The Mountain

 

Far away in the forests of Sarawak you can find a place that is called ‘The Tropical Jungle Hide Out’. To reach it you have to drive at least 6 hours by 4WD on logging roads. But when you finally reach the top of the Mountain you are welcomed by Vodka, Wiskey, Label, 5 and Tuaq, the resident dogs and cat. Happily all their tails wag, running under the car when the engine is still running. Next to a small tool shed there is a gap in the trees, the entrance to the hide out. A boardwalk leads you in the forest where you can see all the different platforms hiding between the trees.

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It is very quiet, all you hear are the birds in the trees and the frogs in the distance. Time does not really exist in a place like this. There is just day and night, time for food, time for a drink, time to relax.
The flapping sounds of the local group of horn bills flying passed is a daily delight. In the morning you can hear the sounds of the Gibbons waking up while the mist makes way for  the first watery sun rays.

Not far from the top of the mountain is a small village called Buduk Nur. It is part of a group of 9 villages called Ba’kelalan who are grouped around the Kelalan river close to the border with Indonesia.
The local people living here belong to the Lun Bawang tribe and still live a relatively traditional live. Despite the roads and the airstrip this area is still secluded so the locals have to be self sufficient. They build their own houses, grow their own rice and vegetables, have their own small businesses.
The Lun Bawang have a strong connection with the land they live on. It has been their land for as long as they can remember and the proof lies in the stories that get passed on through the generations. If you wait patiently you can hear the stories of the headhunters, their old bamboo huts and longhouses and the jungle spirit.

It is a place where you can disconnect from the rest of the world. The cellphone tower in the valley works, as all the other things in the valley, on a generator. If the person responsible fails to turn on the genset then there is no connection for anyone. The perfect excuse not to be online.

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The sun is starting to set, people are returning from the padi fields back to their houses, it is harvest season. On our way down to the valley we give the ones we pass a ride in the pickup truck. They join us in the back of the car. Two young guys emerge from the forest on the end of the airstrip, home made rifles on their backs. No wild boar with them for now. The parangs on their waists sharp as a razor. Back in the house, the rice is already cooking over the fireplace. Dinner will consist of new rice with  pineapple curry made of the pineapple received from the neighbour, fried small fish caught in the already harvested padi field and veggies from the garden. There is always a kettle on the stove for some hot water, tea or coffee.

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Back on the Mountain, country music is playing from Wendy’s phone while we all gaze into the fire. We spend most of the day hammering the boardwalk together, it was a good day. On bad days the nails just refuse to penetrate the hard tropical wood but today they where complaient. Nature stopped us from overworking by showering us with a heavy downpour. Well, that means time for dinner. Beautiful new rice, white as snow, with an assortment of vegetable dishes all freshly made. Food on the mountain is always good. The rain brought the cold with it. The glow of the flame keeps the moisture of the clouds that are surrounding us at bay. It is good to warm up before crawling in the tent for the night.

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