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Saturday 17 November 2007

Echoes of a Fallen Star

I can't remember the exact time that my brother introduced me to this singer. What I can remember is that I was mesmerised by her voice when my brother told me: "She only got popular after her death." She passed away on November 2nd, 1996 at the very young age of 33.

Her singing skill is so versatile that she could sing blues, jazz, country, folk, world, etc. Probably due to her effortless talent that the clubs and recording labels shy away from engaging her, because she's not set up a niche for her singing career nor having a specific target group of audience.

A month after the release of her 2nd album Live at Blues Alley, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. That's why she'd never made a hit in the music scene then.

My Eva Cassidy collection through the years.

This is the first CD of Eva Cassidy that I was introduced to her music, Live at Blues Alley. It's a live recording for her gig at a club. Most of the songs are jazz and blues genre. Her performance of Sting's Fields of Gold is just spectacular. You gotta hear it for yourself as it is beyond my ability to describe.

The second CD I acquired was Eva by Heart. The songs were collected from her scattered recordings in studios and club gigs. As I said earlier, she's no specific music style, so I just put up a track to show you her talent in singing jazz. What I can say is that she's from the school of Billie Holiday.

Some of her songs are compiled under this album called Time after Time released in 2000. She sings Cyndi Lauper's hit song Time after Time in this CD, thus the title. I'm not featuring this song here, as I want to show her country folk style in this song called Penny to My Name.

In 2002, Imagine was released with another 10 songs compiled. She sings John Lennon's Imagine in this CD. I'm featuring her jazz track You've Changed here.

The last CD in my collection is American Tune. She performs another Cyndi Lauper's melodic hit song True Colours and I'm featuring it here, just in case you miss Time after Time.

Friday 16 November 2007

The Little House by the 'Parit'

There is this little house along Jalan Ban Hock in Kuching that is very famous for Kuching local food, i.e., kolo mee, laksa, popiah, etc. The cafe has been around for many years, probably older than me. Set beside the monsoon drain of one of the main roads in Kuching, the cafe has been feeding the hungry Kuchingites since who knows when.

I went there for breakfast with a group of friends, and it was close to impossible to getting a table to sit down. The time was as early as 8:15 a.m. Now you know why the food gets sold out very rapidly.

The cafe gets very crowded even at early hours.

I ordered a cup of coffee with evapourated milk and the aroma of the coffee is just irresistible! Furthermore, it was served in the classic porcelain cup that the old timers would pour the coffee into the saucer and sip up the coffee from there. It was a fast way of bringing down the temperature of the boiling hot drinks during the old days. I think it is still practiced by some of the elderly people, just by attributes.

A classic way of serving coffee in a local cafe.

The first food item that was served to us was the popiah. It is a vegetable roll wrapped in a thin sheet made of flour, something that looks like a tortilla.

The roll is cut to bite size that is easier for the mouth. You may choose to have an uncut roll to bite.

The various types of vegetables that fill the roll.

The second food item that was served was the roti bakar or roti kahwin as our local Kuchingites call it. Well, it is a toast served with butter and kaya. Kaya is a type of jam made of coconut milk. The roti bakar here is one of the best around Kuching!

The white bread is toasted to perfection of golden brown.

The edges are slightly charred and the toast is as crunchy as biscuits.

Most of the patrons come here for the laksa. That's why we had to wait for more than 30 minutes for the laksa to arrive on our table due to overwhelming orders. And for that, the auntie manning the stall didn't stop cooking the laksa for the hungry Kuchingites to feed.

One of the best laksa in Kuching, but not my favourite because the broth is a bit diluted to my taste.

Well, the shrimps are very fresh and boiled to perfection.

The cafe is just by the main road and it is very easy to spot, as many cars are parked illegally by the main road near to it.

The Little House by the 'Parit.'

It is very near to one of the larger hotels in Kuching, the Grand Continental Hotel. There is a bus stop nearby that the buses never stop to pick up passengers.

The bus stop that the buses never stop.

This is what we call as the 'white elephant' bus stop.

If you are interested to go there but are still confused by my poor instruction of directions, well, Google Earth™ is always there for you.

Google Earth™ map to Choon Hui Cafe. Just click on it to view a larger map.

Thursday 15 November 2007

The White Dream in Mykonos: I've Been to Paradise

Beaches are plentiful in Mykonos and are popular for the sun loungers. The beaches do get very packed after midday, and the parties continue on till after midnight.

I'm not into sunbathing as I come from a country in which sunshine is plentiful. I was just curious about the beach happenings in Mykonos, so I went to the most popular of all beaches, the Paradise Beach.

Sun, sand, wind and bikini.

The beach is getting crowded after midday.

Sun, sand, wind and... oops, without bikini.

No matter you are 3 or 80, you'll enjoy your day at this beach.

Some prefer the direct sunlight, some prefer to be under the shade.

Look at the deep blue sea! Look at the deep blue sea! Don't look elsewhere!

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Wordless Wednesday – The Beautiful 'Girls' in Pattaya, Thailand

Monday 12 November 2007

Adam and Eve's Food Found in Kuching

Whenever a friend foreign to Malaysia asks you about Malaysian food, what comes to your mind? I'm pretty sure that nasi lemak will emerge on the top three of the list besides satay and roti canai.

What makes good nasi lemak? Well, to me, the rice must be cooked with freshly squeezed coconut milk. That's the foremost important. Secondly, the sambal has to have lots of anchovies and spicy and sweet enough. The rest are just the icing on the cake.

This is a plate of 'nasi lemak' special.

A plate of basic 'nasi lemak' usually comes with deep-fried anchovies and peanuts only.

A more deliberate plate of 'nasi lemak' sometimes comes with deep-fried whole-fish toddlers, and the 'sambal' is a standard spicy paste served with any type of 'nasi lemak.'

A 'nasi lemak' a la special normally comes with curry chicken, sometimes with curry lamb or curry beef too.

Alright. If your foreign friend asks you to cook a Malaysian dish, I think the first thing that comes to your mind is curry. And I'm pretty sure that the most common of Malaysian curry is the chicken curry.

Chicken curry in a clay pot is quite common way of serving it.

I like curry chicken with brinjals and the lady's fingers.

With all these spicy food, what is the best drink to wash them down with? The answer is definitely non other than the teh tarik!

A glass of 'teh tarik' is just perfect for a cool rainy day.

Where to find all these? I'm sure you can find them easily in most of the food outlets in Kuching, but I enjoyed this meal at the Eden Café of Kingwood Inn Hotel.

The Eden Café is quite cozy for a quiet lunch with a couple of good friends.

Sunday 11 November 2007

The White Dream in Mykonos: When the Sun is Going Down

Whenever someone goes on an island vacation, something that wouldn't be missed is the sunset, and it was certainly not for me to miss the sunset in Mykonos. The first question I asked Yanis about Mykonos when he was sending me to Pension Matina was: "May I know where is the best spot to watch the sunset here?" and he pointed me the 'sweet spot.' It is at a windmill on the Upper Hora.

After roaming around Hora (Capital) of Mykonos on my first day there, I went to that 'sweet spot' to watch the whole process of the sunset. It took about three hours as it was summer time.

An old man who man the windmill at the 'sweet spot' for sunset watching.

A shaft that has retired from serving in the windmill operation.

The gears and inverter that once powered the grinding of grains.

The sun is already low on the horizon.

The 'golden hour' is finally here.

The sun is about to 'sink' into the water.

The sun is shining its final ray of light for the day.

A church nearby is catching the light during the twilight hour.

When the natural light is off, the artificial light comes on.

For some of the people visiting Mykonos, this is just the beginning.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

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