This month I am spending most of my days in Borneo island, specifically on the Land Below the Wind which is Sabah, one of the state in Malaysia. The Malaysia Peninsular is popular with night markets or in the National language 'Pasar Malam'. However, here in Sabah local markets are in the morning time and known as 'Tamu'. Compared to Peninsular Malaysia 20 years ago, transportation is limited and electricity are not widespread into the rural areas. I still vividly remembered my childhood when we spent each December at my mother's village, at night for a few hours my uncle will need to switch on the generator so we can watch the news on TV and have lights. Fridge and washing machine was a luxury item those days because instead of cable electricity, petrols were used to generate electricity. So most household does not have these items in the 80's. Raised near the capital city like I was, electrical items were a normal part of day living those days but I can imagined how hard for people in the rural areas which cable electricity has not reached their areas yet especially in this century. So, market in Sabah are commonly in the morning where public transportation is available and instead of middleman, farmers from rural areas can sell their produces directly at Tamu during morning. If you want best produce, you must come early to purchase the best. I am not a morning person, so I am always reminded the night before to make sure to get ready early if we are going to Tamu the next morning. Today, the three of us, me, Abby and my sister went to Tuaran Tamu to buy some edibles for Abby meals and something for us to munch.
Sweet corn is in season this month as many stalls are selling them and at a very cheap price for someone who lives in the city like me. You can get at least 8 nice corn cobs for RM2.00 (AUD0.60)! The rejected ones are much cheaper like the one in front of the lady in green RM1.50 perbag about 8 cobs too. Well the rejected ones are still good, it just the kernels have gaps but still full. I bought the cheaper one and I don't think there are any different in taste. Because we are away from our garden so I have to go out to shop for food. Lucky Abby having steamed corn puree with butter alternate days. However, it can't beat the taste of fresh raw home-grown sweet corn.
Usually at Tamu, the sellers don't weight the veggies but arranged them like this, so you ask how much for a group of these or the bundles ones. This stall is selling RM1 or RM2 per-bundle. So far, I have only seen one variety of eggplants selling at Tuaran Tamu. I was excited to see many different type of sweet potatoes.
There are more varieties of vegetables selling here at Tuaran Tamu compared to our local market near Kuala Lumpur. Can't beat the freshness, volume and price as well. On the right, can you see choko or chayote? I have not been back here for almost 5 years, I felt more confidant picking up the dialect once again after almost 2 weeks so I don't give-away that I am not a native here and get a reasonable price. My cousins usually tease me that I inherited the native face here because I look exactly like one of my grandmother cousin when she was young, but can't speak my mother native tongue much.
It is very rare to find wild rice seller at Tamu these days, well it is traditional wild rice grown on hill slope rather than the muddy paddy field. Therefore, won't get to purchase it in any hyper supermarket. You only get them from Tamu and look at the beautiful reddish rice grain. When I was looking at the seller small stall space, she was using a recycle small can food instead of weight to pack her produce. One small pack on the right is RM5 and on the left is RM9. I did not buy any as we still have some in the pantry and my sister was whispering at me to wait for mama next time, though I was seriously tempted. The seller reminded me of my late-grandmother who used to sell traditional rice wine at tamu when she still had strength to carry the bottles in a traditional basket (wakit) on her back. I was wondering whether her sales for today would be enough even to pay for her transport fare because it was almost noon already, so I bought the only bundle of purple sweet potato with purple skin and white flesh she had for Abby puree.
For today, I did shopped here as well because the lady was the only one selling cekur and I prefer small stall that don't sell assorted veggies like in the supermarket. The bigger stall with so many things to choose from would definitely be buying from farmers as middleman. I rather buy vegetables directly from farmers. I embarrassed myself today due to my lack of knowledge, I thought the ones I labelled as 'Red Ginger (Halia merah) was old turmeric. But the helpful lady, told me it is Halia merah rhizomes. I bought some, not sure what I am going to do with it, but if it starts to shoot I will just plant it and do some researching later. Looking at the yellow chillies and wild mushroom brings fond memories of my childhood when my cousin and I will gather the wild mushroom growing on rubber tree plants. After collecting the mushroom will quickly went home and excitedly waiting for my mama to fry it with chillies.
Where is the river? I was shocked that the water plants invaded the area so much until you can't even see any water. You only know there is a river underneath all those greens because there is Tuaran hanging bridge above it. What plant can cause this? The pretty invasive Water Hyacinth plant that I recently posted. So make sure we don't simply throw any water hyacinth plant, chuck them in your compost bin. Like this, I don't think the crocodile can also breath well in this river.