Road To Bakelalan Part 1
Airplane's view of Limbang - the orange building on the top right is Purnama Hotel
Limbang Airport - it has transformes into a modern airport, able to cater for Fokker 50 airplanes now. Last time it can only take twin otters.
Limbang Airport - the view you will see when you arrive
Posing with the Twin Otter pilot plane - on the trip to Lawas from Limbang
Lawas Airport - the view you will see on arrival
One rural school you will see on the road to Lawas - Long Semadoh - Ba'Kelalan - notice how dangerously close it is to the edge of the hill.......though completed, it is still not occupied as it is deemed to risky. Funny it did not get the attention of the TV3 who always report about unoccupied schools in West Malaysia. Our driver informed us that the people within the vicinity are anxious to send their kids to school there because it would solve the problem of sending their kids to hostel schools in Lawas.
The danger of the journey is seen when we noticed an overturned tanker - though the road seems okay on the first part of the journey - it is still slippery.
Long Semadoh entrance - a Lun Bawang village
Long Semadoh individual houses are like Kampung settings - I thought they would live in longhouses as most of the villages here are called 'Long' in prefixes... e.g Long Bedian.
Timber Camp - one of the few timber camps you will pass by on the Long Semadoh - Ba'Kelalan trip.
Timber Lorries - remember this is a timber track road and it is owned by the timber companies (the road and lorries are company properties also so they have reason to drive at high speed - so if you plan to drive alone, stay away from the monster size lorries!)
Timber road blocked - the red banner put by the side of the road indicates timber blockade is being put up by one the villages there. Its not a hostile one we were told - its just that the villagers wanted to negotiate with the timber company. You do not see anyone holding any spears or weapons of that sort. The villagers who put up the blockade are also not seen. The lorries could just run over that wooden blockade with no problem but the drivers being locals mostly respect the symbolic blockade as they come from the same area too. Usually the blockade is solved once the representative of the timber company meets the village head to solve the cause of the blockade.
Timber track road gets nasty
Cafe at one of the timber camps - we were surprised to see it clean and hygienic. The food there is also nice though I did not take a picture of it as I only took Maggie Mee for lunch.
The cafe deco is adorned with the news of the helicopter tragedy which claimed the lives of the local assembly man - YB Dr. Judson Tagal, together with a few other important local leaders. The owner of the cafe is related to the late YB so that is why its full of his pictures, history and news of the tragedy.
Buffalos swimming in one of the padi fields that you pass by from the Long Semadoh - Ba'kelalan Road
When we reached Ba'kelalan I was surprised to see that they have two Telefon Rakyat installed there. As the handphone signal does not cover this part (though you may notice some Celcom and Maxis line providers advertise on television and newspaper that they have receptions in the rural areas - this could be a good test ground for them if they want to be try their slogan of "nationwide coverage". I was dismayed that the Telefon Rakyat here was not working. I was informed by the villagers that it would take weeks before a Telekom technician would come to solve their problems. When they call the Telekom Office in Lawas some kind of football match will happen. Telekom Lawas will pass the ball to Telekom KL saying that it is Telekom KL project. Hmmm...Telekom..... don't look at me, its the villagers who told us. Do not underestimate them - I discovered that they are smarter than you think. After all people like Idris Jala, the present boss of MAS, who is a Kelabit, comes from the highlands area.
Ba'Kelalan village library (perpustakaan desa): Its fitted with two computers - quite new ones but one is not working. The Lawas District Council maintains the town and village libraries and the books supplied sometimes come from Pustaka Negara and Pustaka Negeri - and some are donated. The books are sometimes circulated (recycled) between the other village libraries. If anyone has the chance, have a look at the quality of the books at the libraries they can use some more good books - not only for Ba'kelalan but the other village libraries.
The computers are also supposedly Internet ready - but I noticed that its the same case as the Telefon Rakyat. The modem was not able to connect, otherwise it would provide excellent service to the villagers. One of the villagers informed us that the Internet would help them solve their problems in connectivity to the rest of Sarawak or the world even. Ermm... Telekom? It has one huge sattelite dish outside the library.... I do not suppose that is for decorative purpose.
Airport - this is the airport strip/runway which caters for twin otter flights coming in to Ba'kelalan about twice a week. Its about one kilometer in stretch.
Okay that is all for now. I will return with Part 2 soon :)