Gawai 2007 Scene 4

The Iban Song

These few weeks have been terribly taxing. I've been jetsetting between Kuala Lumpur and Kuching every day and trying to complete my Gawai blog especially the one about this trip I made to Song.

There's this joke that my friends like to tell one another about the Ibans from Song. Its probably because the small town of Song is just a small dot on Sarawak map but the name Song sounds unique. There are many versions on how the town got its named. The famous two versions are One - there used to be a native named Song in the area everytime travellers pass they would mark in their mind that this is Rumah Song (that was before it became a town). The second version is that during one of the Englishmen excursion along the Rajang River during the time of Rajah Brooke, one of them whistled a tune which is usually the case when one is travelling the whole stretch of the Rajang River without the motor outboard at that time. Paddle was mainly used at that time (known as pengayuh or sengayuh in Iban) so it does tend to get boring. The point when the tune was sung was near the Song area. Well that was basically some of the stories I got from historical writers. Maybe if there are some more reliable stories on the origin of the name Song, I would probably update the Wikipedia on Song Town.

The speedboat we used to go to Song Town (from our Longhouse)
The speedboat we used for the trip to Song Town was quite compact for my liking but we had no choice. It does look like the Kancil of the Rajang River. The ride is set to take about 20 minutes and will require about 3 to 5 gallons of gasoline. Look Ma... no life jackets - yikes.... this is the Fear Factor ride.

The scenery as the speedboat travels along the mighty Rajang River includes views of longhouses by the river and there are many of them of different lengths

And big Express Boats like this will pass you by frequently (These Express boats ply between Sibu to the town of Kanowit, Song and Kapit. Rarely do they stop at the jetties of the longhouses to pick passengers)

Logging camps are aplenty along this strecth of the river

And another one here which would make TV3 environmental reporter Karam Singh Walia's eyes frown

Danny aka Blueheeler was already grinning everytime we passed by the logging camps. I explained to him that in Sarawak, we practiced sustainable logging with active replanting in the licensed areas. These reaforestation efforts are supervised by the personnels of the forest department so there is minimal destruction. After all, logging now is not the main contributor to the State economy. So we have a fair and wise Government which may explain why he is wearing the famous blue cap with the 'balance' symbol.

Approaching Song Town - from a distance I was quite impressed by the development that has taken place. in Song itself.

One will get to see various mode of river transport of various shapes and sizes. The floating Esso gas station can be seen near the berthing jetty. Please note most of the transactions to buy gas here are in cash and no credit card facilities are available. In most urban towns, car parks would usually be a headache and it is similiar here - boat "parking bays" or "landing points" are quite congested. If you are not careful you can also lose your boat "boat theft" can occur similiarly as car thefts in towns.

However, the walkway that links 'ground zero' to the landing points can be quite tough and wet. Try not to wear expensive shoes or high heels please.

Finally we manage to reach the Town Centre safely. Blueheeler has a few words on his blog - All Road Leads to Song.

Some touch up may be needed for the buildings here. Its Visit Malaysia Year 2007!

Grandma's shoplot Syarikat Nanga Beguang office.

The market is like any other market in the various part - I mean the design will be similiar in other towns as the Town Councils have uniform features for them

I had planned to see how the Rural Internet Service was operating in town (located at the Post Office). The Rural Internet Centre or better known as Pusat Internet Desa was closed at that time but I am glad they have chosen this town as thier pilot project. Maybe because it was Gawai Eve as most of the staff manning it were mainly natives - and one Japanese :).

As Danny had to book his Air Asia tickets, we went to look for an Internet Cafe. What are the chances of finding a Internet Centre in Song? If you do not know where it is just ask the local folks.... I stress local Song folks because most of those in the town are from the nearby longhouses and do not know what an Internet Cafe is. We were told by the locals that one was located at the first floor of our Syarikat Nanga Beguang Office. I was surprised - as I had not been to Song for quite some time.

Most of the users of the computers were kids playing Counter Strike - yeah its my favourite game. I was tempted to show these kids my knifing skills in CS 3.1 but I was worried more about Danny who had to book a flight - what if the Internet was slow and the connection unreliable.

Omigosh! The sweetness of the Internet! After about 36 hours without the Internet, I felt adrenalin pumping in my veins. The speed was not bad as the owner informed me that they were using Streamyx line. Streamyx is available in Song? God is Great!

There is more surprise at the back alley. Its does not look like ASTRO...... but if my eyes do not fail me those are Satellite Dishes. Song is not so 'backwards' after all. This place could beat Cape Carnival, NASA hands down!

I dropped by the Song District Office. Those working here gets free exercise up and down the stairs. No worries about the fitness for these people.

And they get the best view of the Town I guess. I took this from the first floor of the Office.

As we walked the whole length of the twon I also saw some attractive feature being developed. Development is a welcome change in this small town and I am looking forward to the proposed Waterfront project

The Kapit Distict Council building happens to be one of the most modern looking structure in this small town

Inside it I was quite a happy to note that there are many computers in the Council's Library Section at the ground floor. The Computers were provided by the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (KTAK).

I am glad that they have a modern library in Song Town. The books are quite up to date - supplied by the Kuching State Library under the Ministry of Environment & Public Health. I hope the kids here realise the wealth of knowledge available. Not many kids in the rural areas take to reading.

Back to the joke that I mentioned earlier about Iban Song. Well there was this Mat Salleh tourist who was taking an Express Boat ride from Sibu to Kapit. During the journey, the Express Boat played Iban Karaoke VCD in the boat to entertain the mostly Iban passengers. The joget dance beat got the Mat Salleh tourist to hum to the karaoke tune. He asked the boat Captain what VCD was being played; the reply was 'Iban Songs'. The Express Boat stopped at Song Town which was between Sibu and Kapit. As the passengers got off the boat the Captain changed the Karaoke VCD to a Wrestling VCD . 'Hey' said the Mat Salleh 'where's the Iban Song?' The Captain replied, 'No Iban Song here, all of them had gone off just now, only Iban Kapit left in the boat". Muahahaha.....

After a short tour around Song Town, it was already time to go home........

Comments said…
Lol ... teh iban song story xD