Though not as well-known as the Iban Longhouses in Sarawak, the longhouses of the Rungus people are fast gaining popularity as a tourism destination. I had the opportunity to visit a traditional longhouse at Kampung Bavanggazo in Matunggong last month while on a visit to Kudat.
It’s called Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse and I also visited a modern version of it as well called the Maranjak Longhouse Lodge.
When I first stepped into the longhouse, I actually tiptoed on instinct – didn’t want to make too much noise and also I was worried that my weight (or overweight) might break the floor. Surprisingly, though made of bamboo, the structure was really sturdy.
Make sense – it housed lots of people, probably close to one hundred or more.
As can be seen in the above picture the Rungus longhouse is built using bamboo with thatch roofing. The interior is divided into 2 areas – a long hall on one side and partitions of room on the other. We were informed that there are more than one family living in a longhouse and each family gets one room. The ladies of the family sleep in the room and the men sleep in the hall. When a couple gets married, they will be provided with a room. When there are no more room in the longhouse, then the house will be extended to provide a new room for the couple.
I forgot to ask where they do the cooking.
Probably somewhere outside.
They also sell handicrafts in the hall, specially made by the ladies of the village. My wife and the girls borong quite a lot of bead bracelets as gifts. And we also got to admire their beautiful embroidery work.
I believe it’s used as a head scarf for the men.
Isn’t it exquisite?
Inside The Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse
While inside the longhouse I felt as though I was peeking into the communal lifestyle of the Rungus people in the olden days. I can imagine the feast that they had, the huge turnout during dinner, the sharing of food, the laughter and all the dozens of kids running around the house.
My kids had a blast beating the gong, just like they did at Kampung Sumangkap. Maybe I should sign them up for Drum lessons…
Then, there’s the tree that I don’t know the name. The fruits are actually poisonous and can cause itchiness when it comes into contact with our skin.
Special homestay arrangements could be made if you come in a group – you’ll get to experience living, sleeping and dining in the longhouse. And there’ll also be entertainment provided such as the traditional dance performance which I guess may be the Sumundai-Mongigol, accompanied by the traditional musical instruments such as the gong.
What Is The Difference Between Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse And Maranjak Longhouse?
The difference between the Bavanggazo Longhouse and the Maranjak Longhouse Lodge is, the former is really simple, with not even a fan in the room. While the Maranjak Longhouse is a resort, when compared to Bavanggazo Longhouse. At the Maranjak Longhouse, there are facilities such as handicraft shop, wi-fi, meeting hall, mini store, camping, bicycles for hire, karaoke, etc. But both are still considered ‘homestay‘ programs.
I hope you’ll drop by the longhouses when you visit Kudat. Do check on the beautiful Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, The Tip Of Borneo too.
– Bavanggazo Rungus Longhouse Kudat