New places, new experiences, old friends: lots to learn about and explore around Kuching.
We visited the orangutan rehabilitation center outside of town. It was hard not to compare with our incredible trip to Kumai
. While Semenggoh had the same majestic primates…
…it was a pretty different environment.
Afterwards, we continued out towards the highlands to visit a longhouse belonging to a Bidayuh
community, a collective name for several indigenous groups in Sarawak. Built up off the ground, the homes of individual families are fronted by a shared bamboo boardwalk- the long part of longhouse.
The Bidayuh are very welcoming. Our greeting included shots of rice wine… at 10:30 in the morning! Not what I expected, but OK. Many Bidayuh no longer live in longhouse communities, but this one thrives: possibly because of an interesting blend of old traditions with modern practices.
Most residents shared a wall between the homes built on either side of the long community space, with style of trim or color of paint distinguishing neighbors. And there were cats. Lots and lots of cats.
The head house is an identifying characteristic of the Bidayuh longhouse. We thought that meant, you know, the primary house. Actually, it’s referring to the heads. Theirs are now locked for safekeeping, but still hung in the traditional spot where a fire might smoke beneath.
The headhouse also held the router for community satellite service. In front, peppercorns dried on the split bamboo flooring near a line where beaten bark cloth dried before another round of pounding. A bit of the old, a bit of the new.
Getting out of the river into Bako National Park to swing at anchor and be cooled by the breeze was a relief. Dirty fuel has clogged our filters much faster than expected, and we were out of spares. A new primary was delivered from Yanmar in Singapore with enough time for a few days floating around Pulau Lakei. Trails through the woods brought mysterious graves, the whisper of monkeys, and a lot of the interesting nepenthes – pitcher plants – in all sizes.
I loved them, but they didn’t compete with tide pools for the kids. On the other hand, very little can compete with tide pools.
Except, maybe, perfect sunsets.