tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN April 23, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
>> when i first went up this river, i was sick with love. the bad kind, the fist around your heart kind. i ran far, but there was no escaping it. it followed me up river all the way. that was ten long years ago. a previous episode of a previous series in a previous life. yet here i am again, heading up
>> last time i saw all this, i think it's fair to say i was at a turning point in my life. i promised some people i'd come back, and i am back. my life has changed a lot. how much have their lives changed? kuala lumpur. happy to be here, but brimming with mixed emotions. 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 straight chinese food i've been missing. first order of business, dinner. been on a plane for, like, i don't know, this long. very long. saw, like, five mark wahlberg films. i can't tell you how excited i am about the prospect of getting some black pepper crab, and some pork gladed 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, but why i'm here, what my mission is, what i expect to find, basically me tracing my steps and all that. we'll talk about that later.
right now, noodles. good. this place is the most excellent. oh, look at the greasy, fatty, yes, come to daddy. i'm a bad man. this is, like, a random restaurant, with a minnie mouse logo and their food is unbelievably good. oh, yeah. black pepper crab. right here. reveal yourself to me. hot, hot, hot. oh, yeah. wow. all right. the frenzy's over. now eat in a more relaxed phase.
kuala lumpur rises up out of steamy, equatorial jungle, malaysia's capital city. a chaotic, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural metropolis. this is where you start out when fulfilling a decade-old promise to your ex-head hunter friends to return for the annual gawain rice harvest festival. what's interesting the last time i was there, the old guys with their tattoos and rings on their fingers. >> yeah. a lot of them have passed on. >> i hear no more skulls. they made them put the skulls away. >> once enjoyed a truly formidable reputation as trackers, warriors, and ritualistic takers of heads.
they were and continue to be wanderers. valuing a tradition where every tribesman was set out from the longhouse of his birth to travel, learn, to bring something back. each tattoo he gets over the represts a different experience, a different journey. >> just to signify knowledge and the wealth they brought back to the longhouse, what you probably would want to get -- >> like that. >> since last i saw you, you got this. >> it's still there. >> still there. ten years ago at his shop, borneo ink, he tattooed me be 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. >> just be careful of the langkow. >> yes, they had it in every type of bottle. this is clear sort of cloudy liquid with particles in it. >> sometimes they put weird stuff inside. my dad used to tell me they take mosquito oil and leave it inside. >> a mosquito what? >> coil. >> like the pesticide? >> yeah. just make it, like, stronger. >> i would imagine so. >> that's a natural staple, gawai, usually drinking, passing out, waking up, eating, drinking some more, passing out again then getting up and drinking some more. yeah. you're going to have fun, man. >> wow. all right.
♪ so i'm headed upriver again. >> yes, sorry i can't be there. >> i promised them, i said i'm going back. >> about nine years late on your promise, but -- >> nine years late. >> that happens. you know, promises come liberally. >> it was david magee who first took me up to the longhouse. on that previous trip we met at aunty aini's on the outskirts. >> everything moves exponentially. feels like some things remain exactly the same, some things haven't changed at all. this place is certainly one. >> 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 restaurant specializing in beloved village or country classics. all of them prepared with a staggering finesse and precision. this is delicious, delicious food. >> welcome. it's been so long. oh, my. you still look as handsome as ever. all right. >> well let's pick up right where we left off which started with this. >> help yourself. >> thank you. >> you're going to have the roast beef and poached egg and our favorite. >> so good to be back. >> i love watching you guys eat. >> who taught you to cook? who was the good cook in your family? >> 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. >> oh, wow. >> yeah. there's no teaching malay cooking here. it just comes from your grandma's kitchen, your mom's kitchen. 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 where the chili paste frying in the pan is ready for not. it's from here. basically it's from here. >> this food is so perfect. the flavors are so perfect. it's so delicious. ♪ mountains, and racetracks.ve conquered highways, and now much of that same advanced technology
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capital. it's a sleepy city with a colorful 19th century boys adventure story history. pirates, head hunters, opportunists. the former domain of sir james brook, an englishman who came to be known as the white raja. for a century, generations of the brook family ruled sarawak has an independent kingdom. they created their own army, the sarawak rangers who also acted as raja's personal guard. tomorrow i follow the pavement as far as it goes then it's boats the rest of the way. but first, breakfast. and fortunately, i know exactly where to go. i sat at this same table last time. 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, pretty sure i can. oh, yeah, baby. it's a magical dish. i don't know. it's two types of noodles i think. chicken, prawn, coconut, chili. you know, the main event of this is the broth. the wisdom of the ages is contained in there. it's, like, super complex. might need more of this. all right. i'll have another one of these. more. it's the broth. the broth. look at it.
it's popular everywhere, but this is alcohol-free karaoke. >> yes. >> in my experience, you have to be really [ muted ] up to do karaoke, but here apparently not. >> no, no. it's the spirit. our people here, they can party any time. ♪ >> so you're coming upriver with us? >> yes, i am. i am. >> exciting. >> four days of non-connectivity, you know that? >> yes. i'm committed to that. it's the drinking. >> i'm worried about that, too, seriously, because i'm past my drinking days, you know, but i don't think there's an escape from it. why are you back in kuching
after ten years? all the places in borneo? >> it'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 to a lot of this to see if it still hurts. >> ah, okay. >> and also i said i'd promise 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. >> yeah. ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> is this how you remember it, tony? >> yeah. >> exactly the same, huh? ten years later? >> pretty much. yeah. so far. you pick your way upriver, like walking up a gradual flight of stairs, getting out often to push. with several hours still to go, a stop for lunch. there we are. we're even right on a beach, too. all right. that's cool. >> looks like bamboo chicken there. ♪
>> all those years ago the man who looked after me at the longhouse was named itom. 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'd taken heads, in his case, presumably communist guerillas when he fought during the malay insurgency. we drank shots of whiskey together under human skulls, trophies of the time. i promised i'd come back. a big day on their calendar, when friends and relatives return to the longhouse. a lot has changed since he tracked comis through the jungle and much has changed in the ten years since i've been here. itom passed away the year before last at the age of 92, and the
[ speaking foreign language ] yes. my respect, my condolence. [ speaking foreign language ] >> she cannot stand longer, of course. >> thank you. ♪ allergies distracting you? when your symptoms start... doctors recommend taking ...non-drowsy claritin every day of your allergy season. claritin provides powerful, non-drowsy 24 hour relief...
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of years and a lot of miles. i wake up to the sounds of early morning village life. roosters call. the coughing and clearing of lungs as the elders rise to do 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, the 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 traditions run deep, and in gawai, the harvest festival was and remains like christmas and new year's rolled into one. [ thunder ] we will need pork for gawai. and unfortunately, that means a pig must die. more awkwardly, custom, and my personal history in this village demands, once again, that i do the job.
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>> 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 torment to come. oh, thank you. i feel so guilty. no, no, not at all, actually. >> should not. >> so delicious. all right. >> tradition that people put rice on their plate.
♪ >> welcome back. >> thank you. 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 hand crafted local rice wine and its more lethal distilled brother. then somebody's pouring you johnny black or j.d. or vat 69. then who knows.
you only know it keeps coming until you sag facedown on 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, children, visiting relatives and their families from kuala lumpur and kuching and abroad, wherever circumstances, the bajali took them. the party expands and contracts according to mysterious patterns that i am in no shape to discern. ♪ ♪ each day was fueled by thorough preparation for events to come. well somewhere along the way, emily went right on living. but you see, with the help of her raymond james financial advisor, she had planned for every eventuality. ...which meant she continued to have the means to live on... ...even at the ripe old age of 187. life well planned.
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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 uphill. 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.
♪ >> anthony: what does it mean to be strong? it implies hardness, inflexibility. okinawa is a place with a fighting tradition. a history of ferocious resistance. but it's nothing like what you might think. not at all. ♪ i took a walk through this beautiful world ♪ ♪ felt the cool rain on my shoulder ♪ ♪ found something good