At kampung Mongkos in Serian District, 12 families are running a homestay programme that offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience authentic Bidayuh culture, warmth and hospitality.The homestay programme is under the Tourism and Heritage Ministry.
Kampung Mongkos has two of the very few surviving Bidayuh longhouses in Sarawak.The village has existed for over a hundred years and is located near sungai Mongkos.The original residents of the village came from Kampung Terbat several miles down the road.
Due to the shortage of farming land, two of the leaders by the name of Gandai and Orang Kaya Tulob and around 150 villagers decided to look for a resettlement area. They found the place near Sungai Mongkos and set about building a longhouse and open up land for farming.They began with 20 household and one longhouse, and the village has two longhouse with a total of 34 doors (24 doors and 10 doors).
When it was time to take down the old longhouse in 1959 the people replaces it with two longhouses. They made sure the traditional design was retained. It is said that Mongkos was named after the plant lungkos (Bidayuh for wild ginger).
One day, a merchant visited Orang Kaya Tulob. He was served with white rice flavoured with ginger cooked in a bamboo stem.He asked about the ingredients in the food but because the word lungkos was strange to him he could not pronounce it properly. It is said that he kept on saying mongkos. But that did not prevent him from suggesting that the village should be renamed Mongkos.
Today, some houses in the village are modern while others are traditional.Kampung Mongkos Homestay Programme was declared open in 2006 after having been in operation since 2004 with 12 operators.A one night package costs only RM60 per person for a room and three meals per day.
The rooms are clean with fans, common bathroom and toilet, and other basic amenities.On arrival visitors are welcomed with a ceremony. First they are greeted with drum music called "bidumbak". A white hen's egg is used to chase away evil spirits and visitors are then entertained with 'langi pingadap' (a traditional welcoming dance). To end the ceremony on a lighter and more festive note, the welcoming ceremony would end with a 'belangi' dance in which the visitors are encouraged to take part. Before this dance begins, male visitors are given 'sabok' (men sarong).
For the less intrepid or those less inclined towards strenuous physical activities, they can watch or join the women making baskets, bead items, woodcarving and many others types of handicraft. Visitors can also learn the traditional method of processing paddy.
The distance from Kuching to the village is 103 kilometres.It takes roughly 90 minutes by road to cover the distance.The population of Kampung Mongkos is approximately 1095 people, most of whom are farmers, especially the older generations. Some of the younger people are government servants and the rest are private sector employees.
Paddy cultivation and farming are the main agricultural activities of the villagers. Among the things they plants are oil palm, paddy, pepper, rubber trees, and miscellaneous fruits such as rambutans, mangoes, bananas, jack fruits and durians.