The Bidayuhs, or Land Dayaks, are the second largest ethnic group in Sarawak and are known for their peace-loving and easygoing nature.
We had a chance to experience their hospitality when we visited Rumah Annah Rais, a 500-year-old Bidayuh long-house in Padawan District, about 60km from Kuching.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a group of young girls who performed the belanggi or welcome dance in full costumes, accompanied by the sounds of traditional instruments. Two elderly men subsequently performed the male version of this dance.
Next came the famous ngajat or warrior dance. Ringin, chairman of the Rumah Annah Rais Tourism Committee, explained that back in the old days the ngajat was performed as a demonstration of courage by warriors when they brought back their enemies’ heads. A female version of the ngajat followed to symbolise the acceptance of the heads offered by the triumphant warriors.
After the dances were over, Ringin offered us Rumah Annah Rais’ very own tuak (wine). Their tuak was unique as they had added wild honey and herbs to the mix. It was unusual, but sweet and delicious. The long-house’s tourist coordinator, Edward Gunui, then gave us a tour of the long-house, which consisted of almost 100 bilik.
The floor was a delight to walk on as it was made of bamboo. The rounded surface of the bamboo was very smooth and agreeable to the feet, while affording a firm hold. It also doubled as an excellent bed, since the elasticity of the bamboo and its rounded surface made it more comfortable than a flat floor.
Edward then showed us how chicken was cooked in bamboo over a wood fire. We tried the dish and it was delicious! He also taught us how to use the blowpipe and explained how the poison was made. We gave the pipes a go, but our darts flew everywhere.
Rumah Annah Rais offers homestay programmes for tourist who would like to experience life in a long-house.
They also organise adventure activities like trekking to the waterfalls, hot springs, bamboo rafting and cultural activities like Bidayuh dances, cooking Bidayuh dishes and learning how to use the blow pipe.
Source: www.thestar.com (25 Juni 2007)