Night in a longhouse

Belaga Travel Blog

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Tropical Rainforest. Amazon of Borneo

So 3 of us became 2. Uncertainty of next destination whereabouts and his work commitment made Naj made his way back to Sibu. I purposely didn’t plan anything, just following my feet.We waited express boat from Sibu to pick us up in Kapit heading to Belaga. Around half 9 the boast left Kapit to Belaga for another 4 hour journey through Batang Rajang River against the river flow. Belaga is the best place to explore Borneo interior.

There are many Kenyah and Kayan longhouses along the Balui and Belaga rivers( where Batang Rajang River ends and branch into Balui and Belaga), and along the Rajang river are the Punan, Sekapan, Kejaman and Tanjung longhouses.
Joseph in the middle, his wife next to him and their neighbours.

We didn’t know where to start upon arriving Belaga Town. The town that comprises of 2 rows of shop houses. Haven’t had lunch, we found Malay restaurant called Hasbee Enterprise, the only Malay food I could have in town. Turns out the owner knows someone that arranging longhouse experience tour. It was Daniel Levoh, who’s name exactly mentioned by Lonely Planet,Gerrit been carrying all along.

We finished our lunch and walked behind the shophouse row to his building’ Daniel Corner. As always this people trying on suggest the itineraries that reimburse him the maximum pay out he could. Typically 4 days guides of 2 nights longhouse experience, boatride to Bakun Damn-the remotest Borneo interior of hydroelectric lake the size of Singapore, and 4x4 drive out to Miri town cost us RM800(€160) each! That’s too much money I have no desire to spend.
Ulu Tribe longhouse. look at the length of the porch
So we negotiated other itinerary that it down to 1 night long house experience at Orang Hulu Long house (Upriver Long house tribe) and trekking to deep forest to another interior longhouse and complimentary swimming passes at the pool ( or so that I understood). Well that cost RM150 (€30) Gerrit and I pretty much happy with it.
So we dropped our bag at his building.And picked up necessary items for an overnight such as mosquito net, torchlight, Gerrit mosquito stick (like deodorant stick). Daniel has been remodeling his 2 storey building to house a dorm type accommodation to cater this sort of remote Borneo experience. We had a peek at the rooms. Later our guide took us in wooden longboat , drove for for 15 minutes reaching Rumah panjang Orang Ulu (upriver tribe longhouse).

The distinct features of longhouse are long porch and big including extended family staying in the same block.
Rumah Panjang
But after getting inside Joseph house(the host family) I feel like that’s not much different than any other timber house on stilt found in Malaysian Malay villagers. The host family, Joseph his wife and 2 kids(one of them staying in boarding school during weekedays) been living in the longhouse for couple of years. The 20 years old previous one located next to current one was burned down by unknown cause. We were sleeping in Joseph daughter’s room. Later on the longhouse chief name Lutep join us chatting. Gerrit continued wandered around the house whislt I was escorted by Lutep to give portion of our tour payment to the in-need family as a donation. While strolling down the long porch, one of the occupants invited me inside his long overdue renovated house and had brief conversation and the wife brought drinks (tradition to serve guest coming over) , that later on I realized the convesation swayed into a political agenda LOL.
Upriver Tribe longhouse
What he’s been saying was the current government didn’t listen to the voice of Orang Ulu (Upriver tribe) for infrastructure needed like proper tarmac road. They are loyal to the government but in return didn’t get what they been asking prior of election. Empty promises!

Whilst I was from Peninsula Malaysia, and presumed I’m there to help them, he eagerly asked me to write a report of their life condition to Malaysian Prime Minister LOL.So Mr Najib Tun Razak, if you reading this, please fulfill your promises to the Orang Ulu Tribe ! You have taken major part of Borneo to built Bakun Hydroelectric but not even a tiny electrical power been channeled to the longhouse. They been using generator! The only background noise that forms a life in the dark.

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Tropical Rainforest. Amazon of Bor…
Tropical Rainforest. Amazon of Bo…
Joseph in the middle, his wife nex…
Joseph in the middle, his wife ne…
Ulu Tribe longhouse. look at the l…
Ulu Tribe longhouse. look at the …
Rumah Panjang
Rumah Panjang
Upriver Tribe longhouse
Upriver Tribe longhouse
photo by: herman_munster