Batang Ai Iban Longhouse, Sarawak – Day Two

Day Two

I have expected to hear nature’s morning alarm clock, the roosters’ crow but it wasn’t how I expected it to be. It started from about 3-4am with only a few mild crows. So, we could still sleep back. At about 5.30am, never did I expect to hear the whole village’s roosters (sounded like there were 1,000 of them) to crow continuously to each other at the highest pitch possible and it lasted to about 6-7am. You will be wide awake by then unless you have ear plugs.

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At early morning, many villagers start their work on farming, making new fishing nets or repair fishing nets, weaving fans and beading. It was also a Sunday where we see many mothers prepared their kids to be sent off to school. Primary school is not too far from the Batang Ai jetty but secondary school is further away. The kids will stay at the hostel during weekdays and only return home during weekends or school holidays.

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We had simple breakfast of bread and egg, coffee or tea, full enough but not too much before our trekking to the waterfall. You can either wear a pair of good grip sandals or kampung “adidas” because we crossed the river most of the time. What is kampung “adidas”? Click here for more information. You can see them being sold at Lachau.

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It was about 1.5 – 2 hours trekking through a few different terrain, through tall grass or bushes, dried logged area and mostly rocky or sandy rivers. The day was rather hot but then cooled down during the river walk.

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We passed by many plantations such as pineapple, hill paddy, pepper, lime, and different type of ferns where the guide stop to explain what some of it are used by the villagers. For example, pineapple leaves used to make clothes, certain type of ferns are used to bracelet and some branches can be burned as air freshener.

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Upon arriving at Trabong waterfall, the villagers start to prepare our lunch with natural tools such as branches, wood, leaves and bamboo but also with a little help of modern equipment of the pot and grille. It was interesting to see how certain bamboo, trees, branches and leaves are selected and what they are made to be.

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We see the use of bamboo to cook chicken in bamboo, bamboo shoots are collected for our dinner, tree branches are used as support for the pot and grille, and peeled branches as chopping board, and leaves as plate. A few forest survival lessons in the pocket.

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While taking a rest from the trek, our guide shared with us Buah Rambai, which tasted like Duku Langsat but juicer and sweeter. Delicious! While our lunch was being prepared, we went for a dip at the waterfall, a soothing way to relax.

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We had one of the most famous Iban food – chicken in the bamboo, accompanying with barbecue pork with paddy rice. The chicken is also tasty but I love more of the gravy from the bamboo chicken that is nice to drink or put over the rice. Tender barbecue pork but quite a lot of fats but no worries, it doesn’t taste like fat at all. There is also chilli sauce for the barbecue pork. It’s very spicy but very delicious. The villagers also brought along a bottle of local whiskey. Whiskey at lunch? *oo ha* ^_^

We walked back to the longhouse after our lunch. We were told that the longhouse is usually very hot at mid-day, so they bring visitors out. As we returned a little earlier, we experienced the heat of the longhouse. We continue to help ourselves looking around and rest until dinner time.

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At dinner, we were served with catfish in gravy, stir-fry Paku vege, stir-fry meat with vege, stir-fry bamboo shoot and fried fish. We were very appreciative to have our guide, who cooked us some special dishes. We were also privileged to tried fresh bamboo shoot pick from afternoon and fresh fish caught by the villagers. Another delicious meal.

There were other visitors who just arrived that evening. So, we watched another round of Ngajat dance before we end the night at the longhouse. *oo ha*

Continue to our last day of this journey here

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