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Monday, September 24, 2012

Tribal Living

This media trip is made possible by Amazing Borneo Tours

The Internet is made for porn. Today, social media supersedes porn in the usage of the Internet. Before the internet, before porn, how do people live then?

They live in tribes. Before the Internet, the tribes are about leading and connecting people and ideas. Sounds familiar with what we do with social media and the Internet isn't it?

While Singaporeans are familiar with the tribes of today, church, work, community, we are not familiar with the real tribes some 50,000 years ago.

Sabah has 32 tribes and almost all people living there now are descendants of a tribe. My mountain guide is a descendant of Murut, a head-hunting tribe. He told me his uncle still hangs 42 skulls in his house and during family gatherings, they are displayed.

In my recent visit to Kota Kinabalu, a short 90 minutes flight away from Singapore, i visited the Mari Mari Cultural Village.

I enjoyed the village because it simulated authentic tribal living as accurate as it can be. There were also alot of interactive elements including tasting the food and drink in as in a tribe!

Unanimous amongst the tribes, virgins are precious. All daughters sleep in an upper corner with the ladder taken away at night to prevent any men or enemy accessing them.
Once the heavy ladder is taken away, the girls can't get down and no one can get up!
The Dunsun tribe make their own rice wine by fermentation. They are good drinkers, including the women. However, if there is a funeral in the household, they prohibit the making of wine. They have a superstitious belief that the wine will taste sour because of the death in the family.
Back in those days, there weren't stoves. So they put raw ingredients into a hollow bamboo and cook it over fire.

A cultural village like none other, not only did i taste fermented rice wine, i also tried cooking the tribal way!
Everyone's tea depended on me.
A dash of chilli and ginger, a spoonful or chicken, a pinch of salt and sugar.
Oh and throw in some lemongrass too.

I was too heavy handed with the ginger but otherwise it was an interesting way of eating your own cooked dish!

The Rungus tribe send boys to warrior school. They are also skilled in starting fires by using the fiber of a tree.
They remind me of Disney's Jungle Boy.
Like our HDBs, some tribes live in long houses where many families live under one roof.
It was an educational tour, especially if you've children. Hopefully, it will make them appreciate life being made so simple today. That we didn't have to roll tree barks to make clothing.
The Lundayeh and Murut are the head hunting tribes.
Before opium was invented, people were addicted to head hunting. With each head hunted, they get a tattoo to boast the conquest.

At the cultural village, they simulate getting tattooed by using hanna!
The Lundayeh tribe worship the crocodile because they believe its spirit is powerful. Human skulls then outline the crocodile for a ritual.
Can you see the outline of a croc?
Today, we kill people who killed people to show them killing people is wrong. Such oxymorons exist in tribal living too. Because the head hunters fear their victims coming back to haunt them, they adorn the skulls with silat leaves.

At first i thought it was for decoration, to give the skull some hair.
At the Mari Mari cultural village, every artifact is real.
The skulls are real and are all hanging up above.
Today, we hang paintings. Back then, they hang dead animals.
The Bajau tribe are the most business savvy. Unlike the first tribe mentioned who are masters at making wine but only for their own pleasure, the Bajau make Kuih Jala out of flour and sugar and juice pandan and ginger to conduct barter trade with other tribes or nationalities like the water gypsies or Chinese traders. They are also the only tribe with a religion (Muslim) and believe their ancestors hail from Philippines 500 years ago.

Very yummy!
Visitors get to eat and drink the above mentioned.

Visiting the Murut tribe, the most vicious head hunters, was like visiting a haunted house. Although the village guide spoilt the surprise by preempting us, telling us actors will be jumping out of the bushes and ACTING really fierce.
My dad didn't believe his threats.
We got to try out the blow pipes that is used to hunt down animals or humans!
I executed a pretty good blow job, nailing it on first try.
Without computers and internet, what do people in those days do for entertainment and leisure then? Alot of song, dance and games.
Are we missing out much living in today's era? I wouldn't know, but for that afternoon, i had a taste of tribal living.
In Kota Kinablau, all attractions with the exception of the islands are in the outskirts of the city. Making your way to such attractions can be abit difficult, therefore book your day tours from

For my guide to climbing Mount Kinabalu, read here.


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