Saturday, July 12, 2003

Weekend blog; more items from the past. More on the Wisconsin trip next week.

July 4, 1992.

Been in Malacca 24 hours now. I just ate a durian, and the thought, the paranoid thought, crossed my mind that I would have an extreme allergic reaction to this tropical fruit I've never had before, and drop dead. So far not yet. But I do feel a little funny.

Yesterday I awoke in Singapore and idled away the morning. I checked out at about 11:30, and walked the short distance to My Restaurant (that's the name), which I had noticed earlier. It's a Nyonya restaurant -- a cuisine I'd never heard of till I started this preparing for this trip. So I ordered a couple of things: very ordinary chicken wings and satay (ah!) and buah keluak. Wow.

This is what the helpful multilingual menu says about buah keluak, English version: "After soaking in water for three days, the buah leluak nut is cleaned and chopped [open] to extract the paste from the inside. Mixed with mince meat and prawns, it is restuffed into the nut and cooked with lemon grass, chillie paste and a modicum of assam juice."

The black nuts, five in all, sat in a jet black sauce. The smell, the taste, the smell. O, the taste.

Without further ado, I went to the Lavender Street bus depot and caught the Express Bus to Malacca. We crossed the border without a glance in my direction from customs, but about 10 minutes into Malaysia, the bus broke down. We waited for another one by the side of the road for about an hour. I chatted with a Malaysian Indian, a German resident of Malacca, and an Englishman and a Frenchwoman traveling together.

One bus came, but it had only room for three. A second bus came, and most of the rest of us jammed in, and so we continued deeper into Malaysia at about 4:30. Half the trip was in daylight. It's great to watch a new country rolling by. Then it got dark. Not as great, but sometimes we would pass the glowing houses -- the sides of the walls seemed to glow, which I expect meant thin walls -- of kampungs (villages). The houses, which I know are often on stilts, seemed to hover in the darkness. Arrived at about 10, and the Chiang May Hotel had one room, and I got it.


Post a Comment

<< Home