PADAWAN (September 7): An hour’s drive from Kuching City is Bengoh Range, Sarawak’s Jurassic World.
With its pristine natural beauty and majestic waterfalls, this treasure offers tourists a quick getaway for a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Surrounded by untouched nature, tourists can enjoy recreational activities such as hiking and experience a village lifestyle while visiting this place, a wonderful hidden gem of Sarawak, also known as the land of hornbills .
Local guide Joekasi Kosok, 37, who is an indigenous Bidayuh from a nearby village, said that several residents who were transferred to the Bengoh Resettlement Program (BRS), namely Kampung Rejoi, Semban, Taba Sait and Pain Bojong, relied on the Bengoh Dam. for tourism activities such as the provision of boat service packages.
“From the starting point at Bengoh Dam Pier, visitors will embark on a 20-minute boat ride before entering the village area for their hiking expedition and experience the grandeur of the waterfalls while immersing themselves in the exquisite natural landscape,” he told Bernama.
“They can also opt for an overnight stay at Kampung Sting, located at the top of Bukit Butah here and the price for a day trip starts from RM50 per person,” he said, adding that the price includes tour guide and boat service. as well as village entrance fees.
Disconnect to connect
The Bengoh Range, with its beautiful natural environment and rich biodiversity, helps visitors step into the jungle by disconnecting from the online world to reconnect with nature.
The writer experienced a digital detox while visiting the location as no phone signal was found. As such, don’t expect any notifications or calls here.
“These days young people cannot ‘survive’ if there is no internet or Wi-Fi. They cannot live without it so they leave the village. There aren’t many people my age left, and most of the villagers who stay and run the business are old people,” he said.
According to Joekasi, seasonal flooding aggravated by the construction of the Bengoh dam in 2007 may have forced some residents of several Bidayuh villages here to leave the area and resettle in BRS.
He said those who chose not to move decided to actively promote the area as a tourist spot through social media after receiving positive feedback from tourists who visited the place.
Apart from fertile land, he said villagers can now earn a side income as more and more people know about the place through social media, with Bengoh Dam on their travel list when visiting Kuching. .
Also known as Joe among friends and family, the father-of-four who also runs a boat rental and homestay service said villagers used bamboo poles to build walking paths hiking and bridges when crossing rivers.
“During your trek, you can see bamboo growing naturally and abundantly here, so the villagers use it as a path and a bridge and replace them once or twice a year.
“The bamboo poles are tied with durable PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic straps and the poles will be changed once or twice a year, if necessary,” he said, adding that locals would clean the trail as needed. weekend.
While hiking along the trail, you will be mesmerized by some of the breathtaking waterfalls in the Bengoh Range such as Rideau Waterfall, Koring Waterfall, Pe’an Waterfall, along with the Farthest Susung. The 1.5 km trail is one hour from the village entrance.
Here the writer found a huge and sturdy hanging branch to sit on and capture images with the view of the alluring Susung Waterfall in the background.
“Visitors are not allowed to swim in Susung Waterfall for safety reasons as the water is very deep. However, they can enjoy the cool waters of Rideau Waterfall,” Joekasi said.
The Curtain and Susung waterfalls have recently sparked local interest due to their unique resemblance to the jungles of the popular film Jurassic World.
Tourists who stop for a visit to Kampung Sting located on Bukit Butah (Bengoh Range), which also offers homestay facilities, can enjoy the unparalleled picturesque view of Bengoh Dam from the top of the hill under the azure sky.
“Villagers grow various types of fruits like guava, durian, rambutan and pineapple. Tourists can get them for free, but usually the fruit season will be in November and December,” Joekasi said, noting that there are about 14 houses in Kampung Sting.
At Kampung Sting, a homestay owner, Tikom Duyau warmly welcomed visitors in a local Bidayuh language, “Seramat Manug” (Welcome).
The 66-year-old who has run the business for more than 10 years said visitors who choose to stay overnight at his home can bring their own food to cook as it is equipped with a stove, cooking utensils kitchen, in addition to basic necessities such as mattresses. and pillows.
Potential tourist attraction
With Bengoh Range’s growing popularity among visitors outside Kuching, Tikom said local residents are hoping for collaborations with the state government and Tourism Malaysia to promote Bengoh as a tourist destination through government platforms.
Meanwhile, Joekasi said reservations are needed to enter Bengoh Dam as visitor numbers can reach up to 300 visitors per day on weekends and 20-40 visitors per day on weekdays.
“When I promote the place on Facebook, I always advise potential tourists planning to go on the weekend to contact for reservations two weeks in advance as we only have 10 boats operating in this dam and nearly 30 inhabitants who manage this place of leisure.
“All leisure activities here are entirely run by locals, as well as maintenance. We appreciate if the government is ready to assist and provide assistance to locals to maintain and boost the tourism sector here,” he said.
Bengoh Dam is capable of storing 114 million cubic meters of water with a catchment area of 127 square kilometers intended under a water supply project for the needs of the people of Kuching city and districts. surrounding.
The project worth over RM300 million started in 2007 and was fully completed in January 2017.
“Bengoh Dam sangon poson (Bengoh Dam is very beautiful). Harap bidapod lagik (Hope to see you again),” Joekasi said after sending the writer back to Bengoh Dam Pier. — Bernama