Tuesday, July 6, 2010

bidayuh longhouse in the borneo highlands

i had wanted to visit the annah rais longhouse when i went to kuching in april this year but it did not fit in with my schedule. so, this time around, william offered to take me there. ian's grandma and lucy came along.

we drove along the road leading to the borneo highlands resort to get to the annah rais village, a distance of some 48km. the road was built specially to facilitate a safe and pleasant travel for former prime minister mahathir when he went to kuching to officiate at the official opening of the resort. i was told he owns a house at this exclusive resort.

initially, we drove past some buildings housing living quarters, army and police camps, a hospital and a prison but after that we did not see any more concrete buildings.

when we arrived at the annah rais village, we were greeted by two bidayuh women in their traditional costumes. we were each offered a small glass of home-brewed rice wine. the bidayuh longhouse is different from the iban longhouse. it is actually a series of houses built attached or very close to one another. the open area between the two rows of houses was covered with bamboo slabs. building materials consist mainly of bamboo, timber and the leaves of the nipah palm (attap).

among the things we saw which reminded me of the past were the rubber sheets hung up to dry and the machine that was used for pressing these rubber sheets. we also stopped to watch this elderly woman weave a basket using material found around the village.

although they still use firewood to so some of their cooking and they retain some traditional art forms, there is clear evidence that they are very much in touch with the globalised world in the form of satellite dishes. most of the able-bodied young people have moved to the urban areas, leaving the very young and old in the village.

some relics of the past are still lying around in one of the houses. the skulls of some victims of the headhunters are still being exhibited, kept in a metal cage.

another touted attraction within the village is the hotspring. we had to travel about 800m to get to see the hotspring, which is located by the side of the river. although we could see bubbles coming to the surface, the water was not as warm as we had expected.


小洋 said...

I was always under the impression that the Ibans were the only headhunters in Borneo. It's news to me that the Bidayuhs were once headhunters also!
Are you sure those are the skulls of human beings and not orang utang?

yg said...

xiao yang, thanks for your comment. yes, they are human skulls. according to one source, the skulls of the enemies killed by the bidayuh warriors were hung up in the baruk.