Sunday, November 27, 2011

Raindrops keep fallin' over KL

This entry is actually an extended reply to the comment by a prodigious blogger (Kebun Malay-Kadazan girls) who is also a good gardener's comment on one of my post about the weather in KL (All hail the weather...). Hope you like the pics :-)

Today started off bright and sunny. Then the clouds suddenly crept in and poured over KL around lunch time. By 3pm, the rain stopped, but by 6pm, dark clouds rolled in again and boy did it pour. That didn't stop until 8pm. That made it cool and nice, but definitely wet.
The dark clouds hang over KL, 'clipping' off KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers.

In contrast to that, we had a beautiful sunset last Thursday evening (24 Nov 2011). It had been a hot day and I thought that the day would end in a thunderstorm, but the clouds that were formed were light and those clouds broke the light from the setting sun. Just beautiful. So yeah, the weather has just been crazy lately...
Sunset over Kuala Lumpur on 24 November 2011.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ascocenda Vernon Kebodeaux

Ascocenda Vernon Kebodeaux is a bigeneric orchid hybrid resulting from  the crossing of Ascocenda Tubtim Velvet with Vanda Charles Goodfellow. Pictured below is one that has a yellowish colour with a chartreuse section visible made by crossing the pod parent with V. Charles Goodfellow 'Yellow'.

The colour for Ascocenda Vernon Kebodeaux ranges from having off-white background with pink polka dots, pinkish-yellow-green background with  pink spots, clear yellow-green background to white background with no spots; these background variations are usually marked with a chartreuse inner lateral sepal section (see here - JGL Agricultural). If you take a look at the last page of the Saint Augustine Orchid Society newsletter (Vol. 3 Issue 3) you will see a similarly yellow coloured Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux (flowering from 3 nodes at the same time!) and a pink polka dot version from their website (photo 62-13).

It is interesting to note that the family name of the person that this orchid is named after is a strange one, of Spanish origin, Quevedo, then 'frenchified' by the Southerners to Quebedeaux, and then changed to Kebodeaux.
Ascocenda Vernon Kebodeaux - this photo was taken in 2009, in my very 'jungle-like' orchid shed growing under neglect for about two years (and it still flowers regularly!).

As a tropical orchid, this plant thrives in humid and warm conditions and is a prolific bloomer for a medium sized Ascocenda. For me, this plant does better under 60% light in moist humid condition (40% shade - leaves grow long and turn a dark green as it was growing in an orchid shade overgrown with giant sword ferns and covered with weeds from all sides!).  The plant would produce inflorescence with big flowers from every node even though it was not fertilised for almost 2 years in my old place.

When I moved to a high rise dwelling, this plant had smaller flowers despite more frequent fertilisation (every other week). Furthermore, the leaves are shorted under high light exposure (due to both the light and also the drier conditions) and looked rather stunted. It however, still does flower from every internode! So if  you want a relatively easy Ascocenda that can stand neglect and still make good of its presence, this is the one to get.
Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux on 19 Nov 2011, on a sunny and breezy balcony.

The parents for Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux are two quite 'well-known' orchids by their own right. Both Vanda Charles Goodfellow and Ascocenda Tubtim Velvet have many award winning clones.

Vanda Charles Goodfellow is quite variable, and some of the plants can have speckled petals, whilst others a plain. Some clones of V. Charles Goodfellow have very rounded (the petals and sepals appear to make a complete circle) but somewhat cupped feature e.g. V. Charles Goodfellow 'Lakeland'. If you look carefully at the lateral sepals of V. Charles Goodfellow (especially in the plain yellow form) it has a faint chartreuse tessellated markings on the inner half, a trait inherited from its Vanda (first Vanda, then Euanthe, now Vanda again...geez!) sanderiana 'ancestors'.

Ascocenda Tubtim Velvet too is a highly variable plant. You can even get a tetraploid (4n) version of this orchid. Most of them have a strong chartreuse inner lateral colouration, and typically the rest of the flower is white with faint pink tinge and some pinkish spots here and there. The inner, lateral sepal coloration is sometimes called a quarter (like marked with a chartreuse quarter) as the area corresponds to approximately a quarter of the whole bloom. Usually, this area also have highly visible tessellated markings. This tessellation and the quarter colouration on the inner, lateral sepals are the doings of V. sanderiana. Flowers are typically complete and flat, which is a good trait, though some poor clones can have petals that are small.

So the crossing of the two would give rise to multiple possible combinations. All are called Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux (the rules of orchid crossing and naming - crosses with different forms/varieties are the same, reciprocal crosses are considered the same, selfed seedlings are also treated the same). Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux was registered with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) International Orchid Register on 26 August, 1997 by R.F.Orchids.
A single bloom of  Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux showing the chartreuse coloured section that takes up about a quarter of the flower. If you look carefully, this quarter has stronger tessellated markings.
Species involved (not frequency):
Ascocentrum curvifolium
Vanda luzonica
Vanda tricolor
Vanda dearei
Vanda (Euanthe) sanderiana
Vanda denisoniana
Vanda coerulea

Below is the listing of the parents for Ascda. Vernon Kebodeaux. Note that this is NOT a family tree; once the grex has been described to the base (primary hybrid), it will not be repeated again for the female and male parent (caution, the list might make you crossed eyed!).

Crosses involved from the pod parent (female):
Ascda. Tubtim Velvet = Ascda. Jenny Donald x V. Kultana Gold
Ascda. Jenny Donald = V. Memoria Madame Pranerm x Ascda. Madame Kenny
Ascda. Madame Kenny = Ascda. Yip Sum Wah x V. Boonchoke
Ascda. Yip Sum Wah = V. Pukele x Ascocentrum curvifolium (s).
V. Kultana Gold = V. Pong Tong x V. Rasri
V. Pong Tong = V. Pikul x V. Ohuohu
V. Pikul = V. Faye x V. Waipuna
V. Faye = V. Boschii x V. Ellen Noa
V. Boschii = V. luzonica (s) x V. tricolor (s)
V. Memoria Madame Pranerm = V. Waipuna x V. Eisenhower
V. Waipuna = V. Ellen Noa x V. Rothschildiana
V. Ellen Noa = V. dearei (s) x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Boonchoke = V. Waimea x V. denisoniana (s)
V. Waimea = V. Ohuohu x V. Rothschildiana
V. Ohuohu = V. Clara Shipman Fisher x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Clara Shipman Fisher = V. sanderiana (s) x V. Tatzeri
V. Tatzeri = V. sanderiana (s) x V. tricolor (s)
V. Pukele = V. Betsy Sumner x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Betsy Sumner = V. Faustii x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Faustii = V. Gilbert Triboulet x V. luzonica (s)
V. Gilbert Triboulet = V. coerulea (s) x V. tricolor (s)
V. Rasri = V. Thananchai x V. Pranerm Ornete
V. Thananchai = V. Memoria Madame Pranerm x V. Tubtimtepya
V. Tubtimtepya = V. sanderiana (s) x V. Gertrude Miyamoto
V. Gertrude Miyamoto = V. Memoria G. Tanaka x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Memoria G. Tanaka = V. dearei (s) x V. Memoria T. Iwasaki
V. Memoria T. Iwasaki = V. dearei (s) x V. tricolor (s)
V. Eisenhower = V. Ellen Noa x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Rothschildiana = V. coerulea (s) x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Pranerm Ornete = V. Memoria Madame Pranerm x V. sanderiana (s)

Crosses involved from the pollen parent (male)
V. Charles Goodfellow = V. Rasri x V. Kultana Gold
V. Rasri = V. Thananchai x V. Pranerm Ornete
V. Thananchai = V. Memoria Madame Pranerm x V. Tubtimtepya
V. Memoria Madame Pranerm = V. Waipuna x V. Eisenhower
V. Waipuna = V. Ellen Noa x V. Rothschildiana
V. Ellen Noa = V. dearei (s) x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Pranerm Ornete = V. Memoria Madame Pranerm x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Tubtimtepya = V. sanderiana (s) x V. Gertrude Miyamoto
V. Gertrude Miyamoto = V. Memoria G. Tanaka x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Memoria G. Tanaka = V. dearei (s) x V. Memoria T. Iwasaki
V. Memoria T. Iwasaki = V. dearei (s) x V. tricolor (s)
V. Eisenhower = V. Ellen Noa x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Rothschildiana = V. coerulea (s) x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Kultana Gold = V. Pong Tong x V. Rasri
V. Pong Tong = V. Pikul x V. Ohuohu
V. Pikul = V. Faye x V. Waipuna
V. Faye = V. Boschii x V. Ellen Noa
V. Boschii = V. luzonica (s) x V. tricolor (s)
V. Ohuohu = V. Clara Shipman Fisher x V. sanderiana (s)
V. Clara Shipman Fisher = V. sanderiana (s) x V. Tatzeri
V. Tatzeri = V. sanderiana (s) x V. tricolor (s)

The yellow coloured Vanda ancestors of this cross derive their coloration mostly from V. dearei and also once from V. denisoniana. V. Ellen Noa, as one of the parents, is a 'weird' lemon-green yellow coloured flower painted with V. sanderiana purple-red spots and tessellations. One of the hybrids produced from this is V. Eisenhower, which looks like a flatter version and better toned version of V. Ellen Noa. It goes to show that the lemon yellow colour of V. dearei is very dominant (or at least co-dominantly displayed) in a cross.

Friday, November 18, 2011

An overlooked herb - the Kiangsi scallion (Allium chinense)

The Kiangsi or Chinese scallion, which is scientifically known as Allium chinense G. Don., is a vegetable that is not so commonly grown or used. The Chinese name for this chive-like relative of the onion is Jiào tóu 藠头 / 藠頭 or Kui tao (especially when sold as a 'head' of bulbs with all the leaves). This chive look-alike is known by several common names like Small angled chives, Kiangsi scallion, Chinese chives, Chinese onion, Kiangsi shallot or the Oriental scallion and has a few scientific name synonyms i.e. Allium bodinieri H. Léveillé & Vaniot, Allium bakeri Regel, or Allium martini H. Léveillé & Vaniot.
Rakkyo bulbs, Kiangsi scallions
Allium chinense bulbs and trimmed leaves. These were the leftovers from a bunch purchased from TESCO Shah Alam that was used to make meatballs.

When referring to it as Chinese chives, one must be careful not to confuse it with the flat-leafed garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, that is also called Chinese chives (韭 菜 jiǔ cài). The Chinese scallion has leaves that are similar to Western chives (Allium schoenoprasum), but the cross section are not cylindrical as in chives. Instead, it is 3 to 4 angled. The colour of the leaves is also a lighter, brighter green instead of the bluish-green colour that is typical of chives. This scallion is known as rakkyo in Japan, especially when referring to the pickled bulbs that are flavoured with chilli, (らっきょう / 辣韮) the kanji literally means hot chives.
Chinese scallion, rakkyo
The cross section of Allium chinense leaves are angular as opposed to cylindrical in Western chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

How does it taste like?
It can be quite difficult to describe the flavour of the Chinese scallion. The leaves smell like spring onion, but it is lighter and there is an indescribable smell, which is somewhat onion-like but very mild. The raw white bulbs are more or less the same, with a strange ‘greenish’ taste over the onion-like overtones that some find repulsive. The pickled scallions are considered ‘cleaner’ in taste than pickled onions. The bulbs and leaves are used in certain Chinese cooking, mostly to mask or remove the gamey taste of meat or offal, thus making the meat dish more palatable. A note on the use of this scallion, do not underestimate the strength of this bulb, for example, in making meatballs – use too much and you will end up eating meatballs that taste like eating the scallions as they can be very effective in masking the gamey smell. Once you have eaten and been acquainted with the taste of this scallion, you should be able to easily pick up the presence of this scallion in food the next time.

Where to get them?
If you are looking for this scallion in Malaysia, I believe they are available in Cameron Highlands. I can occasionally find it in TESCO’s around Klang Valley. In fact, the ones that I have are planted from a bunch that was marked down at TESCO Shah Alam.

Growing them
If you have left over bulbs that were not used, simply plant them in soil (any soil with adequate drainage will do). The clump will slowly multiply, plus you can harvest the leaves by shearing them off and using it like chives or spring onion. Once you have enough bulbs, you can even make rakkyo from your home grown bulbs. As long as there is adequate moisture and sunlight, the Chinese scallions will grow like weeds. Not particularly fussy about soil type (harder soil = smaller bulbs), this evergreen bulb is next to impossible to kill, even in our humid tropical weather.

Mann, L. K. and Stearn, W. T. (1960). Rakkyo or Ch'iao T'ou (Allium chinense G. Don, syn. A. bakeri Regel) a Little Known Vegetable Crop. Economic Botany, 14(1), 69-83.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All hail the weather...

When I read news about the hailstorm tht hit USJ Subang Jaya in Selangor, Malaysia last Sunday afternoon (around 3.15pm, 13 Nov 2011), I was, to be honest, not a bit shocked. After all, hailstorms can occur in tropical countries. With the weather patterns getting more and more crazy, and the rainy season that has been getting more and more out of sync, hailstorms are perhaps less worrying than the more common thunderstorms that can trigger massive flash floods. After all, thunderstorms here have been getting very violent lately and hailstones are the result of rain drops that start to fall above the freezing line in a thunderstorm cloud.

Whilst the Sunday afternoon hailstorm was described as 'hail-lish' (read the Malay Mail) for the residents of that area (and the repair bills afterward might be sky high), the hailstones were only about 1cm in diameter. No doubt the hailstones were big enough to be damaging to windscreens, but it was the accompanying strong winds that ripped off roofing and toppled trees which caused more severe damage to vehicles and structures (read the Star).

So lets all not worry too much about hailstones, unless it starts to snow here in Malaysia, in which I will be the first one to go out there to make a snow angel :-p

Friday, November 11, 2011


Hmmm, so today is 11 November 2011. It is Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth (Veterans Day in the US) to commemorate the end of World War I. It is also a Chinese pop culture day i.e. Singles Day (光棍节 - bare sticks day, since the ones looked like sticks). This year, it is extra special, for the year is also a two digit 11, making it 11.11.11. In Malaysia, many people took the opportunity of this date to get married or rather, to register their marriage (hey, you will never forget your wedding anniversary date). I am sure many restaurants and halls were fully booked for wedding dinners tonight.

So nothing much happened for me today, though I saw a car with this number plate **N1111 along the DUKE (Duta - Ulu Kelang) highway. The last alphabet was an N (out of the three alphabets) and that looked like an 11, thus making it a 111111 number plate.
What a coincidence - a car with **N 1111 registration plate, and I saw it on 11-11-11.

A little trivia with numbers here. If you play about with the base number for 111111 you get the following:

111111 is in decimal (base 10), converting it to
Binary (base 2)              = 1101100100000111
Hexadecimal (base 16)  = 1B207

111111 is in binary (base 2), converting it to
Decimal (base 10)         =  63
Hexadecimal (base 16)  =  3F

111111 is in hexadecimal (base 16), converting it to
Binary (base 2)             =  10001000100010001
Decimal (base 10)        =  1118481

On the flip side, I just noticed that the number of drafted but unpublished posts for this blog has grown to an embarrassingly large number (a number too big to disclose, hehe).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunset at Miri River Mouth

[This is part of a series of drafted entries about Miri.]
Small boats speeding back home at sunset from the South China Sea - photo taken on 9 November 2011.

If you are in Miri Sarawak, one of the things that you can do is to enjoy the sights and sounds of the community living by Miri River. There are traditional village houses built on stilts on the river and also the modern shophouses that make up part of the Miri Waterfront Commercial area (located near the new river outlet) that houses several seafood restaurants. Sunset provides many photography opportunities as the sky and clouds turn into a kaleidoscope of colours that keeps on changing. The passing small boats and larger tug boats adds life to the scene.
The wooden houses built on stilts that stand on Miri River. Small fishing boats moored to wooded jetties line the riverside.
A wide view of the riverfront that facing the new outlet to South China Sea. I am standing at where the old river courses through to pass behind the fish market (no, I am not standing on water as the river has been filled up on this section). Notice the old on the left (wooden houses on stilts) and the new on the right (concrete shop-houses and buildings with garish signboards).

How to get there
Just walk in a westerly direction. No serious, you can't get lost in Miri, and even though the roads seem to go somewhere else, heading in the general direction of the river/sunset or heading westwards will get you there. If you walk from Miri City Fan/At-taqwa Mosque down Jalan Merpati towards Imperial Mall/Hotel, cross over to the next parallel road via Jalan Calliandra. Turn left at the T-junction and you are now in Jalan Permaisuri. Walk down the road you should see a signboard that says Miri Waterfront Commercial Area.

If you are coming from Jalan Merbau (Hotel Mega/Miri old Mosque), walk towards the Sarawak Plantation Building. At the junction, turn right into Jalan Permaisure/Jalan Indica and then turn left at the first turning on your left. That is Jalan Pala, and walking straight on will lead you to a three-pronged roundabout. You should be able to see the river from here.

So what's there at the river mouth?
The thing that got me confused when I first stood and looked at the river mouth is upon recalling what I saw in Google Maps before I came here. Google Maps showed that there were two flow path for the Miri River. One goes straight out after passing by the front of the shop-houses whilst the other goes on in front of the Miri Waterfront area and past the fish market and Tua Pek Kong Temple. Now, I only see the straight one, but the other path was blocked and in its place was a muddy ground, devoid of large trees. Then it dawned upon me that this was part of the reclamation that a shopkeeper told me about.

Above is the view of the new river mouth from the end of the road at the Miri Waterfront Commercial Centre (Jalan Pala at the three-pronged roundabout). The river now runs straight out to the South China Sea instead of going along past the sand spit and exiting way past Jalan Kubu). The old river path is hugging the shoreline behind the spit, passing by the fish market and the Tua Pek Kong Temple. Then the river mouth got too shallow and a second river mouth was created (the newer direct path which you can see from the roundabout). Now the old path of the river has been reclaimed and filled fully (on the left hand side of the river) for the marina resort project. At the time of writing this entry, Google Map still show the river as forking into two past the point of the Jalan Pala roundabout. Apparently a certain stretch of the old river that runs along the sand spit behind the fish market and facing the Tua Pek Kong Temple has not been completely  filled in and you can still see small boat jetties that stand out of the water.
View of the reclaimed section of the old river and the new river mouth (picture severely compensated in Photoshop).

As I was there to snap photos of boats passing with the sunset sky, I quickly took some shots as the sun was setting fast it was threatening to go dark rapidly. If I had more time, I would have walked along the embankment towards the coast and taken photos from there.
A large boat coming into Miri River from the open sea (no colour correction).
The clouds, sky and river bursts into vibrant colours at dusk.

Large boats coming into Miri River from the river mouth.
Same shot as above but with different colour interpretation.

The two boats heading upriver.

Besides the sights, what else is there?
There are many seafood restaurants here and some actually set their tables across the road by the riverside to provide a sort of alfresco dining with the added flavours of Miri River and smell of the South China Sea breeze.
As night falls, the neon signs for the seafood restaurants comes on, like a lighthouse for seafood lovers 'sailing in' to dock at the seats set by the river side. If you do take photos from this point, take note that this was formerly the river which has been filled and is now a muddy piece of ground held by a granite embankment and you will be swamped with mosquitoes should you stand here at dusk.
Seafood restaurants - The green arrows indicate the shops whilst the off white arrow indicate where some of the restaurants had placed their tables and chairs across the road by the river.

Tamu Lama Miri - Local Market at Miri

One of the spots in Miri that I personally enjoyed visiting was the old local market (Tamu Lama or Tamu Kedayan) located at Jalan Oleander. There are two sides to this market, an open air side and one that is under a roof. The open air stalls are facing the Centre Point Commercial Area block (on Jalan Melayu - this road is crazy as it goes round and round) whilst the roofed stalls are on the other side (on Jalan Oleander). You will see the roofed market area if you walk right to the end of the Tua Pek Kong Temple and looked across the road.
View of the sheltered side of the Tamu Lama at Miri.

Besides the usual stuff that you see like lemongrass, curcubits and chillies (the chillies here are colourful, from the brightly coloured C. fructescens (bird chilli) there are the reddish orange C. chinense (Scotch bonnets), wild mushrooms, wild honey and herbs. I spied a few chillies that looked like fruits from C. chinense - C. fructescens crosses.

From my experience of growing C. chinense, if the flowers gets pollinated by C. fructescens pollen, the next generation will have fruits that are very much more elongated unlike the bonnets or lantern shaped parents. However, these hybrid plants appear to unstable hybrids and produces little to no viable seeds. The fruit of such plants looks identical to that of the Naga Jolokia except that it is smooth skinned (and indeed Naga Jolokia is genetically a stabilised hybrid between C. chinense and C. fructescens, with unequal genomic contribution).
A lady with her produce at the market. Amongst the stuff that she is selling are the usual red chillies, the hot habaneros and scotch bonnets, pumpkins, betel fruit, ginger, unripe jackfruit, lemongrass and cucumbers.

As I could not resist the novelty of the various scotch bonnets sold here, I bought a 'colander' worth of chillies for RM2. Handling those chillies later in the hotel room when I was taking photos made me realise that they were really hot. No wonder the seller kept on reminding me that the chillies are hot. She was a nice lady, and she even prettied herself up and rearranged the stuff on the table before I took a photo of her stall.
Some of the chillies that I had purchased. A mixture of sorts of the Capsicum chinense and possibly hybrids of C. chinense and C. fructescens.

Some stuff sold here are rarely seen in West Malaysia, for example Asam kelubi (Eleiodoxa conferta), Buah dabai (Canarium odontophyllum), Buah Kechalak/Kantan (Etlingera elatior), Buah engkala/engkalak (Litsea graciae) and Pucuk midin (Stenochlaena palustris). You can also find the 'normal' pucuk paku (Diplazium esculentum/Athyrium esculentum) being sold at the market. The pumpkins sold here (and also those in the supermarket) have long, somewhat bent necks, reminiscent of the Cushaw Squash. But the skin is like that of a local pumpkin that is getting more common nowadays; coloured like the usual one-toned, tan yellow pumpkin (probably Cucurbita moschata) but with greenish markings like a kabocha (Cucurbita maxima).
Some of the local produce sold at the open stalls: 1. Asam kelubi  2. Bunga kantan  3. local pumpkins.
More local produce on sale at the open stalls: 1. Buah dabai lemak  2. Pucuk midin  3. Pucuk paku  4. Kacang botol/botor (Four angled bean - Psophocarpus tetragonolobus).
Even more local produce: 1. Catfish  2. Buah kechalak/kantan  3. Bamboo culm (as cooking container)  4. Buah petai (Stink beans - Parkia speciosa)  5. Shelled petai beans.

Curiosity got the better of me and I bought some buah engkala. The sellers told me that the ripe ones (those that are very pink/red) can be eaten after bruising the fruit, and consumed by adding some salt and eating it with rice. Those that are not that pink would have to be soaked in hot water before being eaten. I was reminded that you only eat the 'skin' and that if you eat the uripe fruit without soaking, you will get throat and mouth irritation (locals refer to that as pedar/gatal).
Buah engkala sold at the market by the plate. Each plate cost RM5. There is an empty plate at the back as the stall owner just emptied it into a bag for me.

I also spotted fruits that looked like Terung iban/asam/dayak/bulu (Solanum lasiocarpum syn. S. indicum, S. ferox? ferox meaning hairy - bulu) but didn't ask the seller what it was. Contrary to what many people put on the web, terung asam cannot be S. macrocarpon for the ripe fruits of S. macrocarpon are supposed to be bitter and not sour! (see Burkill, I. H. 1925. Solanum macrocarpon. Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Gardens, Kew) 1925(8), 333-341.) Also S. lasiocarpum is native to S.E. Asia, unlike S. macrocarpon. If you think that terung asam looks a bit like naranjilla, well you are not wrong, for they all belong to the Leptostemonum clade.
1. Yellow rambutans (Nephelium lappaceum)  2. Cucumbers  3. Buah pinang (Betel fruit to get betelnut)  4. Tumeric  5. Okra  6. Green chillies  7. Calamansi lime  8. Terung asam (S. lasiocarpum)  9. Sweet potatoes  10. Ginger  11. Lemongrass.

Back at the hotel room, I had a go at trying the taste of the buah engkala. Those that was soaked in hot water was well, creamy in texture but tasteless. It reminded me of eating butter (or avocado but more creamy). There was only a thin layer of creamy flesh beneath the skin, and the centre was a large seed (stone). I also took one that was really pink and bashed it till it was somewhat bruised.
Clockwise from top: Buah engkala opened up showing the thin pulp and large singular seed, three seeds removed from the fruits, and two complete fruit with stem attached.

The flesh (not soaked in hot water) had a discernible lemony twang to it, thus making it more interesting to the palate. However, the fruit was probably not ripe enough or that I did not bruise it enough for there was the hallmark throat irritation after consuming the fruit that I was warned of if the fruit was not soaked in hot water or not ripe enough to be eaten without soaking. If asked if I would eat it again, I would probably say no. If you like avocadoes or stuff that has the texture of a creamy custard but is utterly tasteless, then you will probably like buah engkala.

The market was an eye opener for me with all the strange fruits and  local produce (I have not even touched on the various fruits of the mango family and the different shellfish available). I wanted to also take a look at another market, the Tamu Muhibbah, but since I was exhausted from all the walking earlier (going up Canada Hill under the midday sun), I gave it a pass.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Definitely Boleh in Malaysia - Road Repairs

Here's a little post on the quirkiness of the 'Malaysian' way of doing things. To start things off, here is a scene that I managed to snap a photo of when caught in the jam and the heavy downpour. The poor workers were patching the tarmac when it poured from the heavens. You must admire them for being able to work under such dire conditions. I am not too sure about the safety aspect though...
Definitely Boleh! Come rain or shine, we fix your roads up. No, they didn't pack up when it rained but continued to patch the road up (picture taken on 3 Nov 2011).

At least this this less hilarious than IMHO what I saw in Adelaide. When I was there last summer (summer down under) I was told to observe a particular work site when we drove past the site. One glance and it looked perfectly normal, just like any worksite. Only when prompted to look again did I get the hilarity of the scene. There were six people on a work site. Fine, you may think that with that large number of workers, things must get done pretty quick, but wait...Only ONE person is working on the machine, the rest were, well observing the guy. Perhaps two were observing the guy on the digger whilst the other three were observing the two observers. I guess they must be strong proponents for slow and steady wins the race...