A new journey beganMorning was breaking. The earth was awaking from slumber again. Magpie-robins were singing
As soon as I finished photographing the Mount Muruk Miau, Patrick and I hopped into our pickup and we went straight to Kampong Mendulong. Along the way, we saw a long stretch of Acacia trees on the left and right of the road to the Kampong. The trees belong to SFI and based on the height of those trees, I assumed they are seven years old now. When we reached a barren area, I saw a long stretch of Crocker Range in blue color. I asked Kuming to stop the car as I wanted to take a photo shoot of the range that separates the east and west coast of Sabah. Then, we continued our journey till we reached a large rubber tree (Havea brasiliensis) plantation and a small oil palm plantation. All of us knew that we were almost reaching to our new destination. Suddenly, I saw a male magpie-robin flew across the road into the oil palm plantation. I was so excited and told to my helpers about my plan to make the area as my sampling site.
After 20 minutes driving, we reached the Mendulong Headman’s house. We were greeted by his youngest son and to our dismay, the Headman was not at home. I was hopeless to hear the news as I wanted to know whether we could stay at his rented house. But, I kept my hope that he would tell us the good news. Without wasting our time, we went to the Bumbok River that was located at the end of the Kampong. Again, we were shocked to see the condition. There was no good place for us to set our tents. I never let myself down. I just walked all over the area and saw a couple of magpie-robins flew from a “Tarap” tree to a mango tree. I went back to my helpers and we made a decision to start our works there. By 1 pm, we finished our works and again we went to the headman’s house to meet him for the second time. Again, we were disappointed to find out he was sleeping. Hungry and thirsty, we went to the nearest grocery shop and bought drinks and junk food. Inside the pickup, Freddie suggested to try to find a balai raya (small hall) in other kampong. I just agreed with him and we continued our journey to the next kampong. Less than 10 minutes, we arrived at Kampong Bamban.
Balai Raya of Kampong Bamban
The Kampong Bamban is a small kampong. There are about 30 families resides in the kampong. While checking on the Kampong, Patrick pointed a small balai raya that is located at the opposite of Dewan Kebudayaan Lun Dayeh (Lun Dayeh Cultural Hall). The balai raya was a perfect place for us to stay in. Freddie asked me to ask anyone in the kampong to show the way to the house of the headman of Kampong Bamban. I went out from our pickup and proceeded to a big blue house by the Kampong Bamban Church. I was greeted by a female pastor and she just pointed the headman’s temporary house which is just located next to the balai raya. His real house which is located behind the Church was still under construction. After exchanging a short conversation with the pastor, Patrick and I went straight to the headman’s little house. We were greeted by a young man. He is big and tall man with fair skin. I was astonished by the sight of this young and good looking Dayak Lun Dayeh man. Patrick noticed it and he patted me from behind. I stopped staring at the young man and straightened my pose while Patrick started the conversation.
“I’m Patrick from Sabah Museum and she is Dency from Sarawak. We would like to use the balai raya for three days. Is the headman at home now?”
“Ah my father, he went to Sipitang this morning. He will come back home this evening. Please have a sit while I make a call to my father regarding your intention”
We were served with a red syrup drink while the Headman’s son made a call to his father. When he switched off his hand-phone, he mentioned that his father allowed us to stay at the balai raya. We were so grateful to hear that good news. Without further ado, we cleaned the balai raya before moving our things in. Once we were done with our cleaning works, we went to Kampong Mendulong to check our mist-nets. After checking, we took a bath at Bumbok River. All of our weariness on that day was washed away by the river water. We bathed till the day was almost closed and then made a move back to Kampung Bamban.
Political structures of the two kampongs
At the balai raya, we met the headman. He introduced himself and corrected us that he was not a headman but a community manager of Kampong Bamban and Mendulong. I just wondered why he needed to manage two kampongs. He explained that Kampong Bamban is a part of Kampong Mendulong. In detail, the headman of Kampong Mendulong is an administrator of Dayak Lun Dayeh customary laws while the headman of Kampung Bamban is an administrator of social and developmental communities of those two kampongs. The information given by him was fair enough for me to understand the political structures of Dayak Lun Dayeh people. Patrick also added that Dusun people also practice the same structures. I could see that there was a big difference in political structures between Dayaks in Sarawak and Dayaks in Sabah. In Sarawak, a Dayak headman will be a leader of a kampong or a longhouse and he will be assisted by a vice headman. Their jobs are almost the same like headman and managers in Sabah but only concentrated in one kampong.
The curtain closed
Four of us worked so hard for the whole day. Eventhough we were so tired, we were still enjoying ourselves chatting and teasing each other. Night time for us was to get to know to each other and share some good and sad stories. We talked till 10 pm and all of us went into our own niche. It was a good night for everyone and we were hoping tomorrow will be a perfect day for us.