Let’s get away from it all…

After our awesome prawn noodle feast, I drove my friend from Singapore and his friends all the way to Kanowit to the Dayak/Iban longhouse at Rantau Kemiding. I’ve blogged about this place before here and also here – the longhouse where I would bring anyone who would be interested and my Singaporean visitors were very keen on the idea.

When we got there, it was very quiet as everyone was probably sleeping after the partying the night before. The tuai rumah (headman) said that they had their own countdown to usher in the new year, 2015 and at midnight, they played and sang Abba’s Happy New Year. Oooo…interesting! That certainly would be a great change from the traditional Auld Lang Syne, don’t you think? I even saw some traces of fireworks and firecrackers that had been played and empty beer bottles. Hmmmm!!! It must have been quite a party! I am pretty sure we would have had a lot more fun had we driven here the day before to stay the night and join in the festivities.

I brought everyone into the tuai rumah‘s bilik (house, though literally meaning room) and they were amazed by the size – much bigger than their cubicles in their HDB flats, they said. This was the living room…

Longhouse - living room

…and these were the traditional musical instruments…

Musical instruments 1

…that probably were used for the New Year’s Eve party…

Musical instruments 2

…and they had yet to put them away.

They are a licensed homestay operator here at this longhouse so on one side of the corridor to the dining room and kitchen and everything else at the back, there were their occupants’ own bed rooms and on the other side, they had these rooms…

Homestay room 1

…specially reserved for any visitors who are staying there…

Homestay room 2

…on one of the packages available. You can check their website for the details on what is in store for you if you come and visit and I did gather from the tuai rumah that they charge RM120.00 (around SGD46.00) per head, inclusive of accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner (eating all their exotic traditional ethnic delights) and some cultural activities and presentations. There are other activities available but anyone interested in those would be charged accordingly.

My Singaporean friends were enthralled by what they would be able to get on those packages available and were anxious to make another trip to Sibu and come and stay here to get away from it all and to experience their exotic ethnic way of life. If anyone is interested in doing the same, you can call the tuai rumah himself, Mr. Benjamni Aki at +6013-8823076 or email him at ben_8845@yahoo.com for further details.

For one thing, there is free wifi here…

Free wifi

…and you can make use of one of the 15 computers available at their computer centre…

Computer centre

…if you are not bringing your own laptop along. Isn’t that great?

After our brief visit, we headed to the town for the special red kampua noodles

Kanowit red kampua
*My friend’s photo on Facebook*

…which they all enjoyed very much. When we had had our fill, it started to get cloudy so we quickly made our way back to Sibu…but the sky was clear when we got to the Durin Bridge (Jambatan Batang Rejang) and they insisted upon stopping at the durian stall by the roadside where they got to try the buah pakan/pakon

The orange/golden ones

 – the orange/golden ones, another variety of the wild durians that we can find in Sarawak but unfortunately, the few that they had were not really good. The man was very nice and explained to us about the different types of buah isu (the green ones with the long spiky thorns)…

Durian seller at Durin Bridge

…and according to him, these were called buah isu taik anak which is not a very nice name considering that it actually means ” a child’s shit”. These were different from the ones they tried at the Sibu Central Market and I did sample a bit too. I would say they were quite similar to those durians that we are more familiar with but there was a distinct difference in the overall taste…and I quite liked it, unlike those that I had tried before that I thought had an unpleasant smell, something like kerosene.

We moved on right after this and I dropped them off at one of the mega malls in town while I went home for a nap and a rest before coming back a few hours later to pick them up and send them back to the hotel. They agreed with me that there wasn’t anything much really at the mall and that was exactly why I never brought any of my visiting friends here before. They even went to try the fast food franchise there that I had never set foot upon myself and they were somewhat disappointed with what they had.

It had been a long day but no, it wasn’t over yet. We agreed to meet for dinner that night but of course, that would be in the next post…(to be continued)

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Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

28 thoughts on “Let’s get away from it all…”

  1. I’ve heard about the longhouses. I’d love to visit one some day. The bedspread are so colorful and pink! My daughter would love them. The rooms look nice, pleasant and clean.

    The noodles, my daughter loves those. When we were under the weather I made a creamy chicken noodle dish for her and a veggie version for myself. I gave my father some of the chicken noodle since he was sick too and my my was working. They both said it was really good. Chicken noodle and colds seem to go together for some reason.

    We have a similar fruit to the durian here on our property, but I know it’s not durian and it’s much smaller. I think it’s some form of apple.

    Ahhhhh!!!! Glad you noticed the bedsheets and brought that up! We can buy very nice sets these days, cheap…but I think they made their own on purpose – like in the good ol’ days, more authentic that way. Long ago, people would by the cheap made-in-China cotton by the bale to make the bedsheets, pillow and bolster cases…and even our pajamas! My mum used to do that…and any leftovers, she would stitch them together to make patchwork quilts for use as blankets.

    I wonder what fruit that is? Custard apple or soursop. We call the latter durian Belanda (Dutch durian), dunno why. Cures cancer, they say…or some health benefits.

  2. the free wifi will definitely be much-utilised, i think! 🙂 i like the narration in this post, leading up to the durian explanation! 🙂

    In this present day and age, I wouldn’t be surprised. Thanks for the compliment.

  3. I would like to stay here for authentic long house experience, though it is a modern, comfortable version.

    Yup, time changes…not quite the same anymore. Went to one in 1969 – had to go to the toilet and theirs had no door! Good thing it was a fair distance away from the longhouse proper.

  4. It must be an eye opener for them to visit the long house. I hope your guests wish will come true – that they get to visit the long house again and stay there next time to experience life in a long house.

    Yes, my friend says many of his friends are keen…so I would expect them here in the not-too-distant future. He would be back in Sibu soon, that’s for sure – still wants to come and try all the things he has not tried yet.

  5. RM120 per person inclusive breakfast lunch dinner plus some activities, very good deal.. I would love to visit there someday..Oooo special red kampua noodles, first time I see.. Usually just the plain ones with char siew.. Looks spicy, but bet they must be good 😀

    First time? I’ve blogged about this a number of times already. Maybe you’re not very observant…or you’ve forgotten.

  6. Kampua got its red hue due to char siew oil? so how does a child’s shit taste like? eehehehehe

    That’s right, char siew oil…and they do not add too much as in the case of some kolo mee in Sibu or even in Kuching – that would make it too sweet…and too red! They certainly can get it right here, just perfect! Wanna come and try the child’s shit? Bet you’d love it…and would be begging for more!!! 😀

  7. Wah. They have been to an actual longhouse. Interesting. Quite reasonable price for homestay. As long as there is a free wifi, I don’t mind staying them for few nights.

    You haven’t? I know many local Sarawakians are the same, just like you. I wonder if there are nice ones in Kapit where your in-laws are – further inland, may be different. Hah!!!! Addicted to those modern gadgets and appliances, eh? 😉

  8. I’d like to try a bowl of those noodles, but am happy to stay far away from those durians! 😉

    You’re not alone. My friend’s hubby (Kiwi) doesn’t like it either – his missus forced him…and it was like taking poison! Poor thing! 😀 😀 😀

  9. An interesting trip… and shame on me, never been to a longhouse. I like the living room, so clean & nicely arranged. No matter, kolo mee or kampua mee, I prefer to have normal ones (without red).

    Me too…but this one here is different – not too much to make it so sweet and red like some kolo mee, just enough to enhance the taste. My Trengganu friends said this was the best…better than any kampua that they had in Sibu…or kolo mee in Kuching when they went there earlier (dunno where they went though – had laksa in their hotel and said not nice. Tsk! Tsk!)

    Ya…you’re like many local Sarawakians – so “patriotic” – Sarawak for Sarawakians and what not…but dunno shit about their own local cultures.

  10. Pls don’t recommend malls to me when i visit you, Singapore already have many malls…

    I know! Much nicer ones…and in JB too. But they wanted to go – maybe to see if there is any difference. I know the ladies bought a few things at the previous one in the town centre…and even went for a manicure – cheap and nice here, they said. My friend – he just spent his time sitting around uploading photographs he had taken onto his Facebook page. 😀

    1. Walk one round should be ok, to see what’s the difference between the shopping centre in Singapore and Sibu…

      Yalor. There, buy branded designer stuff…here, one may pick up a really cheap bargain. They did – not just one, a few…and even at the pasar malam too!

  11. Wifi in longhouse, that’s not very helpful for people who want to get away from it all and unplug, is it? 😀

    They don’t have to log in, if that is what they want, do they? The choice is yours.

  12. I love that room in your first photo. 🙂

    The headman’s living room. I love his library – remnants from his old English education in the colonial days. The guy is a graduate from Hawaii!

  13. Can’t believe that their ethnic way of life now includes wifi and computers!!! I think they should do away with it to make it authentic and real. If they want to be online, then I don’t think they want to experience this way of life…kekeke!! I don’t like durians and I definitely don’t want to eat anyone’s shit! 😀

    They even removed the human skulls! I wished they had not done that – that, in itself, is of great significance in their ancient culture. I guess the wifi is for those who cannot stay offline much – see previous comments…and would come in handy for those who wish to email or stay in touch with folks at home. Many things are not the same anymore – time passes, things change…even where you and your family are concerned, I’m sure. Much has faded into oblivion. I remember the one I went to in 1969 (the one with the pit latrine that had no door…but located far from the longhouse, thankfully) – it was dark and damp, thatched roofs, pigs and poultry underneath, cut-out logs for their staircases, nothing like this. Don’t think you can actually find that kind of “real thing” anymore. That is why I asked Rose if her folks know of any in the interior that is more like what it used to be.

    No worries! I’m not into durian either (though I love cooking with tempoyak) – they were so much into it. Guess they cost a bomb back home so they just cash in on the opportunity to enjoy the fruit here. Luckily for them, they’re in season right now. Ah well! At least it’s just a name…as in the case of what the Chinese call “chicken shit flower” (probably because of the strong smell) but I do know of people who paid through their noses to drink the coffee brewed from the beans that came out through an animal’s arsehole! Eyewwwwww!!!!!

    1. Oh dear, I won’t go ‘overboard’ until like the pit latrine you’re talking about…as long as it’s fairly comfortable and ‘keeping it real’, of course.

      Yes…kopi luwak (civet coffee)…nope, I won’t drink that either…even if it’s free!!!

      Somebody gave me…twice – once from Indonesia and another time from Vietnam…but no, I would not touch it. My missus did, said nothing great, just like any ordinary coffee.

  14. would love to visit long house if I have a chance. 🙂

    Would be a nice experience. Not really like what it used to be but anytime better than the replica at the cultural village near Kuching.

  15. The rooms are tidy and clean and I am sure it will make a good homestay experience. They are christians too! wah ..still got durians at this time of year?

    Seems to have durians all year round now. Yes, they’re mostly Catholics at this particular longhouse.

  16. It should be interesting to experience life in a long house. I think the wifi is useful as most people will suffer from withdrawal symptoms without it 😀

    Yes, these days, many seem to be unable to live without it. TM Net down in our region right now, everyone’s tearing their hair out… even banks, the system is down. 😦

  17. Yes..more interesting if visit cultural places and tasting exotic food such as the Giant Prawn as in the Stunned post… Malls can be skipped… So…what’s next on the itinerary?

    Dinner, their final night in Sibu and a bit more the next morning before they left town. They’ll be back, of course.

  18. That is a very good rate to stay at Tuai Rumah inclusive meals and all. What a great way to experience living like a local.

    Rumah Panjai, a longhouse – some words are similar to Malay with an i at the back like makai…for makan. Tuai Rumah is the headman, the penghulu.

  19. All kampuas are nice in their unique ways. Would love to see one which has a bit of everything (charsiew, lor bak, bit of dark sauce, bit of red sauce, chilli) :p. The wild durians have very interesting taste and very acquired. Hope to see the elusive red ones next time round. You seem to remember what someone says at a particular moment related to a particular situation…or tend to link up quotes well in your blog. Didn’t see you taking notes when we were out…you must have some photographic memory…you’ll make a good travel writer :p

    Can’t remember where I had with lor bak, a long long time ago. Guess the idea never caught on. You can ask for the kampua to be tossed in chili or ask for kampua with dark soy sauce – some people love it this way, not me – not the real thing from my childhood days, we never had it like that. They have it with stewed pork gravy as well – that last kampua place we went to…and my favourite has traces of the dark gravy from the slices of stewed pork (not pork belly) added – we did not manage to drop by that one. Will have to wait till your next trip. Make it soon!!!

    Ya, not bad for an old man, eh? No, I never take down notes – all in the head. I do remember things pretty well…but unfamiliar names of dishes in restaurants, I may take photographs of the menu for reference later.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own.

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