Friday, September 29, 2017

Blogging for the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area

This year I've been traveling frequently to the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung to write about places and attractions chosen by the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area Administration. Perhaps my favorite has been the bicycle trail between Yuli and Fuli, but Ruisui (the first time I rode an electric scooter) was also fun, and I'm always happy to write about Japan's architectural legacy in Taiwan. All of these articles, and several more about the East Rift Valley, are on my Bradt Taiwan blog.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Laksa Origin Debate, Borneo Edition (Roads and Kingdoms)

I had done a bit of research about Sarawak laksa before arriving. Not that I was any the wiser. Depending on who you believe, the most authentic pastes have 20, 30, 36 or even more components, among them garlic and lemongrass, as well as various spices.

It’s often said the first laksa vendor in Sarawak—a Malaysian state on the northwest coast of Borneo—was a Cantonese man who moved to Kuching from Indonesia at the end of World War II. He gave or sold his recipe to a Cantonese lady, who may or may not have passed it to a Mr. Tan who, in the 1960s, made a fortune selling factory-made “Swallow” brand laksa paste. None of these creation myths mention the other forms of laksa eaten in Malaysia and Indonesia. Mr. Tan’s product—and those of the imitators which soon appeared (one called itself “Eagle,” another “Parrot”)—made preparing laksa at home a great deal quicker and less laborious. Inevitably, it was a huge hit among Sarawakians living far from their home state. 

I had done less research about politics. But it seems many in Sarawak are unhappy with their place in the Malaysian federation...

The published version of this article is quite a bit shorter than the piece I sent in. In the original I made some references to Taiwan, comparing its so-far frustrated efforts to ensure its autonomy/independence, to Sarawakian discontent with the political status quo in Malaysia. To read the complete published article, go here.