Grandma's house was filled with five families, aka 5 sisters cooking lunch together. After dawn, Mama and her 3rd sister went to the market and bought fresh fishes, veges and chicken. We then stuffed the fishes with a mix of coconut flakes cooked in chilli paste and garlic before wrapping them in banana leaves to be cooked over hot coals.
A simple amaranth dish and fried marinated chicken later, we all sat down and had such a feast. Imagine this, about 15 people sat on the floor with the dishes in the middle. At one end is the rice cooker. Two grilled barramundi sits on the charred banana leaves, just waiting to be eaten. And that spicy spicy chilli dip
Sometimes, a girl needs to eat such simple food.
My youngest aunt then went:
"There's this place near our house that serves the best prawn noodles."
Fact: Her house is 1 hour away.
Fact: We love food so 5 cars set off for the place two hours later, excited to taste the fresh prawns.
We passed through old roads, whizzed past paddy fields to a beach where there were several stalls. There, we took up a long table facing the rough waters around sunset as we wait for our dinner. Then we heard that this was one of the places affected by the 2004 tsunami.
Cousin: Imagine if the waves get big enough again...
Hanis: *makes sound effects*
Other cousins: HANIS!
Hanis: What? He said it. I just tried to push the point forward.
Our plans to sit at the water edge was dashed away by the worried mothers. Dinner was so delicious. Prawn noodles, 15 plates of them and fried noodles with prawns, 6 plates of them.
Each serving had 2 big fresh prawns in them and god, the soup was spicy and goood but the fried noodles were even better. We ate and ate (in my case), laughing and looking at the waves.
On the way back, we stopped to pray at a mosque. The women's section faced the graveyard. If you didn't know, the headstones are all white and uniform. At night, its a scary view. The wudu' room was so close to them and I was the first one to notice those tombstones.
Hanis: You know ... I think I'll pray at grandma's. I reallllly need to use the bathroom.
Cousin: There's a bathroom here somewhere, let's go.
The two of us plus Mama headed for the signs and then the two of them finally saw those scary white stones.
Mama: I think I'll pray at home.
Cousin: I agree.
It lead on to us trying to go to the bathroom, but got scared halfway because you had to walk along the perimeter.
We then used the other way, forcing my brother and male cousin to wait at the door.
A week before, Mama watched a cooking show where it was made in Cameron Highlands, a popular tourist spot in Malaysia known for its cold weather, tea plantation, rose farms and strawberrry farms. She then made me book a room at a hotel which turned out to be the hotel at the highest peak.
It was about 2 hours away from my grandma's house, smack in the middle before her house and ours. Add in an hour of driving up the hillside where we had the windows, enjoying the coool air as I go wheeee at every turn, we arrived at our hotel.
We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment, got at a price reduced by 37% (yes, you welcome Dad) which didn't have any air conditioning due to the cold weather outside. Yet, Mama still walked around the apartment with stockings and slippers on while shivering and moaning about how cold it is.
Over here, the normal temperature is around .. 33Celcius, it reached 40Celcius during the hot days when it hasn't rained for a week.
But, up in Cameron Highlands, it was at least 24Celcius. At night, when we went to buy burgers from a roadside stall, it was 19Celcius, with mist puffing from our mouth. Oh god, those burgers were yummy.
That night, we were all asleep by 11, so cold and cocooned in the blankets.
I was the one who was super reluctant to shower. My dislike of hot water + the cold weather + the cold water = Me telling Mama I didn't smell bad.
Before checking into the hotel, we stopped by a tea plantation to gawk at those tea bushes and climb up the terraces.
I woke up at 6.30am, prayed before bundling myself up to sit at the balcony, enjoying the super cold air (13 Celcius) with a warm cup of Milo to warm my hands. The possible romanticness of the moment was ruined by my brother trying his Muay Thai moves beside me.
I just love staying at hotels. For two main reasons. The bed and the breakfast buffet. After moaning how cold it is, I showered and got dressed. It was 16 Celcius when we made our way to the buffet place where I stuffed myself with:
A chicken sausage
A single scone (cold and hard)
A simple version of shepherd's pie but so yummy (2 servings)
A small waffle
A cheese omelette
Two glasses of orange juice
Don't worry, these were in small portions.
We then headed for a strawberry farm, where we bought strawberries and teas. Mama went crazy and bought green tea, lemon tea, strawberry tea along with white coffee strawberry. I know, where did coffee came from?
She also bought vegetables, which were sooo cheap compare to the market at home. Mushrooms, corn, lettuces, capsicums etc.
After checking out of the hotel, we took the other way down, stopping by a tea shop, which was a bit over expensive in my opinion. Mama and Dad got Teh Tarik (Tea with sweet thick milk, frothing with bubbles) which can be ordered anywhere but thankfully they were yummy.
I was a bit experimental, ordering a Chocolate Tea which was good, considering it taste like tea + unsweetened cocoa.
The one hour ride downhill made us all woozy. I tried to nap, which helped a bit. But Mama and lil bro .. well, I heard enough "I think I'm gonna throw up." and never felt more relieved to find us on normal ground level once again.
And that was how I spent my first few days of Eid this year. Its the most enjoyable one I have had for years now.
Now, to lose those pounds I gained.