Tuesday, October 15

79-year-old longhouse eyes heritage status

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A front view of Rumah Benjamin Angki in Rantau Kemiding, Kanowit.

A front view of Rumah Benjamin Angki in Rantau Kemiding, Kanowit.

KANOWIT: Rumah Benjamin Angki in Rantau Kemiding here aims to get their Iban longhouse to qualify for a heritage status.

Its chieftain Benjamin Angki Kaboy said his 64-door longhouse would already be 79 years this November.

“Our longhouse is built with belian (a kind of hardwood) as its main structure. It is also one of the longest in the district,” he said during the opening of Rantau Kemiding Festival here Saturday — the event of which was declared open by Assistant Land Development Minister Datuk Gramong Juna.

Located about 4km from the town near Kanowit River, the longhouse was erected on stilts in 1936 and until today, it still maintains the traditional Iban longhouse structure.

The longhouse is also the first to provide the homestay programme in this district.

Angki said they planned to incorporate ecotourism in their homestay programme so as to attract more visitors.

“We have a forest reserve where there are trees with very thick trunks — some with circumference so big that you need three average adults to circle it with both arms fully outstretched,” he added.

He revealed that an Australian retiree had just left a few weeks ago after spending one month at the lomghouse.

“He joined us in all the things we did and even followed us to the jungle to collect fire wood,” said Angki, who is also Kanowit District Council deputy chairman.

Angki advised homestay operators to be tenacious and not give up easily when facing difficulties in their business. He said tourism was one of the biggest income earners for the country.

State Ministry of Tourism director Charles Suria Buas and Penghulu Boniface Kalai were also present at the function.