ESU GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE PROGRAM
Bario is a remote village of Sarawak. It is considered to
be the centre of the Kelabit culture.
Access is by twin otter plane from Miri, or an 8 hour journey by
boat and then four wheel drive through dense jungle. The
population is approximately 900 people and there are only two telephone
lines that serve the whole community; electricity is produced by
generators and solar power; water supply is supplemented by rainwater
collected in large containers . There is no celphone
All supplies, other than rice and locally produced crops and
products, have to be transported into the small town at great
expense (including petrol, food supplies and materials).
GIFT OF KNOWLEGE 2008
The recipient of the ESU Gift of Knowledge Book Donation for 2008 was
SMK Bario, in Sarawak, (which is also the partner school for the ESU
Epal Program). On behalf of the ESU Malaysia, committee member
Datin Shalini Ganendra and family, visited SMK Bario. The school
staff and students were gracious hosts. The visit , which was
from July 18 – 20, 2008, created a lasting impression on the whole
The student body of 160 children are enthusiastic and generally
diligent. Though facilities are very limited, the school
administration has fostered comradarie, hope and goal orientation in
the school spirit. The single story buildings are surrounded by
beautiful landscaping, and are clean and well maintained. A
number of projects are underway to improve atmosphere and results,
thereby motivating the students even more.
The ESU Malaysia believes in the students of SMK Bario!
Students’ Welcome at school
Band Played on….
Presentation of some books to SMK Bario – English Night
SMK Bario Library
three essays on the trip are by the Ganendra children
(Jerry - 13 years; James - 11 years; Juliana - 6 years).
OUR VISIT TO BARIO
guarded by armies of towering green giants. Secluded, surrounded by
sheet after sheet of breathing ocean. A bubble, sheltered from the
turbulent cyclones of the outside world. This ‘bubble’ is located on
the eastern perimeter of Malaysia. Due to its location near the
equator, Borneo is generally very warm and humid, yet this ‘bubble’ can
reach 18°C when the sun is not watching. However, it is not in the
highlands- it is elevated only 1,000m above sea level. I would like to
call this bubble Bario, unique in its climate, its traditions, its
warm, friendly inhabitants (both human and inhuman), and very
importantly, its food.
My mother, on
behalf of the English Speaking Union of Malaysia, started an E-pal
program between SMK Bario and a school in Florida, USA. Since
this project was so successful, we were invited as guests of honour to
the school, at the invitation of Principal Encik Cheong. Our journey
started on the 18th of July 2008 at 10:00 am when we arrived at Miri.
The only way to
get into Bario is by flight. One has to take a twin otter (a
miniscule 20-odd seater rotary plane) over the dense Borneo jungle.
Meandering snake like rivers and stagnant ox-bow lakes cover the
|After cutting through the walls of the
bowl surrounding Bario, the plane experienced some moderate turbulence
before landing smoothly on the airstrip. We then got onto a
reliable 4WD truck and drove to SMK Bario.
brother,James, Encik Chong and I traveled at the back of the truck –
open air (which
was great fun!). As we went through the small, modest gates of
Bario, we were greeted by a harmonious orchestra of bamboo
then shook hands with all 180 persons (students and teachers) of SMK
Bario before heading up the ‘diamond path’ to our living
residence consisted of 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, dining and sitting
rooms. We were treated with such great hospitality.
stay, we visited
numerous majestic long houses – some of which housed more than 100
people. Encik Chong and we were the guests of honour
at the SMK
Bario English night – which was fantastic, showing great talent
Four memories in particular, have been
etched in my mind.
The freezing cold duck baths – refreshing and definitely a morning wake
The food – of which my favourite dishes were: the pounded,
glutinous, red and Bario rices: the barbecue babi hutan (really tender
and delicious): the pineapple shoots (nice texture and flavour), the
Doh Reh (a soupy, bitter, vegetable).
The salt mine in the jungle: We walked 5 km into the
jungle to visit the salt mine and the drying camp.
The abandoned hydroelectric dam project: We crossed white water
numerous times, which was exhilarating, challenging and fun, before we
saw the great and tragic failed project which had cost millions of
We then exited
Bario the same way that we came – driving on the rugged path to the
twin otter, seeing the same breath taking views, including a
rainbow! Bario was definitely a trip
which opened my mind to really energetic and healthy visits, with
eco-friendly activities and different culture. Thank you!
(Age: 13 years)
Bario is a
unique blend of culture, wildlife and history. Isolated in the middle
of the jungle, Bario has gorgeous landscape which includes hills,
fields and majestic longhouses! The residents occupying this
living Eden are as friendly as can be which makes the trip there all
the more pleasant.
Bario, visitors have to travel on a small
plane which takes 45 minutes, from Miri, Sarawak. Though the ride can
be quite a bumpy one, it is a fantastic way to see the marvelous array
of hills and forests. The airport in Bario is surprisingly small;
consequently, it doesn’t take long before you are cleared and
ready to go. There are a variety of homestays that one can stay
In Bario, trekking is a fantastic way
to embrace the landscape and wildlife. There are two great treks: the
saltmine and the hydro project, that are sure to get your muscles into
full gear! These treks are teaming with bugs and plant life and
you may even be lucky enough to see deer and wild boar!
Finally, there is the food! Bario is
famous for a lot of its food products, from juicy pineapples to the
fragrant soft rice and its unique tasting salt. The food is delicious,
with traditional delicious dishes that range from bamboo,
pineapple and banana shoots curries; buffalo curry; ferns and even
barbequed wild boar!
Bario is a must
visit for all who want a good venture out of the busy,
polluted cities. It has a range of activities to offer and is tranquil,
relaxing and pleasant. Go visit Bario, a real treasure of Sarawak!
(Age: 11 years)