Monday, June 3, 2013

Kay's First Gawai Adventure: Day One

It's very rare that both Nee & I get a chance to drive out of Kuching, and it feels quite embarrassing that we've been to more places outside of Sarawak but we haven't even begun to explore our very own backyard. 

Therefore when Gawai beckoned, we hit the road to Kampung Bantang in Serian, without a single clue where that was. We just knew we were going to have our lunch settled there. Fortunately we had Ma (Nee's colleague) who had the directions, and we just trailed behind his car.

Here were the directions:
Drive towards Serian, and when you see a signboard on the left saying SMK Taee, take the right turn.

Yup. That was it. When you live in Malaysia, you do not get luxury GPS-precision directions. They don't spoil you like that. They'll just give you enough to get you going, and you'll only know the rest when you get there. Don't get me wrong, it could be a good thing. You learn survival skills fast that way.

But of course it came with a price. What was supposed to be a one hour journey ended up being two, with Kay puking all over mommy.

The real directions are available here on Google map.

This wasn't SMK Taee. I like taking photos of old houses & I found this at the intersection into Kampung Bantang. By the way, a word of warning, all photos on this post were taken on, edited on & uploaded from a Samsung Note 1. So please forgive me.

I must admit that there were a few points in the journey when I almost decided to just quit & turn back. I wanted to shout are we there yet a couple of times but I was the one driving, so I kept my mouth shut. Fortunately I didn't chicken out and the wild ride rewarded us with this breathtaking view when we got there.

There's something about living at the foot of a mountain with an awesome view like this. Just imagine waking up to this every morning. I don't think you'd need anything else. It wouldn't matter if the ruling government sucks, or that there was corruption, or that the new GST is setting in. That could exactly be the reason why the folks in the interior don't need anything else. They've all got a piece of land to build their houses on, plus another piece to farm on.

Oh wait, there's more. Up on this mountain, there's a cave where the locals gather birds' nests from, and the cave passageway runs from this village all the way to another. When the weather is dry, you can walk all the way through to the other side and the journey takes 24 hours.

And little beknownst to people of Sarawak, there's a gazetted cavern with cave writings/paintings somewhere up there.

On top of that, there's a natural cool water spring somewhere in the backyard. We didn't get to see any of these cos we were too busy eating but you can see how it looks like on this blog that I found.

Hey look, you can see the mouth of the cave!

Ok, this is going to be unfortunate for the foodies. We didn't take any photos of the food cos I wasn't intending to do that for this trip & hence didn't bring my DSLR. But I should have done that cos the food was really awesome & now I'm regretting it. Let me see, there was the bamboo rice stuffed with pork pieces which I thought looked very unassuming. But it tasted really good and Kay even asked for seconds. Apparently we learned that the rice was just freshly harvested & that was why the aroma was strong, and the pork came from their own family farm.

It seemed like this turned out to be very fun trip after all. There was the scenery, and the food, and it was like the old MacDonald's farm visit for Kay.

...and on his farm he had some fish

... and then some ducks

... and then a dog

... and then some pigs.

Look ma! I can stand! Evolution just happened.

We were brought to a family-owned pig farm just a short drive away. A fully grown pig can sell for about RM3-4K. My apologies, the pig couldn't control the bladder when he/she heard that.

I'm not sure which, but one of them was kept for the purpose of mating.

And there were the little cutsie ones too.

I thought this would have been educational for Kay cos half of her book collection had pigs in them. Now everytime she looks at the pigs in her books, she would probably be able to contextualise, and also smell them.

The farm also had a bit of dragon fruit, pepper & buah langsat trees, among others.

Fire those synapses girl. Work neurons, work! Daddy's doing all this for you. Otherwise we'd rather be sleeping at home.

I was apprehensive at first about making this trip cos my last Gawai experience many years ago had me driving & getting lost in the maze of kampung roads for 2-3 hours just to visit one single house. But this experience has regained my faith in backyard adventure & I am looking forward to more.

I really want to thank our hosts who have been so gracious to open their house & their dining table to us. Believe me, when we eat, it's not a pretty sight.

This trip was definitely an eye-opener cos the family that we visited was a Bidayuh with mixed Chinese-Bidayuh parentage. So it was really interesting to see both Chinese & Bidayuh relatives coming in & out through the door speaking a plethora of Bidayuh, Hokkien & Mandarin. We've always known that the communities in Sarawak had very strong racial integration but to be able to experience it personally reminded us that the integration is much deeper than we thought. Any attempt to politicise race would almost be impossible here.

The other thing which we've learnt was that it looks like corruption is not going to have any immediate impact on the communities deep in the rural interiors for now (unless if their lands are taken away from them, God forbids!). The new GST is not going to have any impact on them as they are self sufficient. They've got their own land, mountains, spring water, ducks, chickens, pigs, fruits and vegetables. If war happens, they'd still be able to survive.

I think I would need to start farming in my backyard soon. In the meantime, we would like to wish all friends and readers a very Happy Gawai & Gaya Guru Gerai Nyamai!

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