Thursday, 29 November 2007

Satay Celup: A Malacca Favourite

Continuing on with posts from my trip to Malaysia in October...

Li Ching and Carina brought me to a well-known satay celup restaurant for our main evening meal in Malacca (Melaka). I've forgotten the restaurant's name but it was the original restaurant on the street. We had to wait for a table to eat at, in contrast to the almost identical satay celup place (opened by a former employee of the original's) which was almost empty.

The satay celup tables are specially-designed with a pot set-in in the centre containing boiling satay sauce, heated by gas from table-specific bottles.

The attendant brings around various satay sticks for the guests to choose what they want and cook them in the satay in their own time.


Various satay celup sticks including quail eggs, rice balls, fish sticks and fish balls


The very top left of the satay celup tray contains pigs ears. The small plate has cucumber slices and the satay pot is in the bottom right.

The pigs ear was crunchy. Carina and Li Ching did not want to tell me what it was before I ate it as they were scared I would refuse to eat it if I knew beforehand. I did find out and was not put off :-)


Prawns, fish and clams. Century egg with ginger is on the small blue plate. The egg tasted interesting.


Cooking the satay celup sticks in the simmering sauce


The restaurant menu

The staff calculated our meal cost by adding up the number of sticks left on our table. Each stick cost half a Malaysian ringgit (about 16 Aussie cents).

As I like to try everything, I tried every single different type of satay stick. Needless to write, by the end of the delicious meal I could eat very little more.




Saturday, 24 November 2007

Australian Federal Election Day 2007

After several months of unofficial and 6 weeks of official electioneering, today, 24 November 2007, Australia finally votes. Thank goodness I have been out of the country for all but the last 6 weeks and I have not had to put up with the constant politicking.


The Fulham Gardens Primary School election booth in the electorate of Hindmarsh

The polls have just closed in some of the Eastern states and they will close soon in my state of South Australia. Tonight I will enjoy a hardcore election evening via both the Internet and television.

I yearn for a change of government. The current Liberal-National Coalition have been corrupted by 11 years of power, control of both houses of parliament and a rodent named John Winston Howard.

The opposition Labor Party (ALP) have been favourites in both the opinion polls and betting markets for months but they are not certainties to win back government. I doubt anybody will be celebrating until the election result is certain.

Both major parties have similar policies in many areas and a common feature of this election campaign is the me-tooism. The Labor Party haven't wanted to differentiate themselves from the governing parties except for policies that they believe most people support.


Election posters; from left to right: leader-centric Labor Party, xenophobic One Nation, negative Liberal Party

Despite their name, the Liberal Party are socially conservative and have increased governmental powers, taxes and spending during their time in power. Unfortunately, their spending decisions were often made in a knee-jerk fashion and not based on evidence, leading to poor outcomes. The Liberal party has campaigned on fear and negativities. Their posters at the polling booth didn't even mention the party or their leader and instead focused on bad things that might happen if Labor get elected. The Liberals lack a vision.

I did not vote in the last few elections as I lived abroad, mainly in Mersin, Turkey, and years ago my name was taken off the electoral roll.

I am located in the Federal electorate of Hindmarsh, suburban Adelaide. It is currently a marginal Labor seat held by Steve Georganas. The Liberal contestant is Rita Bouras. An interesting side note: both major party candidates are of Greek ancestry.

This morning I voted at the Fulham Gardens Primary School (located in Henley Beach, not the neighbouring suburb Fulham Gardens) election booth. The different party posters were on display and their supporters were handing out how-to-vote (HTV) cards. I refused to take any cards stating I cared for the environment. Instead of following a certain political party's preferences, I chose my own.


Voters lining up at the Fulham Gardens Primary School

The voter line up extended for about 20 metres. Upon booth entry, I was directed to an electoral roll worker. She asked for my surname and name, asked if I had voted before, and then signed and gave me the Senate and House of Representative ballot papers. The lack of an ID check surprised me.

Because of the honesty and openess portrayed over the years by Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett in his blog I gave the Australian Democrats candidates high preferences on both ballot papers. I placed Coalition and fundamentalist parties like Family First Christian Democratic Party (CDP) and One Nation very low down. I also placed ALP fairly low, although always above the Liberals. This was particularly true for ALP's lead Senate candidate Don Farrell.

Don was my union boss during the time I worked at Foodland Fulham Gardens. Every Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) newsletter contained 6-15 photos of himself and I did not appreciate his self-promotion. I also am not impressed by his very conservative values. I did appreciate the work done by the SDA though.

Besides the Democrats, I also gave high preferences to the libertarian Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP) and independent candidates.


My completed ballot papers

The South Australian Senate race was made more interesting after Nick Xenophon of No-Pokies fame announced his Senate candidature. As Nick's grouping received 20% of the upper house vote in the last state election he is expected to gain the 13.4% quota required for a Senate seat.

Let the election night begin!

The ABC with their election guru Antony Green generally has the best election coverage.

As always, wikipedia has a good run-down of the Australian electoral system for those who want to learn more.


PS: I still have many posts about Malaysia and Australia to write and photos to upload. Sorry about the slackness... :)


POST-ELECTION UPDATE: The incumbent Liberal/National Coalition has been kicked out and the Labor Party has won the most seats enabling them to form the next government. To my delight, the former Prime Minister John Howard looks highly likely to lose his Bennelong seat to Maxine McKew. Unfortunately, the blogging Andrew Bartlett was not re-elected to the Senate.

Let's wish for a more accountable and open government and less cynical wedge politics.
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Saturday, 3 November 2007

Malaysia: Food

As mentioned earlier, I ate masses of wonderful food in Malaysia. I ate Chinese the most but also sampled Indian, Malay and Nonya (Peranakan) cuisines. Later I will write a specific posting on the Satay Celup I ate in Malacca.


From left to right: porridge (Kim, what kind?), various dumplings (in silver trays), chickens feet with mushroom, and dipping sauces

The first meal I ate after arriving on the overnight flight from Istanbul was dim sum somewhere near Bandar Tasik Selatan, the 3rd stop on the KLIA Transit train between the airport and KL. Kim took me to an outdoor restaurant full of people eating their Sunday dim sum breakfasts.

Dim sum involved different waiters coming around with trays offering their portion-sized dishes. We were free to select whatever we wanted of the huge variety on offer. Each dish was on a distinct plate and at the end of the meal our bill was calculated by the number and kind of plates left on our table.


After visiting the Batu Caves, Kim and I ate at an adjacent vegetarian Indian restaurant. Curries and chutney were scooped out of the containers onto specially divided plates and eaten with the fried flat bread.


Clams, BBQ pork and dumplings

The hawker centre signs in the background list such delicacies as Pork Organ Soup and Claypot Frog Porridge

From left to right: paw paw, guava, pineapple and another fruit. The small bowl contains a dipping mixture made up of sugar, salt and dried plum powder.

The above 3 photos come from the Chinese hawker centre Kim took me to on my first night in Malaysia.


Satay, omlette and clams

Two nights later I met up with Yinli and Pek Yen at another Chinese hawker centre for some good food and beer and great conversations. Afterwards I took a taxi back to Flic's place in Brickfields. The taxi rate was very cheap even allowing for the 100% after midnight loading (when it should have only been %50) :-)


Clams, squid and snails in Malacca

Prior to the satay celup meal, Li Ching, Carina and I ate 'entree' at a critically acclaimed but difficult to find and (on the surface) somewhat seedy backstreet restaurant. The hole behind the plate in the centre of the photos is an integrated rubbish bin.



A delicious spicy laksa and barley water breakfast at Donald and Lily's nonya restaurant, Malacca.

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