Daily Dose of Beauty: Homestay in the Jungle

Entrance to Saloma Villagestay

Entrance to Saloma Villagestay

Daily Dose of Beauty: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together.
This series features travel photos and stories from my archives, shared with you as we shelter in place.

April 3rd, 2020

Selamat datang! Welcome to Saloma Villagestay, an authentic homestay in Borneo. To get to your room, you must first cross the ravine on the bamboo bridge. Hope you didn’t bring a rolling suitcase!

Saloma slices some sugar cane

Saloma slices some sugar cane

Meet Saloma, your host. She left her village in Borneo to attend college in Kulala Lumpur. After graduating, she decided to return to the village (Kampong Sadir) and apply what she learned by creating an authentic homestay experience at her family’s residence in the jungle.

Saloma lives with her mother, father, grandmother and two brothers. Lots of family friends stop by to say hello. No one here is a stranger.

Saloma’s house is a few minutes outside Kampong Sadir on a large plot of land. It’s two storeys — unusual by comparison with Borneo’s traditional houses. On the top floor, two bedrooms and an open-air living room welcome you for your overnight stay. The refrigerator is stocked with cold water and a hammock hangs between two posts. The afternoon heat is thick but with a space like this and nothing on the agenda, lounging here listening to the birds is a fine way to pass the time.

Downstairs, Saloma’s dad has just returned from the jungle. He’s in his sixties, short and fit as a fiddle, carrying a huge basket from the tumpline slung over his head. He spent the day on his land harvesting fruit with a long machete. He unpacks the load and reveals a bumpercrop of durian, the world’s stinkiest fruit.

Kampong Sadir is a village of traditional longhouses that hold multiple families and generations in rooms along one side facing the shared common space along the other side. Longhouses are built above the jungle floor for air circulation and (my personal theory) to keep the bugs and creepy-crawlies at bay. Cats and kittens help too.

Love Cats

Love Cats

There are lots of critters in the jungle — nearly every square meter here is an overgrown mass of green vegetation always encroaching on the footpaths through the village. An afternoon jaunt to the river shows us more of Borneo’s landscape.

Down by the river

Down by the river

 

Afternoon kayak

Afternoon kayak

Seeing the photo of this mountain’s shape today, only one thought comes to my mind:

Flatten the curve, people, FLATTEN THE CURVE!

Tomorrow we head farther into the jungle for a homemade feast with the family.

Until then, stay home and stay healthy.
Kelly

17 comments

  • Nice open-air living room. But i will need an electric fan to fend mosquitoes. Ah the smell and the stimulating durian. That flatten the curve mountain looks like Devil’s tower. Nice trip.

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  • I also read that longhouses in Borneo are built above the ground to protect people from wild animals, especially at night. Although not a longhouse, my parents and I actually lived in a stilt house when we lived in Banjarmasin, the provincial capital of South Kalimantan in Indonesia’s part of the island. However, there were times when snakes came into our house!

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    • Snakes! Yikes! Big? Wow. A stilt house! Again, I can’t wait to read your post. This is why I love blogging. We wouldn’t know each other otherwise and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn about your life experience, and the similarities and differences between our lives. So educational and rewarding. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • Love this blog Kelly. I met a gorgeous lone British trekker from UK on bus to Sapa. She did a homestay so far out of the village. I was so impressed with her bravery in being out in the ‘wild’ and don’t know how she managed it. Your post shows your bravery and it seems like it is so natural and calming being in a family network. I never took the leap. Maybe one day once the flattening curve becomes a straight line again. BTW, I’m definitely not a snake person so it would have to be a very high house ๐Ÿ™‚ Stay safe and enjoy your journey.

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    • Hi Brian! Thank you so much! Yes, the family aspect of this homestay was really cool. More about that tomorrow. We had no idea what to expect — I think any homestay is a bit of a gamble really — but Saloma was SO knowledgeable and relaxed and happy to share everything she knew from life in Borneo. I would highly recommend this place as a starting point if you ever want to give it a go. And yes, we were happy to be on the TOP floor given the open nature of her house and longhouses in general. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • It’s amazing but it seems like the place is conductive for human beings and I love your interesting and beautiful research
    If God willingly one day u happen to come to Uganda am ready to show you more interesting places

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  • I’m often leery of homestays; we’ve had a few major fails! But this one sounds great, and what a fantastic way to really get a feel for what life is like there. I’m not a fan of creepy crawlies, so having the house elevated sounds good to me!

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    • Same! This is the only homestay we’ve done and thankfully it was amazing. I think Saloma and I would be fast friends if we lived near each other. So cool to connect with her even for a weekend and learn about her way of life.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Looks like an interesting place. But I gotta ask, did you try the durian? I’ve not met anyone who’s encountered it firsthand. From what I understand, it might be hard to get past the smell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve tried durian. There was some in the salad that Saloma made that day (which I didn’t eat much of, ha ha). I also tried it while living in Singapore. It’s hard to describe the flavor. A bit like onions maybe? I think the smell is worse, actually. The Singapore public transit system even has a graphic of a durian fruit with a line across it — you can’t take it on the train/subway with you. If you buy it, you have to drive or walk home with it. Pretty funny!

      Liked by 1 person

  • What a village and home stay. I love this. So authentic and unpretentious. I wasnโ€™t familiar with that fruit. Did it taste good? Thx for posting.

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  • Beautiful places, lovely photographs, we can’t travel now though and can only see virtually, so thank you!
    BTW where is the story of the feast prepared by the family in the jungle that you mentioned here, or did I miss it?

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