Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We're in the jungle, baby!

We haven’t seen any crocodiles, no monkeys and we only passed longhouses (no invites yet), but we've seen lots of jungle and finally found the grubs!  As we made our way up the Rajang River, we stopped at a town called Sarakei.  It’s known for it’s succulent, sweet pineapples (and we confirm, they are the best we’ve ever eaten) and their black pepper production.  We anchored for the night and as we were waiting on the tide the next day, we went into the Saturday market.  For the size of the town, it was a bustling market with extremely friendly people…they don’t get many tourists here.  It had everything you could possibly want and some of what you don’t want.  That’s what we bought….sago grubs. 

Now, if you’ve followed along for the past year or so, you’ll know that Jake is into eating gross things (but don’t ask him to eat potato salad…that’s disgusting you know).  He’s tried grasshoppers, termites, chicken parts (all of them), and even rat.  All he could talk about was grubs (thanks again, “Man vs. Wild”).  So when we finally saw them wiggling around in their little bowls in the market, Jake had to have them.  Funny enough, so did Chris, the father of Jake’s new friend.  They had come up the river with us on they’re sailboat.  Chris has lived in Thailand for quite some time so he’s no stranger to bugs.  I think this added a little encouragement to Jake as well. 

After Jake decided he just couldn’t stomach a live one (his original plan), Andy pan fried a few in some bacon fat and garlic salt.  The first attempt was quick…it went in his mouth and right back out.  After watching Andy eat one and then a reluctant mom try one, he took another shot at it.  He chewed for a bit but when the insides spewed out he, had to as well.  Finally, after promising him and extra hour on the iPad if he could swallow one and keep it down, he gobbled up the deep friend grub and decided he wasn’t going to die (but he did not care for the taste any more than the first time).

Surprisingly, Andy and I were not deterred.  Andy deep fried the rest of them (of course he deep fried them),  Chris sauted his in some oil and a soy sauce mixture, and I cooked the local midin (a fern type veggie) we had bought.  We had Rajang River appetizer night.  I have to say, Chris’ version was my favorite. 

With the grub challenge past us, we spent the next day motoring further up the river to the town of Sibu.  I have to say, this little town 60 miles from the mouth of the river is MUCH bigger and busier than I had imagined.  There are dredgers, tugs, barges with logs, container ships and lots and lots of fast moving ferries.  They look like airplanes without wings speeding down the river.  They’re fascinated by us, so they come really, really, really close to get a picture of us on their iPhones.  Makes for large wakes and a need for ear plugs.

The town itself is ok.  Not quite as friendly as Sarakei was, but still a fair bit to see and do.  We visited the night market as well as the morning market, which was the largest we’ve seen since KK.  We walked to the top of a Chinese Pagoda for a nice view of the river and we visited all the shops in town, including the air conditioned mall (we skipped McDonald’s this time and opted for Pizza Hut). 

The guy made me pick up this black chicken and have my picture

They don't come any fresher than that!

Jake wanted to set the chickens free.

No shortage of pork in this city!

The bell at the top of the  pagoda. 

Unfortunately, it was a bit too busy for our friends and they were meeting up with some other people further north, so they headed back fairly quickly.  I thought Jake was going to shed some tears but he held it together.  The two boys really hit it off and we enjoyed Chris’ company as well.
Now we’re sitting here waiting.  I have some sick family at home and am flying out tomorrow to Atlanta.  Andy and Jake will go back down the river and back to Kuching without me.  Hang in there with us for the next month or so as the updates to the blog may be sporadic.  Jake and Andy plan on seeing the Mulu caves here in Borneo so at the very least, I’ll post those pictures.  They should be fantastic.

My son is reading for fun!!!  I had to take a picture.

Exploring the jungle!

In honor of the delicious pineapples at Sarakei.

The fruits of our labor at the Sarakei market.

A new project we're working on...I have some fabric of a map and Jake is sewing our route.  Not sure what we're going to do with it yet.

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