Friday, July 3, 2009

Coastal Hibiscus

Bintulu is near the sea and its coastline faces the open South China Sea. Indeed if you are to sail straight north you would have beached at the coasts of Vietnam. The sea sprays, distinct dry weather, sandy soils and lots of monsoon rains have made the hibiscus plants here high performers. Two species that are native here are the Sea Hibiscus ( Hibiscus tiliaceus) and the Rose of Sharon ( Hibiscus mutabilis). While the Sea Hibiscus need to be planted closest to the sea or even in waters, the rose of Sharon prefers a well-drained soil. One peculiar habit common to both is the changing nature of its flowers as the day progresses. In the case of the Rose of Sharon,it starts white early in the morning and gradually develops into a dark pink as the day progresses. In like manner, the Sea Hibiscus starts the day in strong yellow and changes to orange when evening sets.

CU of Sea Hibiscus
Sea Hibiscus near the beach at Kidurong township

CU of Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon shrub

P.S. For many other colours of the Hibiscus flowers, click here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Delicious local fruits

The month of June is special for the abundance of the local Malay Apple fruits called " Jambu Bol". I love these fruits for two reasons. First when half-ripe they are best taken with soy sauce or shrimp paste ( the famed Bintulu 'Belacan') as salad. Secondly when sufficiently ripe they are sweet tasting and soft to eat. When eating them do not remove the red skin covering, just like eating normal apples. But remember there is a sizable seed inside that gets removed easily. From the ripe seeds you can propagate the tree easily.

A bowl of Jambu Bol like above fetches for RM 5.

This is my special favourite in Bintulu. Being close to the coast, you can get any amount of fresh coconuts at Bintulu's tamu or jungle produce market which is located somewhere in the center of Bintulu town. After drinking the juice I would normally eat the flesh which is very soft and sweet too. Here you eat it with a 'spoon' made out a wedge from the coconut skin. Hmm... does the job of scooping the flesh splendidly. A piece of coconut like above fetches for Rm1.50 .