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Published: Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 3:23:57 PM

Savouring authentic Bidayuh lifestyle

KUCHING: It was a memorable experience for a group of eleven Australian students who put up at Danu Villagestay in Padawan recently.

The students who were on a six-month study programme at Swinburne University Sarawak campus here had the chance to experience the Bidayuh way of life as they met the locals and learnt about their customs and lifestyle.

During their three-day, two-night stay, the Aussies enjoyed many fun-filled activities and tours arranged for them including sharing meals with the villagers, visiting Annah Rais longhouse, Annah Rais hotspring, caves, waterfall and participating in a longboat cruise along the upper Sarawak River.

Along the way to the cave and farms they savoured the beauty of the flora and fauna, and enjoyed the majesty of the tropical rainforest.

They also learned the traditional way of jungle survival, identified herbs and their usage in natural healing, and watch birds and the wildlife.

At meal time, they were served traditional signature dishes — the famous bamboo rice and bamboo chicken.

Adventurous: (From left) Steph Rogers, Jessica McDonnell and Mi Na on a river cruise along the upper Sarawak Kiri River.
Adventurous: (From left) Steph Rogers, Jessica McDonnell and Mi Na on a river cruise along the upper Sarawak Kiri River.

Most of the vegetables served came from the villagers’ own farms while some were collected from the nearby jungle.

They rounded up their first day karaoke singing.

On the second night, the group travelled to nearby Kampung Semadang to attend the village’s Gawai (harvest festival) closing ceremony.

Besides the food and drinks, they also partook the various traditional Bidayuh dances and rituals associated with the festival.

“Visiting this community during a Gawai season like this is an excellent way to immerse yourself in their culture.

“The villagers are warm, welcoming and appreciative of our interest in seeing how they live.

“Personally, it’s a most memorable experience,” said Jessica McDonnell, who came from Lockhart, New South Wales.

On the rice and chicken cooked in bamboo by host Kerin Sarus, Steph Rogers, 22, said: “Sweet, juicy and tasty. Simply delicious!”

Mi Na, 21, said the rice wrapped in leaves and the ‘buah cempedak masak lemak’ were exceptionally delicious.

“I like the pumpkin dish, it’s indescribable,” she said.

“Overall we enjoyed the activities and the tours. We will definitely tell our experience to our family members and friends back home in Australia,” McDonell said.

Meanwhile, Keris said since April this year she had also received guests from Argentina, France, England, Syria and Afganistan as well as a group of Univeristi Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) students, her guests during the last Gawai Dayak.

“Our Danu Villagestay is the ultimate meet-the-people experience. Our guests will have the opportunity to experience the real Bidayuh way of life,” said Kerin.

Besides Danu Villagestay, Kerin also operates a jungle guest house in the rainforest near her farm where she plants pepper, vegetables, fruits, herbs and cocoa.

Although guests are made to feel the traditional village environment, modern facilities — clean flush toilets, bedrooms, ceiling fans, kitchen and a 24-hour electricity — ensure perrfect comfort.

On request, Kerin also picks up her guests from Kuching International Airport or anywhere in the city area.

Log on to www.danuvillagestay.com for more details.

Tags / Keywords: East Malaysia, kchdana3017

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