Sunday, June 28, 2015

BorneoPost Online : Quiet, rustic and heart-warming Julau

June 28, 2015, Sunday

The small town of Julau stretches from a couple of blocks and houses various business

Hung's daughter poses with the noodle-making machine and tools on the upper floor of the shophouse

JULAU is a pepper town that spices up over the weekend, and where fumes and dirt kicked up by cars and bikes rise with the morning sun.

Julau, although a small town, is packed with history, culture and traditions. Wandering around the town, we met 64-year-old Ingai Achot who is a retired teacher and has spent more than 40 years of his life in Julau.

Hung prepares noodles in the kitchen of the coffeeshop passed down from his father to him
Ingai, who currently gives English tuition classes in his spare time, told us Julau was once home to a mighty Iban warrior named Asun who led the Iban community in rebelling against the Brookes – the ‘White Rajahs’.

According to him, the Brooke Fort in Nanga Meluan which is located around 20km from Julau bazaar was built in 1936 and was used as an administrative centre during the Brooke era.

A hanging bridge that connects villagers living across the Kanowit river
This was where Asun, a penghulu from the Entabai area in Julau rebelled against Rajah Charles Vyner due to the taxation system introduced then.

“Asun led the Iban community and attacked the fort with just parangs, spears and shields,” shared Ingai.

The hero of the Iban community is now long gone but according to Ingai, still has many descendants living in the district. We decided to question him about the ‘miring’ ritual – an Iban ritual we learned from locals around at the bazaar.

“The ritual is where Ibans give offerings to the gods in return for their blessings,” Ingai explained.

Hung's coffeeshop offers homemade 'kampua' noodles
Believers will prepare all kinds of offerings such as bitternuts, betel leaves, tobacco, gluttonous rice and ‘rendai’ – a popcorn-like dish where gluttonous rice is heated in a wok – on a plate.

The believers would then hold up a live rooster and circle it around the offerings. “They believe that the crow of the rooster can call upon the gods,” Ingai said.

After this, the rooster is then slaughtered and its blood and feathers are then

offered to the gods. The knowledgeable ex-teacher then told us that depending on what one wants to ask for, one calls upon a specific god. For example, you call upon the God of Paddy if you want to have great harvest, he said.

The locals of this quaint town who speak a mixture of Chinese and Iban are very friendly, and many are of Iban-Chinese parentage.

They greeted us with bright smiles and were glad to share their knowledge on anything we found interesting. Coffeeshop owner Hung Siew Dee revealed that the small town would becoming a hive of activity as people from the surrounding areas and even from remote villages like Nangka Wat and Ulu Entabai came by to shop and stock up on necessities or to run errands during the weekends.

“There is an open air market in town where villagers from all over come to trade their wares over the weekend,” he said when approached yesterday.

“There are more people on Sunday,” he added. Hung, 37, runs his coffeeshop with his wife; a business which has been passed down by his father that has a history of over 40 years serving handmade ‘kampua’ noodles.

The noodle-making tools and machine are placed on the top floor of the three-storey shophouse as it cannot fit into the store that is long, but not wide enough to house the equipment.

“Yes, we make our own noodles as it is difficult and expensive to source it from outside due to distance. This is just a small town,” he said.

“My father handed down the noodle recipe to me,” he added.  At the opposite corner of the coffeeshop, volunteers of Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) sold various merchandise like car stickers, shirts and badges to raise awareness about demanding greater rights and autonomy for the people of Sarawak.

The town stretches for a couple blocks and houses a variety of businesses from coffee shops to grocery stores and hardware stores.

The open air market offers an array of products like clothes, bags, accessories, fresh fruits, vegetables and jungle produce.

Unfortunately, most of the traders had already packed up and cleared the market by noon when we arrived to explore.

Trader Christina Janting, 26, told us that the open air market brought a lot of life to this town.

“I trade here during most weekends, especially during the Gawai festive month,” she said, pointing out that business was slow.

Christina, who is from Sarikei, sells traditional Iban costumes like Pua Kumbu, Baju Sidan (vest), Kain Tanting (petticoat with decorative bells), head gear and accessories as well as gongs.

“Traditional Iban clothing are getting popular nowadays. Most of my customers are Dayaks but there are also people of other races who buy them as well,” she said.

The small town is rich with culture and history, and the underlying warmth of its people left the deepest of marks in our hearts.

The kind and gentle nature of the townsfolk was heart-warming, and it’s no wonder Julau is deemed the district that sports the lowest crime rates.

So it is with a heavy heart we left behind Julau and its people as we departed once more for other places in the central region.

Locals check out the various S4S merchandise on sale at the corner of the coffeeshop

The S4S merchandise on display which include car stickers, caps and posters

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chronicles of James : 无乃 (奶)

小龙女生死未卜 妈妈忘了儿子姓什
榴莲美酒两当前 爸爸误了烧水泡奶

Chronicles of James : Feast of Fruits


Dragon fruit





SunGold Kiwifruit