Oct 2017 Orang Asli
Orang Asli
On Monday October 9th, Amy Shaw and Priti Parikh graciously organized a trip to Gombak via Mr Kalam Pie; a 40-minute ride outside Kuala Lumpur. There we met the Orang Asli family of Raman the famous nose flautist,  who took us on a jungle trek past waterfalls.   They also treated us to a feast giving us a glimpse into their resourcefulness and understanding of the jungle with all it has to offer for their daily needs

Who are the Orang Asli? Orang Asli is a collective term which means original or first peoples in Malaya. There are some 18 ethnic groups with less than 150,000 in total who are widely regarded as comprising peninsular Malaysia's original inhabitants.

That morning we were welcomed by a father and his four grown children. He did his best to explain their traditions and lifestyle. His boys were busy cutting up a plethora of bamboo with machetes and shaping our food preparation vessels from it, while his daughters showed us how to get our rice stuffed into leaves in preparation for our meal. After that we were led on a jungle trek by one of his sons where we were introduced to medicinal leaves, honey beehives high up in the trees and many more insects and critters that were hiding under every crevice and fallen leaves. Needless to say the leeches were very happy to get hold of some of our ladies and have a nibble of their own.

On our return from our informative hike we were surprised by the feast that was cooking in front of us. Fish and chicken were roasting; rice, vegetables and eggs were boiling in bamboo filled tubes. Even though the Orang Asli’s food is purchased from the markets these days and not harvested from the jungle, their preparation for it is still very rustic. To pass the time while the meal cooked nicely, we were introduced to reed weaving, while reposing at the edge of the river near the waterfall. The wait was worth it as the food was fabulous; every bit of the preparation had been done relying on bamboo, from using it as a fire starter to roasting the meat on it and using it for cups and chopsticks. The leaves were our plates.

We had a very enjoyable, filling and informative day. We left with a new appreciation of the Orang Asli with their peaceful existence and the jungle that shares all its secrets with them from time gone by.



Dina Robinson