Anais Rais Longhouse

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Anais Rais Longhouse: home of the Bidayuhs. We came to visit this traditional longhouse / village. Many tribes live in single unit dwellings. Homes are kept within the family and some spaces are reserved for storing tools, household goods, etc.

Though grown children may now head to the cities for work opportunities, most families will head back for Harvest Festival or other holidays. Many tribes utilize the forest to get food and it is completely sustainable as they only take what they need and practice sustainable harvesting practices. (I.e., taking only a few tendrils of fern tops from plants so that others may still grow.)

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When we arrived, this nice lady poured us some of their locally made rice wine as a gesture of welcome. We drank and were offered a little extra! The rice wine was unlike any I’ve had: it had a flavor like sweet sake when first touching my lips, but turned into a stronger sake in my mouth, then warming further still down my throat. The first shot was not much, but the second, on such a warm day, began to sneak into my head..

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The longhouse is framed on stilts almost 8 or 10 feet above ground. It used to be so that enemies couldn’t climb up into their homes. Access to the longhouse was by a stairway carved into a tree trunk. This could be pulled up at night.

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The example of stairs is shown in this image. Inside the longhouse, the upstairs is used to store the rice supply. A huge circular barrel full of grain would feed a family for a year.

The layout of newer longhouses has changed. It used to be that the entrance held the cooking area, then the sleeping/ living area was toward the back. Now, with modern things like televisions and couches, the living area is more welcoming and is in the front. I observed this when walking along the longhouse.

To be honest, I didn’t take a lot of photos because there were a lot of people doing their daily tasks, cooking, resting, and I felt like taking pictures would only further invade their privacy. Though this is a popular tour option, I kept my picture taking to a minimum and focused on greeting those who interacted with us. People are not in costume (with the exception of the greeter) or dressed in any traditional clothes. Some of the homes have been upgraded with corrugated metal roofs or even cement block walls. The longhouse is a dwelling with old and new influences. If you wish to experience a more native feel, the “Village in the clouds” is an excursion into the jungle to visit a more traditional tribe.

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Dish drying rack.

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Bamboo for steaming rice or food inside.

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Outdoor washer..

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Drying bark to make tea.

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Freshly picked durian fruit: this is a prickly skin type.

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Drying peanuts.

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Freshly cleaned pitcher plants are used to steam rice inside. You don’t eat the plant, but it imparts flavor to the rice.

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Ahhh! Scary headhunting practices! These could be tribal enemies, Japanese, or Dutch colonialists? Even our guide couldn’t say for sure.

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Chopping heads and burning skulls are a long gone practice but during harvest, they are ceremonially burned. These skulls are located in a raised section of the longhouse. The thread-like, long basket seen in the photo, was used for transporting freshly chopped heads.

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Dwellings across the river.

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Raised house where the skulls are stored.

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