Location : Dusun Padang & Lundung, Desa Siding, Kecamatan Siding, Kabupaten Bengkayang, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia.
I may not be psychic but I believe trans border trekking will one day be the excitement for adventure tourism. If only governments of Borneo have the political will to push through a borderless world. There are uncountable numbers of beautiful cross border tracks unmanned by CIQs and they have been there since time immemorial. To the locals their ancestors have used these crossings and their children will continue to do so. To them the boundary was artificially created by outsiders, thanks to the Dutch and English, the masters of the far east then. Or were they bullies? The porosity of these borders is an open secret to the governments, illegal workers, smugglers, car thieves, criminals and recently by adventure trekkers like me.
As clearing of secondary jungles for rubber, pepper and oil palm plantations keeps pushing deeper and deeper each day, roads and power lines find their way into longhouses. Enriched by these commodities these villagers too want to enjoy the modern facilities like their city counterparts. TV, parabolic dish, gas stove, fridge and karaoke set adorn their homes now like any city home. They have a right to a better lifestyle and no tourism minister or travel agent with all their desire to please the tourists can stop this transformation.
Modernisation has slowly strangled the traditional character of longhouses. If that is not bad enough some longhouses have been totally replaced by cluster of modern individual units e.g Kampung Gayu and Benuk. Anah Rais, Simuti, Sadir, Mongkos and Rayang just to name a few will have to fight hard to keep traditions and whatever longhouses they still have.
When cultural appeal loses it luster tourists will have no choice but to venture farther and deeper. Sometimes that means pushing past the border where a lot of villages still have that ‘raw beauty’. One such adventure I would like to share here is our trek to Siding (on the Indonesian side) which is about 3 and half hours from Kampung Gumbang. Siding (aka Betêg) is comprised of 3 villages namely Padang, Maja and Lundung. It is also the transit point between nearby villages Paup, Merinding, Kadek and the town of Seluas.
Trekking to Siding
Siding and Gumbang have a strong blood relation where everyone is somehow related if not married to someone across the border. I am not surprised some of them have dual citizenship! Pak Dusun of Kpg Padang, Mr Sigul, disclosed there are about 70 Siding ladies working/residing in Kuching, excluding their offsprings. Gumbang is a preferred trading partner of Siding when it comes to smaller volume. Whatever that is portable in their ‘tamboks’ or backpacks they would rather walk on foot to buy/sell in Gumbang saving themselves RM50 which they would otherwise have to pay for the boat ride if they were to transact in Seluas.
As far as ecotourism is concerned Mount Patie’s multitier caves an hour away from Siding provides quite a unique attraction with abundant birdnests and bats. Pak Alam is the appointed caretaker of the cave and the revenue generated from the birdnest is shared among the villagers.
Roasted bats is a delicacy here as well as a preventive medicine against asthma which is what Miss Kawi who works in Kuching claimed. She declared no kids in Siding ever suffer from asthma and she due it to the bats meat!
Our kind host Mr Libbet and his pregnant wife (in fact 2 days overdue at that point in time) cooked us bat meat with dayak brinjal among other local vegetables. Looked tempting but had to pass it. Apologised to them for being vegetarians.
On the second day after breakfast and receiving packed lunch from Libbet we left by boat to Kpg Lundung to visit Pak Dusun Lobo. Our guide and friend Pak Kambing from Padang Pan was full of enthusiasm during the ride despite the numerous occasions Saleh the helmsman and his assistant had to alight due to shallow waters. Amused & puzzled, we found out 20min later it was because of Lobo’s ‘nyok’ palm wine. After 3hours of nyok indulgence Pak Kambing decided he had enough. We did the return trek via Kpg Lundung bypassing Gunung Enggas and arrived at Gumbang in 3 hours. Had a nice cold shower in Desmond Kabar’s house and the taste of Siding’s heavenly durians still lingered on somewhere in my imagination.
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