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ElectricBoogaloo

S06.E06: Borneo

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After a 10 year absence, Bourdain abides by his promise to return, dining on chicken rendang for a reunion meal at Aunty Aini’s, taking a boat ride to Kuching, traveling back to the longhouse at Entalau to attend the Gawai Rice festival, and acquiring a new hand-tapped tattoo, prefaced by a stop in “street food paradise” Kuala Lumpur for pork noodles and black pepper crab.

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Ha, no kidding. That was a lot of drinking! I love that it's totally fine to just pass out wherever you are in the longhouse.

 

I wish for the old chief's sake that Bourdain had made the trip back before he died. The sad thing is that Bourdain has the resources to go back. He could have gone on the Travel Channel's dime or CNN's dime any time before now and he just didn't. I'm not saying that the chief died of a broken heart while waiting for Bourdain to come back, but he had the means and money to make it happen more easily than I could have and he chose not to until ten long years later. At the end of the episode he said that was probably the last time he would see the village so I wonder why he doesn't want to go back.

 

I am not a vegan or animal rights activist, but I still felt bad for that pig. First it was trapped in that small wooden enclosure for who knows how long, then they had to saw open the box to get it out just so they could stuff it into that net and carry it on a stick to be carried down to the river. I eat meat because it's delicious and I know that in order for that to happen, animals have to die. But it just seemed like an unnecessary amount of stress and terror for the pig when they could have just stuck a spear in it while it was still in the box. Heh, I guess on the other hand, at least this way the other pig didn't have to witness his piggy friend's murder. I imagine the second pig in the adjacent box squealing, "Fred? Dude? Are you okay? What the hell is going on over there?"

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I saw the first Borneo episode 10 years ago - It's hard to believe it was that long ago.  I've been watching Tony since his very first season on TV!  I thought he could have gone back sooner but who knows when someone's going to die?  I don't think the chief meant all that much to him, to be honest, and I don't think the chief cared either.  I wouldn't blame him for not wanting to go back, to be honest, either.  It's a pretty rough-cut place.  I think the major reason he came back was for the reasons he stated - To revisit a state of mind he had at the time he first went there to get some perspective on it.  Now that he got that out of his system he has no more reason to return.  I also thought Tony looked a little too thin and gnarly in this episode.  I'm wondering what that's all about.

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Time slips away pretty fast the older you get. Or at least it seems that way to me and many of my friends agree. Ten years can go in a flash. I'm not clear on Tony's timeline but I think since then he's gotten married and had a daughter, switched from the Travel Channel to CNN, started working out, and aged noticeably.

 

The trip to that village clearly could have been an easier physical journey, but he chose to take the river route. He has a spiritual connection to the place, and sometimes we're a bit afraid to revisit the past because perhaps it won't be as we remember it. There may have been other emotional issues he wasn't ready to revisit until the 10-year mark. Yeah, maybe he thought the old chief would live forever since he seemed so strong when Tony first visited him. I wish they could have shown footage -- at least from the most significant moments -- from that first visit, but I guess CNN didn't want to pay for it. I don't remember it, haven't caught a rerun, so all his talk about state of mind and such just seemed vague, and he never really explained where he was then vs where he is now. I got the jist but still want to see the first visit. 

 

This was the first episode where I thought that maybe he will do only one or two more seasons. He probably will be ready then (financially and otherwise) to enjoy simply traveling with his family and not having to deal with planning and research, cameras, schedules, crew. He's got pals around the world now and never has to worry about dining alone in a foreign country!

Edited by RedHawk

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Interesting episode, though it was frustrating that Bourdain kept referring to his previous state of mind 10 years ago, but declined to elaborate on it. I get it, it's personal, but why harp on it so much when this is being produced for an audience to watch? He really treats this show like a personal video journal, and in some cases it takes away from the show because it becomes watching him experience thing without having to elaborate on it for the viewers.

 

And as a vegetarian, I had to leave the room during the pig slaughter. Though it personally disgusts me that just about every episode of his show includes hunting/slaughter of an animal, I do appreciate that he doesn't shy away from it. Many places in the world are a lot more in touch with where their meat comes from than here in the US. And I can acknowledge he is a carnivore willing and able to kill his own food. So that's something.

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Interesting episode, though it was frustrating that Bourdain kept referring to his previous state of mind 10 years ago, but declined to elaborate on it. I get it, it's personal, but why harp on it so much when this is being produced for an audience to watch? He really treats this show like a personal video journal, and in some cases it takes away from the show because it becomes watching him experience thing without having to elaborate on it for the viewers.

 

I think he presumes that his ardent fans will know what he's referring to, although obviously not everyone goes that far back with him and I think he forgets that.  I think he had just gone through a particularly bad divorce when he filmed that show, plus he had just embarked upon a new TV series (No Reservations).  I know he went through a "dark" period then, which earned him a reputation for being a "bad boy" in a way with a bad attitude.  It wasn't until just after that when he met his current wife, had a child and became good friends with Eric Ripert that his life turned around 180 degrees.  I remember him joking around when his daughter was a little girl that he was "all rainbows and unicorns" now, LOL.

Time slips away pretty fast the older you get. Or at least it seems that way to me and many of my friends agree. Ten years can go in a flash. I'm not clear on Tony's timeline but I think since then he's gotten married and had a daughter, switched from the Travel Channel to CNN, started working out, and aged noticeably.

 

In Tony's case he seems to have aged 20 years in the past 10.  My husband is his age and I'm 2 years younger and we have not aged nearly that much.  My husband says it's all the "drugs and hard living" catching up to him.  Whatever.

Edited by Snarklepuss
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I've had similar experiences of revisiting places years later after you've grown and developed so much since the last time. It can be extremely overwhelming and emotionally hard especially if your mind state then compared to how it is now are very different (better or worse, just different). Someone once wrote that travel is like going back in time and it really is in some ways. Your brain tries to match up what you knew about the place to your current state and the situation; it's not always great. Also, Tony has changed a lot in the last ten years. Ten years ago, he was in a bad place and probably didn't want to revisit Borneo especially since things were going well or moving very fast with No Reservations and his family life.

 

I've followed Bourdain on and off since the early 2000s and he looks different now. I'm glad he's getting into shape though and I don't think he's actually drinking that much. He's never had a "soft" face to be honest. It's always been rough, but now that he has lost weight, his wrinkles show even more.

 

I do like that the show gets very personal. It's not about the tourism and there is a sense of journey with episodes like this.

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