Tarawe Homestay, Malaysia

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If you are looking for an unspoilt place that’s been relatively untouched by tourism then head straight to Bario in the Kelabit Highlands. Located about 1000 metres above sea level the high plateau air is invigoratingly chilly, and the vibrant green of the surrounding agricultural land is almost surreal. In Bario the simple way of life flows along uninterrupted. Trekking is the major activity in Bario because of the picturesque mountainous scenery; unique types of flora and fauna; and challenging choice of trails. Once you’ve breathed in that fresh air, tried the uncomplicated way of life and experienced the legendary Kelabit hospitality – you may never want to leave. We had the opportunity of talking to the owner and Manager of Tarawe HomeStay in Bario to find what guests can expect when they visit his lodge in Bario.

A Renewing Experience

Reflected in his smile is the genuine kindness that the Kelabit people are renowned for. Lian Tarawe was born and bred in Bario. He knows the place like “the back of his hand”. His brother started Tarawe HomeStay in 1990 and in 2010 after having worked away as a qualified draftsman and designer, Lian decided that it was time to return to the land of his birth. He admitted that when he first went back to live there he was not in top physical form, so he decided to start improving his health by doing physical work to clear his family’s land. This effort proved to be relaxing, but more importantly, he gradually began to feel stronger and fitter. This motivated him to start taking short treks of five kilometres which led to week long treks. He soon discovered that being surrounded by nature was invigorating and restorative, for both his body and mind. In addition to this he’d rediscovered a new world, one that was filled with amazing flora and fauna – this made him determined to share his discoveries with others.

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Respected Reputation

Since opening its doors, Tarawe HomeStay has continued to provide clean, comfortable accommodation; and simple delicious local food to guests from the region, Europe and North America. They are welcome to take advantage of Lian’s intimate knowledge of Bario and its many trekking options. Lian explained, “As well as having an in depth knowledge of the trails so that I can give advice to guests who request it, I try to learn as much as I could about the bird, plant and animal life in this area so that I can also provide my guests with a wide range of information. For instance about 300 species of birds are found in Bario and we also have 151 species of orchids.” He laughed when he recalled helping a British guest who was interested in dragon flies to discover one new species; and also helping a Russian guest who was writing a book about spiders to find two new species. For those wanting to know more about the culture and history of the area, Lian is always willing to share his insights. He’s guided anthropologists and ethnobotanists; helped to design and draw the Festival Building and the Museum and has also been involved with helping students from Taylor’s University in Malaysia to design a traditional long house. Lian currently has eight assistant guides who have all been well trained and know every inch of the area. He was keen to stress that when it comes to trekking with him and his team he always puts “Safety First”.

Finding the Path Less Travelled

Whether you want to escape from the daily grind, challenge your body, enjoy a hobby like bird watching or discover a new culture – as an experienced guide Lian can help you to choose the walking grade that suits your ability so that you can have an enjoyable and memorable holiday. He can suggest trails for the adventurous who want to explore high places with energetic and challenging grades, alternatively, he can suggest gentler climbs on less demanding slopes. As one of Lian’s guests he will accompany you every step of the way so you have nothing to worry about. As well as ensuring that you have authentic local experiences wherever you roam, Lian will take the hard work out of your holiday, leaving you to enjoy the solace of nature or to make new friends as well as walking companions.

Whether you want to escape from the daily grind, challenge your body, enjoy a hobby like bird watching or discover a new culture – as an experienced guide Lian can help you to choose the walking grade that suits your ability so that you can have an enjoyable and memorable holiday. He can suggest trails for the adventurous who want to explore high places with energetic and challenging grades, alternatively, he can suggest gentler climbs on less demanding slopes. As one of Lian’s guests he will accompany you every step of the way so you have nothing to worry about. As well as ensuring that you have authentic local experiences wherever you roam, Lian will take the hard work out of your holiday, leaving you to enjoy the solace of nature or to make new friends as well as walking companions.

For more information about trekking in Bario and accommodation at Tarawe HomeStay.
Email liantarawe@yahoo.com or call +6013-8451213


This article was published in the December 2015 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!

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