Lindsay Gasik has been living in Malaysia and travelling around the region for about six years, but she still gets curious looks from locals wherever she goes – and it’s not because she’s Caucasian.
It’s because she’s a durian expert who conducts tours in Malaysia and around Southeast Asia for those who love the fruit and want to devour the different varieties.
“People always think I’m just a tourist and they want to know when I’m going home, but I don’t feel I have a home,” says the 29-year-old.
Since she arrived in Asia in 2012, Gasik has been living out of her backpack, going from one country to the next on her durian trail. Her blog, yearofthedurian.com/blog, has a wealth of information about the fruit with tantalising photos to boot!
It all started in 2009 at a vegan food fair in her hometown of Central Point in Oregon, United States.
“I transitioned to a vegan diet in 2007 but I was experiencing some health issues, and it so happened there was a vegan festival in my hometown and I decided to check it out.
“When I got there, there was this weird smell wafting through the festival grounds. I didn’t think it was bad but it wasn’t something I’d tried before. I couldn’t figure out what it was,” she shares.
“I asked people about it and found out it was from this fruit, the durian. The people I spoke to described it as some ‘magical’ fruit that would change my life and open my chakras. I wasn’t sure about that, but it made me very curious about the fruit.”
Gasik has done extensive research about durian for her blog, yearofthedurian.com. Photo: Lindsay Gasik
And so began Gasik’s hunt for durian. She found frozen durians at a Chinese grocery store and she fell in love with the creamy, rich flavour of the fruit. “I had never tasted anything like it. It was so different, and I needed to understand it,” she says.
Oregon was facing a recession at the time and Gasik, who’d just graduated from university, couldn’t find a job. Her father suggested that she travel for a year until the economic situation got better.
“I wasn’t interested in the usual tourist attractions, but when my father suggested I travel I decided to track down this fruit,” she says. That brought her to Indonesia, and then other countries in Asia where she has been for the most part since.
“I found out through online research that durians were in season in Sumatra, so I booked a ticket to the biggest city and just asked a lot of questions and found my way to some farms. It was a lot of luck actually, but I had to overcome my shyness and start talking to people,” she shares.
Gasik charted her travels and experiences with durian on her blog, which was meant to be a journal for her family and friends to know what she was up to. What she didn’t expect was for her blog to gain traction among durian lovers.
“One day I looked at the analytics for my blog and realised I got about 1,000 views daily. I was getting emails from people asking me questions about where I was going next and asking me if they could go with me.
“I realised then that my blog was sort of a resource for people and I thought, this could be my purpose,” says Gasik, who has travelled to 13 countries including Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines,
Gasik’s blog is now a well-known resource for durian fans keen on hunting down the best fruits and trying the varieties that are specific to different countries. She has extensive knowledge about the “king of fruits”, which she has gained from conversations with farmers, horticulturalists and durian fans.
“My purpose is to help people find their best durian. If you tell me you want a durian that’s sweet and dry, I will find it for you. I think of myself as sort of a durian sommelier,” she says.
Gasik with a group of people she guided on a tour in Thailand. Photo: Lindsay Gasik
Apart from her durian tours, Gasik also writes about durian and her travels for magazines and online sites, and gives presentations about durians too – how to choose a fruit, how to open one and where to find a durian to suit a person’s taste preference.
“I get tired of eating it sometimes, but I love learning about the fruit and the people. It’s about meeting and learning from people, particularly farmers. Comparing the fruit in every country, learning about the people and how they experience flavours – that’s what’s really interesting.
“It was never just about tasting the fruit but a way of exploring a bigger topic,” she explains.
In early 2018, Gasik wrote a book, The Durian Tourist’s Guide To Penang, which focuses on the varieties of durian in Penang, featuring 65 farms in the state and a pictorial identification of about 25 varieties.
“I’m currently working on another book – telling the stories of all the durians in Malaysia. I’m also trying to work with local guides to see how I can combine nature and cultural tours with a durian tour,” she says.
Gasik’s tours are gaining traction among tourists from all over the world, which keeps her busy throughout the year. “There are a lot more people into exploring places in a different way, and that’s really cool,” she says.
(Also read: Off The Beat: In search of the rare and elusive Durian Kura Kura) [...]
DUNGUN: The body of a robbery suspect who fell into Paka River while being chased by police personnel on Friday was found at 11.30am, but a policeman who had also fallen into the river during the pursuit has yet to be found.
Dungun District Police chief Supt Baharudin Abdullah said the suspect was found by a rescue team about 300m from the search site at Kampung Durian Mentangau near Paka here.
"The suspect's body was found stuck on a tree branch at the river bank and was sent to the Dungun Hospital for a post-mortem.
"The search and rescue operation to find the second victim, Constable Wan Mohd Arif Wan Yahya, 28, will continue," he told reporters here today.
The incident occurred at about 8.30pm on Friday, when the police were chasing the suspect who was involved in a robbery earlier this month.
Baharudin said today's operation began at 7 am, and involved 73 officers and members of the police force, Fire and Rescue Department Malaysia (JBPM) and the Malaysian Civil Defence Force.
"The services of two tracking dogs from the Putrajaya Fire and Rescue Department's K9 Unit were also used today," he said.
Meanwhile, Wan Mohamad Arif's sister, Suraya, 32, said the family had not given up hope on finding the former.
"In the morning, I brought water that had been blessed with recitations and prayers to be poured into the river as an alternative (Islamic) effort to find my brother, but even before I could open the lid of the bottle, I suddenly heard a sound akin to that of a balloon exploding, and the dead body of a man suddenly appeared before me.
"I thought it was the body of my brother, as he was also wearing a grey shirt (at the time he fell into the river), but alas, it was the body of the suspect," said Suraya, who fainted when she saw the dead body emerge. — Bernama [...]
To fight growing fatigue from searching through profiles in vain, the online dating sector is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help arrange meetings in real life and act as a dating coach. — AFP pic
LISBON, Nov 9 — Forget swiping through endless profiles. Dating apps are using artificial intelligence to suggest where to go on a first date, recommend what to say and even find a partner who looks like your favourite celebrity.Until recently smartphone dating apps — such as Tinder which lets you see in real time who is available and “swipe” if you wish to meet someone — left it up to users to ask someone out and then make the date go well.But to fight growing fatigue from searching through profiles in vain, the online dating sector is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help arrange meetings in real life and act as a dating coach.These new uses for AI — the science of programming computers to reproduce human processes like thinking and decision making — by dating apps were highlighted at the four-day Web Summit which wrapped up yesterday in Lisbon.Online dating pioneer eHarmony announced it is developing an AI-enabled feature which nudges users to suggest meeting in person after they have been chatting in the app for a while.“There is a lot of activity on dating apps but by and large there is not a lot of dates,” eHarmony CEO Grant Langston told the annual tech gathering.“Guys don’t know how to ask, it’s astounding really how many people need help and we think we can do that in an automated way.”‘Takes pressure off’ British dating app Loveflutter plans to use AI to analyse chats between its users to determine their compatibility and suggest when they should meet.“We will ping a message saying ‘You are getting along really well, why don’t you go on your first date’,” said Loveflutter co-founder Daigo Smith.Loveflutter already suggests places to go on a first date that are equidistant from both people’s homes using information from Foursquare, an app that helps smartphone users find nearby restaurants, bars and clubs.“It kind of takes the pressure off organising that first date,” said Smith.Tinder founder Sean Rad said AI will “create better user experiences” and predicted iPhone’s Siri Voice assistant would in the future act as a matchmaker.Voice activated An entirely voice operated dating app called AIMM which uses AI to mirror a human matchmaking service is already being tested in Denver where it has about 1,000 users.When you open the app, a soothing voice asks questions about what you like to do on a date or where you would like to travel.It then suggests suitable matches based on your personality. Once you have picked one you would like to meet, the app tells you about them.After several days the app will help set up a time for a phone call between you and your match — and give advice for your first date based on what it knows about the other person.“It will say things like ‘based on her personality inclination she is a traditional person, I would recommend dinner and a walk’,” said Kevin Teman, the app’s developer.The app also reminds you to ask questions “about the things that are important to you” during the date, he added.After the date, the app checks in with both people to see how it went and recommend whether they should continue to see each other or keep looking.Teman hopes to make it available across the United States early next year.Celebrity lookalikes Badoo, a London-based dating app, is now using AI and facial recognition technology to let users find a match that looks like anyone at all, including their ex or celebrity crush.Users can upload a picture of someone and the app will find lookalikes among Badoo’s more than 400 million users worldwide.Reality TV star Kim Kardashian, Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone and singer Beyonce are the most searched for celebrities globally since Badoo introduced the feature — dubbed Lookalikes — last year.However not everyone is convinced that AI can aid the search for love.Among the doubters at the Web Summit was UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said he was “a little bit sceptical” it could help “people chose their soul mates”.“I’m very happy I have chosen my soulmate by traditional methods,” said the former Portuguese prime minister, who is married to a Lisbon city councillor, in his opening address to the gathering on Monday. — AFP [...]
We already know Google collects a ton of data on us, and a lot of it comes from search. Google offers plenty of ways to limit the amount of data you have lying around, but they’re not all that easy to find. Starting today, Google is making it easier to both see and delete your search activity.Previously, you could visit your Google Account in Settings on Android phones or on the web on iOS, tap Manage your data & personalization and then My Activity to see your search results. Then you needed to tap the three-dot menu and select Delete to get rid of something. Finding your search history on desktops was just as cumbersome.To read this article in full, please click here [...]
GEORGE TOWN: The Search and Rescue (SAR) operation at the Bukit Kukus landslide site in Paya Terubong has ended on the fifth day of operations. [...]
The Fire and Rescue Department along with Civil Defence retrieve the ninth victim buried in the landslide in Jalan Bukit Kukus, Paya Terubong October 22, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
GEORGE TOWN, Oct 22 — Nine bodies were found, four injured and another still missing four days after a landslide took place at the Jalan Bukit Kukus paired road project site in Paya Terubong here.Until 10pm tonight, the rescue team was still looking for another victim who was reported missing and was feared buried in the incident at 1.56pm on Friday.“We will continue the search operation until the tenth body is found. So far the weather is good and the lighting is adequate, “State Fire and Rescue Department director Saadon Moktar said.He said the search for the victim, known as Md Rahaz, 25, from Bangladesh, would be concentrated in the third sector, namely, the site where the body of the ninth victim, Mohamad Uzzal, 33, was found under a crushed container.The incident at the Bukit Kukus paired road project site had so far killed nine people, namely, three Indonesian men, five Bangladeshi men and a Burmese woman, while another Bangladeshi man was reported missing.Four people, a man and three women, were injured, namely, Shamim, 24, from Bangladesh, currently being treated at the Penang Hospital Intensive Care Unit and reportedly critical; two Indonesian women Wa Iri, 36, who was four month pregnant, and Laduma, 46; as well as a Cambodian citizen, Norazizah, 24.Wa Iri was the wife of Bahtiar while Norazizah was the wife of Subaeri. Both men died in the incident.The fourth day of the operation which began at 8am today found two bodies of Indonesian victim, Subaeri, 34, which was found at 12.10pm and Mohamad Uzzal, of Bangladesh, found at 5pm today.Yesterday, the bodies of three Bangladeshi men were found, namely, Mohamad Abd Jalil, 31; Mithu Hossain, 30; and Mustak Hossain, 25; while the other two bodies were found on Saturday, Bahtiar, 36, (Indonesian man) and Myanmar woman Khin Aye Khaing, 33.Two bodies were found on the first day of the incident, namely, Bangladeshi, Attrul, 35, and Samsul Asman, 19, from Indonesia.Meanwhile, Norazizah when met at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Penang Hospital said she was grateful that her husband’s body was found in a perfect condition.“I am thankful, my husband’s body is in good condition, even though it was just found today, four days after the incident,” she said after identifying her husband’s body.Nor Azizah, 24, personally saw her husband being buried by the landslide in the incident. She was also slightly injured after being buried waist-deep in the incident before being rescued. — Bernama [...]
A view of the construction area where a landslide occurred on Friday that killed several foreign workers with three more feared still buried underneath the mud, October 22, 2018. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
GEORGE TOWN, Oct 22 ― Rescuers are doubling down on efforts to comb every inch of the Bukit Kukus landslide area after finding a body in the rubble that was not listed as missing yesterday.Penang Fire and Rescue Department Deputy Chief Mohamad Shoki Hamzah said his men will continue to dig deeper to the bottom of the rubble to ensure all potential victims are found.“Yesterday, we found a body of a worker who was not reported missing so we are not sure if there are more who were not reported missing buried underneath.“We are searching for two other Indonesian workers who were reported missing,” he said.Mohamad Shoki urged the family members and friends of those who worked at the construction site to report to the authorities if their loved ones are missing after the landslide on Friday.Today, searchers found the eighth body of a 34-year-old Indonesian worker, Subaeri under 1.9m of rubble.Mohamad Shoki said searchers, assisted by the canine unit, will continue to cover the whole 0.9ha area until they are certain that there is no one else trapped below the pile of dirt.“If the weather permits, we will continue with search operations until night today and hopefully, we will be able to recover all bodies soon,” he added.In the last two days, the search operations were halted when it rained.On Friday, a landslide brought down 12 containers stacked on the slopes of the construction site of the Bukit Kukus paired road project linking Paya Terubong to Relau.Four workers were injured in the incident while eight were killed with two still missing. [...]
Paying users of Spotify may have already noticed a major update to their iOS or Android app. The latest changes brings a simper navigation bar, which is reduced to just three options: Home, Search and Your Library. [...]
Fire and Rescue Department personnel search for victims of the landslide at Paya Terubong in George Town October 19, 2018. — Bernama pic
GEORGE TOWN, Oct 21 — The search and rescue operation for victims of the landslide in Jalan Bukit Kukus, Paya Terubong which enters its third day today found the bodies of three more victims.The three bodies found today were Bangladeshis Mithu Hossain, 30, and his fellow villager Mustak Hossain, 25, as well as Mohamad Abd Jalil, 31.The bodies of Mithu and Mustak were found stacked on top of each other under four metres of earth while the body of Mohamad Abd Jalil was found in a gruesome condition under 10 metres of earth.With the discovery of the three bodies, the total number of dead victims in the Friday afternoon incident now stands at seven comprising two Indonesian men, four Bangladeshi men and a Myanmar woman.The two bodies found on Friday were Attrul, 35, (Bangladeshi) discovered at 3.30 pm and Samsul Asman, 19, (Indonesian) at 5.08 pm, while the two bodies found yesterday were Myanmar woman Khin Aye Khaing (1.30 am) and Indonesian, Bahtiar, 36, (11.55 am).In the landslide at the construction site of the paired highway project in Bukit Kukus, there were four injured victims while three more were still feared missing under landslip earth.One of the injured man, Shamim, 24, of Bangladesh who was treated at Penang Hospital, was today transferred to the intensive care unit after he was found having internal injuries.The three victims who were reported still missing are Indonesian man Subairi and two Bangladeshi men identified as Ujal, 33, and Rahat, 25.The search and rescue operation was halted at 7pm following heavy rain in the landslide area and is scheduled to resume at 8am tomorrow.Penang deputy Fire and Rescue director Mohamad Shaoki Hamzah said the focus of tomorrow’s operation was to find one of the 13 containers which reportedly slided down in the landslip.“Based on the statements of several victims, we believed the three of them were in a container which has yet to be found. The container is believed to be under 20 metres of earth...the contractor confirmed one more container has not been found,” he said. He said the department was expecting difficulties to take out the container as it had fallen into a water retention site and there was no access to the location which forced the rescue team to build a path to the area.“We need to use an excavator to take out the landslide earth before moving the container. We hope the SAR tomorrow will find the container,” he said. — Bernama [...]