Bung Jagoi is a sandstone hill which measures to about 360 meters high. It is located in Jagoi, which is a hilly area of the district of Bau, Kuching, commonly known for its gold mining activities since last century. Just like in a fairytale, situated on top the hill is a village called Kampung Jagoi, a Bidayuh village (‘Bidayuh’ is one of the indigenous group of Sarawak). ‘Bung’ means summit in Bidayuh, hence Bung Jagoi refers to the summit of Jagoi.
Due to the lack of agricultural space, the village is now mostly abandoned, with all the villagers migrating down to the foot of the hill and setting up more villages, leaving only one family as the caretaker of the village. Bung Jagoi is accessible via two of these villages which are located at the two ends of the foot of the hill; Kampung Duyoh and Kampung Serasot.
My friends and I started our hike from Kampung Duyoh, which has a longer route to the summit but easier, whereas the route from Kampung Serasot is shorter but steeper and definitely more challenging for the average joe.
We stopped by the small road-side market leading to the village to get some food stuff for the family in the village. I could not help but feel the laid back and slow pace of the life there creeping into me. The buses that services the area definitely contributes to the nostalgic feel of the atmosphere. Every stall was manned by wide-eyed people staring at the big black camera I was holding while there were others that were just too busy with their own business to notice me.
The rice cooked in pitcher plant was the main reason we wanted to stop by the market. No doubt I could not wait to have a taste of these interesting looking egg-like shaped goodies.
In no time at all, we reached the entrance of the route to Bung Jagoi. Judging from the cars parked at the entrance, we were definitely not the only hikers that day.
The sign at the entrance tells us that there is a group called the Jagoi Development Committee that takes care of development and maintenance of the area. Walking across the bridge brings us across a clear looking stream that looks good enough to just jump in and soak oursevles from the hot morning.
The route was simple and leisurely, with most of it made out of cement steps.
And where there was no cement steps, comes the wooden steps, which in my opinion are harder to step on since there is a risk of twisting the ankles.
In no time at all, we reached the first viewpoint on the hill. A wooden outpost was built by the Jagoi Development Committee which allowed for better viewing and also serves for a good place to rest and take shelter.
It was an extremely cloudy day but that did not stop us from witnessing this fantastic view from the edge of the viewpoint.
Shortly after the viewpoint, the next flight of steps slowly presented its menacing height to us, hidden behind a huge towering sign that maps the route to the summit.
Noticed this interesting pinkish young pineapple sticking out from the among the thicket of bushes as I was slowly making my way up the unending steps.
Upon reaching the top this section of steps, more flat land awaited us; the morning sun now beaming its way through the trees, producing breathtaking views for us.
At the end of the path lies the last hut, which marks the last set of steps that leads to the village. The sight of the hut against the long flight of steps leaves me breathless with awe.
Next to the hut lies a stream that looks clear enough to drink from. A simple yet innovative structure is erected over the stream to channel the water much like how an aqueduct works, which allows for easier access to the clean water without the sediments.
After a splashing our faces with the refreshingly cold water, we were good to go… taking the final flight of steps towards the village. Sunbeam after sunbeams, we made our way higher into the journey. (By the way, in case your wondering, a person does not need that amount of equipment like John in the picture is taking to hike this hill. He does this because he has a habit of carrying additional burden for the purpose of training.)
Finally, sitting above the final steps of the climb, lies the first sign of the village. From this distance, I could hear welcoming laughter from afar.
It is obvious that most of the village has been abandoned. Most wooden houses have their windows shut and are left standing, badly in need of repair if it was ever going to be occupied ever again with weeds and creepers taking over and slowly engulfing the wooden structures.
A bit further in lies the main entrance to the life of the village. A couple of friendly dogs barked as if happy to have us there.
This little fellow looks like he is under-nourished; which leads me to have an idea of how much food they get up here.
We pressed on further into the route as the village is not the highest point of the hill. Along the way, we met another friendly dog following another hiker. I have been made to understand it is also a regular hiker up on this hill, which I did not doubt at all seeing it effortlessly made its way up the steps without even a slight hesitation.
Alas, we have reached the highest point of the hill, the summit of Jagoi: Bung Jagoi, which is marked by the structure towering against the trees.
A few more meters away lies the last and most rewarding viewpoint up on that hill. We stood right at the edge and allowed ourselves to enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Jagoi area.
With our main objective completed, it was time to make our way back to the village. At the heart of the village lies the baruk, a cone-shaped head house that looks like its wearing a farmer’s hat, built on a raised platform with.
Behind the baruk lies a small ‘home’ that houses several human skulls. It is said that these skulls had better ‘homes’ prepared for them, but the skulls insisted on returning to their original shelter.
It was time to ‘chill’. Aunty Jema, the old lady from the only family that is left in the village prepared us her special tea. The tea was prepared with the normal Lipton tea bag, but some special herb that smells like mint has been added to it that made the tea very aromatic and refreshing. It was a good accompaniment for the rice in pitcher plant bought from the market this morning.
I took the chance to browse around the area, and found myself in front of a pig’s sty! Upon having the pigs in my face, I quickly initiated a memory recall to remember if I have ever seen a live pig this close before. Apparently, this is my first time with a live pig face to face, or should I say, nose to nose? O.o
Meanwhile, it was time to roll out the red carpet for the king. The king of the fruits: The DURIAN! With the help of her cleaver, Aunty Jema took out the spiky fruits from her farmer’s bag, opened them up with ease to reveal the gold inside.
Scared that you won’t have enough of them? Fear not, more durians awaits at the other corner! All the durian you could ever eat. Eat till you drop sick!
Fresh thick ‘gold’ all for us. Nothing beats the feeling of feasting on these durians. The best part is… they are free! Since it is durian season, durians are abundant in the area. It was from here that I learnt that each durian tree produces their own uniquely flavoured durian.
John’s definitely enjoying his durian. The face tells no lies.
Blackie here agrees. Or maybe he just wants a bite of John’s durian too?
So does meowy here, she agrees too. Or maybe she wants some durian too? Do cats even eat durians???
In most national parks, the phase “Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Photographs’’. Well in our case, we certainly left footprints, and I surely took photographs, but I guess we took more durians and left… durian seeds! Probably enough seeds to stone someone to death! Jokes aside, Aunty Jema would then pound these seeds and use them as feed for the pigs. Its as if the pigs have their own version of the tempoyak!
I certainly did not regret my decision to join the hike. Bung Jagoi has great potential to be a regular hiking spot for many. I truly enjoyed the journey all the way to the top. Overall, the whole hike is quite leisure, suitable for even kids and even for the aged. It is a good spot for a nice nature yet mildly challenging trail outside of the city, offering fantastic and scenic views and fresh air unpolluted air.
In my opinion, the whole journey was made unique with the village on top of the hill. Aunty Jema and her family was extremely friendly and hospitable. We were treated like one of their own regardless of our race and religion, something very lacking these days with all the racial tension going on in the country. If the Jagoi Development Committee is reading this, please consider providing some welfare support to Aunty Jema and her family if it has not been done so already. To me, it was her hospitality and unselfish kindness that was the most memorable part of the whole journey.
As for you my friends, if you ever had the chance, please make sure you visit Bung Jagoi at least once. Should you require some assistance or help in case you do not want to go for the hike alone, feel free to contact me and I could ‘hook’ you up with someone who would be willing to guide you there.