Through travel, we put aside our differences and exchange stories of how we discover out-of-comfort-zone destinations. We shared the laughter with the church group who hiked the Prayer Mountain. At first, it did not cross my mind that the group would be doing spiritual activity on top of the mountain. Listening to their stories made me realize that they went to pray at the Prayer Mountain and cleaned up the chapel, which was located half way to the peak.
Since there were plenty of us, Lilian (Auntie Lucy’s sister cum the pastor) proposed for us all to share the costs for a Kelabit cultural performance at Bario Asal Lembaa’ Longhouse. We agreed to share the costs of RM360 for the cultural experience.
To go to Bario Lembaa’ Longhouse, the host transported us using 3 vehicles. . The boys took the open-air wagon through the cold highlands weather. Luckily, the journey took less than 10 minutes in pitch dark night. We ascended the steps to enter the longhouse. The lighting was gloomy but the elderly women of the Bario Asal welcomed us with their smiles and handshakes. Near the entrance, the Kelabits arrange the plastic chairs in a circle shape. I noticed other tourists whom I believed were staying at Bario Lembaa’ Longhouse joined us for the performance.
The Kelabit women sang their traditional Kelabit songs, one of which was known as ‘Adih’. They danced a type of dance typical to the sub-ethnic of Sarawak known as Datun Julud or Tarian Panjang. Datun Julud takes its inspiration after the graceful movement of the hornbills. It is a welcoming dance performed by the Orang Ulu sub-ethnic.
Lian also took part in the show by dancing the male version of the hornbill dance.
Surprisingly, the Kelabits are fond of Poco-poco dance, a line dance famous in Malaysia and Indonesia. However, the songs played by the Kelabits had the spiritual elements. The elderly women took turn to dance and invited us to dance with them. We played games as well as. I did not remember the name of the game but whoever who caught the paper ball in their hand had to perform the dance or any songs of choice. I caught the ball twice and the not-so-creative self had to perform silly dance!
Towards the end of the cultural show, the elderly women started to sing Liling, a Kenyah folk song with Kelabit lyric. Everyone raised to their feet, put their hands on the shoulder or waist of the person in front of them and swayed their feet according to the rhythms of the songs. Personally, I really enjoyed the cultural show at Bario Asal.
Before heading back to Labang Longhouse Homestay, I took a selfie with Nenek Tepun Elo, who tried to explain to me about the name changing ceremony. Apparently, one of the most important events in the life of a Kelabit (also a dying tradition) is the changing of name upon entering parenthood. They can either take up the name used by one of their ancestors or completely new name. Others who become grandparents may opt to change their name as well. Tepun means “grandmother”. The name changing ceremony is one of the important ceremonies celebrated by the Kelabits.
Hover and click your mouse on the title to read the earlier entries on Bario:-
1. 5D4N Bario – Day 1 : Stranded in Miri
2. 5D4N Bario, the Kelabit Highlands Trip – Flying with Twin Otter
3. 5D4N Bario – Exploring Bario (Day 2, Part 1)
4. 5D4N Bario – Exploring Bario (Day 2, Part 2)
5. 5D4N Bario – Around Bario & Pa’ Umor Salt Spring (Day 3, Part 1)