Monday, August 29, 2011

A Day In Taginambur

I had promised Yo months ago that I'll go with her the next time she sends goodies to the Catholic orphanage/hostel in Kota Belud Marudu, a town 1 1/2 hours north of KK but when she reminded me in an e-mail from Milan about the trip, I wasn't in the mood to go because Hub had work to finish and Wey had plans to go out with his friends as it was the start of the term holiday. However, Su and her hub C were keeping their promise to go even though all their three daughters couldn't/wouldn't go either. With a bit of reluctance at leaving Hub and Wey at home, I hopped into Su's car yesterday. Only Yo had her husband and daughter with her, a sign of how different things are now that the kids have grown up. I felt more than a tinge of sadness at how quickly time has passed and wished we have had done more outings, especially with Wey because by the time he came along, we had been here and there and done this and that with the first two kids. When our kids were younger, the three families used to go for long weekend stays out of town (usually planned by Su, who couldn't and still can't sit still) and we had lots of fun and always tons of food. Once, on a trip to Pitas, Yo's car got stuck in the mud and Su was way ahead of us.We were completely isolated on some coastal dirt road. I had images of tigers (though there are none in Borneo) and pythons flashing through my mind and wondered if we could get out before nightfall. Luckily we did.
As with most roads into the interior, there are roadside stalls where you can buy local produce and handicraft. We off-loaded the used clothing, new curtains, milk powder, rice, anything the home can use. 5 Aussies had arrived to stay two weeks to teach the kids from hygiene to gardening to English. Since the home was in good hands, we left soon after our drop off.

We drove another hour to reach a village called Taginambur near the cowboy town of Kota Belud to stay in the house of a lady named Delia. Delia's father was an Englishman named Trevor White ('Asang' was the name given to him by the locals), who first came to Borneo in 1939. He evangelized to the animistic locals and married a Dusun and lived in the village all his life.

Delia is a friendly and unpretentious lady and I feel like I've known her forever. Although she was educated in Australia and has raised a family there, she comes back for a  couple of weeks every two or three months to run her care program for the needy people in her village. On this trip she's back with her 8 year-old granddaughter Zoe. Delia's wooden bungalow was built by her father in 1956 on a small hill that overlooks the village. It is spacious, cosy and rustic although termites are gnawing through the house which is made entirely of wood. The balcony in front of the house faces Mt Kinabalu which unfortunately was veiled by forest haze. Rambutans, bananas, pineapples, durians, local limes and many other fruit trees are scattered on the property.

Dinner was whatever food that Su had bought with our coupons for the Montford Boys' School's bazaar that morning. When Su's in charge of food, I know I better be prepared to eat. And eat. And eat.

BBQ corn we bought on the way up.

Since it's the month of Ramadan, lemang (glutinous rice and coconut milk stuffed into bamboo tubes and cooked over wood fire) were plentiful.

We had the lemang (soft yet chewy, full of coconut flavor--yum!) with sambal, a thick chili and onion sauce.

I think this was beef rendang with ketupat (compressed rice).

A delicious roasted chicken from the Montford Boys' School bazaar.

Grilled whole baby sting ray with chili paste. Very fresh, tender and yummy!

Nasi lemak, one of my top 3 favorite Malay dishes.

I forgot to take a before photo of our dinner but here's an after photo. We ate from the leaves and paper wrappings, too lazy to bother with finery. It was like a picnic on the balcony. We were washing up when Delia found that she had lot of seafood that she had bought in the tamu that morning. The crabs were steamed so that they can be frozen but we couldn't resist the beautiful red crustaceans and even though we were full, we sat down again and ate all the crabs. Unbelievable.


These swimmer crabs were super umami-sweet and salty.

And would you believe it, right after the crabs, we ate the two durians from Yo's trees. Durians are late this year. This was my first durian of the year.


And as if to test our bottomless stomachs, Yo brought out a bottle of wine (the most full-bodied wine any of us had tasted; great stuff) and two kinds of cheese she brought from Milan. One was a smoked provolone I think. Both were gorgeous.

We sat on the balcony, half-drunk with wine and food. It was drizzling and the slight breeze made us shiver. Some of us had to boil water for our shower. I showered straight from the tap. Refreshing.

The next day, we had a lovely brunch: insalata caprese (cheese and tomatoes from Milan), prosciutto (also from Milan) and hami melon from Xinjiang. China.

So good I drank whatever was left on the plate: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, liquid from the mozz and the tomatoes. It was GOOD. 

Su boiled, flaked and fried the fresh tuna with olive oil, chilies and lime. Awesome. I've never cooked fresh tuna before and from now on, canned tuna is a thing of the past.

Tuna with fragrant pandan rice grown by one of Delia's sisters.  I wished I was thin so that I could eat as much as my stomach wanted.

Our plan was to swim in the river but we got up late and it was too hot. Plan B was shopping in Delia's store. Delia has brought in household items--pots, glasses, everything--from Brisbane and the proceeds go to help the poor in her village. She has a couple of BBQ grills (I bought mine from her years ago) for sale and if you want to buy one, e-mail me and I'll get her in touch with you.


The durians and rambutans in Delia's garden will ripen in October. October is 31 days from today, 30 from tomorrow. October, October, gotta get to Taginambur in October, October.


Shan said...

Lovely post Terri. Sounds like you had a great time - Shan

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

Terri, it's pure torture looking at the crabs, lemang and all the amazing local delights, well beyond my reach in the UK. I hitched a ride on the bus to Kota Belud so many years ago but I guess it would've changed a lot since then.

Zurin said...

You got me at the boiled and fried tuna...going to make that....m sick of lemang...i didnt have even one bite today...looks like u had a great time there and will in the future for the durians.

thanks for the raya greetings ...we just got back from a raya dinner with my mom.. the dinner was mediocre but the company was good...what more can I ask :)

malaymui said...

wow, what an adventure... I missed the lembang!!

Laura said...

Hi Terri....I envy your for all these yummi food!!!
...expecially for Durians: I'd love to try them!!'s so difficult to find them here, and when I buy once, it wasn't ripe, but I didn't know!! :-)


Anicia said...

Hi there aunt delia sister aunt's rosmie husband is my mom cousin. I can't believe reading that in your blog. A fan of your blog heheh Anicia

terri@adailyobsession said...

shan: hey how are you?

ccc: u've been to so many places! no, kb has not changed much. tamu's still there, still the same few shops...

zurin: you making me jealous, "sick of lemang"!hey a relative in hk asked for serunding n i ha no idea what it was until i googled. i've eaten it b4, never knew the name, how malaysian am i?!

malaymui:lemang is yum:)

laura: forget about buying durians bc thailand is the largest exporter n their durians are 1) not as fragrant 2) picked unripe. malaysia durians rock!

anicia: lol, it IS a small world! ur aunt rosmie's cousin is the bro of my friend sairah, how's tt:D rosmie n jack came over to have cheese n wine tt night:))must be fun for you n family to have so many relatives n must be extra fun to go back to taginambur:)

Reflections said...

Hi Terri, a friend introduced your blog to me & I've enjoyed it since. Your restaurants reviews are frank and I absolutely agree with most of your comments. I was told you studied at SFC. I graduated from there too. In 1979. But don't recall your name as being slightly my junior or senior. About the BBQ grill do you think they are still available? any possibility of seeing pics of them? Your current Jellirific attempts are amazingly creative. Hope you win.

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