Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bintulu & longhouses in Tatau River

I was in Bintulu recently for a couple of days for work. FYI, Bintulu is an up-and-coming town in the central northern region of Sarawak, mostly noted for the established industries and factories that has been operating there for a number of years now. I was visiting longhouses along Batang Tatau ("batang" is river in the local Iban dialect) upstream of a little cowboy-ish outpost called Kelebuk (after a small stream that flows through it). We drove from Bintulu to Kelebuk (via the junction to Samarakan/Sg. Emas Road) which took us only about 40 minutes followed by a boatride upstream from Kelebuk. With the boat we went as far up as the confluence of the two tributaries of Batang Tatau, i.e. Sungai Anap and Sungai Kakus ("sungai" is also river in the local Malay dialect) and made some pit-stops at several longhouses, among them Rumah Rinkai and Rumah Suran ("rumah" is house in Iban dialect). The photo you see here is that of Rumah Rinkai. In another set of photos that I will upload later on you will be able to see that - for those of you who have been to traditional Iban longhouses before - these longhouses no longer have hanging skulls from the ceiling or the traditional handmade wooden floorings of wide, canopyless "ruai" or verandah. Most of the longhouses along Batang Tatau have managed to modernise themselves in the past 5-7 years due to transportation and nearby developments. If you want to see traditional longhouses, pay a visit to Sarawak Cultural Village in Damai, Santubong (30 minutes drive from Kuching City) or to the longhouses in Batang Skrang; these are especially catered for tourists. My dad's longhouse somewhere in Jagoi, Kanowit would be a modern one as well since they've got roads built due to oil palm plantations growing like mushrooms in that region. For more info on longhouses and those you can visit, go to the "Useful for travellers" link I have put up in my list. More photos coming up soon.

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