Living with Headhunters

Trip Start Jul 10, 2006
Trip End May 31, 2007

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Our next trip was to an Iban longhouse, and this was where our ablution training over the past 2 months would be put to the ultimate test! The Iban are the largest tribe in Sarawak, and traditionally live in "longhouses" alongside Borneo 's many rivers. Until recently (too recently for our liking), the males of the tribe were Headhunters... What is a good night's sleep?!

Tour organizer, Aba (who really was one B short of a Swedish Pop Group) drove us the three hours to the start of the river journey. We stopped off along the way at a local market to stock up on supplies and buy gifts (packets of crisps) for the residents of the longhouse. We also tried out some local fruits - one of which looked like something out of Fraggle Rock (for those who weren't exposed to English television when they were younger, it looked like a VERY angry squash ball, with spikes on the outside). It was delicious...but didn't touch sides...especially in the latter half of the digestive process!

The boat journey down the Strang River lasted a bottom-numming two hours. Rob's exit from the dugout canoe was anything but graceful. In fact, due to an acute onset of the worst pins and needles EVER experienced by man, Rob got out of the boat as gracefully as a chicken would cross an electrified tight rope - much to the amusement of our those who would be our hosts for the next three days. The chief of the longhouse made the racing snake look like a sumo wrestler...somewhat more of a racing piece of dental floss (very skinny).

The longhouse itself is about 100m long, about 25m wide, on stilts and is the home of 20 families (96 people)! Each family has their own pigs, ducks, chickens, fish and dogs...which reside in enclosures all around and UNDERNEATH the longhouse! At night, we slept on the enclosed veranda, outside the chief's "apartment" - armed with mosquito nets with holes big enough for a Rhino to walk through. At about 4am we were woken by a man whose duty it was to wake the roosters! This involved going outside, shaking each family's rooster's cage, so that each family in turn would wake up. The roosters sounded really groggy at first, and most only managed to string together a decent "cock-a-doodle-doo" on the third or fourth attempt! In addition to finding this entertaining (despite the hour), this did beg the question, "who wakes up the rooster waker-upper"?

Went on jungle walk later that day, had "Jungle Lunch" - chicken, fish and rice cooked in palm leaves/bamboo poles over an open fire...everything 100% biodegradable including the cups & plates - delicious food!

Visited the rubber plantations, and saw how organic rubber is made and had some great discussions with fellow travellers on the effect of rubber plantations on the local people and their environment - and basically solved all the world's problems in one hammock-session!

After not showering for three days, and far too many visits to the only squat loo in the house, we were looking forward to getting back to civilization!

Next stop was Gunung Mulu National Park, one of Malaysia's World Heritage Sites, and home of Southeast Asia's largest cave system and the largest cave entrance chamber in the world - Deer Cave (big enough for a Boeing 747 to fly through).
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: