Saturday, July 5, 2008

Borneo Break: Living in a Longhouse

While traveling in Sarawak, I got to see many longhouses or what the Iban called rumah panjai along the roads. The first longhouse which I saw while on my way to Sibu had me rather excited but then many more followed and the excitement could simply have fizzled off, had it not culminated in Julau, where I got to live in one! Sarawak's longhouses are built high up above the ground on stilts. Domestic animals are reared beneath the house, wild boars and chickens included and in Julau, it was just chickens. Climbing up the steep ladder, I suppose I came first to the tanju, a high open air platform used for outdoor activities such as drying the padi and clothes too, since I noticed some clothelines there. There are many doors opening into the longhouse. I walked through one into the tempuan which is a private space belonging to each family living in their respective house in the longhouse called a bilik. Domestic work like pounding rice is done here. The bilik were built in a row like terraced houses. To reach it, I had to cross a long corridor- like hall caled the ruai which is actually a public area where everyone can use, very unlike a public road. Guests are supposed to sleep at the pantai which I think is outside the bilik, probably a part of the tanju. However, that night I got to sleep in the living room of my host's bilik. I noticed a small ladder there leading to the sadau, a sort of attic for storing things like padi. Inside the bilik, it was actually like a normal Malaysian home. Besides the living room, there were bedrooms, two in this case, a big kitchen and even a bathroom with toilet bowl. I suppose progress has already caught up. There was even a television and other modern gadgets in the living room!


Road leading to the longhouse where I was to spend a night...

Longhouses in the distance...




The Tanju...

The Tempuan...

The Tuai...

5 comments:

Liudmila said...

So many interesting posts you have wrote in this month, Footiam, but this one is very interesting because itis about an incredible style of the life.

Liudmila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
footiam said...

I am lucky to be able to stay one night in it. Thanks to Mau Wei!

Liudmila said...

Do you understand that your Mau Wei is a great treasure? :)))

footiam said...

Yes, I do.

Have another serving of Travel Pangs!