Batang Ai Iban Longhouse, Sarawak – Day Three

Day Three

The second morning waking up to an orchestral alarm clock of many roosters’ crow was actually funny to me. I tried recording the sound but it’s not clear, otherwise it will definitely be my morning alarm.

The villagers’ morning started similar to the day before with repairing fishing nets, weaving, beading, washing clothes, cleaning up visitors’ room after they left.

IMG_4086

Our last breakfast at the longhouse was simple Sedap instant noodle with hard boiled eggs. Happy and full tummy!

IMG_4089

Before leaving the village, our guide showed us a demonstration of how to use a blowpipe, a traditional weapon for hunting. We got the chance to try it out as well. The blowpipe is made of a type of thick wood where a hole is manually drilled in the centre. the centre hole will be to be straight otherwise the making process will need to start all over again. It was very heavy weapon with a knife tied on the end of the blowpipe. Not only the blowpipe was heavy, I also didn’t have enough air to shoot at the target. 2 trials, failed.

We then continued our more than 4 hours journey through the boat and car with a stop by at Serian for lunch. We managed to reached Kuching earlier than then expected with more time to rest and walk around Kuching town. It was a good experience with great hospitality by the host family and our guide, Nixon. A very big thank you to them!

The 3D2N package cost RM980 per pax inclusive of land transfer, entrance fee to national park, head tax, guide fee, 2 night accommodation at the longhouse and full board meal. Our contribution gives the villagers, our boatmen and host, an opportunity to earn extra income.

If you are interested with this package, you may contact

Escapade Borneo / Adventure Alternative Borneo

Contact person : Danny Voon

website: https://www.facebook.com/EscapadeBorneo

 

 

Batang Ai Iban Longhouse, Sarawak – Day Two

Day Two

I have expected to hear nature’s morning alarm clock, the roosters’ crow but it wasn’t how I expected it to be. It started from about 3-4am with only a few mild crows. So, we could still sleep back. At about 5.30am, never did I expect to hear the whole village’s roosters (sounded like there were 1,000 of them) to crow continuously to each other at the highest pitch possible and it lasted to about 6-7am. You will be wide awake by then unless you have ear plugs.

IMG_4014 IMG_4016 IMG_4083

At early morning, many villagers start their work on farming, making new fishing nets or repair fishing nets, weaving fans and beading. It was also a Sunday where we see many mothers prepared their kids to be sent off to school. Primary school is not too far from the Batang Ai jetty but secondary school is further away. The kids will stay at the hostel during weekdays and only return home during weekends or school holidays.

IMG_4019

We had simple breakfast of bread and egg, coffee or tea, full enough but not too much before our trekking to the waterfall. You can either wear a pair of good grip sandals or kampung “adidas” because we crossed the river most of the time. What is kampung “adidas”? Click here for more information. You can see them being sold at Lachau.

IMG_4025 IMG_4026 IMG_4037

It was about 1.5 – 2 hours trekking through a few different terrain, through tall grass or bushes, dried logged area and mostly rocky or sandy rivers. The day was rather hot but then cooled down during the river walk.

IMG_4024  IMG_4036 IMG_4032

We passed by many plantations such as pineapple, hill paddy, pepper, lime, and different type of ferns where the guide stop to explain what some of it are used by the villagers. For example, pineapple leaves used to make clothes, certain type of ferns are used to bracelet and some branches can be burned as air freshener.

IMG_4045

Upon arriving at Trabong waterfall, the villagers start to prepare our lunch with natural tools such as branches, wood, leaves and bamboo but also with a little help of modern equipment of the pot and grille. It was interesting to see how certain bamboo, trees, branches and leaves are selected and what they are made to be.

IMG_4058

IMG_4067 IMG_4063

We see the use of bamboo to cook chicken in bamboo, bamboo shoots are collected for our dinner, tree branches are used as support for the pot and grille, and peeled branches as chopping board, and leaves as plate. A few forest survival lessons in the pocket.

IMG_4050 IMG_4052

While taking a rest from the trek, our guide shared with us Buah Rambai, which tasted like Duku Langsat but juicer and sweeter. Delicious! While our lunch was being prepared, we went for a dip at the waterfall, a soothing way to relax.

IMG_4072

IMG_4061 IMG_4071

We had one of the most famous Iban food – chicken in the bamboo, accompanying with barbecue pork with paddy rice. The chicken is also tasty but I love more of the gravy from the bamboo chicken that is nice to drink or put over the rice. Tender barbecue pork but quite a lot of fats but no worries, it doesn’t taste like fat at all. There is also chilli sauce for the barbecue pork. It’s very spicy but very delicious. The villagers also brought along a bottle of local whiskey. Whiskey at lunch? *oo ha* ^_^

We walked back to the longhouse after our lunch. We were told that the longhouse is usually very hot at mid-day, so they bring visitors out. As we returned a little earlier, we experienced the heat of the longhouse. We continue to help ourselves looking around and rest until dinner time.

IMG_4076

At dinner, we were served with catfish in gravy, stir-fry Paku vege, stir-fry meat with vege, stir-fry bamboo shoot and fried fish. We were very appreciative to have our guide, who cooked us some special dishes. We were also privileged to tried fresh bamboo shoot pick from afternoon and fresh fish caught by the villagers. Another delicious meal.

There were other visitors who just arrived that evening. So, we watched another round of Ngajat dance before we end the night at the longhouse. *oo ha*

Continue to our last day of this journey here

Batang Ai Iban Longhouse, Sarawak – Day One

Sarawak has a vast traditional culture that it’s different from the other states of Malaysia. Other than the main ethnics of Malay and Chinese, other ethnics like Iban, Bidayuh, and Melanau gave Sarawak the spice of being unique on its own.

There are many eye-opening cultures of each ethnic to see but what most attracted me was the life in a longhouse. A place that I would like to experience for myself which I managed to engaged a 3D2N trip with Adventure Alternative to Batang Ai Iban longhouse, a more than 200km journey from Kuching town.

Day One

We departed from our hotel in Kuching at around 8.15am and traveled  on a car as there were only 3 of us (including the guide) for about 20km (about 30 mins) through the town traffic to our first stop, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, to catch a glimpse of the orang utan in the forest reserve.

IMG_3903

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre established near to 40 years again as a rehabilitation centre that cares for wild animals that are injured or orphaned. This centre has now reached its capacity and the rehabilitation has been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre where you can see orang utans in cages, different from this centre where orang utans live in the wild forest.

For more information of this centre, click here.

IMG_3900

At the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, we were warned that we may not be able to see any orang utan because it was the fruiting season (although towards the end).

Visiting hours (feeding time) :
Morning 8.00-11.00am (9.00am)
Afternoon 2.00-4.00pm (3.00pm)

Ticket price :
Local – Adult RM5, Disabled RM3, and children age 6-18 RM2
Foreigner – Adult RM10, Disabled and children age 6-18 RM5

IMG_3905

At 9.00am, one of the ranger provided a short briefing before we can proceed, advised us on the importance of safety. We then proceed to the viewing platform.

IMG_3906

The initial viewing platform where we patiently waited for about 15 minutes did not attract any orang utan, until we were told by another ranger to head to another location 300m away where orang utan was spotted. Everyone was so excited but we had to be careful walking through the forest walkway which can be narrow, stony and rooty.

IMG_3915

Everyone got alerted to stay at a certain distance when we see the orang utan. They can be aggressive and dangerous. It was a close view, especially for me to sneak through to the front. I was very happy but became scared when the orang utan started to move closer to us. The rangers asked us to move back to keep a safe distance.

We were satisfied to be so close to an orang utan. We then leave to make space for other visitors and continue our long journey ahead. We were told that we were very lucky as the last time an orang utan was spotted was 1 week before. Ah~~ Very grateful, Thank you!

IMG_3926

IMG_3922 IMG_3923 IMG_3924

The journey continued to Serian, a small town about 42km (about 45 minutes) from Semenggoh Widlife Centre. Serian is predominantly a Dayak trading town with a higher population of Bidayuh ethnics and many of the Chinese in this area speaks Hakka dialect. In the centre of the town, you can see a rather big hawker centre and market. There are fresh and cooked food being sold and some I’ve not seen before. This town is famous for durian but I guess it wasn’t the season as we didn’t see any durians sold at the market. There are also some stalls or restaurants outside the hawker centre to get some snacks or food but we did not stop for long as the guide was here to get some ingredients and for us to stretch our legs. We will only have our lunch at the next stop.

IMG_3930

We then took another 82km (about 1.25 hour ) to Lachau, a small town where most of the people will stop by before heading to the longhouse. We had our lunch ordered by our guide at a Chinese restaurant, slightly away from the old town. A lunch of fried rice, fried chicken with tomato sauce, stir-fry cabbage, and green vegetables. It’s simple but good enough for our hungry tummies.

IMG_3931

IMG_3933 IMG_3934

After lunch, we went to the old town where most of the shops and market are. It is actually very near. It is a custom to bring a gift to visit the longhouse, so we bought some snacks for the longhouse. It is recommended that you buy something that can be shared among old and young.

IMG_3935

From Lachau, it is another 120km (about 1.75-2 hours) more to Batang Ai. Before we reach the Batang Ai jetty, we passed by a dam which was constructed in 1982. It was said to be built be the Japanese.

IMG_3937

Following the signing “Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, managed by Hilton” brings us to a chalet where you can use the bathroom first before taking the boat at the jetty for another 1 hour ride.

IMG_3943 IMG_3948 IMG_3952 IMG_3956 IMG_3953 IMG_3954

 

IMG_3946

If you are afraid of sunburn, make sure you cover up before you get on the boat. While enjoying the surroundings, our guide pointed out to us the signage that caught us by surprise. They not only have signage on the road for cars but also by the river for boats.

IMG_3957

Arrived at the river bank, following a pathway up to the longhouse, we see some not so long longhouses, many dogs, cats and chicken walking or lying around. The guide led us to the main longhouse, where our room is.

IMG_4007

Longhouse (locally known as rumah panjang / rumah panjai) is built with wood and covered with zincs as roof. They are built raised above ground where chickens are raised beneath.

IMG_3961 IMG_3962 IMG_3965

IMG_3959 IMG_3960 IMG_3980

There are 4 main areas in a longhouse. Once you enter, you will see the ruai, a common area along the open space in front of many doors. Each door houses a bilik, a room for one family and a dapur, the kitchen area. At the kitchen area, it also has a bathroom and a toilet, separately. It is simple and sufficient but I didn’t expect that we get toilet and shower, which I don’t think every room has them. Be warned that the water is very cold as they are from the mountain. Another area above the ruai, is the sadau, a mezzanine area for storage.

While we settle down and rest at ruai, we observe the villagers resting, chatting there as well. Outside of each door hang each family’s handmade crafts from bead necklace, bracelet to weaved art.

IMG_3977 IMG_3978

We walked around and saw some villagers preparing to go out for fishing. We were told that the best time to fish is in the evening.

IMG_3982

Our dinner was prepared and cooked by our guide with the help of one of the family. It’s a simple but delicious dinner, with one of the famous vegetable in Sarawak, Paku vege (a type of wild fern) and stir-fry chicken with tapioca leaves. The rice used was the hill paddy which I like it as it’s not so sticky and taste less sweet from the common white rice we normally eat.

IMG_3989 IMG_3990

Before the night ended, a welcoming speech by the Chief in Malay with 3 “oo ha” cheers. We were offered to try their locally brewed rice wine, tuak (a little rice colour) and langkau (clear and colourless), and local whiskey. It then followed by an Iban cultural dance performance of the ngajat. The night ended with our handing over our gift of the snacks we bought earlier and we see how the snacks are fairly shared among all families.

Continue to day two here.