A traditional Long House in Malaysia

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November 4th 2010
Published: June 22nd 2017
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A drive up into the mountains from Kuching brought us to the Anah Rais Longhouse in which the Bidayuh tribe live. I thought that this was going to be a real tourist trap with loads of souvenirs for sale and not the genuine thing. However, there were no souvenirs for sale and these were ordinary people living their lives in small houses lining either side of a long bamboo platform built on stilts. The chickens were on the ground underneath and the one story houses on the platform where built of a combination of wood and corrugated iron roofing. The long bamboo poles which were lashed together were quite difficult to walk along. Our guide showed us into a really old original dwelling which has several skulls in a basket hanging in the centre. This used to be the headmans house as he had the most skulls. The tribe used to be head hunters and every house has its own skull hanging from the ceiling to keep bad spirits away. A young man couldn't get married until he had at least one skull to hang up in his new house. Fortunately this habit did not pertain any longer so we were quite safe, but the guide told us it only stopped about 10 years ago! We also were shown how they cook rice inside a bamboo pole, the aromas of which lend a good flavour to the rice. We tried the rice wine which tasted a bit like grappa. As there has been a recent death, the community were having the equivalent of a wake, so we had to by pass this dwelling and go round the backs of the houses. There were plenty of exotic fruit trees and small rice growing areas so although not well off the people looked well fed and healthy. By the time we had walked around the place it was midday and extremely hot. The men folk of the village were seen lying in their houses in the shade and the women were under the eaves at the front of the house. They must have thought we were mad roaming around in the extreme heat and we were all glad to get back in an air conditioned coach. A very interesting visit though.

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7th November 2010

Looks fantastic! Hope to catch up with you in the UK (you never seem to be there either!) as we are back or 6 weeks or so over Christmas. Enjoy the rest of SE Asia

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