Daily Dose of Beauty: A Bornean Feast

Harvesting bamboo

Harvesting bamboo

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.

Harvesting bamboo

Harvesting bamboo

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.

Collecting lunch

Collecting lunch

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.

Until then,
Kelly

19 comments

  • Had to play catch-up on these with work actually being insane for myself and my colleagues due to COVID. But, these are a joy to come to now that I finally have a break for the moment. Thanks!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kevin! Hearing that fills ME with joy. That’s exactly why I’m doing them — as relief from the craziness for whoever needs it. What do you do related to COVID, if I may ask? I hope you’re staying healthy and wish you the very best in your fight against it. ~Kelly

      Liked by 1 person

      • My company supports maintenance of material handling systems, and the buildings they operate in. I’m managing multiple facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region. With all the ‘special’ deliveries going on for medical needs, in addition to maintaining deliveries for people stuck at home, we’re all in overdrive. And, at the outset of this we had to implement a plan for distancing among those in these facilities, as well as temperature screening stations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds very challenging, especially distancing within facilities. Thank you for all you’re doing to support all of us at home and at hospitals and everywhere in between. We so appreciate your work, stamina and care!

        Liked by 1 person

      • It has been challenging. But, no one needs to thank me. I’m just glad to have the knowledge and abilities to be able to help even though I’m just a very small part of a massive effort by many, many people. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing it with us all. You brilliantly make it feel that we are there experiencing with you…and no jet lag or custom control. Traveling has never been easier (and the price is right too 😊)

    Like

  • This is something I love doing whenever possible during my travel. Seeing how food is cooked in a traditional way, and tasting dishes that are so unfamiliar are among the most rewarding experiences ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! And it’s so fun to discover ingredients, produce and spices unfamiliar to us, wherever we are in the world. Growing up I never knew of dragon fruit, durian, tamarind, galangal, bok choy even. The culinary world is packed with surprises and flavors!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Oh I would have loved this! Bamboo rice – it never ceases to amaze me how creative people are.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  • This was so cool! Now more than ever, their life looks very appealing!

    Wenda Puzzo 650-339-6747

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    Liked by 1 person

  • Ahhh Borneo. One of those countries we keep saying we need to get to and have not yet made it there!! Thanks for the beautiful post. I love when people use resources such as bamboo in so many different ways. When we lived in Nicaragua we were always surprised by the fact that the indigenous people we built bamboo low cost housing for, did not use the bamboo in ANY way at all. So different to so much of Asia that find so many different creative and practical uses for it. We enjoyed bamboo rice cooked just like this, in Cambodia. It was delicious! Smoky and sticky and flavorful.

    Your photographs are so lovely.

    Peta

    Like

    • Thanks, Peta! So surprising to hear that people in Nicaragua didn’t use bamboo. It seems like a sustainable resource that could and should be used everywhere — even here in Tahoe, ha ha?! Would love to have a bamboo tree house and lake view! Thanks for stopping by. Always lovely to hear from you. Hope you’re soaking up the sun in MX! It’s snowing here today. 😦 ~Kelly

      Like

  • Love seeing pictures of the harvest. We saw something similar in Thailand with sugar cane. So fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Pingback: Daily Dose of Beauty: Borneo Beach Time – Compass & Camera

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