As some of you know we have been in Malaysia now for almost 5 months, when we were planning the trip I had imagined we would be in a wonderful & romantic wooden stilted village house somewhere, on the edge of jungle with a whole village to supply us with cultural difference… (I’ve harped on about this before. ) however that wasn’t to be & we ended up in the most unlikely place, a condo with security guards & a swimming pool, I have been known to grumble about this outcome 😉 (but really? a 2 bed apartment for a family of 5 with also acts as an office for my husbands job??), actually as with everything this story has a very nice silver lining. One of the security guards here Mia, has become a very good friend, she knows me well now & what I like to do with my days, she has sat for long hours with me drawing everything around us, has helped me with the Malay names for birds & flowers & has been really wonderful teaching me how to make decorations out of leaves etc… You can imagine my excitement when she invited our family & friends to join her for the day in her home village (!) Mia is part of the Orang-Asli tribes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orang_Asli you can read some more about them here) which is the original tribe of the jungle areas of Malaysia. We all bundled into the car & took the long journey into the deep jungle- or in facts tiny scraps of jungle surrounded by Palm oil plantations because the villages have sold off their jungle to plant this blanket of palm, Mia is clearly very sad about this development- I don’t think I want to go into this part of the story though I would rather tell you about the kindness from her family when we got there.
Her family house is fairly simple a concrete structure on a piece of cleared land, they have chickens pecking around in the dust outside & some beautiful flowers growing outside the front door, there is an abundance of dogs and puppies bounding around which was a real treat for our children as they haven’t really seen a dog for the time we have been here.(Malay people are islamic & don’t keep dogs because they are seen as impure) but for me the most wonderful part was inside their home, everyone lives there all together, in the kitchen there were 2 of her 4 brothers, 2 of her 3 sisters & her sister in law, her mother & father & all of their children, the noise & bustle was wonderful, I have no idea who’s child was whos as everyone took turns to pick them up, they made us wonderful meal after wonderful meal throughout the day with delicious fresh fish which had been rubbed all over with rich yellow turmeric & salt, tender boiled tabioca, fresh pumkin fried with garlic & shallots, it was all amazing.
They took turns to show us around their village, their shop etc on some mopeds, I laughed at the reaction we got as funny foreigners in their village & asked Mia when a western family was last in their village & was very surprised by her answer that no white family had been there- no wonder they thought we were so funny! They also got some boats together to take us along their big black river, when we connected to the river from the creeks we all had to wash our faces in the water to ask for permission from the river to enter it. After stopping to rest for a while on the banks of the river in their wooden house they built about 6 months ago we headed back racinbg against the setting sun. We didn’t get back until really late & the children looked at me like I was crazy when I woke them for school at 6am this morning. It was very worth it.
I haven’t finished….To really understand the brilliance of the day though you have to understand a little bit about Mia, she come from a small village in the depths of the jungle where they have never seen a western person, she went to a normal basic village school, nobody in her family speaks a word of English yet Mia has been able to see outside of her village & has taught herself to speak English through listening to music & watching movies- & her English communication is very good, she has a real talent for it & has used it to get herself a job to help her father with the money she earns. She is an inspiration to us all to see beyond what you think is possible.