Early this month I was driving to Kinabalu Park, when I was near the junction to Kota Belud, about 42 KM before Ranau, I saw a roadside stall selling a fruit that I’ve never seen before. As I was in a hurry, I didn’t pull over and check it out.
However, my curiosity keeps on bugging me and I couldn’t stop thinking what it is. After nearly 10 KM, I made a U-turn to come back to that stall. The fruit looks like mini-orange with smooth skin. The stall is quite striking with this orange-color fruit hanging and displayed all over the place.
The owner, Ms Latifah told me that this fruit is called Tampui or Tampoi. It’s a familiar name to me coz my friends who live in villages of highland told me about it, but I never taste one.
Latifah says this fruits are pluck in her orchard not far away. The Tampoi tree takes about 3 years to fully grown and it normally flowers near year end. This is a seasonal fruit that is only available between Jan and Mar.
If you like, you can sample the fruit before buying.
Latifah is busy taking Tampoi from her bamboo basket (called “waki”) and string them into a clump of ten, each is only sold for RM2 (≈USD0.60).
Actually I am more interested in photographing the stall as it looks so visually pleasing with these orange fruit. Latifah gladly agreed. I bet she was thinking who the heck I am coz I shot so many photos. I also bought Tampoi from her to show my appreciation.
Of course, photo-taking is not enough. I got to try one. Tampoi has very thick skin but it’s effortless to peel it into half to reveal the white pulp inside.
Tampoi looks like mangosteen. Its pulp is divided into a few slices, each with a seed in it. However, unlike mangosteen, the pulp of Tampui is dry and slight harder. I ate it and it tastes sweet with a bit of sour, very similar to mangosteen but less sour. Actually Mangosteen is a Garcinia species, while Tampoi is a Baccaurea species (Thanks Jason for the info).
The seed is small and has a layer of pulp glued with it. I believe such feature will make monkey consumes the whole seed, so Tampoi can take advantage of its mobility to spread to further place via excretion.
Wild mangosteen of Borneo
Photos taken in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo