Gula apong (nipah palm sugar) was and is commonly sold in stalls and shops. As a kid, I used to dip my finger into the dark brown stuff at the shops and licked it with glee. It's also known as attap thng in Hokkien. It is made from the sap of the nipah flower cluster before it blooms. Slits are cut into the bud and a pot is tied below the bud to collect the sap. The sap is filtered to remove any debris. The sap is then boiled until it thickens. Gula apong is used to make local desserts and traditional cakes (kuih). In the old days, you could not get this in West Malaysia.
Sarikei Gula Apong production, 1950s (?)
Source: From the wall of Kings Inn, Sarikei
Sweet heart, let's deduce the year of this undated photo. I would guess this photo to be after World War II, around the time Hedda Morrison snapped her Sarawak photos in late 1940s. The look and feel of this country home in Sarikei was similar to the one inside Hedda's 1947-1948 Sarikei photo with vertical wooden branches but then such houses could last for years so this photo could be from 1950s or 1960s but before 1974 when colour photo development came to Sarikei. Some of the big urns in the photos looked similar to the popular ones used to import salted eggs and century eggs from China. I used to rear fish in those urns on top of the water reservoir of the air well in my rented Repok Road shophouse.
"The production of gula apong from the inflorescence and infructescence sap is still an important traditional activity for communities living in the vicinity. Most of the traditional cakes and the sugar produced is consumed locally. Nipah sugar is also used to produce alcohol for the local market although the production has declined in recent years." (source: Forestry Sarawak)
Sweetie, do you have a sweet tooth?