Bu Kutmie is one of the chemistry teachers here at SMAN 2 Pangkalan Bun and over the past week she has several times invited me to her kebun (block of land). For various reasons, past invitations were postponed but finally on Wednesday night it eventuated. While we were all sitting together at the piket desk, Bu Arfa & Bu Katmie were chatting and the topic of conversation returned to her kebun and they both realised that we were all free that very afternoon!
While Bu Arfa returned home to get Intan & Bapak, I went home with Bu Katmie. We were picked up right on the home bell out the front of the school by the family driver. It was a very quick drive as she lives very close to the school and would be a lovely short walk. As soon as we walked in the front door, I was invited to have lunch and we sat down together at the dining table. One of the vegetables I was served was a red bayam which was absolutely delicious and looked just like beetroot leaves, but if I am not mistaken bayam is a type of amaranthus. Her dining table is under a pergola structure in the kitchen! It felt like eating al fresco inside. After lunch I was invited to have a rest and as I was feeling very weary, having just recovered from a virus, I was so thankful of this norm in Indonesia. I was given one of the children’s bedroom and in seconds of putting my head on the pillow I was asleep! Bu Katmie woke me at 3:30 and had she not, I would’ve slept for hours! Such a lovely custom having an afternoon nap! I doubt that I could have made it through the evening without that power nap.
We jumped in the car and headed off to the ‘kebun’. While Bu Katmie told me it would be a long journey, it actually was not far at all and turned out to be very close to the kindergarten I blogged about last week. The drive took us on many small back roads and finally we drove down one last track and their block was the last one on the right. What immediately grabbed my attention though was the beautiful traditional Dayak house built there.So much for the impression I was given that it was just a block of land covered in fruit trees! The overlapping timber points on the roofline are only added to traditional structures here in Kalimantan and are a proud reminder of the original peoples here, the Dayaks. Bu Katmie is a Dayak and her heritage is something her husband, a Batak from Sumatra, is very proud of. The house is amazing. It is built entirely from Kalimantan ironwood, a timber that is white ants proof. The main part of the house is separated from the kitchen by a tiny open walkway which apparently is a great place to sleep on a hot evening. Bu Katmie wasn’t sure about the historical reasoning on the this and I wondered if it was to protect the house if there was a fire in the kitchen. The main part of the house consists of a large area traditionally with no furniture as Dayaks sit on the floor, eat on the floor and sleep on the floor. There was a large sheet of lino covering the floor boards and this is the mat on which eating, sitting and napping takes place. Bu Katmie also has a floor mat which is not often seen but would make it much more confortable.
The curtains are common here in Indonesia, more so in Kalimantan and Java. Rooms are curtained and in some cases also have doors but the curtain gives you that little extra bit of privacy as well as allowing airflow if the door and window are both open. These curtained doorways lead into bedrooms. Isn’t it interesting how the only furniture is the TV! There is also a formal sitting room just to the right of the vase of artificial flowers and above the chairs is a creative display of Dayak weaving.
The cross over the weaving signifies that the family who live here are Christian. Religion in Kalimantan, as in most of the Indonesian homes I have stayed in (the only exception are the Hindu’s in Bali where their shrines and temples are in the yard) is displayed proudly on the walls throughout the house.
At the back of the house is a verandah off the kitchen. On the deck is a picnic table and benches where we sat enjoying the breezes. Bu Katmie later told me that this area is traditionally used for washing the dishes! Whereas she has a sink in her kitchen, this is definitely a modern modification!
Bu Arfa, Bapak & Intan arrived and while Bu Arfa joined us on the deck, Bapak joined the men down by the fish ‘pond’. Once we had finished the food, we also joined the men down by the fish pond as the children were all keen to try their hand at fishing.
Can you see the fantastic hall behind the fishing area? Apparently it is available for hire!! How cool would it be to hold a school function there? There is even a stage!
The fish ‘pond’ is a huge tank of catfish (ikan lele) and there must be thousands of fish in there. Surprisingly though, it took a while for the fish to take the bait but when they did, it was with a gusto and suddenly there was an enormous fish thrashing at the end of the line. Here is Bapak with the first catch of the evening!
We then left the boys to the fishing and went and picked some cassava leaves and tiny eggplant (terong bibit) to have with dinner. Bu Katmie made a delicious sambal from the eggplant using green mango as well.
Here they are being fried before she ground them smooth with lots of chili in a mortar and pestle. Delicious.
Once dinner was ready, we ate it on the back deck. Everyone except me sat on the ground and it looked just a picnic!