Visiting Korik Longhouse, A Real Adventure of Borneo

A small ex car engine mounted on a small boat that we were riding howled when passing through the rocks scattered in the middle of the river. While the captain’s hands, looks busy controlling the boat, avoiding wood or stone under the surface of the water that can tear the hull of the boat that we are riding. And us, the passengers, can only hold on tight and surrender completely to entrust our lives to the captain.

The day before, our car slowly left a hotel in Palangkaraya City. It is from the capital of the province of Central Kalimantan that our journey to a Betang (Longhouse) in the village of Tumbang Korik begins.

We took the first stage by car to the village of Tumbang Miri for 8 hours. Heading north of the heart of the island of Borneo by passing through the small town of Kuala Kurun to Tewah Village, here the trip can still be considered safe because the road is already pretty good.

From Tewah the real adventure begins, the path of which has not been asphalt is only a small part of macadam, while most of the paths are irregular, mixed with rocks and interspersed with mud puddles.

Many times we have to cross a makeshift bridge, boards arranged to make it easier for drivers to pass through mud puddles that are quite deep, but we have to pay Rp. 5,000 to the maker.

At a point where there is no emergency bridge, we have to wait for about an hour to pass, a truck that has fallen must be evacuated before other car can pass. Which becomes the peak, when our gas tank is released so we have to tie it with a rope and go slowly until it reaches the village of Tumbang Miri.

The next day, all our bags and logistics have been neatly arranged in a small boat or commonly called klotok by the people of Borneo. This small klotok powered by L300 car engine splits the Kahayan River water which is one of the major  rivers in Central Kalimantan.

Some of the villages of the Dayak Ngaju tribe are on the banks of the river we pass by, in some parts of the river are rather shallow so the boat captain must be a little careful. Several times we hit the stone or wood  in the water. Feelings of nervousness and misgivings that I initially felt every time our klotok touched something, but now I did not care anymore because too often.

Once entering the smaller Hamputung River, the challenges are more extreme. Rapids are almost stratified we have to go through, fortunately our captain has experienced in this path. Ripple and stone have become daily friend for 6 years doing business in water taxis.

The scenery is also more serene, big trees overshadow our journey along the road. Even a rare hornbill flew past, a sign that the surrounding nature was still awake.

At a small river crossing, we see  our destination. Named Tumbang Korik village because this settlement is located in a river estuary named Korik. Tumbang itself means river estuary, each village name in Kalimantan that starts with the name Tumbang must be located at the river estuary.

Once we climbed from the lanting, the towering old Pantar pole welcomed us. Right across from him, standing proudly a big and tall house makes us who come as if small. The house is called the Betang Temanggung Singa Kenting.

In front of the Betang house there is a small house called Sandung, where the bones of the ancestors are kept after the last customary death ceremony. The ceremony was named Tiwah, specifically held for the families of the deceased who still embraced the Dayak ancestral religion, Kaharingan.

A unique door made of only one piece of Ulin Wood carved with an elephant-headed mythological animal and a dragon body welcomes every guest who comes. It is said that someone wanted to buy this door at a price of hundreds of millions, but was rejected by the Betang family because of its high historical value. Not far from Pindu, piled a large iron chain with eyes the size of a palm that was used to tie Jipen, a term for slaves owned by the Dayak tribe long time ago.

The structure of the house which was built entirely using Ulin Wood is quite unique, all parts of the house are put together without using nails, only using pegs. There are several rooms inside, the back patio is used as a shared kitchen where all the family cooks. Actually there is next to the main Betang owned by the Temanggung Singa Keting family, there used to be the same size on the left and right sides of the Betang, but the time siring was broken and only the poles remained.

Accompanied by a baram kettle, a typical drink of  Dayak tribe that is usually served to guests who come we listen to the story of the origin of this Betang house from village elders who are still descendants of the temanggung.

It is said, before being in its current position the Betang house, owned by the Dayak Ot Danum tribe, had moved twice because of its incorrect position and was often attacked by the enemy. Until finally the Manajah Antang ritual was carried out, that is, asking the clue from the power with the eagle as the  mediator to find the best position, and get the current position.

In the past, before the agreement in the village of Tumbang Anoi the land of Borneo was not safe, Ngayau or known as head hunters were still on the loose. Inter-tribal warfare is still common, and therefore the typical Dayak or Betang house is generally up to 6 meters from the ground. In addition to avoiding enemy attacks, tall buildings are also safe from wild animals.

Betang is generally inhabited by several families, up to ten families living in harmony. That is why its size is very large compared to modern homes today, up to 60 to 100 meters. But along with the already safe situation of Kalimantan, the existence of large houses has increasingly shrunk, people are more comfortable building houses with sizes that are not too large.

In addition to visiting Betang or longhose, there are some interesting activities for tourists visiting Tumbang Korik Village such as Jungle Trekking in a virgin forest, walking along the leech rainforest tracks is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience when returning home. If you come during the planting season, we also join the community to go to the fields in the middle of the forest.

Their unique way of farming on the hillside, without water as is usually done on low land is also worth seeing and learning so that they no longer consider the Dayak tribe as a forest destroyer when clearing land by burning.

Three days is not enough to enjoy and feel the life of a simple Dayak tribe, but the adventure continues on our journey home. If you have more time, we really want to continue the journey to several other Betang houses such as those in Tumbang Anoi Village and Tumbang Malahoi Village. Maybe next time you have to go back here.

Contact Be Borneo for the adventure, we will happily arrange your trip to visit he Longhouse.

Happy Responsible Travel!


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