Sago palms are disappearing, but not so long ago they played a very important role in the lives of the people of Sabah. Not only 'atap' - roof elements - are made from Sago palms, but many local artefacts too, and it is used as a building material. Or was. It is a material that is freely available, light, sturdy, durable and even insulating though the latter is not that important in our climate… it is simply an awesome building material that comes ‘prefabricated’ in regular elements that can be stacked kit-like to form an aesthetically pleasing, yet secure wall or partition. The only things you need are some bamboo pegs – which you can make yourself – a hand-saw and a hammer, and a parang or machete. I made a partition for my outside kitchen and the full article, with some more interesting information on sago palms can be found on my website, http://www.flyingdusun.com/
... or so; now I have no more excuses not to work... ok, the next articles coming up are on "Working with Sago Palm", "The Tagal System in Sabah" and "Caves on Balambangan" - the latter is an easy 'copy paste' but I found it so interesting that I wish to share it with you - together with a link to the site I found the the article: Mysabah.com (http://www.mysabah.com/wordpress/). Since I have not been to Balambangan Island I won't post any photographs, but you can have a look at them on the Mysabah.com site, which I can highly recommend.
Another site I have come across is Beautiful KK, which got a lot information about food, and you all know how much I like good cooking. Beautiful KK (http://beautifulkk.com/) is a real inspiration! Go and have a look, get your mouth watering, and try all the restaurants the blog mentions! I have been to some, and I can recommend every single place!
I actually made an effort, wore shoes, black trousers, a shirt and even a tie, but true to Sabah Style I needed not have gone to such troubles even for the exclusive, yet relaxed cocktail party on the yacht Raja Laut, presently berthing at the Sutera Harbour Marina.
I have seen the classical yacht, built in Kalimantan and finished in Sabah, exactly three years ago when it was still under construction off the coast of Sandakan. I was eager to see the finished result, and you can go to my website for my impressions – all perfectly favourable, in fact enthusiastic – and for many more photographs and complete details you can visit http://www.rajalaut.com/.
Food, food, glorious food… It is petai season here in Sabah, and those beans are amongst my favourite vegetables though not many a western palate appreciates them. In English they are also called ‘bitter beans’, ‘twisted cluster beans’ and ‘stink beans’ – and the latter says a lot about them. It is not so much that they stink when raw, but when they are being cooked there is a definitive methane gas odour in the air. But the most interesting part is when you have digested them. You can immediately tell when somebody has eaten petai from how the washroom is perfumed… Like asparagus, parkie beans contain certain amino acids that give a strong smell to one's urine, an effect that can be noticed up to two days after consumption. And like other beans, their complex carbohydrates can also cause strong-smelling flatulence (this is an understatement, but I don’t want to use gross language here). The effect is so much more interesting when you eat them with a spicy hot sambal, and that’s just how I love them! They can also be consumed raw but they are very bitter.
Botanically speaking stink beans (Parkia speciosa) belong to the family of Fabaceae, the third largest family of flowering plants (soy beans, alfalfa, peanuts etc are part of the same family). Parkie trees are up to 30m tall and produce clusters of long beans that can attain 40cm. The beans contain, when ripe, up to 20 pods with almond shaped, bright green seeds. The beans are leathery and tough and the seeds have to be peeled out with the help of a knife.
I have lived for over ten years in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo now, and still keep on discovering! I live a simple life (or so I claim), and you won't find me downtown in KK except if it is really, really necessary! More often than not you will find me at the back of my home, in my traditional kitchen, with some friends grilling various wild and not so wild animals, discussing life’s most and least important aspects and drinking a glass or two of lihing – rice wine! Feel free to join us anytime, even if it is only in this virtual place called a blog!