Batang Ai and the Iban tribeAugust 6, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C
Our time in Kuching was short but sweet, today we left in the search for the Iban tribe; the indigenous people of the Sarawak region.
Our 4 1/2 hour journey from Kuching was a bumpy one and took us to a remote region called Batang Ai. We had to board a boat which navigated the man made lake and eventually reached the Batang Ai resort; our accomodation for the next couple of days.
The resort itself was a modern upscale twist on the traditional Iban longhouse, with several dozen rooms all adjoined to one another by a large, long corridor. From the vantage point up on the hill, a spectacular view of the lake presented itself at sunset.
In the morning we embarked on our adventure to the native Iban tribe settlements which can only be reached by the precarious narrow boats. The boat pulled up to the longhouse jetty and with a bit of intrepidation we stepped off, unsure at what was in store for us inside.
Firstly we had a tour of the longhouse, which inhabits one whole extended family. Our guide explained that behind each door within the longhouse is an immediate family of up to 14. All sharing two rooms, the single comunal space where they relaxed and slept and the kitchen.
We were invited to sit with the men of one of the families on the kitchen floor. They offered us wild boar 'off-cuts' and we reluctantly accepted 😝. Next up was shots of rice 'whiskey' and wine. They were drinking it like water whilst I could barely manage a sip it was so strong! Steve thought it was palatable.
As well as this, during our afternoon at the longhouse we watched and participated in the traditional Iban butterfly dance demonstration and drank yet more rice wine, before meeting the tribes chief and presenting him with a customary gift. The gifts from all of the visiting tourists were equally divided between each of the rooms. When I say equally I mean to the last lolly pop and packet of crisps!
Surprisingly we learnt that 30% of Sarawak's population still practice the traditional Iban way of life. Our guide informed us of the Iban's culture and most surprising to us was that tradtionally, marriage was arranged within the family... pehaps that would explain why a man had 12 toes and 12 fingers 👐😲.
Before we left, some now very drunk guides demonstrated their skills at the at the traditional way of hunting, using a blowpipe💨. Quite obviously they were in no fit state to hit anything but we each had a go and all hit the target!Read more