Headhunters At Mari Mari

Posted on: November 19th, 2009 by Adrian No Comments



When one hears of Borneo, the image of headhunters come to mind. When you visit Sabah, an opportunity to see Murut warriors is not to be missed. The best reason to visit Sabah is to experience the Headhunters of Borneo. Though I am not of the Murut tribe, I am glad to see that traditions of our native tribes are alive and well today. While Sabah is undergoing rapid development with hypermalls and modern buildings, our main attraction is nature and local cultures.

To be a warrior, one must be brave as it goes without saying. You have to be loyal, and ready to sacrifice for your village. A warrior’s occupation is to protect and provide for their people, against marauding tribes, against hunger and to build shelters for the village. You must be able to put all differences aside and work together as one, be it building a longhouse or going on the hunt. An experienced warrior has tattoos on his body, and headhunters have a unique tattoo.

Mari-Mari Cultural Village
On your visit to Sabah, one place you should not miss is the Mari-Mari Cultural Village in Kionsom, Inanam. A half hour drive out of Kota Kinabalu city, the journey will take you deep into the jungles of Kionsom. When you arrive, you will see Sabah as it was when it was called Borneo. It is hard not to be taken back in time, in the midst of traditional native Borneo houses. Traditional Borneo houses are built from wood or bamboo, the materials being readily available in the jungle. The houses are normally built on stilts and the roof is made from local palm.

Personally, I like native houses, having been fortunate enough to stay at one made of bamboo in village deep in rural Kundasang. I have also stayed in a wooden structure in Kudat, accessible only if you are willingly to hike for half an hour with a backpack on your back.

You will see a variety of native houses from the different tribes of Sabah. You can tell what tribe or race they are from just by looking at the architecture of the houses. But the highlight of the visit is when the local tribes emerge from the houses, dressed in their traditional costumes. You can see how they live and the various crafts they practice, such as wine making. Local wines is used in celebrations and during festivals. Home-brews are a acquired taste and very potent. Some local wine like Tapai tastes like champagne without the bubbles. Of course, not everyone will agree with my opinion on this.

Do watch out when you get to the Murut longhouse. A group of visitors had a very interesting experience on their visit. You can read about it at Borneo Geographic.com. In fact, I first found out about this place from Borneo Geographic. You can see a skull taken from the headhunting days being kept at the longhouse. A grim reminder of headhunting days.

Murut Warriors - photo source: BorneoGeographic.com

Murut Warriors – photo source: BorneoGeographic.com

Getting There
You have to book a tour to get in. The tour includes:

  • Return transfer
  • English speaking guide
  • Buffet Lunch/High Tea/Dinner
  • House Tour with demo
  • Activities and cultural performances.

The tours are scheduled at 10.00am, 3.00pm and 7.00pm.
The tour operator will provide pick-up and return to your hotel. The pick-up times vary depending on your hotel.

If you are a keen photographer, it is advisable to take the morning tour. This is an awesome place to take photographs, and you will find plenty of photo opportunities at Mari Mari Cultural Village.

For more information
Contact: Traverse Tours Sdn Bhd
Email: sales@traversetours.com
Website: www.traversetours.com

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