WHILE travelling is still restricted at the moment, there is no harm to dream on travelling in an exotic land of Sarawak, the Land of the Hornbills.
Especially when the biggest state in the country will be celebrating its most important festival – Hari Gawai or Harvest Festival on June 1, though in a controlled Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
While we wait to travel again, let’s have a virtual tour on what makes Sarawak unique. And the best place for this is Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), an award-winning Living Museum located just across the Damai Beach Resorts and Hotels.
As Sarawak itself is such a vast land, visitors to SCV can experience Sarawak in just half a day by touring this 17-acre village which provides a glimpse of the culture and lifestyles of the diverse ethnic groups in Sarawak.
Take the opportunity to relive the daily lives of the various peoples of Sarawak, as there are models of houses for each main ethnic group in Sarawak, such as Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Penan, Melanau, Malay and Chinese.
To give you a glimpse of this living museum, SCV in cooperation with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), offers virtual tours to the different ethnic homes at scv.com.my/plan-your-visit/ethnic-house.
With a traditional built-up of axe-hewn timber and hays of leaves as roofs, experience an exuberant ambiance at the Iban Longhouse as one will be entertained with the sounds of drums and gongs being played throughout.
To learn more of the stories held in these four walls, have a sit for a chat with the longhouse elder. Adventurous foodies can enlighten their taste buds with samples of Iban local food like Kueh Chap and Kueh Jala, which are prepared hot and fresh on site.
The Bidayuh Longhouse consists of a round structure with bamboo walls and carvings surrounding the house, called Barok. It is connected to the longhouses resided by the Bidayuhs, which is a group comprising of Jagoi, Biatah, Bukar-Sadong, Selakau and Lara.
It serves as a congregation place for the Bidayuh warriors and holds gongs, war drums, weapons and wooden masks. Experience a variety of rural activities by the people of Bidayuh such as sugar cane crushing, paddy pounding and winnowing rice, as well as delicate beadworks by the ladies to be worn as colourful accessories.
ORANG ULU LONGHOUSE
Surrounded with the rich greenery of nature, visitors can tour the Orang Ulu Longhouse whilst enjoying classical tunes of the Sape and Jatung Utang (stringed musical instruments) being played live.
Witness the Orang Ulu ladies humming to these calming tunes while they work on their detailed beadwork. Other traditional musical instruments that are normally used can also be seen as they are hung all around the longhouse.
Unique in its own way, this ground-level Chinese Farmhouse is protected with verses, which are inscribed on strips of red paper and placed at the doorpost.
With the roofing made out of leafs and walls finished with whitewashed sawn timber, this house has two main sections; main room and bedroom.
The household shrine, which is the main attraction of the house, is located in the main room. An interesting addition to this house is most definitely the pepper garden, which can be sighted just outside the house.
MELANAU TALL HOUSE
Just like its name, the Melanau Tall House was built high up – up to forty feet above the ground. As the Melanau people used to live by the sea, being high up above ground level was a form of protection they had against pirates.
The two-storey house consists of a display of the tools and utensils they culturally use, which can be found on the first floor. Go up the second staircase and it leads you to the bedrooms.
Suited for the hot climate, the front section of this wooden house comprises of floor level windows. This is to ensure some breeze when the area is occupied, which is commonly used by men for entertaining guests and official occasions.
The house carries elegant details as even the stairs and window railings are decorated lavishly. Have a fun session and witness how the warm and friendly locals play their traditional games like Gasing (top spinning) and Congkak (a traditional Malay board-like game).
Built to last for a few weeks or months, these Penan shelters are usually situated near wild sago trees, which is a staple food for the Penan people. After the sago is used up, the families then move to a different location with more food supply.
This explains why the Penans are also known as the forest nomads.
In the Penan Hut, expect to gain first-hand experience in witnessing the art of blowpipe making as well as getting the chance to attempt blowpipe shooting with the Penans. According to the Penan warriors, “Do not blow from your mouth. Blow from your chest and your stomach.”