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, March 2, 2011

Miri - Its not a pretty city.

 Dear friends,

Its my last day in the town of Miri, a place I've been in so many times on this trip, but haven't mentioned once.

This fact has gotten me thinking a little bit..  Isnt it true, that when we are in our 'everyday' lives, we sometimes we see we see our friends' travel photos - smiles, cities, beaches..and we think WOW, I wish I could be there, doing what they are doing.  Well, if you've ever felt that way, (in fact if you've felt that way looking at my photos, for instance), then this post might offer some important balance.

When travelling, there are the places that you want to go to, and the places that you have to go to, to get to the places you want to go to.!  For me, during this time in Borneo, visiting the Penan, that place has been the oil-boom town of Miri.  Miri is the 'jump-off' point for trips into many Penan villages, it is a great place to stock up on necessities for your trip, visit a doctor, and get a drink.  But, it has to be said, Miri is not a pretty city.

Miri Architecture
According to my guide book, Miri experienced bombing during the second world war, which destroyed many of its British-built buildings.  The Malaysian government which then took over seem to have followed the Nautical-Carpark school of architecture, because so many of Miri's buildings look like closed in carparks with portholes.

Dare you to get a blood test here
Buildings also feature..doors going to nowhere!

And the air-conditioner is the Miri facade of choice, but watch for drips if you are walking underneath.

Miri Nightlife
The nightlife here is...confusing.
One of the first nights I came here, I thought I'd check out this friendly looking 'Music Cafe';

One glance inside, however, revealed it to be full of young women, and they all stared at me wierdly.  I only found out later that these fairly innocent looking karaoke places are places where men pay premium prices to sing with a woman on their lap.

Miri er, landmarks
 This rather big traditionally painted vase appeared HUGE on the map. Let down.
Its quite big
 Miri tourism is very proud of the 'Unity Tower', but honestly..
Miri Town Planning
In Miri, the air-conditioner rules the sky, and the car rules the street (the cat rules the night!).  While walking around Miri, I got the impression that all pedestrians are assumed to be poor, and therefore not worth catering for by city planners.  There are hardly any proper, push-button crosswalks, and those that exist don't work.  In Miri, you just have to get used to running across four lanes of traffic.
Miri Shopping
Once you have mastered the road-sprint, it can be quite entertaining to have a stroll and read Miri's diverse shop signs.
I meant to get my human life serviced, but I ran out of time..
I think gangsters live here
Every business, no matter how small, is an Enterprise

Honestly, when I first arrived in Miri, I was dismayed.  Looking around, I couldn't make any sense of the city - it didn't seem to have a centre, where people congregate, or a CBD.  Shops selling car parts were right next to bakeries, the hotels were also the shopping centres and people lived behind shop signs.

I thought to myself - I want to spend as much time in the Penan villages as possible because I don't know how long I can stay here....

But then, every time I passed through Miri again, it seemed that I liked it more..
Miri started to grow on me!

I learned to like Miri's somewhat unsuccessful but very earnest attempts at decoration;
These are electric trees
The shopping centre's nightly light and water fountain show. 

The Chinese temple with the scary paintings;
My favourite place to eat, Surabaya restaurant; (where the young male wait staff blush when they take my order!  hehe:))

Its library from the movie TRON, (the original);

Most of all, though, It's the Penan friends living here that are the reason I'll miss Miri..
Me with my friend, Hellen
Its not a travel destination - its a place to pass through, but its a home to some people and its been a temporary home to me. :)

So Long Miri!!

Ang x

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Best of Brunei

Sunset in Brunei is beautiful
So after my time in the jungle, I needed a change (and a visa renewal!) so I went for a visit to Brunei with my friend Finian.  Brunei is considerably wealthier than the rest of Malaysia which means its rather more expensive to stay there.  The Brunei dollar is comparable to the Australian dollar.

I had a rather interesting introduction to the country..I came in by boat, and for a change, I put 'singer' down as my occupation on the Immigration form (this isn't a lie - I do sing!).  Well, the people at the desk stopped me because I didn't have a visa.  I didn't have one because I'd been told that I could get one on arrival.  Well, they took me into a side room and looked at my documents.  Once they saw that I was a singer, they naturally assumed that I was rather famous back in Australia, and asked if they could have a photo with me!  I said 'of course', and with that, my visa worries were over!. :)

Here is the other thing about Brunei.  It really hard to find a cheap place to stay.  I ended up in the only cheap hotel in the place, staffed by a pair of lesbians, which may or may not have doubled as a brothel.  I'm still not sure about that....

Bandar Seri Bagwan (BSB) is the capital of Brunei.  Its quite nice, with its lovely city mosque and water villages.

The city mosque, lit up at night.

Boats wait to take passengers across to the water villages.  It should cost around $2 but the price goes up to $10 if you are a tourist.

This boy thought that by flashing me a winning smile, he'd get me into his boat..........it almost worked.:)
And he tried the 'smooth' stare
Sunset over the water

Trees in the cemetery - ok so I ran out of things to do in Brunei :)

Here are some photos of the same mosque, taken at different times of the day.  The way the sky changes over the days makes a big difference to the way the mosque looks.

This man insisted on a photo.  He showed me around the mosque a bit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More flowers from Borneo

For the flower enthusiasts and lovers of all things botanical, ......Once again I'll put on my 19th Century naturalist hat, to share with you more flowers from Borneo! :) Ang

I love this waxy flower.

The texture is almost like plastic

This is from the garden in Long Kerong - the children picked it for me

The ginger flower is interesting because it grows about a foot from the stem, out of the ground.

Banana plant

Mountain Flower from the top of Batu Layuk

Another beautiful mountain flower

This delicate orchid is deep in the jungle, in a special flowering area

This one is in that same flowering area - so exquisite

Pitcher plants are amazing.  These are from the jungle garden.

A flower...and me!

The Penan version of a daisy chain :)

Lipstick orchids along the riverbank near Long Spigen