A Melanau village by the Kemena River, Bintulu.
This is a view of the Kampung Jepak, from the sawmill I bought timber the other day.
Bintulu was once known only as a fishing village, an out post district from Miri which was its divisional capital some 200 km away to the north. Today, it has acquired its own divisional capital status and therefore is no more a remote village or small town it used to be.
Its original inhabitants were the Melanaus who fought bravely in the hey days of piracy and defeated the most notorious of all pirates roaming the South China Seas of the late 19th century called the 'Illanuns' from Southern Philippines.
The Melanaus today are still fishermen though a large majority of their children have taken up jobs in newer sectors of the economy. Kampung Jepak is one typical Melanau fishing village in Bintulu. Here the village folks build their houses on stilts made of the hardest hardwood species on Borneo Island called 'belian' which can make the house post last for about a 100 years.
A closer look at a kampung by the river in 'batik' painting.
( Batik painting by Kuching artist, Lee Hock Kia)
This painting illustrates well a river kampung scene with its boats, conical sunhats called 'Terendak' as protection against the sun and rain . The roofs are either of 'belian' shingles or 'nipah' thatched leaves. The jetties and walkways are almost of 'belian' planks. Notice how close the houses are to each other. This is a common feature as these houses are connected with each other by a maze of jetties and walkways. In a way being a kampung folk you have to be very careful of what you say or do because the walls have ears!.