The legend of how salt springs were discovered in Krayan Highlands

The legend of how salt springs were discovered in the Krayan Highlands according to the locals

Long time ago, the whole area of Krayan Highlands was a thick forest. Then came a man who saw that there were many pigeons (burung punai) in the area.

So the man took out his blowpipe and shot one of the birds. He quickly dressed the bird, plucking out its feathers. As he was looking for a water source to clean the bird, the man saw there was a spring nearby.

After washing the bird, he returned home, where he quickly roasted it.

Once the man tasted the bird, he was overwhelmed by its taste. He wondered what could have made the bird tast so delicious.

So the man returned to where he caught the bird, retracing his steps until he figured out that it must have been the water which made the bird tasty.

He dipped his finger into the spring and discovered that the water was actually salty. The man then told his fellow villagers about his find, and they started to cook their dishes using the saltwater from the spring.

At first, they just poured the saltwater into their dishes when they cooked.

Eventually, the villagers figured out how to process the saltwater into brine, and it has been practiced by the residents of Krayan Highlands for generations.

A salt spring in Long Midang, Kalimantan.
The current salt springs of Krayan Highlands

Located in North Kalimantan, Indonesia, the Krayan Highlands at the Heart of Borneo have 33 known salt springs.

However, not all are fully operational these days. But how can these salt springs be found in the highlands of an altitude between 760 and 1,200 meters?

It is believed that the salt springs were formed by high salinity water flowing from deep in the soil strata where it was trapped million of years ago when the area was covered by seawater.

The local Lundayeh people call the mountain salt tucu’ and have traded it throughout the interior of Borneo.

Apart from salt springs, mineral licks or salts licks can also be found in the highlands. The locals them rupan where animals can go to lick essential mineral nutrients from it.

Saltwater is boiled to turn into brine.

Read about how mountain salt is processed at Long Midang, Kalimantan here.

Patricia Hului

Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight.

She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science.

She is currently obsessed with silent vlogs during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to her obsession, she started her Youtube channel of slient vlogs.

Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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