To see Sarawak in one day, this is the basic concept of Sarawak Cultural Village, where the 48,000 square miles of Malaysia's most majestic state are condensed into just 17 acres. One leisurely stroll opens seven homes to the visitor, seven cultures, including the famous longhouses of Borneo.
Ever since tourism industry took its first commercial step into Sarawak in the 1960s, the intrepid 'adventurers' who veered off the beaten track found Borneo's unique house-form an irresistible attraction. Of course, they wanted to see the landscape of breathtaking splendour and the world's richest ecosystem, but the fascinating array of peoples and cultures was the real magnet. Unfortunately, Sarawak is huge, much of it covered by rugged mountains and jungle. How can a visitor hope to sample it all in less than three weeks of arduous travel?
A few far-sighted planners suggested that we build a 'model' village or longhouse within easy reach of Kuching. In the 1970s, cultural performances in a "langkau" in the Museum Gardens scored a spectacular success. This reactivated the idea; the Reservoir Park was suggested as a possible site, so was Sungai Cina in Matang. The Sarawak Museum contributed ethnographic and cultural input... but nothing came of it. There were other development priorities.
But build it they did, SCV took shape with a Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu and Melanau longhouse, a Penan hut and a Malay village house, and a Chinese farm house. By mid-1989 a solemn house-warming ceremony with offerings and sacrifice put life into the empty wooden structures. The dream had become reality.