Monthly archives: January 2019

Story of a Sape Maker – Matt Linggi

Dear friends, 

Sarawak is a beautiful land. As the son of the land, I am always proud to tell the others where I came from when I am being asked, which is from Kampung Pichin, Serian. Growing up in the south, surrounded by my fellow Bidayuh clansmen, I am not really exposed to the other peoples in terms of day-to-day interaction during the first 12 years of my life. As I grow older, I met more peoples from all around the world, which is an eye-opening experiences. Currently residing at the northern part of Sarawak, Miri, I have the best opportunity to get to know more about the people of the North, which is the Orang Ulu (literally upriver peoples).

Orang Ulu is the term used by Sarawakians to refer to the ethnically-diverse group in the north, including Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, Punan, Penan, Lahanan, Kiput,Kajaman – to name a few. Due to the vast history of these culturally-rich peoples, it deserves its own story in another post. Interestingly, the Kalimantan Indonesians that has the same historical and blood ties with the Sarawak’s Orang Ulu still call themselves Dayak. Dayak, in Bidayuh Biatah/Padawan dialect means “people”.  Orang Ulu is the term popularised by Orang Ulu National Association (OUNA) which was founded in 1969. In Sarawak, Dayak refers to either Land Dayak (Bidayuh) or Sea Dayak (Ibans), which was introduced during James Brooke time, making it easier for them to identify us. However, I have no knowledge of the separation of these Dayaks and Orang Ulu. Perhaps if there is any reader that has the knowledge can share it in comments below.

Anyway, there is one aspect of Orang Ulu that I want to touch today, which is their most famous musical instrument – Sape. Sape is originally three or four stringed instrument and is scaled in a way it is pentatonic, but modern variations has more strings and frets. Among the famous Sape players are the Sape Masters – Matthew Ngau Jau, the Sape master behind Lan E – Jerry Kamit and Kelabit beauty on a mission, Alena Murang.

My journey to find the more about this unique musical instrument leads me to the down-to-earth Sape maker of Miri, Matt Linggi from Iban tribe. He is actually an oil and gas professional, famously known as PLS – project liaison supervisor – at Central Luconia, but during his off-day, he dons his Sape maker outfit and grinds on.

Matt Linggi’s signature trademark
Close-up of Matt Linggi’s personal sape.
Sape and I.

Background:

He liked Sape music since his early childhood when it was played over the radio or cassette player. He have not seen any real sape instrument until he was in his 20s. His first sape was bought from a Kenyah Sape maker and also seasoned sape player, the late Usat Ulai from Tatau, Bintulu. The sape has a beautiful acoustic sound and authentic in design. He owns that sape for a couple of years before he gave it away to someone from Kuala Lumpur.

His inspiration of making sape came after I watched Jerry Kamit’s sape on his video clips album and in Youtube. He was amazed by its modern shape, handy and mobility. Since then he was trying to look for one of those kind but to no avail. He scouted around wherever he saw handicraft shops. He saw few sape but did not find them to be satisfactory to his expectation even though they are well- built Sape, well-designed and has various types of wood selection and range of prices.

His father has experience in crafting sape body for Orang Ulu tribe of Kayan from Belaga when he was young. Despite being experienced in crafting few sape, his father never learnt to install the strings and frets nor attempt to play any song whatsoever.

Entry Into Business:

His official entry into business started one day in early 21st century, sometime in 2005 when he asked his father to make one sape for him. His father did one for him, but then again, its shape and design was not up to his preferences. This sparks something – he was thinking maybe he can make one himself. With his father’s help, they managed to find the wood (Kayu Pulai/Pelaie) and he designed the shape and dimension to his preferences. His father made one and he also made one himself at the same time.

HIs first attempt of making sape was quite an experience for he have never seen and observed the real processes involved. His first Sape, visually is not so bad, acoustically was not impressive as he expected. The body construction was not ideal. Back then, he has no idea of how thick is thick or how thin is thin.

Since then, he is always thinking of making another, and better Sape but the ideas always come to a halt because he is always working abroad in oil and gas industry. When he works abroad, he is donning his coverall and focuses into HSSE aspect, but his heart and soul is always at the land of Hornbill and of course his Sape.

Reigniting the Flame:

In 2008, once again, he finally has a career based in Miri. That was where he began to materialise his dream. This time, he has better ideas after observing few sapes from different makers. His traditional ornament design was still very basic and simple. It is meant for his personal uses. He made Sape out of his hobby but then of few of friends showed strong interest in his Sape and asked him to make one for them. 

That was how he began to make more Sape whenever he is available and has free time to spare.

Way back in 2011, his friend Hezekiah Asim gave him one Sape made by William Balam, a Kelabit guy. The Sape’s shape was so unique and has a fascinating ornament design. Hezekiah asked him if he can make one sape for him with something similar in design. He said He cannot promise but will do the best in his ability. After a year or so he managed to produce one of his own version very much inspired by William Bala’s Sape design.

From then on his Sape design has been transformed from basic and simple to more complicated and fascinating ornament design.

Sape-Making Processes:

The following are the processes involved in making sape, in their sequence, from paper to the finished product.

Comparison between Sape, mini-Sape and an acoustic guitar.

Challenges:

As of now, he personally feel that we need more Sape maker to cope up with demand from the ever-rising players request. This mean not only massive in production but also in term of quality that also has to be ensured. Through the quality of the Sape, it will be the Sape makers’ signature and their ambassador though people may not have met us personally.  

Four-stringed and six-stringed sape.

Sape has evolved as time change. He said we hardly keep up with the pure traditional cultures because we are brought up in different time and place. But we ought to make an effort to preserve the traditional value of this precious instrument by reflecting the place of origin.

According to him, we could have modern version sape which reflect the traditional assents. This is where the new generation need input from the Sape masters or experienced maker/player because believe it or not, a Master’s was once a beginner too. 

Also, due to severe deforestation, searching for the right and suitable wood also pose another concern. 

Future:

Personally, he foresees that Sape will soar further than it already was. There are many young enthusiast that is eager to bring it up to the next level be it in craft design or ways of playing. Just like the performances made by the Alena, or even Nick of Sada Borneo. Beside local peoples, there is also a huge demand from international level for sape instrument. For example, the lute collectors from European regions. There will be no limit to this future because different player might want to have different Sape from different maker just like other instrument, where there is a need to be unique. Unlike others, most, if not all, Sape maker/player that he knew are very generous in sharing ideas and tips. They always compliments each other and should there is any “competition”, it will be a healthy one. In this way, the Sape players community can ensure the growth of Sape music throughout the world.

Ordering:

Should any of you are interested to get Sape of your own, you may do so and contact Matt Linggi via his Facebook . However, due to high demand, one will have to bear a long waiting list, especially if your Sape of request is beautifully decorated.

Alena and her beautiful sape, handcrafted personally by Matt Linggi. (Snapshot from Alena’s Instagram). Follow her IG account to know about her latest updates.
One for the road. Matt Linggi plays a composition before I left.
(Leica M10 & Noctilux – wide-open)

© Claudius Weson Photograpy (2019), unless stated otherwise. Matt Linggi’s personal images are used with his permission.

Claudius Weson is a freelance “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh) based in Miri, with passion in immortalising memories.

CW & Wedding Photography

Dear friends, 

How was your fourth week of the year? Was it a bit of self-searching or you have found your track and are speeding up? Regardless, I hope you have a fruitful days in 2019 and have the things that you would like to do. Let’s not forget that everyday we are blessed with 1440 minutes and it is very important for you to make full use of it. In this post, I want to write about my experiences with wedding photography.

Introduction:

I have been doing wedding photography since 2017 on part-time basis since I am actually an engineer by profession, with photography as my passion. When I first started out, I did not intend to be wedding photographer, but more like event photographer and other activities that I like. The more I do wedding photography, the more I like it. It seems like there is something about it that is close to my soul. There is so much that we can relate to weddings that we will have to list it down to make it a complete sentence for others to fathom out thoughts. Let’s write it down here.


What is Wedding?

First and foremost, what is wedding? A wedding is a ceremony where two people are united in marriage. As a Catholic, I am close to this bible verse – Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In another persepective, it is more than just the union of two person, it is actually the union between two family. When a man marries to a woman, it is the day he becomes her parents’ son, and vice versa. It is common for Sarawakians to call his parents in-law as father or mother. In Bidayuh language, it is andu-amang, in Iban, apai indai, and so forth. There is no limit to it, depending on your family and tradition.

Wedding Photography:

It is a well-known idea that wedding is a special memory, hence it needs to be captured somewhere. I still remember the day when my aunties and uncles get married in the late 90s and early-2000s, where there was no proper photographer since the main idea at that time is cost-saving. But back then, the idea was to rent few plastic camera from the nearest camera shop and save the shots only for the most crucial moments. Sometimes, the cameraman, Kochat, will come and offer to take photo, where we can choose from the following day. In the end, we can only get a few photo album, the one that you have to put talc powder to prevent it from being damaged over time. Most of the photo albums are missing. For my parents, there was only two photo of their wedding that I can find, but that makes it is the most special of all the images I posses. Having seen the hardship it causes, it makes me realise that every moment is precious. Subconsciously, it is another reason why I am passionate about capturing moments, so that I can immortalise memories.

Wedding Photographer:

Some might think of them as the one that lunge a camera, or two and ran around the room. Sometimes they come in a group of person with distinctive roles and responsibility, like in an established photographer organisation. Some – like me – comes alone dressed in black and trying to be discreet like a ninja and work alone. In my words, he is the person (or persons) who was given the honour to capture the moments throughout the event. Honour is a strong word – why? I am using honour because in the wedding itself is not something that you can just arrange in a whim. It requires an elaborate planning, resources, time and energy to pull it. Forget about planning, without any money, you cannot bring it forth. Although it is “just an evening”, but it actually is 1 year, or months in the making. Because of the planning and resources, and the importance it signifies, wedding photography is the aspect that one should not put lightly. Imagine this case, because you want to save cost, you took whatever photography that can fit your budget, in the end, you get what you paid for. To randomly listing down any potential worstcase – the composition is out, the crucial moment is off, and the colour is distasteful etc. that would make one nightmare of a wedding images.

Consider the alternative scenario – let’s say you have to pay a substantial amount of money to get an experienced , and award-winning photographer. You can be sure that the images that he/she took will be pleasing. That images, will be handed over to the younger generations to see the beauty of the precious moments, the wedding of their grandparents half a century ago. This is another reason why some people do not mind of spending a sum of reasonable amount of money for their wedding photography because it is a good investment. We can earn our money back, but not even a trillionaire can bring back even a second from his past.

Claudy’s Wedding Photography Style:

Whenever I was given this honour to be wedding photographer, I always put it in my mind – how would I do it if it is my wedding? I would give my best. There is something that I realised, each of the photo created is a reflection of the photographers’ personality. All of the photographs with people smiling in it is because their soul interacts with the soul of the photographer. Just imagine if I am putting a serious face, I bet the person in the images would be neutral. But if I am smiling and interacts with them before I capture the images, the person would be smiling.

I believed, and I have experienced that photographer also plays a key role in the event, particularly in the department of immortalising memories. We can always make the event merrier, trust me. You have the power to make a difference.

Since I am operating solo (being a freelancer), mobility is a must-have. In terms of style, there is no specific school of thought that I employ, but I am doing it without the usage of any light-modifiers or external flashes. This was heavily influenced by the other Leica M photographers. In fact, for my jobs, I am only using prime lenses. That is the style that I have been using since 2017 and because of that, it sticks with me. Habit dies hard.


Among the fun part of wedding photography is its time pressure because you only have few hours to edit and create the montage for the evening. Also, let’s not forget that it is one of the best time to have fun – because you are actually part of the key person who is celebrating the event. Enjoy!

Conclusion:

I realised that it is not about the gear that you are using. I truly appreciate the human elements in carrying out the wedding photography job, and without it, the final images won’t be as lively as you intend it to be. But there is no denying that the correct tool makes your life easier, and that is the reason why I am using Leica M.

Last one – be the change that you wish to see in this world. Be the photographer that you wish to see running around taking images of your family members during your wedding, the one that brings them joy on their big day.

Until next time, take care.

p.s. images of in this post are taken from Melanie and Ruben’s wedding. May God bless the two of them.

Regards,

Claudius

Staying Fit

Dear friends, 

Behind the scene during last year’s Gawai. Photo by Marcel George Levi.

Once again we meet virtually in my blog. Thank you for taking your time in this blessed Sunday to read my blog. I want to share with you the story that I had today, which is a conversation that I had with my fellow Catholic friends and musicians – Frank and Fabian. Intially we were talking about that famous 10 years challenge (that I did not participate at all). Fabian mentioned that he has changed so much in a decade. Frank also shared his challenges to manage his weight and body health, especially after each gig where they are tired and thirsty. Therefore, I shared about my ways of looking after my health and how to stay fit, and in a way, did not gain any additional size after 10 years. I am still using the same pants size since my secondary school.

As we bid goodbye to each other, our conversation sparked something in me – why don’t I write a blog topic about this. Besides, it is a common issue that I believe quite a number of my friends are facing, but have no place to turn to. With this be best of my ability, I will address later on here in this blog. I hope this will add value to your life. For info, everything that I said in this blog is for information only, and it is based on my current experience and its positive effect to my body and health in general. 

If you wish to know more, you are most welcomed to read on and try it. If you are in a good health shape, you can stop reading here. For those interested, I encourage you to try it and hopefully it will add value to your life. So, let’s go. 

Let’s start with why. 

WHY?

Why do you want to stay fit?

  1. You want to live longer to see your grandchildren
  2. You want to be a breadwinner to your family. 
  3. You want to look young
  4. You want to be able to carry your spouse/loved ones in case of emergency
  5. Bonus: You want to have an interesting body shape.

The truth is, all of you can have many reason to stay fit, but as a start, find one that really sticks close to your heart. Everyday, rehearse this inside your mind until it becomes your second nature. Everything that you do must be relatable to your main goal to stay fit. If you have a really solid reason to stay fit, the other small distractions will not be able to shake your resolution. Forget about new year resolution. You just need one lifelong goal in mind. Which is to stay fit. This part I will not be able to decide for you. You will have to make up your mind. If you are doing this half-heartedly, I will not be able to bring you to the next phase. But once you do, read on.

Once you have a firm WHY in your mind, then we can proceed to the next phase. 

HOW?

This one is the part that I can share with you. I acknowledge that everyone has a different metabolism rate, each and everyone of us are unique, unless you and I are identical-twin. As a start with this phase, I suggest you not to be fixed to your body weight, which is not a good indicator to your health. I don’t bother about my health or my BMI. All I care about is the daily health rituals that I practice. Now, for the first time, I am sharing it publically.

These are my suggested steps:

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Practice intermittent fasting
  3. Drink lots of plain, warm water 
  4. Sleep adequately 
  5. No alcohol and smoking
  6. No ice/cold drinks

Exercise Regularly:

This one is commonly known, but how many of us practice it? When you exercise, are you doing it from genuinely from your heart, or you want to achieve something else? You don’t have to answer me in this question. For me, I exercise because I want to be healthy – plain and simple. I relate it back to my why. Throughout my exercise, I will be focused on my activitiy such that during that 30 minutes intense exercise, I will not be doing anything else. If I am running at the beach, sometimes I sing as well. That is one way for me to improve my stamina, especially when you want to sing for church choir. Otherwise Mrs Chan or Amy Lee will say I have no energy. Lol.

My suggestion: If you have no time to exercise, wake up early to exercise. Then you can do your day normally without bothered to exercise. It is a good therapy and it also acts as a start for your body’s engine. Target 30 minutes of continuous cardiovascular-related exercise. If you have to gossip, do it while jogging or running.

Always try to do physical activities at work, such as taking staircases instead of elevator. If you are unsure you are doing enough or not, try tracking yourself using work out apps. At least it can give you an indication whether you have done a lot of good work or not.

For your info, exercise triggers your body to release endorphins. This hormone is the one that makes you feel good after you exercise. In a way, you can release stress and feel joyful, a sense of accomplishment etc. That is a good way to start your day.  

Stay fit, brother.

Practice Intermittent Fasting

This is the element that I think many people is struggling with because it involves with the act of not eating food as one wills it to be, and to control your appetite. The bitter truth is, a lot of us suffers from having too much nice meals. One way to reduce intake of food is to practice intermittent fasting. It is my favourite, and it helps me to maintain body weight and shape ever since I exit my secondary school.

You might be curious on how does it works. There might be some of you who never heard this term after such a long time. It is called intermittent fasting because in between your fast, you still can consume liquids, but limited to plain water and plain tea or black coffee. Normally I limit it to only drinking plain water during this period. However at work, since I am served with drinks, I chose plain tea and plain water.

For you to start, you should not eat anything from your waking hour to mid-day, say 12pm. When you wake up, drink a lot of plain water. Drink as you require, and when you hear your stomach growling. Your first meal of the day is your lunch. Your eating window is frim 12pm until 8pm. Normally after I finish my dinner around 6pm, I will not eat any more meal as I sleep early around 10pm. Assuming you sleep at 12am, then you should not eat anything from 8pm until 12am. 

In summary: 

  1. Waking hour until 12pm: do not eat anything. Just drink plain water and tea (best is water with slices of  lemon).
  2. 12pm – 8 pm – your eating window. You may eat as you wish here, as your body required. However, I suggest you not to eat too much. Eat when you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. 
  3. 8pm until waking hour – do not eat anything. Refer to #1. 

However, if you just came back from your gig that finished around midnight or 2am, I suggest that you consume hot lemon tea, instead of taking a full meal and beer. that would be an alternative for you to stay hydrated. Besides, if you take that heavy meal in the midnight, where you are going to spend that extra calories instead? Bringing it to sleep will do you no good at all.

Drink Lots of Plain, Warm Water:

We are creature made of water, about 70% of our body is made out of it. For your body to function properly and to remove waste properly from your body, it has to be properly hydrated. It means you need to drink a lot of plain water to ensure that it will be at its optimum condition. You need to stay hydrated, especially when your are working outside under hot sun. If you can drink at least 3L of  plain water daily, you will be able to see the difference. By drinking a lot of plain water, you can help yourself to stay awake as well. Another benefits are it helps your digestion, better hydration, more complete bowl movement and reduce sugar craving.

Bonus: After I have my meal, usually I do not drink anything within one hour. This will enable my body to digest it perfectly. I read about this one sometime around 2007 but forgot the source. If I have to drink anything within that one hour, I will drink it in small batches. 

Sleep Adequately:

This one is also a commonly underestimated factor. Please do not skip your sleep, and always strive to get a good sleep daily, unless for whatever reason you are unable to do so. For me, I strive to sleep 7 hours per day, but sometimes I woke up on my own without alarm if I have a good quality sleep. Ensure that your bedroom is totally dark to promote a good sleep, with a bit of illumination at the pathway to assist if you need to wake up in the dark. A lot of young-looking celebrities emphasised that they always have a quality sleep daily. Also, if you have a quality sleep, your work performance will increase. Too good to be true? But tired of dozing off at work? Try it yourself.

Big sis guarding her little brother sleeping.

The next ones are my list of don’ts.

No Alcohol and Smoking

I don’t drink alcohol, unless there is a strong reason for me to drink it. If I am on my own, alcohol is not in my list. If I have to drink beer, I will shake off the gas. That gas is making my stomach bloat for no good benefit at all. Luckily, I am not a smoker. I suggest you start doing this too, for your own good, for your finance health as well as your family’s well-being. Yes, it might cool – drink and smoking, but are you willing to pay the price down the road? 

No Ice/Cold Drinks

This one is simple to explain. A healthy human’s body temperature is 37°C. If you drink a zero degree water into your body system, it will affect the thermal equilibrium. Among the effects are thicker nasal mucous, high probability of getting a migraine and slower digestion. Also, to make it worse, the sudden cold temperature will make whatever fat inside your stomach suddenly “freeze”. This is bad for you. 

And that is what happen when you only drink once. Imagine if you have been doing this for the past few decades. God knows what harm you have done to yourself. Knowing this, that is why I strive to not to harm myself intentionally.

Bonus: Eat more vegetables, and reduce your meat intake. I realised a lot of peoples including Bryan Adams have started becoming a vegetarian since they are getting older. Now that you have realised this early, you can start reducing your meat intake as you go along. I strive not to, but when your mother cook for you, it is hard to say no.

I hope this sharing is useful for you, and hopefully, will improve your health condition. Have a productive week ahead! 

Regards,

Claudius

Stay fit so that you still can ride ATV with your grandchildren.

Disclaimer:
Everything that is written in this topic is purely based on Claudius Weson experience. Currently Claudius managed to maintain his weight around 65kg and waist circumference of 29 inch.

Stay fit so that you still do street photography like Thorsten and Michael.

Be Fearless

Greetings friends,

How’s your life been doing? I hope you enjoy your week as much as I do. It is just another day to be great. No time should be wasted on living in fear. I have been following Eric Kim’s blog, and his recent post in being fearless made me awakened. You can read it here. For your info, he’s a great street photographer and he is on a mission to enlighten as much people as he can in the field of street photography. 

Terran’s Pylon.

In his post, he mentioned about a life where we took the safest option to live. What would that life be? It would be a boring life and you will not make a difference. To make a difference, you need to be fearless. You have to swim against the flow. Only dead fish go with the flow. 

Why do you want to be fearless? You want to be able to achieve whatever you want in life. The thing that is stopping you is your fear, and for many people it is of being rejected. You don’t want to express your feeling to that beautiful lady because you don’t want to be rejected. So what happens if you she rejects you? GG? No – You lose nothing. In fact, you learn something in expense of your time and energy spent. You learned that she is not interested in you and you are free to move on. It is one thing someone I know failed to do and ended up a virgin though been living for more than half a decade. Do you want to be like that to? No? Good. Speak your mind. You become more fearless the more you practice your fearlessness. Another case is you have stage fright. Good. Now speak in front of the public. Do you feel good after that? That is the feeling that your dopamine gave you. Your reward circuitry is triggered. You earned a new skill. Congrats. GGWP. 

Translated into photography, when everyone shoots colourful bokeh, be different, shoot a small aperture in black and white. When some  people shoot beautiful lady from afar using zoom lenses like peeping Tom, go and approach them and ask for permission. If they rejects you, move on. I for one will be reverting to black and white once again as my niche and be different. Why? Because I can. So what if I want to shoot in black and white? No harm at all. I still can shoot in colour because my camera sensor enables me to do so, but the final images is always in black and white. The worstcase is my business is not going to breakeven. But it was never intended to be a business in the first place. It is just a hobby that I took seriously to the point I meet Thorsten at Nürnberg.

Thorsten and I.

Again, the common fear that we all have is fear of being different, fear of being heard, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of being ridiculed, fear of being criticised and many other ridiculous fears that seems to be weird and has no value to your life. It only controls you and inhibit you from achieving your true potential. You can achieve so much more, if only you did not limit yourself and make yourself more unavailable for success calls. 

I am not sure what his name is, but he is one of the friendliest guard I have met at KL.
Learn how to jump from your fear, and fly afterwards.

Whenever I see successful peoples in their career of choice, be it inside or outside of their profession, I see peoples that has made sacrifices. Most of these peoples has an admirable set of success-magnet traits, e.g. not wasting time on talking about someone else or dropping toxic comments. Those toxics should be identified as such and you should keep a distance from them if you don’t want to be poisoned by them, and eventually normalised by being one with them. So avoid that trait.

To be fearless, you have to have a strong mental strength. The world seems to be trying to take you down at all cost. How to survive all of these waves after waves of attack? You need to refer back to your “why”. Why you want to be fearless in the first place? For me, my answer would be, to achieve my dream. Fearless is not being rude, speaking in a loud manner or bullying others. It’s just a state of mind – where you have no fear. Now, live on and be fearless.

Face thy fear!
Don’t let your life be controlled by fear, whatever it might be.

I hope this composition gives value to your life. Have a great week ahead!

Be Fearless!

Regards, 
Claudius

This used to be the scariest thing to do for me, once upon a time.
Combat your fear. Learn a Ninjutsu. Katon: Goukakyuu no Jutsu

An Adventure with Durian Hunters

Dear friends,

Happy new year to you. I hope you had a good new year celebration with your friends or your family. New year is not just about the change of year, but it is a start of something better for you and your family as well as your friends.

For me, family is very important. Fair-weather folks will flee when something bad fell upon you, but not your families, as they will be there for you. Family, for some people transcend beyond blood since blood fails them. Regardless, treasure your family.

Anyway, today’s blog is not about family, but about durian – The King of Fruits. Actually, I had a lot of journey throughout my short holiday, but the one that caught my attention the most was my durian-hunting journey with my uncles and brother-in-law.

I believe most of you are familiar with durian fruits. It is called the fruit of Gods by those who loves it texture, smell and taste. I personally loves it. In fact, my hometown, Serian has a huge durian statues, where the new one was relocated to Tarat. The other one was still at the near Serian fish market. During this time of the year, there was a lot of durian sellers. The truth is, there is so much durian that it can be bought for a cheap price, as cheap as RM25 for around 20 durians, if you manage to find the right dealers. Normally, if you are willing to go the village, they can sell it cheaper compared to those by the roadside.

There is a huge demand of durian all year long, except it can’t be provided as and when we wanted it to be, specifically for kampung durians. Locally here, durian season only come every two years. Last year was the traditional fruit season, therefore you can see a lot of others fruits ripening as well, such as rambutan trees. I love rambutan as well and ate it so much during my holiday to the point I no longer have any interest in eating it again. It’s like you have an all-you-can-eat fruit buffet, with lots more left hanging at the tree, left rotten as not enough Pichin population to consume and finish it.

For Bidayuh peoples, these fruits are normally planted at our dedicated orchard, which we call it “kabon”. Other than fruits, Bidayuh people of Serian district are well-known with black pepper. My family still operates black pepper plantation, but the demand for it is not as high as before. One common dilemma that is facing many older generations are the successor to their farmer lifestyle. Many younger generations, myself included are more interested in high-paying, urban-based employments. I deviate even further, where I took photography into the equation.

Not forgetting my past, I decided to document it this time. It is not a norm for anyone to go to orchard and brings any professional camera in my area. This is where a small sized M camera makes a difference because it is light and can operate easily despite being manual. I decided to use an APO-50 lens for this trip as it is the smallest in my kit.

We started off our journey in the morning, around 10am. The journey from Kpg Pichin to Tubih took us around 5 minutes. It is not a long journey if your driver is a “figher-jet” driver from Kpg Bugu Mawang, my uncle. Upon arrival, we are served with a beautiful scenery of the mountains, one of the limestone formations that is of the same Lenge Kiburan hill range.

Landing time.
Adventure begins.
Target locked.
Target acquired.

From the roadside, we took less than half an hour to reach our “kabon” site. The area is a bit shady, so for my camera setting, I use ISO 1600 whilst maintaining aperture of f/2.0 for a bit of bokeh. Shutter speed varies, as I need to balance out between the highlights and shadows. There were a lot of durians spotted at the little valley, but we decided to shook the branch so that we can pick it up later.

Tiring way up.
Further up.
Spotting position.
Leave no man behind.
It’s getting near.
Thank you for the shoes. Adidas Tarun. “Jungle Adidas” – the best one for this terrain.
Durian family hanging out.
More durian.
Rokop.
Creating the tool to make our life easier.
Searching for the fallen durians.
A 1.5kg durian found.
Finally, toil of the day.
Climbing rokop tree.
Choosing the best ones.

Safety note, durian fruits has a high hazard. At my work place, it falls under gravity hazard, as it is a stationary object at rest, but at any moment the stem fails, it will become a dangerous projectile accelerating at 9.81 m/s2. Therefore caution has to be exercised when walking beneath durian trees. The good news is usually the durian fruits will fall at night time, producing a satisfying sound – “res-dub”. It is the sound that a durian fruit will make as it thrashes through the branches or leaves and hit the ground at high speed.

Feeling model.
When one bamboo shoot is not enough for the big family, get another one.

Durians are then collected and gathers. To carry a lot of durian back is a waste of energy as you cannot sell all of it. Buyers are only interested in ripe durians. Therefore, using a sense of smell, sight and touch, ripe durians are carefully chosen and put at our backpack. The rest are opened. Flesh are separated from the husk as the husk carries no value to us.

This is the right way to open a durian. You don’t need a hacksaw, chainsaw or an axe. Just a machete or boko, cutting through God-made cracks of a fallen durian fruit.

On our way back, we pick up a few of fern spikes for our dinner. It is one of our staple food. In fact, majority of Bidayuh foods are vegetables, with meat came from jungle beasts, poultries and once in a while, pigs. We do eat river foods too, like catfish, prawns. I guess I need to revisit my competencies in jungle survival with my uncles. That night, I had a good night sleep, thanks to the unexpected fatigue.

Time to go back. Did we forget something?

I hope this story would be an informational one for you and shed a bit of light to the unpublished life of a kampung folks. Even though times are changing, let us not forget our past. I am looking forward to more adventures in 2019. As I move on in my journey, I truly appreciated the words of support and words of comments/feedbacks from all of you. Thank you very much.

May 2019 brings more prosperity, joy and wealth to you and your family. God bless!

Regards,
Claudius
Tukang Rantek Bidayuh