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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Trip to Sabah 2012 - Pearls and Durian

If you were reading from the previous blog post, you would know that I had just finished a scrumptious seafood dinner and what better way to feel better than to have some shopping done. Sabah is famous for its pearls and all over Kota Kinabalu, one will be able to find shops and stalls that sell this treasure of the sea. Before this, I was really a newbie in looking and buying pearls (well I never bought pearls in my life before) but after a few days of haggling and buying some myself, I consider myself a semi novice now I guess! Hahah. Read on for what to expect if you are considering getting some pearls in Sabah.

Many shops selling pearls abound especially at the Pusat Kraftangan or handicraft market.
There is all kinds of pearl products available here

Strands and strands of pearls. Now there is 2 types of pearls. One is fresh water and the other is sea water pearls as you can see in the picture below. What is the difference? Well, from what I can tell, the sea water pearls are rounder in shape, has a more consistent color and generally available in larger size compared to freshwater pearls. Also how do you tell a real pearl and a fake (plastic) pearl? Well, the seller will use a very sharp knife or scissors and scrap the pearl. If its powdery and by rubbing the pearl there is no markings, then that is a real pearl. Plastic with coating will surely peel off if you scrape it. The price between a freshwater pearl and seawater can be about 2-3 times more for seawater ones. Another note I learned is that pearls which has been drilled for making necklace or bracelets are cheaper than those which are still in its full shape like those for earrings! I was told that once its drilled, the pearl loses quite abit of value.
You can also find pearls and lots of souvenirs in the night markets near the handicraft market. Again, make sure you bargain

Pendants are also very popular. The more perfect the pearl, the pricier it becomes
And to end the night, we had local durians. The local durian, which the seller calls durian dalik, is ridiculously expensive at RM35/kg. The durian below they wanted to charge about RM25 but after a long bargain, they reduced it to RM15. The texture is very different, almost like a thick custard and a little like barely ripe durian. The flavor also is very intense and full flavored. Its really worth a try provided you can get a good bargain.

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