We did our first ‘big shop’ on Monday evening. A big part of it was soft drinks. I think I’m going to seriously deplete the island’s stock of soda water while I’m here. It’s only available in small cans, and there are no bottles of sparkling water to be found anywhere. I get through litres of the stuff, and not just in wine! Neither of us are eating very much at the moment – not because we feel ill or anything, it’s merely because the heat takes away your appetite. It will often be well after midday before we’ll have some fruit or toast. For this reason we bought staples such as bread, eggs, cheese, fruit, pasta, tinned goods and some fruit and veg along with all the cans of soda, diet coke and mineral water. I like to think I’m not unique in the enjoyment I derive from browsing other countries’ supermarkets. It’s fascinating to check out the variety of different and intriguing foodstuffs and local specialities.
A few products different enough to mention are:
bananas; they are delicious – smaller and creamier and sweeter (possibly due to the fact that they aren’t chilled before sale). We get through lots of them. The apples are nice, too – paler, with a ‘melon-like’ flavour.
coffee; try as we might we have been unable to find ground arabica coffee without the added ingredients of ‘creamer’ and sugar. The preference here is for white, sweet coffee and the aisles are full of all kinds of brands with 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 variations of this. Paul did manage to get some beans ground in a nearby Starbucks, but we’ll be bringing packets back from home when we return in January.
bread; disappointingly, the only loaves we’ve found are sliced, and all the varieties, whether wholemeal, seeded or wholegrain are rather sweet and doughy. I’ve seen butterscotch and chocolate chip flavours, too. Hopefully Paul will keep to his intention to bake some soon :).
Those are minor details in the grand scheme of things, however. Life here continues to be laid back and relaxing. We’ve enjoyed refreshing evening swims in the pool, drinks in the bar ‘watching the world go by’ as well as the antics of the monkeys. Last night we walked into town to check out a street market that Paul had spotted being set up. It had cooled down by then and it was a nice walk in the dusk. The huge statue of the eagle for which Langkawi is named loomed large on the way, and it was a lot bigger than it seemed in the pictures of it. We also passed a mosque and for the first time (other than on tv programmes) I heard the call to prayer from its loudspeakers.
The market was a delight! The smells emanating from it reminded me of music festivals and the food the vendors were selling looked delicious. We tried some ‘pancake-like’ snacks that we were sure had no meat or fish in them, which were a bit stodgy but nice enough, and some fried potatoes (cold but tasty). I also saw, for the first time, the famous durian fruit which has a reputation for tasting delicious but smelling awful. I can vouch for the smell – I will report on the taste another time when I feel more brave. Here’s Anthony Burgess on the subject of the durian from his excellent book ‘The Long Day Wanes’ which is set in Malaysia:
‘Over all presided the fetid, exciting reek of the durian, for this was the season of durians. Nabby Adams had once been to a durian party. It was like, he thought, eating a sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.’
On that note, I’ll leave it for this entry and finish with some pics of the day.