And sure enough people were queuing up to buy Ah Tak's newspaper wrapped noddles and eating them like a square cake....yummy and nostalgic. The ladies preparing the noodles did not want to have their photos taken as usual.
But outside under the Sea Almond tree I caught sight of a family from the Adong River who had come by boat. As it is already school holidays the mother and relatives have brought their young children along ....Their product? Natural shoots from Asam Paya...as food gatherers who have not enjoyed the rapid development of Malaysia they are still encapsulated in an old time frame of boat rowing and selling stuff extracted from the jungle. All three ladies had not gone to school and in fact one of them is severely malnourished as you can see her ultra thin arm in the first photo...the children are delighted by the chopsticks and their early morning noodles.from Ah Tak's stall @ 1.30 ringgit per packet.
Assam paya tubers for sale - 3 for 2 ringgit. It has taken these ladies one whole day to cut the tubers at the ground level and then transported them by boat to Lutong from Upper Adong River . The boat ride was about 2 hours.
These ladies wear the basic clothings and one of them still wears the traditional sarong. A homemade rattan basket indicates their humble origins. A child has just fallen asleep behind the mum. Often in Sarawak the public can catch indigenous women folk wear their children's school sports shirts and thus you can immediately tell where they are from. .
It is good to see women folks attempting to make a living and scrounging for some cash so that their children can buy uniforms and school bags in the new year....These ladies have no complaints at all and they seem to accept their fate rather fatalistically. Being able to speak Iban I often win their confidence and get them to joke with me. Yes...they do get to sell their products and earn a little to make their trip to the town worthwhile. Are their men working as hard?
Wishing these ladies blessings from the society.
(Recipes for Asam Paya Shoots...or upa Asam Payua - blanch the sliced shoots. Prepare some ikan bilis and aromatics and stir fry them. Add some toasted belacan and sliced chillies and finally add the sliced shoots Sitr fry until cooked...Another method...prepare a pot and add two bowls of water. Add aromatics and ikan bilis and some pepper and oil. Bring to the boil. When the water is boiling add the sliced shoots. The soup is excellent and that's the way I like my asam paya..which might be a bit bitter for some people...but it is truly organic....)