The “Orang Sungai” Of Sukau Village- Kinabatangan River ( Part 1)

As much as I am excited about the wildlife encounter and the long waited nature trip to Sukau, I was equally anxious to experience the well known Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL), which has been acknowledged as the world class Eco-lodge located within the pristine jungle of the Kinabatangan floodplain.Together with me was this beautiful couple “Jamela and Sebastian” who were here to escape from the hustle and bustle of life in Manila – all set to take a romantic break  in SRL.
Jamela  and  Sebastian ( having a good time while cruising along Kinabatangan River )
Boatman Uncle Opao has been serving in Borneo Eco Tours for more then 8 years. He is one of the indigenous “River people”  who knows every nook and corner of  the Kinabatangan River.
The two and a half hour boat ride was a fun voyage to the adventures that awaited us at Sukau Village. We arrived at Melapi Jetty of SRL at 4pm and as we walked right into the Melapi Restaurant, Brett, a localized Australian greeted us cheerfully and briefed us on SRL opulent surroundings. “Do make yourself at home here, remember if you hear strange noises in the middle of the night it may be the whoops of the gibbon or the late night trespassing of Pygmy Elephants.” Brett said.
I had the first room at Abai Wing. After going through an exhausting morning flight and a long 2 hour boat ride, I didn’t expect much of a luxurious room. But wow! as I entered the room, a total relaxation vibes filled me, the stylish and classy room ambiance flourishes with the exotic Borneo dim lighting – no wonder my mind was totally rejuvenated and was in peace. That night, the heavy downpour has caused a delay on my guests’ arrival, (view the detail of my organization’s project here). After preparing for my event, I slept soundly that night without noticing the early sunlight penetrated through the sun room at the back of my room the next morning.
  The “Abai Wing” corridor that leads to the Hornbill Boardwalk


The sun room gives a private view of rainforest vegetation
The twin bed room that gives a total modern “Borneon Minimalism” feel

The next morning,  I got up early to catch the sunrise and enjoyed my local coffee accompanied by the jungle symphony. The Sukau staff, ranging from the boatman, the tour guides, operations staff, housekeeping and even the Lodge Manager as well as Brett were already up doing their chores. This is their life, the daily chores is no more a job, it is a livelihood they live in.

 Maneuvering the 4 stroke engine boats, backed with electric motor
Villagers brushing up themselves near the river bank, the little wooden hut is the only toilet for the whole family.
As I was sitting at the Melapi Jetty indulging in the simple livelihood of the indigenous tribe called the Orang Sungai ( the River people ), I realized that the local community who live in such simplicity are contented with their life. However, they are very different from the Rungus tribe at the tip of Borneo. They are very friendly and peaceful people but the girls are very timid.  They do not  have much cultivation – the river is their life. However, their willingness to accept change and learn from people around the world, have made them venerable and example to many other sub-indigenous in other regions of Sabah.

My mission here was to educate the young generation on forest regeneration program – basically starts from the simplest tree planting to food waste composting activity. Without contemplating more, off I go to get ready for my next event of the day, “The World Environmental Day” educational awareness program to the future leaders of Sukau village.

Text & pix by Melissa Lim

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