Reaching Fort Long Akah after conquering challenging off-road ride to Long San, Ulu Baram (Travelogue Day 2)

Historical Fort Long Akah still stands watch faithfully, decades after it was last manned.

By D’Drift Team

BARAM, March 23: We had so far travelled on the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway from Sibu to Bintulu and further up to Beluru, before going past Lapok town from the Bakong junction into interior Baram.

Our minds were set on reaching Fort Long Akah, our second fort target of D’Drift 2023, before nightfall. And wow, the off-road trip into the interior of Baram was truly a pleasant surprise for those brave and audacious souls seeking an adventure.

While city dwellers like us in the D’Drift team were overwhelmed by off-road ride, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) officer Yusup Labo, whom we were so grateful to have joined us on this trip, was confident and collected.

He manoeuvred the four-wheel drive skillfully and got the team to the destination safely, within the designated timeframe.

At 6pm sharp right before sunset, we arrived at Wedgwood Inn, our homestay of the night, just in time for a little fort hunt in the dim twilight.

Arriving at Fort Long Akah

After storing our belongings at Wedgewood Inn, its manager, Edward Erang, brought us to Fort Long Akah in his longboat. The journey started from the backyard of the homestay.

The 10-minute boat ride downriver from Long San was a breezy and quiet one. The river water was so calm and serene amid the rattling sound made by the boat engine.

We just sat there, in awe of the great Mother Nature and what she brought before us – the ancient song of the river, the insect symphony from the jungles at near distant and the whispers of the equatorial winds near our ears.

No one spoke until we reached the riverbank.

The boat trip to Long Akah, in search for the historical Fort Long Akah. (March 23, 2023).

The lonely fort

This once magnificent two-storey Fort Long Akah is located at the confluence of the Akah and Baram rivers, faithfully standing guard over the river as it has for decades.

Under the twilight, standing lonely amid the heavy undergrowth, it seemed forlorn and somehow sorrowful. That was understandable. At one time, it was the post of command where important businesses were conducted and crucial decisions made.

During that glorious era, it stood firm and powerful, like a young, graceful and strong warrior standing guard against any invasions and malicious attacks. But like any fearless lasses, it grew old, and was forgotten.

Time, however, did not manage to take away all its valour. We can see its determination.

When we entered the fort, we couldn’t help but admire how the building’s structure has stood the test of time, as if it still patiently awaits the day when it may regain former glory with visitors thronging in to pay respect to it.

It is definitely best to visit the fort earlier during the day or to bring a torchlight if you decide to visit the building at dusk like us.

It was a childhood dream coming true. We held our torchlights, pretending that we were sneaking into some old structures rumoured to be haunted.

The interior of Fort Long Akah (March 23, 2023).
The sliding windows of Fort Long Akah (March 23, 2023).

Fort Long Akah, like other Sarawak forts, has a varied history, with many heroic stories and legends being associated with them. However, their stories have not been told, all just because it has been forgotten. But not anymore.

Its determination to be heard again is clearly shown in its structure which still bears signs of its former functions and glories. This can be seen from its sliding windows which allow cannons to be positioned and directed at approaching enemies.

It is old definitely but not yet ready to fade into oblivion. And it is not haunted, not when the spirits of Sarawak’s ancient heroes are faithfully guarding it to make sure their stories would again be told one day.

That day may come soon as the Sarawak government through the Sarawak Museum Department is now channelling sizeable resources in reviving buildings and sites of heritage and historical value.

See you again, Fort Long Akah

Being physically present there was quite different from reading about it from books or some websites. In fact, being there gave you a surreal feeling, that you had travelled back in time, that you were being transported to a moment in history.

The fort was built in 1929 as the main administrative centre in the area under the government of Charles Vyner Brooke. It was also used to train local men as soldiers to fight the Japanese during the Second World War.

At its height, it was also used as the High Court to settle the disputes of the locals and a trading centre where the locals could conduct barter trade of their jungle produce with traders appointed by the government.

Farewell Fort Long Akah. We took note of your determination and we will be back, to bear witness of the day when your glory is again restored. — DayakDaily