Dave in Thailand Borneo! - Sarawak Cultural Village

The Sarawak Cultural Village (and a bunch more pics here, although without the personal touch) is about a half-hour northwest of Kuching, on a small peninsula jutting into the sea called Damai. This is also the prime resort area of Sarawak, with a few large luxury sort of places on the ocean here, in one of the few actual beach areas of the place. But the Cultural Village is in the central part of the peninsula, at the foot of a small mountain, and we got to the doors about 10:00. sarawak cultural village entrance

village passport Here we got our "passport" - they've done a good job of promotion here, obviously, and spent a lot of bucks - but it all makes for a pretty good experience. And the "passport" is also a mini-tour book, describing the various cultures we will be visiting.

....more promotion.... village promotion

The whole setting was constructed around this lake, which we walked around while visiting the various places - it was all very beautiful .... the lake of the cultural village
ann on bamboo bridge Ok - on our way! To add a touch of realism, we entered by walking over this bamboo bridge.... dave on bamboo bridge

Bidayuh House The first stop was the Bidayuh House - these guys used to be genuine headhunters and shrinkers, and the tall fireplace in the center was always going, to keep the heat and dryness above the fire where the heads were hung. They had some still there, in nets swinging from the dark open chimney.....

Ann in Bidayuh House Bidayuh RoundHouse
Sarawak Cultural Village - longhouse - and then onto the big longhouse - they could call them "tall" houses too, as they are built on long poles way above the ground - some only 5-10 feet up, but this big one about 25-30 feet above ground - and always remembering that this is just a small house to show what they are like - the real ones (of which there are many left in Sarawak, that you can visit or stay at in the jungle) have on average around a hundred doors - over 1,000 feet in length, all on poles like this ....



There were lots of things happening in the longhouses (there were 3 main ones) - this old guy was quite neat, making the pipes - only tobacco in these ones! - but their cleverness is always apparent - you can hardly see in the picture, but at the business end, there was a little triangular piece of wood left attached - just the right size so you could stand the pipe upright, wedged between the 1/2 inch spaces between the floorboards....
dave trying a pipe Ann trying a pipe

Darn hairhunters - maybe it's behind this thing .....
darn hairhunters pic

passport stamp There were seven main sections to the village, and in each one you were supposed to get a "passport stamp" in your little green passport book - yea it's a gimmick and touristy - but it was also an opportunity to meet some of the people - Sarawak is recently enough "modernized" that all of the hosts here are really who they say they are and not actors, and they have family living in the "real" jungle and many come from there themselves. I'm not a supporter of the "disneylandification" of everything - but stuff like this can be very useful in providing an introduction to a way of life that is being lost, and help keep it alive - nowhere near as good as leaving them alone a bit more, but until we manage to do that - this is better than nothing. And that ain't a sellout or copout - it's a recognition that I cannot do everything alone. I want to leave people like this to their own traditional life styles - but the guys running the planet don't, and they aren't in the habit of asking my opinion - and as long as a significant majority of the people in western countries keep the power structure the way it is by refusing to think about it all, it ain't gonna change much. I could go on....


Then we found ourselves in the midst of the blowpipers ....


Ann, shooting blowpipe
Ann, blowpipe


dave shooting blowpipe This ain't a hard game at all! - but Man! them suckers go quick for such small things!!

Dave with blowpipe darts

Lots of examples of craftsmanship or local artisans around, whatever you want to call it - Ann was very interested in the weaving, naturally enough, as a weaver herself...
ann with weaver woodcarver

The guy on the violin isn't exactly "native" - but one of the cultures is the Malay culture, with its European influences, and the "Malay house" of the 19th century was the sort of thing a leading citizen would live in, with many "comforts" and so on from that time ....
Malay violin player ann and dave

- and when you need a wee snack after all that walking and climbing and watching and talking and being amazed and stuff - well - first you scrape a bunch of bark off the tree.... scraping the bark


- and after soaking it and drying it, shake it out, then bake it - and it's great!
scraping the bark
the final product

ann looking up from doorway
Okay, honey, the show's about to start - can we go now????


- and off we go to the last part of the Sarawak Cultural Village morning (darn, I wanted another go at that blowpipe too....) - their "cultural show" - which is actually very entertaining - pictures don't really it do it justice, the atmosphere and music and talent were all very, very good....

I'll only give a couple of pics here of the very interesting hour-long show they put on twice a day, featuring dances and music from several of the tribal cultures of the island, because you really gotta see it and experience it to appreciate it, pics don't actually do the job. But I think it's all real enough, even if you don't see this sort of thing much in "real" life while visiting Kuching - I mean, think of the famed RCMP Musical Ride or something - we (in Canada) really do have those people and costumes (-cum-uniforms), but you don't actually see them much wandering around Canada from day to day either - and these cultural shows are the same thing. I see the same stuff in Thailand - the costumes come out on special occasions for the Thai people (or whoever happens to be around) - but not on a daily basis - but it is nonetheless a very real part of the cultural tradition of the country. sarawak village cultural show - dancer

the headhunter dancer the cultural show - dance
.. this guy was actually pretty good, a real showman, worked the audience well, a good entertainer, amusing... - all the dancers were good too, relaxed, and offering a good look at what the traditional dances of the various tribes were like ....


And that's about it - I cleverly left my spare camera power pack back at the hotel, so when the camera ran out of battery power during the cultural show, that was about it. There were quite a lot of interesting things in the gift shop that one might have got a few pics of before someone tried to show me the "NO PICTURE TAKING" sign - but I didn't get to find out. Maybe next time. So back to Kuching we went.....


??????use the "back button" if you missed the cue ...geez ....