Less than one hour away from Kampung Gombizau is the Sumangkap village (92 kilometers and 2 hours drive away from Kota Kinabalu) which is famous for its gong-making cottage industry. The gong is the most important Rungus musical instrument which is played during festivities and grand occasions such as weddings. The gongs that are sold […]

Less than one hour away from Kampung Gombizau is the Sumangkap village (92 kilometers and 2 hours drive away from Kota Kinabalu) which is famous for its gong-making cottage industry.

The gong is the most important Rungus musical instrument which is played during festivities and grand occasions such as weddings. The gongs that are sold in Kampung Sumangkap vary in sizes—visitors can expect to find tiny souvenirs ones with different shapes and unique designs (price ranging from RM30 to RM40) as well as large ones that can reach up to 2 meters wide in diameter.

For large groups of visitors, the villagers of Kampung Sumangkap will often hold cultural performances in the Kampung Sumangkap Community Hall where the kulintangan (a set of different sized gongs producing different sounds) is to be played.

Here, visitors will also have the opportunity to witness the method of gong making by the professional gong makers in the village. The gong factory is open daily including public holidays from 8.30am to 5.30pm. A visit to Kg. Sumangkap is included in our Northern Tip of Borneo – Kudat day tour package.

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As a melting pot of more than 37 ethnic races throughout the state, Sabah has people of various different religions living together in perfect harmony. The majority of people in Sabah are Muslims (approximately 66 per cent), followed by the Christian community which represents more than 26 per cent and the rest being Buddhists and […]

As a melting pot of more than 37 ethnic races throughout the state, Sabah has people of various different religions living together in perfect harmony.

The majority of people in Sabah are Muslims (approximately 66 per cent), followed by the Christian community which represents more than 26 per cent and the rest being Buddhists and people of other religions. Religion, no doubt, has played a big role in shaping the community and its socio-cultural aspect.

Having the second largest number of followers in Sabah, the arrival of Islam dated way back to the Brunei Sultanate era in the 15th century when Brunei extended its reign to Sabah. The first indigenous Sabahan people to embrace Islam were the Bajau people. Today, the Muslim community mainly comprises of the Bajau, Bisaya, Brunei, Cocos, Iranun and Orang Sungai ethnics.

The influence of Islam in Sabah is most visible in the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha, which also leads to the culture of visiting homes to strengthen friendship and relations among relatives. Apart from that, the arrival of Islam has also imparted Sabah with important and unique artifacts such as the ‘Tepak Sireh / Celapa’ Betel nut Container Box, Rehal (Qur’an stand) and ceramic decoration with Qur’an writing.

Mari Mari Cultural Village by Rustic Borneo’s intern, Amelia Robert Jenet. As part of her internetship at Rustic Borneo HQ, Amelia, a student at University Malaysia Sabah, is gaining experience of Sabah’s travel industry and, of course, the tourism products on offer here. To that end, she visited the Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village […]

Mari Mari Cultural Village by Rustic Borneo’s intern, Amelia Robert Jenet.

As part of her internetship at Rustic Borneo HQ, Amelia, a student at University Malaysia Sabah, is gaining experience of Sabah’s travel industry and, of course, the tourism products on offer here. To that end, she visited the Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village and submitted this report on her experience.

Mari Mari Cultural Village is about 20 to 30 minutes from Kota Kinabalu city’s centre via tour van provided as part of the tour.

There are 3 tour sessions throughout the day, and mine was in the morning. It was just perfect, because the view along the road was amazingly refreshing and beautiful.

A warm welcome from the Mari Mari Cultural Village staff greeted us upon arrival, before the tour started with our guide, Mr. Adi, briefly explaining the do’s and don’ts during the tour into the village.

Mari Mari Cultural Village Guide explaining a traditional contraption in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Mari Mari Cultural Village offers insight into the largest tribes in Sabah with a 3-hour show-tour perfectly detailed by our group’s guide. The tour winds through the jungle, passing various tribal dwellings along the way where we learn about the Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau and Murut tribes.

Descendants from each tribe built the homes, which offer a truly genuine experience and insight into the tribe’s folkways, their food and customs, such as a replica of a coffin which a particular tribe ‘buries’ in trees. Now that is some scary yet intriguing history.

We also got to try bamboo-cooking, rice-wine making (and later, of course, rice wine tasting), fire starting using bamboo, blowpipe shooting, local honey tasting with harmless bees roaming around.

The tour culminates in a cultural dance recital and photo session with the locals in traditional attire, and a sumptuous local buffet lunch.

Mari Mari Cultural Village turns local, ethnic culture into a living museum, exhibiting traditional ways of life, and attire you are unlikely to come across anymore, except maybe in the very remote interior.

By the end of the journey into the past decades, I felt lucky to be experiencing a setting where I could see, hear, taste and feel the awesomeness of what Sabah culture contributes to the world.

Mari Mari Cultural Village’s tagline is just so spot on: As it is… As it was…

The colourful Gaya Street Sunday Market is a once-a-week must-visit for anybody who finds themselves in Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday morning. From long before sunrise, traders gather along Kota Kinabalu’s historic Gaya Street to set up their stalls for the day’s market, which is one of Kota Kinabalu’s busiest Sunday attractions. When trading officially […]

The colourful Gaya Street Sunday Market is a once-a-week must-visit for anybody who finds themselves in Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday morning.

From long before sunrise, traders gather along Kota Kinabalu’s historic Gaya Street to set up their stalls for the day’s market, which is one of Kota Kinabalu’s busiest Sunday attractions.

When trading officially starts at 6am, it comes alive with hawkers and visitors roaming the sprawling market in search of something delicious, thirst quenching, useful, beautiful or interesting.

 

Stretching along Gaya Street from in front of the Jesselton Hotel on the one end down to the DBKK – Kota Kinabalu’s Municipal Building on the other, the Gaya Street Sunday Market is packed with a large collection of almost anything that you might find elsewhere in Sabah.

From the everyday clothing and accessories to freshly ground Borneo coffee, cages filled with poultry to mini nurseries with plants, from freshly baked Sarawakian cakes to delicious Sabah snacks, the Gaya Street Sunday Market will occupy you for as long as you’re willing to look.

Looking for something to wear? A multitude of stalls are ready to meet your needs, from souvenir t-shirts to fisherman’s pants, skirts, tank tops and short and various creative hats.

 

What about a souvenir for friends and family back home? Hand-carved wooden statues, Sabah fridge magnets, photo frames with seashells, creative notepads, photos, and more – nobody has to return home with an ordinary gift.

As the morning grows brighter and the day becomes hotter, visitors to the market inevitably look for something with which to quench the thirst. For that too the Gaya Street Sunday Market has plenty to offer. What about a purple dragon-fruit smoothy, or some fresh bubble tea? A cup of freshly ground Borneo coffee, or just some local soft drinks.

Long before lunch you are sure to have discovered and tasted some of the many local fruits and snacks hidden around the market, but for a proper sit down meal there are plenty of restaurants hidden behind the informal traders. They are hard to ignore, because on Gaya Street Sunday Market they are usually filled to capacity with eager shoppers chattering away over a noodle brunch.

At about 1 o’ clock the traders start to pack up and the market slowly quiets down until the last trader leaving returns the street normal once more. That is, until next week when it once against turns into the Gaya Street Sunday Market.

Don’t forget Rustic Borneo’s own Traveller Service Centre which also features a host of local handicraft and souvenirs – we’re just off Gaya Street and we’re open on a Sunday, so do drop by for shopping or to book your Sabah tours and activities.

Variety of things available at the Gaya Street Sunday Market

 

It’s hard to read about north Borneo and not find something about the Tip Of Borneo or, as the locals refer to it, Simpang Mengayau, home to a lively community of Rungus people, one of Sabah’s local tribes. During a community development project I was involved in, we would visit the Tip of Borneo quite often. […]

It’s hard to read about north Borneo and not find something about the Tip Of Borneo or, as the locals refer to it, Simpang Mengayau, home to a lively community of Rungus people, one of Sabah’s local tribes.

During a community development project I was involved in, we would visit the Tip of Borneo quite often. One of the beautiful beaches on the way there is near the village of Tindakon Dazang, which is on an unexposed yet magnificent gem of a beach along the Matunggong Coastline.

 

Tindakon Dazang Beach is a virtually untouched paradise facing the South China Sea, separated from the village by pristine sandy beaches.

There are some magnificent, traditional Rungus long-houses here with truly creative designs that utilises traditional raw material for its construction.

The thatched roofs are made from a tight weave of dried nipah palm, and the solid house frames are a sturdy type of timber from a tree called Berlian. The floors are an elevated platform of split bamboos, allowing for great, natural ventilation of the hall area and makes for a comfortable sitting area.

The walls are simple partitions made of tree bark, which is prepared and then stacked in rolls at the side of the house for later use.

Traditional longhouse-style accommodation at Tampat Do Aman at the Tip of Borneo, Kudat, Sabah

 

The Rungus people also have plenty of colourful folklore. Along the beach, for instance, are rocks where there’s a cave, once a hiding spot during WWII for the Japanese soldiers before they invaded the north of Sabah.

During high tide or storms, you can see waves crashing against the rocks, smashing into the cave and splashing out from a hole at the top, like a whale exhaling through its blowhole. This phenomenon creates a loud noise, giving origin to plenty of Rungus folklore.

The Rungus people are also known for their ancient traditions.

One of the remarkable things about Rungus woman is that they never go anywhere without their supply of betel nut, Sireh leaf and lime, the 3 essential ingredients for betel chewing rumoured to have mild sedative effects. They also keep tobacco in small plastic bags. It is as if these are almost necessities of life.

Being one of the most traditional ethnic groups in Sabah, the community puts a lot of emphasis on pride and dignity.

During a community event everyone gathered at the traditional hall where the Rungus proudly presented their weaving and beading art. A soothing gong orchestra played while gracious dancers charmed the crowd. A row of young ladies, led by male dancers, stepped their feet in sequence, each with a bell anklet on their feet.

Wrapping around them were colorful chains of handmade beads while from their bodies and looped acrosse their shoulders hung intricate beadwork decorated with geometric and human figures.

Reaching out to local communities has enlightened me as to how broad the local community’s capacity is, but it’s important that we appreciate our culture and origins lest it evaporates through modernisation and migration of the younger generation.

Through Rustic Borneo we help indigenous people connect with the west in order to showcase and perpetuate their art, culture and traditions.

Have a look at set Borneo holiday packages or contact us and we will customise a Borneo travel itinerary to suit your needs.

Sunset at the beach near the Tip of Borneo in Kudat, Sabah

 

“I cannot make you happy,” relayed the headman of Kampung Saliku wisely as he pondered the Murut mindset. “My facilities are limited, my people are shy, I am simple. And so are you” he opined. “To make your home here, you have to be at peace with yourself.” The Heart of Murut Borneo My mission […]

“I cannot make you happy,” relayed the headman of Kampung Saliku wisely as he pondered the Murut mindset.

“My facilities are limited, my people are shy, I am simple. And so are you” he opined.

“To make your home here, you have to be at peace with yourself.”

The Heart of Murut Borneo

My mission in Kampung Saliku, a well-hidden village on the outskirts of the Sapulot area of Borneo, was to consult and help develop potential cottage industries geared towards tourism and beneficial to the Muruts.

Young Murut Warriors - Rustic BorneoThe journey there took nearly 4 hours on winding roads and gravel paths, uphill and downhill amid widespread paddy fields, to the secondary rainforest jungle.

I was acutely aware of the adventurous journey into north Borneo, home of the Murut – infamous in history as the last tribe to give up head hunting.

The Muruts are Sabah’s third largest indigenous group, known for their shyness and reserve.

They were once blowpipe hunters, semi-nomadic and shifting cultivators, collecting what the jungle had to offer.

Eventually they settled, cleared some land and started to cultivate rice, maize and tapioca.

Rizon, a young teenage boy, emerged into view with blood-soaked hands.

He smiled at us then turned to Sakian, speaking in their native language, communicating details of that morning’s fruitful hunt.

Reporting to Sakian, the headman of this village, is a priority; he commands the respect of a lauded community leader.

People laughing and giggling at the house attracted my attention.

The men were dishing out the spoils of the morning’s hunt – a big wild boar, plenty of food for the rest of the week.

Pungiton Caving

One of our activities was to be night caving in Pungiton Cave, a large bat breeding-ground. It requires a level of fitness, physical strength and mental readiness.

Before the sky turned dark a wooden sampan – a long, flat type of canoe, which seems to glide on top of the water – was readied and waiting on the river bank for the 20 minute journey to the nearby cave camp.

The sampan, which can snuggly fit about 22 passengers, was handmade by Makinik, brother of Sakian. Muruts once lived on boats and their boat making skills remain formidable.

Pungiton Cave was to be my 1st ever night caving experience. I took this opportunity to get to know my guides; 3 cousins, young men named Rizon, Johanis and Joe. They were carrying a ladder and only talked among themselves.

Before entering the cave a challenging trail had to be negotiated. Between steps of rotten wood were sharp and slippery lime stones. Difficult for me, but a familiar playground for Rizon and his cousins.

Hidden waterfall in the interior of Sabah, BorneoThe trek got tougher and at one point I almost gave up as my confidence was failing climbing steep rocks, which, at times angled at almost 90 degrees.  The thought had crossed my mind that if the ladder fell, dire injury would surely result from the sharp lime stones beneath us.

At this point Rizon offered me his palm for a leg up and from there on lead every step I took. We did not communicate much, but he carefully took hold and steered my feet to the next step to where they be should be.

Our goal for the night was an exhilarating, but safe tour through the rugged lime stone caves and the extraordinary bat breeding grounds.

The 3 cousins succeeded with honours in completing the the challenge.

Murut River Rapids

After adventure through the cave, the 3 boys stayed up guarding the camp fire while I slept soundly. This was life as they knew it. Keeping watch for a wild boar that had passed by earlier, a potential hunt.

We left the cave at Pungiton Cave the next morning and transferred to Kabulongou Waterfall, located deep in the Sapulot montane forest.

This expedition was led by Pakcik Lapan, or Uncle Lapan, the eldest and most experienced at manoeuvring the boats through rough rapids.

A daily boat ride along the rapid shoot is part and parcel for Muruts. Ferrying us in his handmade boat made him proud and provided ample opportunities to show off his skills with passion and care. The boat remains significant in local lore and, according to Uncle Lapan, to appease the underwater spirits, some boats are sunk when they reach the end of their lifespans.

At Uncle Lapan’s command, and with Makinik’s assistance, we traversed the rapids safely to spend an afternoon along the Kobulongou and a hidden, spectacular 3-tier waterfall.

Young & Young at Heart

We made it back to Saliku’s home before dusk. The women, helped by their daughters, while the younger kids ran around playing, prepared dinner.

Sakian welcomed us with his usual calm and warming smile. In his hand was a big jar of Tapai – fermented rice wine, a traditional alcoholic drink for the indigenous. He whispered “this is for tonight, aramaiti (cheers).”

On the table were dishes of grilled wild boar, fermented wild boar with pickles, freshwater steamed fish, and sweet potato leaves with belacan, type of prawn paste used as a condiment. It was delicious.

As the evening set in the comforts of the verandah beckoned. An orchestral gong played from the corner of the hall as young Murutian ladies charmed us with a gracious and traditional dance. Their feet moved effortlessly in step with each other, hands swinging neatly from side to side. Behind them, children followed in their footsteps, learning and joining in the cultural performance.

Soon everyone gathered in the main hall, socializing, chatting, men were drinking tapai with Sakian’s mother, the eldest in the family. This continued late into night when Sakian realized the generator was working overtime and it was lights-out.

Farewell to Murut Country

In the dark, with a bamboo candle alight, I continued chatting with Sakian.

“Our lives are simple,” he said with a sense of intimacy. “We have experience in many fields, but have limited income. We like to be self-employed and have our own freedom. We do not want to face angry people.” he said with a tipsy smile and a dash of charm.

“What this community needs is investment in individuals and infrastructure that can empower people to be healthier, better educated and be more productive in the workforce.” he said.

Nothing that it was half past midnight he wrapped up our chat. “It’s late, you better rest; I want to stay awake and keep an eye on the trespassing wild boar. I might be hunting tonight.”

Up until then, each morning before the sunrise, we would wave goodbye to the schooling children as they left on the back of a truck.

The last day was different.

My mood was melancholic as I had to say goodbye to a people I came to know; a people of heart, sincerity and quiet reserve.

Makinik gave me a traditional blessing as we said goodbye and each phrase was repeated by each person present:

“The spirits are listening, the earth is listening, and the people are listening, be well and safe journey home.”

To have your own adventure within Sabah, Borneo and experience the local culture and tourist attracts, have a look at our Borneo Holiday Packages or contact us for a custom-made, memorable holiday.

If you are a bead lover, you might have a large collection. In olden-day Borneo beads were an integral part of the the indigenous people of Borneo, the Orang Ulu. Designed and shaped from durable materials, like stone and glass, it was believed that each bead‘s reputed age indicated its power, and some believed that […]

If you are a bead lover, you might have a large collection. In olden-day Borneo beads were an integral part of the the indigenous people of Borneo, the Orang Ulu.

Designed and shaped from durable materials, like stone and glass, it was believed that each bead‘s reputed age indicated its power, and some believed that the owner of such beads could draw strength from it.

The bearer, however, had to have the strength of soul to retain such a gift, otherwise it would only be a burden.

Bead Spirituality

Among the aristocrats in Borneo, a commoner in possession of a special bead had to surrender it to the chieftain who, it was presumed, had a strong soul and reputation.

In Borneo beads were used as status symbols, for fines, wealth and as investments.

Beads have been used since time immemorial, when also teeth, bones, shells and stones were perforated and worn as ornaments.  Good beads were not only valuable, they also revealed status.

According to my late father, Lian Labang – a Kelabit aristocrat attached then to the Sarawak Museum as curator of artefacts, a collector and brilliant taxidermist – valuable beads played a very important role in the Orang Ulu community.

For example, beads were tokens of rank and value, and could attest to a future daughter-in-law’s eligibility to marry into the family.

For an aristocratic bride, typical engagement beads would be the valuable polychrome Lukut bela or Lukut sekala and pyjama beads.

The High Value of Borneo Beads

The most expensive Lukut sekala and the ritually important Lukut bela daba were believed to be female or male, depending on whether the shape of the bead was long or flat.  Only an aristocrat could own Lukut sekala.

So valuable were these beads that there is a legend of a trader who had crossed the Sarawak/Kalimantan border on foot, but wanted to travel down river from middle Baram. As legend would have it, he bought a second-hand outboard engine for one Lukut sekala bead.

Another example of the beads’ value is that an expert Orang Ulu tattoo artist, usually female, could command a fee of up to five beads of the Lukut class per day, and even extra rice to take home.

In the past, a fine Kelabit lady hat was worth one buffalo, so were 30 yellow peanut Let alai beads.  A bead hat made of old, heavy beads, which are no longer fashionable and are becoming rare, can fetch one storehouse full of husked bario rice – if anyone was prepared to sell it.

A hat of the lighter drinking straw-coloured Ba’o rawir could change hands for RM30, 000 or more.

Borneo Beads as Decoration

But beads could also be used in beadwork as fine decorations. Orang Ulu baby carriers, a reed basket open on one side, used by women to carry their young infants, were embellished with such fine beadwork with a wild boar or leopard tooth finish.

Large beads and hawk’s bells were attached to the upper rim of the carrier and served to soothe the toddler with their tinkling in addition to indicating status. The Orang Ulu believed that rank and its associated symbolism were serious considerations.

Today, however, most of the pretty baby carriers and pretty beadwork sold in flea markets and bazaars in Borneo are brand new and perhaps more for the benefit of tourists than for indicating status.

The enchantment, nevertheless, remains.

Article and pix by Frankie Lian Labang

Contact Rustic Borneo to travel to modern day Borneo and experience the enchantment of this land and her culturally riche and diverse people. We have set, popular package holiday itineraries to choose from, but can happily customise an unforgettable, Borneo dream holiday to suit your specific preferences.

Due to work, I’ve been doing day trips to the northern tip of Borneo, almost every week for the past couple of years, often passing the Rungus Longhouse on the way to Kudat. The journey takes you out of the capital of Kota Kinabalu, along roads with gradually worse conditions, to some parts where the […]

Due to work, I’ve been doing day trips to the northern tip of Borneo, almost every week for the past couple of years, often passing the Rungus Longhouse on the way to Kudat.

The journey takes you out of the capital of Kota Kinabalu, along roads with gradually worse conditions, to some parts where the roads are just gravel paths.

Sometimes you have to slow down and cruise at 20kph due to workers with slow tri-mobiles on the road. Used in the oil palm plantations, these vehicles are illegal on normal roads, unless it’s in the plantation zone.

A trimobile working its way along a highway on the way to Kudat

A trimobile working its way along a highway on the way to Kudat

Kudat is one of 3 poorest districts in Sabah.

The many palm oil plantations in the area are the main contributor to the economy, but in spite of the plantations’ impact on the natural habitat, there are still many natural and cultural resources that remain strong.

A typical road hazard on the way to Kudat, Sabah, Borneo

A typical road hazard on the way to Kudat, Sabah, Borneo

The Rungus Long-house

In between Matunggong to Sikuati road you will find a junction turning in to Meranjak Longhouse, one of a few Rungus Longhouses.

Here stilt longhouses are still strongly promoted and displayed as part of the Kudat’s Rungus tribe’s cultural heritage.

Local Living in the Rungug Longhouse Homestay

Meranjak and his son, the owner of  Meranjak longhouse, operates a home-stay, which offers 20 rooms accommodation in his Rungus Longhouse. They serve local delicacies for travellers.

Sharing a bunk bed with mosquito nets is a great way for backpackers, keen on a local living lifestyle, to gain experience.

The owner is so hospitable, that sometimes our daily assignments turn into an over night stay.

Despite the poverty and simplicity, there is contentment and happiness amongst the people, where visitors will find a special tranquillity within the community.

Basic but comfortable longhouse accommodation near Kudat, Sabah, Borneo

Basic but comfortable longhouse accommodation near Kudat, Sabah, Borneo

Rustic Borneo supports sustainable tourism and locally made products.

To visit the Kudat region and experience the hospitality of Sabahans in one of the Rungus longhouses for yourself, see what Borneo Holiday Packages we offer, or contact us so that we can tailor-make your Borneo dream holiday.

Tattoos have a rich history of tradition and ritual, but through tribal connections and rites of passage, Borneo Tattoos perhaps even more so. Here it has always played an important role in rituals and signified connections to clans or societies. The adolescent Dayak for instance, ready to venture into the jungle with only his blowpipe […]

Tattoos have a rich history of tradition and ritual, but through tribal connections and rites of passage, Borneo Tattoos perhaps even more so.

Here it has always played an important role in rituals and signified connections to clans or societies.

The adolescent Dayak for instance, ready to venture into the jungle with only his blowpipe and poison darts as protection.

His mission: to hunt for meat to feed the community and survive the perilous jungle. Dangerous wildlife, venomous creatures, hungry crocodiles and members of other tribes protective of their territory.

To survive his journey and return to his village with bounty is to accomplish a great feat and completed an important rite of passage; to become a man.

His milestone is ritually marked by way getting tattooed in the longhouse of his ancestors. A full moon to adorn his calves and a water serpent to wind up his upper tight.

Legendary Borneo Tattoos

Of such legend is the Borneo tattoo that some tourists travel to Borneo with the specific intent of getting tattooed while here.

Borneo tattoos with tribal designs that once held significant social strata in indigenous communities, have now become art. Symbolism that inspires the owner and various tribal designs to embody their person.

Getting that Borneo tattoo whilst on holiday requires some thought about your holiday itinerary. It’s best to schedule the tattoo around when you’ve got some quiet time, most conveniently at the end of your Borneo holiday.

Rustic Borneo has experience with both planning your Borneo holiday as well as hooking your up with local experts when it comes to Borneo tattoos.

Rustic Borneo offers various exciting Borneo holiday packages, or contact us to have one tailor-made for you.

Bario rice is premium staple food, which is surely the best in the region. Bario rice is named after the Sarawakian highlands where it is cultivated. The Bario Highlands has rich, fertile soil, temperate weather and ample access to water an irrigation, which makes for a mineral and vitamin rich rice that is sweeter than […]

Bario rice is premium staple food, which is surely the best in the region.

Bario rice is named after the Sarawakian highlands where it is cultivated. The Bario Highlands has rich, fertile soil, temperate weather and ample access to water an irrigation, which makes for a mineral and vitamin rich rice that is sweeter than normal varieties.

Bario Rice from the Highlands in Sarawak, Borneo

Bario highlands lies in the northern region of Sarawak, said to be the most remote frontier bordering Indonesia’s Kalimantan. It’s relatively recent air-accessibility has not only brought economic prosperity to Bario, but also a lucrative tourism industry.

At 3,500 feet above sea level, Bario enjoy fresh air & water, plus a temperate climate that makes it an ideal holiday escape.

But it’s location is a double edges sword. Due to the scarcity of labour, it is also expensive, meaning farmers of Bario rice had to be satisfied with only 1 harvest every year. Traditionally slash-and-burn has been the way to prepare for a new planting season.

However, well-to-do Kelabits are returning to Bario with wealth and expertise and are improving Bario rice production. Taking over from the present generation of farmers, they continue the Bario rice traditions, but in a more high-tech fashion.

Thanks to heavy machinery, the backbreaking task of clearing land and planting rice is now more efficient, enabling a second annual harvest and a bigger yield for Bario rice farmers.

The Kelabits, a native people of Sarawak, has relied on Bario rice for time immemorial for nourishment and believes Bario rice helps with healthy living, include a clear and smooth complexion and a long life.

Include the Bario Highlands as part of your Borneo Holiday Package and get to know the Kelabits and their wonder Bario rice. See Rustic Borneo’s holiday packages, or contact us to tailor-make your holiday.