Last weekend was Idul Fitri, the biggest holiday on the Indonesian calendar. Chad and I made plans very late, so we chose a place we could still get plane tickets to: Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan (aka Borneo).
Our friends Haviva and Howie actually made most of the arrangements. They found a guide to take us all on a 2-day trek through the jungle, including a night at a traditional longhouse.
Longhouses are the original dwelling places of the native Dayak. Whole villages lived in them, one family to a room. They are generally built on stilts to diminish the impact of floods. Livestock live underneath.
Where there’s a longhouse, there will be dogs. They prefer the porches and front steps.
The accommodations weren’t exactly posh. The four of us had our own room, where we slept on the floor on thin mats. The floor was cleverly constructed of bamboo slats, which made it softer and bouncier than wood.
On our guide’s instructions, we brought sparklers for the little kids in the village. They promptly did their level best to burn down the longhouse.
The next morning the kids were very curious to see what the foreigners were up to. Soon after dawn, a parade of little faces was peeking between the slats of our door.
The children were not what cost us our sleep, though. For that we had several roosters to blame, and, most especially, the Demon Pig from Hell. I can’t describe the bizarre range of grunts, squeals and belches the Demon Pig produced throughout the night, but it definitely woke all of us up and/or gave us creepy dreams.
The longhouse we stayed in only had a few villagers living in it. Nowadays most people build separate houses; the longhouse mostly seems to get used by guests, and by newlyweds who don’t have a place of their own yet. I can see why; I’m sure it’s annoying having everybody all up in your business all the time. But it still seems sad. These days it can be hard to find a sense of community; a whole cozy village under one roof sounds kind of nice.