SIBU: Several key tourism players from Beijing, China, experienced Iban hospitality firsthand during their visit to Rumah Kasi Penguang at Sungai Banyok in Batang Igan on Saturday.
The programme, arranged by Second Finance Minister and Bawang Assan assemblyman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, involved a two-hour boat ride along the mighty Rajang River.
The visitors were greeted by the unmistakeable beats of traditional Iban music and young Iban women in traditional costumes – ready to offer their famous rice wine ‘tuak’ as the welcome drink for the delegates.
Tuai Rumah Kasi led the welcoming ceremony with the broadest of smile at the jetty.
The visitors comprised Beijing Glory International Culture Development Co Ltd chairman Liu Ning, its vice-presidents Cai Ai Ren and Chew Koh Choan, and project manager Wu You, BTG-Jian Guo Hotels & Resorts chief strategy officer Wang Qiang, China Comfort Travel Group Co Ltd marketing promotion manager Wang Chuan, and Cassey Enterprise Pte Ltd director TA Yap.
Third Division Travel Agents Association president Frankie Ting was also present.
After witnessing the graceful Iban ‘ngajat’ (traditional dance), the Chinese delegates sampled the ‘tuak’ at the main entrance to the longhouse.
Upon being seated, the visitors took part in ‘miring’ (blessing ritual) conducted by the longhouse elders to appease the spirits so as to ensure everything would proceed smoothly and accordingly.
Later, the hosts brought out authentic Iban dishes such as ‘Manok Pansoh’ (chicken cooked in bamboo), barbequed wild boar, ‘midin’ (wild fern) and ‘upa’ for the guests.
After mealtime, Kasi ushered them to the ‘ruai’ (communal verandah) for a go at blowpipe shooting.
Wong had arranged the trip to help woo more people from China to visit Sarawak.
Sibu was the second stopover for the visitors: they visited Kuching on Friday and was in Miri — their last stop — yesterday.
They are in the state to eye opportunities in developing tourism projects with locals and also to promote Sarawak in Beijing.