On My Birthday We Visited Medan Ikan Bakar at Malacca (Again)

Meda Ikan Bakar

My observation on age as such: besides the age that you can legally have s … ahem … your own driving licence and the one that grants you lots of discount everywhere you go because you are senior, age is just a number that has little significance.  Some achieve more than others at their age; some look better than others at their age; some manage to defy the gravitational pull of music-from-my-good-old-days-sounds-much-better-than-today’s-hits better than others.  As for me, I am so going to watch Lady Gaga’s concert when she comes to Singapore.

My birthday is my holiday, always.  And I woke up at nine this morning with my head still spinning after a long night of online gaming.  Our team lead of 5 – a good online friend of ours – lightly commented that we were not performing up to our usual standard.  I said the obvious, “It’s three in the morning, ha ha ha.”  Cynthia and I were more or less randomly hitting the buttons like two sleepy zombies.  Game mission accomplished nonetheless, sort of.

Processing my band’s studio jamming materials took much shorter time than anticipated.  Probably because I have already spent much time running through the recording during the week.  At about eleven-thirty, I said to Cynthia, who also took leave because I did, “Let’s have lunch at the Botanic Gardens.  Grab our passports, we may dine in Malacca.”

We love road trips.  Road trip for couples is like golf for business partners.  It is almost like having an undivided attention for each other for hours.  In fact, I think all couples should go through the road trip test amongst other ‘tests’ that I will cover in my new book “Things You Wish You Had Done Before Saying I Do”.

OK.  There’s no such book.  I am pulling your legs.  Below are some of the photos taken today.

Malacca has changed a lot, over the last decade.  It is now inscribed as a World Heritage City, though we have no clue which organization inscribes such a title.  We arrived at Malacca way before dinner time so we road-toured the city.  Now, there is a Malacca Eye by the sea (something like the Singapore Flyer), a few new malls, and we need to buy parking coupons instead of putting coins into the parking meter.  Maybe these changes have been around for years.  We seldom tour the city.  We visit Malacca to have seafood, a location outskirt of Malacca.

We always had difficulties in finding “Medan Ikan Bakar” (translates to Baked Fish Eating House I think).  Each time, we would spend an hour or two trying to find the place.  Each time, we would document the direction in exactitude only to realize in the next trip that the landscape has changed.  Malacca is not small.  And it is easy to get lost.

I can certainly say it with conviction that Nokia Map has changed the way we travel.  The maps are free, the GPS service is free.  Not only do I know exactly where I am, it knows a list of landmarks around the area too.  I don’t need to pay for and install a separate device just for this function.  It comes with the phone.  So, on my birthday, we arrived at the Baked Fish Eating House at ease.

Every morning, fishing boats arrive at the shore and unload some of the seafood to the long stretch of restaurants nearby.  I have seen the days when this area was so popular that it literally took hours to find a parking space.  In our recent visits, there seems to be an increased number of parking lots.  Also, maybe because we often avoid the weekend crowds and we prefer to dine early, we dine in leisure.

We had a sea bass (baked), six gigantic prawns (baked), some squids (sweet source), a vegetable dish, and three portions of rice.  The sea food tasted fresh and the fish was juicy.  The total bill came up to about RM 55 (which is about S$25?).  I thought it was reasonable.  Note: for my future reference, we spent RM 200+ for this brief out-of-town experience.

For those of you who have the Nokia Map installed in your phone, download the Malaysia map and punch in “Pernu Umbai”.  The search result of “Medan Ikan Bakar Pernu Umbai” should appears (186.7km from my home!).  For other map users, try this coordinates: 2° 9′ 21″ N, 102° 20′ 9″ E.  Or if you trust my direction (I have tested it on the way back and it is accurate to the one hundredth meter), click here and scroll all the way to the bottom.

Celebrating 10.07.2007 (My Birthday D’oh!)

Caption from left to right, top to bottom: (1) My 9th oil painting, (2) My roti prata lunch, (3) If you see this landmark, turn right!, (4) If you see this sign, congratulations, (5) That seafood place, (6) Our dinner, (7) Cynthia was happy with her food, (8) Me too and a secret sign that only Cynthia knows

Thank you for all the birthday text messages, even for that “Happy Birthday Old Man” message. Honestly speaking, I am not that old! Above is some of the pictures I have taken for my unplanned celebration. Just click to enlarge and mouse over for caption. Caption from left to right, top to bottom: (1) My 9th oil painting, (2) My roti prata lunch, (3) If you see this landmark, turn right!, (4) If you see this sign, congratulations, (5) That seafood place, (6) Our dinner, (7) Cynthia was happy with her food, (8) Me too and a secret sign that only Cynthia knows.

I love celebrating birthdays. Be it as mine or others. I cannot think of any date that is more important than one’s birthday if we for once think about ourselves and not being overly patriotic or zealously religious or hopelessly romantic. I was used to have this tradition of buying my friends (then-colleagues) a buffet lunch on Roti Prata. It was really fun. Imagine having like 10 people on one table and forget about asking everybody what they want. On average each person eats about 2 to 3 Prata so I would just order randomly like … 5 mushroom cheese, 5 banana cheese, 3 egg and onions, and etc. Of course I always over ordered (what a good host I was eh?) and one time, I consumed 5 pieces of Prata. No kidding.

Those were the good days. A day before my birthday this year, I had an idea. I wanted to meet a friend of mine for breakfast, another friend of mine for late breakfast, then another one for lunch, another one for coffee, another one for high tea, and finally one more with Cynthia and I for dinner and possibly a movie. Turned out that calling up people at the last minute could be a logistic nightmare and since I woke up feeling lazy, I discarded my idea and just went with the flow.

When the clock struck 12am, I managed to finish the transcript of all my 10 songs and have them as something that are “band friendly” (the end result is something like this for half a song). I really should have done this years ago. It only took me 4 hours to complete this task and like the task of “looking for a job”, somehow I just never got around to do it. Just when I have started putting effort into it, the task is over before I know it.

Inspired by how (not very) long it took to finish the transcripts, this morning when I woke up, I wanted to paint. Many friends have asked me what happens to my hobby of oil painting and my standard answer was: my pool of inspiration has momentarily run dry. Knowing that my life will turn normal after I start working, I wanted to paint something. Just anything. Cynthia has been asking me to paint some of her soft toys so still life it was.

I have become rusty in oil painting, I have to admit. The first object took me forever to paint (see image 1 – left to right, up then down). And when I got down to the second object, my palette was filled with different shades of brown and all of a sudden, I began to see light and darkness. The end result was not that great – though Cynthia loves it. Hopefully my next oil painting will be better.

Halfway through my painting, I looked at the clock and realised that it was too late to call any friend of mine for lunch. Just before I finished the painting, Cynthia messaged me that she would be leaving office at 2pm in order to celebrate my birthday. Hooray! I quickly finished what I set out to do this morning and I pondered upon doing something special for my birthday.

An idea came into my mind and I warned Cynthia promptly of a crazy idea I have without telling her what this idea was exactly.

Before I could execute this idea of mine, I needed food. For the love of Roti Prata, I followed my tradition and have three this time (see image 2). While Cynthia was taking a taxi home, I drove to Thompson Plaza and changed for some foreign currency. By 4pm, we were …

… heading to Malacca.

I always love Malacca. That is where Cynthia and I first started dating. And we both love road trips – an unending road listening to our favourite music (we had Hilary Duff, Avril Lavigne, Scissor Sisters, Linkin Park, Rihanna, and Tiesto). It is amazing that most of the time, we just enjoy each other’s presence without being compelled to converse. I did not speed. Malacca is not that far anyway. I wanted to dine at one of our favourite seafood center where they serve baked seafood and our challenge was to find the place.

Malacca has changed quite a fair bit in this 10 years. The roads are a lot nicer and because of the change in landscape, we had a tough time finding the seafood center. We have a post-it documentation of how to get there. Basically, leave the highway at Malacca exit. Keep going straight and at the junction between a petrol station and a hospital, turn left. At the junction when another petrol station is seen (see image 3), turn right. Head all the way straight and at the T-junction, turn left. After a good distance, all we needed to do was to turn right …

… but somehow, that junction has disappeared. We retraced our route and found that right turn that was earlier than we anticipated. We drove through a village (with a sign “Bukit Durian”) and at the T-junction, we saw the “Ikan Bakar” sign (see image 4) and we knew we have found the place (see image 5). See footnote for a better direction.

I remember that seafood center was used to be a lot more crowded. Perhaps it was a weekday or perhaps the new road system has confused the living crap out of everybody, the center was almost empty. There were many stalls and we just picked one in random. We chose our dinner (see image 6) and before long, we had our baked seafood right in front of our eyes (see image 7 & 8).

By 11pm, we were back in Singapore. It was certainly a special day for me. Driving out of Singapore – even for that brief moment – allowed me to see things in a wider perspective. One of my friends asked what tonight’s plan was and he offered to light the candle for me. It may be one of those “mid-life crisis” as he pointed out but it was certainly one of those “spur of the moment”.

I in particularly love this spur of the moment.

Footnote: To get to that seafood center, exit Jasin Melaca (just 1 or 2 exits before Malacca). Head straight for 6km and then turn right. After another 8.8km, make a right turn. Travel for 9.9km and then make a left turn. Drive for another 3.6 km and then turn right, immediately turn left. Head straight and the seafood center is just in front.