Of all the tribes and indigenous people we met, The Urak Lawoi led the most simple life. They do not have much, yet they appeared to live happy and fortuitous lives. They were a hardworking and humble community of people who seemed honest and sincere.
Their elementary villages were dotted around the area, one located against an impressive backdrop of vertically steep white limestone.
As always with the filming of each episode, I took a multitude of photographs when I could, hoping to capture an insight of their daily lives. It was difficult to include the vastness of the limestone rocks and their tiny houses within one frame, as their proportions were on opposite ends of the scale. This land was awe-inspiring to us, as we bopped about in our long boats admiring it from a distance.
The sincere, weathered faces and kind natures of the Urak Lawoi reminded me of my Malaysian relatives. Their costumes were ornate, colorful and lovingly tailored — it was such a privilege to thank them for their hospitality by giving them traditional materials that they could use to make more. For me, the amazing thing about this tribe was the stark contrast of their lives to the luxurious food they ate. They dined on lobster, squid and crabs — dishes that we pay a small fortune for in London!
The food was very simply prepared at the welcome dinner, indicating that their palettes must have been very modest. I think this episode posed more of a challenge for the chefs as to how to impress the locals. It was clear that the native judges in all locations preferred to vote for food that reminded them of home, rather than going for something unusual. Michael often wanted to incorporate his Greek style into his dishes, so I was really keen to see what he would do with the calamari he caught. I think Madison was clever not to over indulge on the cooking of the lobster. Its natural simple flavors, if cooked to perfection, would have been impressive enough!
Kayne’s lateral thinking during the Native Challenge was both unexpected and brilliant, although, in this episode he would have been happy hunting any protein, since they all came from the surrounding waters. This competition required the chefs to maintain the innocence of their main ingredients, and having tasted all three dishes, I think they all hit the mark!