Editor’s note: Badul Homestay operator is Catherine Michael Sitim, and not as previously stated. Any inconvenience caused is regretted.
By Wilfred Pilo
BAU, August 4: A unique combination of a homestay and a weekend market in the quiet village of Kampung Badul in Singai is not only a noble idea to help prosper a small village community here but also an opportunity for visitors to experience the local Bidayuh community’s way of life.
Such a place is also where you can loosen up after a long, busy schedule and to have a short break with a difference in a rustic environment.
The villagers of Kampung Badul are friendly, the fresh air is rejuvenating and there is no lack of interesting activities that you will want to try your hand at. There is also plenty of fresh, organic agricultural produce and food, including plants foraged from the jungle to be found.
If that doesn’t suit you, visitors can always just savour the sights and sounds of the peaceful, natural surroundings at their own pace, perhaps while having a cuppa and enjoying the village setting.
Kampung Badul is a hidden gem surrounded by the ever-green foliage of the tropical rainforest and is is only 30 minutes’ drive from Kuching city.
Its village headman Jetri Suing and his development, security, and safety committee (JKKK) members together with Badul Homestay operator Catherine Michael Sitim agreed that the weekend market be set up near her homestay presently as she has ample space on the property to display agricultural produce, crafts, and home-cooked village food.
Jetri said this kind of economic activities will not only spur the development of the village’s economy but will help villagers as farmers, while at the time residents can share the rich traditions and culture of the Bidayuh community here with visitors who come and stay at the homestay, through their food and hospitality.
He said that their main objective now is really to create more awareness and to spur interest amongst villagers who are farmers to sell their agricultural produce and to create more activities of interest for visitors
“It is our hope that this Weekend Market and the homestay here can help us to boost our income and develop further the economic activities in this area,” he said.
Jetri aired his views when he spoke to the DayakDaily after the recent launching of the Kampung Badul Weekend Market by Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep.
“We are optimistic of the ideas and we want to make it big one day. For food and agricultural products, our soil here is fertile and we can always plant and produce cash crops here or even forage from the nearby jungle. We can rear many animals: chickens, ducks and even freshwater fish here,” he added.
Jetri said that the committee is taking one step at a time and they hope for resources to promote their efforts. By working together they also hope to attract food and tourism industry players to come and not only buy from them in plenty in the future but to bring more visitors.
Elaborating on how the whole idea of the Weekend Market came about, Jetri said it was after he encountered a shy farmer from the village whom he noticed riding his motorcycle up and down the narrow village road with plenty of vegetables in his basket.
“The farmer told me that he was having a hard time in selling his produce and due to his shyness, he was very reluctant to stop at any house, and thus he didn’t know what to do with his vegetables,” the headman lamented.
Jetri said that as the village chief, he had to do something as he felt sympathy for the shy farmer and decided to think of a way to help and prosper his village and the 71 families under his care.
He revealed that there are presently 10 farmers who have agreed to participate in the weekend market which is going to be held every Saturday, and he hoped more will join in to make the market more vibrant and plentiful in the future.
“We must work together as one and I believe that Kampung Badul folks are capable and we must ensure that our Weekend Market must thrive as we want to help everybody involved and boost our economic status,” he said
For homestay operator Catherine, working together with Jetri and his JKKK is paramount if they want the village to progress. Not only would she be helping them and herself to be better off economically but it would also prosper the area and at the same time the local way of life.
She revealed that after eight years operating as a registered homestay operator, she sees the potential in the Weekend Market to be another attraction that will and can boost her business as well as the economic well-being of the area.
“We must always be creative and with something unique and a must-have product to stay on the competitive edge and to sustain our business as there are competitors who continue to be innovative and want to lead all the time. It is healthy and for us, the Weekend Market here is definite another milestone for me and my family.
“In this business, we always want to bring all the elements of a modern setting but yet maintain a local feel to the place and this is what most visitors who stay here want, I believe.”
Catherine opined that eerybody has their own ideas about what they want to do for their homestay. For herself, she will continue to promote the place by participating in a roadshow and giving away brochures and business cards.
“I go to schools and higher institutions, join clubs activities and give talks to local communities about this business and what I am doing and how we all can help each other, especially with the homestay operators.
“For Badul Homestay, there are many activities that people can do here and apart from getting visitors in search of an authentic, traditional homestay experience, we have other activities like picking vegetables, foraging and fishing, hiking, jungle trekking and kayaking, and night walks,” she disclosed.
Catherine said her husband and children help her to manage the homestay during their free time.
“My husband helps during his holiday. He gives talks, brings guests on nature walks, and teaches them how to survive in the jungle if lost, as he has vast knowledge in this area,” she disclosed further.
Catherine revealed that the existence of the Weekend Market will offer her guests greater choice of local food to sample. The homestay is also always prepared to provide food à la local “kampung” style or other styles to suit guests’ palates.
“We also do catering for small parties and gatherings at the homestay. But let us know in advance so that we can prepare the food our guests want,” she added
Badul Homestay has eight rooms furnished either with twins bed or two single beds, and the rate per night is RM85. It also has a huge bamboo verandah and visitors who like to camp outdoors could do so and gaze at the tropical sky from the heart of a rainforest.
Catherine who is enthusiastic of her village’s esprit de corps hopes that all homestay operator in the area will do the same and collaborate to progress together.
“We must always give the best hospitality, no matter where our guests are from and ensure that we make people who come and stay with us proud of our culture and traditions.” — DayakDaily