Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘Asia

Strange Fruit

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I’m sure they’ll be in the markets here eventually, but this is the first time I’ve run into the rambutan. I think nature meant for them to be prickly, but they turned out rather hairy.  The vendor was clearly amused at my bemusement and told me they tasted like lychees – but he did not offer me one. A massive bunch like this would definitely be more than I could handle in a week or two! Strangely, they never turned up at breakfast anywhere we stayed, though I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh mango and papaya and multitudes of melons and dragonfruit available almost everywhere.

You may notice right behind the rambutan in the photo are what appear to be potatoes that are still attached to the stem. Not sure again how that is possible – I’ve grown potatoes and they don’t stay attached very well, but everything seems to grow a little differently, a little more rapidly and rampantly in Asia.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are simply hotbeds of amazing cuisine. The only bad meal I had was breakfast on the second morning of our stay in Medan – it seemed to be leftovers from the previous morning. My aversion was affirmed when I noticed all the businessmen staying at the hotel were also sticking to toast. Every other meal was some mouthwatering delicacy, and most of the dishes were new to me, despite my love of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian cuisnes.

Damn! I miss it already! But not to worry – I’ve got a lunch date on Saturday with a Singaporean friend. We’re going to check out a new Malaysian restaurant that just opened here in Auckland.

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20/05/2011 at 1:02 am

The view from my window

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This is my 4th visit to Kuala Lumpur. I wasn’t planning to come back and stay on this trip, but things in Medan, Indonesia were just too chaotic and the husband and I were on the verge of losing the plot.

While I certainly wouldn’t describe my experience as typical of anything, I think I would say to anyone that northern Sumatra is not for the faint of heart – make sure you have good, strong local connections before you arrive – or you may find yourself a sitting duck, especially if you are descended from fair skinned European stock – which some folks there equate with the proverbial golden goose. Not all mind you – not by far – most of the locals are extremely helpful and friendly. They don’t get many visitors, so they are genuinely happy to see you and will go out of their way to make sure your stay is enjoyable. Unfortunately our hotel was run by one of the more unscrupulous types, which proved rather a challenge – for both him and me… Sigh – in those sorts of battles there are no winners… grrr… So… instead of staying the planned 5 nights in Indonesia, we only stayed for two. And while the orang utans did not come out to play, we met up with several Tomas monkeys in the jungle… No – it was not a bad time – sometimes things just don’t go the way you hoped, so we decided to move on rather than deal with a frustrating situation – after all, we are on holiday.

So, now we are back in Kuala Lumpur. We made a last minute booking at one of those fading grand hotels that once was five star, but has since been surpassed by the newer, bigger, brighter kids and has been demoted to 3 stars. This is my favourite kind of hotel – not sure why – might have to do with the wooden doors and old fashioned touches. The restaurants are usually excellent as well.

We checked in and it seems that the less expensive class we booked had been oversold, so, if I didn’t mind, they would have to upgrade us to a junior executive room, if that was okay. And here we are. This is the view from the window as I type. And I was just complaining to my husband that in all the times we’ve been to KL, we’ve never taken a decent shot of the Petronas Towers…

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12/05/2011 at 3:42 am

Malaysian Tea Pickers

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Hello from the Cameron Highlands! This is one of the highlights of our stay here… the tea plantations are picture perfect. No more beautiful ladis out in the fields picking leaves, these days it’s done by machine with labour imported from Sri Lanka – the pay is too low for Malaysians to commit to the job.

I was quite impressed with the workers’ quarters – very clean and tidy, with a school, Hindu temple and clinic. Still, it is surely a hard hard life.

This plantation, like most, is owned by a European family that has held it for nearly 100 years. Colonial power lingers.

I have to say that given the recent events, it’s a strange time to be in a Muslim country. Though I am not a paranoid person generally, I’ve been more ‘aware’ than usual. This awareness is not a good thing – it is putting a bit of a damper on my enjoyment of my holiday. The reality is, the people here – Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian (we ate in a Christian restaurant for lunch today) are so very gentle and just plain nice. We have been through the jungle, chased butterflies, photographed amazing flowers, been on the receiving end of the most amazing massages and eaten ourselves silly. I am moving Malaysia to the Top 5 countries where you get amazing food no matter where you go or how much you spend. I think it’s moving into my top 10 travel destination list as well. (Oddly, it did not occur to me before arriving here that this was my 3rd trip to Malaysia – how odd is that?)

…but…

I still have not seen a single monkey… the situation may be getting dire!

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

06/05/2011 at 11:26 pm

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