Tellian Village Mukah – A Melanau Heritage

Tellian River

One of my many favourite cultural destination in Sarawak would be Tellian Village in Mukah. A laid back coastal village in central Sarawak that seems to be trapped in time. The wooden houses dotting the banks of the Tellian River makes it feel like in the 80s.

My first visit to Tellian was in late 2000 and it feels like nothing has changed since. A perfect place to experience melanau hospitality and witness the melanau lifestyle up close.

So this write up serves to give you some idea of what to try and do in Tellian.

Melanau Food

Trying local food is definitely by default when we travel. We would want to try what the locals have.

In Tellian and particularly in Mukah, trying Melanau cuisine is a must. Try the famous fish umai, which is diced fish marinated with lime, chillies and onions.


Umai is best taken with sago or steamed rice. If you dare, try also the juicy sago grubs. That’s what they claim. I would try it but to purposely go out and buy it as a snack, not me I’m afraid. My mind thinks too much.

Locals call this Si’et. Wiggle wiggle.

Jerunai Discovery

Jerunai are centuries old burial pole of the melanau community reserved mainly for the Melanau aristocrats or royals, nobles, dignitaries and merchants who were philanthropists.

Jerunai Puteri

It is made from large, fully-matured ‘Belian’ or iron wood that can withstand heat and torrential rain for hundreds of years.

Two or three holes were bored into the Berlian pillars whereby the bottom and middle openings were meant for the bones of the dead person and valuables needed in the other world.

Sago Processing

Worker putting in chopped blocks of Sago into grinder

It is almost impossible to talk about Melanau culture without mentioning sago. A quick boat ride down from Lamin Dana, you would be able to see this century old tradition still very much alive. It would still be so in many more years to come, as the sago is the staple food of the Melanaus.

Sago is perhaps even more ingrained into the Melanau way of life than “umai”, a marinated raw seafood dish that is growing in popularity outside Mukah.

Processing raw sago into sago pellets before being roasted on the wood oven

Bird watching

Egret caught resting on floating Sago logs

Waterbirds around Tellian village can be done just by taking the river boat cruise. The most common birds would be the Egret and the Bittern.

Occasionally you would be able to spot the common kingfisher and raptors.

Common Kingfisher

Bittern waiting for fish fry

Sapan Puloh – Melanau Heritage Museum

Owner and Founder of Sapan Puloh explaining his collection to the guests.

Sapan Puloh is a Melanau cultural heritage museum and founded by Mr Tommy Black. The items on display are the private collection of his family and some of them are a few hundred years old.

Tommy has also spent years finding and buying rare Melanau artefacts to add to his collection. Must visit as it really does give insight to the traditional beliefs and lifestyle f the melanau.

There are an entrance fees which goes towards maintenance but mainly for Tommy to fund his next Melanau artefact purchase.

Entrance Fees are as follows:

  1. Non Malaysians – RM 10.00
  2. Non Sarawakians – RM 8.00
  3. University and College – RM 5.00
  4. School Kids – RM 3.00

Lamin Dana

Common Room of Lamin Dana

Lamin Dana means “traditional house” in the Melanau language. It is a guesthouse and also features a heritage centre.

The Lamin Dana started construction in 1999 and by early 2000 it opened its doors to guests.  

Truly a recommended place to stay as guests can experience for themselves the Melanau culture and lifestyle, partaking in various local activities, especially along Sungai Tellian (Tellian River), or their simple daily life. 

Twin sharing room

For bookings and enquiries about Lamin Dana you can go visit their website.

Thank you for reading and if you want extra details on the above, drop me a line and I’ll get back to you soon as possible. Till my next Bejalai, take care and don’t forget to comment.

2 thoughts on “Tellian Village Mukah – A Melanau Heritage

Add yours

  1. Nice summary of Telian bro! I kind of miss this place myself. Thinking back on our last trip here, I wish we had more days to explore the local community here. Perhaps 2020 we can once again explore here?


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