Location : Uma Bakung & Uma Bakah, Sungai Asap Resettlement, Belaga District, Kapit Division, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Our 10 day road trip began from Kuching two days ahead of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year celebration. We covered Sungai Asap Resettlement, Bakun, Murum, Tegulang Resettlement, Belaga and finally Maludam Wetland Park. With the current yet to be completed Pan Borneo highway, we had to spend the night in Bintulu before continuing our drive to Sungai Asapthe next morning. When the Pan Borneo highway is completed the stopover at Bintulu will not be necessary. Fuel is available in Sungai Asap and Belaga but not in Murum or Bakun. A jerry can with spare fuel would save you from stress.
Petrol station in Sungai Asap
The roads leading to the areas we mentioned above were all tar sealed except for Tegulang which was dirt/gravel logging trails and definitely not recommended for saloon cars. Although tar sealed, the road from the junction of Bintulu/Miri towards Sungai Asap was very deceptively smooth. There were at least 8 humps that gave us air times even driving at between 60 – 80 kph. The road condition from Bakun to Murum was equally bad if not worse. There were many patches of loose gravel. Sungai Asap to Bakun was good. Bakun to Belaga was filled with many dangerous potholes and sharp bends.
Junction to Bakun along the Bintulu-Miri Road
About 10 vendors are still operating their businesses here
Baby lobster from Similajau
T junction to Sungai Asap
Despite our being a first timer driving to all these places we had no trouble as roads signs were there except when trying to locate Uma Bakah (Kenyah) our homestay at Sungai Asap. There was no signage to indicate Uma Bakah on the road side but after a few phone calls with Ms Ester our homestay lady, we were slowly put back on track.
Our host Mr Lawing Luat
With our host Mdm Uyan Anyie, daughter Ester and Alis on the far left.
Uma Bakahis a Kenyah village relocated from their last dwelling in the Bakun area of Long Bulan although their long nomadic history started from Long Aka to Maruang to Long Itam to Long Jamek as according to the interesting story told to us by Pemanca Tony.
Photos of the old settlement at Long Bulan
The present settlement
It is one of the most highly populated so far compared to all the other relocated villages. As we drove into the village, two things stood impressively before us, the beautiful arch and the majestic 24m tall totem pole which they call ‘belawing’.
Entrance to Uma Bakah
The 24m belawing
Beautiful ruai of the main longhouse of Uma Bakah
Chatting with the headman of Bakah Mr Padan Bisau
As far as we know, there are only 2 villages offering homestay here in Sungai Asap. The other is Uma Belor the more popular Kayan longhouse. But we do believe there are more discreet ones in the other villages. Uma Bakah has a market place that sells fresh vegetables and fruits daily and there is also a coffeeshop in it that offers fresh noodles and brewed coffee. Next to the market is a bakery whose owner runs the homestay we stayed at as well. Tourists will not have to worry about food here. The owners Lawing and Uyan have wild meat and fish stowed in their freezers. Next ….village hopping in Sungai Asap.
The first longhouse we visited on the way to Sungai Asap, Uma Bakung (Kenyah)
4 generations between the little boy and the great grand mother with the tattooed arms
80+ yr old Kenyah lady with her tattoo done when she was 18yrs old. Due to the stretching of the skin as she got older and bigger the tattoos are faded and not so distinct.
These tattoos are more than 60 years old
Loading the hunting dogs into the back of the double cab, to a common and traditional hunting using dogs they call ‘ngasu’