While I had occasionally visited Iban longhouses before during my time with MLNG late 80's, this was the first time I had actually spent the whole week in the longhouse during Gawai. It was one of those experiences that, while it might come with a little bit of discomfort due to the distance and the mode of travel, the experience was one of those that would remain in your memories for a long time.
Everybody sleeps in the same bilik (room), there's only one bilik afterall. It doesn't matter who you are or your position in life because when you are in the longhouse, everyone is the same. Human being. Group of people co-existing like its the most natural thing in the world. You become family. So there's no inhibition, one becomes "native".
So that was why the bathing in the river experience remains until this day. Something which is not unlike my experience growing up in the Baram. Those many years ago. A lifetime away.
|Lunch half way to the longhouse|
|Ngirup meh wei...|
|My Iban family (Singalang, Michael and the mum)|