emperor and empresses were kept in 26 cases made of nanmu (a kind of hardwood) on the sides of each coffin. Unfortunately when the Underground Palace was discovered, part of the coffins and the burial articles had decayed. Therefore the burial articles on display are copies of the originals. 

Photos depicting the emperors of China. 

Plenty of tourists everywhere. The large red wooden box at the far right is the coffin for the emperor and the slightly smaller red wooden box next to it is the one containing the empress. What surprised me was finding out that the empress was buried alive with the emperor. I guess it's her duty to follow the emperor to the afterlife together.

Among the treasures (or their replicas) that were buried with the emperor.

As you can see, this place is huge! It was also cool in an eerie way and a bit drafty at certain parts of the chambers.

Even the doors are huge.

There is only one way in and one way out of the Underground Palace. After walking up a few flights of stairs, we finally reached the exit door. 

Did I mention how huge the doors are?

And this is the exit from the tomb. There's different pathways leading to the entrance and another pathway leading out of the exit. This means that once you have made the decision to enter the Underground Palace, there's no turning back. 

There was a board located not far from the exit which wrote:

It's here that a stone slab was found in September 1956 when the Underground Palace was excavated, on which the inscription reads: 16 zhang further and 3.5 zhang deep to the Diamond Wall (1 zhang equals 3.33 meters). Guided by the inscription on the stone slab the archeologists finally found the Diamond Wall - the entrance to the Underground Palace.

Finally made it outside. Yeay! For those who intend to visit Dingling, expect to spend a couple of hours inside the Underground Palace. The place is definitely huge, and it's quite a distance. Be forewarned that from the entrance of the Underground Palace, you have to walk a few flights of stairs down and to go out of the Palace you also need to walk a few flights of stairs up. That means, if you have problem walking, or your knees are a lil' bit shaky, this visit is definitely not recommended for you. As I mentioned before, there's no turning back once you've entered the mausoleum, you have to walk all the way to the exit. 

Dingling's museum right outside the main entrance of the mausoleum. We didn't get to visit this as it was quite late and the museum was already closed for the day.

For more information on Dingling, the Ming tombs and how to get there, you can click [here] and [here].

Hopefully there's more visits to China in the future for me. The country has a beautiful historical past and I hope to be able to experience more of this huge nation. To beautiful ancient history and more historical sites in the future. 

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Food in Borneo: Bread & Pastry

I haven't done a food review in about a while now so I thought I'd share on Bread & Pastry, one of the eateries that I frequent for some delicious lunch and pastries. 

Bread & Pastry is actually a subsidiary of Malaysian Airlines System, under its food and beverage arm, MAS Catering. It mainly supplies food for MAS flights, but they also supply to other food outlets in Kuching as well. It's located within walking distance to the Green Heights Mall and is right next to Wisma Hock Peng. If you don't know where these buildings are, they're all near to the Kuching International Airport, not far from the Hornbill flyover. 

A friend recommended me the cafe and upon my first visit, I was hooked. In turn, I also recommended the cafe to my other friends. So, what do I recommend?

This is the lamb chop and potatoes. Simply delicious. I couldn't get enough of this. It's priced at somewhere around RM14.90 if I'm not mistaken. If you like your meat (like me) I totally recommend this. However, if you don't take lamb (like some of my friends) the beef steak is equally delicious.

Breakfast menu consisting of baked beans, a hotdog and omelette for about RM3.80. 

Red Velvet Cake. Unfortunately I don't recommend this. It's a little bit dry to my liking.

Oreo cheesecake. Not recommended. In my opinion, it was also a bit dry. 

Fruit tartlet. Totally recommended! 

A hot cup of mocha. 

And this is one of hubs favorite, the nasi lemak. Wrapped in the traditional style (which I like) the sambal nasi lemak is what makes this dish so delicious. A nasi lemak costs around RM2.80 if I'm not mistaken. However, they also serve a breakfast combo set consisting of a wrapped Nasi Lemak, a hard boil or half-boiled egg and tea or coffee for only RM3.50 =).

Bread & Pastry is open from 7.30 am until 6.30 pm daily.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Hint: If you're eating in (like we always do) you can request the kitchen to reheat your food so that it's hot when served =).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Interesting Perspectives on Travel


Very interesting.

Articles on travel that I find intriguing (and felt compelled to share). I thought I might share it here.

1. Why We Travel by Pico Iyer.

2. Why You Should Travel Young by Jeff Goins

3. Sofia's Bucket List by Sofia Von Porat

4. Best Ways to See Europe by Lonely Planet

Will update the list once I find more interesting articles.

Happy reading peeps!

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fashionista's Travels: Stirling University

I grew up here. About a quarter of a century ago that is. My youngest brother was even born in Stirling! And this year he's 25, so, if you do the math, he would have been born about a quarter of a century ago, right?

This is the road where I used to play my bike. And wait for the bus to my kindergarten. I wish I have the photos to show you, I was browsing through my old photo collection but I couldn't find any photos of us in Stirling. So, no photos. But if I do find them, I'll be sure to update this blogpost =). 

We're finally here! Where are we? We're at Fraser of Allander House, one of the residencies at the university.

The lake and the sloping hill. Okay, this is where we'd play during summer, take out our slide and slide down to the bushes during winter. This is also where we'd try to make a snowman but failed every time (so, definitely no snowman photos).

The corner flat behind us is where we used to stay =). And as kids, we'd be using that window to climb out and play on the grass (we're naughty that way).

Mum and Dad. Definitely reminiscing on their younger years. I think they spent almost a decade in the UK, what with their bachelor's degree, then master's degree and finally PhD. That would be at least 9 years minimum.

In front of their old flat. They were here during the early years of their marriage and here we are visiting the same place with me and hubs starting ours. Coincidence, perhaps?

Us in Stirling =).

Our trip coincided with the beginning of spring so there were rabbits playing on the grass. If this was Malaysia, the rabbits would be roasted meat *yikes*.

Met a fellow Malaysian (he's a Sabahan) who's here completing his PhD with his wife (just in case you're wondering, wife is not in the photos). He was on his way to bring his two daughters (cute twins, aren't they?) to their dancing class.

Stirling University memorabilia.

Dad at Stirling U. Mom and Dad did both their masters degree here and Dad continued on with his PhD. Mom later opted to further her PhD at Aberdeen University.

Opting for a postgraduate course at Stirling University? You can look up their website [here].

Here's another photo of mum and dad.

And even the ducks are out enjoying the spring weather. 

Hubs in front of our flat. 

The nice administrators let us come into our flat and look around. The lady in purple is one of the students who's currently occupying the flat. 

Mom, dad and me =).

And here's hubs =).

Later we went to visit one of Dad's friends who was an administrator at the postgraduate office of Stirling University. She's retired now. 

One for the memories. Her name seems to have escaped me. I'll update this blog and put in her name once I remember her name. 

And if you're worried about Halal food and where to pray, there's an Islamic centre in Stirling (about 15 minutes drive from the university) that can be used to activities and also prayers. There's also a musolla (surau) at the university campus. 

And there's also plenty of halal food around, and the best part is, some of them offer delivery =).

This is The Fountain. Managed by a group of brothers from Egypt (who are Muslim and thus selling Halal food). I couldn't find the website but you might want to click [here] for a review of The Fountain. 

To growing up and growing old =).

xoxo Mrs Fashionista