Wednesday, 30 July 2008

BAKO NATIONAL PARK

The BAKO trip was the toughest ever for me. BAKO is Sarawak's oldest national part, covering 2727 hectares with 7 types of vegetation and was declared as a protected area since 1957. An American couple with a 7 year old boy, my friend and I, our guide Stephan and the boatman, we took an open boat to start our trails. It was drizzling the whole day but still very humid. Here's the journey:

Travelling from the jetty to another part of Bako for our first hike, view along the way.


Upon arrival, we saw wild hibiscus and an odd looking plant, never seen it before.


This wild boar greeted us, I was expecting a shorter version charging at us but this guy was big and walked slowly.


I pity the pit viper, there were too many people taking pictures.


I have never done any hiking before, so I expected to move along constructed wooden pathways on flat land. No way! It was up and down hill all the time. Only 10% of the treks had wooden stairs, the rest was just roots on the ground and by the trees to hold on. I had to be very careful as I couln't just hold on to any plant, it could be poisonous or with sharp needles.


















Our excellent guide, Stephan, a native Kelabit. He knows the trails very well and gives clear explanation on every thing. He helped me the most..considering that I am always the last and the slowest. Can't even complain as the 7 year old boy did so well!


The highlight of any Bako trip was to see the Proboscis Monkey. I will have to use a photo from Wiki as the ones I saw were swinging on the trees 5 metres high. Proboscis monkeys are protected by the Sarawak forestry, available only in Borneo with only 280 in Bako. They are well known for their large potruding nose (up to 7 inches long) and large belly. They weigh approximately 20kgs with reddish brown fur and white tail.



After an hour of hiking (felt eternity to me!), we made it out of the jungle!


Again, hopping on the boat to see the rock formation, the Sea Stack, a well known landmark of Bako. Some said it looks like a serpent head and we had many different animal versions of it, what do you think?


















We hopped off our boat again and Stephan shown us the following plateau, saying we are climbing up there. I told him he must be kidding. My knees were still wobbly and I could hardly walk and he expect me to climb up that plateau!? He said I could sit by the beach, and this was where the 7 year old was laughing. So, off I went - again, and it was 3 times more difficult, steeper and tougher. I did ask whether there was a lift somewhere.. I had to.


Argghh...more climbing and on certain parts, crawling up!!



The view was fantastic but the pictures were not so as it was raining all the time, otherwise it would be nice to have the clear blue sky. We were here for 10 minutes and heard the boatman screaming for us, pointing to the sky. Dark clouds hovered above us and a thunderstorm approaching. We had to get down immediately, and super fast! The boat in the header was ours.


There was only one jetty at the beginning of the trip, otherwise, it's hop on-off the boat.



Going home. Poor visibility and foggy, it started to rain heavier and we could see a storm coming our way. 7 to a boat, no roof or cover and crossing the South China seas. Am just glad we arrived safely.


My friend and I were just talking about our next Borneo trip, maybe a trip to the Mulu Caves. We certainly have to train for the next few months to be super fit (that's even tougher) as the hike into Mulu's foothill itself is more than 2 hours.

I came back to receive a wonderful gift all the way from Tasmania. Apart from the beautiful postcards and stickers, everything else was handmade by the wonderful Gina of Gingerbread. Thank you Gina :D


A big thank you to Christine of Sam's Place for this award, she was my very first bunny friend :D Also terima kasih (in Malay) to Elizabeth of About New York and The House in Marrakesh, another super-blogger you don't want to miss :D


Bye :D

Monday, 28 July 2008

IBANS, Sarawak

I am back and missed everyone :D

Now Kuching was a real adventure trip! I visited the BAKO NATIONAL PARK on the first day and felt as if I have finished a Karate tournament. We completed one of the most difficult trails, hiking up to the mountains to see the wildlife, hopping on and off boats and more climbings later to this plateau (see header). It was extremely tough for this very 'fit' blogger, but it was worth it. A faraway encounter with the Proboscis monkey, a rare and protected species available only in Borneo, a close encounter with the pit viper snake, crossing the South China seas during a storm in an open boat, and survived!! Kuching was a handicraft heaven, food was very cheap and people super friendly. I got to learn about the different natives' culture and lifestyle, some interesting and some scary too. Too many things to blog about, but let's start with my favourite part, the HEADHUNTERS of Sarawak!

This image was taken from a T-Shirt, available everywhere. This gives us an idea that headhunting practise was very real in the past, but has been banned since the British arrival.


I have posted this picture before but still find it the most suitable picture to describe the Ibans here, courtesy of The Iban. It is original and reflected the real Ibans lifestyle in the longhouses at their villages.


The Ibans make up of one third of the total natives. Originated from Kalimantan, Indonesia, they were known to be the fiercest warriors in their time. The British called them the 'Sea Dayak' due to their close association with the rivers and living along the seas. During tribal wars, headhunters would hunt for their enemies and preserve their skulls, symbolising bravery and honor for his village. Each skull brings strength, good luck and prosperity to their longhouse. It was the most prized possession and common for fathers to ask for heads as dowries during marriage of their daughters. The Ibans are also well known for their heavily tattoed bodies and each skull tattoed in their finger indicated a head collected. The Ibans were traditionally animist but mostly have converted to Christianity and very friendly, they still hold on to their strong cultural identity and heritage. I was told by my guide that they originated from the Batak people in Kalimantan. Bataks were well known for both headhunting and eating their enemies as in the past, but not anymore.

The following photos were taken from The Iban House from the Sarawak Cultural Village or SCV. SCV is the closest one can get to experience the different cultures and tradition in Kuching. It is known as a 'live' museum as it gives visitors a peek into the real life of the natives.
Ibans posing as warriors.


















Entrance into the Iban house.


Pretty Iban girl in traditional dress (below left). Pua Kumbu, the most well known cloth weaving throughout Borneo with ethnic designs, available only here as I can't find a single pua kumbu sold in West Malaysia.















Weaving the pua kumbu, don't you just love the colours! So vibrant! An traditional pua kumbu's dyes are made from vegetables and cannot be washed and cost 7 - 8 times higher than those made with chemical dyes.



A collection of animal and human skulls, usually hung up on the ceiling outside the house. I am sure this was just a milder version of it.


Iban dancers.


The Iban warrior dance, Ngajat.


The warrior's shield.


Their colourful head gear.


I came home to some unhappy news, my rabbits (now left to roam in the garden) ate every single flower and bush within their reach. However, my lotus was in full bloom!! All the overdosing of fertilizer certainly worked :D




I am going to be very busy the next few days and out of office often too, but I will hop over soon. The entire Kuching blog is going to be a very interesting one, and I am not finished with my headhunting post yet.

Have a pleasant week ahead :

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

SHADOW SHOT SUNDAY

SSS with Hey Harriet.
Shots from the Landscape and flowers exhibition.
Wooden birdhouse.

Traditional urn with coconut ladle.


Happy weekend :D

SHOGUN RESTAURANT

We had dinner at the Shogun Japanese Restaurant last weekend. It has a spread of more than 200 Japanese and local food, but as usual, taking photos of the food was not allowed but I managed to snap a few.


Their special of the week..though I can't say it was so good, the meat was so tough I thought I was chewing on tree bark !






















The name Shogun means General or officer of high ranking, they were practically the ruler most of the time from 1192 to 1868 in Japan. These 2 photos were taken inside the restaurant and gives an idea of their attire.























An interesting wall hanging depicting village life in ancient Japan.


Most Japanese food, sushi, sashimi, tempura etc., are available everywhere and looks pretty same. I only took these 2 pictures of interest. This is century egg, a well known Chinese cuisine actually and I am not sure if it's eaten outside Asia. It's duck eggs, preserved in clay, ash, salt, lime and rice for weeks and months, turning in black. It's eaten with lots of ginger and trust me, it's not for everyone :D


..I am sure that if you were here, you'll not want to miss this dish. It's Chinese, and it's braised chicken feet with mushroom! Just don't think of the them uncooked or the chickens running around hahaha!!


Ciao for now and I am off for my trip to Kuching tommorow and back this Sunday. The land of the 'headhunters'..well a long time ago, but I am convinced that they have given up this practise. Otherwise, if I am not back next week, you know what happened to me :D

Monday, 21 July 2008

Blogging has been a wonderful experience, from learning something new everyday to getting to know the blog owner. I would like to thank all my wonderful friends everywhere for their friendship, and especially my beautiful friend, Melanie of jellybeanangel from Southport, England for sending me these:
Lavendars from her garden with vintage cloth.

I wrote and thank her for this 'doll' ..how silly of me, which was a robin that Melanie knitted herself, great Xmas ornament.

..and a big THANK YOU for this quilt, handmade by Melanie for me :D


My dear husband is on a 'landscaping' mood for our garden, so off we went to a landscaping and flower exhibition at the Lake Gardens, KL. I hope you don't mind this overdose of Orchids, a flower that I've given up planting since they are costly and never bloom under my care.




Below left is the 'monkey cup' or 'tropical pitcher plant'. It serves as a trap for small insects which flies in for nectar and will remain as the plant's food.

The 'Misai Kuching', translated means cat's whiskers, a local herb used locally here.

Rice paddy on a menkuang tray, my children are seeing this for the first time.

The fern - 'tanduk rusa', translated means deer's antlers.

At home, the 'overdosing' of fertilizer worked :D .. my lotus finally bloomed. It is my favourite flower and it's that what my mom calls me. No, I am not called LOTUS @ home, but my Chinese name and meaning is lotus, the only chinese character that I could write.


Happy week ahead :D