13 Oct - 14 Oct 2009 Kudat

Malaysian Borneo
Sabah aka Land Below the Wind
Blok D Kedai Sedco, Jalan Melati 10, Pekan Tomborungus
Hotel Yun Nyen +6088611386
Basic and clean enough double room with air-con and wifi for MYR 40.- or US$ 12.10 per night. Indifferent but friendly enough staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Hotel Yun Nyen in Kudat and for directions:

Crossing the lushly forested Tempasuk Plain, watered by rivers rushing down from the granite flanks of Mt. Kinabalu (4,095 m above sea level) and one of Borneo's most interesting places for bird watching aficionados, having a chance encounter with a friendly Rungus couple in their only three-year old longhouse (constructed entirely of traditional materials including rough-hewn wood, split bamboo and beaten bark; housing one extended family in twin-bedrooms off a breezy communal veranda), being invited to a great impromptu lunch (steamed rice with boiled papaya and pumpkins, crude veggies, many fresh fruits for dessert) which we washed down with vast quantities of (i) potent local palm wine aka toddy aka bahar, (ii) crude, home-made rice wine aka tapai and (iii) very rough moonshine aka arak putih, until we could make sense of one of the Sabah Tourism Board's written travel tips: “Do not walk under a longhouse!”

“Whenever you go on a trip to visit foreign lands or distant places, remember that they are all someone's home and backyard.” 

Titillating our eardrums in the rather touristy Kampung Sumangkap near Matunggong, probably the most noise-polluted village in Sabah and famous for its cottage industry of gong making, where we watched and heard local craftsmen skilfully manufacture and tune all sorts of gongs which, set horizontally in a wooden frame or hung up vertically, are being played on all festive occasions and constitute the backbone of traditional Rungus music.

Meeting a friendly and skilled Bajau parang maker (a parang is a machete-like traditional knife suited for brush-clearing as well as for combat) in his village Sikuti, chatting with him about his craft and trade, watching him heating the fire with primitive bellows in his "battlefield forge" and beating out pieces of steel in order to create a blade and thereafter testing successfully the sharpened, razor-like new blade on Liau's growing retiree beard thus dawdling away the time and arriving very late in the town of Kudat, Borneo's most northernmost but otherwise fairly unremarkable town.

Click below for more blog posts about longhouse visits in Borneo
17 Aug - 18 Aug 2009 Nanga Mayeng
10 Aug - 14 Aug 2009 Kapit
08 Aug - 09 Aug 2009 Nanga Bangkit
03 Aug - 06 Aug 2009 Kanowit
30 Jul - 03 Aug 2009 Sibu

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
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