Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fruitful Malaysia

               Malaysia, being a tropical country, is obviously extremely fruitful, with around 370species of fruits- including some of the most exotic varieties. When one visits Malaysia, his/her motive should not only be sightseeing, shopping and adventure sports such as snorkelling, scuba-diving, trekking, etc. but also savouring the taste of some unique fruits cultivated in the country. In the fruits season i.e. from May to July, several states host fruit buffets where you can fill your stomach with different kinds of fruits, rich in vitamins, fibres and calcium. Besides, all year round, stalls are present along all markets and highways selling fruits.

Some special fruits of Malaysia are:

1)Durian: Coined as 'The King of fruits' it has got it's distinct odour due to which it is forbidden in most hotels and public trasportations. Locals call it 'stinky and delicious'. I just call it 'stinky' as the smell has never let me taste it.

2)Rambutan: Resembling a lychee, the rambutan is sweet and juicy and is often found in jams or canned.

3)Sapodilla: Brown and round/oval, sapodilla or chikoo is a very fleshy and sweet tropical fruit.

4)Dragon-fruit: Belonging to the Cactus family, it has a delicate taste and creamy pulp. Also called pitaya, it is used in juices and wine and its flower in tea.

5)Mangosteen: It consists of a deep-red rind inside which the white, sweet and tangy, juicy and somewhat fibrous flesh is present. They are rich in anti-oxidants and can supposedly lower risks of cancer.

6)Duku or lanzones: They have a thick sappy skin inside which the sweet-scented, sweet and sour flesh is present with small seeds within.

7)Start fruit: The golden-yellow star-shaped fruit is sweet or sour, crunchy and resembles the taste of apples, pineapples and kiwis combined. It is used in juices and wines.

8)Rose-apple: The fruit is oblong-shaped and red or pink in colour and has a faint aroma. The flesh is white and surrounds a large seed. It's used to prepare jams.

9)Snake fruit: Also known as Salak, it belongs to the palm species and has a reddish brown scaly skin. The pulp inside is divided into three lobes and is sweet, acidic and crunchy.

10)Honey-dew melon: Also know as winter melon, it has smooth white rind and sweet white or greenish flesh inside.

 Besides the above mentioned fruits, Malaysia is a huge producer of strawberries (especially the Cameron Highlands). It's guavas, called Jambu are larger than the normal species and in some cases, have red flesh inside. Malaysia also largely produces coconuts, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, water-melons, pears, etc.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Temerloh Pekan Sehari - A Shopper's Paradise

                This Sunday, as we were driving to Tasik Bera (Bera Lake), the largest freshwater swamp in Peninsular Malaysia, distanced roughly 200km from Kuala Lumpur, we made a halt at Temerloh, about 130km from K.L. and the second largest city in Pahang State. The purpose of halt? Shopping!!!
                I warned my mother not to keep her hopes too high as the town seemed quite dull and lifeless. When we enquired about the location of the Temerloh market, people either didn't have a clue or they misled us to the wrong locations. Now I understand why. We had asked directions for the 'Pasar' (market) and not the 'Pekan Sehari' (one-day market). Anyway, we finally reached and had to park about half a mile away from the market since there were hundred other cars parked. When we first entered, we immediately understood our whole objective of having sojourned there. Do not ask me what was available there. Ask me what wasn't.

                The Pekan Sehari in Temerloh is the longest one-day market (about 3km) in Malaysia. Mostly all vendors travel by boat across the Pahang river and every Sunday, at around 7AM the stalls are reconstructed. The party stays till 2PM but usually the shopkeepers start wrapping up after sale from 10AM. The otherwise comatose town comes to life each Sunday and what could bring up the 'Sunday-feeling' more than a never-ending wet market. From motorised toys to shoes, bags and garments, you'll find them here. From Iranian dates to herbal soaps and potions, from foot-mats to blankets, from coloured popcorn and candy-floss to wooden oars, you'll find them all here. The vegetable and fruit vendors too have an enormous variety of goods, both of the usual (potato, tomato, onion, chillies etc. among veggies & banana, mangoes, pears among fruits) and unusual kind (banana flower, lotus flower among veggies & lanzones and Rambutans among fruits). The fishes seem extremely fresh - the speciality among them being the Patin (catfish) and the lobsters, mostly caught from the Pahang river. The meat section is pretty busy too, with prospective buyers scrounging for beef, chicken, lamb or pigeon meat like they're digging for gold. Has shopping famished you? There are a number of Satay stalls and other stalls selling pancakes and a lot of undecipherable fried stuff and varied-flavoured drinks and small restaurants etc. where you can fill your stomach.

                Most of the shopkeepers are of Malay origin and the market completely captures out the authenticity of  a typical 'Kampung'. One MUST visit here.

                                                              The journey begins
                                                 That's me.
                                                Camera-shy vendors
                                                      Across the Pahang river
                                                             Haggle away
                                                            The oldies of Pekan Sehari
                                                               Prospective customers
                                                       Items on sale.