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ClownI had to catch the clowns.

From all over the world, they were gathering for their conference in Kuching where, I would wager, most children have never seen a clown.

Of course there’s television; but it is not the same, is it?

There’s also been the (extremely) occasional small circus visiting the state, or even the yearly Kuching Day parade where yours truly (yeap!) used to perform fully dressed, made-up and wigged as a clown, and even managed to spray a can of serpentines to the mayor’s face – a pure accident.

Yes, that's me with a blue wig!

Yes, that’s me with a blue wig!

So here I was, on a Friday afternoon at Plaza Merdeka, taking candid shots of my friend Jerneh who quickly got into the spirit of hugging quite a number of more than obliging clowns and, had she had her way with him, would have gladly taken one home. I am thinking of the “lost traveller” with his suitcase!

As the crowd fast filled the hall, things were happening on stage as well as around it; jokes fused out of loud speakers, fighting to keep above the back-ground music, the voice of the crowd, the laughers and often screams of delights.

There were costumed characters everywhere among us, curious spectators. A gentleman wearing a shimmering blue suit with white poke dots and a magnificent jester hat was busy chasing after a gigantic orange balloon. Perched on stilts he kept camouflaged inside his trousers legs, he easily towered above everyone else.

I wanted portraits and pictures of awesome super-sized funky shoes. I got them, even though I remember getting rather confused, having to juggle with 3 or was it 4 cameras and mobile phones entrusted to me by total strangers who wanted their picture taken with the friendly and obliging clowns. Clearly I was on a mission.

Clown shoes   Clown shoes

This was a festival of colours and bling. I remember watching the blue giant on stilts step over one tiny little pink marquise, and bumping into a tall white rabbit, a fat chef, a radiant black clown, a unicyclist, a funny bloke who offered to fix my new hand-phone with a hammer; Betty Boops and even Elvis happened to be in the building!

With all this happening, we all seemed to be as one and only kind of people, filled with joy and that was pure clown’s magic.


The Lost Traveler; Jerneh almost took him home.

The Lost Traveler; Jerneh almost took him home.



The blue clown on stilts

The blue clown on stilts



Betty Boops

Betty Boops



Second from left,dressed  in black, Elvis attended the conference

Second from left,dressed in black, Elvis attended the conference



The Unicyclist

The Unicyclist







Le Petite Marquise

Le Petite Marquise



The Big White Rabbit

The Big White Rabbit



That's all folks!

That’s all folks!



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The Moon Rat I saw on the road

The Moon Rat I saw on the road

The moon rat I saw looked like this one which I found at

The moon rat I saw looked like this one which I found at



The unmistakable sound of a heavy splash into our gold fish pond rose Hubby and I from our comfortable terrace seats.

It was already night and quite dark too, thanks to the thick clouds of the landas season.

Our three dogs went berserk;  the smaller one, a Maltese , literally stamping on four paws, Sherlok, the Belgian Shepherd half bent over the edge of the pond in a bit to catch the mysterious prey.

Hubby rushed into the house  to get the heavy Dolphin torch light and came back in a flash to catch a fast swimming creature inside a luminous spot. It was a Moon Rat, much larger than an ordinary rat, white fur and orangy face.

Until not so long ago, I had seen only one Moon Rat, at the Sarawak Museum, and it was probably as long as the museum itself which opened in 1891. I hope you guessed that it was embalmed.

Then and a few months back, I almost drove over one specimen; and guess what?  Again last night I saw another and this time it was a black and white one!

The Moon Rat, or Echinosorex Gymnura belongs to the Erinaceidae family. The white one, I think is only found here, in Borneo while the black and white one is also found on the Malay Peninsula.

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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in At Home in Borneo, Wild Life & Nature


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Chicken a la Malaysienne

Chicken a la Malaysienne


Translation Bahasa Malaysia – English – French

Nasi: Rice – Riz

Ayam: Chicken – Poulet

Goreng: Fried – Frit

Mayonis: Mayonaise!




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December’s back and here I am, on a regular thirty something degrees Celsius pre-Christmas day, standing in my neighbor’s chilli-peppers field. I came specifically to shoot a Durio zibethinus (a Durian tree) with my camera and collect a new picture for my blog. Standing near me and my tripod is Ah Chai, the chilli-peppers grower who is frankly disappointed with the scarce number of oblong golden fruits which we can see, hanging from the huge tree ahead of us. “This season is not good” he laments. As I recall, the previous one, half a year ago, was not any better; climate changes?

Durian Tree

Durian Tree

I seldom have the opportunity to talk to my neighbours; they are all farmers and our family is of the urban kind, “wannabe” hobby farmers. We commute in and out of the small country drive, we wave, we give way to motorcyclists, sometimes to a van, yet we rarely stop. The only friendship we have developed is with Ah Peck, which by the way is not his real name, it really means “grand-father” or “old man” in local Chinese. We don’t know his real name; he’s never told us and he seems to enjoy us calling him Ah Peck. It was easy for us to become good neighbors simply  because he and his family are the only planters here who actually live on their land; the others are daily farmers.                                                                 Today happens to be a busy field day for most of them, a fortunate coincidence, and a chance for me to finally meet them on my walk to that large durian tree down the drive where Ah Chai, and by now three other men, have gathered around my strategic photo-shoot spot. Right now, with them by my side, I can witness the legendary and amazing power of the durian: the power to attract and unite people. This is exactly what is happening here, in the midst of chilli-pepper plants for two Hakka and one Bidayuh men and I, a French woman. The powerful spell of the durian spreads through South East Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, southern Thailand and Malaysia. No other fruit I know of can get people together to enjoy a splendid time like this one does. No-one would ever fuss so much over a pineapple, a bunch of bananas or even a jack fruit.

Durians on the tree, beware of falls!

Durians on the tree, beware of falls!

Despite its thorny nature (“duri” in Malay means “thorn”) the durian actually creates bonds, at least between locals. As a general rule though, sharing a durian with a non-Asian without any prior briefing may result in the end of a beautiful friendship. Although there seems to be a growing number of Caucasians who claim to love the custard-like pulp that covers the large seeds encased in the inner compartments of the spiky shell, even for those it is still an acquired taste; most of them react by running off, literally, or like my friend Elsa did, by diving head first into a river.                                                                                                                    As controversial as a durian can sometimes be, and as much as it can test East meets West friendships to the brink, here in Sarawak, as everywhere else in the region, it is, truly, a diplomatic fruit which has been unanimously crowned KING of FRUITS, by both genders of all ethnic groups and regardless of their religious faith. Call a few friends to join a durian hunt all the way to some remote kampong (village) and you will find yourself leading a caravan!

Durians are good business too, and many shrewd farmers set up makeshift stalls on the roadside, the ultimate temptation for drivers to make an impromptu stop and start a “durian ritual”: pick a few fruits, sniff them with gusto the way a French would a truffle, shake them like a maracas, close to the ear to listen to the dull, subtle knocks that tell the tale of a ripe to perfection durian. Buyers even like to exchange savvy comments with total strangers on how to select the best fruit (yet not before they have finished choosing their own) and finally negotiate the price with the seller.

Except for its look, I used to hate everything about the durian, its taste and its odour; then without me even knowing, my nose, first, got used to it, and what I had first perceived as a revolting stench, I came to identify as a familiar call to get together with friends and have fun sharing a fruit I have grown to actually enjoy!  Mind you I do have a preference for the orangey pulp rather than the whitish one. I am picky.

The durian happens to be particularly nourishing; it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, a real bonus to animals and for this reason humans actually have to seriously compete to get to it first while it is still hanging from the branch.                           I remember an Iban legend that tells the story of an unfortunate young woman who had been abducted by a randy Orang-Utan and owed the success of her escape only to the fact that the big ape had let himself be distracted by the sight of a few durians that had fallen to the ground, long enough to give his sweet heart enough time to run to her rescuers’ long boat.

The KING of FRUITs does come with some dangers though. Although it never seems to drop onto the heads of those patient fellows who spend whole nights waiting for their prize to fall from the branch (they’ll tell you it just never, ever happens.), it does have bad chemistry with alcohol.

Yes, it’s almost Christmas and back on the French Riviera, my brother and the whole family are probably feasting on tiny and cute looking, irresistibly flagrant Corsican Clementines (a winter fruit), while I am ready to bet with my husband that the almost 30 centimeters long, 15 centimeters in diameter and well above 2.5 kilos orangey durian that dropped last night, from one of our trees, is going to taste like the perfect KING of FRUITS, and tomorrow morning, I’ll walk down the drive again, to talk about it with Ah Chai and may be with a few other neighbors too.

Have a splendid festive season!

Ready to be eaten!

Ready to be eaten!


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The hair salon Kampung style -  Le salon de coiffure

The hair salon Kampung style – Le salon de coiffure


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Today's laundry - La lessive du jour

Today’s laundry – La lessive du jour


3 Kuching

3 Kuching









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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Decouvrez Borneo, Discover Borneo


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“Ayam” is “chicken”, “goreng” is “fried”. Got it?

“Ayam” veut dire “poulet” et “goreng” veut dire “frit” en malais.

KFC is Kuching Fried Chicken!
Aide visuelle pour traduction facile.


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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in C'est la Vie, Gourmet Posts


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View from the water front
Vue depuis la corniche



Batang Kayan, there used to be a ferry crossing to reach Lundu and Sematan. Now there’s a splendid bridge.
Il y a quelques temps encore, un ferry boat traversait le (fleuve) Batang Kayan. Désormais on passe sur un pont.


Just after the bridge, a chance to stock up some delicious cakes & tid bits: spicy peanuts, banana crisps…
Passé le pont, on peut se ravitailler de petits gâteaux et amuse-gueules : cacahuètes épicées, frites bananes…



In Sematan, the roadsides are planted with trees which flower with abundance.
A Sematan, les rues sont bordées d’arbres qui fleurissent en abondance.



The view from the coffee shop where we had lunch at 4pm! Grilled fish & salted prawns; a banquet with a view and not even expensive.
La vue depuis le coffee shop où nous avons déjeuné à 4 heures de l’après-midi ! Poisson grillé et crevettes au gros sel : un banquet avec vue sur la mer et en plus pas cher du tout.

And a few minutes drive from here….







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The Islands of Talan Talan


Sematan Palm Beach Resort, one and half hour drive from Kuching, just outside the fishing town od Sematan. A splendid place facing the islands of Talan Talan.

I dropped my clothes on a rock and walked straight into the warm waters of the South China Sea; then I grabbed my camera and took a walk along the beach.

Le Sematan Palm Beach se trouve à une heure et demie de route depuis Kuching, a la sortie du village de pêcheurs de Sematan. Un endroit splendide qui fait face aux iles de Talan Talan.

J’ai laissé mes vêtements sur un rocher et je me suis dirigée tout droit vers l’eau de la Mer de Chine ; puis j’ai récupéré mon appareil photo et je suis partie à  pied le long de la plage.

A place to relax, sheltered from the sun, cooled by the breeze.
Coin relax, a l’abri du soleil et raffraichis par la brise.

I love coconut juice, especially when it comes straight from the tree.
J’adore le jus de noix de coco, surtout quand il vient direct du palmier.

Fishermen live nearby and keep their boats in the lagoon.
Des pêcheurs habitent tout près; les barques les attendent dans le lagon.

Fish in the sea, coconuts on the trees, milk from the cows and much more abundance… the dream life!
Une mer poissoneuse, des palmiers charges de noix de coco, des vaches laitieres et tant d’abondance… la vie de reve!

Sematan Palm Beach is a small resort. No human crowds on the beach (I grew up on the French Rivierra), just birds prints. Wonder where they lead to?
Sematan Palm Beach est un petit resort d’à peine quelques chalets. Ici pas de marée humaine (j’ai grandi sur la côte d’azur) mais des traces de pates d’oiseaux. Je me demande où elles mènent?

Pour faire rêver

The remains of a beach bon-fire.
Trace d’une soiree plage autour d’un feu.

The swimming pool at Sematan Beach Resort
La piscine

Memories are made of these.
Nos pas s’effacent sur le sable mais les bon souvenirs ne perissent pas.


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Pour toutes les fois où nous sommes allées à la longhouse de Annah Rais, dans la région de Padawan, ni Heidi ni moi n’avons jamais réussi à pousser notre visite jusqu’aux sources chaudes.

L’entree aux Sources

Ce matin, nous avons enfin pris la situation en main : un sac à dos léger et un petit panier remplis de sandwiches et de pizza chargés dans le coffre de ma voiture et nous sommes parties sur des routes de campagne qui nous ont menées jusqu’à l’entrée même des sources chaudes. De là, il nous a suffit de suivre un petit chemin  à travers un jardin d’abondance : des régimes de bananes prêts pour la cueillette ; des ananas si jolis qu’un artiste aurait certainement souhaité les peindre avant de les manger ; des cocotiers et bien sur des fleurs, jusqu’aux plus petites, mais toujours infiniment belles.

Petite fleur infiniment belle










Dans le lit de la rivière, deux larges « baignoires » ont été construites par les villageois. Tandis que le courant est très rafraichissant, l’eau gazeuse des baignoires doit bien faire trente degrés. Nous avons laissé tremper nos pieds dans le bain chaud avant de retourner profiter des eaux cristallines de la rivière.

Les pique-niques Malaisiens sont généralement chauds et épicés ; ils se conçoivent rarement sans la présence de deux marmitons (l’un rempli de riz et l’autre de curry), des assiettes, des cuillères et des fourchettes pour tout le monde ; tout cet attirail se retrouve joyeusement transporte à travers parcs ou plages.

Ceux qui ont eu la chance de voyager avec des Ibans (sur la Skran, la Lemanak ou ailleurs) se souviendront avoir vu les hommes couper quelques bambous en bord de rivière et les remplir de morceaux de poulet, puis sortir un wok de Dieu seul sait  où pour y faire revenir des légumes sur un feu de camp préparé sur la plage de galets : véritable pique-nique de la jungle !

Au risque de paraitre un tantinet paresseux, les pique-niqueurs occidentaux, classe à laquelle Heidi et moi appartenons, se régalent de plats froids qui tiennent facilement dans des boites en plastique. Aujourd’hui nous avons honoré le karangan de sandwiches au jambon et chutney de tomates faits maison et d’une pizza que nous avons pu couper en deux grâce à Heidi qui n’a pas quitté sa Suisse natale sans son couteau !

Notre escapade était si réussie que je pense sérieusement retourner à Annah Rais pour y passer deux ou trois nuits, chose facile a réaliser grâce à Joda Knight qui offre des chambres d’hôte et peut organiser tout un tas d’activités allant du kayaking au trek aventure dans des villages extraordinaires. Mais ca, c’est une autre histoire à suivre…

Se baigner dans les eaux claires d’une riviere tropicale… lorsque le rêve devient réalité.



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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Decouvrez Borneo


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Heidi soaking her feet in the hot bath-”tub”



For all the times we’d each found our way to Annah Rais Longhouse in Padawan, neither Heidi nor I had ever managed to make it to the famous hot springs.

The Gate to the river and the Hot Spings

This morning, we put an end to the wait: a light back-pack and a basket filled with yummy sandwiches loaded into my car boot and off we went through country roads and all the way to the official access gate to the springs. From there we followed the path through a garden of plenty: bunches of bananas hanging from the trees, waiting to be picked; pineapples, so beautiful an artist would have loved to paint them before he’d eat them; coconut trees and, of course flowers, large and small.

Down by the river, a couple of proper bathing “tubs” have been built by the village folks; while the flowing stream is pleasantly refreshing, the bubbling water within the “tubs” must be around thirty degrees centigrade.

Hot and Bubbly Spring

We soaked our feet in the hot bath for a while and finally opted for a cool swim in crystal clear water.

Malaysian picnics are usually hot and spicy and often revolve around family sized curry and rice pots which no-one seems to mind carrying, along with plates and cutlery to the selected spot in the midst of a park. Those who have been privileged enough to travel with Iban friends will certainly remember the men cutting a few bamboo they fill with some chicken meat, or producing a wok out of nowhere to stir-fry some vegetables on a camp fire built on the karangan (pebble beach): an authentic jungle picnic!

To the risk of appearing a bit lazy in comparison, jolly western picnickers such as Heidi and me actually delight on cold feasts that fit nicely inside a plastic container. Today we graced the karangan with delicious home-made ham and tomato relish sandwiches and cold pizza we were able to cut for sharing,  thanks to Heidi who did not leave Switzerland without her world famous knife.

Our morning was so perfect; I am seriously considering going back to Annah Rais for a longer stay of perhaps two or three nights. It would be very easy to do with Joda Knight who runs a homestay accommodation and can organise canoeing and trekking adventures to amazing villages. But that, my friends, is another story yet to be told…

The river was crystal clear

I Love Tropical Rivers!

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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Discover Borneo


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