Otong Ni-ee in Bidayuh heartland hidden gem for anglers

Hillside view of Otong Ni-ee, a communal freshwater pond at Kampung Riih Daso Serian.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, May 7: Located at the end of the Kampung Riih Daso road about 15 minutes’ drive from Serian town, is a 24-acres communal freshwater pond called Otong Ni-ee.

This communal freshwater pond surrounded by nature and in rural village setting, is a hidden gem in the Bidayuh heartland of Serian for anglers.

Due to it being still relatively unknown, it has much potential to grow as a new fishing spot and playground for anglers looking to indulge in their favourite outdoor pastime within a travelling distance.

Anglers participating in the first Otong Ni-ee Fishing Competition held on May 6, 2023.
Thaddeus Atek Ontoh

Villager Thaddeus Atek Ontoh, 69, who is also an ex-councillor, said the site of the communal freshwater pond used to be natural bog land but is now called Otong Ni-ee.

“The word ‘Otong’ in Bidayuh Serian dialect means ‘pond’, while ‘Ni-ee’ is the area,” he explained.

According to Atek, the communal freshwater pond is much bigger than Tasik Danu in Serian town, and that could make it an advantage as a public attraction in the division.

He revealed that the water that fills the pond originated from the mountain range known as ‘Bukit Bom’, and it flows to the two nearby rivers of Sungai Guwang and Sungai Raba.

“Initially, after converting the bogland into the communal freshwater pond, the villagers became custodians of the place, and all types of wild fish species and aquatic life were able to thrive.

“Later, villagers reared common carp and Java carp. But, since they practised the ‘tagang system’, they were only allowed to catch the fish after harvesting season and for festivals,” he told DayakDaily when met recently.

“We want to share (about it) for people to know Otong Ni-ee and what our village can offer as we have something that also attracts visitors and enthusiastic anglers.”

He said that is why the village held a fishing or ‘minti’ (in Bidayuh Serian dialect) competition recently (May 6) for people to come not only to compete but to experience the beauty of the surroundings.

Atek also hoped the location can be developed and become another attraction in Serian.

His views are supported by another villager, 60-year-old Mambang Lahi, who would like the area to have more facilities for visitors which can accommodate their needs.

Mambang Lahi

Mambang is optimistic that their representative and Semuja assemblymen John Ilus could help make Otong Ni-ee a destination for visitors a reality.

“The place has a lot of potential not only for anglers, but for those who likes to retreat to natural setting and the countryside here.We have plenty to offer, and it is good for Serian too,” he said.

Kampung Riih Daso has 163 families and more than 900 people living in the village. — DayakDaily