BAU: Discover Bung Jagoi

Standing at just 1,600 feet above sea level, Bung Jagoi – a small mountain within the Jagoi area in Bau – hides in it a very old Bidayuh settlement. Located near the top of the mountain, the village was nearly altogether abandoned. Today it has become a heritage area, and Bung Jagoi is also drawing visitors who either come here to see remnants of the Bidayuh’s past or to enjoy a scenic hike minus all the obstacles that usually come with it.

Sunrise at Bung Jagoi summit aka Bung Tesen
Sunrise at Bung Jagoi summit aka Bung Tesen

Steeped in history

Bung Jagoi was established by the Bidayuh people who fled from an attack on Bung Bratak by hostiles from Skrang on May 1, 1838. The latter was the first settlement of the Bidayuh in the Bau region after they migrated there from Mount Sungkong in West Kalimantan 700 years ago. After the attack on Bung Bratak, its people moved out to new settlements. Bung Jagoi was among the first of those settlements, others being 33 villages in Bau and Lundu, as well as five villages in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The settlers at Bung Jagoi built over 30 houses, with a baruk as their centrepiece. A baruk is a ceremonial house traditionally built by the Bidayuh people out of timber, with leaves for its roof. Serving many purposes, including as a gathering place for olden day warriors, a community hall for various ceremonies, and a head house where human skulls are kept as trophies of the olden day warriors, a baruk comes in different shapes although most commonly round or octagonal. It is also known as pangah in other Bidayuh tongues.

The people of Bung Jagoi thrived by planting vegetables and fruits on the fertile grounds around them for sustenance. But as their numbers grow, along with their needs, the villagers began moving out of Bung Jagoi to the surrounding foothills, and formed the villages of Stass, Serasot, Duyoh, and Serikin to name a few. This left Bung Jagoi almost entirely forsaken, save for one family that still lives up in the mountain. They have been responsible for taking care of Bung Jagoi ever since. Out of over 30 houses built on Bung Jagoi, only less than 15 remain, including the baruk.


A discovery of nature and heritage

Bung Jagoi is today an eco-tourism destination and a heritage centre, where visitors are offered a look at how things were in the past for the Bidayuh people that lived there. What remains of the once glorious village is now preserved so as to allow future generations of the Bidayuh a glimpse of their past, and for visitors to be able to discover the unique heritage of Bung Jagoi. A special guided cultural tour of Bung Jagoi by a trained local guide is available via Bung Jagoi Tourism, and may include a visit to an old burial site should you wish to, and if the elders allow it. There are also homestays available, which give you a chance to experience more of Bung Jagoi. There is a Bidayuh History and Cultural Gallery as well, with photographs, artefacts and information on the Bijagoi people.

A local resident weaving basket out of bamboo at Bung Jagoi
A local resident weaving basket out of bamboo

The Dayung Bolih or Sino Bolih in the Jagoi-Bratak Bau areas
The Dayung Bolih or Sino Bolih. Today, in the Jagoi-Bratak Bau areas, they are the last generation that still practise the old Bidayuh tradition known as Adat Oma/ Adat Asal. The dayung bolih is known as the priestess that plays an important role during Gawea rituals, especially the paddy harvesting rituals (Gawea Podi), sickness rituals (Gawea Onam) and other smaller Gawea rituals

Besides a cultural discovery, Bung Jagoi is also a magnet for those who wish to go on a mountain hike but are not ready to brave the dense jungle and navigate difficult terrains. Bung Jagoi is fairly easy to climb. Along the way, you will chance upon interesting things like Ayak Bikubu, which is a traditional contraption built by the Bidayuh people to draw water from the mountain for drinking, bathing, washing and cooking among other things. The water is clean and so refreshingly cool. Speaking of cooling, a river leading to the Duyoh Waterfall at Bung Tesen is a great place to cool off too! And of course, from up on Bung Jagoi, the view is amazing!

Want to experience Bung Jagoi? Check out bungjagoitourism.wixsite.com/booking for booking or more information.

This article from BorneoTalk Vol.55 (page 26). Click here for DOWNLOAD
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