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Sunday, July 13, 2008

KL -> Miri -> Long Pilah -> Miri -> KL

Warning, super long post. Do read if you're on holiday, haha!

Well, I suppose the title sums up where I've been. On the 7th, I left from KL to Miri, from which I would go deeper into a place called Long Pilah to visit my grandmother. That's where my home village or 'kampung' is. In fact, this is the first time I've seen my grandmother from my father's side in perhaps 8-10 years? That was the last time when I was really small, I still remember it, but it's been a long time since then. My dad's been wanting to go back for a while now, and I've agreed but it's always been delayed for whatever reason, but I'm glad we really did it this time.

We took Malaysian Airlines, and boy do I NOT regret it, hahahaha! I know people say airline food is bad, but I definitely enjoyed my little meal on board, hehehe. Oh, one thing I must note is that I tasted something I've missed for so long, MAS flight orange juice, hahaha! Man, I don't know why, but I just love that drink, always enjoy it every time I have it. It was a two hour flight, left at about 7 p.m is it? I can't remember, but anyway it was a two hour flight and I walked into familiar territory through the airport corridors I'd once passed through in 2006 during an event I was present there for. It did feel good to be back on what I consider home soil. After all, I do consider Miri my real 'hometown'.

Just a day or two before we left, my dad still hadn't fixed our accommodation and I was like..... Zzzzzzzz........ I guessed we'd have to go to a hotel somewhere or maybe sleep on the road, lol. Thank God, a familiar family, the Adan's were able to put us up on short notice. Uncle Kenneth (spelling?) picked us up and we headed down for the night. At their place we met the whole family, and man is it good to see familiar faces, aunty Helen, Kenaidy, Jess, their super cute strong willed future basketball player or firefighter Chinese looking 5 year old sister Kenailya and of course my good childhood friend Kenaina. Good to see them all, I think Kenaidy's pretty tall, almost as tall as me if not taller, and he's still in form 3, guess his height will be basketball player material once he's 18, haha! As I told their mother, "Aunty, the day is going to come when Kenaidy is going to go up to a friend and say," Hi, I'd like you to meet my younger sister............. Kenaina"" Woooottt! Hahahahaha! Kenaidy's 15 I think, should be, form 3 and Kenaina's like 18.. so yeah, go figure, hehehe.

Anyway, getting back on point, the next day we arranged for transport to get from Miri to Long Pilah and man....... it's not cheap, haha! We have to use the service of transporters who travel from Miri to the inner side of Sarawak and it's RM 75 per head one way. That meant a RM 150 for a one way trip for my dad and I. As everyone else gets around that area, we rode on a 4WD that you see below. That was our pick up point before driving out of Miri and onto the rougher roads.

On the far right is my dad's brother, Peter. My dad is the closest to Peter in the picture. Our transporter is in front of my dad loading stuff and Uncle Kenneth is just behind, blocked by that pole 'thing'.

Man, there's one stretch of road which is really NOT happening. At one point the road was really bad, plenty of big stones and pot holes and we were driving at a maximum 15 km/h? The road gets much better when we reached the timber camp though. I think the villages that surround the timber camp are very fortunate, if not for that; there's no way they would have had a better road. It was about a 3 and a half to 4 hours journey. It was non stop and for some reason, I actually felt a little car sick about seven ninths into the ride.

We finally arrived at my village and I was surprised, in a pleasant way. Certain living conditions were certainly beyond my expectations. It was more modern in certain ways than to how I envisioned it. A couple of things had improved apparently over the past few years before we came. There's a primary school nearby, a medical center, even two churches! There's even a cement pavement that connects just about every house or long-house in the village. That really exceeded my expectations, particularly the medical centre, I'd say they're very fortunate to have it. However, by no means does it mean it's very modern and all. If they do at all, use electricity, they need to use a generator that's powered by fuel. And you know, fuel's on the rise, so it's used VERY sparingly. The only time they use it is at night when they need some light, No fan during hot afternoons, haha, gotta get used to that. They also heavily rely on rainwater until today. The good think is that now they have big tanks to collect rainwater. I'm sorry I don't have much photos of the village, it's just that when I was there, I didn't really feel like taking buildings, but I did take photos of people. That'll come later in the post.

So yeah, we arrived, met a couple of my father's old acquaintances before finally going to greet my grandmother. So we went up to her, and this is a very elderly lady, definitely around the age of my late great grandmother from my mother's side. She saw us, me who she hasn't seen for maybe 9 years and my father who she also hasn't personally met for around the same time as me and just shook our hands. My brain went, "Huh??! What?? Ermm...???" The greeting was just as silent and casual as it would be with a total stranger or an everyday friend. That was a little of a culture shock for me. We didn't even speak with her much (fine I don't know Kayan but my dad does so.. you know) that night. Anyhow, we put our stuff at one of my uncle's place, settled down a bit before our next event.

That event.... which is another first time for me is....................... bathing in the river. Yes, yes, I know some of you are ROTFLing but give me a break la... it's my first time in a real village dude.

This is the river that we went to, the Baram river. Those little boats you see are sometimes used for small-time fishing or crossing over to the small islands around where certain farming activities are currently being carried out. So yeah, this is the river I went to bathe in. Now, I've been in lakes before and everything so this isn't really a big deal. It became a big deal though, because........ we didn't go at the nice bright time as you see this photo taken. We went at about 9 p.m! That's PITCH BLACK in Sarawak man. We actually used a torchlight to get down to the river. I'm like, WHAT? Why at night? I don't know, don't ask me why, I just follow my dad who calls the shots. Anyhow we went and it looked like some bad movie from my view because of the islands behind and there was thunder, and I don't know why but it just felt freaky, maybe because I watch too much tv and am familiar with scenes of spacious waters at night with thunder in the backgrounds and then suddenly something pops up and munches your head. Yeah, too much tv.

After that, we did meet up with a number of relatives in the night. Before that, I'd asked my dad after the simple handshake incident with my grandmother if our race, the Kayan are generally not expressive and the answer was yes. Looking back I should have known, even my dad who's been in a modern world for a very long time now isn't very expressive and neither are people like Jasmine and etc.... That character trait didn't stop my grandmother from throwing me a surprise hug after dinner though. It was a little shocking, she just came in the house, walked to me and threw her arms around. At that moment you do wonder a little, like why only now? Nonetheless, you don't care much of it, you just hug, haha.

The next full day meant more exploring for me, getting to know the village. It was really interesting for me to see how almost wherever we went in the village, people knew who my father was. Now, my father isn't known because he's some awesome man who's made it big time in the modern world, but that's just how it is in villages. People just know each other, pretty much the same way you just know who people are in school or university because the community is relatively small.

Bumping into people dad knows all around

Something random I thought was cute along the way. Mother hen's feathers are a bit black though, like they've been burnt or something, haha. Burning chicken, lol lol lol. What caught my eye were the chicks, they were seriously cute, but I couldn't get a front shot of their face. Every time I go around, they all have to turn a different direction. I gave up after a short while.

It was cool though, meeting these people. One of the best parts was taking photos of the children. It really got them hyped up, the don't get to see cameras everyday, I'm hoping to develop them soon and send it back to them as a little gift. Just after taking photos of some of the kids in one house, even after we left, they were still running after us and everything. It was in a way heartwarming and nice to see. At the same time, it felt good for me to make them a little happy that day in what you could say was something 'fresh' to them. I've got some of those photos here:

This one's taken by the boy on the left in the photo below. Their curious friends by the door finally came in for some photo taking. Is that the baby enticing them to come in? ahahaha =)

That girl sitting down on the right, she reminds me of someone, haha........ wonder who...

This was the last one, had to try to satisfy them with one last photo unless I wanted them following me everywhere after that, haha!

Anyhow, after that we did go around to my dad's old primary school which has probably been modernised ten times over from the time he used to go to school. Even though it's modernised, the journey to school from the village is crazy man. I'll let the photos show you why.

This view's from the village. We're on top of a hill, and we have to go down, and then UP again to reach the school. It may not sound like much, but seriously, it's not an easy climb going up either end. I wasn't even carrying a bag then. There'd even be more trouble if there were heavy rains that flooded the valley below.

This one's facing the village after we've completed our journey halfway to the school, still have one steep climb to go after this.

In a place like Long Pilah (if you don't know by now, that's the name of the village), school is just about the coolest place a kid can hang out, not the mall or somewhere. In the evening, you'll see the kids come out to play at the field or even on the volleyball court that's been built at the school. Back in the day my dad didn't have the privilege of a volleyball court, but I'm glad these kids do now, it's nice to have a little more variety than football for an entire village.

This here's the football field, building's you see in front is the canteen. According to my dad, that used to be the original site of the school itself. Behind me taking the picture, just walk a few metres back and you'll have fallen into the Baram river, haha! That's why the boys are playing at the other end (if you can see them), nobody's gonna swim to get the ball back, haha!

Here's me having a go barefoot. The second kid from the left is good man, got a beautiful left foot. He reminds me a lot of Van Persie, hehe. This is where FAM need to send scouts, not the cities where they're all lazy, lol, haha.

Well, after spending just about the whole day out, we called it a day. Again, we took a bath in the river, at least it was DAYTIME this time, lol. The water was cold, and because I'm a city idiot, I asked, "Is the water always cold?" LOL LOL LOL. I should really think before asking such questions next time, hahaha.

That was the last day and night we would spend there. So of course, we'd have one last dinner with some of the relatives before we went off the next morning. This time it was at my dad's sister's house. This sister is one of the more 'successful' ones in the village, hence her house is generally large for that place, even got tiled floors for the living room, but the rest of the place is all still wooden. Got a little surprise, Coke was one of the servings, haha! So Coca-Cola really does make its way anywhere around the world, lol.

Part of the family all around after dinner in the living room.

We stayed the night in that sister's house. We left the next morning at 9 a.m for Miri. Just before that though, we said our goodbyes and everything. My grandmother was there of course and she didn't hesitate to give me one big hug before we got onto the four wheel drive. This time our transporter had a VERY INTERESTING characteristic. You see, his right hand was deformed so I think he cut it off which means one thing when it comes to cars. HE DRIVES WITH ONE HAND. That is some crazy stuff man, I didn't take any photos of that but yeah, that's how it was. He's got skills, I mean, I didn't feel the difference between him driving and our first transporter who has two hands.

So yeah, we went back to Miri and back to the Adan home. So yeah, we stayed in Miri for two more nights before taking an early 6 am flight back to KL. It was a pity, actually wanted to stay in Miri for at least a day or two more, but that's how it is, hehe. Miri was good though, every time I went out for breakfast or a meal with my dad, uncle Kenneth and uncle Peter, I would ALWAYS have colo mee or is it kolok? I don't care, I just LuRvEEE it, hahaahaha! Maybe I should ask Richard or Javier to get me some, ahahaha. Heard the stories of how a family friend asked uncle Peter to pack TWENTY PACKETS over to Oman when he went on a business trip, ahahaha!

Anyhow, found out, or actually was reminded my dear friend Kenaina wrote this song and like recently, I think I'm really starting to get into songwriting and stuff. I'm no songwriter like those people that write songs for John Mayer or people like Jon Foreman, but I try, heh. She played her song and WHOaaaaaaaa, dudette. In my mind I went............ "This song's coming home with me, hahaha!" She was kind enough to let me record it, awesome stuff girl, seriously. Yeah, that girl's cool, haha, even apart from the music and all.

Well, early the next morning we left, caught the 6 a.m plane back to KL, insisted we go on the train to KL Sentral because I was pretty much done with long distance driving trips after the whole experience. Dear mother who was grinning wondering if her son from the city could endure the village she herself went to before I was born picked us from there and we went back to our home. Predictably for me, I just headed back up, switched on my computer and played the live Ventura video of Faust, Midas and Myself....... man, I just can't get enough of that right now. Was even ringing in my head during the Miri trip... what a fun song man. Well finally, that's the end of this post, till the next time then.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Not around

Won't be around this week, flying off, then coming back on Saturday. Then, that leaves one more week before I leave to university. Looking forward to that as well.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

And so it ends

I just ended my working stint today, it's finally over after about five weeks. There are a few things you feel on the last day. One is........... can this day please just go faster because we just want to get to the end of things. Another feeling you get is satisfaction from a learning experience doing work. Sometimes it's not even about learning the tricks of the trade but the whole different atmosphere and culture that surrounds a working lifestyle. One last feeling is that of appreciation when you finish, appreciation of the experience and as well the short relationships held with people you meet at work.

Well, that's all about work I'll say for now. I'll probably write more when I feel like writing. it's about 1.07 am now and I do feel tired after a generally long day.

Today was a significant one in a sense though, besides ending work today. If you read the second last post, about the 'premiere', it happened today with a reasonably large group of friends, the two cell groups, Hearts United and Glow United from College United Zone (CoUZ) of my church, SIB(KL) with perhaps twenty of them, some of which I don't know well. It's good when you work on something and share it with people, and hopefully it benefits them as well. What I felt was good that I got the chance to take time and explain what I did, why and how I did it. The good thing is I feel that it can be felt and taken into relevance by just about anyone.

The reception to what I did was mixed because it was at the end of everything, after the party and all and we were all just chilling out. There are some things that you share with people that you wonder how they react to, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that you go out there and do what you were meant to do. You just share whatever you have with all honesty and heart. What I shared ended in a short time, and thankfully I believe people were blessed by it.

What happened next was very encouraging and just affirms that some of the things I'm doing are right and are worth doing. Lindy, who's the person in charge for Glow United and is incidentally the college pastor in my church asked me to share what I did for the next CoUZ event, which falls on the 25th of July that would let me share with a whole lot more of people. I felt excited about it but I left it as a complement. However, before I left the party, Lindy said, "I'm serious, you must come back and do it."

When things like that happen to you, it feels humbling and I thank God for it and if He's willing, I will come back to KL to do that, as unlikely as it may seem since it's a Friday, lectures and tutorials will be on by then and all. We will see though, if it's meant to be. Regardless, thank God for it.