Stuif's Adventures

All albums

Village above the clouds, February 2010
I had heard a lot about the Bidayuh village of Semban in the Bungo range, south of Kuching. I had seen pictures of spectacular bamboo bridges, beautiful waterfalls and fascinating ladies wearing brass coils on arms and legs.
A dam is under construction in the region, to be completed this year. Then the traditional access route will get flooded, and that is one reason that many people are visiting Semban these days.

So many people, that when I accepted Keong's invitation to join him on a trip to this "Village above the Clouds", I was a bit worried that the village might have become a tourist attraction already. Fortunately that was not true, during our visit there was only one other group, but no interference.

The organiser of the trip was Danny Voon, a friend of Keong, and he had done a very good job. I dislike big groups, so our small team was perfect.
The Bungo range is about an hour drive from Kuching, and after buying provisons on our way, we met our porters Glen and Yun, and our other guide Desmond, at the Bungo dam construction site.

The first part of the trip is relatively easy. The Bidayuh maintain a well-kept network of paths, bamboo bridges cross the rivers, rest places have been constructed. All supplies to the villages have to be carried by porters, we saw a man carrying a 30 kg gas bottle on his back.

Near Kg Bujong we had lunch and a refreshing bath in the Pain waterfall. Then the Stairway to Heaven starts, an endless series of steps, finally ending at the village, where we got a friendly welcome from Sagen and his wife, our hosts in Semban. Very knowledgeable about and interested in the traditional Bidayuh culture.

I could write page after page about our two days in Semban. We had wonderful food, watched the sunrise, visited a number of pristine waterfalls, had breakfast with the ladies with the brass coils.
Better let the pictures tell the story. A * indicates extra text.

I would like to go back and stay a longer time to enjoy the atmosphere of the village. I felt surprisingly at home. And according to Sagen there are 13 waterfalls!

Thanks Sagen and Danny!

Our team *

On our way

Bamboo bridge *

Crossing the bridge *
1 comment

Beautiful construction

High above the water

Flimsy ladder *

Rest *

Lunch Break *

Refreshing bath

Kg Bujong *

Suspension bridge near Bujong
1 comment

Wild pineapple

Edible fruits?

Beautiful scenery

Thirsty! *

Welcome in Semban *

Enjoying (?) the waterpipe

Traditional kitchen *
1 comment

Dinner *
1 comment

Tepui as after dinner drink *

Waiting for the sunrise *

Morning clouds in the valley

Sunrise 6:50 am

1 comment

Going down again
1 comment

Pepper *


Getting hot already

Back in Semban

Curious spectator

Simple and artistic

Cutting tobacco *

Tobacco fruits and seed

New harvest of hill padi *

Pounder to dehusk rice

Separating the husk from the grain

Sagen's beautiful garden

In Sagen's garden


Can chili be fresher?
1 comment

Hmm, shall I try...?

Traditional necklace *

No idea what it is, but nice.

Simple, functional ladder

Glen's son (l) and a nephew *
1 comment

Waterfall, here I come

And here I am..:-)
1 comment

Susukng fall *

Wild ginger (Etlingera coccinea)

Arriving at a series of waterfalls

Curtain Fall *

Vertical and impressive

Waterfall fun *

Pengan (l) and Petn falls

Lunch break

Forgot the name...

Waterfall landscape

Kling fall *

Top of the Kling fall

Trap for squirrels *

A refreshing young coconut

New life

Villager coming back from his garden

Old 'magic' stones *

Better be back before the rain *

The Barruk

The only remaining human skull

Rope made from the Ijok palm

Double-piston bellows *

Tempering a parang blade

The two pistons *

Various gadgets *

Our second dinner *

A betel set
1 comment

The pot with fermented wild boar *

The ladies arrive for breakfast *

Traditional music.\

Ruyang and Rasung *

They must have been beauties

Admiring the pictures

Semban, goodbye!

Almost back...

in civilisation (?) ....

wrote on Mar 6, 2010:
Nobody especially those in the Kiara Bunch can beat you, when it comes to measuring the level of "living it up"

wrote on Mar 6, 2010:
What a lovely, lovely trip. I don't know if you'll agree, but I've always found trekking in Sarawak somehow different. Like you said, you feel strangely at home. The guides and porters are usually wonderfully caring and mindful. My most memorable treks have been in Sarawak, especially with the strong yet gentle Penans.

I was wondering why I found Aric different, then I remembered. :))

With those 13 waterfalls, I'm sure you'll be back there in no time. Thank you for this lovely album.

Kwai Loh wrote on Mar 6, 2010:
My Sarawak experience is still limited, but I think I agree with you. About Aric, I am getting used to him without his glasses..:-)

wrote on Mar 6, 2010:
How lucky to spot this.

wrote on Mar 6, 2010:
The mat looks familiar.... :)

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
Have you started on your book ... Just to sow the seed in your mind.

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
The gaps seems to be a bit too wide

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
what gaps? i don't see any breaks in the bamboo walkway, nor on the hand rails? ;) /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
yeah, that was the first thing i noticed. but then again, the hand rails were not designed for aric's hands. ;) /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
i suspect gilbert will be more confident crossing this one. ;) /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
or skulls, in the recent past. /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
no competition here. they can't be birders. /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
the climb up this one got to be much better than that at timpohon gate in kinabalu park. /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
yes, sitting beside a chili padi plant and picking one whenever you need some spice in life. /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
Ah, the cute little boys that I'd met last November! Very adorable. I miss Glen and his family (my host) as well as Pak Sagen and Yun.

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
whoa! i'm still trying to get used to aric sans specs. /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
got to be a dangerous place for him to go to his garden with a shotgun. hope it is for nothing more than the usual pests -- wild boar particularly, in which case it is food. /stephen

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
Standard equipment -- one shotgun in case a kijang or babi hutan is around, and one (multi-purpose) parang.

wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
did you look up at the rafters? there could be more stored up there ... but that's the iban tradition. don't know if the bidayuh practice is the same. /stephen

Kwai Loh wrote on Mar 7, 2010:
Pak Sagen told us that there have been more in the past and that this one only was left in the village

Liz wrote on Mar 8, 2010:
Didn't catch your own pig?

Liz wrote on Mar 8, 2010:
But aren't the limbs still weight bearing? I thought the coils are decorative and not restricting the limb. It's not like the neck coils in Thailand .

Kwai Loh wrote on Mar 8, 2010:
They are not really restricting the limbs, but still I saw that under the coils the limbs were slightly atrophied

wrote on Mar 9, 2010:
Nice photos. Janstu.

Kwai Loh wrote on Mar 12, 2010:
Actually I took one fruit apart from a big heap, so I could take a better picture. I have found the name of the tree, it is the Ankabakng tree, also called Illipe Nut.

wrote on Mar 15, 2010:
Yum yum.

wrote on Mar 16, 2010:
Learned about the illipenut and its uses in primary school in Sarawak. Thought it had gone extinct.

You are welcome to comment, but you must register and/or login first.