Tag Archives: belaga

Fighting Cocks and Jungle Ferns

4 Aug Fiddlehead ferns and shoots of jungle plants laid out on a blue tarpaulin. Kapit, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]We took three boats to Gunung Mulu, the serene and beautiful national park deep in the forests of Sarawak, with ancient caves carved deep into Borneo limestone and jagged karst pinnacles towering over the whole.

One of the best things about travelling upriver in Sarawak is watching what folk buy and sell in the trading towns en route.

In Kapit, on the Batang Rejang, you can buy pretty much anything you’d care to think of. From badminton rackets to sofas, from hunting rifles to rubber rings. And sell, too. Upriver folk come down to Kapit in narrow longboats, almost daily, with goodies they have foraged from the forest and the rivers. Continue reading

The Big Race

29 Jul

Men from the Kayan tribal minority of Borneo carry a 32-man war canoe down to the Balui River.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Watching two women’s eights, one women’s sixteen, and a mighty war canoe paddled by thirty-two men powering their way up the Balui River in the interior of Borneo, with a cox yelling instructions through a megaphone, has to count as one of the most surreal experiences of our travels so far.

Training for the Sarawak Regatta is Sunday’s big event in the tribal communities of Malaysian Borneo. And, for all its Oxford & Cambridge veneer, this river race dates back to the very different days of 1872.

And one of the earliest peace treaties between the warring head-hunters of the interior. Continue reading

The Vanishing Forest

28 Jul Three platforms laden with forest timber plough their way down the Batang Rejang, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]
Some things, simply, look too big, too plentiful to ever be used up. The herds of bison that clouded the American plains; the trees of Easter Island; the ice sheets of the Arctic; the world’s great rainforests… Continue reading

The City Slicker

26 Jul

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Asun and Mimi sit in a cafe off the waterfront in Belaga, a town of 2500 souls and the major trading hub of great swathes of Sarawak rainforest, a hundred and fifty-odd miles upriver from the coast of Malaysian Borneo.

“Chinese wedding?! No!!!” Asun exclaims. “Chinese wedding, one day, you have one table, cost 350 ringgit.”

Mimi chimes in. “And you need many tables. Big family. I have ten brothers and sisters, so…”

“We had a Kayan wedding,” says Asun. “With a Kayan wedding, all you need to do is buy a pig, and everyone from the longhouse eats. One pig! Three hundred ringgit…” Continue reading