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If you people have noticed, this blog of mine has been idling for quite some time now. The reason was that I have been busy preparing for my wedding. I got married last 6th December 2008, and after a day rest I departed to Taiwan for my honeymoon. The honeymoon lasted from 8th – 14th December 2008.

I have taken lots of photos for this trip and am going to share my experiences here in this blog (and also to offer free publicity to anyone going to Taiwan in the near future).

If you are asking, where are the wedding photos, that will have to wait because I am still compiling them, the wedding photos comes into thousands because I had a lot of willing photographers on that day.

So without wasting much time, let’s begin my journey to fascinating Taiwan.

Away for a bit

I know a few of you must be wondering what happened to me. I haven’t been posting anything for the last couple of months because I am preparing for my wedding this coming December. Don’t worry this blog will not close, I will be back when I have some free time available.

In late summer, the stars Altair and Vega are high in the night sky, and the Chinese tell the following love story, of which there are many variations:

A young cowherd named Niulang (Chinese: 牛郎; pinyin: niú láng; literally “the cowherd”, the star Altair) happens across seven fairy sisters bathing in a lake. Encouraged by his mischievous companion the ox, he steals their clothes and waits to see what will happen. The fairy sisters elect the youngest and most beautiful sister Zhinü (simplified Chinese: 织女; traditional Chinese: 織女; pinyin: zhī nǚ; literally “the weaver girl”, the star Vega) to retrieve their clothing. She does so, but since Niulang has seen her naked, she must agree to his request for marriage. She proves to be a wonderful wife, and Niulang a good husband. They lived happily and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven (in some versions Zhinü’s mother) finds out that a mere mortal has married one of the fairy girls and is furious. (In another version, the Goddess forced the weaver fairy back to her former duty of weaving colorful clouds in the sky because she could not do her job while married to the mortal.) Down on Earth, Niulang is very upset learning that his wife is gone. Suddenly, his cow begins to talk telling him that if he kills him and puts on his hide, he will be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. With tears flowing, he killed the cow, put on the skin and carrying his two children with him and off he went to Heaven to find Zhinü. The Goddess found out he had come and was very angry. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratches a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever (thus forming the Milky Way, which separates Altair and Vega).

Zhinü must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niulang watches her from afar and takes care of their two children (his flanking stars β and γ Aquilae or by their Chinese names Hè Gu 1 and Hè Gu 3).

But once a year all the magpies in the world take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge (鵲橋, “the bridge of magpies”, Que Qiao) over the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation so the lovers may be together for a single night, the seventh night of the seventh moon.

It is said that if it rains on the night of Qi Xi, they are the tears of Niulang and Zhinü crying at the misery of their life.

Believe it or not, it’s raining heavily now.

Mangoes, everyone here in Batu Pahat seem to have the habit of planting at least one of those trees around their house compound. I used to have 3 such trees, till the bugs and a lost fox came over and started ‘sharing’ with us … and enough was enough, we decided to chop it off. I dont miss the mangoes that my family used to plant, I do miss the shade the tree provide to my room.

These are mangoes found at my girlfriend’s house. It’s still a young tree with its first fruitings for the year. Quite a number of them right, pretty normal dont you think so.

How about these below;

Still looks pretty normal right, now the next one.

Giant Mangoes, not bad for its first fruitings. I know I might not view mangoes the same again, gone are the image of cute small mangoes, now replacing them are this vertically inclined giant mangoes from my girlfriend’s house compound.

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Found these eggs at my girlfriend’s house. One looks all wrinkly and the other looks pretty normal. Had to take the photos before they made it into an omelette.

Origins

Some believe that satay was invented by Chinese immigrants who sold the skewered barbecue meat on the street. Their argument is that the word satay means “triple stacked” (三疊) in Amoy dialect, and indeed, satay is often made with three flat lozenges of meat.

It is also possible that it was invented by Malay or Javanese street vendors influenced by the Arabian kebab. The explanation draws on the fact that satay only became popular after the early 19th century, also the time of the arrival of a major influx of Arab immigrants in the region. The satay meats popularly used by Indonesians and Malaysians, mutton and beef, are also traditionally favoured by Arabs and are not as popular in China as are pork and chicken.

Malaysia

Known as sate in Malay (and pronounced similar to the English), it can be found throughout every state in Malaysia. Besides restaurants that serve satays, one can find hawkers selling satay in food courts and Pasar malam. While the popular kinds of satay are usually beef and chicken satays, different regions of Malaysia have developed their own unique variations of satay.

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This is a chinese owned satay stall situated in Glutton Square along Jalan Shahbandar. It is non-halal, it served only pork satay (sate). On busy days you will see 3 people manning the stall, the owner, his wife and his father. On other days, it’s just the owner and his dad.

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Sometimes during festivities, the owner gets orders of hundreds of sticks per order, so if you don’t mind waiting you can come back later to pick up your food. Here you can see the owner busy grilling the satay over the open fire. (Pardon the smoke screen, no nice angle and the road was also very busy).

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Another view of my order of 15 satays getting prepared. They still use the convential method of charcoal fire instead of the electric ones, cause of the smell once the satay is cooked differ with the methods of cooking.

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Their stall isn’t very big, just a simple street side stall, a charcoal oven, some tables behind the stall for putting their raw satay and ketupats. This is one of the trays where they placed the raw skewered meat before they are taken to the fire. The oil that you see coming out from the satays are actually spices mixture (which includes ginger, thats why its yellow).

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To complete the satay combo, you can never do without the ketupat (a type of rice dumpling that is wrapped in a woven palm pouch which is then boiled). Some other stalls have the option of adding shredded onions or cucumber in addition to the satay and ketupat. The owner has the last 3 pieces of ketupat in his basket. Business must be really good that day.

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This is satay gravy. Its also called the spicy peanut sauce dip or peanut gravy. Its main ingredients are crushed peanuts, chilli powder, lemon grass, onions and garlic. This particular stall gravy is thick. Some other stalls have gravy that are so liquid that you can drink them with a straw. Thick gravy means when you dip your satay in it, the crushed peanuts is coated to your satay sticks and the taste is simply heavenly.

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A simple fare of satay dish consist all the protein, carbohydrates and vitamins you need (not forgetting the sinful cholesterol levels that comes with it).

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Otak-otak is a fish cake found throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  It is also known as otah-otah, otah or otak in Singapore. It can be eaten as a snack or with bread or rice as part of a meal.

Otak-otak is made by mixing fish paste (usually mackerel) with a mixture of spices including chillies, garlic, shallots, turmeric, lemon grass and coconut milk. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf that has been softened by steaming, then grilled or steamed.

While fish otak-otak is most common, otak-otak is also commonly made with prawns, often resulting in a more textured variety.  

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I have been quite a regular patron at this stall at Glutton Square. There are a few otak-otak stalls over there, this one is located at the end of the square (near the junction to YC Superstore). That’s the owner busy grilling the otak-otak to some customers. The lady giving the ‘V’ sign is the owner of the BBQ chicken wings next to this stall ( I will review it later).

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What I like about this stall is that the owner is very friendly and the price is competitive. Furthermore the otak-otak is quite thick and its not so salty like the ones sold at other stalls. The spicyness is also just right.

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Here you can find the owner grilling the otak-otak over the electric grill. (That’s my order).

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Usually after grilling he will immediately wrap the otak-otak up, its best to take this when its hot.

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My orders of 40 otak-otak freshly grilled.

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The texture of otak-otak is just nice. It was not overdone (burnt). When you people come back or visit this town, do give this stall a visit, you won’t regret it.

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