Where heaven and earth meet.
It might seem that I pine about leaving New York. I’d always thought it would be my home. Perhaps I don’t express it as often, but there are some things that make it a joy to be back in Asia. Sure there isn’t Per Se or Le Bernardin, but walk down almost any street in Asia and there will probably be something good to eat.
Market at Ranau
On our way to Mount Kinabalu, my family and I stopped by the town of Ranau for gas and lunch. As we were driving around town looking for the gas station, I saw a collection of tents with multiple plumes of smoke rising. I’d seen that familiar configuration before in Brunei and knew I’d find some good food there.
Charcoal Grill = Yum Yum in my belly
My parents settled for KFC, fearing the lack of hygiene standards at the open-air food stalls. I was a little more adventurous and was rewarded with a Ramly Burger, multiple sticks of charcoal grilled chicken butts and a huge skate wing rubbed with a spice blend that is as varied as it is ubiquitous in grilled food at these markets. I wash it all down with a gorgeous drink of evaporated milk, rose and strawberry syrup, unmixed so that the white and red swirled around like drifting wisps of smoke. There were countless other snacks and desserts that went into my belly as I walked about the buffet of delicious food.
Square savory egg crepes?
I’m amazed by the abundance and diversity of food in Asia. I took it for granted when I was growing up here, but I’ve realized that I’ve never seen such a lush profusion of food anywhere else in the world. I wonder if there is a sort of Wallace Line in our culinary geography.
Colorful Drinks! Wish I could try them all
I wonder if they knew about specific gravity before making this.
So many choices
My choice eventually
My chicken butts and skate wing
Delicious little rice flour “cakes” flavored with Pandan and i think baked then fried. So good.
Cross section, see how fluffy it is.
More markets on the road to Mount Kinabalu
Honey and royal jelly
A Kadazan fruit vendor
Its like a mini waterfall
Speaking of the Wallace Line, I’ve realized too, just how much I missed nature and the biodiversity in Asia. The only greenery I saw in New York was on my weekend trips to Prospect Park for soccer and rugby, which is actually more brown in the dead of winter. So stepping into the jungle again was such a heady experience, like tasting the first truffles of the year.
I didn’t want to leave but now I’m looking forward to being back.
Like Ted Nugent, I like dressing in camo.
Looks inviting but its probably full of leeches.
A large female Trilobite Beetle feasting on cellulose matter of a tree.
The common name of the Duliticola paradoxa is derived from the strange shape of its larvae which resembles that of the extinct, ancient trilobites. Interestingly, females remain in their larval form and do not undergo a complete metamorphosis when they reach maturity. (Whoa was that a burst of scientific geekness or what!?! Who knew!)
Reminds me of a lobster tail
Langsat, one of my favorite fruits.
A leech, thank god for gutters, socks and boots. They never made it on my skin.
Getting a leech off me
Leeches that I found by my boots where I had my pants bloused in. I hate leeches.
Mount Kinabalu at around 4000m, is the highest point in South East Asia.
Green Bumpy Logans? Had a floral taste and scent, almost like jasmine. Sweeter than the normal logan too.
The vividly pink pendulous inflorescences of the Medinilla speciosa coated with little gems of water after a rain.
Not to be a killjoy but I think that it’s important for me to say this. When we were in Ranau, we stumbled upon a little known World War II memorial for British and Australian soldiers that died as prisoners of war though the brutal treatment by their Japanese captors. I was appalled that of the 2,400 Allied POWs, only six survived captivity and the marches from Sandakan to Ranau, a distance of about 260 kilometers through marshland and dense jungle.
These men were captured while defending Singapore. As a Singaporean I’m grateful. I couldn’t imagine going though the hell that they did, not even for their home but someone else’s, mine. As a soldier too, the least I could do was to make sure that their story is never forgotten.
Read more about what happened here: