Borneo, Sarawak: Orangutangs, Long Houses and wild natural beaches.

We are spending our last day in Borneo; we have loved it here on this beautiful island. We are in the south in Sarawak state which used to be a country in its own right. On our first day here we hired William a local taxi driver who took us an hour’s drive away to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to see the orang-utans. The centre rehabilitates orang-utans and other monkeys that have been orphaned or illegally caged. Once rehabilitated the animals are set free in to their natural habitat; but outside of the forests fruiting season several orang-utans return independently to the centre to feed from fruits etc left out on wood platforms in various areas of the forest. The food is put out at 9am in the morning and again at approx 2-3pm, so when visiting at these times there is the chance (but no guarantee) of seeing orang-utans in their natural habitat. We visited early and were privileged to see a mother and baby and the largest orang-utan called Ritchie! Ritchie is absolutely huge; they estimate that he is around 6-7 times stronger than a human. I definitely wouldn’t mess with him!

After visiting the orang-utans William drove us further in to Sarawak to Kampung Annah Rais; a small village famous for its traditional Bidayuh long house. Bidayuh are one of the tribes in Borneo. A long house is a gigantic wooden structure built on stilts where the entire population of the village live under ‘one roof’. This roof is added on to as the population grows, with lots of separate rooms leading on to one long communal veranda which is made of bamboo. There are also many small bridges in the village to cross the river; some of these extremely narrow bamboo structures held together by rope and only a foot width wide. Dave and I braved a crossing – pretty rickety but good fun, wouldn’t fancy walking across a much higher one though!

Modernisation has reached Annah Rais with tin roofs replacing local palm roofs in many areas of the longhouse and satellite dishes providing access to television.

I’m allowed at least one art-wanky photo every now and again!
Dave crossing a more sturdily built bridge in the village.

Human skulls left on display in the elders meeting room to demonstrate the ancient tribal methods of head shrinking or burning of your tribal enemies. Thankfully a practise long since abandoned.

We found a fantastic place to stay called The Village House which is 40 minutes drive away from the nearest city called Kuching so we are out in the scenic countryside at the foot of the Santubong mountains. It is more like a very personal guest house with rooms built up on stilts around a beautiful compound with an amazing pool and lots of palms and local plants. It is a 20 minute walk from the Kampong (village) of Santubong and 2 minutes walk to a beautiful natural wild beach at the end of the little road outside the private compound of the guest house.

Local kids showing off their dancing skills near the beach on our first evening. They are huge fans of a Malay band called The Shuffle Boys. I asked them what they were called and they said The Shuffle Boys 2…I think we need to suggest a more imaginative name for them.

Kampong Santubong.

We are staying on this lane, the beach is at the end of it.

Dave going for gold in the swimming pool.

1 Comment

  1. So loved your comments and lovely phots….My husband, my 81 year old mother and I will be catching a ship in Hong Kong and cruising to Kuta Kinabalu and Kuching (among other places) and hoping to see the orang-utans in the wild. This should be the highlight of our trip! I so appreciated your notes on the best times to view them.We look forward to exploring Kuching and the neighbouring areas that you mentioned, however I am concerned that the bridge crossing(s) will prove too daunting for my Mum, even though she’s fit and very mobile!We also visit Nha Trang and Halong Bay in Vietnam and then Singapore.Warm regards,Vardi,melbourneaustralia


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