A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!. I hope that wherever you were over the holiday period and whatever you were doing, you were happy! As for me, I chose to experience Christmas in the Penan villages and it was certainly a different kind of celebration.
Before I tell you about it though, let me tell you about the little adventure I had just getting there. Well as I've mentioned to you before, to get to these villages, you have to take a flight, a 4 x 4 drive and then a boat ride. When I got to the airport though, there was someone waiting with a message for me - the 4x4 that was due to pick me up had broken down, which meant that I would have to find my own transport to the boat. Well, I decided to go ahead anyway, and when I got off the flight, I befriended some government project workers who told me that that would take me to Long Siut, where I could catch the boat. But guess what? They took me to another village called Long Silat, where people of the Kenyah tribe live. I was worried because I knew that people in Long Siut would be waiting for me, but I had no choice but to stay the night in Long Silat. Actually, the Kenyah family that I stayed with were very generous and kind to me and they fed me a sumptuous meal. :)
|I really liked the Kenyah interior decoration|
|The Kenyah family were very generous to me - after all, I was unexpected!|
After all this traveling up and down the river, my new friends were trying to convince me to stay with them and forget about visiting Long Kerong and Long Spigen, but I insisted that I wanted to leave, so they helped me to get another driver. Finally I was on my way to Long Siut. :)
|And on the car ride, I saw some pretty amazing scenery|
Ok, Christmas in Long Spigen:
Well, on Christmas eve in a Penan village, there is only one place to be...church!
|The girls have prepared a special song and dance - here they re waiting outside the church|
|This girl insisted that I take her photo, so I thought I'd give her fifteen minutes of fame on my blog.|
|Different groups take turns to sing hymns; men, women, teenagers, and little kids (I went up with the women)|
Well no, Santa doesn't come to Penan villages. There are no presents exchanged. There is just plenty of fun, laughter and community spirit!!
On Christmas morning, people get together and start cooking rice and wild boar for the big christmas party.
Then, you guessed it....church!! People give handicrafts or food to the church and there is a special service. The church is decorated with plaited palm leaves and carved wooden poles.
Then the big party begins - a meal of wild boar and rice for everyone.
|This kid is pretty excited about the party :)|
|Rice being served to everyone|
|Here comes the wild boar soup|
Once the food was over, my favourite part...Penan games!!
I participated in the ladies boat race, and may I say.....BEST FUN EVER!!!!!!! I think the Penan were surprised that I really got into it and gave it my all! We came a supreme second.:)
|Net throwing contest|
|Men's boat race - unfortunately no pics of my performance in the ladies race :(|
( I politely abstained from church this time).
Then, another party in the headman's house! These people know how to have fun. :)
|Ladies making kuey for the party (like a donut)|
John dancing from Angela Dennis on Vimeo.
Yes, they did make me get up, and yes everyone found it utterly hilarious to watch me trying to copy the delicate dance. Later on, they made me get up again and dance to some modern music - you should have heard their laughter at my dance floor moves!!!
Well even though Christmas was over, the celebrations weren't. The next day we had a community picnic by the river. I helped collect the Pako Paya vegetable and we all ate fish and played in the river.
The next day it was time for goodbyes as I left to go to Long Kerong. This is the family that I stayed with. :)
So that was my Christmas! I found it really nice to participate in community activities and basically to be welcomed as a part of the village. When I compare it to the stress that inevitably comes with a Western christmas...presents, cooking, traffic, shopping sales....etc etc, I think this is infinitely more preferable! Perhaps I could have done with a little less church though.... ;)
Best of luck for 2011!!!!!