Oh my! I have never eaten a pineapple as sweet as Bario’s. You won’t believe it. The pineapples in Bario are so sweet to convert any pineapple-phobic homo-sapien into a lover. They have exceptional juiciness and a vibrant flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. No wonder there is a special dish in Bario called the “Pineapple Curry.” Yes, exactly. The first time I tried a pineapple curry, you wouldn’t want to see the expression on my face. But it is amazing how before the end of our trip, I was a proselyte.
Turo is the name of a hornbill. I had never come close to a hornbill. She behaved strange at first upon our arrival, but I later understood that she loves hanging out with humans. She was rescued and nursed by a villager. Because of the love showed to her, she never went back to the wild (even though the villagers made many attempts to release her back into the wild), but grew fonder with tourists who visit the Bario Asal Longhouse. The cutest thing she did was following us wherever we went as a team. She is intelligent, and loved by all. I initially didn’t want her around, but that changed with time. The saddest part of the story is that she was captured by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation a few days before our departure. It was a sad news for everyone and all the tourists who knew her. Currently, the villagers advocating for her return.
I shall here name the really amazing friends I met in Bario. Bario is a land of friendship, love, joy, mental detox (for its almost pollution-free environment). My team mates were my first new friends. We travelled together and did almost everything together. They are Jacky (a.k.a “e-jacky”), Marie (a.k.a Maria), Hliang (I call him “Boss”), Jia Qi (I often called her “JQ”), Shannon (the girls called her “mama”), Kylie (I occasionally called her “KL”), Nurul Iman (she says I wrongly pronounce her name as “Imen”), Kalai (It came naturally for me to call her “Kalai Lama” and she didn’t like it). Not forgetting our awesome project coordinators Daniel (He is the real Papa), and Shu Anne (The second “Mama” after Rhonwyn, the project founder). Shannon did terrific in getting us prepared for our dance performance on the final night.
Other new friends I made were Moritz and Daniella. They were tourists from Bavaria who taught me so much about photography in two days. We spent lots of time talking about photography and polishing up my German. Mary-Ann was our lovely princess. I miss her so much. She was so dear to me and she did two things very well: made us laugh, and annoy us at times! I love her so much.
Presumably 3,000 feet above sea level. With a team of five, we climbed up the prayer mountain with so much enthusiasm. My Bario trip would not have been complete without climbing this mountain. It was the first mountain I ever climbed, and I would not mind climbing another mountain. The climb was even more exciting with the Greenest Man on the Planet (Matthias Gelber), Denise, Werm, and Kalai. We had much fun, although I tripped like a log of wood on our way down. If you go to Bario, you must climb up this mountain!
My team would laugh if they ever read this! I was known as the face of e-Bario. Bario does not have good internet connectivity. However, e-Bario is a tele-center set up by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, to provide internet for the village. You know where this is going already, don’t you? – I was a regular visitor during our first week in Bario. And whenever I got dressed in my shorts, hiking shoes, beanie and sun screen, they screamed “E-Bario!” That was my usual outfit as I cycle to use the internet.
In all, my Bario experience was filled with fun, laughter, and excitement. I loved it and thank Ms Chong Sheau Ching, the advisor for Project WHEE! and Executive Director of eHomemakers for making it possible for me to go. Also to the generous friends who donated to my trip. They are the main heroes!