JUST BACK FROM HER MORNING TREK
GATHERING FRUIT, OLIVES, RUBBER
19 PASSENGER JUNGLE PLANE
We have just returned from another interesting week of travel. We left Monday for the state to the south, Sarawak, and specifically the capitol, Kuching. We attended a meeting with some Rotary Club friends and met the governor for Rotary Clubs in Malaysia and Singapore and his wife. They are very friendly people and invited us to come visit them in West Malaysia. We don't ever go there as we are assigned to East Malaysia but it is nice to know we have a friend there. The entertainment for the evening was a karaoke machine and it was entertaining in a fun way.
Early Tuesday morning we caught our flight to Mukah which is about 100 km south of Bintulu but a much smaller town. Our transportation was a twin otter, which seats 19 and resembles a school bus inside. It had many many miles on it. I looked at the pilot and hoped he had a fraction of the number of flying hours. He and the co-pilot were both quite young. But then everyone here in Malaysia looks young to me. The plane held together and in about an hour we could see that we were landing ON THE BEACH it looked like. Actually, there was a short runway right next to the high tide line and that is where we landed. We were met by Brother Bossclay who is the leader of the LDS group who live near Mukah. He had arranged for us to meet the government leaders in the area and visit some longhouses.
COCKPIT, PILOT AND CO PILOT
PLANE IS VERY OLD
The people who live there are Iban and they are quite poor. There is a great need for clean water in most of the longhouses. They use rain water collection systems. When their tanks are dry they get water from the nearby rivers which are coffee colored. They let the dirt settle and boil it for drinking. There is a huge coal generating plant in the area and coal mines so you can imagine what is in their water. We also had to search out and meet with the local NGO which is a Lion's Club and convince them to work with us if we get a project approved. That was Dr. Wong and Mr. Wong.
THE GUEST BATHROOM
THE POND OR
(it is absolutely filthy)
A big part of the adventure was the road we traveled in our little rental car which was a Proton (think honda civic). This is the main road from the nearest larger town of Sibu and a senior couple travel that road on a bus at least once a month. The road is really rough. No, it is really bad. No, it is horrible with holes and mud and ruts. It reminded me of the roads that they use during a 4 X 4 rally. Several times we had to stop and get out and walk, directing the driver, Bro. Bossclay, around the holes, and he still scraped bottom many times. There were many huge trucks and buses on the road and they weren't going so slowly---rather they were zooming by us whenever there was room to pass. Dust! I thought of the early pioneers and the roads they traveled. My shower that evening felt so-o-o-o good. Aren't we spoiled?
Thursday we took that shuttle plane back to the city of Kuching, showered and met with a new CES couple just arrived a few weeks ago. They are Elder and Sister Erickson from Perry, Utah. Really nice people. We also had a dinner appointment with our friend, Thomas, a Rotary Club president, to discuss other potential projects. Bill will post photos from that dinner.
DINNER WITH FRIENDS FROM KUCHING ROTARY
HEAD AND TAILS AND FINS INCLUDED
We are entering the 2 week Chinese New Year celebrations for the year of the tiger. It is a very BIG deal here. Our regular taxi driver is taking 4 days off and he didn't even take time off at Christmas and he is a Christian. Government offices are closed and people are out of town. They celebrate with large family dinners, fireworks, open house for friends, and the single people get 'ang pow' from their family. That is a red envelop with money in it. Even the McDonald's here has a Prosperity Burger just for the CNY. Many people are traveling so we made sure we will be staying at home. We are hoping to see lion dances.
I have to tell you that while we have been on many adventures into the wilds this was by far the roughest and the people the most needy. While we were bouncing around in the back of this old 4x4 without any real suspension on the roughest road I have seen in Borneo I looked over at Ellen who was getting the pudding knocked out of her and asked her how she was doing. She smiled and said, I'am fine. What a sport!! However latter she did say she would not make that road trip again.
The little plane trip was something else again. As we were stepping onto the plane you could see it move. They had to weigh us and our luggage together to make sure the weight limit was not violated. As it revved it's engines reading for take off the plane shuttered and so did we. It was like it was saying ..."oh no not again!" We flew just a couple thousand feet above ground for an hour. We felt like we were in a row boat in the ocean. We were ever so glad to be on the ground again when it was over.
BATHROOM AND KITCHENS
ARE IN THE BACK
The people are so poor. They are without water as much as 4 months a year back in the jungle. There use to be enough rain water for them but it has gotten so much drier. We will be able to help increase their collection and storage so they don't go so long without but I am afraid it will not totally correct the problem.
THIS IS CALLED A HANGING TOILET.
NO PLUMBING TO GET PLUGGED
Well in two weeks we are headed for another adventure into the Borneo Highlands. They are about 2 to 3000 feet elevation and they actually grow apples there! We will stay in the homes while visiting. We will be on another small plane again. So it goes. It is where the work is to be done here. Most of the time in one fashion or another the people living near the major towns are provided for. So we have to travel to the places where there is a need. And boy is there a big need when we get to these places. The country is about where America was around 100 years ago in the way of infrastructure.
So we go about helping those we can and sometimes it seems like we are doing so little and making such a small dent in the progress but at least there is something happening and some being helped that may never have been helped. We love the work even though it is hard and sometimes a little on the edge. On this last trip to Mukah I felt so far away from Castle Rock, a little tinge of longing for home I guess.
Bill & Ellen