Iban Longhouse Homestay
Ivan, Jennifer and I had breakfast at the Borneo B&B on May 10, 2009. We checked out of the B&B. Ivan had set up a Iban Longhouse Homestay with Mae. Mae owns the B&B. Mae’s sister runs the Homestay. We were picked up at 8:15 am. Mae’s husband drove us to the bus station.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 8:45 am. We put our backpacks on the bus and found our seats. The bus was headed to Sri Aman. The bus ride took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Auntie met us at the station. Everybody calls her Auntie. She stopped at a noodle shop nearby. Ivan had dry noodles while Jennifer had wet noodles (in a soup). I had the dry noodles with my addition of bananas on top. The noodles were really plain, so we had to add soy sauce to it to give it some flavor. Ivan also added chili sauce.
Next, Auntie drove us to a Iban Longhouse.
We were shown the old skulls of some Iban people. They had fought against each other a long time ago. They kept it fresh by putting smoke under it. We were seated down and greeted by all the adults there and the chief. I don’t think they really spoke English. We were served hot tea and biscuits. I munched on a banana. Auntie and the people there chatted for awhile. We said goodbye.
Auntie drove us to her Iban Longhouse.
We met her son Charles, his daughter-in-law Gloria and her grandchildren Julia and the baby. There were a few German people staying at the house. But, they would be leaving soon for the bus station.
We sat down on the couch.
Auntie served us these coconuts sweets. They were pretty good. I added a banana to mine. Jennifer and I took a nap. We didn’t do much that afternoon. Auntie had to take the Germans to the bus station.
Ivan helped put the fish in the bamboo. Auntie then started cooking it in the bamboo.
It started smoking a lot. It was done and she took it inside the house.
It was time to take a shower in the river. Ivan, Jennifer, me, Auntie and Julia took a short walk to the river.
Ivan and Jennifer washed themselves with their clothes on. This was their first time taking a shower in a river. I decided to give it a go. The water was really cold. It got me all clean though! I had been stinking of bananas lately due to carrying so many bananas around with me, so a good shower was just what I needed!
Julia came into our room. She wanted to play with me. She was putting my backpack and sunglasses on me. She combed my hair. It felt really nice to be pampered. It was fun playing around. I asked Ivan and Jennifer if they could comb my hair. Ivan said that was a one time thing. Jennifer did give me a small comb if I wanted to do it myself.
We ate dinner with Auntie and Gloria. It was traditional Iban food.
There was fish, omelette, vegetables, chicken curry and chicken soup with potatoes. I had some chicken curry and chicken soup with my bananas added to it. The food was alright.
Later, Ivan, Jen, me, Auntie and Julia went to the lancao factory longhouse shortly after 8 pm. It’s a local rice wine drink. We only had to walk a few minutes to the longhouse. We were greeted by the chief. We were all seated on the ground. There were many Iban people there – mostly all related. There was a really talkative man named Ro-C. Ivan and Jennifer thought he was really cool. The chief started pouring shots of lancao. It would go in order of the big circle that was formed.
Ivan and Jennifer thought the lancao was really strong. It burned going down. It was like moonshine. Ro-C wasn’t even sure how much alcohol was in it, but I think the general opinion is that it was very very strong. We were served hot tea and coconuts sweets. The shots kept coming around. I wish I could have joined in, but I’m too young still. Of course, if it was banana wine I probably would have sneaked in a naughty shot or two.
Ro-C said that he drinks the lancao every night.
It was time to dance. The Iban people really liked to dance to an Iban song called Tanda Poco Poco.
They were showing Jennifer the dance. She kind of got the steps. Ivan was dancing too. I tried the dance but I kept forgetting which way I was supposed to go. The chief kept giving shots while everybody was dancing. He was a happy old man. Ivan and Jennifer were having a good time.
At one point, Ivan sang the Tanda Poco Poco song.
It’s in a different language probably Malay. Jennifer sang it as well. Jennifer kept making up words since she was drunk. We had a great time. Jennifer said she would be back tomorrow night. It was such a fun night. We left about 10 pm. We walked back to the Auntie’s longhouse. Jennifer was walking like a snake (as said by the chief the next night) since she was drunk. Ivan and Jennifer were both drunk. They went to sleep maybe two hours later.
The Tana Poco Poco song really gets stuck in your head. Watch the video.
Auntie tried to wake us up around 7 am on May 11, 2009. Ivan and I woke up. Jennifer felt really hungover. She couldn’t get out of bed at all. She had a huge headache. Ivan and I had breakfast. We had toast and hot tea. I put some bananas on my toast. Auntie wanted Jennifer to eat. She said she could go back to sleep after breakfast. Jennifer isn’t much of a breakfast person. She was feeling so horrible. She didn’t think food would help her stomach. Ivan told her later that Auntie wanted to teach her how to make those coconut sweets.
Jennifer finally got up around 10:30 am. Auntie had already left. She was picking up 4 people from the bus station. Jennifer still felt bad. There was a man who was going to take us to the jungle. Jennifer decided to stay. Ivan and I went with the man. He took us hunting in the jungle. He showed us where his peppercorn crop was. As he was walking, he kept on picking this one particular plant which he said would be used for eating later. After a while we stopped at this one tree, and the old man took off his shoes and shimmered up the tree really fast – it was a really tall tree, but this didn’t seem to bother him. He started walking around on the high branches to knock the fruit down – which was lychees. It started raining lychees, and I had a quick daydream of a place I could go where it would rain bananas. After the man came down we all helped pick the fruit up and put it in his basket. He gave us a few lychees to eat and they were really sweet.
While we were in the jungle, Jennifer fell asleep on the couch. We came back. Ivan informed Jennifer that we’d be going paddling later around 3 pm. He hoped that Jennifer would come along.
There was 3 women and 1 man who was staying at the longhouse for 2 nights. We met them. Auntie wanted to take pictures of the women with their sarongs on.
Jennifer didn’t feel like putting hers on since it made her hot.
At 3 pm, we walked down to the river. Jennifer thought that she was alright to come along. Auntie collected bamboo in the jungle for everybody along the way. They would serve as our paddles. There was a boat there. Auntie had a scooper and she had to scoop water out of the boat. Some of the people had to push the boat. We all got in. Almost everybody had to paddle. Jennifer’s job was to scoop out any water that got into the boat. Auntie would tell them which way to go. Then everybody had to paddle towards that direction. We reached our destination.
Auntie said we could swim in the river.
Everybody got in the water except me and Jennifer. Jennifer didn’t really feel like swimming and I didnt want to get my fur wet. She got a headache from the boat ride. Jennifer and I sat down on some trees on the ground and relaxed.
Auntie said it was time to go to the garden. We just had to walk up and hill and we were there. It was her garden with rice and vegetables growing there. There were a lot of green plants. We had to pluck the baby flowers.
They weren’t allowed to grow until the plant reached a certain height. Although, Ivan and Jennifer didn’t hear the reason why. Everybody, except Stan the Belgium guy, was picking the baby flowers. I helped Jennifer out. I wasn’t as good since I’m small. We chatted while picking the flowers. There was one girl who used to be afraid of the dark. She was a young girl at the time. She went to a hypnotherapist and he helped her get over her fear.
It was time to head back. We got in the boat and paddled. We walked back to the longhouse.
Soon it was time for dinner. Dinner consisted of omelette, crispy fish, bamboo curry and chicken and potato soup. Auntie told Jennifer that she shouldn’t drink lancao tonight. She said she certainly wasn’t going to have any. Ivan thought if she took one shot, it would be alright. Ivan said he wasn’t going to drink much either.
We all went to the lancao factory longhouse again. Almost everybody was having shots. The new people thought it was really strong. The chief was in a feisty mood. One of the new people would say they wanted a small shot. He would pour a lot more than they said and then he’d say Sorry, Sorry. He even tried to get Jennifer to drink. She said she felt sick all day. She said no drinking for her tonight. Ivan only had a few shots all night. The new people started faking taking the shot and would spit it out in a cup. We were served hot tea and biscuits.
The music started up. It was the Tanda Poco Poco song again. The ladies showed the new people the dance. Stan wasn’t a good dancer but he did try. Auntie did a traditional Iban dance.
Then, Charles did a tradtional Iban dance with a sword and shield.
It wasn’t as fun since nobody was really drinking. Also, we were all getting a bit fed up with that poco poco snog – they played it again..and again..and again..and again. We said goodbye and thank you to everybody, and left shortly after 10 pm.
Ivan went to go hypnotize Stan with the group. Jennifer was reading her book Live Bait by P.J. Tracy. I went to sleep early. Ivan did really well with hypnotizing Stan. Stan was really deep. Ivan had him doing things for over an hour, and it was really hilarious.
Ivan and Jennifer went to sleep. We had to wake up early tomorrow since we were leaving on an early bus.