Sometimes, I feel very lucky with my work -- that unlike most people, I actually get to go out and live and experience true Sarawakian culture, if only for a while. Actually, this is the first time that I've had to live in a longhouse in transit to my fieldsite. I have to admit that initially, I wasn't too keen because well, I'm just not used to living in a longhouse (I had to sleep in the living room because there was just no other room to sleep in, other than the family sleeping quarters where EVERYONE else in the family sleeps -- and even so, so much for privacy).
It's an awfully long distance from the town I live in -- about four hours drive and a day's boat ride! And that's not even counting the actual distance I have to travel to my fieldsite.
I'm often exhausted when I come back -- physically and mentally. So it takes me at least a day to recover, or more depending on the intensity of the trip.
The last trip was pretty short yet awesome because I got great guys this time around to help me out (unfortunately, I can't keep hiring the same folk or even bring in my old fieldworkers from previous sites because longhouses get really territorial over their area). One particular Aya (Uncle), as I call elder Iban men, was a particular hoot. We just clicked in the beginning and he would joke with me and make me laugh so hard. And the crew this time around was hard-working and more importantly, interested in what I was doing, which was a huge help for me.
Sadly, this was my last trip to this longhouse and I'm especially going to miss the kids. They were adorable!... They were interested in my (cheap) mp3 player so I let them listen to it -- I introduced them to Queen, Tom Petty and the Foo Fighters amongst others.. Oh! It was so cute... these 5 year old Iban kids were listening to Bohemian Raphsody, using my headphones, and they head-banged at the very appropriate moment! It made me laugh so much -- it was just too cute!