Tropical Fruits! (Buah-buahan)

There are SO MANY exotic fruits here in Malaysia! I’ll update this post with all the interesting fruits I find over the course of the year.

Mangosteen (Manggis)

Found inside the eggplant-looking outside layer, this fruit looks like squishy cloves of garlic… but tastes nothing like it! They are very sweet and are my favorite new fruit so far.


These look rather scary at first, but they are actually 1.) not giant round spiders and 2.) delicious!!!! Rambutan is only in season for part of the year, so I’m lucky to be here now!

the Rambutan Man

You peel away the brightly colored outside skin (with fingers or teeth), and inside you’ll find a soft, sweet fruit with a pit, closely related to lychee. Rambutan contains a lot of nutrients and has ton of health benefits, like killing parasites and fighting infections. Someone gave us a giant potato sack full of both red (pictured) and yellow rambutan, so goodbye internal parasites!

But most importantly, it looks cool and tastes good.

Picking rambutan with a classmate



My host mother (Amma) bought these as a Welcome Fruit for my first night in Tapah. Inside of the brown shell is a round white berry with a texture similar to lychee and a black pit inside.

Bananas (Pisang)


The bananas here are definitely not the Cavendish variety (the main kind that we have in the U.S.) and they’re not quite like the mini bananas sold in the U.S. either, since they have a consistency more like a plantain, have thinner peels, and are smaller.

Pink Guava (Jambu Batu)


These look like watermelon, but apparently you eat the outside skin part, too, something I didn’t realize until after I’d had some… oops.

Jackfruit (Nangka)

Yesterday I spent TWO HOURS cutting up these massive fruits with a friend of my host mom so that we could bring it to the Hindu temple. After a long, laborious effort, I found that inside sort of looks like that of a pineapple but there are big seeds. Jackfruit tastes like a combination of every fruit– a bit of banana, some pineapple, apple, grape, mango… you name it, and you’ll probably be able to find some resemblance.




In my first week, my host father (Appa) and I went to the home of another AFS student (who will be going to school with me!) and enjoyed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, followed by my first time trying durian.

The region I live in is known for durian, and it’s in season right now, but thankfully my house is not anywhere near a durian farm.

Durian is fairly well-known as the Worst-Smelling Fruit in the World. Google “durian worst fruit” and you’ll find thousands of web pages related to this: a BuzzFeed video “People Try Durian (The Smelliest Fruit in the World)”; Jessica Simpson bringing durian to Jimmy Kimmel Live; and articles about how the fruit is illegal in many hotels and train stations in Singapore and Thailand.

The fruit wasn’t quite as bad as I’d anticipated (I managed to politely express that it wasn’t my favorite of the fruits I’ve had so far), but it’s definitely not something I would eat by choice.

UPDATE: I tried durian for a second time, and I think I kinda sorta liked it a little bit. I’ve heard that if you try a food seven times, you start to like it, so that’s what I’m aiming for.



This fruit is similar to rambutan but is a bit different and slightly less sweet. You can twist the outside to remove the skin, and then you eat the white berry inside (but not the pit). I picked some of them off of a bush/tree at a classmate’s house!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. jay wolf schlossberg-cohen says:

    hey hanna, thanks for the updates. wish i could taste the fruits! let me know if you are getting my replies to your blog.
    the malaysian swimmers did very well in the synchronized pairs in the olympics. they actually made it to prime time here in the usa.


    1. Thanks! Yes, I love seeing your comments!
      I would bring some fruits back, but I don’t think Customs agents would like that, so maybe not. 😂
      Also, I did some water colors today! Thanks again!


  2. Vanina says:


    This is so amazing and I love the culinary tour – I’m amazed by the variety of fruits I’ve never heard of, yet alone tasted!! We spent the Labor Day weekend in Princeton and thought of you so much!! Much love,


    1. Thank you! I’ll do a post on all kinds of Malaysian cuisine soon! I think of you all often as well- love and miss you all!


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