Monday, December 21, 2009

My Borneo adventure

I totally disconnected from the city last week when my film crew and I trekked deep into the heart of the Borneo Jungle. I was filming a pilot for an international travel series. It was strange leaving my phone and wallet behind in the hotel at KK coz there was no need for money or a phone line. Not where we were going anyway.
Being in the 4 x 4 was an adventure in itself. We had to cross rivers with it. It was one helluva ride on muddy, undulating terrain. The trucks could only take us so far coz where we were going had no access by road. We had to make the rest of the journey on foot. We were warned that we would be hiking for hours, sometimes uphill and sometimes across rapids with no other way over to the other side.

It was raining cats and dogs when we got to that point so we had to trek in the pouring rain and some slopes were so slippery, I had to hold onto the guides in case I slid off. I was told that we would be walking thru leech country and that they came out in full force when it was wet. OkaaaY....great! That's just great! *grimace*

The weather was unpredicatable. Sometimes, the sun would come out before the rain started again in another area. I was struck by how beautiful it was. Borneo has one of the most bio diverse rainforests in the world. The sprawling padi fields were a sight to behold and the mist settling over the faraway hills made me stop in my tracks just to admire it. 
I lived with the Dusun tribe's family. Their home was spotlessly clean and bare. To be honest, after walking for hours and hours to get there, the thought of getting out of my wet clothes and being warm and dry felt like a luxury. 

Their home was a wonderful sight lit by oil lamps and candles. They eat a lot of rice and vegetables. I once went to pick ferns with them for dinner and the head of the village taught me how to cast a fishing net. I was totally crap at it. Goodness, it was so heavy! When I first arrived, one of the local boys was playing a guitar. It made me smile listening to him. How peaceful and simple was this life.  

He smiled politely when I arrived until I screamed when I checked my legs (they were really bloody from all the leech bites) He wasn't shocked about that. That's just a normal sight to them. It was my reaction that took him aback. The family must've thought to themselves "goodness, it's like she's never seen a leech in her life. What a city person" haha ;) 

It's going to be a lot of work going through the footage and editing the trip but I can't wait to see it come together as a story. I am truly thankful to have been given the privilege of working and staying amongst the Dusun people in Kampung Buayan and Kampung Terian. For a city dweller, this was a really radical departure from my every day life.

Every once in a while, it's good to step out of our comfort zones. Thank you Borneo Colours for inviting our film crew to cover this coz this was one gorgeous part of the world I never knew existed n thanks for taking all these behind the scenes photos for us Lence. L
iving in the Borneo rainforest is something I will never forget nor the warm hospitality of its people. It
was an incredible experience for me! (even if I suffered cramps and leech bites getting there! ;)


naz said...

Now this is what I call seizing the day! Finally one good and worthwhile post. Congratulations on stepping into parts unknown and seeing true life at it's best. This is what I call a good entry. Good on you.

Jojo Struys said...

Finally? Thanks Naz. I'm terribly sun burnt and suffering from culture shock from returning to KL. Being at Mid Valley yesterday freaked me out. The traffic, noise and crowds were so different from where I've just come from :)

~ ♥ J E SS I C A . T said...

babe! I totally get how u feel. like so away from civilization right? ahhahaha I recently came back frm borneo too a few weeks ago. man, total culture shock when i got back!

Dylan Phuah said...

referring to what you have said in your reply to Naz; you suffered a cultured shock when you were at MV. haha, that's funny you said that. a city girl who ventured into the kampungs and returned being afraid from where she came from. :D
but then again, i wish i could visit places like this too. being somewhere quiet and peaceful is something i really need right now and i dont mean the toilet. :P

neways, you had a great performance during the Hannah Tan Charity Concert!

Of Tr@vels, 3nvironment and bl@bl@bl@ said...

wow..this is the first time i've came to your blog..and cool..adventure in the jungle off the grid...wanna try it TFS

syamzazali said...

we always believe that we live in the best side of the world, which we do actually. to explore our own jungle is one of the best experience you could ever had. most of us suffers culture shock due to different lifestyle & enviroment. life is borneo is more laidback & relax..

Stefanie said...

Hello! Great that you'd fun. :) Terribly sun burnt is annoying. Take care, x.

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Hey! im so amazed by your tenacity, being a total city girl. i myself havent ventured deep into the borneon jungles, being a Sabahan girl myself, and i wouldnt even survive a night there! what more take a bath in the river? total fail. haha.

Danelyn said...

Waoohh!! jojo come to KK?? for reall?? i didnt get the chance to meet u hhuhuhuhuuh

Anonymous said...

hi Jojo, im Johan. Thanks for filming our kampung in borneo...

Husen said...


Olak said...

wooahh...look at that..
i wish i were there.. nice view ^^

Serge Norguard said...

Well hello there sun burnt woman.

Goodtimes for you there and yes culture shock is apparent. I get it everytime i return from Singapore to KL

choonhong said...

that is a great experience. (to be frank, i've nvr seen a leech in real.) alas, may be just like what you said, "what a city person"

Agnes Lee Agama said...

Congratulations Jojo & crew, you did it!

Keep us updated on post-production and do help to spread the word about Buayan and Terian.

Zulkarnain Azman said...

Nice adventure... I wish I can go on this type of adventure too.

Sholee said...

Wow! I salute you as I wouldn't have the guts to embark on such adventure ;-)

kruel74 said...

Read your Avatar post first before this and now I know how you can relate to the movie. Amazing right? Your film crew are really going places...huh? Good luck in 2010. Consider it as your time to shine (as a filmmaker as you already did in other part)

Cath J said...

Happy to know that some1 is filming about the Dusun life.. I am a Sabahan but never know that this way of life (Living with a kerosene lamp) is still around.. Wish can watch this documentary.. ^_^

Jojo Struys said...

ur sabahan Cath? Lucky you. It's so beautiful!!

hey Johan. Loved that dusun song you all sang round the campfire :)
Ur right serge. Even Singapore is different from KL let alone going from a city to a place that needs no money surrounded by running water, vast padi fields n amazing scenery...i had total culture shock. Must say I loved the forest :)

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