Up the river without a paddle in Kapit
Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
39Trip End Sep 17, 2009
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My questions about the next stage of our journey hadn’t resulted in any clear answers (communication here is often like that) so I decided to call up a tour operator in the next town up river that we wanted to get to. He was quite clear and it wasn’t good news, no boats were running further up stream due to low water levels! So, that meant we’d have to backtrack to Sibu. Ah well, we’d enjoyed the trip up here and so thought we’d better make the best of it and see if we could arrange a Longhouse visit.
It boiled down to a local tout called Joshua or a minivan driver called William. William was cheaper and so after some deliberation we decided to go with him. (Joshua was a local Iban guy and had tried to put us off using the Chinese, local politics, and when it came down to it Joshua just priced himself out of the game)
We arrived and walked across the bridge to the all wood structure on stilts.
There were lots of dogs that crept up whilst we were eating but they were shoo’d away till we’d finished and when we moved away the dogs came back and found their favourite space for a sleep.
There were three ladies stringing beads, an older man whittling rattan, another was weaving rattan for his knife holder. I don’t know how much of this was “staged” but it seemed very natural. They didn’t know we were coming and life just seemed to carry on…
The building reminded Martyn of terraced houses back in Warrington with communal front veranda instead of “backs” (the jungle version of Coronation St!).
It all felt like a visit to a very primitive community but then Raymond told us that he’d been in the police for 32 years and was retired now. He put his T-shirt on as we were leaving and got onto his motor bike to collect his wife from town. So, modern life does coexist with the traditions (as could also be seem from the satellite dishes on the side of the building!)
It was a short but very interesting visit, some people go and stay overnight. We felt a bit strange about the intrusion on their lives but they were genuinely welcoming and I think tourists provide a welcome addition to their communal incomes.
Not much else to say about Kapit. Really quiet at night but a busy town feel during the day with quite a big covered market. Oh, and those booked up hotels when we arrived – it was due to a teachers convention at the school, they all left the next day and so we had the pick of hotels and moved to our original choice.
Where I stayed
New Rejang Inn