Friday, 15 June 2012

Selamat Gawai

Selamat Gawai Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai

After Kuching we decided we really wanted to go to the Gawai (harvest) festival. The biggest festival of the year for the Dayak people (native people of Borneo). After some searching my friend Azam found a friend who would be in Borneo for the festival and we were invited to join the celebrations with them. We took a ferry 3.5hrs to Sarikei where we were picked up.

Luckily for us Cesar had a degree in english so communication was no problem. His mother teaches english in middle school and his father teaches teachers. Lots of people to talk to. They let us stay in their house. The yard had many palm and banana trees.

They also cooked us up a Malaysian BBQ. Pork is stuffed into some of the bamboo sticks and sticky rice in others. It then needs to be rotated occasionally. They made lots which is good since Gawai is a time for people to just drop in then you try to make them eat as much as possible.

After our BBQ we went with Cesar and his family to a long house where some of their relatives still lived. A long house can sometimes be 60 houses long and hundreds of families living there. The ones we went to were around 16 doors, as they say. Long houses have been around Borneo for a long time but it is hard to find many old ones since fires can be a big problem. The big difference between a long house and a terrace style house is that there is much more interaction with all your neighbors.

The first thing when entering a long house you do is say hello to the chief. Next you have another meal.  I was unaware of how many meals I would have to eat so I did not pace myself well. After a few drinks some dancing. The drink of choice here seems to be home brewed Tuak, a rice wine varying in strength.

Saara getting her groove on.

All this was just the preparty at midnight it is fireworks and guns.

After midnight it is custom to go door to door and try everyones festive meals and tuak.

The next afternoon we went to another long house where the celebrations were picking up again. 

The very friendly family who were great hosts.

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