Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sago Palms

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,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Website ok again...

... 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: ( Since I have not been to Balambangan Island I won't post any photographs, but you can have a look at them on the 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 ( 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!

Monday, April 27, 2009

email, website ( down

It seems that our website ( and our emails ( etc) will be down for a long time; this is rather annoying on several levels! Good that I have created a gmail account (, and good that I have discovered this blog site and actually started blogging...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Schooner Raja Laut

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

Friday, April 10, 2009

Parkie Beans (Petai)

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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Doringin - a flower...

I thought I share with you the beauty of my Doringin (Dillenia sp) as they flower - as mentioned in my "kitchen" feature: