During our three weeks in Tinangol we were lucky enough to take part in some local traditions and activities. It was great to feel truly immersed and welcomed into this little village.
Traditional Dayak Dancing
On the night we arrived at the camp we were treated to a traditional Dayak ‘welcome’ dance by three of the local girls and one of the boys. The dancing consisted of gracefully moving their hands, whilst stepping/shuffling their feet in time to the beat of the gong, backwards and forwards and then in an ‘S’ shape. The boy also occasionally let out rhythmic rolled tongue high pitched scream. The first time I jumped 😂. We ended up attempting the dance, mirroring the hand and feet movements, whilst slightly wiggling our hips. It was actually quite hard to get the exact timing and movements, but we all gave it our best shot. At the end, we were all given a beautiful beaded necklace as a thank you.
On one of our afternoons off, the Grandmother of the camp taught us how to make bead bracelets. Growing up with many a bead kit, I thought I’d have this activity down to a T. However, the method was completely different and actually more confusing than it looked. We would twist the string to make different shapes, something I had never done before. It ended up taking a good few hours to make two.
The village had organised a spirit festival during the weekend of 21st April. From what Kenny explained, some people within the tribe have special powers given to them by the spirits (for example the strength of an elephant) and the festival was to celebrate this.
We headed over on the Friday morning when they were setting up so unfortunately didn’t see it in full swing. But we did end up trying a few of the activities. Rob took part in throwing a spear like stick through a rolling hoop (I would have had given it a go, but it seemed a men only activity). Instead I tried my hands at walking on bamboo stilts. It was so unbelievably hard but fun! A few days later, I also attempted to climb the massive wooden pole, but failed miserably. A boy from the village put me to shame.
On our last full day of project work, we were very kindly invited to one of the longhouses to enjoy lunch with the local people who lived there. We shared our camps food, as well as sampled theirs, which was incredible. After lunch we finished off a tad more work before preparing ourselves for an afternoon of competitive sports with the kids and adults in the village.
Sports Day kicked off around 3pm with everyone from the village coming down to either take part or to watch. The first event was to fill up a water bottle from a bucket. This may sound easy enough, however you weren’t allowed to move the bottle and instead had to carry the water from one side to the other in your hands. I ended up in two teams with a couple of the cutest local kids, with one getting through to the quarter-finals. We were unfairly beaten by a group of teenage boys so took 4th place. The next event was a real classic Sports Day activity – a sack race. This was the funniest of all the events because seeing people’s faces as they jumped to freedom was hilarious. I wish I had photos!
After the sack race, we got eggy. Instead of an egg and spoon race, it was a throw the egg competition. After every round (if you survived) you had to move further away from your partner. My teammate was the sweetest little boy and was actually pretty good. We made it quite far, until the egg exploded in my hands going down my shorts (which still stank weeks later). Why couldn’t they have been hard boiled. The final event was the toughest. The local women vs the Camps girls in a tug of war. Believe it or not we won the first round, but then lost the second and third. Our arms were shaking afterwards. This afternoon was my favourite of all the actitivies with the local people 😊. We really felt part of the community.
I decided to add our karaoke night to this post as in Asia it is a big deal. I’d often walk pass houses through Vietnam and Cambodia hearing and seeing people singing their hearts out. There are also quite a few karaoke bars dotted around – the people just love to sing!
The karaoke was on our second last night so was kind of a goodbye. It was one of the funniest nights I’ve had, with everyone singing and dancing to absolute classics. Finishing at 11pm, it was the latest we had all been up together in Tinangol. Putting 150% into volunteering, doing these extra activities and learning more about the culture and people, made what we did feel even more rewarding. It was a lovely community of people to be a part of.
Jessica Storm ✌️