Paradise At Our Backdoor: Batang Ai Adventure

Day #0 – 29th March 2013 (Good Friday)

I’ve been running here and there that morning trying to get and pack my ration and clothes for the trip. I need to travel light and compact for this trip since we’re going to travel to a quite remote location. The trip will take 2 days and 2 nights since we’ll be starting our journey at sunset. I check and re-check my backpack and my checklist:

  • 3 days clothes – Check
  • Camera – Check
  • Fishing kits – Check
  • Torchlight – Check
  • Knives – Check
  • Toiletries – Check

Well, everything seems to be in order and ready to go. I catch up with the rest of the team and they decided to make their move around 6.30PM from Kuching. By my calculation, they will reach my place an hour later. Lucky I applied for a leave that day so I don’t need to pack in a rush. As promised, my ride reached me around 7.30PM.

By 8PM we stopped at Serian town to do a final checklist and stock up anything that we might missed or stock-up our food supply. The plan was from Serian we will drive up and stop for the night at Woods’ house in Betong. By 9.30PM we reached another small town called Lachau and stop there to buy some drinks before proceeding to Betong.

By the the time we reached Betong, it was already 11PM and we’re so glad that we have reached our last checkpoint for the day. At Betong, we were greeted warmly by Wood’s parents and were served some foods for supper.

Rukas & I enjoying our supper. Photo by Wilson

Rukas & I enjoying our supper. Photo by Wilson.

After a few rounds of drinks and chit chat with Wood and his father, we hit the sack around 3AM. The rest of the gang bunk early though. I think around 1AM. That’s the end of Day-0.

Day #1 – 30th March 2013 (Saturday)

That morning we woke up around 7AM despite still being stoned from last night’s drink session. Mumbling and rambling about anything from poultry farm, fishery, some interesting old high profile cases and some coffee shop politics.

Today is ‘The Day’, but before we start our journey to Batang Ai we have our breakfast at Betong town and a short tour around the small town.

Our breakfast. The all time favourite Kolo Mee.

Our breakfast. The all time favorite Kolo Mee.

On our way to Lubok Antu, we were invited to have a short detour to Wood’s animal farm too.

Wilson pose with the colorful piglets

Wilson pose with the colorful piglets

Well, after a brief acquaintance with the animals, we proceed our journey to Batang Ai. What a beautiful sight we had that morning. All green and peaceful. By the time we reach Batang Ai dam, it was already 9AM. We’re supposed to meet with our Boatman there as early as 7.30AM but we got lost by the beauty of the nature.

The new suspension bridge

The new suspension bridge

Longboats by the jetty

Longboats by the jetty

The funny part was that both our group and the Boatman is waiting on 2 different jetties. The one that we went is the local jetty while the other jetty which the Boatman been waiting for us at is the commercial tourist jetty. So, without being able to get in touch with each other, we end up waiting and waiting and waiting…until our event organizer, Dunging decided to check out the other jetty.

And so our adventure continues…

The 'Ribena Kids' expression

The ‘Ribena Kids’ expression

A longhouse by the river

A longhouse by the river

After half an hour of boat ride, we finally reached our destination. We finally reached our longhouse at Nanga Mengkak, Engkari.

Our longhouse

Our longhouse

I feel really at peace when reaching the longhouse. Far from the hectic life in the city and the work stress. Just the right time for a get-away adventure. The serenity and tranquility of this place really hold my breath. I’m amazed to learn that the people living in this area were miles away from urbanization yet they still survive despite out of reached from mainstream development.

You can’t expect much when staying in this place. No need to mention about cellphones signal reach, even basic needs like electricity also this longhouse do not have. The only source of electricity they can get is from the benzine powered generator. Quite sad when thinking back about it. Even though they are living just a stone throw away from the hydro-electric dam which supplies the electricity for the entire state, but these people were neglected from having to feel the benefit of it.

The time then was 11.30AM and we decided to take a lunch break at the longhouse before continue our trip upstream.

Having our lunch the longhouse style

Having our lunch the longhouse style

While Wood and I were resting after the lunch break, the rest of the gang, Wilson, Rukas and Dunging went exploring the longhouse. Taking some photos and peeking some young ladies.

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After taking a short break and a cat nap, we discussed and convinced our Boatman to bring us visit upstream and have a skinny dip in the pure clear and cold flow of the upstream river. After a brief discussion with the our boatman, he agreed to show us around to the upstream longhouses with some tip of RM50 just to fill the gas for our boat. That’s just awesome!

Then, off we go… the plan was to fish and swim and enjoy as much as we can submerging ourselves in the river.

The cold and clear water of Sepaya river

The cold and clear water of Sepaya river

The boat ride to our destination which is Sepaya took approximately half an hour from our longhouse in Nanga Mengkak. Here, we’re greeted with an open arms and smiling faces by our boatman’s relatives which also an ‘Injok’ maker here in Sepaya. ‘Injok’ is a type of drink similar to ‘Tuak’, the popular home made rice wine. However, Injok is not made from rice. This drink is harvested from a palm like tree called the Injok tree. The Injok tree is very famous among the locals for producing a very good ‘hangover’ drink. The taste is sweet and smells like coconut juice. But BEWARE! just 2 glasses of the ‘Injok’, you can already feel the ‘Kick’.

By the time we reached Sepaya, it was raining heavily. So, while waiting for the rain to stop we enjoy watching the scenery of the riverside and drinking ‘Injok’.

We wait at least about half an hour before the heavy rain drizzles to stop. Without wasting any more precious time, we rush our asses to the river and dip ourselves in the cold after-the-rain water. To our surprise, the water is too cold that only after a couple of dive we all squat by the river bank to warm ourselves again hahaha. Sorry, no pictures were taken during this moment because we’re too exited to jump into the river and left our camera at our host’s house.

Owh! We are very fortunate that day because our host allow us to use his ‘Jala’ (fishing net). Geez! I can’t even remember when was my last time using the net to catch fish. I’ve been growing up around this kind of things but ever since I finish high school years, I seldomly fish with net anymore. This trip brings back those sweet memories when we’re kids playing and swimming in the serene river and enjoying our sweet times after school catching fish using fishing rods and nets on a boat. Ahh! those younger years.

Another best part about this Sepaya river is that we all got the chance to feel the ‘fish therapy’. You remember those kind of foot therapy where you deep your feet in a small pool full with those small fishes where the fishes will help you eat and peel the dead skin cells from your feet. In our case, its not just your feet but you can basically lay down in the shallow part of the river submerging your body and only left your head out and you can feel the fishes will clean your dead skin cells for you. That’s really AWESOME!

Brave and strong kids trying to row their boat against the current.

Brave and strong kids trying to row their boat against the current.

By the time we went back to our longhouse in Nanga Mengkak, the clock is showing 6PM. Even though we all feel a little exhausted after several attempts to race and swim against the current, we really did enjoy the swim. A very refreshing bath. That evening we reached our longhouse at 6.30PM and we decided to cook our dinner by ourselves.

Rukas and Dunging take charge to be our Chefs. We had a very nice dinner of Luncheon meat fried with egg, read beans, sardines and the most special dish we had that night was ‘Pansuh Wild Boar’! Perghhh! We finally got the chance to taste and eat the authentic wild boar meat cooked ‘Pansuh’ style (cooked in bamboo).

After the dinner, we sat down and relax while having a chit chat session with the Tuai Rumah and a few other residents of the longhouse. We talk almost about everything about the longhouse and the villages around the area. We also learned that the Tuai Rumah has married twice meanwhile his wife has been married for 3 times. The Tuai Rumah’s first wife passed away of sickness.

Another amazing and story that we heard from the longhouse residents is how unbelievable their surviving spirit in living on this kind of remote places. Just imagine that there are no land access to this place yet the people here are willing to travel for quite a distance to farm. The main economic source for the people here are farming and fishery. They are all small time farmers like farming paddy, rubber trees, palm oils and black pepper. While others do fisheries.

To our surprise, we also learned that the local authorities and government owes these people a lot in term of economic development. While some side of the authorities are trying hard to get their hands on the NCR lands and neglecting the rights of these people to stay and continue living here, some even deny the right of these people to raise their economic growth by cutting the privilege to start their caged fishery project. The reason is because, the local authority claims that the water where they do the project belongs to the ‘government’, not the people.

It was a very sad day when their own people turns against them for the sake of name and money. Living everyday is a continuous battle of surviving.

We bunk ourselves that night around 12 midnight and hoping tomorrow will be better then today.

Day #2 – 31st March 2013 (Sunday)

This is our final day at the longhouse. Woke up around 6.30AM to enjoy the morning breeze of the longhouse and enjoy the sunrise from our backyard. Everything seems to be so peaceful and cold. Last night there was a heavy rain and waking up early in the morning after a heavy rain wasn’t that easy.

After, making up the beds and washing our face we decide to take our morning bath at the river just in front of the longhouse. Its not everyday you can swim and dive in the famous Batang Ai river.

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Whoa! That was full of FUN! I couldn’t express the feelings with words. You guys just have to come here and feel it by yourself.

Having done with our morning bath at the river, we head back to the longhouse and start to pack our things. Feel a bit taken by the warm hospitality, we pack with a heavy heart. But before we leave, there’s always one for the album.

Left to right: Wood, Wilson, Rukas, Dunging, Garner, Tuai Rumah's wife, Uncle Simpang & Tuai Rumah.

Left to right: Wood, Wilson, Rukas, Dunging, Garner, Tuai Rumah’s wife, Uncle Simpang & Tuai Rumah.

Now, how much did we spent for the trip? For all the fun and priceless experience living remotely in the rainforest (literally) and a great getaway escape, we spent less then RM200 per person and this is for a 2 days 2 night trip expenses. Lets get to the breakdown:

  • Transportation (we rent Dunging’s car) – RM150 for 2 days (RM30/person)
  • Longhouse stay & boatride per head / per day:
    • Staying fee = RM50
    • Bed & mattress = RM12
    • Gas stove = RM8
    • Cooking fee = RM10
    • Trekking guide fee = RM20
    • Night lamp = RM6
  • Souvenirs and others = RM50 (this amount is subject to individual budget)
  • TOTAL SPENDING = RM186.00

Who say you need to spend a huge amount of money to experience the rainforest way of living? With less then RM300 in your pocket, you can have all the fun and precious moments ‘disconnecting’ yourself from the busy and hectic life and experience the peace and tranquility of the longhouse. Yes, you can enjoy this only in SARAWAK! 

Fore more details and experience during the trip, please LIKE and SHARE our video below. You can also view more photos from our adventure from my Facebook page at PreciousMad Photography.

LETS GO VISIT SARAWAK.

WHERE NATURE BRINGS YOU ADVENTURE!

 

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8 thoughts on “Paradise At Our Backdoor: Batang Ai Adventure

  1. They don’t ask a lot from the related authorities, they just want their land, their culture, their plantation, their longhouse to be preserve. In the future, I don’t wish my children to learn all of this in text writing only, but to be able to experience in real life like that we all do that day. Hope this place will be keep like this forever.

    Like

    • Yes, all they asked for is for their land to be preserved so that they can continue to raise their family and farm. Agriculture is the only economic source for them. Fisheries on the other hand, the chances are slim due to the regulations set by the local authorities. Sayang sekali.

      Wilson, I totally agree with you on the culture & longhouse preservation. I want the future generations to feel the experience in real life & on hand rather then just reading about them. Reading and experiencing are totally two different things. I also wish this place will live forever.

      Like

  2. The boat picture is awesome! Loving it. WOW, RM186 for a tow days adventure? Totally worth it! And I love the colourful piglets. LOL! I want one. 🙂 hahha

    Like

    • Hey hey there, glad you like the pictures. Yes, we spent about RM186 per person for the trip and its totally worth it. If you’re the type of living your life to adventures like this, you wont regret it and the experience you get is totally irreplacable. The colorful piglets? Let me ask the owner if they have more of it hahaha.

      Like

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