June 9, 2010

Ulu Medamit Hanging Bridge

When the Second Rajah of Sarawak acquired Limbang and Lawas he proclaimed a "transmigration" programme to populate the two new divisions. He believed that the Ibans from the Skrang region could help develop agriculture in the newly acquired land. Thus several groups of Ibans were "invited" to move there.

The first few groups had children amongst them including my father in law who was born in 1919. He said that the group had to stay in Kuching to wait for the government boat to send them to Limbang. How long did they wait ?

They waited for a long time. " The cucumber and pumpkin seeds my parents brought were already fruiting when we left our temporary shelter near the Astana in Kuching." Then they set sail to a distant and foreign place.

When they arrived in Limbang there were a few White Men there to give instructions. And they were asked to sail upriver. That took a few weeks. Finally they found Ulu Medamit as a favourable place to settle - good river - good forest - and a lovely country side. "The first years were difficult. The men cleared the land and the women started to plant padi (according to the position of the stars) and grow their vegetables. They had some guns given by the White Men which protected them from wild animals as well as provided them with meat. They built their own boats using the good timber available. Life was good indeed although challenging. The river gave them fish and prawns and the jungle meat.

The First Ibans built the rattan hanging bridge in the 1920's. My father in law was then about 9 years old when the first bridge was completed. This was the time he learnt to tie bamboo slats and wooden boards with rattan processed with their own hands from the jungle. He later was the specialist who helped build such bridges for timber companies until the 1980's.

Below the bridge is the karagang or ford of the Upper Medamit river. To the right is the new Rumah Aling built in 1990's after their older longhouse was burnt.
There are two Ensurai trees which were small when my father in law and his relatives first moved here.

This is the upgraded bridge (3rd generation). "Tek " is only eleven but  has the making of a great beauty.

Me and my Shadows.....I am sure many of my Beatle and Cliff Richard fan friends would like this photo.....

We really hope that this land will continue to provide natural resources for the people here for a long long time to come. And we hope the government will continue to respect the rights of the old settlers who have been farming here for more than three generations.

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