tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN December 18, 2016 9:00pm-10:01pm PST
series in a previous life. yet, here i am again. heading up to that same long house in the jungle. ♪ ♪ ♪ i took a walk ♪ through this ♪ beautiful world ♪ felt the cool rain ♪ on my shoulder ♪ found something good ♪ in this ♪ beautiful world ♪ i felt the rain ♪ getting colder ♪ sha la la la la sha la la la la la ♪ ♪ sha la la la la sha la la la la la la ♪ [ boat engine ]
surrounded by all the sights, smells and flavors i remember so well. this is where a wandering soul, such as myself, can dive right in and get some of that straights chinese food i've been missing. first order of business -- dinner. been on a plane for like, i don't know, it was long. very long. saw like five mark wahlberg films. i can't tell you how excited about the prospect of getting some black pepper crab, some char kuey teow, and some pork related noodles. and a regional beverage. reasonably cold. i don't even know what this is. i love you, noodles. don't want to get all heavy and
philosophical at this point. like why i'm here, what my mission is, what i expect to find. basically retracing my steps and all that -- we'll talk about that later. right now, noodles. mm, good wok hay. place is most excellent. ah, char kuey teow. >> waitress: char kuey teow. oh, look at the greasy, fatty -- yes. come to daddy. i'm a bad man. look at this like random restaurant. with like a purloined minnie mouse logo. and their food is unbelievably good. oh, yeah. black pepper crab, come right here. reveal yourself to me, my love. ah, hot, hot, hot, hot! woo! oh, yeah.
wow. all right. the frenzy's over. now to eat in a more relaxed phase. kuala lumpur rises up out of steaming, equatorial, southeast asian jungle. malaysia's capital city. a chaotic, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, modern metropolis of malay, chinese and indian. this is where you start out when fulfilling a decade-old promise to your ex-head hunter friends to return for gawai, the annual iban rice harvest festival. what was interesting last time i was there was the old guys with their tattoos and the rings on their fingers. >> eddie: yeah. the old people, a lot of them have passed on.
>> anthony: i hear no more skulls. they made them put the skulls away. the iban once enjoyed a truly formidable reputation as trackers, warriors and ritualistic takers of heads. they were and continue to be wanderers. valuing the bejalai, a tradition where every tribesman will set out from the longhouse of his birth to travel, learn, to bring something back. each tattoo he gets over the course of his life represents a different experience, a different journey. >> eddie: basically, the tattoos are just to signify knowledge and the wealth that you brought back to the longhouse. what you would probably want to get is a bunga terung. something like this. >> anthony: oh, i like that. >> eddie: yeah. >> anthony: since last i saw you, and you gave me this. >> eddie: and it's still there. >> anthony: still there. 10 years ago at his shop borneo ink, eddie david tattooed me with an iban style ouroboros, a symbol of a snake eating its own tail. life, death, the eternal ebb and flow. i think i was going through a
hippy phase. eddie does great work, and he's known for traditional tribal tattoos, but i'm looking forward to getting it done old school this time. hand tapped in the jungle. so i need your advice, because i'm going back to the same village that i went to last time. >> eddie: just be careful of the lancau. >> anthony: the lancau. yes, they had in every type of bottle. this clear, sort of cloudy liquid with particles in it. >> eddie: sometimes they put all kinds of weird stuff inside. my dad used to tell me they take a mosquito coil and leave it inside the lancau. >> anthony: a mosquito what? >> eddie: coil. >> anthony: like the pesticide? >> eddie: yeah. just make it, like, stronger i guess. >> anthony: i would imagine so. >> eddie: that's the natural staple. gawai is usually a party, drinking, passing out, waking up, eating, drinking some more, passing out again, and then getting up and drinking some more. yeah.
you're going to have fun, man. >> anthony: wow. all right. ♪ ♪ so, i'm headed up river again. >> david: yeah, sorry i can't be there. >> anthony: i promised them. i said i'm going back. >> david: about nine years late on your promise but -- >> anthony: nine years late. >> david: that happens with lancau, you know. promises come liberally. >> anthony: it was david moggie who first took me up to the longhouse. on that previous trip we met at aunty aini's, on the outskirts of kael. >> david: everything moves exponentially, right? it just feels like some things remain exactly the same. some things haven't changed at all. this place is certainly one. >> anthony: the charming and, for lack of a better word,
fabulous aini was an actor in the malaysian film scene, who now runs a very successful kampung-style restaurant, specializing in beloved village or country classics. all of them prepared with a staggering finesse and precision. this is delicious, delicious food. >> aini: welcome. it's been so long. oh my god, and you still look as handsome as ever. all right. so -- >> david: so, let's pick up right where we left off, which we started with this. >> aini: help yourself. >> anthony: thank you. >> aini: you're going to have the roast beef, and this is poached egg, and our favorite will be our rendang. this is chicken rendang. >> anthony: oh, so good to be
back. >> aini: i love watching you guys eat. >> anthony: who taught you to cook? who was the good cook in your family? >> aini: when we were small, my grandmother would say stuff like, "i don't care who you are, if you can't cook, you're nobody to me." so it's like -- >> anthony: oh wow. >> aini: yeah, from there, there's no teaching malay cooking here. you just come from your grandma's kitchen, your mom's kitchen and you learn by smelling, by seeing. that's how i teach my children to cook. all these dishes, when you do them, the aroma just floats around. i know exactly whether the chili paste frying in the pan ready or not. it's from here. basically it's from here. >> anthony: well, this food is so perfect. i mean, the flavors are so perfect and so delicious.
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>> anthony: kuching. capital of the malaysian sarawak. it's a sleepy city with a colorful 19th-century boy's adventure story history. pirates, headhunters, opportunists, the former domain of sir james brooke, an englishman who came to be known as the white rajah. for a century, generations of the brooke family ruled sarawak as an independent kingdom. they created their own army, the sarawak rangers, who also acted as the rajah's personal guard. tomorrow, i follow the pavement as far as it goes and then it's boats the rest of the way. but first, breakfast, and fortunately, i know exactly where to go. i think i sat at this same table last time. if i look at my life as a continuum, a trail of noodles, going round and round the world until it comes right back to the
same spicy bowl. oh, yeah. that is -- can i say tumescent on cnn? yeah, i'm pretty sure i can. oh yeah, baby. this is just a magical dish. i don't know, it's like two types of noodles i think. chicken, prawn, coconut, chili, but you know the main event of this, it's the broth. the wisdom of the ages is contained in there. it's like super complex. oooh! might need more of this. all right. i'll have another one of these. more.
i mean, it's popular everywhere, but this is alcohol free karaoke. in my experience, you got to be really -- up to do karaoke, but here apparently not. >> alex: no, no because it's the spirit, you know? our people here, they can party anytime. ♪ ♪ >> anthony: so you're coming up river with us? >> alex: yes i am. i am. >> anthony: excited. >> alex: and four days of non connectivity, you know that, right? >> anthony: yes. i'm committed to that. it's the drinking. >> alex: i'm worried about that too, really, seriously, because it's -- i'm way past my drinking days, you know? >> anthony: yeah. >> alex: but i don't think there's an escape from it. so why are you back in kuching after ten years? i mean why kuching when you have got a lot of other places in borneo. >> anthony: that's a good question. i'm revisiting some stuff. just some -- i was in a weird place in my head when i first
came here. i was personally, professionally, everything in my life was changing. i was in this sort of nowhere land between previous life and whatever came next. i'm retracing my steps in a lot of ways to see if it still hurts. >> alex: ah, okay. >> anthony: and also i said, i promised these guys in the village, the chiefs, that i'd come back. well, i made a promise, and i'm going to live up to it. >> alex: yeah. ♪ ♪
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i was a basket case last time i went up this river. my mind, miles away. >> alex: is this how you remember it? tony? >> anthony: yeah. >> alex: exactly the same, huh? ten years later. >> anthony: pretty much, pretty much, yeah. so far. you pick your way up river, like walking up a gradual flight of stairs. getting out often to push. ♪ ♪ with several hours still to go, a stop for lunch. here we are. we're eating right on a beach, too? all right, that's cool. >> alex: looks like bamboo
chicken there. >> anthony: good. >> alex: yamai. >> anthony: it's good, right? >> alex: it's great. they say, "yamai." yamai. that means delicious. >> anthony: yeah how's your iban? >> alex: it's passable, i guess. all basic words. >> anthony: yeah, i gather the plan is to try to get there before dark. >> alex: i don't think it's going to happen. >> anthony: nah, me neither. >> alex: no. ♪ ♪ >> alex: hi.
>> anthony: hello. >> alex: [ foreign language ]. >> anthony: all those years ago, the man who looked after me at the longhouse was named itam. over 80 years old back then, he led us bounding uphill through the jungle, like a young gazelle. he still had the marks on his fingers of a man who had taken heads. in itam's case, presumably, communist guerillas when he'd fought with the british during the malayan insurgency. we drank many shots of rice whiskey together under a bouquet of human skulls, trophies from another time. and i promised i'd come back, for gawai, a big deal in the iban calendar, when friends and relatives return to the longhouse. a lot has changed since the iban tracked commies through the jungle, and much has changed in the ten years since i've been here. itam passed away the year before last, at the age of 92. and the evidence of how
>> alex: this is wonderful. >> emong: you like it? >> alex: this is a great welcome. >> emong: itam's widow --. >> anthony: pardon? >> emong: itam's widow. >> anthony: yes. my respects. my condolence. >> emong: [ foreign language ] she cannot stand longer. >> anthony: of course. thank you. this is my body of proof that i can fight psoriatic arthritis with humira. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further joint damage, and clear skin in many adults.
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i wake up to the sounds of early morning village life. roosters call, the coughing and clearing of lungs as the elders rise to perform their morning chores. the whole village lives here in separate apartments, sharing a communal space that runs the length of the building. some things have noticeably changed. the longhouse i first stayed in has been replaced by a somewhat more modern version. these days, there's electricity from a reliable diesel generator. and while there's no cell phone signal, the plumbing works, though washing in the river is still, the way i see it anyway, the preferable option. ♪ ♪ in this part of the world you live or die by the rice harvest. less so, these days, as timbering has changed, well, everything out here, but
the blood and the awful noise. but that would be a lie. there? straight in? this time i plunge the spear in without hesitation or remorse. [ pig squeeling ] when the pig dies, finally gives it up, i feel only relief. i have been hardened by the last ten years. i don't know what that says about me, but there it is. ♪
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♪ >> anthony: it should be pointed out, gawai isn't just about consuming potentially blinding amounts of alcohol. it's also about food. and one would be well advised to eat a lot, lay down a solid base for the torrent to come. oh, thank you. i feel so guilty. no, no, not at all actually. >> emong: you should not. >> anthony: so delicious. oh no, no, that's good -- all right. >> emong: there's an iban tradition that people, you know, put rice on your plate. >> anthony: keep it coming. >> emong: yeah, yeah, yeah. >> anthony: good.
>> anthony: thank you. >> emong: cheers. >> anthony: cheers. ♪ ♪ as the revelry kicks into high gear, there is nowhere to hide. i know only that if i sit still anywhere within range of hospitality, there will be a river of booze. beer, tuak, which is rough, handcrafted local rice wine, and its more lethal, distilled bigger brother, langkau. then somebody's pouring you
johnny black or jd or vat 69, then -- langkau again, then who knows? you only know it keeps coming until you sag face down onto the hand woven mats and pass out. perfectly acceptable practice by the way. good to be back in paradise. i wake up. i go to sleep. i wake up again. the party's moved down a few doors, but it's still going. this is an experience that will repeat itself again and again for the next three days. one time, it's the ladies still standing, partying like it's 1999, dancing and drinking. another time, it's the old dudes, the village chiefs and elders. then everybody -- elders, women,
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while the party continues up at the longhouse, i've got an appointment. if you were wondering, by the way, if this hurts? two guys hammering away on my sternum with a bamboo club, sharp needles? yes, yes, it hurt a lot. and you could be damn sure if i wasn't on television while it was happening, i'd be whimpering and yelping like a gut shot poodle. >> tattoo artist: there. stand up. >> anthony: all right, good?
very happy guys, thank you. happy gawai. all right, let's party. another tattoo is never going to make me younger, or tougher, or more relevant. it won't reconnect me ten years from now with some spiritual crossroads in my life. no. at this point, i think my body is like an old car. another dent ain't going to make a whole lot of difference. at best, it's a reminder that you're still alive and lucky as hell. another tattoo, another thing you did. another place you've been. a final, long gaze at the river. take in, probably for the last
time in my life, the slow rhythms of the village. one more thing to do. say goodbye to an old friend. ♪ ♪ he was a very strong man. >> kadir: yes. >> anthony: i remember him well, running up hill. faster than all of us. >> kadir: yes. >> anthony: so what do we do? do we leave him a beer? some cigarettes. >> kadir: yes, all right. >> anthony: he would like that? >> kadir: yeah, he'd like.