The ‘sandwiched’ town of Limbang
By Patricia Hului
Limbang river has been making many ‘odd’ news headlines over the past few months.
Last May, hundreds of dead fish were found floating on the river.
Then reports came in June saying the usually yellowish Limbang river had turned clear and green.
Until today, no definite reasons have emerged to explain these phenomenon.
Limbang’s real main attractions
Usually the buffalo— not the fish – is the headline-making animal in Limbang because the humble town is home to the buffalo race, the main activity for Pesta Babulang.
Organised by the Bisaya community, the festival would see teams from Limbang, Sabah and Brunei racing to the finish line riding bareback on buffaloes.
Apart from the buffalo race, other activities such as performance, beauty pageants and handicrafts exhibition are held.
But Pesta Babulang is not the only reason people should visit Limbang.
Head of Association of Limbang Division Community Leaders, Temenggong Ang Keng Su highlighted the main attraction for tourists was none other than Gunung Buda National Park (NP).
“There are not many people who know about Gunung Buda, I would like to see the government heavily promote it,” he said.
Gazetted as a national park in 2001, Gunung Buda was first visited by British explorers who participated in the Mulu Caves Project in 1978.
Then in the mid-90s, a group of American and British researchers together with Mulu park guides had several extensive expeditions to explore Gunung Buda.
Reportedly, Gunung Buda is a five-million-year-old mountain with magnificent complex of caves, six-metre-high limestone peaks and 3000-year-old burial sites!
Ang, who visited the place many years ago, was impressed by the size of the cave and wanted more people to make a trip there.
He believed that if the national park became a major tourist attraction, it would benefit Limbang’s residents economically.
The Headhunter’s Trail
Ang and his fellow community leaders were not the only ones who lauded the idea of promoting Gunung Buda as a major tourist site.
Batu Danau MP Paulus Palu Gumbang highlighted the park in a state assembly sitting four years ago since the area is part of the Headhunter’s Trail.
Designed for those who are physically fit, the trail is an adventurous way to enter or leave Mulu Park.
Back in the days when headhunting was still practiced, a group of Kayan headhunters made their way up to Melinau river till they reached Melinau Gorge.
From there, they carried their longboats for 3km through the jungle to the Terikan River where they attacked the people of Limbang.
Nowadays, only tour operators can use the trail to give tourists a great glimpse of the river and rainforests of Mulu.
From Mulu Park HQ, the trek starts with a cruise to Kuala Berar and two to three hours trekking to Camp 5 plus four to five hours trekking to Kuala Terikan.
Then visitors can choose to spend the night at Nanga Metawai which is 15 minutes from Kuala Terikan or an Iban longhouse which is three to four hours by longboat.
After spending the night, the road continues by longboat to Nanga Medamit before the final drive to Limbang.
Limbang, a town unique on its own
It does not matter if you choose to travel to Limbang for its buffalo race festival or five-million-year old mountain of Gunung Buda.
Just remember travelling there by road would require a passport as the only road connection into the town is through Brunei whether you are driving south from Lawas or north from Miri.
It is all thanks to its unique geographical location sandwiched between two halves of Brunei.
Limbang as part of Sarawak is indeed a unique addition to the long list of beautiful, peculiar, astonishing things about this state.
Where else in this world do you have to go through another country in order to drive in your own state?