Binding the thrills of travel with a learning experience unlike any other.
Apart from the scenic views of a foreign place, immersing in the culture is great way to understand and get a taste of the social realities faced by the local people.
Since the pandemic that hit the world in 2020, like everyone who were affected in some way or form, the community of Ulu Kiulu on the other hand weren’t able to welcome travelers ever since. For them, tourism generates a substantial source of their income. It helps supplement their income which is gained through agricultural farming and keeping livestock.
It was only until a few months ago when the borders reopened that travelling overseas was possible again. Ever since then, the Ulu Kiulu community were excited to open their homes again to welcome travelers from all across the globe. They not only open their homes, but also their hearts when it came to sharing their life and culture as a way for them to connect with travelers.
Recently, the community of Ulu Kiulu have welcomed visitors hailing from the UK! This time round their homestays were filled with students travelling with the World Challenge group, a tour agency who are notorious for creating unique and meaningful adventures for school students.
When they chose to expedition with Borneo Eco Tours, it was crucial that their programs incorporated a good amount of community engagement with the locals. We welcomed 4 groups of students from different schools all around the UK – The Friary School, Greenhead College, St George’s College and Coombe Dean School. Together with BEST Society, the restoration program was established with the homestay communities prior their arrival.
Have a look see at some of the activities that they got up to during their stay at Ulu Kiulu!
1. Community-hall restoration at Kg. Pinagon
During their stay with the homestays, some of the students helped in restoring the village community hall at Kg. Pinagon. The chief villager, Maratin Lotupas, mentioned that they have been meaning to restore the community hall, but due to the lack of helping hands the restoration work was put off as many of the younger generations have left the villages to build a life in the city.
The bamboo paneling were replaced with newly treated bamboo!
Students from The Friary School UK with the village chief Maratin Lotupas, upon finishing part of the restoration program at Kg. Pinagon. The community hall is looking all cheerful now that its been perked up with bright strokes of orange and green!
2. Banana circles – A grey water management system
Many homes here in Ulu Kiulu manage their waste water through forming banana circles. Its great to use in tropical and sub-tropical areas to utilise waste water from run-off or overflow from rainwater tanks.
Incase you’d like to know more about banana circles, here’s what were talking about!
3. Experiencing the day in the life of a farmer!
Some of them got to try their hand at paddy planting, as the new harvest season is just beginning.
4. Learning to weave bamboo baskets!
In Kiulu, there is an abundance of bamboo trees, which the local community has made use of to make handicraft and also as a building material to construct their homes!
5. Ending their stay through singing and dancing with their hosts!
After a hard days work, some nights were spent with their hosts sharing old folklores and students sharing their experience throughout their stay. On the final night, the hosts and community as a whole organized traditional performance through music and dance!
Certificates were handed to the participants to thank them for their contributions in the restoration programs with us. We hope that the students enjoyed their time with the local communities as much as they did hosting them.
The homestay owners expressed their gratitude as they got to open their doors again especially since the pandemic in early 2020. The villages are looking livelier with the welcoming of visitors, we hope it continues!