Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kampong Fruit Trees (Part 3) – by Chuck Hio

I would like to pick up from where Chun See left off by sharing a bit of history about the fruit trees from my kampong days.

I grew up in a kampong near the Hill View area. There were many fruit trees in the nearby Bukit Gombak. As children, we often went up there to pluck fruits - either by climbing the tree, or using our ’ Lastic’ (catapult) to shoot down the fruits, or simply by throwing dry branches at them. All these happened about 30 years ago. Unfortunately, the Bt Gombak area is now part of the Mindef, as thus a restricted area.

Besides the common fruit trees that Chun See mentioned, I would like to touch on those fruits that are not so commonly seen in the markets; and probably not so familiar to young Singaporeans.

1) Buah Suntol

It’s not easy to find a Buah Suntol tree nowadays in Singapore. But I managed to spot one recently. Can you guess where this picture was taken?


Buah Suntol1


This tree is in the MacRitchie Reservoir just next the slope where I took the pictures of the kids playing with the Carton Boxes.

Here’s what the fruit looks like. (Please don’t ask how I managed to ‘pluck’ the fruits.) The taste is hard to describe, a bit sour and sweet; not like any other fruit that I can think of. Surprisingly, even a ‘kampong boy’ like Chun See have not tasted it before. If you are curious to taste it, you can go to the Thai emporium at Golden Mile Complex where they sell for about $5 per kilo and the size is much bigger than the ones below.


Buah Suntol2

* A note for foreign friends - 'buah' is Malay for fruit

2) Buah Longlong (Bell fruit)

The fruit is slightly bigger than an egg and has the shape of the avocado, and tastes quite sour. The skin is green when unripe, and brownish-yellow when ripe. The seed is very hard and has lots of fibres. You can find them in many shops in the pickled form.



3) Jambu Bol (Malay Apple)

I am not talking about the water apple that Chun See talked about. It is more rounded in shape. And the seed is round like a marble, and the colour is a mixture of beige and reddish stripes. The only time I saw this tree in Singapore was at the Singapore Science Centre about two years ago.

Jambu Bol1

By the way, if you want to see what the common jambu (water apple) tree look like, you can go down to Bishan Park – the section between Marymount Avenue and Thomson Road.


4) Hor Pow Kor (Nam Nam)

I bet not many of you know about this fruit. Not even my ‘kampong boy’ friend Chun See has seen this one. Hor Pow Kor is the Hakka name for this fruit, because it looks like a purse. It sprouts in clusters from the tree trunk near the base of the tree. We eat this fresh immediately plucking from the tree. Your can see some pictures of what this fruit looks like at http://toptropicals.com/catalog/uid/Cynometra_cauliflora.htm.


5) Mata Kuching

This is a smaller version of the longan which we can buy in the market. The tree is very hard to climb because the trunk is very thick, so we used dry branches to throw at them.

6) Buah Limbeh

Shape is roundish, and size is slightly bigger than grape. The fruits grow like a string of beads from the branches. Tastes sour but some are sweet. Inside the fruit are seeds which we swallow (but later pass out)


7) Buah Susu

The buah susu is creeper that can still be found growing along roadside fences in many parts of Singapore. I wonder how many of you know that the ‘fruit’ is edible. It has a sweet and sour taste. But the fruit is too small to fill your stomachs though.

Buah susu1

Buah susu2


The above are just some of the many fruits that I used to pluck and eat as a kampong kid. Others include buah cherry, mangosteen, buah luku, langsat and of course the more common ones like durian, mangos, rambutan and its cousin the pulasan (by the way, do you know that the seed of the pulasan can be eaten?)

Bt Gombak
This is what the area looks like today. Bukit Gombak CC and the surrounding HDB flats have all gone.


If you know where we can find these fruit trees in Singapore, please let us and our readers know. I sure would like to bring my son to see and learn about fruits that his old man used to have such a great time plucking. And if my friend Chun See can use his ‘guanxi’ with his Army Museum friends to arrange for me to visit Bukit Gombak with my son, that would be a dream come true.

51 comments:

Victor said...

Chuck, you shot down the Buah Suntol with your boy's lastik? There are National Parks people reading this blog, you know?

Chris said...

Victor, what made u think Chuck got his boy to get the fruit? Just like what made u think Chun See climbed the coconut for the coconut? Perhaps Chuck got a MONKEY to do the job? You're just so full of assumption, u know? *shaking my head in exasperation*

But back to Chuck's post. Woa, in all my 42 years, some of these fruits I've never heard before, much less ate them. Your buah buah is enough to make me wanna start an orchard of my own ... but alas, unlike Chun See, I'm not a landed property owner leh. Maybe can grow them in my balcony hor? LOL.

Lam Chun See said...

One technique that Chuck did not mention is to use bamboo poles (teck ko - for hanging clothers) to hit the fruits.

Sometimes we deliberately split the end of a bamboo pole and insert a piece of wood to give a forked end. We then grip the branch of the fruits and twist and shake. Can't remember if we ever got punished by our mum for this act of vandalism. I believe this technique worked for jambu and rambutans.

simplyetel said...

i only heard of mata kuching and buay long long before.. T__T

uncle lam: i just realised you are the same age as my dad! hehe..

Chris said...

We were having training once at Taiwan, and we passed by a village with lots of longan trees. Since we didn't have "teck ko" with us, we used our rifles and hit at the branches in quick succession while standing on the roof of our land rover. We got the logan fruits, but also a tongue-lashing from the house owner. So unprofessional hor? The Taiwanese must be thinking we SAF soldiers are bunch of "yeow kwee". Hee.

chuck said...

Victor...The Buah Suntol was 'shot' down by some dry branches. I would love to try my lastic marksmanship on it, but I did not bring it along.Now, I hope the National Park people won't send someone to jaga the tree....

zen said...

The easiest fruit to steal, I think is the banana. On one occasion we saw a chap stole a whole bunch of banana from our compound. Just a few strokes from a chopper, he brought down the whole plant. Since the plant was quite a distance from our house, we just shouted at him and he bolted.

IML said...

Ever heard of rose apple? Rose fragrant apple like fruits. I have never seen it for a long long time. This is the fruit I missed most.

Chuck said...

Rose apple? Just wait for my next post; Part 4.

Victor said...

Chuck, how about 老鼠拉龟 ("lou shee lai kwai" in Cantonese, meaning "mouse pulling a tortoise")? Have you come across or heard of this fruit before? It was my late mum who told me that name when I was a kid. It is of similar size and shape to the lemon but its skin is smoother, softer, thinner and light orange in colour. In fact, the seeds look a bit like those in the photo of the Buah Susu here. You eat it by puncturing a hole in one end of the fruit and then sucking the seeds out through that hole, at the same time pressing on the fruit with one hand to force the seeds out, much like drinking from a milk bottle. It tastes sweet and slightly sour. I think the seeds are small, crunchy and could be eaten. Shiok.

chuck said...

Hi Victor, I have not heard of that fruit in Cantones but I believe I came across it. It is a bigger version of the Buah Susu. Ths skin is rather smooth and the skin looks like that of a cucumber when it is green and turn to beautiful yellow when ripe. It grows on a creeper just kike the Buah Susu. If not mistaken it is called the passion fruit. Yes, the seeds and taste are similiar to the Buah Susu. The way you describled how how the fruit is eaten is the same of how we eat it before.

Victor said...

Yes, that's the one. When ripe, the skin has a similar colour to the papaya's. Thanks Chuck.

Lam Chun See said...

Let me tell you guys something about my friend Chuck. He is not only an expert on "weapons' like Lastic and
guns, but also on Spore trees; esp fruit trees. Sometiems when we go for our brisk walking exercise together, he will point out (show off is better word) some trees and tell me the name. Of cours even if he bs me, I also don't know. Hence, I am pressuring him to write part 4 on some of not so recognisable edible tree/plants in Spore.

Victor said...

Chun See, just use "bluff" lah, what "bs"? *Shaking my head in disbelieve*

"If you want to do it, just go all the way" - Another famous Victor Koo saying. (Can also be used to counter Nike's motto.)

zen said...

Knowledge goes hand-in-hand with one's passion. I read a write-up of Stevn Spielberg. He is so passionate in filming that he slipped into an abandoned studio undetected- live there, sleep there and made an office out of it. This was because he was rejected by the movie industry so many times that he made this desperate move to get connected. It is the same for Chuck who should have studied Botany.

Anonymous said...

Pasir Ris drive 1 is lined with many Suntol trees near Elias Road.

Lam Chun See said...

The other day, I went for my brisk walking exercise at MacRitchie. I was doing my warm up exercises under the buah suntol tree in photo no. 1 when some skin fell on my head. I looked up and saw a monkey eating the buah suntol. No wonder the the area around tree was littered with lots of skin. If only I had my camera with me!

Lam Chun See said...

Hey Chuck. Pasir Ris Drive 1 is not far from your place. Ask your son to bring along his lastic and let the old man show him how it is done!!!

chuck said...

Chun See, I will make a trip this weekend to check out the Suntol trees along Pasir Ris Ave 1. If possible I'll show him how to use the lastic (if it is safe enough)
I don't want to be arrested for vandalism etc.. or for other reasons by the park rangers...

Lam Chun See said...

Hey. I only joking. I don't want to read the papers on Monday about "Over-enthusiastic father arrested for endangering the public with deadly weapon."

Lam Chun See said...

Don't forget to take some photos and blog about it. That's an order soldier!

chuck said...

Yes Sir!!! Even though I have left the army 27 years ago.

peter said...

I am not sure whether I was eating Buah Long Long in the good old days but there was one fruit where I used to dip fruit in black sweet sauce + red chilly. Was that Buah Long Long?

During my BMT trg in the Ulu Sembawang area, there were papaya trees. We used the SAF bayonet to cut open the fruit.

Chun See:

Can make one lastic for me. I need the wood structure only - I can get my own rubber. I thot of picking up this hobby again. My target practice range is in the ECP near the SAFRA Club. Down there got the best coconut fruits ready for plucking.

Victor said...

Chuck, I am still waiting for your promised "Kampong Fruit Trees (Part 4)" story.

Anonymous said...

Hi,my name is bolton..sounds like an old man's name..in fact i'm quite old liao..but FYI...lastic and other bird capturing device is banned in s'pore.anyway my memories came back when you mention the catapult word.i used to shoot birds with that...and i shoot dogs and rats too..WHERE to buy this 'weapon' in s'pore??i need it to shoot that noisy crow near my room...cant sleep!!
bye...by the way,i came to know this blog when my colleague ask me to find the english word for buah long long....:)

sharon said...

My dad told me that as a kid growing up in a kampong, they had fun eating fruits of the buah ceri.

.~.LoNe's AnGeL.~. said...

Hi, I am looking for the fruit call matakuching as the one stated in ur post. My mother is craving for it but we are unable to find the fruit, kindly do advise me on which market can i get this fruit from.

Anonymous said...

There is at least a km of sentol trees along Tampines in front of the jc. Can just parked your car and picked up the ripe ones that havedropped.

Lam Chun See said...

Interesting. Thanks for the lead.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I happen to stumbled upon your blog and it brings back so much old memories of the good old days. I am looking for this fruit tree which I dont think it exist anymore in Singapore. This fruit tree is as big as buah quinie(a type of mango)tree, its fruits are purplish in color and has a single seed. Its shape is similar like of dates. Its very sweet n turns your mouth, lips and hands purple. Do update me plz. Ty

Chan Kum Sung said...

Hello Chuck - I see, you were the one that went around to curi-curi (steal) all the kampong fruits i.e. passion fruit, jumbo, buah long-long, Hor Pow Kor etc. etc. I know what is Hor Pow Kor. LOL.
How can I contact you Chuck?
Kum Sung

Lam Chun See said...

Wah ... Chuck. You better don't give him your contact. He may charge you for all the fruits you 'curi' from him; plus 30 years' interest. You sure 'pok'. LOL.

Chan Kum Sung said...

Lam Chun See don't worry, I won't tangkap you. Can you let me know how I can contact Chuck? Big smile.
Sorry, I don't recognized you at all. Where were you living while at PEE? I formerly lived at blk 18, 107 Prince Charles Rise. Currently living near Toronto, Canada.

Lam Chun See said...

Kum Sung. I never lived at PEE. Just an old friend of Chuck's. Pls send me an email at this address: cslam@hoshin.com.sg and I will forward to him.

Did you see Chucks other article about PEE? Many of your former neighbours left comments. One of them, James Tann, has set up a blog just on PEE.

Chan Kum Sung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chan Kum Sung said...

Lam Chun See, thanks for your infor. I have still not heard from Chuck. My email address is jkschan@rogers.com. Cheers!!!

Lam Chun See said...

OK I will sms him now to chase. We are good friends. Maybe he is out of town. By the way Chuck has written several articles about the games that he played as a child. Pls click on the label Toys Were Us.

Chan Kum Sung said...

Wow! I am truly impressed by Chuck's memory of the games we played during childhood. Great stuff.

Yvonne said...

Hi, where is the location for the last pic in the post? It does have the apple orchard tree feel.

James Tann said...

The buah susu in the above photos, even though ripe, are pretty smal in size! A good size should be about the size of a large egg. It may be of a different variety as most of the fruits I remember had thicker rinds.

Lam Chun See said...

The last photo is of the former Princess Elizabeth Estate just next to Hillview Circus. I think they are now building some condo there.

Yvonne said...

Ok! thanks! do you have the exact address of it? Always wanted to go there!

Lam Chun See said...

Yvonne. You can check out the maps here. The bldgs are gone of course, but can tell location from the roads. Quite near to the former KTM railway track.

James Tann said...

Yvonne,
The location is right at the END of Hillview Ave, beside the Mindef fence. It is directly across the Hillview Park / Glendale Park condos.
However, the entire area is now bordered up due to the building of The Hillier condominium and the new un-named condo beside that.
The 'apple orchard' that you see in the above photo has all been cut down. I passed that area about a month ago.
The old Hillview HDB Estate used to be sited there.
The trees were planted after the estate was demolished.

Yvonne said...

Thanks for the info! really appreciate it :)
James, you mean the apple orchard no longer there already? I know there are apple orchard tree in Singapore, but couldn't manage to find it till now.

Yvonne said...

http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/budastock/budastock1202/budastock120200046/12599013-beautiful-apple-orchard-in-a-row-at-both-sides.jpg

this is the photo I'm referring to but have totally no idea where I could find it.

James Tann said...

Hi Yvonne,
I was just using the term 'apple orchard' loosely. The trees were definitely not apple trees but local roadside trees planted after the HDB demolition. Most probably to prevent soil erosion.
You can try and approach the construction people to let you pass as there are still trees in orderly rows nearer the back of the development near the slope of Bukit Gombak.
Here is a blog I wrote about of the exact place you mentioned.
http://ijamestann.blogspot.sg/2012/01/yet-another-condo-project-at-hillview.html

Chew Veronica said...

Chuck,I used to go up to the hillside with my granny to visit friends there. Remember playing among the huge rocks. And fruits trees. There will alot of herbs growing on the grounds. Do u remember any of the people living up there? My granny's friend, the skinny old lady wore sarong like my grandmother too. She would come down to our house to play cards with my granny and aunties and friends. We lived at Blk 8.

Anonymous said...

Hi Veronica,

Glad to know that you had fun playing among the hugh rocks. Did you also tried to catch longkang fishes and small crabs under the rocks? It was great fun!! I remembered a family which is very close to me - Surname is Chong. Their youngest son is nickname 'Little Tiger' as he was born in the year of the tiger. Besides this family, there is also an Eurasian family staying up the hillside.

Chuck

Wong Kwong Meng said...

There is a buah santol tree at Mt emily park. I lived at Niven road when i was young, & my neighbour pluck the fruit for me to eat.
After all this years, now i know the tree is called buah santol

Sally pang said...

Does anyone have any information where I can buy a buah susu vine, or, where I can find them growing wild in Singapore? Perhaps I can pick up a fallen ripe fruit and try to propagate it?