Christmas season has always been the busy time of the year for me, it has been more of a closed family celebration, nothing grand, just keeping it simple, brief and sweet. Hence, the lack of updates recently for this blog. Nevetheless, Christmas is always something that I look forward to, and the festival itself carries many significant meanings in my life. However, this year, little did I expect that my Christmas was a little out of the ordinary, and right at the end of the day, I returned home with nearly zero energy left in my overspent body.
The Christmas day started with church attendance, playing my role in a normal Christian family, this has become a routine every year. I attended St Thomas Cathedral, my home church in Kuching, specifically the 8.15am processional service, where the worship/mass was conducted in a more traditional methods, providing an original spiritual feel of what Christian worship was all about. Grand organ playing old Christmas Themes in Hymn version, brought to life by a group of really superb church choir.. it was indeed the best start of Christmas, guaranteed from an Anglican church that preserves the tradition and true origins of Christianity very, very well. It was a refreshing morning, rejoicing the birth of Christ with hundreds (possibly thousand?) of fellow brothers and sisters in the same faith coming together in worship. Here is a short video of the final number presented by the church choir.
Right after the morning Christmas mass, I left my family to go on my visiting quest for the rest of the day. My dear friend Alan, travelled all the way from his house situated far across the river, just to meet me up at the waterfront, and from there he brought me across the river again, and to his house, the first house I visited on Christmas day. This is the first time I took a sampan ride with a digital camera with me. I used to take sampan across the river during Hari Raya visitings, since I have quite a number of Malay friends staying at kampungs across the river, and transport across the river would be much faster, nearer and more economical in comparison to land travel which would take a much winding and longer route. I can't help but take more and more pictures during this rare sampan (boat) ride !!
Here is my dear friend Alan I have know from high school !!
The Sampan (boat) ride...
The view from the other side of the river is nothing short of breathtaking. There was only one thing missing, for such blue sky, it was just plain wrong not to have the blueness being prominently reflected on the clear waters. Ok, the water was not so clear, and the cleanliness can be seriously questioned, but other than that, I believe the view was simply awesome.
We took a ride on a "van sapu" (illegal/pirate taxis) which took us directly from the jetty to the street of Alan's home. I was rather amazed by the serenity and peace of life away from the city. Though Kuching is no where near the city itself, but the congestion and fast pace life that have taken much of the central business district somehow creates a yearning in me for something slower and more peaceful in nature. Just take a look at the road covered with well planted trees covering the top forming a canopy along it. It was just beautiful. A beauty cannot be found in a city, but somewhere far from it.
By the time I arrived at Alan's house, I was famished. There was an array of good home-cooked dish being served. Mum's cooking is always the best, and so they say. I ate quite a
lot bit and gulp the food down with much popularized fizzy drinks. I gotta tell you, all the celebrations in Malaysia are so alike, for example the type of food being served, that sometimes I could not tell whether it was Chinese New Year, or Christmas, or even Hari Raya !! So much for a short term memory loss...
After ballooning my stomach with much good food, we relaxed ourselves, and
lepak chatted on for quite a while, before we headed back to the jetty and took another sampan ride across the river back to the city. I complimented on Alan's mum's cooking, the braised duck was definitely the best I have ever tasted, and she said the she marinated the duck overnight before she cooked it. Nice family Alan had there, and I feel really honored being there, not to mention having Alan taking all the trouble to meet up with me, though he was busy serving his other guests on Christmas Day itself !!
On the Sampan trip back to the waterfront, there was a group of "ang mos" on the same boat with us. They looked at me and Alan with a broad smile, and so I smiled back, and then a conversation was struck there and then.
Robin: Merry Christmas !!
Ang Mo: Merry Christmas !! It is a warm one, is it not?
She fanned herself with her hand, and by then I could recognize the heavy Australian accent in the English.
Robin: Where are you people from?
Ang Mo: Perth.
Robin: PPPPEEEERRRRTHHHH ???!!!!
Alright, obviously I was so excited to hear that word, and not meeting anyone much from there since I left the place months ago. They were startled by my response of course...
Ang Mo: Ohh !!! You were from Perth as well???
Robin: (I almsot said YES) Errmm, no no, I am from Kuching, but I was there for years, studying there.
Now how often does that happen? Being able to strike up friendly conversations, and exchange warm smiles with strangers, even on a sampan ride? Certainly something rather odd and rare in Kuching. This incident reminded me of how much I have fallen in love with Perth, and how much I have missed it being away for months now.
A blogger cam-whoring in the bus...
Our next destination was Libren's house. From the post office bus stop, we took a bus all the way to Taman Desa Wira, far deep into Batukawah (even further than MJC) and from the place we stopped, we walked a significant distance for around 15-20 minutes, under the hot afternoon Christmas sun. Alan and I sweated and panted when we reached the doorstep, and we were greeted with more smiles and friendly people !! Of course food was already waiting inside.. and we cooled ourselves down with even more gassy drinks, and stuff our already stuffed stomach with even more good home cooked food. I have not met Libren for a year, and so there was much catching up to do... we talked and talked and talked, until our mouth went dry, and I requested even more drinks. I was truly happy being with those good friends of mine, and of course, I have missed seeing them so much !!
Alan, Libren and Me !!
I guess I find it rather amusing, that I would still go on visiting with bus and sampan rides. Most friends and people I know at similar age with me would choose not to do so if they do not have a proper vehicle, like.. ermm, a car. Not many people would want to walk under the hot sun, and the waiting for the never-coming bus would be too much pain. To me, it does not matter how far they stay, and as long as there is a way to reach them, I will reach them, and what more appropriate than this auspicious event of Christmas? One of the magics of Christmas is briging people together. Not having a car does not stop me from embracing the true spirit of Christmas !!
I returned home late in the afternoon, and reunited with my family. I took a quick shower, changed, and sat down for a while, before we all headed out and joined another close family/relative of ours for a special Christmas dinner. My cousin Adrian and his wife, Serene were back, and I was really looking forward to meeting them !! We went to Satay House at Rubber Road, and so the huge feast began !!
Here are some of the food...
Braised Pork Leg
And of course, what is Satay House famous for, if not their very own...
I swore I ate so much that my stomach could almost explode.
On the way back, I received an unexpected call from Mike, making a Christmas night outing plan. Frank (click) came to fetch me, and off we went to Links at Civic Center to meet up with other friends. Driving pass the ampitheatre opposite the Civic Center, we noticed there were so many cars parking inappropriately, and congesting the entire surrounding area. Something was happening at the out-open space of the amphitheatre, and after Frank parked the car, we went off across the road to check out what was taking place there. We arrived early anyway.
Surpise surprise, there was quite a grand Christmas celebration being put out in the open on Christmas night. Alright, I should blame myself for not reading up on the newspaper that often, but even my parents, and friends who have read the newspaper have never heard of the event taking place there. It was celebrated in such huge scale, and it was indeed a shame not that many people of Kuching have known about it, and if only the event was properly promoted and publicised, I believe attending the event would be something on the list of to go places and things to do on everyone's Christmas plans.
There were stalls selling food and drinks and games...
There was a stage performace..
Open space with not so many people..
Such event taking place at such magnificent place, would have been a hit. I just do not know why the events in Kuching are not so accessible and made known to public. Maybe it is because of the "do not care/selfish" traits of the people here that are not so supportive of whatever that happens, unless there are free give-away stuff or extremely worthy bargains. I would like to believe in that, but it has always been an agreeable fact that most of the events that take place, just happened and more than half of us Kuching folks have no idea about them until everything is over. Garrrhhh, sadness indeed !!
And I thought bloggers would know everything in advanced.
To cap off the night, we had a small chill out session at Links, on top of Civic Center. This time, lights were turned on, illuminating one of the very few tall structures standing out proudly in Kuching.
Here is a picture of everyone... except me, who took the picture...
Chun Chow, Mike, Daniel, Alvin, Frank.
It was indeed the good way to end such a rushy and hectic Christmas day I have had. I had a glass of beer, with no knowledge forefront that it costed me a gigantic RM10 for just one glass !! What a rip off. No wonder the place was so empty, even on a Christmas night !! Putting aside, I have to give praise for the effort put in setting up the furnishings and interior of the entire place. Links bar is where you should go to if you truly want to relax, enjoying dim, slow paced and cool atmosphere, getting urself isolated from the crowd, and having too much money to spend on drinks.
My Christmas this year had been a looooong, tiring, but good one. Thanks everyone for your well wishes, gifts, smses and smiles. When there is no snow, and no matter how hot the weather in Kuching may be everytime Christmas comes around, the magic of Christmas never fails to happen. And I have my family, friends and God to thank for that !!
Once again, I wish all of you, a Merry, Merry Christmas !!!
Side note: It is my birthday today, the boxing day, 26th dec, one day after Christmas. All good wishes, and presents are most appreciated.