Another highlight of our trip was visiting Annah Rais Longhouse. This we booked online, which is amazing really as there is not even a telephone line at Annah Rais. The driver who took us out to the longhouse (only 1 hour 15 minutes out of Kuching) runs the website, and if he gets a request for a next day stay, he has to drive all the way to let Mr Edward know.
Mr Edward is a mine of information and very patient with all our questions about his culture and way of life. He has run the homestay in his 250 year old house for about 4 years, and sees it as his duty to give everyone who comes to stay a better understanding of the Bidayuh culture. He also feels it important to involve people from his village, and there are now 12 homes in the village offering homestay.
Our guide, Sylvester, took us up the river on our first day. We must have walked for 3 hours, thankfully with our rubber crocs to protect our feet from the pebbles and stones. He brought a fishing net and a home-made speargun and torch to explored under large boulders for fish. He managed to catch a few, but they were all very small. Apparently before a mini hydro-electric station was built upstream the river was much deeper and the fish much bigger.
We stopped at some hot springs where we relaxed while Sylvester cooked lunch in bamboo poles he collected earlier. He boiled water to drink in one, and chicken marinated in lemongrass and shallots in another. Rice cooked earlier in bamboo was scraped out and eaten with the chicken. Delicious!
Kuching is also an interesting city to spend a few days in. There are some very good museums, notably the Sarawak Museum, and very interesting streets to amble along. There are still original shophouses, and many haven't changed since they were built. Main Bazaar is lined with craft and souvenir shops. Some have beautiful antique carvings, beadwork, baskets, masks, textiles and more. Others just have tacky tourist replicas. The promenade along the river is lovely, and if you have some time to kill you can do a river cruise.
For more information on Annah Rais Longhouse, go to Annah Rais Longhouse Homestay