Friday, December 17, 2010

The dance of birds

The last two days in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, from August 7 to 8, 2010:
A wedding invitation

Imelda, her family and I had our last dinner together. We talked about how I missed my Malaysia Airline (MAS) flight from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu, just because of getting wrong information from Isabella, Imelda’s work in Beaufort, Isabella’s hectic days in Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Uncle Paul’s works in church and Joshua’s plan to come back home for good. Suddenly, Uncle Paul said he had received a wedding invitation a week ago. He and Imelda’s mother were invited to the wedding reception at Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Center in Penampang. The reception would start at 12 pm and finish by 6 pm. Since I never saw a Kadazan reception, Imelda asked me whether I was interested to go there.

“Dency, would you like to see the wedding reception?”

“Of course I want to. I want to know and see how they conduct the reception in the traditional Kadazan way.”

“Hahaha, they will drag you out to dance the Sumazau. Believe me.”

Sumazau. Cool!”

“Aiks. You are so excited to know about that. I know you like to dance traditional dances. I saw you danced when we were in the first year undergraduate study. It would be nice to end up your trip by dancing the Sumazau. Then, it will be a complete journey for you in Sabah. Plus, now you know how to drive in KK (Kota Kinabalu) Town. In the future, you can drive around KK without my helps.”

“Yeah, agree with you. Thanks a lot, Mel.”

“No problem. Don’t forget to buy a small souvenir for me in the USA.”

“I will. No problem for that.”

Brenda, Imelda’s cousin, interrupted our conversation. She, with her pity face, asked me to buy a small gift for her also. Imelda and I laughed at her act, and I promised to fulfil her wish.

The Sumazau dance

The morning service at St. Catherine Catholic Church, Inanam ended at 10.30 am. Imelda, Brenda, their auntie, one of their cousin and I, went to the Terminal that is 20 minutes drive from the church. We would like to eat the best San Yuk in Inanam. After satisfying our stomachs with the dark ketchup kolo mien and pork soup, we sent Imelda’s auntie to her house. Then, we made a journey to the KDCA Center using the new road that is behind of Imelda’s kampong. The journey took around 35 minutes to reach the KDCA Center, which is located along the Penampang-Kota Kinabalu road. I was sleeping along the way, and only woke up once we arrived there. I saw a large building and other small buildings next to it. There was a signboard showing the name for each building. The biggest building is the ‘Hongkod Koisaan’ or the Unity Hall, while the rests are an open stage and an office for Unduk Ngadau (Miss Kadazan) Committee Board. The wedding reception would be held in the Unity Hall. The time was almost 12.30 pm. Four of us hurried to the front of the Hongkod Koisaan. There, a group of ladies in black and gold Kadazan traditional attire waited at the front door. After Imelda had signed the guests’ book, we were ushered into the hall by a beautiful, young sumandak (lady in Kadazan).

The hall was decorated with black and gold balloons. Even, the stage was decorated with black and gold ribbons. It was a great wedding theme. All of us sat on a row of chairs on the left side of the stage. While we were waiting for the groom and bride entering into the hall, I asked Imelda about the newlywed couples. Imelda explained that the groom is her brother’s friend. He is a Sino-Kadazan with his father is a Chinese, while his mother is a Kadazan. The bride is a pure Kadazan lady. In addition, by watching a slide video show in a big slide, we found out that the couples have been together for eight years, and they got married a week ago. While watching the slide show, a group of gong players hit their gongs, playing the Kadazan welcoming song.

Suddenly, a woman approached all of us. She asked whether we wanted to try the Sumazau dance. Imelda declined her offer, and instead she asked me to dance. I did not want to dance alone. Imelda asked Brenda, and her other cousin to join me to dance. The lady gave a cloth sash for each of us. Then, she brought us to the middle of the hall and met with other male dancers. I noticed that the male dancers wore sashes made from wood reels. Before we started dancing, we were thought how to dance by a group of old dancers. Male and female dancers faced each other. The dancers moved their feet in small movements and spontaneously moved their heels up and down to the beat of the music. While dancing, they spread up their hands and moved it up and down just like birds spreading their wings to fly. A big difference between the movements of male and female dancers was the male dancers bent their elbows, while female dancers just bent their cuffs.

After they had danced for around five minutes, we were asked to make two lines, one line for men and the other for women. I was partnered with a Chinese man from Malaya, while Brenda with an Indian man also from Malaya. When the gong players hit their gongs, we started to dance following the old dancers. I faced my male partner. Since, he was not used to dance, I led him. He just followed my movements. I giggled at him as he told me to wait for him. We danced less than five minutes. Once we were done, we greeted and said kotohuadan (thank you in Kadazan) to our partners.

Black and gold

Next, a music band played a Kadazan romantic song. After that, a Master of Ceremony announced the arrival of the bride and groom and their family members. Parents from both sides entered into the hall and followed by their children, in laws and great grandchildren. All of them wore the traditional Kadazan attire. Then, the bride and groom entered into the hall. Like others, they wore their traditional costumes. The bride hair was coiled and decorated with beautiful, sparkling hair accessories. Her husband wore a nice, black Kadazan long sleeve coat that embroidered with gold trimmings. Both of them walked and smiled to all guests. Then, they sat together with their family on round tables that were placed opposite of the stage.

An old bobohizan (a Kadazan priestess) asked the couples to the stage and sat on a mat. The bobohizan prepared a bowl of chicken legs soup, a bowl of rice and two glasses of tapai (Kadazan rice wine). First, she blessed the couples and, then the food. After blessing, she told the groom to feed his wife, and the wife also had to feed him well. Both of them have to finish all the food. Then, the bobohizan served them tapai. They drank with their elbow crossed, the man would bring the small glass to his wife’s mouth and his wife did the same thing. The blessing ceremony would end with the Sumazau dance from the two newlywed couples. They danced with joy as two birds flying in the sky. It was a wonderful day for the groom and the bride and also to everybody in the hall. What about me? I felt happy because I have successfully completed my trip in Sabah and celebrated it with dancing the Sumazau- the dance of happy birds.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Little Sarawak in Tawau, Sabah

Trip to Tawau from July 29 to August 3, 2010:

The first meeting

On the fifth day, in Tawau. My Dayak Murut assistant, Didarcus and I would change our sampling site to Kampong Iban Merotai. It is located about 30 min drive from Tawau Hill Park. First, we needed to see Didarcus’s adopted father. He is an Iban Sabahan, who married with a local Dusun woman. Along the way to Kampong Iban Merotai, I saw vast oil palm plantations that are belonged to the Sime Darby Malaysia on the left and right side of the road. I assumed that the Sime Darby is the biggest investor in oil palm industry in Tawau Division. According to Imelda, the Sabah state government subleases out many lands to this conglomerate that is based in Kuala Lumpur. By 8.00 am, we reached our destination. Didarcus parked his car in front of a blue large house. The house is located at the roadside and next to it, is a yellow Catholic church. We went out from Dirdacus’s car and stood at the front, small staircase. We were greeted by a group of dogs, which I assumed belonged to Dirdacus's adopted father. Dirdacus called his adopted father.

“Uncle Henry, oh Uncle Henry. This is Dirdacus.”

Suddenly, an old, bulky man with white hair showed himself at the veranda.

“Ba You, Dirdacus. What do you want Dirdacus? Long time I did not see you.”

“Sorry uncle, you know. I’m a married man now, and I spend more time with my family. By the way, I bring a lady from Sarawak. She wants to ask where she can catch murai kampong in Iban Merontai.”

“Ah! Come in and we can have morning coffee together. I want to know about this sumandak (lady in Dusun) from Sarawak.”

Both of us took off our shoes and climbed up the staircase that was adjacent to the veranda. We sat down on a sofa. Uncle Henry excused himself as he wanted to tell to his wife about our present. After a while, he and his wife brought in a kettle of Tenom coffee and a plate full with biscuits for both of us. While drinking, Uncle Henry asked about my attention, including my personal background. I told everything in Iban language. He was so surprised that I could speak in Iban remarkably well.

“Apu!! Nuan indu bidayuh tang nemu mai jako Iban. Ba dini nuan belajar endu?”

(Wow!! You are a land dayak lady, but you can speak Iban, fluently. Where did you learn my girl?)

“Aku bisi ada ba Sri Aman. Diau ba Sri Aman nyau ka sebelas taun Uncle. Nemu aja, kawan-kawan ku maioh iban. Nya meh aku nemu jako bahasa Iban.”

(I was born in Sri Aman. Stay there for almost 11 years, Uncle. Hence, I have so many Iban friends. That’s why I can speak in Iban.)

Our conversation went on for 30 minutes. During that period, Uncle Henry and his wife mentioned that they always saw two pairs of murai kampong flying in their orchard behind of their house. I was delighted to receive the good news from them. I was so eager to start my work. Uncle Henry and his wife told us to wait for them, before going to their orchard. They needed to change their clothes, and looked for their parang (machetes). We finished our coffee and then straight went down to the ground. Less than 10 min walk, four of us were in the orchard.

Fruit season

End of July is the beginning of fruit season in Sabah. The peak fruit season in Sabah is not congruent to the peak fruit season in Sarawak. The latter always occurs at the end year, when the rain season begins. When I entered into Uncle Henry’s orchard, the first thing I saw was, many red, yellow rambutan fruits hung on trees. Uncle Henry told me that his dabai tree was bearing its fruit. I should say to myself that I was so lucky that I could eat all those fruits before going back to the States. Uncle Henry and his wife let both of us did our works, while they picked some fruits for us. Not long after, we saw murai kampong flew over the orchard. The birds sat on branches of an old tree that was located in the middle of the orchard. Dirdacus and I started our works, and both of us worked till almost time for lunch. Uncle Henry’s wife called both of us to stop for a while and have lunch together with them.

Begulai Sejalai (Together as one)

We stopped for a while and entered into their house. To our surprise the menus composed of a wild boar soup, boiled eggplants with spicy red sambal, cooked dabai, vegetable and fried fishes. They even took out their tuak and put next to the food. It was just like a small Gawai for all of us. Auntie Bibi, Uncle Henry’s wife, was so happy that a Sarawakian woman visiting them in Kampong Iban Merotai. She did not mind to cook so many dishes for both of us, as they seldom receive visitors. For them, our visit had made their life merrier than ordinary times. I thanked them so much for their hospitality. The foods were very delicious. All of us were so full just like a snake eating a fat cow. Auntie Bibi opened a bottle of tuak (Dayak rice wine) and poured into our glasses. It is an Iban way to serve their visitors. While waiting for our food to get digested, I asked about the small Iban community in Kampong Iban Merotai from Uncle Henry.

According to him, his grandparents were originally from Betong and Kapit Division in Sarawak. They went to Tawau during 50’s and looked for jobs as loggers in timber companies. At that time, timber industry was the largest industry in Sabah. The migration occurred till late 90’s. Many of the Iban loggers married with local ladies here. Some brought their wives, and their offspring were born to be Iban Sabahan. With the increasing of Iban people in Tawau, they gathered in one area and established an Iban kampong. They named the new establishment as Kampong Iban Merotai. Once they settled there, they managed to purchase or acquire lands in Merontai, including other areas in Tawau and Sandakan. Two long houses were built, but only one remains tostand till. The other was demolished, as it was located within the Tawau Hill Park area. Uncle Henry added that, few of the new generation of Merotai Iban, met their spouses from Sarawak and moved back to Sarawak. I asked him again whether the Iban Sabahan can speak in Iban, fluently. Uncle Henry just chuckled when he heard at my question.

“Dency, bala kami ditok maioh ari area bukai. Nuan nemu jako Iban ba Betong ni sama munyi jako Iban ba Kapit, Bintulu, Miri ngau Kuching. Kami ditok sigi bercampur jako Iban. Bisi sekeda kami ditok jako campur ngau bahasa Sabah. Enti kami pulai ngagai menoa kami ba Sarawak, berjako Iban ngau bala kami, sidak ketawa ninggar jako kami. Sidak padah jako kami ndak ga bunyi baka orang Iban Betong, ndak ga baka orang Iban Kapit. Siko anak indu ku, skula ba menoa Kuching din, di tundi bala kawan Iban ya laban jako Iban ya ukai jako Ibah amai."

(Dency, many of us came from different areas in Sarawak. You may know that Iban slang from Betong is not same with Iban slang from Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Kuching. We here speak mixed Iban. Few of us mix Iban with Sabahan language. When we come back to Sarawak and speak with our relatives, they will laugh at us. They say that we do not talk like Betong Iban or Kapit Iban. For example, one of my daughters, she continues her study at a polytechnic college in Kuching, become a laughing stock by her Iban friend because she cannot speak in real Iban even though she speaks in Iban with them.)

“Oh pia. Aku tok sama ga baka anak indu nuan deh. Apai ku ari menoa Bau, indai aku ari Siburan. Tang sigi ndak sama slang. Enti aku pulai ngagai menoa apai ku, bejako ngau bala kaban menyadi aku, bisi ga kluar mimit jako indai aku.”

(I see. I’m just like your daughter. My father is from Bau while my mother from Siburan. My father’s slang is different from my mom’s slang. When I come back to my father’s kampong in Bau, and speak with my relatives, I will mix a bit of my mom’s slang.”

“Kitai orang Borneo tang sigi baka nya. Nyau bercampur jako kitai. Aku gaga ati ga ninggar nuan lancar mai jako Iban. Aram meh kitai ngirup. Aku ngarap ke nuan lulus dalam periksa nuan ngau mai pemansang ngagai menoa kitai tok. Oh haaaa!”

(We are Bornean and we can speak many languages and slangs. I’m so proud that you can speak in Iban remarkably well. Lets bottom up. My wish is that you will pass on your exams and bring back all the knowledge that you learn and share with our people. Oh haaaaa!)

Uncle Henry, Auntie Bibi, Dirdacus, and I raised our glasses, and we drank together. An Iban, a Dusun, a Murut and a Bidayuh gathered together as one in Kampong Iban Merotai.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Agnes Keith, Shawney Niko and I

Trip to Sandakan from July 25 to 28, 2010:

Land below the wind

Four years ago in Kuching, Sarawak. I laid down on my back reading Agnes Keith’s first book “Land below the wind”. Her first book talked about her life as a wife of a Conservator of Forests and Director of Agriculture in North Borneo (old name of Sabah). And through her book, she is able to make her readers imagine Sandakan as a place full of unique and mysterious. Readers will have the desire to travel to Sandakan, as well as Sabah, after reading her book. They want to experience the same adventure, same feelings that Agnes experienced during her stay in North Borneo. Like them, I wished that I could make a trip to Sandakan. The only place in Sandakan that I really want to visit was at the hilltop where Agnes’s house stood facing the Sandakan Bay. In her book, she described how the Sandakan was during British colonial rule from her favorite spot. She wrote “I stood looking down at Sandakan Bay from the hilltop which now was ours. The harbor of Sandakan lay below me. It was morning, and the water of the bay was motionless and flat and chromo blue as in a picture postal card.
The coconut trees, where they fringed the shore, were drawn in with meticulous attention to detail, and the mushroom islands which skimmed on the water were so small and perfect it seemed that I could capture one and send it home with Greetings from Borneo.

In Sandakan 2010

My Blackberry was ringing. I checked on the phone screen, and I knew the person who called me.

“Hi. Where are you Shawn? I’m waiting for you at the front of the Rainforest Discovery Center.”

“Dency, could you come to your hostel? I’m waiting you there.”

“OK. Just wait for me.”

Shawney Niko would drive me from Sepilok to the Sandakan uptown. He promised to bring me to see Agnes Keith’s house, which is located on the hilltop of the Sandakan Town. The time was 4.00 pm. We began our journey to the uptown after unloading my hiking bag and a box filled with field equipment into his little black Viva. The journey to town would take about 20 minutes. Along the way, Shawney asked about my plan to go to Tawau tomorrow morning. I mentioned that I would take a bus ride to Tawau in the early morning. He suggested checking on the bus schedule at the Sandakan Terminal Bus station first before visiting the Agnes Keith’s house. I just agreed with him. Once we checked on the bus schedule for tomorrow morning trip to Tawau, he drove me to his favourite eating outlet. He wanted me to taste cheap delicious home cooking food.

Shawney, a bidayuh man from Kuching, has been working as a policeman in Sandakan for almost two years. He knows many good places for both of us to sit down, eat and chat together. For previous three days, he showed me around the Sandakan town. He mentioned about his unexciting life, his works and people in Sandakan. From his talks and my observation, I could say that Sandakan has lost its glory as one of the busiest city in the state. It has changed so much since North Borneo became independent, and its name changed to Sabah. In addition, the state administration moved from Sandakan to Jesselton (then Kota Kinabalu). Many Chinese traders shifted their business to Kota Kinabalu, and they abandoned their shops to decay and thus eligible to be demolished. Old shop buildings are occupied with legal and illegal foreigners especially from Philippine. There is a water village that is located along the Sandakan Bay. Occupied houses within that village are not properly arranged. Shawney explained that the village is mostly occupied by foreigners. He even drove me to few dark, isolated areas where many hookers and drug dealers gather to sell their services and drugs especially syabu to their customers. He explained that Sandakan is the hub of drugs trafficking and smuggling.

Agnes Keith’s House

The home cook foods were delicious just like my mother's cooking. I looked at my watch, and it showed 15 minutes before 5.00 pm. I told Shawney that it was almost time to visit Agnes Keith’s house. We hurried ourselves to his car. Within 15 minutes, we already arrived at the foot of the hill, and I could see the house from below. I felt very happy and asked Shawney to drive faster. He just smiled at me when he saw my jolly face. When the car stopped at the parking site, I quickly opened the side passenger door. I did not want to wait for Shawney, and he had to catch me from behind. I was surprised to know that it was already closed when I reached at the front door. The only thing I could do now was just peeping inside the house through the glass door and windows. Shawney said he did not know it would close at 5 pm. I silenced for a while and told him that I will come back again to Sandakan in future. Shawney and I walked around the house while took few pictures.

Then, we descended the stairs leading to backquaters that were once occupied by Arusap, Keith’s personal man, Ah King and Ah Yin, the two Chinese amahs and Usip, the Dayak Murut small boy. I told Shawney everything about Agnes Keith, her son George, Henry Keith and their amahs and servant based on the three Agnes's books. He was surprised that I knew more about the Keith’s family than him even though he already stayed in Sandakan for almost two years. He let me told everything about Sandakan during colonial time, while we were on the way up to the house again. Then, we stopped exactly at the spot where Agnes spent her time looking over the Sandakan Town. I did the same thing like she did admiring the beauty of the town. Time passed quickly. We made a move back to Shawney's car. When we passed the front arch of Agnes’s house, I stopped and picked my Nikon compact camera from my bag. I took a picture of the front porch which inscribed with Agnes Keith House.

Agnes talked to Henry in their house "I will never forget this moment. I am doing what I would rather be doing than anything else in the world, with the person I want to do with. Some people live a lifetime and never have a perfect moment like this."

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Bonggi people in Banggi Island

Trip to Banggi Island from July 19 to 24, 2010:


It was the third night in Kampung Kalangkaman, Banggi. I was writing in my field journal while Freddie was cooking dinner. My other assistant, Patrick was fixing the two zinc roofs that would be used to collect rainwater in a brawny blue basin. When the dinner time came, all of us hovered over two dishes that lay on the cooking table. The menus for that night were chicken meats with soy ketchup and fried eggs with cabbage. In addition, each of us cooked Maggi curry noodle. In the States, it is not easy to find Maggi noodle at any grocery shops or even in supermarkets. The only choices I have are Ramen noodles from Korea, packed noodles from Thailand, rice vermicelli from China and Indomee from Indonesia. Hence, during my summer break in Malaysia, I would treat myself with all Malaysian foods including “kolok mee”, Sarawak laksa and my favourite Maggi noodles. I supposed to decrease my body weight, but I could not resist the temptation to eat any Malaysia foods. I have to make a promise to myself that I will reduce my weight once I go back to the USA.

The leader of Bonggi people

We sat down and talk to each other after dinner. The wind was blowing so hard, and the moon was already engulfed by thick black clouds. We were expecting heavy downpour less than an hour. From afar, we saw a middle aged man approached the Kampong Kalangkaman Hall where we used it as a camping site. He was from the Pengerusi’s house that locates opposite of the hall. The man must be the Pengerusi Gaun Maun. He did not wear a shirt or anything else on his upper body other than a black trouser. He carried a long notebook and waved his right hand to us.

We greeted him, and Freddie carried a chair for him. Patrick gave a cigarette to him. He lighted the cigarette and started asking about my works.

“Dency, how is your work?”

“It's not too bad Pengerusi. We managed to catch murai batu (shama) and other beautiful birds, but we did not find any murai kampong (magpie robin). Even, we did not hear any songs of this bird from the first day until today.”

“I see. I’m not sure whether the bird is here or already moves to other places. Oh ya! I need you all to sign my guest book. This is a way for me to check how many visitors and their purposes to come here. You can start first Dency.”

I wrote down my name, University address, purposes, time we would stay in the kampong and lastly my signature. Freddie and Patrick did ask me to write their names and address on behalf of them, and they would sign after I have done. While I filled intended information in the notebook, the rain started to fall. Pengerusi could not go home, so he stayed with us till the rain stopped.

History of Banggi Island

I took this opportunity to ask him about Banggi Island, Bonggi people, Kampong Kalangkaman and political situation in Sabah especially in Kudat Division. From his story, we knew that Pengerusi is a Wakil Ketua Anak Negeri Banggi or Vice Chairman of the Banggi Native. He began by telling the early history of Banggi Island, which first inhibited by Bonggi and Bajau Laut (Sea Bugis) tribe during the Sultanate of Sulu. At that time, the original name of the island was Panglima Island. The Bonggi people stayed in deep jungle and hills while Bajau Laut (Sea Bajau) preferred to stay near the mangrove forest and small islands around the island. When the North Borneo Company took over Panglima Island from Sultan Sulu, its name changed to Banggi Island after the Bonggi people. Even, the company grouped the Bonggi people together with other Dusun in mainland. The island demographic changed a lot under the company with the addition of other races such as Kedayan, Benambak and Ubian. These tribes migrated from Philippines, and they set up many settlements in the island. In terms of development, Pulau Banggi is still far behind compared to other places, since Sabah joined the Federation of Malaysia.

In the early 90’s, the island of Banggi accepted substantial changes to the basic amenities such as policlinic, police stations and a small district office in Pekan Karakat while schools built in strategic areas. Penghulu Gaun did mention that Bonggi in Kampong Kalangkaman and Kabatangan still lack of many basic amenities compares to the other races. He tried his best effort to help improve the Bonggi people equivalent to those of any races on the island through modern agriculture. I praised him a lot for his determination to help his own people including other races in Banggi. He is such an extraordinary leader, and I adored him so much. The rain has stopped, and the time almost 10 pm. Pengerusi Guan excused himself to go back to his house. When he had arrived at his house, we resumed our conversation. I commended the Pengerusi for his efforts to carry out his duties properly and adequately to all inhabitants on Banggi Island. Freddie and Patrick just nodded their heads agreeing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lost to Simpang Mengayau

Trip to Langkon, Kota Marudu- Kudat from July 12 to 17, 2010:

In the Langkon Estate

I was sitting in Imelda’s office room waiting for her to settle her works in the other department. She needed to meet and discuss some matters regarding the Langkon estate with the estate manager. After almost an hour, she entered to her office room and asking whether I already made payments to my helpers.

“Dency, have you done with the payment?”

“I paid both of them. Even, your assistant got RM15 for helping me to find the two workers.”

“Good. Dency, it’s 4.30 pm now. I apologize for taking so much time to meet with my estate manager. I have big issues with him. We should make a move now, or we will be late to see the sunset. I guess we cannot visit the Runggus Longhouse today.”

“Ah, don’t worry about that. We can visit tomorrow morning.”

Imelda and I said goodbye to all the staff in her office. We immediately jumped into her 4 x 4 Toyota Hilux. It is a rugged and pleasant car to drive. I did use her car to fetch my two helpers at their kampong that is 25 minutes drive from the Langkon Estate. Imelda likes her car, but she prefers to drive an ordinary car. For her, the 4 x 4 Toyota Hilux is better driven by guys. However, that the only vehicle that can be used in oil palm plantation.

The Rungus

Imelda asked me to watch out any signs to go to Simpang Mengayau. She forgot the way to the tip of Borneo even though she ever went there with her family members in the previous year. Along the journey, both of us talked about the Langkon Estate in Kudat area. From her explanation, I could figure out the size of Langkon Estate is almost the half size of the Kota Marudu area. Small Chinese and Rungus oil palm planters take over the other half of Kota Marudu. After 45 minutes driving, we reached the densely populated Rungus area. There are many Rungus kampongs within that area. The Rungus people still retain their unique lifestyle. Some of them still stay in traditional longhouses. Even some of modern houses within that area have traditional front porches. There are three villages that involve in one-village-one industry program. Each kampong will specialize either in gong-making, bead making and honey bee-rearing. Kampong Sumangkap was selected to focus in gong-making. The round shaped gong is an important Rungus musical instrument even to other tribes in Sabah. It is played during festivities and grand occasions such as weddings. Rungus people are also popular with colourful bead-making, and hence Kampong Tinangol was selected as a bead centre in Sabah. Kampong Gombizau plays a significant role in producing Kudat honey-bee both for the consumption of the local people in Sabah, as well as, visitors from outside Sabah.

Miss a signboard

By 5.30 pm, we reached at a junction to Simpang Mengayau. A golden yellow sky already blanketed the Kudat region. Imelda speeded her Hilux so that we could reach the tip of Borneo before the sun went down below the horizon. I as usual still maintained my role as a road navigator. We turned left at the next T junction and headed to north until we could find the following junction to Simpang Mengayau. Along the way, I could see many coconut trees planted along the road, and I assumed that many folks in Kudat involve in coconut cultivation. Among the coconut trees, I saw a Catholic church with its blue roof, a coconut factory as well as many bricks and wooden houses. After 15 minutes driving, I saw a white signboard, but I did not see any signboard to Simpang Mengayau. There is a T junction on the opposite site of the white signboard. I doubted at first, but I just brushed it aside. I assumed that the white signboard could be other signboard to other places. I let Imelda drove forward. The road changed from tar sealed road to gravel road. Suddenly Imelda asked me whether we were heading to the right way.

“Dency, are you sure we on the right track? I drove for about 25 minutes now since the last T junction and yet we did not find any signboard to Simpang Mengayau.”

“Yeah, you just drive. Maybe we will find the signboard. Hei, look at the farms on your left side. The owners killed some of their coconut trees by injecting the trees with chemicals until those trees do not have leaves and fruits. Among the dead coconut trees, they planted with oil palm trees.”

“Kudat was famous with its coconut industry during 70's, 80's and early 90's. The end of 90's, the owners start to replace their coconut trees with oil palm trees as oil palm is more profitable. That is a new trend in here. Everything is about money.”

We just moved on looking for the signboard till we were on a seal tarred road again. Both of us looked at each other. Suddenly I saw the Catholic Church, and I told Imelda that we were circling the area.

“Dency, you suppose to be my co-driver. How come you did not find the signboard? We are getting late now.”

“I did try, but I did not see the real signboard to Simpang Mengayau. Could it be the white signboard? Imelda we must go there to check.”

She increased her Hilux speed, and we reached the white signboard less than 15 minutes. We surprised to know that the white signboard shows the way to Simpang Mengayau. It was in poor condition. Even, the direction to Simpang Mengayau on the white board was missing. Due to that, I missed the last T junction to Simpang Mengayau. Imelda just shaked her head. She complained that the district board should replace the old one to new.

Final Destination

After entering the final T junction, we passed several villages and coconut farms. The sky was turning to gold reddish now. We both knew that, the sunset would be over for other 30 minutes. Imelda accelerated her Hilux hoping that we would reach the final destination on time. Ten minutes were over, and we saw a long white beach in front of us. Far ahead, we saw a big globe above a hill before the end of the tip. Imelda and I looked at each other and smiled. We knew we were approaching the famous tip of Borneo. At 6.30 pm, we reached at the parking area of the Simpang Mengayau Recreational Park. Without wasting time, we packed digital cameras and walked up way to the hill. We shot pictures of ourselves at any hot spots around the area. The sun was going down further. We stopped to take pictures for a while to watch the sun. We were so amazed, and I asked Imelda to capture that scene. The skies at that time looked like a swirl pink and dark blue cotton candy color.

Many tourists went down from the hill to the dark, rocky area which is the end of the tip. We followed them from behind and continued capturing pictures at that area. Wind was blowing hard, and the waves crashed against the dark, hard stones. The salty smell crept into my nose filling my nostril with the ocean scent. I looked around and amazed with God’s beautiful creation. The day was getting over. The number of tourists in the rocky area kept decreasing, but we were too occupied to notice that. It was almost 7 pm and the night blue dark sky was replacing the day sky. The moon shone brightly in the sky. We looked around and found that only both of us and a young Muslim couple at the tip. I was so hungry and asked Imelda to make a move to the parking area. On the way back, we checked all photos that we have taken. Some were in good quality, and some were not. Suppose, we need to attend digital photography courses so that we can take beautiful, lovely photos. Still, both of us satisfied as we managed to preserve memories at Simpang Mengayau, Sabah.