What can I say, longhouses, they're long. This pic was takn about halfway along it too I think. The principal is simple - all families live under one roof. Measured by the number of doors (presumably equivalent to the number of families) this one was 12 or something and Nancy's family lives in one which has 42!
I loved this place sooooo much! I saw and did so many things that it's very hard to know where to start so it's quite likely that this will be a very disjointed blog. As a rough outline though:
Bario is set in the middle of primary rainforest close to the border with Kalimantan and home to the Kelabit people. I stayed with a friendly family who I became very attached to by the end. They fed me constantly with unlimited amounts of Milo and copious amounts of food - including wild boar, deer, porcupine and python! Without road access things become very expensive and the community seems to be living mostly off food from the jungle - both meat and veg. There is heaps to do in Bario if you don't mind rain mud and leeches. My time in town was spent going away for short jaunts into the jungle, fishing, climbing nearby hills, visiting a longhouse, chatting with the locals, playing volleyball with the army in the evening. Things like that. Essentially I went on three trips:
One weekend away with all the trekforce volunteers to a small village where we climbed a big hill and also
visited some ancient megalithic structures which nobody knows anything about really.
A couple of days going up to the border with Kalimantan for some hunting - for which they used hand made shotguns!
And Finally 4 days spent going to do some 'jungle survival' learning about medicinal plants, poisonous plants (still used for making poison darts in some places) and which ones could eat - apart from rice we ate only food from the jungle and a catfish we caught in one of the rice paddies. Food included honey from an ants nest! who'd have thought it! There were a few other bits and pieces but you get the idea.
Moving on to blabber about things in a little more detail:
I had a major panic the evening before I was due to fly to Bario because, stupidly but predictably from me, I had locked my ticket, passport, special permit to allow me to access Bario and some other stuff in the travel agency where I had bought my tickets! They had been kind enough to let me leave some stuff there as Tae Tong Lodging wouldn't oblige and there are strict baggage restrictions on
3/4hrs walk from Bario another quaint and picturesque little town. There are some minor historical sites of interest and some easy hills to climb nearby.
the flights to Bario (10KG supposedly). Luckily they opened just in time to let me have my stuff and I caught a taxi to the airport where my plane was delayed by several hours in the end.
Aaaanyway. After a little confused enquiring after Graeme at the very small airport in Bario (which btw is not accessible by road) I found out I had just missed him but ended up staying at the same place as him with a local family.
Before I go on I'll just give a little background about Bario to set the scene. It's a small town close to the border with Kalimantan with a population of around 1000 including the surrounding villages but it's hard to imagine there is even that many people. It's home to the Kelabit people and is itself at an elevation of around 1000m or 1500m something like that. This altittude makes it a little cooler than the lowland areas of Borneo which is quite refreshing. It is however still very hot and humid during the day so you only really notice it at night, when a jacket of some sort is useful to keep warm. Rain is the
Me and the Trekforce peeps
The view from the hill at Pa'Lungan
main theme to the weather and you're guaranteed to be introduced to it pretty soon after arriving. The town is surrounded by beautiful jungle clad mountains with no logging visible (though one side, towards the coast, has been completely logged immediately on the other side of the mountains). As usual in small places like this, things move slowly, people are friendly, everyone knows each other and they also all seem to be a cousin of some sort to each other. Bario has an interesting history and was key to building up a resistance against the Japanese invasion. A man named Tom Harrison (a British Commando that parachuted in to raise resistance from the local people against the invading Japanese) featuring prominently in it.
Bario recieves a steady trickle of tourists who normally come here for a couple of days to see the place and maybe a nearby village but strangely in the 12days I was there I didn't see any of them except the day I was leaving. The town has also been visited the last few years by volunteer organisations such as World Challenge and also Trek Force. I have had a small association with TrekForce in the
My first leech!
Aww bless... Call me twisted but having never had or seen a leech before I grabbed one at first opportunity and put it on my hand to watch it suck my blood.
past so was suprised and pleased to randomly find out that not only is my host strongly involved with it but that Trekforce was currently present in town in the form of 5 Volunteers who were teaching English for 6/7 weeks.
I met Yara (the one girl out of the 5) first and she invited me out with them all that weekend for a short jaunt to a Village called Pa'Lungan about 3/4 hours muddy walking away. I became friends with them all and apart from seeing them in the evenings I also went away with yara for my 'jungle survival' jaunt.
Originally I planned to stay only 3/4 days in Bario but I liked the place so much that I ended up staying 12 days (all of my remaining time in Borneo) there. Nancy and Harris, my hosts, treated me as family and took great care of me helping me out with all sorts of things. I got to experience a few things that no other tourists get to see and, aside from being great fun, it gave me a closer look at how life is for the people here.
For the hunting trip and jungle
Get used to it. I loved it 90% of the time. It was proper rain, not that pissy stuff we get in England. During the day it's warm so it's not a problem and at night your under shelter.
survival thing I'll dump them in another blog just to break things up a bit.
Tot: 2.415s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 12; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0415s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb