Former pastor first to run homestay in Ba Kelalan

BA KELALAN: At 80, Tagal Paran, a pastor with Borneo Evengelical Mission (BEM) for almost 20 years is now enjoying what he loves – gardening and helping look after his homestay business.

A picture of Pak Tagal at his Apple Lodge at Ba’Kelalan.

There is a bright future for homestay operators in Ba Kelalan with better accessibility to the area, said the operator of Apple Lodge.

“As operator of the first homestay in Ba Kelalan, I believe there is good potential for homestay in these highlands,” Tagal told BAT IV here yesterday.

He said he started his homestay 17 years ago when there was no such facility for those who came on official or leisure visits.

“Someone from Kuching had asked me to start a homestay for visitors here. I consulted my son the late (Datuk) Dr Judson who was then a medical doctor in Lawas, and he happily agreed with the idea,” recalled Tagal who is fondly known as ‘Pak Tagal’ by the local Lun Bawang community.

He started a homestay with 10 rooms in 1997. It was based on a building plan provided by a JKR staff staying in his house then.

Pak Tagal now has 21 rooms that can accommodate 60 persons at any one time.

“The price of the rooms range from RM70 per ordinary room for three persons to RM120 for an executive suite for two,” he said.

Tagal added that former Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang has stayed in his lodge three times and enjoyed himself each time.

“Many prominent people have stayed here including current Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem. The current TYT has also visited my place but he didn’t spend the night here,” disclosed Tagal.

He hoped that homestays provided by fellow villagers in Ba Kelalan area, now numbering 22 units in nine villages, would have a much brighter future with better air connectivity from Miri and Lawas provided by MASwings.

“The road linking us to Lawas has been improved by the army through the ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme. So we hope that through better publicity and marketing, we will have more visitors,” he said.

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