Harvest Festival with the Dayaks in Sarawak
By Bo Jeansson - BGS 21.

The Trip

Now we would finally do a very interesting trip. We had been invited to celebrate the Gawai Dayak or Harvest Festival together with the members of three longhouses outside Kuching, close to the Indonesian border, on Sarawak.

View from the hotel

Our flight arrived on time in Kuching and we took a taxi to our hotel. Later in the day we were met by our guide and given some guidelines when to be ready the next morning and what to take with us as gifts. All this was arranged and we had quite an early evening.

Early The next morning we took off from the hotel and soon were driving through small road in 'one meter jungle'.

It took us about one hours drive to reach the longhouse to which we had been invited. We were first invited to the Chief, to be introduced to some of the Gawai customs.

The head Chief of the three longhouses

Soon there The first zick-zack

After this we started our walk to the Longhouses, three built together. After climbing the ladder, we were greeted by 10 Dayak beauties serving us a glass of their own rice wine. You were supposed to go zick-zack and have 10 glasses!

After this introduction we had a dance performance and more drinks were served before it was time to visit the second longhouse. The same procedure here, walking zick-zack and having 10 glasses (this time it was easier to walk zick-zack). After some nice talk and dancing, we were escorted to the third longhouse.

Cultural dancing

Yes, you guessed right, another 10 glasses and the zicky-zacking became very easy, nema problema so to say.

Longhouse veranda Welcome dance

Now we were shown around all the three longhouses and show to where we were to spend the night. When this was done, it was time for lunch together with the Chiefs and a missionary and his wife. Fantastic local food was served. Pork cooked inside bamboo and a lot of other nice food together with the rice wine.

Visit to the villagers and the Head Chief Visit to the villagers

New we were free and a lot of the villagers invited us to their homes to drink, not the rice wine, but the rum, vodka, whisky and other more well known drinks. We were also taken to the bridge that connects Malaysia and Indonesia. The bridge was rebuilt after the unrest.

Bridge between Malaysia and Indonesia

We were also shown their museum with heads, which came from the time before they became Christians. Most of the sculls were Japanese we were told.

Museum with skulls

In the evening there was a dinner for the whole village in the community hall. They even arranged a beauty contest, where we were appointed judges.

Beauty competition and the judge

After a long but very interesting day we went back to our quarters and had a very nice sleep. Next morning we had breakfast before leaving. One of the Chiefs' was still asleep after the heavy night the day before, so we were welcome back.


The trip back to Kuching went without any problems and we had some time before the boat left for Sibu.