The majority of the Kelabit tribe are found in the Kelabit Highlands. The highland is a series of beautiful mountain valleys lying slightly over 1,000m above sea level and flanked by jungle-covered peaks rising to more than 2,400m. The climate is probably the most pleasant in Sarawak, although it can become quite chilly in the evenings. The Kelabits and the neighbouring and closely-related Lun Bawangs produce the fragrant and much sought-after Bario (Adnan) rice. Both groups are branches of the Orang Ulu, and live in a combination of longhouses and individual units that are widely dispersed throughout the area. They are friendly, hospitable people and enjoy receiving visitors.
Bakelalan (formerly Ba’ Kelalan) is a remote settlement, home of the Lun Bawang ethnic group. The village is famous for its apples and organic vegetables, and their musical ‘bamboo band’. The village is connected to Lawas and Miri by air, and it is also possible to travel there via a combination of existing and old logging roads. There is a hot spring with resort accommodation at Merarap, about 68 km from Lawas town where a pleasant beach, 7-km away at Punang can be found.
Like the Ibans, the Orang Ulu are also former head-hunters but they live in even more imposing longhouses than the former. Also, their arts and crafts are very different. The Orang Ulu especially the Kayans and Kenyahs are known for their woodcarving, beadwork, spectacular ‘keliring’ or totem poles and the music of the hauntingly beautiful lute instrument – the ‘sape’. Tattooing and body ornamentation are prominent; older ladies can be recognised by the brass rings hanging from their extended earlobes and from the dense dark tattoos on their arms and legs, a practice that is disappearing from the younger generation.
Sarawak… Where Adventure Lives