If you have the opportunity to visit Central Sarawak, why not spend your time at Tellian Village in Mukah hinterland, a quaint, laid-back coastal village that will make you feel like wandering through times while exploring Melanau culture.
The Melanaus who were once seafaring people and well known to be sago farmers and fisherman, are believed to be among the oldest settlers which make up about less than 10 percent of the Sarawak population.
Mukah which could be accessed by flight via MASwings from Kuching, is about three-hour drive from Sibu. You may also take a speedboat down the Rejang River via Dalat from Sibu.
Located about 15 minutes from Mukah Airport, there is Lamin Dana Cultural Boutique Lodge – a combination of a guest house and cultural centre showcasing uniqueness of Melanau history and heritage.
Lamin Dana Cultural Boutique Lodge
Built in 1999 with traditional style of tall house, Lamin Dana Cultural Boutique Lodge was founded by Diana Rose who aspired to promote Melanau tradition to the world. Officially opened on early 2000, Lamin Dana has now make an impact after 20 years of its existence as it gained coverage from many local and international media including Lonely Planet.
Lamin Dana literally means a traditional house in Melanau language and it can accommodate up to 20 people at a time with the availability of twin sharing rooms and family rooms. At Lamin Dana, you may discover authentic Melanau cuisine, take part in basket weaving hands-on experience or exploring riverine lifestyle and cottage sago industry activities as you go on boat trips along the Tellian River that is still used by local people to transport sago logs for processing.
Local Melanau handicrafts including traditional costumes, musical instruments and cookware are also showcased to the visitors. The traditional Melanau costume for men is Baban, which is quite similar to the traditional outfit worn by Malay men called baju Melayu with samping while their female donned in kurung with sarong.
You may also be fascinated with terendak or the sun hat which is weaved from sago palms strips and normally being used in Kaul Festival (marks the beginning of the Melanau calendar) or being displayed as wall decoration at home.
Melanau culture and sago is inseparable as the latter is regarded as staple food and vital importance to the people’s economy. Therefore, sago palm tree which grow abundance in the freshwater swamp, will be fully utilized as the sago product can be turned into flour or baked into biscuits.
Try to savour linut, a starchy paste or a sticky porridge-like type made from sago flour as it is best consumed with spicy sambal (chilli-hot relish). Surprisingly, linut is also used in the making of batik which is an innovation in textile design using sago flour, introduced by Lamin Dana into Malaysian market.
Other menu that you should try is umai – the diced raw-fish delicacy served with lime, chillies, onions and salad leaves with sago pearls. If you dare, try also the juicy sago grubs or sago worms (siet in Melanau language) to be exact, as a snack.
Another major highlight is the ancient relics of Melanau’s centuries old burial poles named jerunai which is just about two-minute walking distance from Lamin Dana. The 10 to 15 metres high erected jerunai which can be found mostly in the coastal areas of Mukah and Dalat, used to be promonient among the Melanau aristocrats.
Jerunai is usually decorated with carved motifs and made of Borneo ironwood tree (pokok belian) that is sturdy and therefore can withstand heat and torrential rain for years. It is said that in order to escort the ‘spirit’ of the dead aristocrat, one female slave would be sacrificed, tied at the top of jerunai and left starving to death. The dead girl was believed to take care of the aristocrat as the decayed body of the latter would be finally laid in the central hole of jerunai.
In fact, there is an upcoming movie on ‘Sumpahan Jerunai’ which is part of Sarawak government’s promotion efforts. Another attraction that we think you should catch when you are in Central Sarawak is Sapan Puloh Melanau Museum which is less than 10-minute drive away from Mukah town.
Lamin Dana packages:
* 3 Days/2 Nights & 2 Days/1Night Lamin Dana
* 4 Days/3 Nights & 3 Days/2 Nights Lamin Dana Cultural Intelligence Team Building Package
* Lamin Dana Day Tour
* 3 Days/2 Nights Lamin Dana Student Cultural Package
* 3 Days/2 Nights Lamin Dana Culinary Package
* Backpackers and budget travellers
Address: Lamin Dana Cultural Boutique Lodge, Tellian Daya,
96400 Mukah, Sarawak, Malaysia
Facebook: Lamin Dana Cultural Boutique Lodge