Join me in my wanderings around the globe via these online ramblings in far off places....

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

the Mighty Perky Nana Expedition

A few months back I was given some disturbing information, there was a chocolate bar from New Zealand that I had not heard of let alone tried! I had made a simple comment about NZ's ubiquitous Moro Bar when expatriate Kiwi journalist and former next door neighbour of my sister, Lee Mylne questioned me as to how I could comment on the Moro Bar being a Kiwi icon without at the very least paying passing lip service to the Mighty Perky Nana!

the "pre-teen" confectionery bar from Cadbury NZ

the innocent Moro Bar picture posted on Facebook that started this whole thing!

Now chocolate-marshmallow fish, chocolate-pineapple lumps (now being marketed in Oz by Pascall), the mysterious L&P soft drink and the previously mentioned Moro Bar are all common "food" discoveries for any foreigner going to NZ, but how after many many years had I missed the Mighty Perky Nana! A quick google search showed a Facebook Fan Club for this confectionery treat, but then again everything and everyone has a Facebook Fan Club so that's not really a surprise. The Cadbury website described it as "preteen confectionery" which may just hold a clue as to why I had missed this product until now. But then I was hit by a sudden dread! What if the makers of the Perky Nana were to pull a Polly Waffle on me and remove it from the shelves BEFORE I ever got to try one. In November last year when the Polly Waffle was pulled from the shelves without notice I was wracked with grief, would I ever get to taste that strange chemically flavoured marshmallow inside that strange crispy waffle like shell again? Thanks to eBay I managed to get one of the last boxes of Polly Waffles from some hoarder in NSW, but I was not going to let the Perky Nana slip me by! No sirree, this fella was going to get himself a Perky Nana!

One of the worlds last boxes of the great Australian Polly Waffle, and they're all mine!

So whilst on one of my regular internments in Sydney I passed a North Sydney chocolatier in Berry Square (off Berry Street) called "Sweet Treats", who low and behold had Perky Nana's featured in the window display! At last I could finally try the Antipodean sweet and that part of my life would be complete and I could move on. As I was rushing past the store during lunch time, I pledged to return on Saturday morning and purchase my first Perky Nana. Saturday morning could not come quick enough, I jumped out of bed into the freezing Sydney winter and marched up the hill on McLaren Street and down the hill on Miller Street towards the purveyor of chocolate treats. I was suddenly rudely awakened from this dream when arriving at the shop to find they did not open on Saturdays! It's the 21st century for god sake, can't a chocolate shop open for a few hours on Saturday? Apparently not.......

Closed on Saturdays - no Perky Nana!

I could see to actually purchase one of these treats from across the Tasman I was going to have to make a better plan. I decided to incorporate the quest for the Perky Nana into my regular Friday night Sydney International Food Hunting Expedition. Now one of the things I love about travelling is the food of the world, and in particular street food. Being back in Australia, encamped in Sydney there is not exactly a choice of night warungs and food carts as you'd find in Indonesia or other similar Asian destinations, but on a Friday night in Sydney's Haymarket area there is a reasonable substitute for an Asian Street Food market. I wouldn't call it world class but its as I said a suitable substitute when one craves the Asian street food scene. There are a couple of sweet essentials in this area that have become part of my regular food hunting expedition in Sydney.

a Chinese BBQ stand in Sydney's chinatown
with a single thin sheet of BBQ pork going for $4 it's not exactly good value....

The first is the Emperor's Puffs from Emperor’s Garden Cakes & Bakery on the corner of Dickson and Hay Street. You'll often find people queued 10 or more deep into the street (particularly during the Friday night markets), at a small window opening onto the footpath beside the main shop. You have simply got to try these thing, every visit to Sydney I hit this place up for a supply of Emperor's Puff's. Think custard filled mini-donut ball and that's about as close as you can get by way of description without trying them. A complex stainless steal and cast iron machine clunks and rattles away in the corner of the bakery spitting out racks of hot custard filled delights as fast as people can buy them.

the outside of the Emperor's Bakery in Haymarket
image stolen from food blog

One of the Emperor's Puffs! Delicious!!
image stolen from food blog

Emperor's Puff Making Machine - in action

The second must buy sweet treat at Friday night's Chinatown market is Dragon's Beard Candy. This stuff is amazing and if you've never tried it you must. The Sydney maker of this incredible delight has his very own blog site here on blogger. The taste and oral sensation of this unique "candy" is hard to describe. Made from "spun sugar" and containing a parcel of sweet treats including coconut & crushed peanuts it's an Asian variation on Fairy Floss one could say, and much much better.

Dragon's Beard Candy - Heaven wrapped in spun sugar!

Dragon's Beard Candy - Heaven wrapped in spun sugar!
opened to reveal the coconut and sugar!

the Dragon Beard Candy Man at Sydney's China Town

Candy Man in action

Now as part of this regular expedition to Chinatown I have regularly passed a Malaysian Roti place called Mamak. When I talk about the line of people most Friday nights outside the Emperor's bakery buying custard balls being 10 deep, the line up outside Mamak is mind blowing. In fact the line is so long on a Friday night I have never had the patience to wait it out and try what must be pretty good Roti Canai for Sydney siders to line up like that. So beyond what became the Friday Perky Nana Expedition, I made two seperate trips to the City - a Thursday afternoon & a Sunday afternoon and blow me down if there wasn't a huge line up on each occasion! This guy just doesn't have the patience to wait in the street to eat Roti, no matter how good it may be!

Sunday afternoon crowd gathering outside Mamak waiting to get Roti!

So what of the Mighty Perky Nana? Well we can all relax - I was able to purchase a Perky Nana and cross that off my list. It was chewier than expected. The flavour reminiscent of the small yellow banana lollies you can buy at the old fashioned lolly shops but wrapped in chocolate. I can't say it changed my life, experiencing this pre-teen candy bar but I can now sleep sound knowing there is one less type chocolate treat in New Zealand that I have never eaten.

EDIT: In the time since I have made this post numerous search engines have brought people here wanting to purchase a Mighty Perky Nana. You can purchase them online here at Candy Kingdom

Monday, 14 June 2010

Sabu! Savu! Sawu!



My most recent sojourn was to the Indonesian Island of Savu, about half way between the islands of Timor and Sumba.

Like most places in Indonesia, Savu can be spelt any number of ways, depending on whether you use the Dutch spelling, the Indonesia spelling or the local spelling. Most locals I came across seemed to use the spelling/pronunciation "Sabu", where as most outsiders know the place as "Savu". So take your pick as to which you want to use, but for now I am going with Savu!

One of the challenges to visit Savu is the lack of flights getting there. There are regular ferry departures from Kupang, West Timor, however given the regularity that Indonesian ferries sink, the plane always gets a look in as a viable option. Although one would argue the rate planes fall out of the sky in Indonesia would certainly give cause for further consideration, however being a seafarer and spending a great deal of life at sea I have vowed not to die on the ocean. I am quite happy to die in a plane crash but drowning in the ocean is not part of the overall master plan - so the plane it is.

As the legendary Indonesian airline Merpati flails in its final stages of total disintegration, NBA a basically unheard of third level airline from Java has stepped up to offer a twice weekly air service to Savu from Kupang. NBA flies the legendary CASA 212, a box on wings, licensed built in Indonesia and an active participant in creating the incredibly bad air safety record in the expansive archipelago that is Indonesia. Every time I catch a 212 I can't help but to have flash backs to the 4 hour flight I did once between Kisar and Kupang in one of these flying boxes packed to the roof with foul smelling ripe Durians! I swear my clothes smelt of Durians for several days later.

NBA Casa 212NBA's 212 on the ramp at Kupang
Now with my visit to Savu, I had a particular interest to be on the less populated and more remote eastern side of the island. I learned the prior to East Timor's independence, ferries from Dili would go directly to East Savu and that once there were bars and karaoke joints and even girls shipped in from Java to keep the Timorese men entertained whilst at the aforementioned bars and karaoke joints. Since East Timor's independence in 1999 no one longer visits East Savu, and the only "hotel" on that side on the island has pretty much been abandoned. This was to be my home for a few days - the abandoned hotel of East Savu.

the fabulous landscaped gardens of my hotel

the wonderful bathroom, reminiscent of Schapelle's facilities over at Hotel Kerobokan

a single hole in the wall partly covered with newspaper, masquerading as a window

for added ventilation an industrial (supposed to be) wall mounted extraction fan, hard wired into the power grid, pretends to make a difference


The culture of Savu is still heavily influenced by their animistic beliefs. I was extremely privileged to be allowed access to the traditional healing area of Savu, where villagers go to be cured of whatever it is making them sick. Actual photos of the "magic healing" house are not allowed, but pictures of the general area were OK. A new house was being built during my visit, accompanied by an appropriate amount of animal sacrifices - pigs, goats and dogs - all giving their lives in a dual function of animistic offering and lunch for the working villagers. During an actual healing ceremony, the patient is led on horse back in a circular route around the "magic house" which contains various icons of animistic belief, whilst knowledgeable villagers mutter incantations each time the patient on horse back is led past limestone outcrops jutting out of the dry dusty ground.


the traditional healing centre of Savu

pig, dog and goat freshly slaughtered for offerings and for dinner

The people, like their neighbours on Sumba, show physical characteristics of the Indian people who travelled here bringing with them Hindu beliefs centuries ago. Savunese people have various cultural, linguistic and genetic links back to the times of the Indian Empires. But like most other parts of Indonesia through both Suharto's trans-migration, and trans-migration of traditional sea faring people like the Makassans, there is a mixture of peoples and culture on the island.
Savunese show many genetics features inherited from early Indian migrations to the Indonesian archipelago

one of the "chiefs" and keeper of healing powers

despite the Savunese having strong animistic almost Hindu links, like most of Indonesia through both traditional and "managed" transmigration patterns, large numbers of Muslims have found themselves living on Savu

Adjacent to the main island of Savu lies the smaller and less populated Raijua. Surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches, Raijua was also on my schedule to investigate. A trip down to Savu's main port it wasn't long before I had negotiated sole charter of a local fishing boat to circumnavigate Raijua. I propped myself on the roof of the main cabin with my GPS, camera and copies of satellite images and marine charts to survey the coastline of this remote ocean dot.

my trusty waterborne carriage for the day

a beachside village on Raijua

tools of the trade; GPS, Camera, Sat Images and marine charts

Raijua certainly has the cliched white sand and blue seas
My final night on the isalnd was spent in the port town of Seba. Dinner at one of the local restaurants, avoiding the RW (Dog) vendors in the back streets, consisted of some of the finest Sate Kambing (goat sate) I've ever eaten. Covered with a thick sweet kecap manis based sauce with ample chilli onion and tomato, they really were quite good.

the best Sate Kambing this side of Java
Islamic decorations above the restaurant in Seba
the NBA Airlines office in Seba
Downtown Seba


View Savu in a larger map
Google Map showing Savu relevant to Nth West Australia



  • Probably the easiest place to access Savu from is Kupang in West Timor
  • Getting to Kupang is relatively easy, with several airlines flying there
  • From Kupang get the NBA flight direct to Savu
  • This flight is semi-regular, at the time of writing was twice a week
  • It is difficult to book this flight outside of Indonesia
  • At the time of writing you could not book NBA flights on line
  • There are also regular ferries from West Timor and Sumba
  • Flights are cheap, and the safety record ferry vs flight is comparable……..
  • Accommodation in Savu is difficult to book in advance
  • You can find travel agents in Indonesia specialising in the remote islands



In the Beginning.....


Well here goes! WELCOME to Blog Attempt #153!

I have lost count how many times I have attempted to start a blog.......

So will this time be any different....possibly....possibly not....

But if you've made it this far you are at least at Post #1

All going to plan these ramblings should follow me around the globe on a never ending quest of never endingness

Special mention should got to Mad Dog of Madang for inspiring me to reattempt the blog!



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