Saturday, 27 March 2010

Rajang Melanau Muslim Village

This freighter crossed our path more than once as we cruised downstream

We continued downstream in amongst ocean-going cargo vessels. My pictures taken on the river are here. 'Pandaw' moved down river until we reached a landing stage on the right bank serving the Rajang Melanau Muslim Village (also called Tanjung Manis).

Most of the passengers disembarked for a walking tour of the village. This appeared to be a fairly prosperous village - houses in good repair, gaily painted in bright colours, gardens carefully tended and with all sorts of exotic plants. My pictures of the village (and weaving factory) are here.

Songket Weaving Factory

The Songket Weaving Factory is very famous. It's housed in a modern building, traditionally built in wood. There were about a dozen looms there, but only two or three of the women were actually carrying out the painstaking, intricate weaving. There were limited items for sale but, in general, they like you to order from a catalogue and then, sooner or later (I'm told it's usually later), your item is despatched. Since they only accept cash, the nicer items were too expensive for me but my friend April inadvertently secured a massive discount by truthfully saying that she'd insufficient Ringit (the Malaysian unit of currency) for the material she coveted. Neither she nor I thought they'd haggle on price but they decided they'd rather make a sale at a lower price.

We continued our walk and looked at the outside of the prosperous-looking modern Mosque, with its lawns being 'strimmed' by a gardener. In contrast, the Melanau Muslim Cemetery we explored was overgrown and a number of the grave markers were in poor condition. We slowly returned to the boat, on the way examining the garden plants, talking to the children and occasionally playing with the many domestic cats.

The village represented as far downstream as we would go. The boat turned upstream for some serious cruising all the way back to Sibu. Pictures taken on the journey upstream are here.

In the afternoon, Neville gave a ship tour which attracted a lot of passengers. Starting with the small kitchen, we moved on through the crew mess, down into the engine room, forward through the various watertight doors which eventually led us to the foredeck and the anchor winch. Finally, we went to the Wheelhouse. My pictures from the tour are here.

Later in the afternoon, there was a Question and Answer Session with our guides where Louis gave us more information about life and customs in Sarawak.

In the evening, we had the special 'Farewell Dinner' - our last dinner together on this cruise and all the staff who could be spared were presented to the passengers by Neville, receiving applause for all their efforts. Pictures of the 'Farewell Dinner'.