Adventures in East Asia

Longhouse Visit Part 1 - Annah Rais Longhouse Adventure

The reason for Linh and I to fly over to Malaysian Borneo was to visit and stay over in a traditional Longhouse village. We didn't need it to be a long (!) intense stay, just a short experience to see what it was like, and so we found the Annah Rais Longhouse Home Stay adventure. It seemed to be the most popular and well known Longhouse experience and was also mentioned in our guide book.


Longhouses are the traditional buildings and homes of the inhabitants of Borneo. They are the very centre of communal life, and built on stilts, may contain up to one hundred individual families in separate units built under one long roof.

The layout of a traditional longhouse consisted of a long, public corridor with all the separate units running along one side. As private quarters, the units are often blocked from public view bar a doorway left open by the inhabitants.

With the Longhouse design raising the buildings up on stilts, flooding rarely causes a problem and the space allows cooling air to circulate. Livestock can also be kept underneath for greater protection against predators.


At the Annah Rais Longhouse, the inhabitants are the Bidayuh, part of the Dayak Tribal group and like the others, feel a strong spiritual connection to the rainforest.

We placed a two day, one night booking with Mr. Edward's Home Stay that cost an all-inclusive RM 298 (£55) each. The itinerary focused mainly on a rainforest trek to a waterfall as well as a number of other smaller activities.


On the morning of our booking, we were picked up from our hotel in Kuching by taxi and along with two other guests - our new found friends Soizic and Ryan (in the photo above) - were whisked to the Longhouse village. The taxi ride only took an hour and a half, including a half hour stop off in a hawker centre along the way for breakfast.


The Annah Rais Bidayuh village was located deep in the Padawan sub-district near Kuching nestled in the foothills of the Penris-sen Range. As we followed our taxi driver on foot, we picked our way along a path taking us past elevated stilt houses and briefly met our Home Stay co-ordinater and host Mr. Edwards. He then disappeared as he still needed to tend to the current visitors.


We entered his house and were shown up to our rooms, which weren't as ethnic as we thought. The decor was pretty basic although we didn't mind as we were mentally moving into a "roughing it" mode. As long as there weren't any cockroaches or other insects around.

With hindsight, when we moved out of the rooms the next day, the time frame for "checking in" for the next guests was so tight that I suspected there was no change of pillows, bed sheets or covers. As I said, "roughing it".


The view from our window. From the bridge, the public corridor extends to the left and right.


Our room did contain a few "personal" touches.


And either an early or belated celebration of Christmas on the door. Maybe the bedclothes hadn't been cleaned since then!


Over the course of our two day stay as guests, we were never hurried, but were made to feel very welcome, and were entertained and presented with enough activities to feel like we'd gotten as much insight of the Longhouse culture as we could in the time. Another way of putting it is to say we got real value for money.


As well as the jungle trek, we were also taken on a tour of the village and and spent an evening being informed about various objects and aspects of Longhouse culture, including stories from Mr. Edward's own experiences and information about the head hunting activities in the past. Five more detailed posts follow this one, explaining what we experienced.


Mr Edwards' also took care of a few details such as making sure we knew that we could take as many drinks as we liked from his well-stocked fridge (which were included in the price) and by giving us some freebies (tree bark to make herbal tea) along with lots of little snacks to try out.


For our dinner, we had a mixture of chicken, vegetables and little, whole fish.




At some point, Mr. Edwards also brought out his draughts board, drawn on a piece of wood, with the game pieces being ingeniously made up from bottle caps.





Next: Longhouse Visit Part 2 - Jungle Trekking

This entry posted in : Culture. Malaysian Borneo. Tourism.

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