07 Sep - 10 Sep 2009 Pa' Lungan

Malaysian Borneo
Sarawak aka Land of the Hornbills
Pa’ Lungan (c. 1,090 m above sea level)
Batu Ritung Lodge +60128096887 baturitunglodge@yahoo.com
Spacious double room, with full-board, for MYR 50.- or US$ 14.20 per person per day.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Batu Ritung Lodge in Pa' Lungan, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Shoplifting together with our Kelabit/Chinese friends and hosts Supang & Nabun the "jungle supermarket" for (i) wild-ginger flowers, (ii) jungle fern aka paku, (iii) wild coriander, (iv) bamboo shoots and (v) leafy jungle veggies aka midin, visiting our friends' paddy fields where they grow the famed Bario Rice (sales price in Europe: up to MYR 100.- or € 20.- per kg) and experimenting with aphrodisiacs from the rainforest: Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) for Matt and Kacip Fatima (Labisa pumila) for Konni; or, bleeding hell, was it the other way around?

“I sat on a toilet watching the water run thinking what an odd thing tourism is. You fly off to a strange land, eagerly abandoning all the comforts of home and then expend vast quantities of time and money in a largely futile effort to recapture the comforts you wouldn’t have lost if you hadn’t left home in the first place.” 

Visiting Batu Ritung, an ancient stone monument (a large slab of stone on top of upright stones aka dolmen), which was erected to commemorate the secondary burial of Ritung, a nobleman from Pa’ Lungan.

Konni: Participating in the daily morning service of the Sidang Injil Borneo (formerly the Borneo Evangelical Church - pioneered by Hudson Southwell together with two fellow missionaries, Frank Davidson and Carey Tolley, from Australia) in the wooden village church and meeting friendly locals both with regularly shaped and with elongated ear lobes.

Scrambling to the top of 1,278-m high Mt. Tudal (N 03° 49.18' E 115° 31.18') and enjoying the stunning views down onto the peaceful village of Pa’ Lungan, a football-pitch-sized cluster of clapboard houses surrounded by wet paddies and green pastures, overlooked by glowering hills.

Watching our host Supang perform a traditional hornbill dance, a slow, twisting movement of dignified grace, to the flute-like sound of the sape, a traditional lute of many of the Orang Ulu or "upriver people", which is carved from a single bole of wood.

Satisfying our wanderlust and hiking through waist-high ferns from Pa’ Lungan via Pa’ Ukat to Pa’ Umor, thus following hoof marks and sledge-ruts left by straining water buffalo, and passing ancient Batu Narit, a carved stone associated with the headhunting era of the past (the last recorded instance of headhunting in Borneo allegedly happened very, very long ago, way back in the 1960s CE...), depicting a large hornbill.

“Walking is a virtue, tourism is a deadly sin.” 

Click below for more blog posts about impressive Asian folk dances

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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