What comes to mind when Sarawak is mentioned? We probably remember that it is a Malaysian state and one that is closely associated with Sabah. Yet, we don't really know what it is well known for, its people and their culture.
We travelled to the Mongkos Bidayuh Village. It is home to one of the few remaining traditional Bidayuh longhouses in Sarawak and we got to see for ourselves what exactly these longhouses look like.
The longhouses were built with the concept of expansion such that when family members were married, they would add to the existing house and that is how the longhouse slowly expanded. It is demonstrative of their culture which revolves around family. Built of bamboo and wood, it is quite traditional.
Notice that part of the house is covered in a mat? When walking on the mat we were advised to take off our shoes and we also got to walk on their bamboo-made floors.
Homestays are offered here and you will be surprised to know that their accommodation is pretty decent, inclusive of amenities such as air conditioners for those who cannot withstand the heat. If you are interested in experiencing their way of life, you can consider this option.
We were warmly welcomed with a series of performances that depicted the Bidayuhs' way of life. In my opinion, the best performances are those that the performers themselves enjoy. The kids did this performance where they jumped around the bamboo poles according to the rhythm and it is by no means an easy feat.
Homecooked food by the Bidayuhs! There were various dishes that included rice with chicken, shrimps, grilled fish and rice rolls. Food that was prepared gave off this very warm, family feel and it was a different experience as compared to the food we have in Singapore.
Besides visiting the Mongkos Bidayuh Village, Sarawak Cultural Village is another place to check out if you want to learn more about the culture-rich Sarawak.
Yes, it may be a tourist attraction but we get to see the building structures that the natives used to live in and the scenery is just picturesque. The cost is nothing in comparison to other attractions we know of.
At the Sarawak Cultural Village, you get to catch a glimpse of the traditional houses of the various ethnic groups, the Bidayuh, Melanau, Penan, Chinese, Iban, Malay and Orang Ulu.
The natives are known for their skills in crafts, so hand carved sculptures and whistles are commonly available for purchase.
Weaving is a skill that they are familiar with. They do not need any blueprint of the designs before they commence, it's all in their minds.
If there's one thing you should not miss in the Sarawak Cultural Village, it is their multi-cultural dance performance in the village’s theatre. It takes place at 1130am daily.
If there is one dance that beautifully describes Sarawak, Malaysia, this is THE dance.
Food! Something Singaporeans will not miss out on when traveling. We want to try everything, including their specialty. Here, we tried their signature chicken in bamboo among other dishes. The chicken in bamboo has a different taste as compared to our roasted or steamed chicken, where the flavor is sealed within the bamboo and as a result the chicken is more fragrant.
The designs on this building actually represent the authority or power of the chief of that tribe. The details and how intrinsic they are speak volumes of the craftsmen who have been placed in charge of the designs. If you can't guess where the chief lives, it's that middle portion of the building where the roof is higher.
This is a typical hut that the Bidayuhs gather in but mainly for the males.
Among the many building structures in the Cultural Village is the Bamboo Bridge. It isn't very high or very long, as you will notice the river is pretty shallow, so you simply have to walk across!
Writer: Samuel Low