Whenever the word “apple” springs out, among the first things that come to my mind are usually, “Washington”, “Pies” or “Snow White”. Well, that’s just me being random. But all that has definitely changed. Say apple to me now and it’ll take me straight to Ba’kelalan.
Some may go “say what?” in response (like I did the first time), and some may go, “oohh, where’s that?” and only a few would say, “been there done that”. It is so remote and you have to take 2 flights to get there. First to Miri, then to Ba’kelalan by taking the Twin-Otter 15 seater MASwing aircraft (www.maswings.com.my). It is located near the Indonesian Kalimantan border and you could see a hell of a view on your way there. Cameras flashed like no one’s business even though the journey was bumpy, with the pilots trying to maneuver our cute little plane from hitting any thick clouds. All of us just wanted to eternalize the bird’s view of the greenery, the Mount Murud, the neat structured palm oil farm and the incredible unpolluted blue sky that looked like a painting.
Its shiny green skin dazzled brightly under the hot, morning sun. Next to it, grew another round, shiny green fruit; its small size screaming for attention.
Workers are seen tearing away the old newspapers around the other fruits, offering a glimpse of the succulent home-grown apples.
These are the Ba’ Kelalan apples, a beautiful fruit grown right at the Ba’ Kelalan valley in Lawas, Sarawak. An hour’s journey by a 19-seater DHT aircraft by Mas Wings, the Ba’ Kelalan highland is situated at an elevation of 3,000 feet. The area is also accessible by road from Lawas, but takes at least six hours on a fine day.
The smooth jawi script, intricately carved with the words ‘Tengku Khazijah binti Seri Maharaja Sultan Abdul Jalil, Riau 1127 (Hijrah)’, shone brightly in the glass case. The words were inscribed onto a silver tray, replete with small motifs.
It must have once been an important household item, used by a royal family. Present in the early days of the Riau Sultanate, it would have been used to carry delicious cooked food, and warm drinks for family members, friends and guests.
Other exhibits include a magnificent war helmet, inlaid with precious stones and made using bronze. It is from Iran dating back to the 18th to 19th century AD. There is also a pectoral plate made of silver inlaid with precious carnelian and turquoise stones from Bukhara, Uzbekistan from 19th century AD.