December 11, 2010

Heart of Borneo - 4 : Early Morning Walk with the "Pala"

I woke up early in the morning and realised that the longhouse folks had been dancing the whole night through. In fact they had punctuated their modern dance music with the singing of the ancient rhymes too. I later learned that while I slept through the wee hours of the morning with two fans whirling above me Datuk Sri Edmund Langgu had kept awake dutifully as a good guest!! Many others had collapsed from exhaustion in the ruai or "living" room. We had actually driven for 6 hours through the first lap of our land journey in the muddy untarred road. The drivers in particular were too tired to speak by 11 p.m.

The traditional Iban (Dayak) welcome had been too overwhelming the night before.

I was thrilled that I did not have to roll out my Camel sleeping bag as I was given a four inch foam mattress to be shared with two other ladies from Kuching. It was a luxury beyond my dreams. The whole "bilek" slept more than ten people - both men and women in their individual sleeping space. You will have to experience the long house culture to understand this. As I explained Dr. James he could go home to Sabah and brag that he had "slept with a few women in a longhouse room". Go and figure this out....

The Pala Dusun (he is head of three villages not just one long house) showed me how to eat this wonderful jambu lipa. This became my first breakfast in West Kalimantan - the headwaters of the River Kapuas.

Two beautiful jambu lipa. God is kind to the Dayaks here. These wild and delicious fruits are found every where along streams and roads in great abundance. It is a sweet fruit - and the texture is like a sweet fig or a  strawberry. It is a dessert as well as a stomach filler.

Here I am given a fresh white fungus to eat...and even though it is a little bitter it is very refreshing!! White fungus is plentiful in the morning if you are observant. I spotted this myself!!

Another white fungus in the Pala's hand.

An expensive chicken kept captive in a hanging basket - first one on the right.

=A prized chicken in a rattan hanging cage.
She is one of the oldest participants in this safari. At age 72 she is enjoying an icy cold morning bath in a pristine clear water brought in by the sluice canal. Water is from the mountain stream about 500 meters away. This is the normal way to start the morning here in Borneo - a cold water bath in a beautiful clear stream. According to the Pala the people here never boil (cook) their water. They drink from the mountain stream and never get worms or stomach ache.
My first morning in the Heart of Borneo : Several firsts -

1. all the adventurers walked to take their morning bath in a concretized stream filled with water fed by a small concrete dam built by the Tematu Longhouse folks with grants from the Indonesian Government.
Here is Steven fresh from the "concretized canal" looking good...The one having the blue towel behind Steven is the assistant mechanic who is also part of the official  support group.
2. Fresh jungle fruits (jambu lipa) and  white fungi - freshly plucked from trees for pre - breakfast.
3. Eating salted tioman fish for (official long house buffet) breakfast at about 8. There were 6 dishes for breakfast including locally produced white rice). (See another later post)
4. Being taken around the longhouse by the charming Pala (Head) of the three longhouses in this area. That was a real honour.
5. Talking to a man using sign language and amusing him with my signs. He did understand me as he cooked his pansur or bamboo rice!! And yes indeed he was a man who was hearing impaired!!

That's a wonderful first morning in Kalimantan Barat.


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Anonymous said...

The experience you've gone through is really something to treasure, not everybody can have the same experience.

Sarawakiana@2 said... is true. A real treasure which I have not yet been able to share fully in words!!

This is a wonderful experience. If I am still year if they will have me again I will go!!

Ann said...

did you put on weight? LOL

when are you coming here, I take you to the bush.

Peter said...

Very educational tour n interesting CY.

Anonymous said...

Is the white fungus Tremella Fuciformis? Also know as snow fungus.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann I am afraid to step on the scales!! hahahahahah..Yes I should be coming to NZ by August 2012! I would like to be there in the Spring...what say you?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

It was very educational and I also wished there and then there should be more time for reflection and more note taking...However we spent a lot of time on the road...and furthermore we were confined to just driver and the passengers ..most of the meals were "official" meals so the speeches had to be informative to allow us to learn....I asked many questions to learn more...the programme was really packed!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous
There is no way to confirm the scientific term but I am sure it is a relative of the snow grew on small branches near the longhouse...and the taste is slightly bitter and the texture is crunchy like rumput laut and stringy chai yeng ( jelly)...will find out more. I could not keep one to take home because every one wanted to try and also it is very perishable.

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