D’Drift 2023 logs final entry after completing 12-fort tour of Sarawak (Travelogue Day 10)

A photo collage of the 12 forts that D'Drift Team visited.

By D’Drift Team

KUCHING, Mar 31: The return of the D’Drift 2023 team to Kuching marks the end of its arduous fort hunting excursion across Sarawak, where it managed to visit all 12 of the forts on its list.

Within 10 days, we traveled at least 2,900km on roads, excluding the one-day exploration in Limbang on Day 5.

With perseverance and determination, we completed our cross-district journey through 15 districts and sub-districts including Sibu, Bintulu, Telang Usan, Baram, Marudi, Miri, Limbang, Kapit, Kanowit, Song, Julau, Kabong, Betong, Lubok Antu, and Sri Aman, before returning to Kuching.

Over the course of our exploration of Sarawak, we have visited a total of 12 forts: Fort Margherita, Fort Long Akah, Fort Lio Mato, Fort Hose, Fort Limbang, Fort Emma, Fort Sylvia, Fort Brooke, Fort Charles, Fort Lily, Fort Arundell, and Fort Alice.

We also chanced on good food, heartwarming homestays, unusual stores, legendary folklore, and hilarious stories.

This is the final entry in our D’Drift 2023 travelogue, which we will end with a somewhat bittersweet feeling; bitter because we must close this chapter of our lives but also happy because we had the chance to embark on this unusual adventure.

D’Drift traveled at least 2,900km during the trip as it explored roads ranging from newly completed stretches of the Pan Borneo Highway to rugged logging roads in the interior of Sarawak.

Limitless potential for Long San, Lio Mato to become tourist destinations

The forts were not the only thing we learned about on this trip; we also had great conversations with people from all walks of life, witnessed breathtaking scenery, sampled some of the locals’ delicious home cooking, and explored some of Sarawak’s most remote jungles.

Discovering places like Long San, a Kenyah settlement in the Marudi division of Sarawak, and Lio Mato, a remote Kenyah Badeng longhouse settlement in the mountainous interior of the Marudi division of Sarawak, was an eye-opening experience for us.

One of the most popular things to do in Long San is visiting the five stunning waterfalls (Three Sisters Waterfall, U’ong Geneh, and U’uong Bilong). Additionally, Long Akah, a fort built by the Brookes, is another popular destination for sightseers.

It was two Kenyah couples — Edward Erang and his wife Wati, and Linda (Edward’s cousin) and her husband Sylvester — who stumbled upon the five waterfalls.

Three Sisters Waterfall. Photo credit: Jevinda Village Stay
Edward Erang.

Long San’s hospitable residents, especially the homestay owners, won us over. Both Edward and his wife Wati, who run the Wedgwood Inn, made us feel at home during our stay. Edward also provides boat rides to Fort Long Akah from the homestay’s backyard.

Even though we left the village the next day, Edward still checks up on us from time to time to make sure we’re okay and have arrived safely in Miri.

Meanwhile, Linda and Sylvester run Jevinda Village Stay, a homestay located just a short distance from Edward’s. Linda also offers tour guide services to visitors who want to hunt for waterfalls by hiking on trails she created.

Their commitment to attracting tourists to Long San with their own efforts is awe-inspiring, and we greatly value local heroes like them.

The people of Lio Mato village are just as warm and friendly as Long San. After our tour of Fort Lio Mato, they invited us back to their house for lunch and a chance to hear local legends.

(From left) Colin, Tingang, and Emilie pose for a photo outside of Fort Lio Mato.

Remote villages and small towns provide fresh experiences

Our experience in Sarawak’s rural areas convinced us to encourage city dwellers to take a trip out of the city to see what the rest of Sarawak has to offer.

There is no better way to immerse oneself in local culture than to spend the night in remote villages and small towns.

We also hope that by sharing our experience, locals in Sarawak will be inspired to leave the city and explore the interior of Sarawak to learn more about the region’s rich history, heritage, and culture.

Last but not least, thank you

The D’Drift 2023 Team would like to thank Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performance Arts (MTCP) Sarawak, and the Sarawak Museum Department for making this trip possible.

We’d also like to thank Yusup Labo and Jessie Mangka, the two veteran STB officers who joined us on our journey and provided invaluable assistance, direction, and recommendations for both tasty treats and cultural landmarks.

And finally, to all the readers of DayakDaily, we hope you’ve enjoyed our 10-day cross-district adventure. Thank you for your unceasing support and feedback.

As usual, stay tuned for D’Drift 2024. — DayakDaily