... in 'This, Is, Brunei'.
14.05.2012 - 18.08.2012
Bandar Seri Begawan and beyond,
May 18th 2012
"Nasi Katok Mama". That sounded funny to me. The first time I saw this, I read: "Nasi KatRok Mama". In my home country, "katrok" is like a slang meaning... uhm, wait, let me check. Oh, "countrified". What?? I said to myself. "Mama's Countrified Rice"?? Do Brunei people use the word "katrok", too? It's okay to address one's Mom countrified in public like this?
I read again. Oh. "Katok" without an "R". Now, that sounds like a cock's cry. "Kokok ketoookkk!" Indonesian chickens, I mean. Nah, this Nasi Katok Mama must be rice with chicken.
Yes, it is! For the last meal in Brunei, I thought it would be no harm to have a try. It's only 1 dollar anyway. Why is it so popular? I must find out. After the unintended but successful hitchhiking, I stopped by at Nasi Katok Mama's outlet. The appearance resembled Padang rice chicken in my home country.
Le Gallery was very nice. "May I check out at one thirty?" I asked, when I arrived back at the hotel. "No problem," was the answer. Wow! Thank you! Thus, I needn't be too in a hurry.
I opened the wrapping of Nasi Katok Mama on my desk.
Voila! What's that? Well, I took this picture using my cellphone. But even with a 7D, I guarantee the appearance won't be any better -- unless I Photoshop it.
Actually you'd better eat this blindfolded. It would taste even better, because your mind doesn't get mixed up with what your eyes see. Or, a Japanese chef should handle this. I believe the appearance would turn a thousand times enticing. You know the Japanese-lah. They are the masters of food presentation. They can make just an ice cube as enticing as ice cream, sugarcane as attractive as lollipop, raw fish as mouthwatering as steak. At least they can make Nasi Katok Mama look more like Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Okay, okay, so how's the taste? Not as salty and oily as Padang rice chicken from my home country; has a stronger sweat taste than Malaysia's Nasi Lemak; crispy chicken skin; chea:P. If you take a look in the photo above, that brownish stuff in middle bottom, that's the paste which gives the sweat salty flavor.
Le Gallery's rate included pick up and drop off at the airport. When we entered the airport gate, I reminded my driver, "International terminal, please."
He replied, "We only have one small airport. There's no such thing like domestic international terminal."
Inside the airport. Find your flight number and enter to the right according the yellow sign on top.
To my great surprise, I was required to pay airport tax whereas I had already used up all my Brunei dollar money.
"How much is it in US dollar?"
"We only accept Brunei dollar or Singaporean dollar."
I heard that clearly. But I had none of them. Who knows I can pay with Malaysian ringgit like when I took a ferry to Labuan, I thought. "Can I pay in Malaysian ringgit?"
Another surprise. "This, is, Brunei," replied the officer. Aaargh! I know this is Brunei!
"I don't have anymore money. I didn't know I had to pay for airport tax."
"Where did you buy your ticket from?"
Now, it's my turn to be cynical. "You can read it there. Air Asia it says."
"No, I mean, did you buy it through the internet?"
"Of course! That's obvious!"
"It must be stated that you have to pay airport tax in Brunei."
I wasn't sure of that. But latter when I checked, nothing like that was mentioned.
"Okay, okay. But I don't have money now! Can I use a credit card?"
"There's an ATM outside. You can return back here later."
Aaarggghhh! I hate cashing money while abroad, because the rate usually goes crazy. On top of that, the minimum amount I could cash was 20 dollars. What will I do with the rest of 8 dollars? I can buy 8 portions of Nasi Katok Mama with that. Argh!
"I'm sorry about this," said the officer when I returned to pay airport tax. Pfff. I didn't answer. I was upset with her, but with Air Asia also.
After I left the counter, I heard some hassle behind me. I turned around. There was an Indian guy who met the same problem as me. He had no money to pay for airport tax! His case seemed to be worse than me because he had no plastic money. Phew. That's not his fault.
This, is, Brunei. Say bye bye to Brunei.
Bye, bye, Bruneiii! Heyyy... what's that white half circle thingy?