EcoTourismHub
Page: Turning to Eco-tourism in the Bakun Dam region

Ecotourism Hub
   Eco Means of Travel
   KLIA-Leading in Eco-Standards
   KLIA-Next Generation Hub
   KKIA domestic hub
   Benchmark for National Parks
   What Ecotourism should be
Ecotourism Destinations | Malaysia
   Borneo Island | Ecotourism
   Sabah
   Imbak Canyon Conservation
   Colonial-styled Passenger Train
   Rhino Saved in dramatic rescue
   Climb Mt Kinabalu
   Challenges of scaling Mt Kinabalu
   Been there, done that
   Mt Kinabalu Climbathon
   Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary
   Sandakan's Many Charm
   Coral Reef in Semporna
   Sipadan Island
   Dive Permit at Sipadan
   Scuba Diving
   Best Diving Spots
   Protecting Sipadan
   Mabul Island
   Semporna kidnap
   Pom Pom Island
   Rare Whale
   The Finest Forests
   Shark Fin Ban
   Casino stops serving Shark fin
   Airline joins Shark fin ban
   Kinabalu Park World Heritage
   Sarawak
   A Memorable Visit to Bako
   Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
   Birding Havens in Sarawak
   Segon Cave and Bung Brunggu
   Borneo Convention Centre
   Biodiversity | Sarawak
   155,000ha allowed
   Singer Dayang to Help Orang Utans
   Ancient Croc Effigies
   Potential Ecotourism Icon
   Peninsular Malaysia | Ecotourism
   Taman Negara
   Living off the forest’s bounty
   350kg Tapir
   Endau Rompin National Park
   Endau-Rompin Location Map
   Kenyir Lake
   Kenyir Lake Triathlon
   Kenyir Lake DFZ
   Rebirth of Kenyir Lake
   Frasers Hill
   Royal Belum
   Leaders In Destinations
   Rakan Royal Belum
   Save Temenggor
   Lessons in the Forest
   Cameron Highlands
   Looking for the Silk King
   New Route
   Sepetang Serenade
   Turtle Sanctuary Site in Kemaman
   Heritage Sites Malaysia
   Lenggong Valley
   George Town and Malacca Heritage Sites
   Kinabalu Park Heritage Site
   Mulu Cave Geopark
   Danum Valley
   Maliau Basin
   Bid for Unesco listing
   Valley of Heritage
   Ramsar sites | Malaysia
   Ramsar sites in Sarawak
   Events and Festivals Malaysia
   Most Searched Travel Spots 2011
   Indigenous Malaysian Tribes
   Indigenous Peninsular Malaysia
   Danawan Island home to Sea Gypsies
Costa Rica
   Retire Here, Not There: Costa Rica
   Costa Rica's Unspoiled Coast
Ecotourism News
   Open Zoo
   Rainforest Rock Festival
   Great Wall in Gopeng
   WTC2010
   Belaga braces for tourism boom
   Tourism drops
   Palazzo Park
   Permaculture
   Rainforest World Music Festival
   WEC2010
   Focus on eco-tourism
   Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre
   Ecotourism Spotlight Award
   Tourism News
   Art Tourism Hub
   Shopping Hub
   Art Tourism
Forest Reserve
   2010 Year of Biodiversity
   The Belum Forest Reserve
   Pulau Banding Rainforest Research Centre
   Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve
   Plant Mangrove Saplings in Port Dickson
   FRIM’s first research station
   FRIM declared heritage site
   FRIM PHOTO CONTEST
   Forest Reserve News
   South Peat Swamp Forest
   Forest Reserve to grow Oil Palm
   Save the Rain Forest
   Demystifying Forensic Forestry
   Forest Reserve in Pangkor
   Forest Research Centre - Sabah
   Forest reserve gazetted in Puchong
   Rape of Lenggong forest reserve
   Development project in Forest Reserve
   FruitPlast
   SAFE Project
   SEARRP
   Saving Temenggor
   Selangor Peat Swamp
   Vanishing wetlands
   Before it is Too Late
   Tree Cover-up
   Forests to Tree Farms
   Forest by the Coast
Green
   IGEM
   The Green Initiatives
   Ecologic Label
   Rebuilding the Green Concept
   Sabah Intensifies Green Effort
   Going Google can mean Going Green
   City of Kyoto from Car-Centric to Walking City
   Turning Consumers Green
   Penang mulling over No-car Zone
   3Rs among Malaysians
   Independent Power Producer
   Roof-top Secret Garden
   Bamboo
   Population and Food
   Never Drink From Plastic
Water
   Water Footprint
   Think water conservation
   Bakun Dam
   Turning to Eco-tourism
   Bengoh Dam
   Water Concern
   Beach
   Tap Water
   Water Worries 1
   Mini-hydro Plant
   Mekong River
   Mekong News
   Water Challenge
   Looming Water Crisis
Sustainable Food Source
   Eating Insects
   U.N. Urges Eating Insects
   Insects may be the answer
   Eat Insects
   Meat is Not Green
   Health Benefits of Eating Less Meat
   Vegetarian Athletes
   Catherine Johnson, Vegan Cyclist
   Vegan Athlete of the Year 2013
   Totally Vegetarian
   Veganism and the Environment
   Mongolia Nomads
   Antibiotics in Feed
   Butter is back
Wildlife Malaysia
   Carcasses of Tigers, Leopards from Malaysia
   Malayan Tiger
   Tiger spotted on road
   Save the Tiger
   Rare Photo
   Tracing Malaysia's Tigers
   A New Hope For Malayan Tigers
   The Conservation Of Tigers
   Why Tigers Matter
   Tiger Ambassador
   White Tiger Cubs
   Siberian tiger
   Natural Habitat for Tigers
   King of the Jungle
   Permits for Zoo
   Rainbow Toad
   Orang Utan
   Leave orang utan alone
   Orang Utans
   Save Orang Utans
   Orang Utan Island
   Orang Utan Reserve in the Klang Valley
   Fireflies
   Fireflies Sanctuary gazetted
   Firefly Festival Taiping
   Crocodile Farm
   Marine Ecosystem
   Semporna marine life
   Shark
   Shark Sanctuaries
   Drop in Shark Catch
   No to Shark Fin Soup
   Stop Selling Shark Fin
   Dolphins in Port Klang
   Golden Arowana
   Symbol of Prosperity
   The Unsung Heroes
   Bees
   Save Bees From Extinction
   When Bee Stop Making Honey
   Honeybees need Help
   Help our Disappearing Bees
   Bringing back Honeybees
   Ladybird
   Dung Beetle
   Ants
   Earthworms
   Frog
   Hornbill
   Elephant
   Wild elephant
   Uneasy feeling
   Sea Anemone
   Dolphin
   Human-wildlife Conflict
   Perhilitan sets Trap for Panther
   Wildlife Act
   Illegal Wildlife Traders
   Rafflesia and Conservation Efforts
   new Rafflesia species found
   Cengal Besar
   Migratory Birds
Climate Change
   New directions for the UN
   Canada withdrawing from Kyoto
   Haze

January 1, 2012

It’s time to move on

By DIANA ROSE
sunday@thestar.com.my

The Orang Ulu of Balui are now turning to eco-tourism in the Bakun Dam region.

THE 101-door longhouse in Uma Belor was eerily silent as all lights in the hallway had been switched off, leaving only flickering flames from the candles held by eight Kenyah women.

It was a solemn yet surreal moment as the Govina dance was re-enacted. First performed half a century ago, the Govina was held to mark the peace accord struck between warring Orang Ulu tribes living in the vicinity of the Kalimantan border during the Indonesian confrontation.

In the recent performance held at the longhouse in Sungai Asap in Bakun, Belaga, Penghulu Saging Bit took on the role of a tribal chief as he listened to his people's advice to make peace so that they can go on living harmoniously.

images/Longhouse%20in%20Ulma%20Belor,%20Sungai%20Asap.jpg
Longhouse experience: The beautiful Uma Belor – home to Nora Igang and the pioneer homestay area for Sungai Asap.

The Govina could have been just another dance at a cultural show but for the tribal people of Balui who moved out from their ancestral homes to make way for the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam 16 years ago and in Sungai Asap, the performance reflected their inner emotions as they came to terms with the changes wrought on them and move on in life.

For Nora Igang of Uma Belor, 16 years of bemoaning the loss of their ancestral homes in the rainforest is too long.

“We need to move on. We need to revive the survival spirit of the Balui people and make our peace. Now, we just have to take whatever opportunities given to us to put food on our table,” said Nora, who is barely five feet tall but harbours a big dream for her people.


We have lost our traditional homes along the Balui, we cannot afford to lose this place again. — NOR IGANG
The primary school teacher hopes to promote the tranquil Sungai Asap as the biggest homestay hub in Sarawak. The settlement is located between a man-made lake (Bakun Reservoir) and one of the world's largest hydro dams the Bakun Dam which is already a tourist attraction.

The dam equivalent to the size of Singapore is situated at Sungai Balui, a tributary of Rajang River and 37km from Belaga town in the Kapit Division. About 9,000 indigenous Orang Ulu, mainly subsistence farmers and hunters in the upstream and downstream areas of Sungai Balui were relocated from 15 longhouses to Kampung Sungai Asap over three years. Flooding of the Bakun Dam began in October last year, putting 700 sq km of land underwater.

Many of the tribal people who could not fit into the communal settlement at Sungai Asap have moved back into the jungles while some had migrated elsewhere. Those who remained in Sungai Asap now welcome government plans to develop fishing and tourism industries within the Bakun Dam.

Nora, 42, a Kayan, believes that the people must take “the bull by the horns” to survive. And one way to do so is to open their extra rooms to visitors under the homestay programme.

Nora has been playing a pivotal role on the ground she has been busy over the last two years trying to start the homestay project in Bakun whenever she is not working at SK Sambop in Belaga.

Her sentiment is shared and supported by important members of the community the Marens (aristocrat leaders) namely Maren Uma equivalent to village headman Ajang Bit of Uma Belor, Penghulu Saging Bit, Hulu Rejang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo, Pemanca Tony Kulleh and many others in Sungai Asap.

With their support, she has rallied 11 other relatives staying in Uma Belor to attend homestay courses organised by the Tourism Ministry recently. Now, they are duly certified as licensed longhouse homestay operators.

As a pioneer homestay operator and project coordinator, Nora has to develop tourism products as well as get tour operators to market them. She also has to mobilise the local folk to put up cultural performances and get involved in logistics like food, transport and guiding.

“I know I will be facing many challenges ahead but am staying focused as I believe this project can help boost our people's income,” said Nora.

“We have lost our traditional homes along the Balui, we cannot afford to lose this place again. What we are doing is to get people to see the beauty of this setting and our lifestyle.”

Sungai Asap, during normal working days, is rather deserted as many locals work outside the settlement. Those left behind are housewives, old folk and children. The womenfolk, who make up about 70% of population, stay behind to man the village fort.

Ajang said the government has been very supportive of the whole project and has even organised courses and promised grants for the operators.

One staunch supporter is Mary Wan Mering, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) marketing manager.

In Sungai Asap recently, Mary said: “The spirit of the Balui has touched you and me and now is the time to rejuvenate.”

Mary is a Kayan from Ulu Baram while I am a Melanau from Mukah, both outsiders linked to the people of Balui through our professional involvement (myself, as a journalist covering the plight of the Balui people since 1995).

From the first time I stepped foot on Balui until the people were evacuated in 1998, I have witnessed the their emotional reaction that ranged from bafflement to fear, anger, confusion, helplessness, resignation and hope.

But it is perhaps the tenacity of the people that touched me the most the human capacity and spirit to survive as epitomised by Nora and many of her fellow settlers at Sungai Asap recently.

Mary, who participated in a familiarisation group visit organised by the State Ministry of Tourism and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) recently, is confident the homestay programme has great potential.

“We already have the Bakun Dam as an attraction, the people's varied cultures are an added bonus. Where else in Sarawak can you find all five different indigenous groups of people staying within one area?” she said.

There are 15 longhouses in Sungai Asap inhabited by the Kayan, Kenyah, Lahanan, Ukit and Penan Talun people. The Kayan and Kenyah communities first migrated downstream from the Mahakam river in East Kalimantan to the Balui river about 500 years ago whereas the Kayans of Uma Belor had crossed over the Balui as late as the 1920s. The Lahanan, Ukit and Penan Talun are minority groups in Sungai Asap.

Billy, a Kayan from Uma Belor, aptly described their situation in Sungai Asap: “This is a nice place to live in beautiful sceneries everywhere but we have to be realistic.

“We cannot depend on farming anymore because we do not have any land to farm other than the 1.2ha allocated by the government to each household.

“That is why we are turning to tourism. We need to put food on the table.”

The Sungai Asap settlers are hoping that Bakun Dam will be the pulling factor where tourism is concerned.

As Nora put it: “Bakun Dam has taken our homes. Now, it is time for Bakun to return the favour.”


Ecotourism Hub
Ecotourism Destinations | Malaysia
Ecotourism News
Green
Wildlife Malaysia
Glossary Ecotourism
Contact Ecotourismhub.com