Sunday, January 16, 2011

Scenes: Sarikei Pala Munsoh Waterfalls Park - The Enemy's Head

Request for development of Pala Munsoh Waterfalls park
Source: Sin Chew News, 11 Jan 2011

Wong Pala Munsoh may not ring a bell within your head because it's the hidden gem of Sarikei. In Iban, it means the Enemy's Head Waterfalls. Why? One story had it that the Iban warriors washed their parang here after claiming their enemies' heads during the head hunting days of yore.

So now we have a marketing story. Have the tourists arrived? Can we do more? You bet. The authorities brought Deputy Tourism Minister, Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit, to visit the Rumah Nyuka longhouse in Bayong, Ulu Sarikei and Pala Munsoh waterfalls on 12 Jan 2011 and requested for more development for this treasure.

All photos below are from the Rumah Nyuka community

There's modest success with tourist arrivals from the Greattown tourist agency in Sibu and last year from the Pandaw luxury cruises. The longhouse folks adorned colourful tribal costumes to welcome the tourists.

Souvenir stalls were introduced in the ruai (communal hall) to bring some revenue to the longhouse beyond the traditional agricultural industry. The souvenirs include pua kumbu, the intricate weaving of the Ibans.

The tourist experienced the famous tribal dance, ngajat, accompanied by the taboh and gendang, the Ibans' traditional music. A skilful Iban dancer will adopt a low stance and manoeuvre his shield to the pulsing beat of the gendang. The dancing warrior will look up and down and flap his arms gracefully as if he has taken the form of the rhinocerous hornbill.

The tourists were also taught how to cook its delicacies. This longhouse is known for
  • manuk pansuh (bamboo chicken) flavoured with tapioca leaves
  • bamboo shoots
  • tapioca pastry
  • penyaram, a traditional oily sweet pastry

Tourists were even allowed to step into a private family room (bilik) to look at the family heirloom and weaving.

Don't forget to take photos with the older folks in their daily apparel and if you are lucky, they may sport tribal tattoos.

A pristine stream flows nearby. You can see tapioca plants in the foreground of this picture. Tourists can also see pepper farms, rice fields and rubber trees. Tourists can be shown how to cultivate these crops.

The one-hour trek to the Pala Munsoh waterfalls is an easy stroll passing through varieties of trees including belian (ironwood) trees, engkabang (false illipenut) and durian trees. It will be great if the tourism board can put tags to label the trees.

Level 1 of Pala Munsoh Waterfalls
Climb up on the right to level 2

The reward at the end of the trail is a 3-tier waterfall. The water level is the lowest during the hot dry months around June. The ionised air from the cool waterfalls will be a refreshing change from the humid trek. Are you ready?

Pala Munsoh should not be another modern park like Sarikei's Sebangkoi Falls. Why will tourists travel all the way there to see a modern park? Pala Munsoh Falls should be positioned as an ecotourism trek amongst tropical forests with well marked trails and tagged trees like Bako in Kuching.

Level 2 of Pala Munsoh Waterfalls
Climb up on the left to level 3

Partner with the longhouse to showcase traditional Iban culture, handicrafts, food and tuak (rice wine). New longhouses can be built nearby but the old 1954 longhouse must be maintained in its traditional state to sustain ecotourism potential. No tourists will be interested in a modern and brightly painted longhouse with satellite TV, sofas and glass panelled windows. Yes, let the chicken roam freely outside.

Rumah Nyuka is a certified home stay by the Sarawak Tourism Board. There's an internet centre in the community.

Tel: +6019-4687518
Address: C/O Rh. Nyuka Ak. Itam, Lubuk Lemba, Ulu Sarikei, 96100 Sarikei, Sarawak  

Level 3 of Pala Munsoh Waterfalls; more than 30m high.

And now for the directions:
  • Drive along Sarikei-Betong pan-Borneo Highway
  • Exit Bayong junction (between Jakar and Sungei Paoh)
  • After driving a while, you will reach a T-junction. Do not go straight to Gerugu Dam but turn right to the longhouse. 
  • Drive 17km on scenic paved road (with hills in the background) to reach Rumah Nyuka longhouse at Lubuk Lemba, Ulu Sarikei
There are 3 trails. Bring your hats and drinking water.
  1. Pala Munsoh Trail - 2 to 2.5 hrs to and fro. Ending at Pala Munsoh falls
  • Instead of turning left to the longhouse, turn left at the next path.
  • Cross the bridge over Sungei Lemba
  • Turn right at the immediate path after the bridge
  • Go into the jungle trail
  • You will meet a fork in the trail twice. In both cases, choose the left path.
  • If lost, follow the stream back. Trek at your own risk. Always let your family know where you are going.
  • Warning: The jungle is pitch dark in the evening. No phone signal.
  1. Pau Trail - 1 hr to and fro. Ending at a rock ledge between 2 small pretty falls
  2. Ruan Trail - for trekking to 2 other waterfalls which supply water to the longhouses.
Be warned, the waterfalls are not easy to find without a local guide. At least for now.


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Well written....I would love to go jungle trekking there!! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

admin.mcm mana sy nk contact kamu untuk tahu dgn lebih lnjut tentang route to pala munsoh ni?im new in sarawak.dari semenanjung

Daniel Yiek said...

Tel: +6019-4687518
Address: C/O Rh. Nyuka Ak. Itam, Lubuk Lemba, Ulu Sarikei, 96100 Sarikei, Sarawak

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