‘Pleasant’ Long Pasia beckons visitors
KOTA KINABALU, July 18 — Long Pasia, which means “mouth of the red river” in the Lundayeh lingo, is a village situated in the district of Sipitang, Sabah.
This village is located in the south-western part of Sabah, adjacent to the Sarawak and Kalimantan borders. Long Pasia has some 85 houses with about 500 inhabitants.
The only land access to this village, located about 125 km from Sipitang, is via a logging road. From Kota Kinabalu, it takes at least two hours by road to Sipitang, and from there at least another four hours in a good 4-wheel-drive to stumble along the timber road to Long Pasia.
This writer was welcomed by fresh, cool air when she reached Long Pasia following a gruelling four-hour journey along the timber road.
The air at this scenic village was reminiscent of the cool mountain air of hill resorts such as Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands.
Long Pasia headman for 20 years, 60-year-old Mudin Sia said that this 400 year-plus village was settled by some 2,000 residents.
Later, the villagers created four settlements - Sungai Bunggaya, Sungai Kampung Ruran, Kampung Long Mio and Kampung Long Pasia.
For those who are used to the hustle and bustle of city life, the life in Long Pasia is placid and tranquil.
In the mornings, most villagers are found to either work on their farms or seen simply staying inside their homes. Not many people can be seen on the road.
The cooperative's shop and school appear deserted and quiet at this time.
The villagers earn their living by planting vegetables and paddy. Not many of Long Pasia's children have access to secondary education in Sipitang.
However, the peace and tranquility of this Lundayeh settlement makes it a unique and beautiful destination in Sabah, particularly for those seeking a calm and soothing environment for their tired minds and limbs.
Apart from the cool climate and fresh air, there is no hectic and grueling regime of city life mirrored in this village, which makes this scenic village appealing to tourists.
The Lundayeh in Long Pasia are a world of its own.
Then and now
Years ago, the folks of Long Pasia were too poor to own vehicles in order to travel out of the village. They had to walk as well as carry shoulder packs containing provisions such as rice for a journey that took days to complete.
Sleeping in the jungles during these journeys was nothing new.
"Sometimes we came across the wildlife, while getting soaked in the rains and having to move through hilly terrain and rivers was quite normal," said Joseph Lakong Angang, 67, who became the first teacher of this village.
Angang said the first wave of development hit this village in 1996 following the creation of a timber trail and he had to pay a toll of RM20-RM30 as transport fare to visit Sipitang.
“It was only after this that the watering facilities and solar power supply were set up,” said Angang who retired in 2003.
This father of 10 children said that the life in Long Pasia has changed since the day he first set foot in the village in 1963.
"At that time I was only 19 and became the first teacher here," he told the writer at Long Pasia.
According to Angang, the Native Voluntary School (NVS) was only a dilapidated and ramshackle structure then with walls made from bamboo strips.
The school which is located near the Sipitang old airstrip is now known as SK Long Pasia.
"The building had zinc roof and bamboo walls. There were four teachers, including a soldier before a teacher from the Education Ministry arrived," said Angang who taught Bahasa Melayu and English then. There were only 10 pupils, aged between 11 and 14 at that time.
Angang said that he received RM1 for each of the pupils along with food provided for by the villagers, until the government took over the administration of the school in 1971, resulting in his first pay cheque of RM105 a month.
Long Pasia is rich with environmental marvels and camping there is like staying in a large room with air-conditioning, since the air that envelopes this village is cool.
There is lush greenery surrounding the village and the folks are courteous and friendly.
The river that flows through Long Pasia is unique in its feature with its water lukewarm at night but turns cold after sunrise, very much akin to a pool with temperature control.
This village receives many visitors during the dry spell because the hills here are perennially enveloped in mist and cold temperatures similar to that of the highlands.
The scenic panoramic view at this remotely-located settlement in Sabah is breathtaking to say the least.
Visitors to Long Pasia have the choice of venturing into the jungles or making their way along the scenic river accompanied by villagers who act as tourist guides and boatmen.
There are also Korean-styled "therapy" houses that are reputed to cure various diseases and allergies. — Bernama