Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BBQ @ Mellisa's

Just recently, we were invited over to one of my medical officer's humble abode for a cookout ala barbecue style. Located in another district, we traveled from Keningau right after work to arrive just in time to bask in the ambiance of a totally distinctive setting. The ones that we are used to are the typical and usual garden-variety barbecues operating within the licensed vicinity in the hospital. To do a cookout in a home of another is a different experience altogether and to emphasise the statement, this is not any other home, but a local true-born Sabahan's home. And I'm, we are to be correct, extremely grateful to be handed out the invitations to jostle up some meat right in front of your house on the lawn where the place is indeed close to nature. One of my medical officers even took it to her true self to spend some time star-gazing at the sky lying down on the lawn. We can't be certain whether that is the immediate side effects of consuming too much alcohol though, although that could be a pretty well contending point to ponder. I'm sure she knows who I'm referring to and I'm pretty sure all of us who attended the party knows very well who that person is. *evil grins*

I didn't manage to include the burning and the roasting of the dried bacon strips and the lamb (or many other singing sessions and drinking sessions) as I was too inebriated by that time. Inebriated with too much Baileys and Kahlua mixed together minus the whipped cream. I didn't go for the higher end Jack Daniels or the Absolut Vodka as depicted below as I'm not the likes to be able to tolerate that higher-level of drinking. So thanks but no thanks Mellisa for pouring me a Highball (Vodka + Coca Cola). I think someone else ended up consuming that cup of liquor but I can't be certain who it was. =P

Some of the spuds which I doubt made it onto the barbecue pit. I think we must have over-estimated the food when it came to the shopping ventures, but what's a barbecue without an excess of food anyway? It was quite a wonderful get-together right after a terrible hectic week in the wards; myself included - especially now with more responsibilities. And on the plus side, I get to see my medical officers' other personality especially right after a couple of shots and drinks. You could totally see their different side of the coin altogether which they don't show me during ward rounds and clinic duty. Those latter ones are filled with demure and sullen expressions but these parties really do bring out their 'lively' persona. Interesting... only that it could have been more interesting had I drunk less and observe more. Heh heh... 

And I hope she don't mind but here's two views shot from inside of her house. You could see how the daylight has broken onto the lush expanse of the neighbourhood. The gunmetal sky isn't a precedent for thunderstorms and heavy rain, rather it's an accompaniment for the cool temperature that is anticipated for the weather in Tambunan. Just see how the sky blue colour coalesces with Mother Nature. Makes you want to forgo all the city life now don't you? Humans... we are just so difficult to please. =)

Afterwork Bistro and Cafe, Keningau

Every now and then, anywhere in particular - so as not to remain biased to one place at a time; whenever a new place is open for business, people would throng to the area to sample the new stuffs that they sell. Moreover, these group of individuals would make a return often enough to sample all the delicacies before coming to a conclusion as to how marvellous the place is. For a restaurant, this may seem vital as you wouldn't want to jump into any conclusion based on a single dish or a couple of visits. You've got to give the owner the benefit of doubt and it would be a major discredit to him who has gone through great lengths (not to mention guts) to establish the establishment. 

Afterwork is opened (so I hear) late in March 2015 when one of our medical officers in Hospital Keningau decided to expand his entrepreneurship skills in the field of delicacies. And I'd say he did an amazing job to come up with this confident approach. He did remarkably well venturing into the food business considering the status of our economy at present. Here, I include some of the photos that I manage to capture during several of my visits there. Have a go at them and you make the decision yourself. 

Just a few days prior to its' soft opening. Afterwork starts their business after 5 pm - exactly following their namesake. 

Most of the food and drinks in the menu aren't available as of now as their official opening is scheduled on 30th April 2015. 

Western Food, Italian Pastas and Pizzas, Local Cuisine (Mee and Nasi Goreng) and Nasi Briyani are amongst the many choices for you to select from. To date, I've tried several of their pastas, nasi briyani, grilled chicken mushroom and their pizzas and I have to say, that they do have the knack for proper food preparation and serving. The size is just sufficient (not exceedingly egregious nor minuscule on the other variant of the spectrum, but just nice) and not choked with salt. The oil used and I can tell, is of good quality. You don't walk out of the restaurant smelling like you have just walked out from a smoking room or a barbecue pit for that matter. And I applaud the chef and the owner for giving this due consideration. About time we have a nice foodie place serving up a healthy meal - less salt, right portion and good quality oil.

But be cautioned that the pizza sizes are huge and it is outright impossible to eat this alone, or even with a couple. You'd need more than just two and so I decided to take my medical officers out for a treat. We had four huge pizzas that day and they were all wonderfully scrumptious. The pizza creation comes from a local talent who cooks up a dainty storm for their pizza fans and they call themselves the Twenty2Crust with their original branch in the Tambunan district. 

From top to bottom:- Twenty2 Tuna, Twenty2 Barbecue Chicken, Twenty2 Supreme and Hawaiian Chicken. I do hope I'm right about these in their right order as I can't really recall any of it at the present moment. Probably too delicious to recall anyway. =P The crust are mighty thin (and that's what pizzas are supposed to be) and filled with one of the most ambrosial sauce and seasoning to tickle your taste buds right to cloud 9. Well... don't just take my word for it... give it a go! Move along Pizza Hut, Twenty2Crust is here to stay and give you a run for your franchise money.

And their Nasi Briyani comes right out in the claypot and all the qualities are as aforementioned with regards to their healthy victuals. Served alongside two huge papadam crackers and a small teacup of cucumber-pineapple-carrot salad with a larger touch of it within the claypot itself, these traditional Indian cuisine is a delightful experience that stands right out from the other available recipes in Keningau. But do forgive my naïveté comprehension of the local delicacies when it comes to food availability in this township for I am not one that is wont to participate in elaborate gastronomic adventures.

It's a remarkable feat to kick-start operations here in Keningau but then again someone should start up from the get-go. The town needs revitalisation in the ideas of infusing the bit of modernisation to make the youths not want to leave for greener pastures. From the first time I stepped foot onto the soil of this beautiful interior district up to the present, I could well appreciate the vast majority of new trends slipping into Keningau, making it a potential hub for the tourism industry. So if you do come by Keningau, remember to stop by places like D90's, Afterwork, Sento Rooftop Cafe, Permata Cafe, Juta Hotel, Perkasa Hotel, KRK and many more if you're into modern dining. But if you so choose to opt for the local cuisine, then the best place to serve you would be the great amount of coffee outlets located throughout the bustling little town named after the cinnamon tree. 

Address:- Lot 11, Adnan Shopping Complex, Keningau, Sabah, Malaysia 
Price:- Cheap and affordable
Ambiance:- Pleasant with a cooling outdoor dining experience
Rating:- 9/10
Servings of alcoholic beverages:- Yes, more to come
Time of operations:- After 5 pm till midnight (please do correct me if I'm wrong) 
Things to look forward to:- Live band
Landmarks:- Located within the same block as Sento Hotel, directly opposite of Adika Food Court

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hearts in Atlantis, Stephen King

Five stories connected through time shift and various elements starting from the time in the 60s where the war in Vietnam was in its very peak. The first and second story - Low Men In Yellow Coats and Hearts In Atlantis provides an intriguing opening scene to the over 600 pages long novel. The first talks about the Southern childhood and their ever so ordinary lives up to the point when a kid called Bobby Garfield meets an odd man Ted Brautigan who is eccentric in many ways and possesses a deep secret residing within his soul.

The second novella depicts obsession and addiction towards a card game called Heart up to the point that many of the college kids could not concentrate on their studies and chose instead on dropping out. It's no heart-stopping moments dealing with horror or the science-fiction but plainly out of human depravity and a wrong choice made in their very youthful lives.

The other three novellas kept a close account on the remaining select few of those who made a brief appearance in the first story and how their lives intersect eventually towards the finale. The third novella dealt with one of the antagonists in the first story --> Willie Shearman and his continuous lifelong act of penance, while the fourth novel dealt with Bobby's once best buddy, John Sullivan and his hallucinations which both, were pretty good in their own accord.

They still possess that form of delectable twist to catch you off-guard before coming to a final closure on the fifth where Bobby Garfield returns to his hometown, his child place. His brief unintended rendezvous with his once childhood girlfriend Carol Gerber was a touch too sentimental towards the concluding point that made the whole deal a gem to read and admire.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bukit Dumbar, Penang

With each visit to Penang, I would make it a point to take a brisk walk or sometimes a jog up to the hill that is located right behind my neighbourhood. It isn't exactly situated right at the back per se, but suffice to say, it is within walking distance and that it would take anywhere from between ten to fifteen minutes.

Awesome as it is, it wouldn't be practical to go in the late mornings or the bulk of the afternoons unless getting burnt is part of your training regime. The scorching sun is no joke these days in Penang and even sheltering within the confines of your home would roast you to a chocolate parchment unless you have your own personal hidey-hole to go to OR sufficiently rich to install air-conditioning. Somehow this wasn't quite the problem if I were to take you fifteen or twenty years back to the similar Georgetown that I was familiar with. Perhaps global warming has taken a large toll effecting the weather with burning coals that would literally sear apart your epidermis from its' attachment. And the same would be said of the weather even when the sun has gone to its' resting place. The humidity is plainly unfathomable!

And here's some evidence for your viewing convenience. Sabah is still so much cooler compared to Penang - most likely this would have everything to do with the hills, trees and loads and loads of mountains over in Sabah. I'm thinking of retiring later on to Kundasang, Ranau in the near future. That place is even cooler than Genting Highlands at times!

But thankfully, there are some greeneries to appreciate and here I am to enlighten you to one of the more famous parks around the Jelutong area. You could appreciate Bukit Dumbar more when you've seen it for yourself. The place is rightfully clean, green and smells just wonderfully fresh for your lungs. A jog or an evening walk around the place would break you into runnels of sweat as the elevations here are quite the monster when compared to the other public parks in Penang. And I should know as I did my training here once the year before in preparation to climb Mount Kinabalu.

Here's one of the elevation which starts right after the switchback in the middle of the photo. The incline goes up to anywhere from between 8 to 12 degrees based on the subjective assessment. Supplies marathon trainers and runners alike for a place to do their hill training I suppose. But the rugged terrain might not appeal to them as I hardly see anyone train on that path back then when I did my usual jogs the year before and this year.

This is where the common playground is located right after the monster hill that I've shown you right above these two pictures. Folks like to do their tai-chi and aerobics here while some can be seen taking a leisurely stroll around the therapeutic footpath. 

There are two sections to do your walk or jog as you so please. The parts described above are the rear portion of the hill while the pictures shown here displays the front section of the park. The jogging path here are much more properly paved to provide for an even footing ground while the ones described earlier are more suited towards a terrain path. Another smaller jogging arena is situated on the right of the last picture and you can reach it by means of staircases built on the sides of the hill.

The Running Man, Richard Bachman

I always love reading the Bachman's series. King's alter ego is far more vicious and crude in these additions and it is huge pity that he was discovered for who he was, thus terminating the Bachman books. The Running Man isn't any different either and it focuses on a guy with the similar namesake Richard who lives in the not so very distant future where the populace are divided in terms of property and economy. Stricken with a dire situation where his state of penury puts him in a desperate dilemma to earn some cash so that his sick daughter could get some medical attention, Richard decided to put his life on the line for his family.

In a TV program designed for the jollies of the rich (and also the poor who couldn't do much to abrogate the free screening channel), the desperate who are strapped for cash are put on the run for their lives with a promise of being paid a hundred bucks for each surviving hour. And if they could survive for up to thirty days, they would be paid a lump-sum of a billion dollars and the right to live. The trick would of course be the utmost impossibility of the victims winning with the level playing field tottered against them. But Richard has another idea altogether in making his run a distinct difference compared to all of what these authoritarian administrators have ever experienced. A clue to not spoil the story for yourself is not to read the introductory portion of the book and just go on straight to the first page of the chapter.

The novel is a breeze read it less than 400 pages and is quite straight to the point without any bush-beating. This seemingly too, appears to be the property of most of the Bachman books. The Running Man makes the Hunger Games look like child's play by the way and the former is so much better than the lousy series which took on for far too long to toe the finish line.