Rare encounters at Grand Kampar

I glance at the car clock as I park my car in the open carpark in front of the Grand Kampar Hotel. The clock reads 11.50am, just ten minutes before noon.

Facade of the Grand Kampar Hotel, in Kampar, Perak 
Our drive, which started at 6am from Johor Baru, was smooth and uneventful with just one comfort stop at the Ayer Keroh Jejantas R & R.

My sister, Ruby, made the reservations online and we hope to check-into the hotel before going to meet our relatives here. We stayed with this hotel several times and are now repeat guests.

The Receptionists tell Ruby that check-in time is 2pm and they suggest that we probably should have lunch before coming to check-in later.

So out we go into the Kampar sunlight in search of some local food.

It’s good to stretch our limbs again as we explore the rows of shops, many with eateries like kopitiam, cafes and restaurants, before we decide on having some smooth Ipoh sar hor fun in soup.

I cannot help but remember, Sand River Powder – dad’s wacky but literal translation of the Cantonese name for these flat rice noodles!

We linger over our meal and take a slow walk back to the hotel, to check-in and refresh ourselves after the long drive.

Back at the Reception desk, I stand back while Ruby does all the talking. Then I over-hear their conversation: The Receptionist saying that our room is not ready yet, so please come back later…

“What?” I reply spontaneously as all eyes turn upon me. I reiterated that earlier, we were advised to have lunch and come back for our 2pm check-in but now they claim that our room is still not ready yet?

The info plaque at the egg station,
during the breakfast buffet
On hearing this reminder, the fingers of the young man behind the counter are moving swiftly across the keyboard, in search of any available ready rooms.

He briefly confers with his colleague and tells us with an air of awkwardness, that according to our room-type reservation, there is a room available but asks, “Do you mind if its number (pause and gulp!) starts with four (4)?”

Ruby and I cannot help but laugh out loud… and assure them that it is absolutely fine with us!

While I’m fully aware that the Chinese regard this number with a negative connotation, I feign ignorance and deliberately ask the two Reception staff for an explanation – just to hear what they have to say.

I’m totally appalled that some guests are so bound by superstition and have a problem with staying in a hotel room with the number four!

So the two Receptionists tell us that some guests – mainly Chinese – don’t want to stay in rooms labelled with the number four because the pronunciation of this number sounds like, “to die” in the Chinese language.

We laugh along with the receptionist of Indian descent, who counted, 1-2-3-4 off his outstretched fingers in fluent Cantonese dialect, “Yat, yee, sam, sei,” just to proof this point!

We thank them for our keys and proceed to our room that starts with the number four, still tickled at the sheer absurdity of such people who are living with so much fear.

At the buffet breakfast the next morning, Ruby and I pause at the egg station which has a little plaque that lists the choices of preparation they offer.

A serving of freshly-made Egg Foo Yong for breakfast!
As in most hotel breakfast buffets, the egg station offers freshly prepared eggs to the guests’ choice, whether fried sunny-side up with its yolk still wobbly, omelet with various ingredients, scrambled and half- or hard-boiled.

And for the very first time in all our hotel stays, we see that this hotel even offers a choice of Egg Foo Yong! Wow!

I’m telling the young lady egg-chef about this and she smiles benignly, probably thinking I’m daft or something because to her, it’s just all-in-a-days-work.

How can I ever resist having a taste of this?  So I place an order for Foo Yong style eggs.

Then Ruby and I sit back to wait for it. And when served, we agree that it reminds us of the centerpiece of a traditional Cold Dish in the first course of Chinese banquets, the dome of Egg Foo Yong that’s usually filled with slivers of shark’s fins…

We discover that it’s sprinkled with bits of spring onions and slices of Red chilli – quite a remarkable choice from the usual breakfast eggs options – our very first encounter with Egg Foo Yong at the Grand Kampar Hotel in Kampar, Perak!

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