My Childhood’s Longhouse Experience



Like me, some of you may have grown up in the era of wooden longhouses, built from the ground up by our forefathers.

Normally these type of houses are built far from the city, surrounded by fruit trees, chickens and lots of green which make up a natural playground.

As an Iban kid who born in 1980s, I used to play in this kind of environment. I loved playing with grass, stones, puddles, mud, building wooden bridges, dams and canals. It’s a wonder why I didn’t grow up an engineer.

Maybe because I hated maths…🙂

With the greenish environment which makeup a natural playground, the experience to live and grown up in the era of the wooden longhouse is something worth to share with you, especially with the youngsters today.

Unlike you, when I was a kid, I woke up every morning quater to 7 or maybe by 7 would be the latest. Or else I’ll feel sorry to myself, regreat why would I spend a my time in bed when the beauty of nature await me to be explore. I woke up this early for a reason. Its not like because of Ben 10 will start at 7. Or maybe because of the coco crunch await me on my kitchen table. Or maybe because I need to go for the art class tuition by 8. That’s not it! The reason I wake up every morening is something that different from those of the reason you wake up early. Not by force, but by intention.

You can’t resists to wake up early when little bird singing right outside of your window, when little insects sang a jungle song, when the morning breeze blew colder than your aircond… when you thinking of to start a day with a smile.🙂

The riverbank near by is an official meeting place for a every kids every morning and evening. The crystal clear water call me by name, though its cold as ice, it can’t stop me and the kids to flip floop dunk ourself into the water. We swim, we play, who can’t we teach. Basically, the world is ours. This kind of environment brought us together and the bond were tight.

Its good to be friend with human rather than computer.

There is no Fish and Chips, but we have fresh BBQ fish, which is far more delicious and healthy than the so-called wastern food. Though we don’t have a cheese burger at that time, we have something that almost similiar. I can still remember how delicios is the “Roti Sebayan” or some of us called it “Roti Penat” or “Roti Tababr”, when I dunk them into my hot coffee. – Kopi Cap Ah Moi.

At night, we don’t watch Power Rangers like you do. Since there is no electricity, what more to say TV? So the main source of news and entertainment for old folks is the radio. But for us, the kids, we don’t really give a damn about the entertainment, we don’t care about the news or what happened in the world those day.

All we know, the world is ours, so what we do is, play and play and play.
In the day time, we explore the nature. At night, we play hide and seek.

Apart all that, like me, I believe kids at my time do enjoy the “Randau Ruai”. Its something like a story telling section where we’ll faced our grandparents and the old folks sit at “Ruai” and listen to their “Ensera” or story in English. The stories were interesting, its cover up all the topic from the fantasy and the myth to the history of our origin and the languages. See, we don’t need a tuition class to learn all that. Furthermore, I don’t need a MP3 to sing me a song to sleep at night.

Like what I’d mention in the beginning of my story, I play stones, puddles, mud, and those of the things which may be dirty to you. We don’t buy toys but make toys. We don’t play XBox’s Street Fighter, but we do sometimes watch the cockfighting. We don’t need a monthly payment for martial art class as the old folks will teach us “Kuntau” for free. Dance classes, “Ngajat” for free. Music classes, all for free!

In line with the modernization and development. The longhouse you know today is not a longhouse that we known yesterday and it may change again tomorrow. Though most of my young times spent in the city, but the life to live and grown up in the longhouse environment is something that can’t never be forget. Thanks to my parents for those wonderful experience and memories.


Eventhough the wooden longhouses now transformed to concrete, the jungle surrounding now change to a flowers in the pot, the river now is a drains, and the chicken in the cage, there are the thing that remain the same.

The bond amongs us..
and I hope, forever, it will stay that way.

2 responses to “My Childhood’s Longhouse Experience

  1. hahahaha…..ruti sebayan n pengingat tuai reminds me of long house…..will b back this coming gawai…..

  2. i still remember when all of us sat at ruai with a source of light from 'lampu pelita' or we called it at limbang here as 'lampu tembaga' listening to pengingat tuai from my grandfather. there was no TV or radio as today during that time. we were so happy listening to the old folks telling story with the face expression to make the story more lively. during that time those who bought TVs or radios were among the richest groups. in the evening, we would search for rooms with the lights on which meant the generator was on for the TV too. all the kids were not allowed to sit on the sofa sets to make sure that the kids were not dirtying it. we didn't mind to sit on the floor as long as we could watch the TV's programmes. we would lined up on the floor mat and kept quiet so that the room owner would not chase us away….what a living memory. if there were any death at the longhouse, we were happy to serve coffee and the biscuits (roti sebayan) as the left over biscuits would be us hehheee….dipped in the black and sweet coffee…

Kitai Iban sigi patut bekunsika buah penemu ti manah enggau pangan diri, baka ke beduaka lampang rusa, bebagika lampang babi, ngenjuk lampang pelanduk, betetakka lampang bayak. Ngambika utai ti berat tau nyadi lempung, utai simpi tau segala, utai bingkuk tau lurus. Bekunsi kitai buah penemu ti manah enggau pangan diri ngambi ke bansa kitai tau pegari ditemu dunya, bediri sama tinggi, duduk sama pemaruh enggau bansa bukai. - Nadai salah mejah seruri, sigi endang dianti-anti. :)

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