Kampong Sungai Teraban is a small village that used to be a major connection point between Brunei and Sarawak.
“In the past, it was host for the only transport point between the two places, via a ferry that used to operate across the Belait River,” Acting Village Head of Kampong Sungai Teraban Zaini bin Haji Kadri told the Bulletin.
Located near the border, the village has a rich history as a hub of activities in connecting Brunei Darussalam and the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
The acting village head recalled the village during its days as a stopover for travellers crossing the borders. Business was bustling, and each day brought local and foreign visitors to the village.
It shaped how the village gained its identity and name. “In the olden days, this place was informally called Kampung Sebarang, which was used by ancestors the area to describe the location of the village, just opposite the Belait River,” he said.
Over the years, the village became a place of business, as well as a place to stop by and meet friends. This led to the people of Belait in the past, especially the Iban and Bisaya communities, to associate this village with kaban, which means ‘friend’ in the Iban language. Eventually the village would come to be called by its modern name Kampong Sungai Teraban, explained Zaini.
The high frequency of local and foreign travellers coming through the village during its heyday led to many cultural exchanges and crossing of traditions.
One of the results is the evolution of traditional dishes, such as umai, a dish of sliced raw fish with a mixture of onions, chillies, vinegar, salt and lime juice popular among present and past fishermen in the area.
“Umai is a native dish originally from Mukah, Malaysia. It traditionally is eaten together with sago. But here in Brunei, we eat it with rice.”
The village still has a strong foothold in the area, with a thriving community and local businesses that take advantage of its close proximity to the border.
It has also seen development of conveniences, including a village mosque and primary school as well as the Rasau bridge which gave road access to residents, who otherwise had to cross the river via ferry.
One fixture that remained over the decades is the community hall, set by the riverside.
“If I am not mistaken, it’s more than 50 years old,” said the acting village head of the building, which has been modernised over the years. “In the past, it was just a simple hut where residents gathered. It even served as a surau, before the construction of the village surau was completed, which would eventually become the mosque we have today,” he added.
Now, the community hall plays host to many of the activities held by the village’s consultative council and the village’s women’s bureau.
“Many of the activities conducted here include those promoting the village’s One Village One Product (1K1P), which aims to strengthen the village’s economy.”
The acting village head also highlighted how the village has continued to conduct their annual and routine activities, some of which drew tourist who were curious about the area, especially when passing by on the way to Sarawak.
“Previously we had a carnival which was well-received, and Insya Allah we have plans this year, such as a kite competition, and more activities which will enliven the village atomsphere while preserving our heritage and culture.”