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Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Years ago I was told by a friend about the amazing Batu Gong (Music Rock) in Kampung Solibog (Solibog Village) of Tambunan. In Malay language, Batu means Rock and Gong is an idiophones musical instrument. Gong (photo below) is made of galvanized iron sheets and a backbone traditional music instrument for indigenous tribes of Sabah. In fact, gong is also commonly found in South East Asia countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei.

Gong (idiophones)

Our people play gong in important social events such as wedding, festivals and celebrations. Usually gongs in various sizes were beaten by a group of players, in different rhythm to produce a harmonious orchestra. If you hit Batu Gong, it also produces sounds resemble to gong.

Gong as an important musical instrument

To see Batu Gong, I drove 1.5 hours to Tambunan town, which is about 81 KM away from Kota Kinabalu. I asked the Tambunan people how to get there. Though most of them know about Batu Gong, they don’t know the exact location. They only gave me a vague direction and advised me to ask the villagers when I passed by a golf course.

On the way to Batu Gong of Tambunan

Going from the main road of Tambunan to the direction of Keningau town for about 7 KM, you will see a golf course named TNGC (Tambunan Golf & Country Club) at the left of the road within 10 minutes. Then turn left to a junction just before the milestone labeled “Keningau 43” (see photo above).

Junction to Batu Gong

At this junction, you will also see the street sign “JLN. BATU GONG” (Batu Gong Road) with a signpost that reads “Golf View Villa” behind (see photo above). Just follow the small road.

Junction to Batu Gong

After a while, I reached a T junction. I turned to right and it is a correct way. The GPS location of Batu Gong is 5.623135, 116.339694 (see Location Map or Street View)

House of Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Minutes later I came to the road with river at the right. I drove slowly and saw a white sign “Batu Gong” behind a gate at my left.

Location of Batu Gong

Location of Batu Gong

Pretty sure that I found the place. I parked my car and walked to the gate. I was a bit surprised that Batu Gong is inside a private housing area.

Welcome to Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Though a bit hesitated, I opened the gate to enter. Then I saw a hut with a sign “Selamat Datang Ke Batu Gong” (Welcome to Batu Gong). Since it says Welcome, I guess it’s ok to go in.

Hut of Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Here it is! They store Batu Gong inside a simple hut built with zinc roof, brick wall and iron fence.

Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Looking into the hut, I was happy to see Batu Gong inside.

Around Batu Gong (Music Rock)

However, this place is a private property, probably I should ask for owner’s approval to enter. I walked to a house nearby. I met the owner, Uncle Yaman, and introduced myself.

Yaman and Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Uncle Yaman is very friendly and more than happy to show me his Batu Gong. The Batu Gong are a few boulders that look like natural ordinary rocks. Judging by their look, I can’t spot anything unusual. The discovery of Batu Gong is also by accident.

Yaman and Batu Gong (Music Rock)

According to Yaman, there was a straightening project of Pegalan River in front of his house in year 1995. A few boulders were dug out from the river and placed at the river bank. Nobody bothered about those rocks.

playing Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Batu Gong (Music Rock)
Batu Gong (Music Rock)
Some village kids like to bathe in this river. Then one day, the adults found that the kids playing with the boulder by hitting it with stone, to produce Gong-like sound. They were so amazed by these magic rocks, so they relocated them to his house for everyone to see.

Closer view of Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Above: a closer look of the rock. Can you see anything special? Yaman said a Japanese scientist came here before to check out Batu Gong. This scientist believes Batu Gong has high level of iron, thereby giving it a metal property.

Heavy Batu Gong (Music Rock)
Above: so heavy, 3 men also can’t lift it.

Batu Gong (Music Rock)

There was someone offered to buy Batu Gong, but the villagers refused, as Batu Gong is such a unique and priceless natural wonder. See 8 small stones on Batu Gong? Batu Gong can produce 8 different tones. Each stone places on the spot that has a unique tone (but a few tones sound the same to me).

Trying Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Traveling nearly 100 KM to see Batu Gong, I already couldn’t wait to beat it hard.

Trying Batu Gong (Music Rock)

Wow, I can’t believe it. When being hit, Batu Gong sounds like gong (but not very much). Its sounds are crisp and high-pitched. Just imagine you hit the iron bar with a small hammer. My sense of rhythm is poor, anyway, I had so much fun hitting different spots to hear different tones. You can watch the video below to see what I mean. Near the end of video, I also include the sound and music of real gong for you to compare.

I always wanted to see Batu Gong years ago. I only did it after I got my compact camera with HD movie recording function, because I could not show the sounds with photos.

River where Batu Gong found

Above: the river where Batu Gong was found. This river is just in front the house of Uncle Yaman. 15 years ago, a project changed the course of this river to free up some land, which included the current housing area of Uncle Yaman. During rainy season, this overflow river still can flood the road next to it, in case you wonder why Yaman built his house so far away from the gate.

Ticket Fees (written in Malay)

Ticket Fees (written in Malay): Adult (18 and above): RM4.00 (≈US$1), Kid (below 18): RM2.00 (≈US$0.50). Note: rates as of May 2016

Donation tin
Above: to show some appreciation, you can put money in this rusted tin. Of course you can give more.

Notice of Batu Gong

There is a notice in the hut (no longer there, as of May 2016). I didn’t pay much attention to it until I opened the photos later at home. These are “visiting rules” written in Malay language. The first one says “No Smoking”, which is understandable as the holes on Batu Gong look like convenient ash tray. The second rule is odd, it says “Woman in pregnancy and menstruation are prohibited to enter”. Probably Batu Gong is considered as a sacred rock with spirit resides in it?

Just an extra info, music rocks like Batu Gong are also found in Kg. Baginda of Keningau, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Photos taken in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Healing Well of Kuala Penyu

Healing Well of Kuala Penyu

Whenever you visit a new place in Sabah, especially in countryside, ask the locals. They would share some interesting stories or legend about their village. For Kampung Tempurong (Tempurong Village) in Kuala Penyu, I was excited to know this village has a healing well that still exists.

Healing well near the road

The healing well is not far from the road

Kampung Tempurong is about 15 KM away from Kuala Penyu town, and the healing well is next to Jalan Kekapor – Temporong. Its GPS Coordinates is 5.529614, 115.533864 (see Location Map or Street View).

Healing Well of Kuala Penyu

Healing Well of Kuala Penyu

When the village was hit by drought about a hundred years ago, an Arabian prophet came and asked the villagers to dig a well at this location. This well provided enough fresh water for the whole village.

Water in the well

You can drink or take shower with this water

The well never dries up even during drought season. Even if people emptied the well, it would be filled with water again in next day. The villagers had been using this well before tap water is available.

Villager taking water from the well

This well was the main water source for villagers before tap water is available

The people also believe that by drinking or taking shower with water from this well, any sickness will be healed. A local said a villager cured his children who were used to have asthma with water from this well.

Villager sitting on the well

Villagers believe the water from this healing well can cure various kinds of sickness

The Healing Well is accessible by public and not fenced, so anyone can go there to collect water as they wish. Just be respectful and keep the area clean.

Healing well of Kuala Penyu

The Healing Well never goes dry

I was told that I can drink the water from this well unboiled. To be honest, the water is murky, so I didn’t dare to try. Probably next time.

Reflection in the well

Reflection of me in the well

Even the origin of the name of Kampung Tempurong has a story. The village of “Tempurong” (means Coconut Shell in Malay words) was initially called Tanah Merah (means Red Soil literally). In 1800s, a villager found a coconut shell at the seashore, and it’s engraved with holy verses of the Al-Quran. The village took it as a sign from God and unanimously agreed to change the name of the village to Tempurong, because they believed this would bring good fortune to the villagers. This place is really blessed by Allah, I think.

Photos taken in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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