Seeking the Muan Tabik waterfall in Kg Gayu, with a stopover at a head house

Muan Tabik waterfall near Kampung Gayu, Padawan.

By Nancy Nais

PADAWAN, May 14: Waterfalls are magical, but nothing beats the journey to get to them, in this writer’s opinion.

The hikes to reach these waterfalls are rewarding in themselves because of the anticipation of finally reaching a perfect place to cool off, have a picnic and even spend the night among nature.

Living in a State blessed with many natural wonders, Sarawak does not lack for hiking trails leading to beautiful waterfalls and if you are looking for something to do on the weekend, why not head towards one of these waterfalls?

Together with Sarawak Tourism Board, I recently discovered the Muan Tabik waterfall in Kampung Gayu, Padawan.


Located just an hour’s drive from Kuching city, Kampung Gayu is a Bidayuh village which was established more than 100 years ago.

According to village chief Nubun Madir, there were originally 110 doors or households before most of the villagers moved to their new location, just a short way downhill.

Journey to Muan Tabik waterfall in Kampung Gayu, Padawan.

As we began our hike to the hidden Muan Tabik waterfall, we had the opportunity to view another hidden ‘treasure’ in this village — a real head house or ‘panggah’ located in the jungle.

Located just 15 minutes’ hike from the village, this ‘panggah’ currently serves as temporary housing for its grim contents while villagers are in the midst of building a more permanent structure.

As our local guide Robert Rompet, 62, explained, the original ‘panggah’ has collapsed due to old age, not surprising given the village existed before the arrival of the White Rajah.

“In those days, the skulls were collected from war or combat with the enemies that encroached on our territory and threaten the lives of our ancestors and villagers. This head house still houses the centuries old skulls and the heritage ground is where the ‘Pinyewa Bidayuh’ settled in olden days,” Robert said.

Skulls kept inside the head house or ‘panggah’ in the jungles of Kampung Gayu, Padawan.

After a short pit stop, we continued our 30-minute hike over an easy trail, passing a diversity of beautiful forest flora which will comfort any heart, to the accompaniment of birds and crickets chirping in harmony, all the way to the waterfall.

Although this waterfall may not be the biggest, nor have the fastest cascades, but it certainly makes up for it with its photogenic features and pristine waters.

Those looking for beauty and respite away from the racket of city life will appreciate the peaceful jungle environment and the thundering sounds of water falling. It’s a good reason as any to make the journey here.

Local guide Robert Rompet (left) with writer Nancy Nais at Muan Tabik waterfall in Kampung Gayu, Padawan.
Writer Nancy Nais poses at the Muan Tabik waterfall near Kampung Gayu, Padawan.

As a gentle reminder to those who want to explore the jungle and waterfalls, make sure you wear proper hiking footwear or the local ‘kampung Adidas’, carry enough drinking water and perhaps bring along your swimsuit and a picnic meal.

If you have time to spare, consider staying overnight at Kampung Peraya Homestay nearby to experience the Bidayuhs’ local hospitality and sign up for bamboo water rafting the next day to experience two to three hours of extremely calming and scenic journey by the river.

Visitors who are keen to visit Muan Tabik waterfall in Kampung Gayu, Padawan should check out the Sia Sitok Sarawak 2.0 packages available and special offers for Sarawak residents at https://sarawak.travel/explore-all/.

Bookings can be made anytime from now until October 31, 2021 while the travel period is valid until December 15, 2021.

‘Community-based tourism’ like this offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy experiencing a new way of life through the eyes of local communities, while providing locals with social and economic opportunities. — DayakDaily