11 July 2012

Kampung Life

A couple of weeks ago, Caitie, Alex and I (sans Will, as he had gone on his month-long trip to Kenya) decided to check out the East coast of Malaysia, and so spent a couple of days at Tanjong Jara resort near Terengganu.

We had been planning to look around the nearest town while there, but Alex wasn't well and we were all tired after a couple of very busy weeks, so we just stayed put, lounged by the pool, ate, drank and slept.  

However, on our first day there we were lucky enough to experience the resort's version of kampung (village) life, put on to show guests some of the traditional pasttimes of Malaysia. 

As we approached the make-shift kampung, it was impossible to ignore the loud "thunks" of coconuts falling from the palm trees.  And equally impossible to try not to remember the old statistic about more people being killed by falling coconuts than by shark attacks.  Fortunately, it transpired that the coconuts were not falling randomly, but were being harvested by a monkey.

This is quite common in this part of the world, and there are monkey training schools which teach the monkeys how to do the job properly.

This particular monkey didn't look that happy - maybe it thought Saturday should have been its day off, though it was more likely that it wasn't keen on having a long chain around its neck.  Nevertheless, he did what he was supposed to, twisting the coconuts around until they became loose, and then dropping them to the ground, and was rewarded when he came down with some of the coconut milk. 

Then we tried out some of the traditional games.  I had a go at Congkak, a game of wit traditionally played by women.  Well, it might have been a game of wit had I known what the rules were!  

Alex headed a rattan ball in what looked like a local version of football, sepak raga ratus.  

And we all tried our hands, or rather our feet, at the tinikling dance, which apparently hails from the Phillipines.  It's a bit like skipping but with bamboo poles rather than a rope.  The poles are banged against two other poles, placed horizontally at the end, and moved together or apart with each rhythmic bang.  The rhythm gradually gets faster, and I imagine those taking part often get bruised ankles!  There are supposed to be set steps to this dance, but I only found this out in retrospect.

 All this, to the gentle accompaniment of a traditional percussion instrument, the idiofon.

And then onto the cocktail bar.....



Wendy@The Omnivorous Bear said...

I can't wait till we go there in less than two weeks time! Looks fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Great post - good to read about all your experiences (good & not-so-good!)