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Bidayuh Longhouses – Annah Rais vs Benuk

Posted by James on May - 17 - 2014

Comparision has often been made between these two traditional Bidayuh longhouses. Which one is better?

As with many comparisions, there are both pros and cons on the villages.

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Annah Rais – The entrance to the longhouse with spacious car park.

For starter, Annah Rais is  more famous and is all over the guide books and Benuk is not.  Also the former is a much larger community with over a hundred  residents actually living in the longhouses themselves (as some residents live in separate houses surrounding the longhouse), while in Benuk, the actual number of families still living in the longhouse is only a handful.  Thus it is easier to meet with the longhouse folks and chat with them in the former, which even has a homestay in one of its units, while Benuk’s longhouse seems deserted.

 

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Annah Rais – The outer verandah of the longhouse or the tanju

Both longhouses are not a long continuous unit but a series of longhouses joined by plank walks, pathways and bridges. Annah Rais  has a show unit that visitors can enter and get the feel of being inside the inner sanctum of a longhouse living quarter, while Benuk does not. Annah Rais also has some enterprising residents who sell trinkets, souvenirs, fruits and even medicinal herbs, though it does makes the place “touristy” while Benuk is more “original” and has much less visitors.

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Annah Rais – Probably the most interesting part of the longhouse is the interior. This is a show unit and visitors are allowed to enter.

Annah Rais has an added attraction of a Hot Spring just about 10 minutes’ drive away. A refreshing picnic spot for a cool dip in the river or get some special therapy with the bubbling hot water gushing out from the river bed. At several spots, the hot water outlets from the river bed had been rounded up with concrete to provided easy dipping into, even immersing completely. The water may be hot but the sulphuric smell is not overpowering.

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Benuk – The outer verandah

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Benuk – The bamboo bridge, a common sight in rural interior of Sarawak

Benuk’s other attraction is a mini museum that showcases interesting artifacts and household items of the 50’s and 60’s, but the owner, a kindly old lady had just passed away a few months ago, her family is only present during some weekends for visitors to look around.  However,  a picturesque bamboo bridge behind the car park (next to the entrance kiosk) seems to beckon adventurous visitors to cross to the other side of the river. Great photo opportunity.

 

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Benuk – Inside the Barok, the Bidayuh head house or panggah, where skulls of the enemies, a trophy of war in the olden days, are hung. Annah Rais has a Barok too.

Latest plus to Annah Rais: famed Lithuanian artist who paint murals on Penang’s street also chose to do his artwork right here in this Bidayuh longhouse!

 

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Annah Rais – Clear stream with cold water runs beside the enclosed natural hot spring. A great spot for relaxation and picnic.

Lastly, Annah Rais is a good 1 1/2 hours drive from the city, while Benuk takes only half the time, thus a return journey takes up 3 hours for the visit to the former, excluding visiting time. While Benuk takes only 1 1/2 hours.

For the verdict, perhaps the answer can be different to different visitors after seeing the photos. Enjoy!

Categories: Places & Attractions

One Response so far.

  1. Great comparison James!
    I loved Annah Rais hospitality, and I have never been to Benuk. I guess the longer drive should not deter people. Plus, in order to get the best out of the experience, it is advisable to stay in one of the Annah Rais homestays. I stayed with Jenny and Karum at Karum Bidayuh Homestay, http://www.longhouseinborneo.com – highly recommended!

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