My first REAL durian experience... the King of Fruit
Today I had a very interesting lunch break. I was telling Pao about all the foods I miss in the U.S. and the foods that I wanted RIGHT NOW (Chipotle, Kimchee, & pho), and she said that there was a pho place in KB! I have been craving a delicious bowl of pho ever since I got here, since it rains on and off so damn much and the rain always makes me crave pho. Pao suggested to go to this vietnamese place for lunch and so we drove out to KB (Kuala Belait), a 15-20 minute drive, to get "Vietnamese Noodle" (a.k.a. pho).
This place had a C class hygiene rating, women dressed up in Chinese traditional dresses, and there was Christmas decorations/lights along the walls. It was very random and a bit bizarre but I was with good company and good food. I ordered the Beef noodle soup with rare beef and meatballs... The meatballs were um... weird and had a strange soft texture. The noodles and the soup did not taste like the a five dollar bowl of pho tai bo vien from Pho Que Huong, but it was good enough to surpress my craving until I go back to the U.S. The limes here are like baby tiny limes, so whenever I tried to squeeze all the delicious juices of my little lime out into the soup, it flew out of my hand and ended up hitting me in the head and leaving traces of lime pulp all over my hair, glasses, and clothes... story of my life haha.
But afterwards, we went to this crowded store... I forgot what they called it, but it reminded me of a jam packed convenience store/pharmacy. They sold everything from home made chips, noodles in a box to go, feminine products, plastic baggies for your dog's poo, drinks, candy, magazines, etc. They were selling these tapioca chips that everyone wanted me to try, so Kenny's wife bought me a bag to try. It's like candy coated thinly sliced tapioca with peanuts... and anchovies... haha so random, but it's pretty good! The anchovies need to get a little used to, but it's like sweet, salty, and crunchy? It's hard to explain, but I will be definitely snacking on these during work.
Our topic during lunch about durian. Everyone here LOVES durian and always asks me if I like it as well. I think durian smells like shit. I didn't like it when I tried it in the US (I ate a frozen one that my dad bought from H-Mart one time & drank a durian shake at a pho restaurant in Paris), but I told everyone I was willing to try it again in Brunei since they are locally grown here and because it is durian season... So Kenny, a coworker, drove us to this random lady's house. She had a little gazebo tent/vacant half built room (space? I can't even call it a room... haha) where she sold durian and local fruits along the street in her backyard. She had all different kinds of durians and tropical fruits like the ones I tried in the Labi country side (mangostim, rambutan, local mini bananas, etc.). I purchased a pretty strange looking durian (apparently the stranger the outside, the sweeter the fruit) & the lady gave me a little baby durian for free. Ricky, another coworker, bought me a bundle of mini bananas since I love them so much!
We went back to Kenny's place to eat the durian and they opened the durian with one of those huge rectangle cleaver knives, like the ones you find at the Asian super market. The inside is so weird... It has some sort of cavities that protect the seeds/flesh of the fruit. I don't know if I can even call it "flesh of the fruit" because it was more like a plastic-y textured skin sack holding a giant seed and creamy stuff on the inside (the cream, being the fruit)... I was very hesitant to put the thing in my mouth since it smelled like shit, but everyone around me just picked up a seed and plopped it in their mouths, fully enjoying the creamy insides, making "nom nom nom" noises and smacking their lips while sucking on the seed. So I thought just "hell, I'm just going to eat it!" Pao & Ricky took pictures of me eating it, and let me tell you... I don't look too happy haha. I tried both the white flesh durian, and the pale yellow one... The pale yellow durian was really bitter.. not as "good" as the white durian... It is seriously the strangest "fruit" I have ever eaten. I am going to give it another try though, but this time try it cold. I'm glad that I can at least say that I ate a durian in Brunei during durian season. It's not AS BAD as I remember it tasting... so at least I know that it's not as bad as I remember, but it's still not very good to me haha.
But MAN.. does durian make you gassy.... I kept on burping and my stomach was churning all day at work... Those durian burps are so deadly. My driver had to deal with me burping this shit up in the car all day and it stunk up his whole car... I felt so bad for him... Sorry Afiq! But not only that, I had brought the durian I bought at the lady's house into my backpack and left my bag in my driver's car when I was picking up groceries on the way of dropping me back at home. When I got back into the car after grocery shopping, right when I opened the car door, it was like I got slapped in the face with a piece of shit; the durian stunk up his WHOLE CAR!!! OMG. It seriously smelled like someone took a shit in his backseat. Afiq's going to have to keep his windows down all night to air that shit out. SORRY AFIQ!!!!
Right now, the two durians smelled so bad, I left them outside in my back patio, but I swear that I can smell them from inside.... It's THAT bad... haha. Even after 8 hours of me eating it, I still have that durian taste... EW! *BURP!!!* When people here talk about Durian, they never fail to mention that it is the "king of fruit," but this whole time... I thought to myself... "WHY IS IT THE KING OF FRUIT?!" I thought maybe after I had a taste, I would have an epiphany, but... still I am clueless as to why they call it that.
I love my lunch breaks and spending that little bit of quality time with the new people I have met here. Food really does bring people together & makes people bond. I have really been enjoying my 2-3 hours of time with them. They have been so kind and giving. I have had free lunch every day this week... since they always pay!! I feel so bad, but I will get everyone back lunch tomorrow :). I am so grateful to meet the generous and friendly people here. Everyone has been driving me around places (even very long drives), showing me to interesting areas around here, allowing me to experience new things (like the durian and tapioca anchovy chips), taking me to fun things to do, planning crazy adventures, etc. We had a lot of exciting plans for the next two weeks (ATV in jungle, sea food dinner/green tea run/karaoke to Miri, Bandar adventures + watching Twilight at the Empire + pearl milk tea, BBQ party at one of the staff houses, water village, weekend trip to Kaula Lumpur), but things have been so busy at work, so some of the things have been moved or canceled. I'm very sad about that, but I hope we can still find to do everything. I have only been here about 2 weeks, but I have so little days left here, and I would want to spend as much time as I can with my new friends here before I go. So I'm praying and crossing my fingers for a miracle to be able to do all of our plans before I go!
My breath is still durian stanky, so I am going to go brush my teeth a thousand times now. Bye! Update more later! Please ignore all my oogly self in my photos.. that is how I look when I go to work. haha