Friday, November 7, 2014

Ngimat Ayu Homestay @ Bario, Sarawak

Courtesy to Borneo Soap, it is an honor for me to be brought to the land where Borneo Soap's native ingredient is sourced. Bario, is the place where it cultivates high-quality, mineral-rich rice for the making of famous Borneo natural handmade organic soap. Following my post on 10 Facts You Need to Know About Bario, now I gonna blog about my story at Ngimat Ayu Homestay.

Speaking of the accommodation in Bario, I'm surprised that there are actually plenty of homestays to choose from. One of Bario's most renowned accommodation is Nyimat Ayu Homestay as it delivers the cleanest, most comfortable environment with ALL meals provided.

Ideally located at the centre of Bario township, this homestay is surrounded by lush greenery with mountains and ancient terraced rice fields, and is home to the rich and complex cultural heritage of the Kelabits. 

The spacious wooden house takes me by surprise as it is clean, well-kept and beautifully adorned with family photo frames and vintage decors. For the adventurous visitors, the host even provides different sizes of rubber shoes for the ease of jungle trekking. Tourguide service is available at RM100 per day.

ROOMS
It has 4 guestrooms, some with 2 single beds while others with 1 queen sized bed, which can accommodate up to 3 persons per room. The daily room rental per person ranges from RM80 to RM120, depending on how close you are to the owner :P


Visitors can bring their own books or swap with the existing ones brought by past travellers. With a spacious living area, huge verandah with wooden sofas and private rooms for each guest, there was so much room to frolic in.

 Huge verandah with wooden sofas as well as coffee and tea facilities

Also, you can find outdoor benches here to unwind while appreciating the picturesque scenery in the village. 

There are 2 washroom cubicles and 2 bath rooms, each divided by wooden wall.
It can be very dark inside, so a torchlight is a must-bring item to Bario.

Small staircase leading down to the village ;)

MORNING
Early in the morning, the place is very misty, and you can feel the breeze right inside the room. The people in this magical highland are mostly senior citizens as their children have moved out of the village. All of them speak Bahasa Kelabit primarily, but some can speak fluent English due to the high frequency of foreign visitors.

The kitchen here is well-maintained, clean and almost free from oil/smoke despite of the traditional practice of charcoal burning. Did I forget to mention the meals provided here are amazing? Nothing fancy, but each is unique and healthy for me to keep my stomach satisfied.

BREAKFAST
Breakfast wise, they serve potato quiche, plain pancake, kuih-muih (Traditional cakes) and
Nuba' Laya, an unique steamed mashed rice wrapped in banana leaf.

The rice is a traditional Kelabit dish that you must try at Bario! Despite of being just plain rice,
it is slightly salty with a touch of Kelabit salt. I wish I can pack some back to KL!

LUNCH
Our first afternoon meal at Bario is a simple lunch with local flavours and loads of pineapple after lunch! The host generously cooks 4 dishes for 4 of us, out of which 3 are vegetarian. Nasi Goreng Arut (Garlic fried rice) takes the centre stage along with lightly ranched Rebung (Bamboo Sprouts), sambal tumis tomato, fried long beans and omelette.

Pineapples here are extra juicy and sweet, without any tanginess that makes your tongue feel uncomfortable. I'm surprised that it goes well with a dip of Kelabit salt. It's great as afternoon snack while chilling by the verandah.

Our lunch on the second day is equally good with loads of vegetables-- Stir fried cucumber with egg, Pak Choy, sunny side up, Sambal Tumis Ikan Bilis (Fresh Chilli with Anchovies), as well as Mata Kucing and papaya for palate cleanser.

Tastewise, they are very mild and healthy in a way as minimum oil is used for cooking. Another thing I notice is, the cutlery and crockery used are so clean and new! It doesn't feel like dining in such a rural area at all.

DINNER
Approaching evening, the sun sets as early as 5.30pm. Before the electricity generator is turned on, the whole village is overwhelmed with darkness and cool breezes.

For dinner, the portion and variety are more generous as the host's family and all the guests at Nyimat Ayu dine together. It's great to meet a couple of people from KL there, and the dinner serves as a great bonding session for all.

The dinner menu for 6 pax includes stir-fried Kulat Liar (Mushroom), Sayur Midin Masak Belacan (Ferns with chilli shrimp paste), Sambal Tumis Tomato, steamed herbal chicken, ranched Pucuk Ubi (Potato shoots), stir-fried brinjal, egg and corn soup, as well as the staple Bario white rice.

Stir-fried Mushroom is my favourite among all! The mushrooms grow naturally just at the compound of the house during rainy nights, and the next day Nenek plucks and makes them into a dish. How I'd wish to be blessed with natural food everyday! 

To my surprise, Nyimat Ayu Homestay has its private BBQ fireplace and compound for vegetables and chickens there. This is where we have our dinner, overlooking the beautiful landscape.

As for Saturday night, the host has prepared a lovely barbecued dinner for us. Gathering by the fireplace, we enjoy our BBQ rosemary chicken wing along with other local favourites such as pumpkin with shoots, pineapple curry and kangkung.

I notice they hardly serve fish here because it is expensive to get seafood supply from the outsiders. 
Nevertheless, thanks to Aunty Deborah for the amazing meals!

FRIDAY NIGHT
If you're wondering about the nightlife here, there is something interesting going on Friday night!

We head to Takung Cafe, which is 10 minutes walk away, to enjoy the live band performance by the local group. It is a small wooden house that is jam-packed with tourists, serving a great variety of Western cuisine and the beef steak is priced at only RM15!

The local band sings a mix of classic English songs and Malay favourites. Music lovers may become their guest performer and entertain the rest of the crowd. It's an entertaining and relaxing experience of spending my Friday night in such an unique way. 

We order some canned beers at RM5 each, and the cafe owner generously serves us a plate of Buah Ice Cream. Well, you probably have not heard about it before! The fruit has a shape of gigantic lady's finger, with pieces of white flesh in it. The flesh is smooth and melts instantly in the mouth with a cooling sensation! 

Overall, the Bario discovery trio is an eye-opener for me. I have been to different rural areas but none can beat the warmth and friendliness by the Kelabits. They touch my heart by treating me as part of the family throughout my visit. I love the very laid back and contented lifestyle here too!

Thank you Nenek for the great hospitality!

This cozy little town transported me to a different time for a few days as I soak in the goodness of nature. As I board the twin otter plane, I thought to myself, there's still so much more to do in Bario and I must come back again soon!

Verdict:
If hygiene and comfort are your utmost concerns, then Ngimat Ayu Homestay is one of the best accommodations in Bario. Highly recommended for its comfortable room, clean environment and beautifully verandah overlooking the mountainous landscape of Bario! 

7 comments:

  1. oh...my friend went for home stay there with her church members

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you enjoyed your stay in my family's home stay. Please do come back again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Glad you enjoyed your stay in my family's home stay. Please do come back again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Glad you enjoyed your stay in my family's home stay. Please do come back again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. hi, may i know whether the fee for tour guide service is included in the room rental of RM80 to RM120?
    or do we have to pay additional charges for tour guide service?
    If tour guide service is not included, is it possible to go visit bario on our own?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jenn, Tourguide service is available at RM100 per day. It is not possible to explore Bario on my own, because every location is quite distant from another, hence you need a four wheel drive to travel around :) Hope it helps!

      Delete
  6. Going on 1 -4th mei 2016. Plan 2 take full package 4 lunch n diner. Hw much u charge for 3 person. Tq

    ReplyDelete

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