Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Merit, Batang Rajang

I went back to my mother's village last two weeks with my family. I actually can't really remember when the last time I went back, must have been around 9 or 10 years back. In my lifetime, I think I have only been back less than 8 times. The thing is, my mother's village is at Merit, Batang Rajang. Last time the only transport to go back there was by using express boat along Batang Rajang. 

You guys might had heard about the boat tragedy on 28 May 2013, I want to emphasize a few pointers here because I have heard a lot of speculations going on about what actually happened, as in why would the express boat was overloaded with passengers. One, the only mean of transport that available to the public is by express boat. Two, the tragedy happened near Gawai Festival, so most of the people live there celebrate Gawai and wanted to go back to their villages. Three, the express boat ticket is not cheap as claimed by certain people (as saying that's why the people are overloading the boat). Four, as far as I know, that express boat is the only express boat that operating from Belaga to Kapit. See, these victims have no other choice other than to board the boat to rush back for Gawai. It's such a sad tragedy and nobody hope for it to happen. Finger cross that some time in the future, the people in that area can be provided with other mean of transport to go to Kapit/Sibu/Bintulu as promised long time ago.

Okay back to my own journey back to Batang Rajang, we went back by car. Truth is there are no proper cemented concrete road available. It's more like unpaved dirt road made by the logging company and coal mining company, so we were driving through thick forest and up the hill after we left Bintulu.

Us in the car waiting for them to even the dirt to form connecting road to the other side

I have never been so scared in my life before while travelling by road. This time was a real adventure. It was definitely the road less traveled. It was narrow and winding up the hill, steep slope kind of road. To make it worst, it was raining the night before, so certain parts of the road are muddy and slippery. There are times when our back tires slipped and swayed. If you know what I mean.

And once in a while, we passed by the logging truck carrying super long logs. We were inch away from the truck, I'm serious

The constant view (apart from thousands of trees and forest) along the journey

The abandoned coal mine area that they turned into dead lake
This was obviously taken from inside the car

The ride was gruesome and bumpy. I had the worst motion sickness ever and throw my guts out in the car. It was more painful that any roller coaster ride, I swear. 4 hours of that and we finally reach our stop, which was by the river because the long house is actually located across the river. And yes, that river is Batang Rajang.

My aunt super small sampan waiting for us here.

My aunt (my mom's eldest sister) and her husband are the only family of us that live there. My maternal grandmother died when I was 14/15. There are no phone reception here but my mom already confirmed my aunt that we would arrive that day around noon. So she and my uncle had been waiting since 1pm and we only arrived at 4.30 pm due to slight delay. I can never imagine waiting for someone that long.

I kinda love boat ride like this if you minus the scorching sun and heavy rain 

The entrance of the long house

It was so green and peaceful there but of course the grass is not always greener on the other side. There are no electricity and clean water supply for the villagers there. So it was kinda hot and sticky in the afternoon but the rain water that my aunt collected for us to shower was freezing cold no matter what time of the day.

The long house is the traditional wood long house. It was a nice change of environment once in a while. Away from the city and just enjoy the nature way of living in the outskirt of town.  

Actual fireplace where we did our barbecue

That giant blue cylinder is where my aunt collected the rain water for washing purpose

Kitchen area

Outdoor shower area

Natural lighting were made by poking hole on the roof to allow the sunlight in

I was sleeping under the hole and it was so bright at 9 am in the morning

Traditional staircase

Some of the stuffs have been laying around the house since my mom was a teenager

The rules of long house

Surprise! They have flat screen TV along with Astro

In case you were wondering how did the villagers watch any shows on TV if there are no electricity, they use generator at night which operates from 6 to 9pm. Personally I think this is a stupid facility. Why would you provide the villagers with such a 'luxury' if you can't even provide them the basic necessity in life such as electricity and clean water supply? 

I think that they can benefit more with electricity and clean water supply than just a 3 hours TV program every night, just my two cents. Just an info though, they can listen to radio program as the frequency did reached Merit.

It was a short 2 nights stay but enough for me to experience the kampung style of living. And I don't know when I'll be back again, probably some time in the future when the road is properly cemented.

1 comment:

  1. I spent my childhood at Batang Igan, Sibu at the adjacent of Bukit Aup & longhouse. My early days life was quite similar to yours. Good memories flashing back to the 60s!