"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharal Nehru

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fly, baby fly!

Had the opportunity to fly with the FDS or Flying Doctor Service in Belaga. Layang-layang Aerospace has been tasked with the flying, either for FDS visit or medevacs. Medevac or medivac is basically medical evacuation or prompt and timely transport of an ill or wounded patient to seek medical care. Medevac can either be via land or air, but in Sarawak is mostly by air due to the unfavourable terrain. For your information, the MOH spends a hefty 5 figure sum for each medevac. I remember in Semenanjung, most of the medevacs or mercy flights were done by the army in their Nuri helicopters.

Anyway, think Layang-Layang is some joint venture between some foreign company and a Malaysian one so most of the pilots are foreigners. Flew with a Brit that day, but think they also have Pinoy & Ozzie pilots. 

Enjoy the pics!

Preflight checks

Before boarding, there's a mandatory weigh in. Think maximum weight allowed is 400kgs in total. That's for 5 pax & cargo, so if you're obese you don't get to bring your bags! Hahaha! Or more likely you won't be even allowed up.

Wow... so many things to keep an eye on.
Realised all the dials were analog.
Does this mean its an old heli?

Captain Chris at the controls

Aerial view of Belaga
That's the Batang Rejang you see!

Part of Bakun Dam
Imagine this whole area was virgin jungle before in was flooded in

Unfortunately, the flight was cut short due to unfavourable weather conditions & low cloud cover. I still remember the dark bank of clouds over one of the mountain ridges & how our pilot was looking for a break to fly thru. Unfortunately or fortunately we couldn't find one and had to turn back to base just as fat, heavy raindrops started pelting the windscreen.

FDS staff  of Belaga

Hoping for more opportunities to fly with the FDS!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Life as they know it...

As expected of small little towns, life in Belaga moves at a snails pace. Once you're here, you cannot help but feel relaxed. Because of its size, the town folks can spot a stranger without having to look twice. But don't worry, they don't bite. Instead they ask lots of questions like:

1. Where do you come from?
2. What you are doing there?
3. Do you know any one from the area?
and the one universal question - ARE YOU MARRIED?

I get asked the final question alot. Have thought up of creative answers and usually my answers leaves them shocked/ befuddled/ amazed??? Really depends on who I'm answering to though. At my age here, I would probably have 4 children already or be a young grandmother! Hahaha! The cheekier apais or akeks even try to introduce their still single sons or relatives to me!

Anyway, went out for an evening walk. Met a bunch of cute kids by the river.

Kids being kids!

They were having fun splashing in the puddles left over by the rain. Such simple joy! Asked them why they were not playing ball.
"Bola sudah masuk sungai!" 
Don't think anyone wants to salvage a ball in those croc infected waters (read more about it in my earlier post on getting to Belaga!)

Nearby the jetty is the petrol kiosk. Unlike the Shells or Petronas back home, everything is done manually here!

Credits cards not valid here!

The gasoline is first pumped out from the steel drums using a hand pump into a metal watering can. Then a metal funnel with old rags as filters is used to pour the gasoline into your vehicle. So quaint, right? Technology from 50 years back, maybe?

Tools of the trade

Right outside the petrol kiosk was something not for the squeamish.

Fresh from the hunt!

Choicest cuts!

Bought some of the wildboar for the clinic staff to prepare. Had it grilled. 
Man, was it yummy! I wouldn't have know how to prepare the meat as it came with all the grizzle! I think you have to singe it off first.

Went on to explore the shops in town when I chanced upon...

Ye olde curiosity shoppe

Stuff everywhere!

This shop belongs to the Kapitan or Penghulu Cina. Discovering I was a doctor, he invited me in for a cup of Kopi O and told me his life story. He settled in Belaga eons ago from some village in China. Literally carved out his existence in the virgin jungles that Belaga once was. Started first growing veggies, then opened a little sundry shop, before slowly amassing his collection of handicraft & antiques for sale. And he also owns the coffee shop next door.

Some finds:

Intricate bone handle of a machete

Belaga samurai!

Remember this from kindergarten?

Thought this was already extinct.
Correction fluid for cyclostyle stensils.
I know bout it cause my folks were teachers!

Then I discovered these.

Gorgeous vintage clutches

The price tag on them were for RM6 each (?1940s price) but uncle gave me a discount and I got these babies for RM10! Yay! Uncle also threw in a couple of jungle fowl feathers, which I later found out was for protection & wards of evil. Don't believe it that sort of stuff. I know who my Protector is, but what a sweet gesture from the old man!

Nature's work of art