Sunday, March 06, 2011

Long Bedian in Miri beckons the adventurous

ALTHOUGH a long way from Miri city, Long Bedian is worth a visit.

Located in the Northern Region, it is a symbol of pride for the Kayan.

Not many people are aware that this remote village in the Baram, more than 200km from Miri, has a ‘hidden’ natural tourism asset − the Tenyok River.

Recently, thesundaypost joined the team from Miri Visitors Information Centre (VIC) for a tourism-update trip to Long Bedian.

I’ve been there a few times on official duty. If you want to get to the village, you have to plan your journey properly. Due to the village’s remoteness, logistics is the most important factor to consider.

Normally, locals who want to return to their villages in the Baram will try their luck at the bus station next to the Miri City Council (MCC) field. Now, with the help of VIC and local tour operators, they can call up to hire transportation.

However, due to the high expenses involved – around RM450 per trip from Miri to Long Bedian − the driver will not start the journey until he gets enough passengers to cover costs.

Off-road challenge

For us, the journey was rough as the Beluru-Lapok route is in poor condition. Apparently, everyone felt the discomfort as we drove along the bumpy and dusty gravelled road. Hopefully, a tar-sealed road will be laid soon.

After transferring by ferry to Long Lama, we started the two-hour drive on ‘timber’ roads to the village.

These roads get muddy during the rainy reason and the slopping terrain makes the journey a gruelling, yet exhilarating, off-road drive, especially for people who never travelled on timber roads before.

One has to be alert at all times. It’s risky travelling on a road used mainly by big timber-laden trucks. But our driver, Langang, is very experienced − and there wasn’t much to worry about.

At Long Bedian, we put up at the home of a local resident. We were supposed to stay overnight at Tapun Homestay (Inap Desa Tapun) but the plan had to be cancelled at the last minute due to generator breakdown.

However, we were happy to stay at Wan Jok’s place.

Our host’s warm hospitality not only made us feel at home but also gave us the opportunity to experience Kayan lifestyle.

Tatooing culture

Before nightfall, we went exploring the village, hoping to discover some things of cultural significance that could be developed to promote tourism.

At the long house, we met some elderly Kayan women sitting on a long bench in the veranda, and spent some quality time with them. They are the last group of women in the long house who are distinguished by tattoos on their hands and legs.

According one of them, Mujan Jah, tattoos or tedek (in Kayan) are considered a form of feminine beauty in her generation.

The friendly grandmother in her 80’s said she started tattooing her limbs a long time ago.

The process was painful but she is proud to be among the last batch of women in her community still carrying the vestiges of a vanishing culture.

According to her, tattooing takes a long time and, once done, will last for years.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Long Bedian in Miri beckons the adventurous

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