Lets off Road!

Trip Start May 15, 2006
Trip End Nov 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another mission ahead, rather than bus it all the way to Kuching (next interesting/affordable place on the road - 16 hrs away). We decided to try to get a ride in a 4x4 down a logging road to a small village on the Batang Rejang River called Belaga.From Belaga you can get a passenger boat all the way to a town called Sibu and then a bus or boat to Kuching. Our 72 yr old friend had done the journey in reverse and she said it was a nice detour and you can see the longhouses along the way and just generally watch riverside life pass you by. it sounded ideal to me because i didn't want to do a longhouse tour cos unless u spend serious money they are really touristy and its not really my kind of thing, I'd rather see them from outside. First we got a bus to junction, easy (it was the nicest bus I've seen in Asia, I didn't want to get off!) Next we waited and waited for someone to come past who was going to Belaga. First some clown quoted a ridiculous price to take us so we laughed and walked away, then a family picked us up and then 4kms down the road they told us they weren't going to Belaga but they could drop us somewhere "nearby" so we had to make them stop, get out and hitch back to the juction to start again! Finally someone stopped who was actually going to Belaga and we were off, happy days. 4 bumpy hours later we arrived. Belaga is a pretty sleepy town but it was nice to see some riverside life. We were invited by the local "ambassador" to partake in the evenings feast of amongst other things, wild boar. Having never tried it I was excited and at the appointed hour of 7.30 we turned up where we met our co diners who consisted of, a Dutch couple who were nice enough and an english guy in his 50s who was without doubt, honestly now, no word of a lie, the most boring, pompous, sanctimonious old fart I have ever had the misfortune to encounter anywhere ever! We told him we were planning to leave the next day and travel downriver to Kuching, he then asked us in a patronising voice "What are you hoping to see on the river?" At which point Dean bit his tongue and contined with his dinner. He then said "If you have 18 months why are you travelling so fast?" He was so rude I couldn't believe it. My idea of a good time is not imposing myself on a tribe and going to gather berries with them, besides which it costs a fortune to do it. He was spending a month on the river living with various tribes, on various expensive tours. I can't imagine anything worse, however I would never be so rude and look down my nose at someone like that, whatever happened to "Each to their own". I felt like respondng with, "talking of stupid, you're wearing a wooly hat in the middle of the jungle" but i bit my togue harder than Dean. I wished I'd bitten it harder still when my boar turned up cos then I wouldn't have been able to taste it! Not only was the company lacking, so was the dinner, Wild boar, more like boiled wild dog! There must have been 40 pieces of meat between us and every one had a bone in it! Accompanied by cold rice and pumpkin laced with shrimp paste, i was glad we were leaving the next day!

The river trip was an enjoyable alternative to the road. we saw lots of longhouses from modern ones with satellite dishes to old delapidated ones. We also saw some old ladies getting on and off the boat with "long ears" and tatoos. We sat on the roof of the boat and just watched as we picked up people from longhouses or delivered parcels and letters. dean had to rescue a box of baby quails that nearly blew off the roof. All the way we kept saying in a pompous posh voice "What are you hoping to see on the river?!!!" We stopped for lunch in Kapit, the biggest town on the river and continued on to Sibu. After Kapit we saw lots of logging camps which was sad but I'm glad I saw first hand the devastation which it causes.
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