A Travellerspoint blog


So Many Spices

overcast 25 °C

Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into when we chose chicken over fish for the meal we were preparing as part of our culinary tour of Samosir Island. Our trip to the market ended up with James carrying two live chickens! We also bought tapioca leaves, potato, durian, banana and a bag of spices. In the bag was cinnamon, cardamon, and coriander, the rest of the ingredients came from the forest and garden surrounding our host's home.
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The house was traditional Batak built in the 1960s but just the same as the ones we toured that were 150 years old. Two rooms, one being a kitchen with fireplace, no furniture but a radio and a bed. It was very dark because the house is coated in soot from cooking smoke and, in addition, there was a power cut that afternoon.

We spent over three hours preparing our meal. First we had to pound all the spices together with fresh lemon grass, shallot, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Candle nuts and red chilis to give it more flavour. Simon butchered the chicken (careful to save the blood!) and started it cooking in the spices. Every part was cooked, from the beak to the feet. The kids were put to work peeling and chopping potatoes as well as pounding the tapioca leaves in a giant mortar and pestal. James got to try his hand at making coconut milk.
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While we waited for the food to cook on the fire, we got to eat the durian fruit. We'd already tried durian icecream and pudding, but fresh it was so much better. It tasted like sweet onion and it sure hit the spot.

When the food was cooked we sat on the floor and stuffed our faces. It was delicious! Fresh and flavourful, spicy but not too hot for the kids. The combination of all the fresh spices and being cooked on the fire will make it a meal we could never replicate at home. Finally, our host brought out her favourite dish - grilled chicken with a sauce made of the blood. Luckily I was already full so I only had to have a taste - it was okay, but unappetizing.
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Bananas were for dessert and we learned that there at least eight varieties.


James' version of the day:

We are now staying at the Tabo Cottages in Lake Toba. Yesterday we went on a traditional cooking trip first we went to the market to buy durian bananas live chickens and tones of spices. Then we drove down the rocky roads to the place where we were going to do the coocking. When we got there we first we had to carry every thing up the hill i got to carry one of the chickens i had to hold him by the feet so that he could not peck me. We got to the top of the hill and there was our istructer for cooking she was an elderly women and she realy knew how to cook. First we had to kill the chickens we did that by cutting their throats then we had to mash all the spices together then we peeld potatos and finaly it was time to pluck the chickens. We were getting very hungry so we opend the durian it smelled like an onion and it was squishy and boy was it good.then it ws time to eat our lunch it was rice, chicken body part curry, tapioka leaves and chicken breast in black sauce (chickens blood). (I only ate the rice) nothing went to waste.

Posted by Arin MacDyer 00:30 Archived in Indonesia Tagged food james arin Comments (4)

The Homestay

sunny 30 °C

We left the Eco Travel cottages at 9 in the morning for our 2 hour hike to the homestay. On our way there we held a cameleon that we found drowing in the gutter we also saw a pig farm sampled freshly picked cocoao (we didnt realy eat the bean we ate the sweet slimey white stuff around it) and caught some cool caterpillars rolled up in banana leaves. Then we finaly got there and it was a small shak with a family of 4 living in it. And to our suprise the place had a wifi tower and a TV. And there were also 2 kids named Depa the boy who was 6 and Mala the girl who was 15. The kids were fun and nice we played soccer fed a neighbors pet monkey and went to the candy shop it was so much fun!!!

That evening we went eel fishing in the rice fields that surounded us for miles.

Eel catching

First you have to catch minnos for bait. Then you find an eel hole in the mud that isint old ( you can tell by putting your finger in it and if the hole is clogged it is no good). Then you stick in the hook with the minnow on it and twirl it around and around and if your lucky you will see the water rising and then you feel a hard jurk that indicates that youve caught an eel.

Once our eel was cooked it was time to dig in and it didnt taste like fish at all more like chicken. Then it was time for us to leave to go to Beristagi, famous for fruit and vegetable growing. On our only day in Barastagi we climbed up Mt Sibayak, it is an extremely cool active volcano where we cooked eggs in hot water in the crater and i collected real sulphur crystals. The next day on our way to lake toba we went to a little town to learn about Batak houses, 150 year old still standing and in perfect condition aboriginal houses where 8 families live together and cook with fire inside to prevent termites. Four hours drive after that and a ferry ride across the lake to an island we finaly got here at lake toba the largest lake in asia which was actually made from the crater of a giant volcano eruption.
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 02:19 Archived in Indonesia Tagged james Comments (1)

Jungle trek Jungle trek in Bukit Lawang

sunny 30 °C

We have been doing lots of fun things in the jungle in Sumatra

1. The elephants.

It was 8 in the morning we were rushing about because we had to leave at 9 but we made it on time and we were of on our two hour drive to the national park after 2 hours we finaly got there and we went straight to this place called mega inn and we had a dilicious lunch of white rice potato cakes and collyflour curry. After lunch we went for a little swim in a hot spring but the bad news our camera is broken. i think the hot water had an effect on the seals. Then we went for a bath in the waterfall Then we went to see the elephants and we got to ride them! At first we were riding on a saddle then i got to ride on the head the hair felt like a tooth brush and it tickled my legs then we got to the ranger station then it was time to wash them. Once we were finished it was time for the elephants to give us a shower then we had to say goodbye to the elephants and hello to the long drive home.

2. Jungle trekking.

3 days later we went on our two day jungle trek. When we first got to the other side of the river, we went to the feeding platform and saw a mommy orangutan with a baby and a 8 year old (orangutans abandon their moms at age 7). Then we walked on and at the top of the hill we were having lunch and our guide got us a tortoise out of the bushes and we fed him some pineapple then it was time to move on and at the bottom of the hill we got our surprise there were black gibbons and our guide said that they had not seen them for 2 months. We were also half an hour away from our camp and on the steep desent to our camp we spotted an other orangutan and it was a mommy with a 2 week old baby. then our guides fed it some sugar cane and i maneged to mooch 2 peices of it! Then we finally were at our camp and i found that we were sleeping in a shack with a mosquito net and a sleeping bag. In the morning we had breakfast, went for a swim at the water fall and on the rock around the water falls there were black toads and boy were they cool. Then it was time to come down the river on a raft made of tubes linked together back to town and that was fun.

3 The snake man.

That night we were going out on a a trip to see venomus snakes. Our guide was called Upil and he was a real snake man he had big mustles and skars and cobra bites all over him. we first started going on our side of the river but no snakes so we went to the park on the other side of the river and within 10 minutes we saw our first snake. It was a green viper or moon snake we walked on and within 10 minuts we had 3 moon snakes 1 rainbow snake and lots of frogs on our list then as we were walking along we saw a cameleon we walked a bit further and spoted a praying mantis and it was cool its claws were sharp like knives.

It is so unfair because when Neve and me are walking down the street everybody is saying pretty girl pretty girl to Neve and guess what i get NOTHING!!!! And my dad enbareses me infront of everyone by calling me James Bond. So our guides call me James Bond!

Posted by Arin MacDyer 01:28 Archived in Indonesia Tagged james Comments (1)

What is that orange fuzzy creature oh its an Orangutan!

sunny 30 °C

We are now in Indonesia. When we first arived in Medan I though Medan was the crazyest city i have ever saw it had 5 million peple and the traffic was crazy it took us 3 hours to get across it. After our half hour flight from Penang. It was noon but we had a 5 hour drive to Bukit Lawang. When we finaly got here we still had to walk through the village to get to our hotel. Our bed has a mosquito net. I don't really like it because i get tangled up in it like a fly in a spiders web. Our balcony also has a hammok and now there is constant combat with Neve over it.

Bukit Lawang is a peacful little village beside the river and is the best place in the world to see wild orangutans. The next day we had to get up at 7 30 in the morning and by 8 30 we were ready to go on our tour to see the orangutans. We crossed the river in a raft and sure enough we saw an orangutan within the first half hour. Then it was orangutan feeding time but only 1 orangutan and fifty long tailed mekaks (another kind of monkey). We also saw baboons, tomas leaf monkeys and lots and lots of termites but we had to be careful because the trail was a clay path and was extremely slippery. We hiked with our guide Kembar for 3 more hours and saw 5 more orangutans.

There are only 7000 orangutans left in the wild and we saw 6 of them. It is like that because peple take them as pets and tney have lost too much habitat to palm oil plantaitions so check your food and don't buy it if it contains palm oil. Orangutans have 96.4 percent human genes.the other 3.6 percent must be the genes for swinging around and eating ants.


Posted by Arin MacDyer 18:20 Archived in Indonesia Tagged james Comments (2)

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