The district of Belaga is one of the most remote and largest districts of Sarawak with an area of 19,403.27 square kilometers, where the Hydro Bakun megaproject (BHP) is located. BHP is expected to supply cheap electricity to the country and even propose that it be exported to neighboring countries such as Brunei, Indonesia and even Thailand.
The District of Belaga is part of the Sarawak Renewable Energy Corridor (SCORE), which covers an area of 70,000 km2.
The beauty of belaga
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Belaga beauty lies in its isolation. It is located in front of the well-traveled tourist walk and accessibility to Belaga, also called the Heart of Borneo, due to its fauna and flora found there, has been quite limited until today. There lies the biggest asset of Belaga; She is a virgin and her charms remain intact by the tourism industry.
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The most spectacular places in Belaga, as in Usun Apau, are in its inner nature, where nature is at its best, without being disturbed by any tourist activity. Accessibility to these parts is by road, log road, air or river. Here, the mountains covered with green dominate the horizon. Occasionally, a waterfall falls down a cliff, catching the sun’s rays in the process and forming a rainbow. Below, the ubiquitous rivers move at lightning speed, forming rapids as they make their way through the rocks.
As the largest district of Sarawak and located in the remote center of Sarawak, Belaga encompasses within its boundaries some of the richest forests in the world, one of the important archaeological finds in Malaysia and some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. In fact, it would be difficult to find another area in the world that has so much diversity in nature, people and culture in an orderly package.
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The largest artificial lake in Borneo
The Belaga district is also the largest water catchment area in Southeast Asia when the Bakun Hydro Dam project ends sometime in 2011, which supplies 2400 mw of electric power. The artificial lake will extend along the upper Balui River, the Murum River, the Linau River and many medium-sized rivers and streams that will form a lake that is larger than the island of Singapore.
Immediately beyond the artificial lake, visitors can see beautiful mixed forests of lowland dipterocarps, with fallen trees protruding from the rivers. River transport is the main mode of communication here. The rivers flow quickly and during dry periods, the water level drops a lot and visitors can enjoy the spectacular nature of the landscapes.
Beyond the wealth that Belaga derives from its land, however, there are its people, its richest asset. Its numerous ethnic groups, more than 15 in total and that is only the official figure, combine to give Belaga its own uniqueness. The result is a colorful stew of culture, heritage and tradition.
Almost 100% of the district’s population are Orang Ulu ethnic groups (Orang Ulu means inland people) consisting of Kenyah, Kayan, Penan, Punan, Kejaman, Lahanan, Sekapan, Tanjung, Ukit, Seping, Lisum and Sihan. Other minorities of bumiputera are the Chinese Iban, Malay and non-bumiputera that form a total population of approximately 30,000 people.
Orang Ulu, which consists of many tribes in Belaga, has the most colorful costumes. In most of the long houses in Belaga, you will find ornaments and accessories, which have been inherited from their descendants, proudly displayed and jealously guarded by the owners. The ability to work with accounts, transmitted from generation to generation, has resulted in a kaleidoscopic variety of colors and designs in their crafts. The important role that the Kalaos play in the daily life of the Orang Ulu also comes alive in their most popular Orang Ulu dances. Dancers grab clusters of feathers in their hands and imitate a bird in flight, throwing and flying. The movements are funny and fluid.
Accompaniment music is provided by sape, which is one of the most popular musical instruments in Borneo. A four-string lute instrument produces a rich and delicate tone. It is made and carved from a single tree trunk. Traditionally, the four strings are made of split rotatan. Today, steel cables are used. The costumes are elaborated again. The rich trinket of the Orang Ulu adds a colorful dimension to the dance.
The small town of Belaga is located at the confluence of the Belaga River and the Balui River. About 37 km beyond and upstream of Balui is the Bakun hydroelectric dam. The Bakun hydroelectric dam is located at the confluence of the Bintulu-Bakun highway and the Sibu-Kapit-Belaga-Bakun express ship layer route along the Rejang river, the longest river in Malaysia. This location gives Belaga an advantage as a very strategic point as an ecotourism center in the heart of Borneo.
Fast access and an efficient transport network is the basic component of a successful destination. Belaga has quite good road access from neighboring countries such as Brunei and Kalimantan Borneo. While it is good to have a ready market at hand, regional cross-border traffic has its limitations due to its nature and size.
Air access to Sarawak is also a pretty good component of the system that has a great impact on Belaga as a destination. The location and juxtaposition of one destination to another are factors that contribute to travel patterns. Sarawak is divided by the South China Sea from Peninsular Malaysia by hundreds of miles. Belaga, in the heart of Borneo, so to speak, is isolated in the heart of Borneo. Travelers going to Kuala Lumpur can disperse to destinations within the peninsula of Malaysia on a direct flight to Bintulu through Kuching; Travelers who land in Singapore can go to Belaga by direct flight from Singapore through Kuching and tourists to Bangkok can go to Belaga by direct flight through Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Kuching. Tourists from Kota Kinabalu can come to Belaga by direct flight to Miri or Bandar Sri Begawan and then proceed to use ground transportation to Belaga or Bakun.
Domestic air access is another important factor for the destination. Belaga has its airfield since colonial times, which is a few kilometers downstream from the small town of Belaga. The frequency of access to domestic air service is quite low. Arrivals in Belaga are mainly by river and road, although there is an alternative route by air.
Within the domestic market, tourism in Belaga is still in its infancy, which is growing steadily and aggressively with the opportunity to establish the basis for planning and developing a sustainable industry. The heart of Borneo is free of the spoils of tourist stampedes and can learn from the mistakes of other districts or states of Malaysia. Feel free to contact us at http://belagahomestaysarawak.com