October 14, 2009
Pliae - Pretty Soft Wood Tree
Only very recently I noticed a large number of plaie being grown in the area around E Mart in Miri.
In the past the Malays value this tree for its latex which has a medical liquid for curing glacoma. In fact many years ago when a barefoot doctor in Kampong Datuk Sharip was still alive no one in Marudi ever suffered from eye problems. He was the man every one would look for . He is my friend's uncle. Believe you me!
In Limbang in the 1960's a group of Japanese ordered a large consignment of this beautiful white soft wood thinking that they could float the logs all the way to Japan or at least half the way. However the logs were all softened in the sea water in the river mouth of the Limbang river. What ever happened then no one would be able to relate the story . They must have pushed the story behind their mind or it was just one of those mishaps people made with nature. The towkays did not believe the Ibans who told them that the wood was not water resistant. The Ibans were paid peanuts for their efforts but they also lost another income earning opportunity because no Japanese ever ordered the beautiful pliae any more. However I hope the plaie is on the endangered species today.
The indigenous people use the plaie for making "stoppers" and toys. Plaie is also useful as overhead beams in the house as long as it is not exposed to the rain.
However the greatest use of the pliae is in its beautiful nature as a wood for making the Kayan SAPE. It is beautiful white and soft and is light. Music from sape made from plaise gives a very melodious sound.
You can buy sapes from some of the local tourists shops in Miri. Check out with AgnesCrafts.
Plaie is also grown along the highway to KLIA and LCCT. Someone must have discovered its beautiful shape- the tree often looks like ballerinas with stiff skirts spreading out. It is now beginning to be grown in the various parks of Brunei.
(Disclaimer: I am not advertising for Mrs. Agnes J and some of the information provided are from the people I know from Marudi and Limbang)