Photographer's Note

Feeling that this important cultural heritage and tradition in Sarawak will be lost very soon, I feel that I must share this image, not for its technical quality but I ask you to observe the content face, the wrinkles of life in the jungle, 5hrs for the young to reach from nearest trade post, and totally cut off from the world. This exists today in Sarawak. And I am proud to have trekked the hours to see this for myself. Not wishing to delay her from trekking hours to her home, I did not take more photos, also partly it would be dark if we did not hurry out of the jungle; another 4hrs to go for us.

I open my Gawai2009 travelogue with this post of my special girl, because she is very rare in our part of world and this festival is unique for Sarawak's dayaks. After 3-4 years of dreaming to come to this place, this Gawai festival, it is fulfilled. 3 of us trekked up from Kampung Bengoh, Sait, Bojong to Kampung Semban at the ridges of mountain range; Hoe, Evelyn [she impressed me to trek as tough and as durable as anyone] and myself. Last year, same 3 of us went to another Bidayuh village at Kampong Sadir for Gawai.

Read my story in the travelogue. After sunrise shooting at 3300ft, around 7am on 2nd day of festival, we were asking and looking for HER at her home but the family told that she had gone out. I thought she went visiting neighbors and chitchat, even that early. So we were disappointed because it was said only 8 or 9 of these girls remain in the village here. It is interesting how the same ornamental decorations could have been worn by people as far as Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

So we occupied ourselves with other things in the village, including a 1hr trek to waterfall. By 1pm we had to trek 40minutes back to village and packed our bags. Saying goodbye to our hosts and then off we go down the mountain trails at 3pm. After 1 hr of trekking, it was getting less hot and perhaps rain on the way. We were a bit weary and tired. And what a surprise, the special girl showed up on the trail back to the village, all alone and carrying a backpack of a few kg load. You can see her condition, at her age [you guess how old she is?] and able to walk up the mountain trail, at least 2-3hr on mostly up and up to 3300ft. Perhaps I could be wrong, she might be faster than us. So she was asked to pause for a while, let down her backpack and we have some photography. I wonder why I left all that space on her right, perhaps to show the trail, or was I thinking maybe I could stand in there and took a double portrait with her? I am puzzled. And yes, I know she is a little too near the edge but that would be a patch of black bag and backpack, messy stuff I avoided to include. All this while she was talking in her own Bidayuh language which none of us understood a word. Lovely isnt she?

Currently a reservoir dam is being built and 4 villages here will be submerged in water and therefore resettled/relocated elsewhere. EIA Report, 310 pages pdf takes long time to show

p/s I was shocked. Watch the rings around her waist, tell me what you see. Please tell me.

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Additional Photos by Bill Laucp (trekks) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2260 W: 172 N: 4300] (14348)
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