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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
October 12, 2005
Each visitor will be given a passport to be stamped upon visiting each longhouse. This proved tremendously popular amongst children as they raced each other to complete all 10 houses in the village. Cross the bamboo bridge to get to the Bidayuh headhouse, where they use to store skulls. After, walk over to visit the Iban longhouse, where you can witness Iban beauties weaving the songket. Iban is the largest ethnic group in Sarawak (30%) and are reputed to be headhunters on the island of Borneo.
Next, we visited the Melanau tallhouse, where I tried to race to the top with some of our friends' children. Bad idea. By the time I reached the top, I could hardly breathe. Melanau tallhouses are built high on stilts because, traditionally, Melanau's were fishermen and lived by the sea. Today, most Melanau's are settled in kampungs (Malay villages), adopting Malay customs and make their living as boat builders and craftsmen.
Right next to the Melanau tallhouse was the Penan hut, which was small and shabby compared to the rest of the longhouses. This is because Penan's have always been a nomad in Borneo and do not settle in any area permanently. They live in makeshift huts, made of atap and dried leaves, and move on to a new place once the current area is no longer fertile for crops. Despite efforts from the government to settle them, many still roam the virgin rain forest of Sarawak to hunt with their blowpipes. Try your luck with the blowpipe at the Penan hut for merely RM 1. Other than the blowpipe, you will also get to see the making of sago, dance the bamboo dance, and spin a top at the various other houses.
There are also special dance performances at the village's ampitheatre. Colourful, vibrant, and energetic, these performances are delights to the eye. At the end of the dance performance, visitors are invited to dance on the stage together with the troupe. Watch out for the finale. You'll get to see "Malaysia, Truly Asia" TV commercial "live!"
The village is situated approximately 40 minutes away from Kuching, and the best way to get there is to either hire your own transport or join a local day tour. We hired a van, which took us from the hotel to Satok Market, Damai Beach for lunch, and onward to Sarawak Cultural Village for RM 150 (with return). The entrance fee for adults is RM 45 and RM 25 for children.
From journal A Weekend in Kuching
January 28, 2005
The Sarawak cultural village is an amazing site. It’s a hands-on history lesson covering all the major cultures of Sarawak. To get there is about a 40-minute drive from Kuching, and you can either drive yourself or take one of the many tours available in downtown Kuching. If you are staying at the Damai resort area, it’s just a short walk from the major resorts.
Ticket prices are very expensive for Malaysia: RM45 for adults and RM22.50 for kids 6-12. Kids under 6 are free. I was a bit put off by the price, as I am a budget traveler used to paying no more than RM10 for most things in Malaysia. But all that went away when I arrived at this great place.
First of all, this place is world-class. The maintenance is flawless, and the setup is very professional. It looks like the government put a lot of money into this place, and the people take pride in maintaining it.
The village itself has full-sized and accurate replicas of all the native houses. You will see longhouses from all the Dyak tribes some on a huge scale. The Melanau Tall House, for example, looks to be somewhere around 20,000+ square feet, two stories tall, and on stilts 15 feet in the air. Inside there are decorations specific to each tribe and race. They have people at each exhibit representing each group, and they will show you something like a native dance or way of making something.
It's very interactive, also. For example, you can go by the Penan hut, and one of the young men there will give you the chance to use a real blowpipe.
They also give an excellent show in their air-conditioned theater. The show consists of each tribe performing some kind of stunt, play, or weapon demonstration. They even have a few audience participation bits. The shows start at 11:30am and 4:30pm every day and last for 45 minutes.
They have a small, but nice gift shop on the premises but are slightly more expensive than in Kuching town. There is also an excellent little restaurant, which is a nice way to end your walking tour.
All the walkways are nicely maintained and should be handicapped-accessible, although getting into some of the houses could be difficult. The grounds themselves are a little bit of paradise. You will see beautiful gardens a stream, and nice-looking exhibits. There is nothing strenuous about this activity, so it should be great for all ages and physical abilities.
It’s a fantastic exhibit and really a must. It is a touristy place, but done in such an accurate and nice way. Kids will love the shows and interactivity, and adults will love the sights and history.
The website is at
Sarawak Cultural Village.
From journal Kuching, Malaysia: Paradise Found
August 2, 2003
From journal Borneo: Still Wild and Wondrous