Do Sarawakians live on trees ?

“Do Sarawakians stay in tree house?” It was a very famous question that had been ask over and over again till the last decade. It is a simple question that can raise many frustrated answers.

Most of the time this question is asked because of curiosity rather than a statement to enrage. But why occasionally we still face such questions ? It is a pure myth or a conditional truth ?

Stories from the other sides

There is allot of links between Sarawakians and trees, there is no denial. Sarawak is a huge state of Malaysia with the most abundant natural resources from the thick evergreen rainforest.

Sarawak being a part of Borneo island with 130millions years old rainforest and well preserved cave drawings of prehistoric beings have a proud legacy to be kept on the list.

From books we know that Sarawak is the major export of timber, have beautiful caves and river, friendly natives who roam around with traditional clothes and have fancy dances. Occasionally there are stories about Head hunters and tribal ceremonies.


From the media we learn that the vast of biodiversity, huge trees, big waterfalls, wide open space with endless greeneries. We have huge caves, prehistoric cave drawings, huge rafflesia flowers, forest with orang utans and big nosed monkeys, flying hornbills in the wild, deep blue sea with lots of fishes. The people are always portray as friendly and always dance or holding a blow pipe in the jungle. We have long house with everyone seems to be wearing traditional clothes everywhere.

So is any of the statements false ? Not really. All are true to a certain extent.

However most of the time the above statement is bias towards promotional of unique culture and natural beauty that focus on tourism purposes.


Behind the scenes will unfold that Sarawak have two extremes of development. The preserved natural and cultural wonders and the well developed cities with various mega malls comparable with any other major cities in Malaysia and extensive of infrastructure of major roads and flyovers, with housing prices comparable with any other major cities.

If it is so, why the promotional videos still show only the primitive aspects of Sarawak in the national and international level of tourism promotion? The reason lies in the “capture the attention” aspect of promotion. If a tourism videos only show how big is the city, how nice is the mall, how luxury is the housing … all these will be less attractive to the tourist eyes, as it is everywhere around the world.

The tree house in Sarawak

So back to the original question, do Sarawakians stay on trees? The most mainstream answer in frustration is “we stay in trees with lifts and escalators to reach up the tree house”. This statement is of sarcastic nature.

Another more neutral way of replies is “we don’t stay in tree house anymore, because they are very expensive and only available in Rainforest Resorts and only tourist stays there”. This statement is true as the Permai Rainforest Resort at Kuching Sarawak do offer Treehouse for tourists to stay, with prices above RM360 that subject to change depends on seasons.

So do Sarawakians stay in tree house in the first place ? The answer is yes, but only in certain conditions in the past before urbanization. That was long long time ago.

Tree house is usually built in selected trees which is tall and sturdy enough. In densely packed Primary Rainforest, tree house are build high up in the canopy to prevent attacks from vicious animals from the land below. Tree house also give a good view of the surrounding forest. It is useful for nomads and early settlers. Once they finally settled down at a designated location with flood plains and good river sources, they will build tall stilt long houses. Hence tree house is mostly a temporary measures.

Due to extensive logging , many pristine huge trees are timber down and the remaining trees are not suitable for building treehouse. Building tree house itself is an art that not to be take lightly.

The Urban Forest

If staying in tree house in Sarawak is a near extinct myth, then what to expect to find in Sarawak?

We are proud to present you the Urban Forest. In big cities like Kuching, we had a balanced ratio of trees and buildings. In fact the view from high ground will reveal high rise building in between sea of green trees. Some of the trees may date back to the early Brooke era, like the famous cotton tree of Padang Merdeka which as listed as a heritage tree and a landmark not to be missed.

So when you have chance to roam around Kuching, try to relax and enjoy the Urban forest. We might not have tree house for you but we have house surrounded by trees.

Sarawakians don’t stay in tree house anymore, but in a City surrounded by trees.

Or you can say Sarawakians stay on a concrete tree in a Urban Forest…