The Tiwah marks the passing of elders in a traditional Dayak village. It is an occasion for everyone to join in the preparations, the feasting and drinking, in the rituals, the festivities and the enjoyment – gotong royong.

Visitors are warmly included in all the events, and patiently led through the complex march of the ceremonies and introduced to the main participants.

In this tiwah, the elder had lain for months in the front room of his home, and when we arrived the room was crammed with women, sitting with the widow, preparing the palm leaf woven decorations for the casket.

Out the back, women were preparing the ritual food, sweet sticky rice topped with fresh ground coconut tossed with the local palm sugar. Cattle, buffalo, pigs and chickens were sacrificed at regular intervals and boiled in huge vats with spices and vegetables over open fires, stirred with canoe paddles. They were feeding their own village, a neighbouring community and visitors too.

Waves of masked and draped figures, called bukungs, wearing painted flamboyant masks, lake weeds or a bamboo batik covered frame for the giant bukung santiau, came by day and night. With the role to frighten away mischievous spirits. They are welcomed, and repeatedly fed with sticky rice

and the local fermented drink, baram.

With the vast Lake Sembuluh as a backdrop, and the impassive, timeless faces of the sapundu from past tiwah on sandung scattered about the town, the passion of all involved, it felt as if we had stepped into the past and were living the myths and legends we had only read about.



    Last week WOW Borneo (KTD) arranged our trip and accompanied by our wonderful Dayak guide Dodi (and ’trainee’ guide Jonathan) we travelled upto see the long house (*betang*) at a little village called Tumbang Gagu, right up in the headwaters of the Sampit (or Mentaya) River.

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    We had a wonderful 3 days and 2 nights on the beautiful Rahai’i Pangun. The whole crew looked after us every minute with great food, cool drinks and all the comforts to make our trip memorable. Thanks to Lorna, Sayful, Suryadi, Patirwin, Anto, Ujeng and Ready!

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    This Jungle River Cruise gave us a great present! The river and time pass slowly on the boat. Not only orangutans and jungle but also the people, especially the children of the village moved us so much. I was impressed!

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    To all on the Rahai’i Pangun, thank you for introducing me to the wonders of Central Kalimantan over a fantastic few days. Loved the boat, loved the concept, loved the food – and the company was pretty great too!

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    It was the trip of a lifetime!

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    It was so moving to visit the two villages. Kanarakhan and Gaung Baru were memorable in their exchange of culture with us.

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    Thank you very much for an unforgettable jungle experience. The long boat journey through the flooded jungle was great. The food was excellent as well.

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    The river cruise was beyond awesome. We had a great crowd on the boat. We had fantastic food and nothing was seen as too hard to do for us from all the crew.

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    Thank you again for taking such great care of all of us during our recent visit to Kalimantan. You and the crew were so professional, kind, generous and fun. Our group really enjoyed getting to know you, eating the delicious food presented to us each day, and relaxing on your boat.

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  • SUE HEWETT (21-24 DECEMBER 2012)

    This cruise was everything we’d dreamed and more. The boat is very comfortable, the crew efficient and courteous and the food delicious!  The guide couldn’t have been better – fun, passionate, thoughtful, knowledgeable and great company!

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    This tour was one of the best vacation and wildlife experiences I have had (and I have seen pretty much everything in Africa). Despite all it has to offer, Kalimantan is a tough place to vacation in so I was not expecting much. However, I was blown away by this trip.

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