Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sarawak Cultural Village

Yesterday (Sunday) I took a shuttle to the Sarawak Cultural Village. It's sort of a living museum, showing how the various tribes here in Borneo live, eat, hunt, and celebrate. It's a bit touristy (especially after living the real thing in the longhouse earlier this week), but I was ready for touristy. I wanted to see the flashy outfits, wild dances, and hear the pounding drums.

The first part of the day I walked around visitinig the various kinds of houses built to show the varieties of communities depending on locale and lifestyle--mountain, river, farming, nomadic, etc. I might mention that they were all bigger, cleaner, more airy, and more inviting than the actual place I visited, but they were still very interesting.

The stairs and bridges were really fascinating. Here's a bridge from the Bidayuh tribe made from bamboo. I crossed it--but it felt precarious every second.

At each house people from the various tribes awaited to demonstrate skills, crafts, and so on--blowpipe hunting, weaving, cooking, woodworking, music. The things these people can do with so little to work with is quite amazing. I was especially impressed with the guy who did the blowpipe. His misses were few and far between. I wouldn't want him aiming that thing at me.

After walking around and sweating for a good part of the day--with several trips into the gift shop to cool down in its air-conditioned bliss--the main attraction of the day occurred: the dancing theater. Yes, it was touristy, but the costumes, music, and dances were quite astounding.

The man in this video is lifting a 20 kg weight with his teeth--that's about 44 pounds. It exemplifies his strength as a warrior (and having a good dentist, to boot).

No animals today--this is for my anthropological friends who often ask me more about the native culture of the country I'm in. (All right--to be fair, there was this kitten in the Chinese house that I played with for a good 15 minutes, but you can't expect me to go totally against my nature for a whole day).

I have two free days here in Kuching before we leave for Bako National Park, so I'll do some cultural stuff here--mainly shopping (think of it as hunting and gathering). If there's anything anyone craves from Borneo, now is the time to tell me.


  1. Looking at that bridge brings to mind the one we crossed in Canyon de Chelly trying to get to the ruins. I remember it was a bunch of sticks strewn hilly nilly across a raging river. We made it, but I remember a German tourist or two having to be fished out.

  2. .... Canyon de Chelly, wonderful... but don't encourage Barbara again, cause "hikes can be strenuous and are NOT recommended for those who have respiratory problems"... :-)))
    we also have been there a century ago, therefore the intotheriver falling Germans couldn't have been us,... by the way, Germans never fall into water, must have been french people, I guess, Cornelia