Location : Desa Setulang, Kecamatan Malinau Selatan Hilir, Kabupaten Malinau, Kalimantan Utara, Indonesia.
This is a Kenyah village about 40 minutes drive away from Malinau town. The road condition here was good. So was the scenery, with interesting looking churches, houses and arches. Unknown to us there was a special show arranged for the media from Jakarta. As we arrived at the most beautiful and colourful village hall, the crews of 2 TV stations were already standing by.
Dancers and musicians of all ages were all dressed up ready to impress. Impress they did. Still photos will not do them justice. Their dance, singing and traditional music can only be fully appreciated with video clips. Had our visit been without this 90min show it would have been pretty ordinary. Of course we would still have been mesmerized by the art and colours of the most creative tribe of Borneo, the Kenyahs. Their musical talents were unmatchable. Our luck – right time right place.
Traditional Kenyah Dance Part 1
Traditional Kenyah Dance Part 2
The only sad part of this visit was the loss of my handphone. It must have dropped from my pocket as I was getting out of the car. Oh well. Just before we left Setulang we did a little tour in and around the village.
We came across another beautiful mini longhouse nearby. Nobody seemed to stay here. Upon closer inspection, it seemed like a failed ‘homestay’ for tourists. Abandoned with some rooms in a mess.
The tricky business of tourism does not always work the way people want it to be. No reason, with all the ‘culture/adventure/nature’ attractions of Malinau, why tourism should not be thriving. Personally, I would rather stay with a family in a real home to experience the authenticity of village life rather than to be pushed into ‘special accommodation’ situated away from the locals where there is no interaction. Perhaps, there are other underlying reasons why that beautiful hostel looked abandoned. Or maybe it was built only for the occasional traditional ceremonies.
Well, time to say goodbye to Setulang and also our ‘supir’ or driver Baha who had been on the road with us for the last 9 days. His duty ‘officially’ ended that night after Setulang. We arrived at the hotel to settle the payment for his service. We would not have been able to see so much of Kalimantan had his brother Guntur, our friend, not convinced him to take us on. It was a learning experience for Baha too as he had never been to Malinau as well as many of the smaller villages during the whole trip. We thanked him and wished him a safe drive home to his waiting wife and children. It would be a very long and quiet drive. As for us it was another night in Malinau and looking forward to the next day’s event, the presentation of the Lundayeh tribe.
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