In another ill-advised moment at the Batu caves here in Malaysia, I decided to approach a friendly looking Macaque monkey with some rambutan fruit I had in my pocket. He took the fruit, ate it, and we hung out for a while. He smiled, or so I thought. I smiled back, or so he didn’t think. His smile enlarged until the split second that I noticed that it was not really a smile at all, but instead two 4 inch bicuspids that were curving towards my aorta. I made a hasty retreat (not shown).
My sister should be happy since she says I never post enough pictures of myself. I’m the one on the right, Bianca.
This is a 94-year-old woman ascending the final stairs in the 272-step ascent in the Batu Caves, a pilgrimage site in Malaysia for over 800,000 Hindus per year.
Her hair is 3 meters long (about 9 feet). She has never cut it her entire life. It is so long, she has to fold it back and forth a few times and wrap it to keep it from dragging behind.
I thought I had reached the bottom of the taste food chain with Durian the other day, but it was nothing next to “cempadak”. This stuff is just horrible. You can see in the first picture it looks kind of unassuming, somewhat like a pealed peach. The taste was absolutely so repulsive that I ended up taking about four bites just so that I could really experience and understand what made it so terrible. By the fifth bite, my body actually had a Pavlovian response and my throat closed up.
Then someone had the bright idea to deep-fry them, so they took them to the back of the restaurant and did it. My hosts (Lee Mei and Yoke Chin in the pic) explained to me that deep-fried cempadak was actually a preferred way of eating them. Why I listened to them after a week’s worth of food lies is beyond me. So I tried it, and it was just the same old taste just hotter than hell. In fact, it tasted like I was putting a red-hot molten glass ball in my mouth.
My Malaysian hosts know that I am keen to try anything new and different – so they took me to a special Durian market. Now if you don’t know what durian is, let me tell you. It is a fruit that is banned from 100% of the hotels in Malaysia and you are thrown in prison if you try to take it on an airplane? What kind of fruit can cause that much havoc? Durian.
It tastes like a peach soaked in tar and sulfur, without the peach flavor. It also has the consistency of monkey brain and the smell of a Taun Taun. If it gets in your car, the smell stays there for over a week and the scent alone is known for making people wretch in public.
In sum, Durian is bad, maize is what the Indians call “corn”, and the South shall rise again.