If it wasn’t because of the Penan research project that I’m involved in, I would not have the opportunity to explore Long Bedian village and the surrounding Penan settlements at Tutoh/Apoh area. Before this, I heard and read about the mentioned Kayan longhouse but never have the time to even visit the places until end of last July.
I’ve only mixed with the Penans at Baram area during my early primary school education. 🙂
Long Bedian village was chosen as the team first destination for our Penan research project as based on our studies, there are few Penan settlements located nearby the mentioned Kayan longhouse.
The Journey Start Here
On the 31st July, the team (consists of 5 persons) left the campus around 8am. We boarded on 2 4WD-vechicles with mixed feelings of excitement (as it was everybody first time off road experience) and worries (the journey might take longer due to un-predictable weather, worry the most that we might not get the opportunity to meet the nomadic Penan).
Little did I know one of our drivers is my long lost cousin – Adam (who is also the Long Bedian Head of Village’s brother-in-law). What a small world after all. We get to know each other while having our breakfast before departing to Bakong. 🙂
It’s A Bumpy Ride After All
The journey from Miri to Bakong was a bumpy journey, dusty and hot. We were traveling during dry season as per informed by our drivers. One get to see plants, trees, bushes, houses along the roadside are in beige colors as it was covered by at least 5 inches thickness of dust. It was a 3 hours bumpy ride and I swear I felt my breast is getting sagging each time it bounced. I kid you not. ;p
It took 1 hour journey from the Lapok Bridge to Long Lama town. You have to get into a ferry to go across the Baram River as Long Lama town is located across the river. While waiting for the ferry, we got out and stretching our nearly cramped muscles due to the bumpy ride.
We had our lunch at Long Lama town for 1 hour before we departed to Long Bedian.
Not Only It’s Bumpy but It’s Dangerous
Along the journey from Long Lama to Long Bedian, one gets to see forest ‘demolition’ to give way to oil palm plantation. You don’t get to see logging activities near the timber roads as it is usually done deep inside the forest. I was shocked to discover a stone quarry in the middle of the forest too.
Once a while, you would bump into logging trucks and the scene is pretty scary as the trucks are loaded with logs. At times, our drivers have to stop the car to give way for the logging trucks to pass by otherwise your car might plucked into the ravine.
Honestly, going up and down the hills on a timber logging roads is not a fun matter. One must have sharp eyes and must be focus too. I rather drive a 4WD vehicle in a rally instead of this. Period.
It took us 1 hour to reach Long Bedian from Long Lama town. We checked in at a home-stay type of accommodation which was managed by one of our driver – Richard. After settling down for few hours, the team discussed and decided to execute the plans of exploring the first nearby Penan settlement.
Long Latei Penan Settlement
It took us 40 minutes drive from Long Bedian to Long Latei. We met the Ketua Kampung (Head of Village), Mr. Jangin and also get to meet the villagers. We documented, filmed, photographed on whatever we wanted to know for the research project that last for nearly 3 hours.
You may not know that Long Latei Penan is no longer categorized as nomadic Penan as they had pretty much settled down just like the other ethnic races. Some of them even owned 4WD vehicles and motorbikes’. They provide education to their children by sending them to the nearest school. They had electricity supply too and it’s not from SESCO but from self-financed generator. They even had a church and most of them are Christians now. However, there is one muslim family here as one of the Penan girl was married to an Indonesian guy.
And you know what; the Long Latei Penan even had a parabolic dish (not ASTRO satelite dish) installed in front of their longhouse. I didn’t manage to get a shot of it however it was filmed anyway. 🙂
So to those who still think the Penan are ‘backward’ people due to their once upon a time nomadic lifestyle, do you still see the Penan the same again after knowing this facts?
Please don’t coz they’re moving forward too just like you and me. 🙂