Iban Longhouse Borneo, Malaysia

We have often seen people on stilts entertaining crowds. But, houses on stilts! Have you seen them? These are traditional houses built raised off the ground on stilts. Quite a few places in the world have such houses; Borneo in Malaysia is one of them
(Pic courtesy Beehive Communications) 

The Dayaks and Ibans, native people of Borneo, live in such buildings on stilts. As you approach you will be amazed to see lengthy structures on stilts. These are home of the native tribes there. The houses are divided into public area along one side and a row of private living quarters lined along the other side. One obvious reason why these native people live in such houses is to avoid flooding.

While modernization is taking its toll and flattening the world, Malaysian Tourism has done well in preserving these traditional structures. Special touring packages are available where tourists get to experience their lives and daily chores. The whole area is not setup for tourists but it is a ‘real living world of the tribes’. You get to see twenty-two families, one-hundred and thirteen people as well as a few animals all living in a wooden building under one big tin roof. Each of the twenty-two families has their own room, a common open-space area, a deck and a piece of farmland somewhere near the longhouse.

(Pic courtesy Beehive Communications)

They do not live in total isolation from the world yet they have managed to preserve their identity. If you are there a courtesy visit to the headman of the longhouse and respect for their traditions and customs will be well appreciated. You will be provided basic necessities and simple bathroom facilities. You will be treated to tasty jungle food alternately you can even try your hand cooking the local way. Sing and dance the tribal way with Iban tribe celebrating “tuak” (rice wine), and sleep on floor under mosquito nets. It will be a unique experience to spend a night here and for those who are keen to know about tribal ways of life this definitely is a must visit place.

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