The flight was delayed, the landing bumpy, and we were greeted by non-stop rain when we left the departure lounge.
The only thing that went right on our way to Bau, a small town 35km from Sarawak’s capital city of Kuching in East Malaysia, was buying loaves and loaves of Gardenia’s Butterscotch Toast’em!
Yes, the old joke about how to spot Sarawakians at the airport has a ring of truth to it.
Flying out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport was a little scary. It was crowded, yet about 50 per cent of the people were not wearing face masks.
While it is no longer mandatory to do so, it is better to err on the side of caution, especially when one is locked inside a ‘tin tube’.
Due to Covid-19, the last time the home minister returned home for Christmas was in 2019.
In that time, our son, Owen, has become an adult – well, an 18-year-old. He passed his SPM examinations, stayed away from the family (in a polytechnic) for the first time in his life, and is now driving.
So, Christmas is a little special in that sense, as he will be our chauffeur when we visit relatives!
That is, if we do go out, as some of the surrounding areas have experienced flooding, with hundreds now in relief centres.
Thankfully, the in-laws live on a hill. We should be safe, although more than a decade ago, the water level rose so high the roads were inaccessible for two days – and we had to change our flight back to Kuala Lumpur.
Surprisingly, the town was not as busy as it usually is this time of the year.
Owen said it could be because folks had bought their groceries much earlier to avoid the mad rush and inhospitable weather.
One business doing well was the laundrettes as people rushed to use the dryers. The home minister and her sister spent two hours there yesterday, waiting in line to dry clothes.
Christmas is an ‘open’ affair in Bau. There are no invitation cards, but friends, neighbours, and acquaintances know they are welcomed to visit.
We also got to experience the ‘taste of Sarawak’ with some kolok mee and a can of Sundrop orange juice.
While we can find kolok mee or laksa Sarawak in Subang Jaya, Sundrop has remained elusive.
I hope you have a good holiday.
MORE POSITIVE NEWS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19
For the first time this year, there were less than 1,000 new infections for seven straight days, including a 2022 record of 721 on Monday.
Previously, only May 3 (922), Dec 11 (867) and Dec 12 (809) had days with under 1,000 new infections.
The number of accumulated cases in the past week was 6,121, better than last week’s record low of 7,571.
That means Malaysia has recorded 5,022,144 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
For the seventh consecutive week, recoveries (8,225) outpaced new cases, making it 4,962,707 patients who had beaten the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, there were 35 fatalities in the past week. That means 36,795 people lose the fight to the coronavirus.
Worldwide, there are 660,998,067 cases and 6,684,138 fatalities.
FAREWELL, MR ALI
Ali Ahmed Aslam, or Mr Ali to his customers at Shish Mahal restaurant, has died.
The 77-year-old was born in Pakistan but moved to Glasgow as a young boy. He is credited with inventing the Chicken Tika Masala, one of Britain’s favourite curries!
To honour Mr Ali, here is a recipe for Chicken Tika Masala.
To close out the Diary, here is Russell Curtis with an original song that he penned to support the urban poor.
The singer-songwriter and aspiring comedian also organises charity shows in December – more on that tomorrow.
Until next week, Bong Natal, and stay safe.