2016 is coming to end real soon and we would like to take the opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year. During the middle of this month, thanks to MaGIC, we got the chance to travel to Bario, Sarawak so we would like to share how great Bario is and that you should travel there too!
Bario is located on the Kelabit Highlands at the altittude of about 3, 500 feet above sea level in the north-eastern corner of Sarawak and nearing the border of Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is home of the Kelabit people, which is one of the minority Orang Ulu tribes in Sarawak. And oh, Bario means “wind” in Kelabit language. The correct spelling would be “Bariew”.
So What is So Special About Bario?
Everybody in Bario would proudly tell every new visitors that come to Bario have to try three things; that is rice, salt and pineapple. Usually, visitors won’t come back home without those as souvenirs. Fresh pineapple may not be favorable to bring back home, but there are side products such as dried pineapple and pineapple jam for you to bring back easily.
Bario rice is considered a premium staple food. Since it is cultivated in highlands that have rich, fertile soil, temperate weather and ample access to water an irrigation, it is sweeter than normal varieties. Some can even be addictive to eating the rice alone! Of course, when you travel to Bario you will have those rice in almost every meal you have, so you can enjoy the taste right here at its place of origin.
Bario salt has been one of their popular homegrown productsand a visit to their salt factory is a must-thing-to-do here. The factory is located at Kampung Pa’Umor. Local Kelabit families take turns to produce the well known salt, spending two weeks each at the salt factory near the natural salt springs. Each families however, have to collect enough fire woods throughout the two weeks period first.
The salt is well known for its natural mineral content of iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium and it has been traditionally used to treat thryoid problems. Despite the fact that the salt is natural and healthy, the salt production has slowly contributing to the environment problems. The whole process to produce those salt actually has caused more woods to be logged, more wood burning, more bamboo to be cut, more Ilad jungle leaves (the salt wrapping package) and rattan to be used. Therefore, there is a local (as far as we know) initiated a more environmental- friendly salt production. His name is John and he even come out with modern packaging in order to reduce total dependency towards Ilad jungle leaves and rattan.
Pineapples in Bario are naturally sweet and juicy. They are nice to be eaten just like that but the locals find ways to make use of the extra fresh pineapples they had so that it did’nt go wasted. Some examples are pineapple jam and dried pineapple. Some even used the pineapple leaves for book covers.
How To Get There?
Now that you may be interested to travel to Bario, you will surely want to know how to get there. For your information, there are only two ways to get to Bario: either by roads or by plane.
Plane would be the easiest and fastest than by roads. Only 4WD can go through old logging roads all the way to Bario from Miri about 10-14 hours so it can be very dangerous at times. However, you can only fly to Bario from Miri. There is another one flight from Marudi but this flight is connecting flight from Miri.
There is only 3 flights in and out of Bario each day and each flight is using 18 seater Twin Otter planes so flights can be very limited especially during holiday periods such as Christmas, Easter, and also during annual food festival at the end of July. However, flights can be delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions so plan wisely.
Will It Worth the Travelling?
Travelling to Bario requires early planning especially in booking the flights (driving there is less likely and it can be another experience to remember) so plan in advance. This place may be too interior to be explored, but it is the best example of the livelihood of Kelabit locals for you to experience. Not to mention, their culture is very interesting to be discovered too! Just watch the video and see how soft and gentle their dance is.
Do contact us if you need someone to arrange your Bario trip. That would be, of course, if you are having trouble planning on your own.