You have not visited Marudi if you had not been up to the Fort Hose and Baram District Museum on the Fort Hill. Fort Hose was first built in 1898 on a hill which faces Sungai Baram. The fort was later demolished and rebuilt using the same design in 1994 in order to preserve it and when it opened in 1997.
It is interesting to learn how the Baram became part of Sarawak. Even up to this day the various local tribes still have relatives in Brunei. Their history and their languages are similar to their relatives in Brunei. Many local Bruneians still claim to have their ancestors who have been buried in Marudi and its vicinity.
"The Baram district was under the sovereignty of the Sultan of Bruni (Brunei) until 1882. The Sultan was by then finding much difficulty in controlling the continual feud and blood letting of these ferocious tribes in the Baram area. The battles and the expansion of tribal lands by the late 1800’s had reached to a distance which was uncomfortably close to his capital and was becoming a threat to his personal security. The Sultan’s authority had never before been exercised in this territory spanning an area of some 10,000sq miles . Their fear of the wrath of the Kayan tribe, the Malays never ventured into the interiors of Baram. Hence, when Rajah Brooke pushed his authority deeper into the upper reaches of Baram, The Sultan was happy to relinquish his hold of the area for a lump sum of 6,000dollars per annum of which the Foreign Office in England had agreed to, believing it to be a fair price for the handover.
Charles Brooke fretted over such barbaric methods conducted by his subjects, deciding to end these blood feuds and headhunting habits once and for all. He got all the tribes together in a contest, initiating cock fight activities amongst the tribes but that didn’t quite go down well with the losing parties and another brawl broke out. Back to the drawing board, Resident Charles Hose decided to host a regatta instead at Marudi.
Sometimes people still remember that Marudi was once called Claude town (its former name).It was named after the previous resident of Baram, Claude Champion de Crespigny. Charles Brook stationed his sentries atop a knoll that overlooked the river.
2. The Baram Regatta
Origins of the Baram Regatta : Charles Brooke believed that the Baram Regatta would be a solution to their predicament. And having hosted the first regatta, called the Sarawak Regatta in Kuching in January 1871, Rajah Brooke mooted the idea and decided to promote it to the tribes living in the interior. Hose realised that with the exception of the Penans, all other tribes in Borneo utilise rivers extensively to traverse and to create boundaries as they expand their lands. The idea was taken on eagerly and soon felling of large forest trees was seen and war boats were carved from a single tree trunk, normally from the engkabang tree that could seat 30 warriors. The tree trunk was normally hollowed out with the use of fire and adze. Its masthead was shaped into a head of the majestic hornbill, given that the hornbill is highly revered in the Orang Ulu culture, regarded as a vessel for the spirits to communicate with the people.
3. Marudi is also famous for its freshly baked bread - Most people would order loaves of bread made in Marudi to be brought back to Miri or other parts of Sarawak whenever they make a stop over in Marudi.
|Mr. Phang - the Baker|
|Special Marudi bread|
|My friends ordered 27 loaves of this bread as gifts to friends. On that day the Marudi people did not have their normal tou sa and peanut buns!!|
This special bread is made by the Phang family and the texture of the bread is reminiscent of the bread made by the Colonial Officers who enjoyed their English Breakfast and afternoon teas.
|Fresh from the oven|
|Fresh and fragrant - you can smell the baking bread one street away at about eleven in the morning. Limited edition!! So have to order.|
I will eat the bread and drink the coffee there next time!! See you there!