Friday, November 17, 2006

Traditional Bidayuh longhouse accessible by road

The native population of Sarawak consists of various tribes among which are the Bidayuh. Some of them still live in traditional longhouses, often deep in the jungles accessible only by long boat trips along rivers and/or trekking through the jungle.

At the foothills of the Penrissen Range, in the Padawan district there is a Bidayuh village (the Annah Rais Bidayuh village) in which is an authentic well-preserved Bidayuh longhouse which is open to visitors. The village is accessible by a 1 and a half to 2 hour drive by road from Kuching (literal translation: Cat City), the capital of Sarawak. The journey to Annah Rais village is a scenic, winding drive. You may even choose to visit a pepper plantation if you like. The journey also takes you pass by the Semenggoh Wildlife Rahabilitation centre , where you get to see huge Orang utan coming out from the forest during their feeding time at 9 am. To visit, a permit must be obtained from The National Park Booking Office (Kuching) Sarawak Tourist Information Centre, Jalan Masjid, 93400 Kuching. Tel: 082 248088 Fax: 082 256031. At the moment, entrance is free. Visiting hours are from 0830 - 12.00 Noon and 1400 - 1600 hours daily.

If you are pressed for time, a day trip to the Annah Rais longhouse is possible. There will be an admission charge of RM5 (USD1.37) per person. The collections go to the village community.

The traditional longhouse there is made of wood and bamboo and is home to about 120 families. Along the length of the longhouse is a verandah made of bamboo floor. The verandah is often used to dry rice, pepper and rubber sheets spread on mats, and also to conduct various activities like Sunday school for children.

Inside the longhouse is a baruk (headhouse) which in the bad old days are used to store the skulls of their victims and also as a community hall for meetings and also for settling disputes. You need not fear for your head because their head hunting days are over, and the baruk is no longer in use but there is still a display of skulls there from the olden days.

An enterprising Edward Gunuii has set up a small bar-cum-souvenir shop guests are entertained and where you can buy handicrafts make by village folks and traditional Bidayuh musical instruments. Jungle trekking, river rafting, picnics and visits to hot spring and waterfall can also be arranged. Guests can also get a taste of traditional delicacies such as chicken cooked in bamboo and learn traditional dances.
They have a homestay program if a short day trip does not satisfy you. A 2-day 1-night stay will cost RM180 (USD49.28). A longer stay of 5-days and 4-nights will set you back RM460 (USD125.94).

The best time to visit is during the Gawai in June, when they celebrate thanksgiving for a successful harvest.

you can visit The semenggoh Wildlife Rahabilitation centre , where you get to see huge Orang utan coming out from the forest during their feeding time at 9 am.

The best time to visit longhouse is during the Gawai ie in June, when they celebrate Thanks Giving for a successful harvest. Normal time you just get to see the longhouse and not much cultural activities like Traditional Dance and so forth. Be prepared to swim in the Clearwater river in this areas and there is a hot spring here too.

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