It is the friendliness of the Kayans that made my visit to Long Bedian so memorable. Language is not a barrier when you have someone there to translate Malay to Kayan, Kayan to Malay. I owed it all to Cath Tipong from Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) for her willingness to do just that.
Although some of the Kayan kids were quite shy and reluctant to respond to my conversation, one thing they’re always good at is smiling. They would run and hide behind anything they could find near them. And then I would hear them giggle. The giggles were enough for me to understand them. The elder kids were quite friendly as they would greet me “Selamat pagi” with a smile.
And of course, the members JKKK Long Bedian, the working committee for the Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival, were the most friendliest of them all! 🙂
Hiding at the corner of their house.
Gotcha! Nowhere to run, they smiled and giggled. Too cute.
I had the honour to meet a Kayan puindo (grandma) at her house, Puyang Emang, 80 years old. She has been living in the longhouse, house number 66, for 20 years.
Puyang has tattoos on both her hands since she was 12. For Kayan women, tattoos is considered a form of feminine beauty.
The Long Bedian village, home to about 200 houses ( a mix of longhouses and individual houses) and approximately 2,000 people, is situated in the Apoh Tutoh region of the Baram district, Miri division. The majority here is Kayan with a mix of Kelabit, Kenyah, Morek, Penan and other smaller tribes.
According to history, the village was discovered in 1946. The people chose to settle down here because the land is fertile and rich with food source. The Long Bedian village was named after the Bedian River. The Bedian River is named after a durian tree found on the river bank. Bedian is durian in Kayan language.
Long Bedian river.
The Long Bedian community has improved throughout the years. At the end of 1960, the community was introduced to farming, planting coffee, as well as to government policies, for example, attending formal education in national school is compulsory here. The Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Long Bedian created history when it was selected by he Ministry of Education, Malaysia beginning January 2012 to start the K-9 Comprehensive Special Model. The model enabled the school to provide education from Year 1 to Form 3. It was one of the Ministry’s strategies in solving problems as well as bridging educational gap among the various ethnics, cultural and socio-economic in the country.
The village is also equipped with a clinic, mini library, wireless internet connection, homestays (one of it is Tapun Homestay – where I stayed for 3 days), badminton court, basketball court and many more.
A very long longhouse 🙂
Library and Internet connection.
Long Bedian is also the main trading point for daily needs; from food to clothing to hardware to SIM cards! The trading area consists of three rows of shop lots. Built in 1995, the shop lots are rented out to locals to run their business. Tribal crafts can also be found here. I bought some for my keeps.
Weaved bangles made by the Penans.
So how do you get here? Good question. In my case, I took Malaysia Airlines (MAS) from KL to Miri (2 and a half hours). Later, I took 4WD from Miri to Long Bedian for about 4 hours. It was a bumpy ride but nonetheless ’twas fun!
Alternatively, you can take a twin-otter plane operated by MAS from Miri to Marudi (20 minutes). From Marudi, you can take the express boat to Long Lama (3 hours) and later take the 4WD to Long Bedian (1 hour).
If you need to arrange for ground transportation; you can contact KJBMB Long Bedian also the operator of Tapun Homestay:
Jok Eng Jok 013-8305962
Ding Laing Jok 012-8556118
Ulau Wan 019-4838311