Life Blogging


An Open Blog to DBKL (or is it MPS)

posted Feb 10, 2015, 11:39 PM by Haris Hashim   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 9:51 PM ]



The Story Begins ...

About a month ago I noticed an overpowering garbage stench just outside the house. A quick check does not reveal anything. For example, I would expect to see a garbage truck to smell that kind of stench. But non can be seen nearby.

So that day I just file it in my brain as "Unsolved Case of Smelly Smell"

The Mystery Unfold ...

It so happen about 2 weeks back (30th Jan). I came back home around 11.00 am after doing some errant. Lo and behold, there is a garbage truck parked in the vicinity. That alone should just put a dot on the mystery and close this case. A garbage truck is smelly, logically speaking may cause that stench. Which should conclude this story.

If not for what the garbage truck was doing.

Apparently those garbage trucks contain smelly water inside. Gathered along during their rubbish collection trip. My theory is that around 11.00 am (few hours into their trip) they have to discharge this smelly liquid somewhere.

Let's get back to the mystery.

If the truck cause that smelly smell. When the truck leave, the smell should leave with it. Right?

Unless ... err unless what!

It is elementary dear Watson, they left something behind!

The Plot Thicken

It so happens, I caught them red handed while emptying this fouls smelling liquid into the drain. I am talking about a drain that is not so deep, hence the smell is very "accessible". To make thing worst, there were spillage on the roadside. Just mere meters from several houses in the area. More smell!

So I took some picture and have a good talk with one of the workers. In which, I point to them that this is a residential area and not a dumping ground. They stop the deed (which is like 2/3 halfway through) and left.

So on that day my brain filing is something like this "Root Cause Discovered, Case Closed Unless Repeat"

Here is some picture from that day.


Garbage Truck  Dumping


The Story End ?

But that is not the case. Today, coming back from a very late breakfast. Again I saw this practice in its early stage. Again they saw me, stop what they were doing and leave. The same truck and the same foul smelling liquid. Not so much like last time since they saw me coming.

Drain with the liquid 

I am not your neighborhood friendly super hero (i.e. Spiderman) to be there everyday around at 11.00 am to make sure that this never happen again. Nor am I the Dark Knight (i.e. Batman) who can hang upside down on the tree (as pictured, I mean the tree, not me hanging upside down). Catch them in the act and leave them tied upside down (again on the tree as pictured) for the police to find (one might note that Batman only work after hours, so this might not be applicable after all).

In Conclusion

So here I am, doing the best I can do the soonest can be done. Blogging it and putting some picture for other people to see. Perhaps later on I can do some research and decide the right place to complaint. Or maybe fire some email to the right authorities, linking to this blog,

The place this happen is in Taman Intan Baiduri. Perhaps someone can leave a comment whether I sould go to DBKL or MPS (i.e. Majlis Perbandaran Selayang). I am pretty sure that DBKL worker does not wear yellow. The truck itself does not have DBKL printed on it. At the same time this can be an outside contractor. Or it can be MPS garbage truck. Hmmmmmm .... thinking ... thinking.

Comments & Feedback

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Maxis Broadband Self Care Portal Tips

posted Jan 28, 2013, 9:54 AM by Haris Hashim   [ updated Jan 28, 2013, 9:57 AM ]



















Greetings


Dear Frustrated User,

Ramblings

Are you from  Maxis.com website, redirected to Maxis.net.my for self care portal registration?

Or worst, for some reason being redirected to Mylaunchpad.com.my which then have the url shorten to mlp.my and upon clicking "Create an account" redirected to Maxis.net.my?

Confused yet? Well a confused user is a good user. More so when that blue icon that pretty much say "Login using Facebook" is there. To bring confused user into their comfort zone. Why fill up so many information when taking the blue pills is so damn easy?

Here is my theory. Can be true can be totally untrue. That MLP page is honey pot for FB user. And FB is the best tool ever created to spy on other people. Connect the dots. You get what I mean.

Sounds extreme? Because otherwise, have no idea how to explain a major telco in 2013 that requires 2 separate login identity for billing and a way to check usage balance. With customer service that direct clueles user to a clueles page.

The Tips

If you are still reading. Bravo! Afterall, knowledge is not free but earned.

When creating new account in maxis.net.my just for the kicks of checking own internet quota. I did stumble into several very basic mistake for the year of 2013.

1 - If you get a sim card and the package is without voice. Most probably the answer should be HSDPA instead of Home Wireless Internet. HSDPA is a very mysterious word for non technical people. But this is 2013, to become Maxis customer is to expect the unexpected.

2 - What the hell is the sim number? So you wonder and you click on the "click here to view sample" link. To find that number on actual sim or the card it came with. Only that after typing the sim number (as per the example) and the IC number. The following message is seen.

This number don’t exist for this service type.

3. Compounded by the fact that field for IC number is so mysterious that you start to wonder. Should I enter the '-' symbol in NRIC number? Should that part of the IC number be left blank?  So above error message may means mistake in IC number or the sim number. Afterall, both are numbers.

No stress. You are not wrong. Rather the page is wrong.

The Answer

Simply this. The given sim number example just point to the sim number. But it is not to be typed as shown.

Same with NRIC number. It is common sense that IC number is separated by the "-" symbol. Failing that, to be separated by space.

Same answer apply to both points above. Simply type sim number and NRIC number without space (or '-'). Not very obvious, but it does the work.

Conference-A-Licious

posted Apr 11, 2012, 10:56 PM by Haris Hashim   [ updated Apr 12, 2012, 3:54 AM ]


Back Drop
Backfrop












Introduction

Pardon the"food-a-licious" driven title. I start this "Life Blogging" section with Lobsterlicious. Then it cross over to "Tech blogging" in the form of Flowchart-a-Licious. Now another life experience following the same trend.It says that life is delicious. More so when going through new experience. In this case, a life experience that demonstrate this idea very accurately. Hence, worth the "delicous" moniker.

Photo-a-licious

Before we proceed further, here is some pictures of the conference. 

Credit goes to Muhd Syazwan as the photographer.

PSBST


Credit goes to Mohd Naim Ibrahim as the photographer.

 
Organizer
Organizer with Redhuan D. Oon - elected advisor of the new NGO
 

Haris Fazillah Jamel - OSDC.my pro-term chairman

Raja Iskandar
Raja Iskandar Shah - OSDC.my ex pro-term AJK

 
Eric Yeoh
Eric Yeoh - Elected pro-term Chairman of the new NGO

The new NGO is established as "Persatuan Sistem Bebas dan Sumber Terbuka". Credit need to be given to OSDC.my, which is a group of people (as well as Facebook group) that is the force behind this new NGO establishment.

More pictures are available from the Facebook Group photo album.

Ramblings

Few weeks back, somehow I got involved with group of people. Whose purpose is to jumpstart a new NGO targeting open source. 7 is the number, always love that number. At the heart of it is also the issue of "Bantah CPB". Which is a hot topic in Malaysia at the moment.

Our initial idea is to have organization that identify and fight for issues which impact Malaysia opensource community. It is decided to use 2 pronge attack approach. The first is no other than NGO formation mentioned above.

Middle Ground Politic

The second is through the principle of "middle ground" politic. With the premise that Malaysian are too political. Because of this, issues are politicized to the point that it is unsolveable politically.

In political climate where supporter and deterrent of isseus are somewhat balance. The pull and push of political current is in such a way that (almost) 50% of the populace will be against the idea of the other (almost) 50% of the population.

But that is for another story

The Social Network

For the first pronge. An attempt has been made to use OSDC.my as the platform and starting community. The idea is to assist the group registration process as NGO without taking over existing pro-term and AJK members position.

However, this has somewhat being miscommunited which resulted to challanges as detailed bellow..

The first challenge is the intent. It has been questioned, whether effort is made to hijack the community. In fact, first meeting turnout resulting from such call is only 7 people. This shows that the initial effort is not properly understood. People doubt the purpose. However, honestly communicating intention and answering challenges in balance way result to more people coming to the second meeting. Here is where communication and raise of awareness contribute to understanding.

The second challenge is awareness. Facebook is "to the face" kind of communication. The effectiveness of Facebook notification at it's default setting is in such a way that you get email and indicator for new responses. More so when one become addicted to Facebook. There is obsessiveness that compel Facebook user to check all notifications. At some point it become troublesome. Sooner or later, users will practice selective attention and begin to filter some of that notification as noise.

In my humble opinion, despite the way our brain function to filter these noises. The importance of a particular idea will bubble up to the surface. As more and more Facebook user discuss it.

Flame That Does Not Burn

Here is where flaming can be an effective method of communnication. Flame, by my own definition, are challenging statements that make people think and somewhat raise the spirit of argument.

In this way, gradually more people will talk about an idea. Whether attacking or defending it. What important here is to consistently talk about one idea. In the context of Facebook, it does not matter whether it is in different threads of discussion. Scattered among different group, in own walls or in Event thread. As long as the users are talking about that same idea.

This is the beuty of Facebook notification. It does not matter whether initially this process is just making noise. As long as it is done in consistent and balance manner. As mentioned earlier, more and more people will "talk" about it. An idea that is initially thought as noise, will bubble up in term of importance. More so when those who attack and defend the idea "ping" more people and bring them into the discussion.

It is hard to flame and be balance at the same time. This is where neutral and balance comment that challenge people to think are more effective. As opposed to insulting people personally or being immature. I found that OSDC.my as a group of open source people. Are more receptive of flame and respond back in mature manner. In this way, all involved actually able to go over personal differences and become united in ideas and identity.

Hence, I would like to put it here that this group of people have cohesiveness. Unlike that one other group, where there is no identity or function that ties people together. In addition, that other group is also marred by immature people who tend to snipe from very far and attack people personally. (:D I am doing the same thing now, so pardon me!).

Let's finish this section with a summary. In a way, I have experience a flame that does not burn. A concept that is further demonstrated by the meet up that happen yesterday!

Physical Meeting

I have been told many time that online communication using text is only 7% effective. Hence sometime we (especially me!) flame too much. Without reading body langguage as well as voice tone. This is the beauty of yesterday meeting.

Finally we all get to see the real faces behind open source in Malaysia! The tone is very easy. I wrote somewhere that a group of Malaysians tend to joke when they are together. This is the body langguage seen with my own eyes. The closeness that we miss during virtual interaction in Facebook.

More importantly, everyone make their stand without tone or body langguage of hurt. As a result, the meeting proceed in very conducive manner without  much drama or negative emotion. The only emotion that I see is happiness and people in agreement with each other.

With that said, I would wish those who attend to be more vocal. As well as having more active opposition over issues (Update to clarify: someone suggest something, so there must be someone that oppose to! Otherwise what use to be in a group where everyone agree on everything?). Again, I would stress that this is the concept of flame. In my humble opinion. Only in flame that we can be forged closer together as well as having a tougher stand. Thoroughly discussing the issues and fleshing it out in the open. Resulting to all opinion being amalgamated into one collective wisdom! (Borg style?).

In Summary

To close this write up. I regret not being able to talk with more people and exchange ideas. Yesterday experience will change me forever. Hopefully we can all meet again. Giving me the opportunity to improve in this matter. Also a way to gain more insight by talking with stake holders of open source.

It is also wise to note how communication that lead to the meeting demonstrate strengths and weaknesses of Social Media. In this case, Facebook. Another area that I would like to further explore. We have this chance to turn it into a very useful platform that unite people. Not to forget, that such virtual meet up should be strengthen by physical events! Otherwise we are missing the full potential of social media.

Update
*      Please comments or say hi in my Facebook wall. Google sites do not have commenting facility. The Haris Hashim Facebook
**     Please do not publish any part of this article without my written consent. I reserve the right to claim that my cat write this! (Hint: I do not have cat).
***    Link to document that describe OSDC Master Plan. Put it here as reference so that I can find it in the future. The new NGO can of course expand on it.
****   Damn! I love all the pictures. We should do this more often <wink><wink> to the photographers.

Monday - Nasi Goreng Teratai

posted Mar 16, 2012, 6:09 AM by Haris Hashim   [ updated Mar 17, 2012, 10:06 PM ]

Nasi Goreng Teratai


Introduction

The starting of this writing occur completely in my head on Monday,5 days ago, While stuck in a traffic jam and through all the short cuts that taken. However, only today (that is Thursday) got the time to sit down and write things. So please bear with me.

Rambling

Just before noon, I am out to the town of Tawau. Initially to buy printer supplies. But with additional requirement of buying pineapple. So a trip to Pasar Tanjung Tawau is required,

The pasar itself have 2 part. The wet market is mentioned in my previous writeup that is Lobsterlicios.

The other part is Pasar Sayur, where 'sayur' means vegetable. Which actually have lot of stuff, and not just vegetable. Under one big roof with 2 level that contains a lot of stall. This is where you can find fresh veggies, fruits, poultry (chicken)  and meat (beef) on the ground level. While the other level (first floor?) is mostly dry stuff like dried seafood or salted stuff. As you might guess, my target was the fresh fruit area. 

Haggling

Buying pineapple is not exactly my favourite activity. Last time I was unreasonably charged RM8 per KG. So a little bit wary. After all, I don't look like neither talk like local people.Which is the type of people that usually can haggle the price. Any haggling that I do is usually just ignored. that is why normally it is my (younger) sister in law who buy stuff there.

Knowing this, the best strategy is to survey among the many stall and get the lowest price. Believe it or not, there is like price fixing where almost all the stall sort of agree on 1 price that is displayed to customer on piece of cardboard. That day it is RM5 per kg. Believe me when I said, that is not the "correct" price which was offered to local people. 

Base on my experience buying meat. Which is advertised at RM15 per KG (local meat and not imported, it is that cheap in Sabah) but actually sold at RM14 per KG.

So I take that "cardboard" value of RM5 and ask for RM4. Tried on 4 stall and get a stall that offer RM4.50 per KG. The choosen pineapple slightly over 1 kg. The lady offer me RM4.50 for that pineapple which I agree! Was on the phone with my wife to confirm the purchase, when the lady pull a calculator and become more calculative. Suddenly the offer change to RM 5.30.

I have no idea about the lady intention. Where I come from it is called "bait and switch". So told her straightaway that I don't deal with people who change their price and walk. There I was, without pineapple and beginning to panic.

By the way, it is normal practice to close one eye on extra weight. Another stall nearby actually make an offer of RM 5 for 1.2 KG pineapple. Just the other day at the wet market. I got 5KG when buying  4KG of Ikan Kayu (no idea what fish is that in English). These people are looking for long term business. Some of them even know me as frequent buyer for restaurant supplies.

To balance above argument, clearly I am a cheapskate :D. The different is just RM 0.80, not enough reason to walk away. Kids, don't do this. Be generous and just close your eye. Perhaps they will give better discount next time.

But of course there is purpose for writing all of this. It might help you guys, so please read on.

Despite the panic. It ends well since another stall selling pineapple was found. It is a bit out of way and I was quoted RM3 per KG on first ask without any needs of haggling. Instant panic lost!

The lesson is, ask around and trust your guts when there is a feeling of inflating price. Or even worst, when it is you, the person that is being priced and not the product. At the initial RM 5 per KG, I felt very handsome that day. Definitely felt damned handsome on the day when I was charged RM 8 per KG for pineapple!

Computer Stuff

Leaving the pasar area feeling victorious. suddenly it occur to me that I have no idea how to go to the next location. 

Before rambling further about the roads. Let's talk a bit about buying computer stuff in Tawau. In KL, my favourite jaunt is Low Yat plaza. One big shopping complex with lot's of shop and choices. 

In Tawau, there is no such shopping complex just for computer stuff.Instead, there are shops scattered around the town.

But the jewel is one solitary shop called Digital Wise. The price is almost Low Yat plaza price. Descent choice, but all the important stuff are there. As point for price comparison, The ink cartridge price is RM45 there while in Low Yat Plaze, the cheapest I get is RM42. Using credit card, there is additional 2% charges. Not bad compared to some other shop that ask for additional 4% on top of purchase price. 

The Road Adventure

I have mastered Tawau town road in my last trip. In which my stay was almost 3 month. However, on that particular Monday. Felt lost a bit. Not to mention about massive jam throughout main road that connect the pasar and other part of town.  

There happen my first detour plus a creative way of using a short 1 way passage. Let bellow map do the talking.


Tawau Map

(1) Felt lost and trying to avoid jam. Taking road of least resistant!


(2) In the map there is no road. In fact it is a one way passage (i.e. no entry). Applying a little bit of creativity here. About 10 meter of creativity ;).


(3) Encounter another massive jam here. Taking a back alley. This is not in the map and turn out to be a dead end.


(4) No matter. Park the vehicle and walk about 5 meter across the street where the computer shop is!

Manage to escape the road jam once. But how about escaping the town. There lies the second problem. Somehow have to balance distant and travelling time. So here is another short cut which is detour no 2.

Tawau Detour 2

Note: Click to enlarge the map!

(1) This will be easier if the alley is not a dead end. Avoiding traffic jam also means not taking shorter route downward.


(2) It is good to know alternative route. In this case through housing area. Again the road is not in the map.


(3) Traffic-light! This is important since other alternative will not allow crossing to the right side. There are actually another 2 road in parallel to the left and right. Both will require going to the very end of the road for U turn.


(4) Arrival in 15 minutes. Surprisingly no jam at point (3). Might not be a good idea during evening rush hour. Morning and afternoon is ok though. 


The Story Continue

Why only 1 pineapple? Upon arrival. the mystery was solved. It turns out my wife and her younger sister was planning for photo shoot session. Taking picture for nasi goreng (fried rice) stuff. Upon arrival, quickly snap bellow picture to demonstrate the activity.


Arrangement for Photo Shoot


Previously it is me who took most of the picture for the restaurant. Apparently I was (or still am?) a lousy photographer. 

So this time, another younger sister took the picture. With one slight problem of still using my point and shoot camera. So the end result is not that much different from picture taken previously. I know for a fact that the other younger sister is a good photographer using her  DSLR or my wife slightly ancient Canon 450D. 

Maybe I am not that lousy photographer after all. The advantage of P&S camera is small size and easy to carry. As opposed to the 450D that is gathering dust somewhere ;) as status symbol instead of a practical photography tool. Simply because it is to big to lug around and be useful.

Anyway, the photo shoot session give birth to another promotional material. Which is done by you-know-who. Enjoy, until the next time!


Promo Nasi Goreng

Update: Damn the Mee Rojak picture make me hungry. My lost not to have it during this short trip. The recipe is unique since it include strip of crispy fried egg. Cut to bite size for your enjoyment (believe me, this is important). After the photo shoot, I got the Nasi Goreng Yam Ring. Since someone else already rsvp the Mee Rojak. Being stickler for detail, I quickly dip and taste both peanut sauce for Mee Rojak and Gado Gado. Their taste is differentiated by special mix for Gado Gado sauce.  By the way, my wife has improved the Mee Rojak sauce recipe given to her by you-know-who. If you are rojak sauce (peanut sauce in English) lover. This is the chance to experience the different between Gado Gado and Rojak (same base material, different mix for unique taste). Have to travel to Tawau though ;).


Mostly Ramblings

posted Mar 8, 2012, 3:30 AM by Haris Hashim   [ updated Mar 18, 2012, 2:19 AM ]

Introduction

This begins as part of previous article, which is Lobsterlicious. But it takes too much time as well as deserve its own space. Which is another way to say too long!

Ramblings

The previous rambling touch on how thing started with a side hook into western food. It glance through the chocolate shop and restaurant very fast! Allow me more ramblings and I will try to make thing more interesting!

Let's see a picture of the two shop (which was created using Google Sketch Up by you-know-who ;). 


Choc Shop &amp; Restaurant

The Chocolate Shop

The chocolate shop provide patron with home made chocolate. It is very popular as gift when bought together with gift boxes. There is option for chocolate arrangement and customization with names or cheesy words like "I love U". Ultimately we have provided chocolate for "hantaran" (gifts between would be married couple and their family), door gift for weddings and other events like dinners and celebration. 

Combining with the restaurant means that patron can now eat in or have the chocolates as desert. Speaking about desert, there are also cakes. Most of them have chocolate toppings to run with the chocolate shop theme. 

To conclude this part, let see some picture!

chocolate shop products

The Restaurant

The restaurant initially start with "Nasi Campur" (rice with dish and vegetable, self service so the patron can choose and pick) for lunch. Typical Malaysian foods which are high in energy and emphasize on local taste. Along with typical Malaysian drinks in which "teh tarik" (hot tea with milk) and "milo ais" (cold chocolate drink with milk) is the favourite.

It is an instant favourite among people who work in Eastern Plaza as well as new attraction for those who frequently visit the shopping complex. Driven by needs for quality Malaysian style eateries. Previously, such venue find it hard to compete with the existing food court. Typically with small seating area and not so fresh food. 

I am proud to say the as we go along, the restaurant raise the bar for competition and everyone, including the food court start to improve in the coming years!

The menu start to get new delicious food under the combined chocolate shop and restaurant establishment. Immediately chocolate and cake are offered to patron either as snacks or together with main menu as dessert. Soon after we start with goreng-goreng (fried rice, noodle), more offering with noodles (Mee Sup Tulang is the favourite, while our Mee Rojak Telur is quite unique since we substitue fried tauhu with crispy fried egg!) as well as the western menu that is an instant success. 

Varieties of foods are demonstrated by bellow pictures.


restaurant products

The Challange

Tawau as Tourist Attraction

The article started by suggesting Tawau as secrete enclave for seafood lover. Which I hope, is a secrete no more after reading this article.

Let me share another thing that is dear to my heart. Recent development (i.e. the new airport) has somewhat cause Tawau to be out of way from the main tourist interest. In order to go to Semporna and hence the islands there (Sipadan, Mabul), the landing airport is Tawau airport. But the new airport location (30KM from Tawau Town) make tourist go direct to Semporna instead of spending some time in Tawau. It used to be Tawau first and Semporna later in the case of old airport.

Awarenes About Halal Food

Right here in Sabah, awareness about halal is picking up. The people do have choice to choose which shop to go. But is the choice obvious? This is the question and part of my concern. The following topic might be a bit controversial. 

So let's take a tangent. Definitely we are moving very far away from lobster, for sometime already (my style of writing is always like attacking a long corner, tune early and stay comfortable ... out of topic ;) ).

Let's start with super market. I would not say they are irresponsible, but perhaps not properly informed. In such case we have two party that need to be corrected. The uninformed and the side that did not informed. Allow me 2 paragraph for a personal anecdote.

For few days I have noticed an area that sell dry packaged pork just half a meter from a very open nut selling area. In Malaysia, this is where you can scoop various nuts or cookies and buy it per 100 gm or part thereof. It is taken that the pork stuff is packaged and some people might claim air tight. But the packaging is very simple, so I personally doubt that it is airtight. I would say that I am open minded kind of person. So let pass that over. However, the acceptable practice and I suspect that this is the law, is for a very clear and big sign to mark that area as "Non Halal". After few days of seeing no such sign, I approach a kid who was maintaining that area. I did my part and put some mild threat about speaking with the supervisor. Some good come of it, since few days later the sign come up. You can view bellow picture for the sign. I would make an emphasize here that it is a personal choice whether you would buy the nuts and candies on the other side. I have stop buying, but might consider and carefully go to the very far side (1.5 meter minimum!) and see food stuff that are interesting  there.


Non Halal Area


Few more pictures. This time, taken few days back. The situation is still the same today.


Pork Chop In A Box One
 
Prok Chop In A Box Two

 



Pork Chop In A Box 3


Anyway, let's be open minded here. The food nearby are air tight. We have no idea whether what inside the boxes are airtight or not. But perhaps  the box have enough stopping power to stop the "offending" particle. Anyway, the being informative but has been done earlier. So maybe there is no sign there (or the fact stuff are being mixed) because the supermarket people use the above logic. Who knows! Anyway, the reason why I am showing this is to educate the consumer. At the end of the day my (and I hope everyone else who read this will share the same intention and not jump to conclusion to fast!) intention is not to blame the shop owner or in anyway accuse of wrong doing. So please take words such as "offending" particle as a friendly banter to make this write up sounds a little bit like Star Trek.

Ok, let's move to my second paragraph (don't count the last paragraph and you will be fine!). This is an anecdote being shared by my future brother in law.He can read and speak chinese. The specific occurrence is still in the same state of Sabah but somewhere else. But I am convinced that the same thing happen in Tawau. In KK a food court with mixed stall sell pork derived foods. The menu is off course in a language that most Muslim do not understand. Flash back to about 10 years ago when I was working in FIT as lecturer (a short stint, I can teach but I can not tolerate other lecturer, story of my life!). I was speaking with the canteen towkay asking about whether Muslim can eat their food. The answer is their food can be eaten by Muslim because (and they insist on this) they don't mix pork and use chicken or meat from normal market source which are halal. So I ask the next question, whether they use the same cooking pot for this halal chicken and meat as well as pork. The towkay said they use the same pot. And tell me in very friendly manner that there is no need to take such extreme measure. Or at least that is the understanding!

(By this time I have given up on just having 2 extra paragraph for this issue! :D. Surely my passionate reader already realized this. After all by this point the whole article is  more than 2000 words which if I'm not mistaken, What is few more paragraph eh!)

But why is that a problem. After all different stall means different pot or whatever cooking utensil being used to cook. Why not just go and eat at that very friendly stall with big Halal printed in green. Or that stall with "Makanan Islam" in such away you can see it from 50 meters. First check whether the owner is Muslim. Let's not even touch on religious or racist reason. It is simply psychological. And, pretty much only applicable to Malaysian Muslim. We are afraid of Pig and Dog. Done! Bring either of  these two cute animal near such person, prepare to see em sprint a 100m very quickly. Whatever the person body shape!

But that is not it. In fact, you can strike out that point. As it is actually not the point when it comes to food court in Sabah.  Drum rolls please! And I have to admin that this never cross my mind either. In such food court, the plate, the spoon and the facility to clean them are shared! Such a simple and very well known fact! Yet it never cross my mind until some one else mentioned it to me!

Again, let us be very objective and remember that we strive to live in harmony. In friendly banter such as this, not blame the owner of such establishment. We know they are non Muslim. It is part of inter religion dialogue that is going on. To respect and forgive each other. Let's focus on educating the consumer. After all the consumer in this context are Muslim. I can see everyday they are eating "offending particle" out of those shared plate.

Would it not fall on my head and shoulder such responsibility to say something about it?

(Note to self! such long unrelated write up should be in the Rambling part of the article! Well maybe next time ... phew!)

Lobsterlicious

posted Mar 7, 2012, 7:59 PM by Haris Hashim   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 10:02 AM ]

Introduction

Tawau, where I am at. Is a secrete enclave for seafood lover. It is very much a secrete since I think I am the only one who knew about it ;). Anyway, we are going to have a sneak peak into Mr. Lobster today. Hopefully will have enough time to attend #iDempiere meeting tonight.

(Update: Attended in silent over lobster meat, watching all those superdeveloped people talking about stuff that I don't really understand ... yet!)

Ramblings

About few years back, wifey and me decide to open up a chocolate shop in her home town in Tawau. With help from lots of people we manage to setup a shop in Eastern Plaza. 

At that moment, Eastern Plaza is the only multi storey shopping complex with air condition. IMHO is still the only nice place to shop without much hassle. Eastern Plaza is attached to Promenade Hotel. Covered parking is free and in abundance. It is about 2 KM out of Tawau town and 3 KM from Pasar Tanjung Tawau. This means, it is out of town wide jam (yes we have traffic jam in Tawau), yet still within walking distant for backpackers or those who like to experience Tawau on foot.

To ramble about Tawau a bit more. I would like to opine here something that might not be obvious to visitors in a glance. The heart of Tawau is not the shopping complexes, not the town that is filled with walk in shops along the roads and not even the superstores or supermarkets that is a lot in such a small town. The heart of Tawau is Pasar Tanjung Tawau mentioned above. 

The pasar is not even at the centre of town. Since part of Pasar Tanjung Tawau, and the most important part I would say, is the fish market. By function, the fish market must be adjacent to the sea for fish unloading function. Just use Google Map and you would see that the town it self is attached to the market. These collection of shops along the town road is what make the Tawau town ship.

At least people nowadays call that part of town as old town. There are efforts to move the town and hence the people further away inland. Eastern Plaza is part of the effort. There is also Giant about 5 KM inland. Bandar Sri Indah (with it's own attempt of fresh/fish market) 20 KM further and on the way to Tawau Airport, which is located 30 KM away.

Effort to move the town away from the pasar is to avoid human crowding that small area as well traffic jam at the centre of the Town. From my observation this effort is not succeeding much. It is like a guy patronizing Strip Club in Baton Rouge while his sweat heart is in New Orleans. In the same spirit, Pasar Tanjung Tawau is the heart of Tawau. People keep coming back, keep crowding the town and every now and then (mostly around the Raya celebration time) there will be massive jam in the town.

Update: Read about avoiding traffic jam here Monday - Nasi Goreng Teratai

The Shop and The Restaurant

So the chocolate shop have a great and hassle free location. Initially we start on a less crowded floor though. The rationale at that time was that it is just across women clothing shop that is shared and managed by my wife and her sister (and later add another sister!). In fact it is a good place to start since there is a big stationary shop nearby. So the customer was mostly families, patron of the stationary shop,  as well as chicks and trendy ladies who visit the clothing shop.

In time the customers grow as people begin to realize that Eastern Plaza house the one and only home made chocolate shop in Tawau. Still the shop is a little bit out of the way. From time to time, we get new customer who was amazed when told that the shop has been in operation for quite sometime. Even a year and we escape their notice!

6 month down the road, another sister open up a restaurant. Also in Eastern Plaza but with better location nearby to the food court. In the lower ground floor, which I would say the most patronized floor. Not just because of the food court. Also due to Servay Jaya (Servey is the main supermarket in Tawau) fresh market, groceries as well as DIY department is located in that floor. The floor is also the part of Eastern Plaza that is gazetted for foods and drinks. 

It would take another 4 month to rent an adjacent shop, renovation to combine both shop area and make it cozy. As well as giving birth (my wife, not me !) to a cute and very healthy daughter. In time for Puasa & Raya of 2011.

Fast forward to now. The clothing shop, split to 2 shop. The chocolate shop is now  chocolate & cake shop under the same roof of the restaurant but in different partition  separated by glass wall. The restaurant patron area is slightly bigger. With the big bonus of having another kitchen. Patron can sit down in the chocolate shop for chocolate or cakes and have drinks. Or sit down in the main restaurant area and have everything provided by the two shop under the same roof!

The Western Commence

Having two kitchen give this exciting opportunity to go beyond the call of normal restaurant providing standard Malaysian food. So fourth quarter of 2011, we execute this idea of venturing into other type of food as demonstrated by bellow flyer (prepared by, you-know-who :D).

More food choices

The western menu get a good reception. So we expand it and have more promotion!


Western Sets

The offering is simple and affordable. Not 5 star class western food, but we do get westerner as regular customer. The cheese cake is a favourite while the lamb chop unique. Since we do the "brown sauce" and hence the black paper sauce in house! Dabble it with a little bit of mint sauce, and the taste is divine.

However, I would say the local pick-up is more or less is because in Tawau, western offering are usually from non Muslim restaurant. So having located somewhere very accessible. Being the only Muslim owned restaurant that carry western food there. Is definitely a plus point.

The Heart Ache

As someone coming from Semenanjung (Peninsular of Malaysia). I have this ache somewhere near my heart (more accurately, there in the stomach!). 

On the early days, seeing all those fresh sea food material in Pasar Tanjung Tawau. Very cheap compared to the price paid even in Kuala Lumpur.  (Hint, fish price in Kuala Lumpur is sometime cheaper than certain places in Perak. Where the fish is actually caught to be sent to Kuala Lumpur!)

But to several disadvantage. I have mentioned this many time to those who know me personally. Tawau people cook their seafood is in very economic manner. To the point that the taste is lesser. Let say, comparing the taste to my favourite seafood jaunt in Lumut. 

There is also the cost factor. Even though fresh seafood material is cheap. The end product is priced expensively in restaurants that specifically cater for seafood .

Take it from me. Even the eating experience is diluted. You can walk into a seafood restaurant, order a meal, have it along with good chat among family members and be out and away in 1 hour. Why do this when the heart of Tawau it self is waiting, fresh sea produce in abundance. Not to forget friendly hawkers eager to have friendly banter about how much you should pay for those fresh stuff.

The Lobster That Solve The Heart Ache

As the story begin. I was there at the fish market looking for totally different stuff. Then I saw a stall with few lobster left. 

For quite sometime, I have been meaning to have fresh lobster. However this is the first time I saw it being sold in the fish market. Perhaps lobster catch are seasonal? 

After friendly chat with the hawker, I decide to survey other stall first. 

There is one other stall with lots of lobster. The price is the same at RM75 per KG. I double back to the first stall since the lobster there is bigger. In addition, he must be doing something right because the lobsters are almost sold out :D.

Here is the picture of the lobster. Slightly above 600gm, bought at RM40 after a little bit haggling. Take note that this is Sabah lobster (which bear similarities to Australian lobster). It is without claw as in the case of the American lobster.

Lobster Full Picture


The lobster was alive in the market. It arrive to the restaurant still alive and amidst shouting among the squeamish serving girls. However, my little girl of 9 month have no qualm about the live lobster. And for one I felt very thankful that it is without claws! 

The Lobster That Is Cooked

As the lobster is unplanned that day. It stay alive for the next few hours while both sister discuss what style of cooking to apply to this cute monster. I have heard "3 rasa", Sweat and Sour and lobster soup being mentioned (I would love to have that lobster soup since crab soup from the same chef taste very good). But at the end of the day, my wife overrule for a western recipe. So the cooking commence in parallel with customer orders. As the day has been quite a busy day.

cooked lobster


What you you see above on the lobster are a lot of cheese sprinkled with parsley and little bit of mustard to add tangy taste to the recipe. Also using chicken stock for the base flavour. It surprise me how everyday stuff make the end result rich with flavour! The side dishes are the usual coleslaw, fries with cucumber and a piece of salad for decoration. But to be honest I love to eat the cucumber. It sooth the tongue with cool and fresh taste.

So that is my dinner on that day! Ok, let me make a small correction. It is our dinner that day. It is a tradition to share when we have something new. To get feedback as well as talk over dinner how to make improvement. At the end of the day, we are all one happy family. And sharing is caring!

What if?

What if you want to have the same experience as above? What it takes to experience Tawau to the fullest? Experience the heart of Tawau and at the same time enjoy tasty and affordable seafood!

I have been toying with this idea for sometime. Targeting visitor from Semenanjug or even tourist from abroad. Buy fresh stuff from the pasar and let us do the cooking. No need to worry about  the ingredients or how to cook. Just get the main material. In this blog it is a lobster. But it can be any type of fish (discounting ikan Buntal or any fish that is poisonous), tiger prawn or squids.

There must be communication in advance in which we can advice in term of what to buy or what needed to to be done. For instance the hawker can cut and clean big fishes according to cooking style. For seasonal item such as lobster, availability information can be given even before the trip is made.

Of course, at the moment it is still an idea. Hence the reason behind this article. To provide background information as well as solicit further feedback and ideas. But if any of my reader is planning to travel to Tawau or Sabah in general. Perhaps we can give this idea a test ride. 


*Update: I have post link to this article on Facebook. In fact, it is best to leave your comment or say hello to me on my Facebook page. Since Google Sites does not allow public comments. Just look for Haris Hashim or Homebrew Tech. Note to self: Get Facebook URL and make it easier for people to find you.

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