Category Archives: Funny

Sago Grub (Butod), the Most Bizarre Food of Borneo

sago worm butod

Known as Butod locally, Sago Grub or Sago Worm is a delicacy, as well as the most disgusting food of Sabah. Junk food always look good, but it does ugly things to your body. Sago Grub is the opposite, it’s an ugly but nutritious food. However, it’s a test of bravery to put this wriggling bug into your mouth.

Edible Sago Grub is the larvae of Snout Beetle

Edible Sago Grub is the larvae of Sago Palm Weevil

Butod is the larvae of Sago Palm Weevil, a species of snout beetle that consumes sago palm during its infancy. Sago Grub can grow fatter than the little finger and looks like a giant maggot. This creamy yellow color and fat worm is rich in protein and sold at US$0.25 each (RM40 – 45 per Kg), quite expensive, but still a hot selling item in local market.

Snout Beetle / Weevil, adult of Sago Grub (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus oliver)

Sago Palm Weevil (Species: Rhynchophorus ferrugineus olivier), adult of Sago Grub, is also known as Red Palm Weevil, and Asian Palm Weevil. Locals call it Linggaung.

According to Dr. Arthur Chung, an insect expert, adult Sago Palm Weevil is also consumed in Sabah. The rusty red colour adults are usually grilled or roasted, with the hard and spiny parts, and unsavoury guts removed before eating.

Fallen sago palm

Sago grubs grow and feed inside sago palm

The best place to collect sago grubs is in sago palm, as they feed on starchy pith of decaying sago palm tree, before they are mature and transform into beetle after 2 months.

Searching for sago grubs (Butod)

Grub up some sago grubs (Butod) in Sago Palm

Just chop the sago trunk to look for butod in the spongy internal of the palm. Farmers also deliberately cut some opening on fallen sago tree, to attract female weevils to lay eggs inside. They could harvest up to 100 butod per trunk after 1 to 3 months.

Cleaning sago grubs before cooking them

Cleaning sago grubs before cooking them

Sago Grub is white. I notice it’ll turn yellowish or brownish after being exposed to ultraviolet. Sago grubs can die fairly quick under direct sunlight and dry place. Keep them in shade, preferably with pieces of damp sago wood, and they can survive for a few days.

Sago grubs for sale in native market (Tamu)

Sago grub is a healthy source of protein and fiber.

Sago Palm is an important crop of Sabah. Sago Grub is supposed to be a pest because it burrows and eats voraciously into the heart of sago palm, and cause the tree dies. However, sago grub is a highly sought after food that brings good money. You can see the statue of Sago Palm Weevil at the entrance of Rumbia Information Centre. There is no other insect in Sabah that is “commemorated” by such a big statue.

Statue of Snout Beetle / Weevil at Rumbia Information Center

Statue of Snout Beetle / Weevil at Rumbia Information Center

In Sabah, though everyone knows about Sago Grub, not many are actually eating this soft-bodied larvae. Bugs seem to be doing filthy things all the time. Just look at fly and cockroach that make people sick. So it might be a bad idea to eat bugs. Anyway, sago grub is very clean because it only feeds on and live inside sago pith.

Sago grubs feed on decaying pith tissues of the sago palm

Sago grubs make tunnels and feed on decaying pith tissues of the sago palm

According to what I read on the Internet, sago grubs have been described as creamy tasting when raw, and like bacon or meat when cooked. I wanted to try out the live and cooked sago grubs and see if it is true. Now I can tell you that the taste of both is not bad, and I can assure you that sago grub has no funny smell or taste. No, it doesn’t taste like chicken.

Cooked Sago Grubs (Butod)

Are you dare to eat this?

Tasting Live Sago Grub

Every human has insectophobia to some degrees. We can’t never be friends with bugs. Even if I love to photograph bug, that doesn’t mean I want to lick it. Anyhow, I always want to experience eating live sago grub at least once. Probably I think this is a big achievement as high as the Medal of Honor.

Eating live sago grub

It’s me first time eating live sago grub

To eat live sago grub, hold its head with two fingers, because you won’t eat its hard chitinous head, and to avoid its pincer biting you. I squeeze its head to kill it first, so it won’t wriggle in my mouth later and to suffer from a painful death. Then I take a bite at its neck and chew. You can watch the following video if you want to see action:

In first bite, the juicy worm “bursts” in my mouth, and I can feel its creamy gut flows all over my tongue. OMG, that’s so gross! I just try not to think that I’m eating a bug, or I would throw up. The taste of raw butod is like coconut milk with a bit of sweetness. The skin is tough and chewy. Though I don’t think that it’s delicious, the taste isn’t terrible at all. In fact, it’s quite bland.

Cooking Sago Grubs

Swallowing squirming sago grubs may look way too savage. No problem. You can fry, boil, or grill it, then eat it with knife and fork. Personally I think cooked butod tastes much better. It’s so easy to cook butod. You will know how after watching the video below:

According to a research by Oxford University, Sago Grub contains significantly more vitamins, unsaturated fat, and minerals, but much less cholesterol than other common meat such as chicken and beef. Therefore, Butod is an excellent alternative source of protein.

Washing the sago grubs before cooking them

Washing the sago grubs before cooking them. Female butod is bigger and darker in color

The simplest way to cook sago grubs is to stir-fry them in a pan, until they are totally dry and turn crispy. The first step is to wash and clean the butod with water.

Prepare to cook Sago Grubs (Butod)

Cut an opening on sago grub.

Next step is quite cruel. You tear an opening on their bodies, with finger or knife, so they won’t expand and “explode” while being fried. The yellow soft stuff gushes from the cut is the fat. Butod is packed with oil like a natural energy bars. The locals believe butod oil can thicken their hair.

Pan-fried the sago grubs

Pan-fried the sago grubs

Then pour all the butod into the pan and stir fry them slowly with small fire. For better flavor, you may add a pinch of salt or MSG. If you think that is too plain, you can cook them with onions or other vegetables, basically it’s same as how you cook other meat.

Oil from sago grubs

All the oil is from the plump sago grubs

Do you see the oil in the photo above? It’s all from the sago grubs! The smoke smells really, really good and appetizing, like butter.

Fully cooked Sago Grubs

Fully cooked Sago Grubs (probably a bit overcooked…)

Researchers describe insects as “micro-livestock” that emits 10 times less greenhouse gas than farting cows. The author of “Bug Chef Extraordinaire”, David George Gordon, says, “Insects are the most valuable, underused and delicious animals in the world.” Eating bugs comes with hundreds of benefits, but people don’t eat bugs for only one reason, it is disgusting. Well, I can give men a superb reason to eat Butod. It’s good for men. *wink wink*

Eating fried sago grubs with beer

Fried sago grubs go well with beer

After stir-fried, the butod becomes crispy and taste like fried fish skin, with a hint of prawn, quite nice. It goes well with beer. Dipping it with a bit of cheese would make it more yummy (I haven’t tried that though).

Sago Festival

If you are interested in munching some sago grubs, you may visit Sago Festival (Pesta Rumbia in local language), which is held in Kuala Penyu annually.

Sago grubs to be cooked

Sago grubs to be cooked

During the festival, the ticket for Sago Buffet is available for a few bucks only. Buy one and you can try different kinds of sago food, which includes cooked sago grubs.

Cooking Sago Grubs (Butod)

Cooking Sago Grubs (Butod)

Sago Grubs as food

Sago Grubs served in Sago Festival

Tourists trying out Sago Grubs (Butod)

Tourists trying out Sago Grubs (Butod)

There are many tourists who are keen to try sago grubs. The ticket is always sold out fast.

Sago Grub Satay or Satay Butod

Sago Grub Satay

Sago grub is also widely eaten by people of Sarawak, Southeast Asian countries, and Papua New Guinea. Sago grubs are commonly sold in weekly open air market (Tamu) in rural area of Sabah.

Children learn about sago grubs

Children learn about sago grubs

However, whenever I want to share butod with my friends, 9 out of 10 them would run away, and one passes out. Actually most Sabahans haven’t tried this delicacy yet. Hope the young generations will be educated that butod is great stuff and nobody should be afraid of eating it.

Butod Products

As one of the Four Asian Tigers, Thailand is far ahead in food industry. You can buy butod in package and tin from their supermarket and even order them online! Here are some product shots for your viewing pleasure.

Salted Sago Worms

Salted Sago Worms. Photo by www.thailandunique.com

Yes, you can eat worms like snack. Do share with your friends!

Edible Sago Worm Larvae (BBQ Flavour)

Edible Sago Worm Larvae (BBQ Flavour). Photo by www.thailandunique.com

Let’s open a can of worms, shall we?

Canned Palm Weevils with Salt

Canned Palm Weevils with Salt. You can eat the whole beetle straight from the can. Photo by www.thailandunique.com

Chocolate Coated Sago Worms

Nom Nom… Chocolate Coated Sago Worms. A great gift for Valentine’s Day? Photo by www.thailandunique.com

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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3D Wonders Museum of Sabah

3D Wonders Museum

Being the first Upside Down House in South-East Asia, Rumah Terbalik added another fun house just next to it. In a nutshell, 3D Wonders Museum is a 4,000 sq. feet gallery that displays 28 painting mostly about Sabah. Visitors can “interact” with the objects in the drawing, as if they become part of the painting (or illusion).

long queue to 3D Wonders Museum
After seeing so many amusing photos of 3D Wonders Museum on social media, I decided to visit this most talked about site in Tamparuli district. This museum can only fit 25 people at a time, so it was a long queue during weekend. Luckily the wait took less than 10 minutes. There is no time limit and you are very encouraged to take photos in the museum (photo taking is free).

3D Painting

Upon entry, we started playing with something small and simple as a “warm-up”. Just position your hands on the right spot of the painting and you are ready for a funny shot.

3D painting of Likas City Mosque
Pic: 3D painting of floating City Mosque, the most beautiful mosque of Sabah.

3D painting of big fish
Pic: big fish by Sea Bajau fisherman from Semporna

3D drawing of sinking ship
Though there are many attractions in Sabah, 3D Wonders Museum is one of the few family-oriented destinations that excites both adults and children.

information sign for 3D painting
Pic: majority of the 3D art collection here are inspired by various unique culture, nature and destinations of Sabah. You can read the signage to learn more about the subject of each painting. The photos of signage also shows you some good ideas on how to pose with the painting for the most entertaining effect. Of course, you can try other creative poses.

best photography spot for 3D painting and murals
Pic: Photography pointer that tells you where is the best spot and angle to shoot the picture.

Don’t worry if you travel alone. The friendly staffs are always around to guide you and to help you to take picture of you in action, so you may leave your selfie stick at home.

3D painting of fireman hose

3D painting of rubbish in water village
I chit chat with some of the tourists and find that many of them are friends and family from Brunei, Peninsular Malaysia, etc.

Flora & Fauna and Conservation

Then I moved on to the nature theme that have big painting features the eco-treasures of Sabah. The way they present the theme is probably more exciting than the real things. For example, there has been a myth that our giant pitcher plant and rafflesia flower of Borneo are man-eaters, so the museum turns that fantasy into something touchable.

children in 3D floor painting of Nepenthes Rajah pitcher plant
Pic: children being eaten by sitting on Nepenthes Rajah, the largest pitcher plant in the world.

3D wall and floor painting of man-eating rafflesia flower
Pic: Most murals span across wall and floor to give them more depth and realistic look, like the rafflesia flower painting above.

orangutan in jail at 3D Wonders Museum

hanging out with orangutan apes in 3D Wonders Museum
Pic: hanging out with Orangutan, the wild man of Borneo rainforest.

releasing baby turtles in 3D Wonders Museum
Pic: this is how baby turtles feel when they are released.

photo with 3D painting of polar bears
Pic: Polar bears on melting ice cap, a warning for global warming.

Sabah Ethnic Theme

Sabah is famous for its vibrant and colorful culture. You can pretend you are in a cultural journey. Don’t be squeamish while taking photos. Be playful and imaginative, the more you interact with the painting and blend into scene, the better the photos. Your photo would look pretty lame if you just stand straight and act normally.

magunatip bamboo dance in 3D painting
Pic: Magunatip bamboo dance, great pose and expression bro!

Bajau horsemen painting in 3D Wonders Museum
Pic: horse riding with Bajau, the Cowboys of the East.

Murut headhunter photo booth in 3D Wonders Museum
Pic: photo booth of Murut headhunter. I meant to be funny but it looked so real that it was a bit creepy instead.

lansaran of 3D Wonders Museum
Pic: Wooden trampoline in traditional longhouse of Murut people

Travel Theme

Let the paintings take you to popular places in Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud, Kiulu, Semporna, Kinabalu Park, Ranau and Sandakan. A photography tip for taking better 3D photo – reduce the power of camera flash, because the reflection and shadow cast by strong light would make the painting looks flat and fake. This can be difficult if you are not using good camera.

Mt. Kinabalu and broken bridge
Pic: This painting is the favorite of everyone because it looks “dangerous”.

summit of Mt. Kinabalu in 3D Wonders Museum
Pic: Due to earthquake, climbing to Mt. Kinabalu is halt until further notice, but you still can take a photo of the summit here.

mountain climbing
Pic: May be you should try harder for the challenge, mom.

Zip Borneo zipline
Pic: Zip Borneo, the longest flying fox zipline in Borneo.

3D Wonders Museum

mural of white water rafting in Kiulu
Pic: Canoeing in Kiulu River

caught by white-bellied sea eagle
Pic: “Aaaargh… tell mom I won’t be back for dinner!”

Illusions

The illusion section gets the most laughters. It’s just awesome.

fighting Malay Silat
Pic: This silat fighting photo puzzled me the most. I was wondering why all my friends could do flying kick so easily.

prop for Silat fighting
…until I saw how it’s done lol. It’s like breaking the magician’s code. This can spoil the fun so I only reveal one secret here.

Shrinking Room (or Ames Room)
Pic: The Shrinking Room (or Ames Room). Sometimes you just can’t trust your eyes.

head under food cover
Pic: Can you figure out? Aren’t you entertained?

UV light painting of KK City
Pic: Night view of Kota Kinabalu city. The UV lights will make your cloth glows in the dark.

Entrance Fee & Contact

You can save a few bucks if you visit both 3D Wonders Museum and Upside Down House (2-in-1 package).

Ticket Fee* Malaysian Adult Foreign Adult Child (4-12 years)**
3D Wonders Museum RM24.40 RM35 (≈USD$7) RM15.90 (≈USD$4.60)
Upside Down House
(Rumah Terbalik)
RM10.60 RM19.10 (≈USD$5.50) RM5.30 (≈USD$1.50)
2-in-1 Package
(Upside Down House + 3D Wonders)
RM31.80 RM47.70 (≈USD$14) RM19.10 (≈USD$5.50)

* Fee inclusive of 6% GST tax (price as of June 2015)
** Free entrance for infant 3 years and below

Upside down House (Rumah Terbalik)
Pic: 3D Wonders Museum is next to Upside Down House (Rumah Terbalik)

Shuttle Services

You can take their shuttle depart from shopping malls (see below) to this place for RM50 (≈US$12.50) per person. Please call +60 18-8614688 / +60 88-230534 in advance to book a seat (before 4:00pm).

From Center Point From Wisma Merdeka Return
8:30am 8:45am 11:30am
10:30am 10:45am 1:30pm
2:00pm 2:15pm 5:00pm
3:00pm 3:15pm 6:00pm

Address (see Location Map): Kampung Telibong, Batu 21, Jalan Telibong Tamparuli, 89208 Tuaran, Sabah, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 7am – 7pm daily
Phones: +60 88-260263, +60 19-8614688
Email: sales@trekkerslodge.com
Website: www.upsidedownhouse.com.my
Facebook: Rumah Terbalik – The Upside Down House in Borneo!

Photos taken in Tamparuli, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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