Daily Dose of Beauty: A Bornean Feast
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 4th, 2020
Following yesterday’s arrival, we’re enjoying an afternoon lunch with Saloma and her family in Sarawak, Borneo. We hike thirty minutes away from her house to a small hut in the middle of the jungle.
We follow Saloma’s father deeper into the jungle where he looks for bamboo with the expert eye of someone who has been doing this his whole life. After a few taps and shakes on various bamboo shoots, he chooses two and gets to work cutting them down with his machete.
I follow Saloma along the trail as she collects various leaves, roots and flowers in the basket hanging from her shoulder. She, too, has a lifetime of experience living off the land, passed down from her grandmother (and generations beyond) who is 90 years old and hiking around with us as we forage. We keep walking while gathering small red chili peppers, ginger, lemongrass and a few small seed pods filled with flavor.
Saloma knows what’s edible, what’s useful for other purposes and what requires special handling. After cutting down a few young stalks of bamboo, she buries the excess alongside the trail while giving thanks for the abundant, regenerating resource.
I ask Saloma how her family feels about her turning their home into a guest house. She says they didn’t understand at first … why would anyone want to stay at their house? But they understand now that their way of life and experience living from the land is unique to many and something people can learn from.
Back at the hut, Saloma’s father whittles the most charming set of drinking cups from the bamboo he harvested. His wife has the kettle on in preparation for afternoon tea.
Saloma’s teenage brothers, typically rambunctious and adolescent, are just down the path at the barbecue pit tending to the pork. Playing with fire? Maybe, but they seem to know what they’re doing.
While we’ve been up the trail, Saloma’s mom has been making bamboo rice in the fire. She fills the bamboo piece with rice and water, then seals the opening and places the other end in the flame. The rice absorbs the hot water and expands into the enclosed bamboo column. She splits open the bamboo revealing the most perfect, fluffy rice you could ever imagine. Nature and human creativity can be such a magical combination.
The pork arrives from the grill, Saloma has assembled the salads and everything is prepared and presented in various vessels made from palm and banana leaves. We toast to this incredible feast prepared in the jungle of Borneo, and give thanks to Saloma’s family for everything we’ve experienced and learned from them.
Tomorrow is Sunday. We’ll head to the coast for some time at the beach before riding the magic carpet to our next destination.