Location : Kampung Serumah, Padawan, Kuching Division, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Sometime in early 2020 I bumped into Janek an old acquaintance who 10 years ago guided us to some waterfalls near Kampung Serumah a split away village of the original Kampung Gayu.
The subject of hiking was brought up during the course of our conversation. He mentioned a new baruk erected in nearby Kampung Gayu and that got me interested. I requested him to organize another visit and hike. The idea was cancelled when the pandemic forced a lockdown in 2020. However, on the eve of 2021 I received a call from Janek asking if we could visit him at his village the next day. The village headman’s condition was there must be no large group which was fine as we had always preferred privacy when doing recce trips.
So we met up with Janek at Kedai Runcit Roy a convenience store at Bra’ang Payang Road otherwise called the Old Padawan Road, situated in between Kampung Serumah and Kampung Gayu. We proceeded by car to the trailhead at Lorong 15 Gayu. At the end of the lane was the newly completed short grey baruk.
After all our visits to Kalimantan and seeing their baruks, this was unimpressive to say the least. A far cry from its majestic past but a good and honest try compared to other Bidayuh villages in both Padawan and Bau where baruks have completely disappeared or allowed to rot without the slightest interest in maintaining them.
The whole morning’s weather was perfect. The sun was out and shinning but not a ray of sunbeam passed through the thick foliage thanks to all the huge trees shading the trail. The hike ascended from step number one right up to the peak. There was no time for warming up. The long layoff from uphill hiking was taxing on the knees. Along the way our guide Janek would narrate his many childhood stories and after about half an hour we reached a spot called Tiang Badak lined by 15m tall vertical limestone walls on both sides of the trail. Looking back, this was the most captivating and memorable part of the trail. A lovely ancient trail through a magnificent limestone ravine. The cool breeze rushing up through the ravine was comforting indeed. Well shaded plus a breeze, a 5 Star trail.
Finally, we decided to do our first pitstop at a spot called Pekan Neriet. Furnished with some ancient limestone stools we sat there to listen to more Janek stories about the past as told by his grandfather. He recalled how Gumbang villagers from Bau would regularly conduct raids on Kampung Gayu in the old days of headhunting. Never knew our friends in Gumbang were such a nasty lot back then!! Sorry bros. Heard the same stories too from other Padawan villages. Gumbang was called Betag back then.
After the 30min break we continued the hike to the peak of Bung Mawang the old spot of the original Kampung Gayu. It took us another 30min passing some gigantic trees with thick bamboos clusters around the old spot.
Upon arriving, we found the place with freshly crafted bamboo benches and a traditional cooking place. It must have been a regular resting place for the locals.