The Sarawak Cultural Village provided an ideal way to ease into Borneo. I don’t know about you, but I like to settle in before turning up the adventure. Whether it is hiking, traveling, drinking beer, running, any activity, I like to get my groove on first before really hitting it hard.
When my plane flew over Borneo after a a long commute to the airport in Kuala Lumpur, the last thing I wanted to do when I hit the ground was to hit a hot humid jungle and start trekking. I felt this same way the next morning. Therefore, I was glad that my first tour on my itinerary was the Sarawak Cultural Village.
The Sarawak Cultural Village was located about 45 minutes outside of the capital of Sarawak, which is Kuching. It was just me and a friendly couple named Trevor and Pauline from New Zealand on the tour. The village was located in the shadow of the beautiful Mt. Santubong. As soon as I saw the mountain I had an urge to break away and climb it. I had to fight with myself and remind myself to go easy.
The Sarawak Cultural Village consists of examples of longhouses, dwellings, handcrafts, and other examples of the seven main ethnic groups from the people that live in Sarawak. The seven groups consist of the Bidayuh, Iban, Penan, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Malays, and Chinese.
There are actually over 40 sub ethnic groups in Sarawak alone. It would be ridiculous for the village to try and focus on all 40, so concentrating on just the main seven is a good way to acclimate visitors like myself who need to be eased into the experience.
Each visitor to the Sarawak Cultural Village was issued a passport. You could then get your passport stamped at each section of the village pertaining to the individual seven ethnic groups. The passport has a one page section on each ethnic group with a little picture of each style of housing, so it is a tremendous keepsake. I of course kept mine in my fanny pack.
At one of the longhouses, we were greeted by a very attractive young lady. She invited us in and performed a beautiful welcome dance. It was mesmerizing, and I have the video on my phone and watch it almost daily. I am not sure what I enjoyed more, the dance itself or the catchy music in the background. I have embedded the video below and now you will all come to this page everyday to watch this film.
The nice thing about being on a tour with other people and a guide is there is no shortage of people to take your picture. I am not a photo hound, but there are times I would like a picture of myself in front of something. When I am hiking alone this means either a selfie or the self timer.
Was the Sarawak Cultural Village over touristy? Perhaps, as it focused on aspects like headhunters, blow guns, and sword making that people from other countries visiting Borneo would want to see. Would I recommend the Sarawak Cultural Village? Yes, I would. As I have explained, it is a good way to gain a basic knowledge of the people, the history, and the culture and a good introduction to the island, Sarawak, and Kuching. Some might be turned off by the place though. I think by reading this post travelers could tell right away if this type of experience is for them.
The coup de grâce was the dancing performance. After visiting the traditional dwellings of the seven ethnic groups, we were herded into an amphitheater for 45 minutes of traditional dance. Just like the welcoming dance, the performances were filled with colorful dress, lively moves, and rhythmic music that I could have listened to all day, and I am not just saying that because the theater was air conditioned.
We spent about three hours at the Sarawak Cultural Village, so it was an ideal way to spend my first morning in Borneo getting my groove on in Sarawak.
When you land at a new location do you like to hit the ground running or are you like me and need a little time to take in the scene first?
During my stay in Kuching, I was a guest of Planet Borneo who also provided this tour. My thoughts on this tour were not swayed by their hospitality. The thoughts, pictures, and the getting into the groove ability was purely my own. I do highly recommend them for tours and for your stay in Kuching.
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