Tuai ewu' aku' means 'Come follow me' in the language of the indigenous Penan peoples of Sarawak, Borneo. This blog is an invitation to you to follow me on my big adventure to learn about this tribe and experience the natural beauty of Borneo. Tuai ewu' aku' ! x

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life in Long Kerong village

A day after finishing in Batu Belok, I set off for Long Kerong  with a motley crew.  It was just like the A-Team! - an English guide, an Irishman, a Bird Expert, a local jungle expert...and myself, the token female :)  To get to Long Kerong, it was a plane trip, a 4 wheel drive, then a boat ride and walk. The plane and 4x4 went fine, but oh no! the river was too low to boat!  So, we were in and out of the boats; pushing some, boating a little way and then out of the boats again to push.  We were exhausted and wet by the time we arrived in Long Kerong, but it was fun.:)

Here are some pictures of Long Kerong (pics of the A-Team to come later!)

The houses are like fairly basic log cabins.  I found them comfortable but you have to get used to insects coming in and out.
The ladies of my house are on their way to the farm to get food.  The baskets are a Penan specialty handicraft, made from rattan.

Life in Long Kerong was pretty relaxed (for me at least).  I'd be woken up early in the morning by cocks crowing and dogs barking.  Very sweet, hot coffee was always ready for me when I got up.  Then a breakfast of usually rice with vegetables.  During the day, I would go walking, bathe in the river, practice my Penan! and basically do whatever I felt like.:)  For the Penan, though, the day might involve going out in the jungle with a blowpipe to hunt or with a net to catch fish.  They might go off to work on their rice farms or pick tapioca and fern leaves for food.

Here is are some pictures of the inside of the house that I stayed in.:)

The kitchen area
Also the kitchen
My bedroom
For some reason, the little kids loved hanging out with me.  They would follow me everywhere!  At one point I got so exasperated that I had to use my Penan, 'Ka'au bek kevut akeu'!  That means 'You don't follow me'!  I felt bad but I just needed a break:)  Here are some of the kids who kept me company.

I've decided that I never want to bathe in a shower again.  Only the river!!  In Penan villages, everyone bathes in the river.  It is quite beautiful to bathe in the clear water, surrounded by trees, with fish swimming around.  The only downside- it can get 'genin' = cold.:)  The women wear sarongs to the river, the men wear shorts.
 'I AM the Lady of the Lake.  Why have you summoned me'? 
This is the village's pet 'Matui'.  They got him when he was a little bird by chopping down the tree he was in and killing and eating his mother.  Horrible huh? They raised him from a chick so he is comfortable around people.
I really like this photo.  Its one of the women who lives in my house.  She took good care of me but for the first week or so, she would burst out laughing whenever she saw me.  I think that she was just nervous.
It was a little difficult living in the Penan house at first.  The father in the house left for Miri after two days and no-one else spoke English.  I was offended at first because they seemed not to want to be in the same room as me and when I spoke to them, they laughed!  I got to realize though, after a while, that they were embarrassed because they couldn't speak English, so they avoided me.   When they became more comfortable with me, things improved.

Here are the women in the house, cleaning freshly caught fish.

A nice nighttime shot.

I stayed in Long Kerong for about four weeks.  Obviously, in such a remote place, despite the beauty, it can get a bit boring.  The only electricity is from petrol-powered generators.  One of the most surreal experiences was watching the movie Rocky II in a Penan house, on a tv which was powered by a generator.  To the Penan, Rocky and Rambo seem to be the same person, but they love him!  I love him too because he gave me a little break from village life for an hour, even though the crazy moths were flying at the screen. :)

More info and pics soon. Ang x


  1. I see you have a guitar now :-)

  2. It's amazing Angela, I WANNA join you if that possible, really I dream to life like that :(

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