Staying with the headhunters

After driving through the jungle on a bumpy, hilly road, I saw the big wooden houses of the headhunters. It was a small village and yet it was bigger than I’d expected. I think I’d expected a single longhouse, but this was a village with modern brick longhouses as well as a traditional longhouse. I guess even the Iban headhunters modernise. The wooden longhouse was my accommodation for the night. There was a warm welcome by an old couple of whom only the man spoke a handful of words in English.

The longhouse of the Iban

The longhouse of the Iban

Upon entering the longhouse you take off your shoes. My feet felt the straws the floor was made of. I walked carefully since with every step the floor bounced just a little. The longhouse, built in the sixties, was a big, long house on stilts with a common veranda. Off this veranda were several doors to equally long houses. The interior was minimal with a lot of religious items. The Iban were converted to Christianity and Jesus was all around. Even the Christmas decorations were still on the wall in April. Even though we were in the jungle, people had TVs and modern appliances, which looks a bit strange in a wooden jungle hut. The bedrooms were surprisingly basic. There we thin mats to sleep on and some mosquito nets.

Silly me had expected something much more primitive and yet I wasn’t disappointed. These people are part of our modern society, even though they live in the jungle and far from the city. Their youngsters are moving away to get a better future in the cities. That’s why they are starting to build brick houses with all the comforts of the more modern cities. Life changes, even in the jungle. The only thing I was a bit disappointed about, was that even though we were in someone’s house, we barely saw the owner. We were staying in an Iban village, but barely saw any Iban. It was the trip’s guide who prepared our food, and our hosts were not joining us. Most of the people of the village were staying elsewhere for work purposes. There were only a handful of people present in the longhouse. Luckily the guide was very knowledgeable and made sure we had a good experience.

This post is part of the weekly travel theme. This week’s them is Wood. I chose to approach this challenge from the perspective of how people use wood from their natural environment.


4 thoughts on “Staying with the headhunters

  1. I really enjoyed this post – and the pictures allowed me to feel more of your experience – thanks for that! and my favorite line was “Silly me had expected something much more primitive and yet I wasn’t disappointed…” 🙂

  2. Pingback: Through rough waters | Pretty Packed

  3. Pingback: Surprise! | Pretty Packed

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