As part of our holiday to Borneo (Malaysia), we joined a tour to Mari Mari Cultural Park. The park is in Kionsom, which was about a 40 minute drive from our hotel.
Upon arrival, we were assigned an English speaking guide who guided us through the park. There were 5 houses, each from a different tribe. We were able to walk into each of the houses and we were also given a brief demonstration of something from each village.
The Dusun people lived in a simple hut made up of two generations. They were predominately rice farmers. We were shown where they stored their rice and how they thrashed their rice.Here we were shown how the rice wine was brewed and we got to sample it too. It tasted remarkably sweet- Apple cider vinegar would be a good description. The distilled rice wine that we taste afterwards was more like Sake. Much better! We also got to sample a style of cooking where the Dusun people would mix chopped chicken, onion, chilli, salt and bay leaves and stuff it into a bamboo stem. This was then loaded onto the fire and burnt for 15 minutes. It was rather tasty.
The second house was a long rectangular house. Here the entire village of Rungus lived in one house, with each family member living in one room. They really enjoyed their honey, and cultivated their own in bamboo. They would attract some bees into the bamboo and wait for a few months for them to generate the honey. They would cut the bamboo in half and squeeze the honey out of the comb. The left over comb was used as glue and used to join various things together, like their musical instruments. The honey had a lovely flavour to it. It was a lot runnier than the honey that I’m used to and had a different taste. While still sweet, I would liken it more to golden syrup in texture and flavour than honey.
The third house, belonged to Lundayeh people who were head hunters that believed the crocodile was sacred. They would build a mound in the shape of crocodile and on this crocodile, they would place spikes and on the spikes they would place the heads of their enemies upon their return from war. Here we learnt how they made the clothes out of bamboo. It was fascinating to learn how the indigenous people made good use of their natural resources. Bamboo was used for so much. From building the houses, making walls and clothes, creating hives for their bees, cooking in them and using them as cups. Definitely good use of a very renewable resource.
The fourth house belonged to the Bajau tribe. The were a rich tribe, specializing in trade. Their wealth was obvious from their possessions and the bright colours in them. Here we learnt how they made their rice flour and their rice treats. They were delicious and K went back for seconds!
The last house, required a ceremony first. Upon arrival at the gate a warrior kept out at us and wanted to know what we wanted. Our ‘leader’ (K volunteered for this role) had to greet the leader and say that we had come in peace. Once we were in we learnt about how the blowpipes were made and we got to try shooting them. I was surprised at how easy it was. I managed to hit the coconut and found that I didn’t need to blow very hard to get the dart to hit the target. The highlight for J was the ‘trampoline’ in the house. This community lived in one building, and in their communal area was an area with a submerged floor. This floor was set in flexible wood and when a team set about jumping on it, they could spring a person quite high into the air. This was a traditional form of entertainment amongst the warriors. J loved being sprung into the air, not that he went very high!
Afterwards we were shown a traditional dance and enjoyed a lovely lunch before heading back to our hotel. This for me is one of the highlights of our trip to Borneo. It was very interesting, informative and amazingly hands on. The children were all involved and truly enjoyed themselves.
While clearly ‘artificial’, it was a great outing and helped to provide information about how the indigenous people lived in a very informative and hands on way. It is a trip that was well worth doing and, for outings with kids, it gets a big thumbs up!