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Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Regency, Riau, Indonesia

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

I was invited to judge a sago cooking competition on 25 Nov 2019 in Daik in Lingga Regency of Indonesia's Riau province (which include the long chain of islands south of Singapore).

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Travelling to Daik from Singapore by ferry is quite a labourious journey. The sea journey required 3 legs (one way) and a total of 6 hours at sea (i.e. waiting and land transfer time not included).



First leg from Singapore's Harbourfront to Batam's Harbour Bay. The comfortable ride via Horizon Fast Ferry took less than an hour.


Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

From Harbour Bay in Batam, we took an hour long taxi ride to Telaga Punggur Ferry Terminal for the 2nd ferry leg to Dabo town on Pulau Singkep island.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

We passed the 4 hour journey semi consciously slipping between dozing off and catching snatches of the movie. They were screening the action filled movie, Beanstalk - Jack the Giant Slayer 😄 (without sound) 😂

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

It was drizzling slightly when we stopped briefly at Pasir Panjang (a small fishing village) near our destination to drop off and pick up a couple of passengers.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Finally in Dabo after 4 hours on the boat.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

For the 3rd and final leg from Dabo to Daik, we boarded a smaller boat for the 1 hour journey.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The cockpit of our hour long ride from Dabo to Daik. Our captain was a study in concentration.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

You can see the joy and relief on our faces when we were finally here in Daik.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The sago cooking competition known as "Lomba Lingga Culinary Exploration" is part of the annual Lingga Festival held in Daik.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The festival or carnival is held with a picturesque backdrop of Gunung Daik mountain in the background. The row of white tents were little street food kiosks.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Colourful cultural performances were held throughout the day and into the evening at the Daik town square.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Organisers and judges pre-contest conference.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The 10 teams were ready and raving to go. The teams represent the districts of Lingga Regency.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Three, two, one, let's go! The teams were given 1 hour to whip up a main course and desserts which must use sago pearls or flour as the main ingredient.



Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Sago sold commercially in the form of pearls or flour is made from the spongy core or pith of palm stems, usually Metroxylon Sagu. Sago was the staple of many indigenous peoples throughout Indonesia, but it has been replaced by rice nowadays. It is still a staple in Papua and the Moluccas.

During the war between the Dutch and Riau-Lingga Sultanate, the Dutch blockaded Lingga, preventing supplies of rice from reaching the islanders. The sultan directed his people to switch to sago for their daily carbs.

Rice have since replaced sago as the staple in Lingga. Today, the Riau government is supporting the revival of sago growing by encouraging domestic consumption and export (e.g. to China). The sago cooking competition is one of the activities supporting the promotion of sago.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The contestants were experienced home cooks.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

After cooking, the contestants carefully laid out their freshly cooked creations on their assigned tables.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The participants put in a great deal of meticulous effort and much pride in putting forth their best creations.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The dishes were judged on their presentation and visual appeal.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

They were rated on their innovativeness and creativity.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Of course, the test of the pudding is in the tasting - the sago dishes were scored according to how their textures, flavours and aromas impressed the judges.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

A nutritionist in the panel of judges rated the contestants' dishes on nutritional value.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The teams were also scored on hygiene during preparation, cooking and serving.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

I was amazed by the versatility of sago as an ingredient which, when combined with the creativity of the participants, produced so many attractive, delicious, and nutritious dishes.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Judges and officials hard at work tallying the scores. It was a very difficult task to separate the teams as they were all excellent and scores were very close.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Finally, the winners were decided.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Congratulations to all winners and participants.


Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

The festivities continued into the night featuring traditional dances from throughout the Riau province.

Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

Job done, Head of the Department of Tourism, Youth and Sports of Lingga Regency, Drs. Raja Fahrurrazi graciously showed us the sights of Daik. Thank you Pak Acai for your hospitality.



A jaywalking local on our way to Resun Waterfall, one of Lingga's most famous landmarks.



Sago Cooking Competition in Daik, Lingga Rengency, Riau, Indonesia

It was time to leave beautiful Daik for the long trip back to Singapore via Dabo and Batam.



Horizon Fast Ferry

For the leg between Batam and Singapore, I chose Horizon Fast Ferry. I like it that I can just buy return tickets online or at Harbourfront in Singapore.

Pay everything just once in Singapore. In Batam, just go to the Horizon Fast Ferry counter to exchange my ticket for the boarding pass. No additional fees, no hidden fees, no upsell, no hard sell, no hustle, no hassle, no pressure, I like 👍

Horizon Fast Ferry

After clearing immigration, checked in at the Horizon Fast Ferry business lounge to cool my heels before boarding.



Hot coffee, keropok (crispy fried crackers) and a thick comfortable sofa. I so... needed that!




Relax all the way to Harbourfront in Singapore.



See you again next year wonderful Lingga!




Date: 25 Nov 2019

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