Life (not actually) In (but very close to) The Jungle

Otto Steinmayer, Nusi anak Baki, and Samuel Muda anak Otto

Otto and Nusi

Hi!  Welcome to the domestic and amusing part of my website.  This is us (except for Sam).  Nusi also goes by "Lucy," which she adopted as a nom de commerce while she was working in Kuching.  We married in 1989.  The "anak Baki" part of her name means "child of Baki," her father.  Here is a picture of Nusi's father and mother, Baki anak Resol, and Hbi anak Muda.  Both of my parents-in-law were born during the reign of Charles Vyner Brooke, the last Rajah of Sarawak, lived through the Japanese occupation.  Baki has many stories to tell of that era.  Some of them I have translated and are included in Prof. Bob Reece's history of the time, Masa Jepun.  You may find this book at a large library.    apai indai

Hbi died in 1995, to our greatest regret.  She was an artist of stunning skill in the art that is the specialty of the Lundu Sebuyau, the weaving of mats out of bemban, a papyrus-like reed that grows in swampy areas.

We live in Lundu, the next to last town to the west in the state of Sarawak on the northweat shore of the island of Borneo. Looming over Lundu to the west in a friendly manner is Gunung (Mount) Gading, the site of Gunung Gading National Park, [click to go to their site] where at the right time you can see Rafflesias in bloom.  (The Rafflesia, if you don't know, is the world's biggest flower.)

Lundu is an extraordinarily pleasant small town.  It lies about an hour on the main road west from Kuching and Bau.  The road has to pass over a fairly broad river, the Batang Kayan, and the bridge now being built will not finished until late 2002.    For information about Lundu together with pictures, please see Otto's Lundu Page.

Greater Lundu contains perhaps 10,000 people.  The market stocks plenty of vegetables and fruit, both local and imported, and the fish market is famous, although what you can get depends on the time of year and other factors. Some months ago the "Strawberry Hotbreads" bakery opened in town, and one can now buy French bread.  The coffeeshop on the opposite corner now sells red wine.  With local tomatoes and cucumbers, with some feta cheese from Ting & Ting in Kuching, we can make Greek salad when we want western food.  Cuisine is a topic of great local interest, so I dwell on it.

Lucy belongs to the Sebuyau Iban tribe.  The Iban are a prominent Dayak people who live in Sarawak and also in Kalimantan.  Subsections of the Iban people differ in dialect and customs and identify themselves by reference to where they live, especially the names of rivers.  Not so long ago everybody in Sarawak lived on a river (Penans excepted).   Her kampong (village) is called Stunggang, since it lies slightly above the junction of the Batang Kayan and the small Sungai Stunggang (sungai = "river, stream").  Kpg. Stunggang is a modest historic site, for here stood the longhouse where James Brooke, later to become the first white Rajah of Sarawak, was first entertained by Ibans.  The Sebuyau lived in longhouses until about the time of WW2.  Since then everyone has switched to single houses.  Aki's house    Back to food, many of Lucy's relatives grow rice.  The Sebuyau grow wet rice, unlike many Dayaks inland, who grow dry rice on hillsides.  The varieties they plant are not commercial but traditional, and very tasty.

Click here to read a list of flora and fauna I've had experience of in the Lundu area.

Hint to travelers: Landas (monsoon) season, from December to February, is not considered the best time of year to visit Sarawak, as it rains a lot.  However, if you care to visit Lundu and Gunung Gading during landas, you can enjoy the pleasure of bathing in the fresh, cold mountain stream.  The water volume is high, and the water foams and bubbles as it cascades down the rocks.  Sit in one of the shallow pools formed by the rocks and you'll feel like you're taking a bath in champagne.  Here is a photo of Sam doing just that.



Otto's Lundu Page.  Maps, pictures, and information on local attractions and how to get to them.

The Sarawak Dayak Iban Association Official Homepage    SADIA, as it is known, I am honored to say was founded by my wife's relative (with rank of uncle), Mr. Sidi Munan.

Welcome to Majlis Daerah Lundu Online  (In Malay)