Tag Archives: homestay

Little Hut, home sweet home in Mesilau

Little Hut, Mesilau

Travelers always look for good attractions to visit and nice food to eat. After the tour, we all need a great place to stay. It is cool to be served by 5-star hotel but I prefer accommodation with nice surrounding. For me, Little Hut of Mesilau is special, not just because of its cooling temperature of 13-30°C (55-86°F) and spectacular view of Mt. Kinabalu, its homely atmosphere is something unique in homestay of Sabah.

Little Hut signage
Located at 1,460 Metres above sea level, Little Hut is only 12 KM away from Kinabalu Park and 3 KM from Mesilau Park, a convenient spot for me to stay a night and to enjoy the refreshing air far away from bustling Kota Kinabalu City (KK).

Little Hut at night
Pic: at the left is my hut (named Incredible Hut)

I checked into my chalet at 8pm and spent a night in Incredible Hut, a small house that have 3 beds and the only hut without kitchen. The tungsten light of the house looked warm and comfy from outside in the cold and windy evening, I really couldn’t wait to get in.

room of Little Hut
Pic: ground floor of Incredible Hut

After I collected the key from their staff, the 2-storey chalet was all mine. It’s like living in your own house, no room service that reminds you are an outsider. You would appreciate the sense of belonging and freedom here.

second floor of Little Hut
Pic: Incredible Hut has one bed in ground floor and two on top floor.

The space in Incredible Hut isn’t spacious, just nice for medium size Asian like me. If you are almost as big as Incredible Hulk, you may not be able to move so freely. Please note they have bigger chalets and I only show the photos of the smaller hut.

bed in Little Hut
Mesilau is cool at night but not down to freezing point. The feeling is like being inside an office with strong air-conditioning. Putting on a jacket or fleece is enough to keep you warm. There is no heater (and not necessary) in house. Don’t worry, hot water shower is available.

room facilities in bedroom
The interior is simple and decorated with interesting ornaments. Each chalet has TV (with Astro satellite TV) and DVDs to kill your time. But the best activity to do here is to eat some hot stuffs in cold evening together with your friends and family, e.g. BBQ or steamboat. Little Hut can rent you the equipment but you need to bring your own food, which is readily available in Kundasang town only 6 KM away.

treasure chest
Pic: guess what is inside the treasure chest?

bathroom in Little Hut
Pic: Toilet paper, shower gel and shampoo are provided. You need to bring your own towel and toothpaste.

Poetic Dream Houses

I had a very good night sleep in Little Hut. When everything lit up by the sunrise, I started to see the beauty of Little Hut. Seem like they “gardenize and villagize” every corner to give an idyllic and nostalgia touch to their place. They also insert some humorous elements for you to discover here and there.

Little Hut in the morning
Pic: Little Hut in the morning

Mt. Kinabalu in Mesilau

Mt. Kinabalu and Little Hut
The morning view of Mt. Kinabalu is a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know I could see it from Little Hut.

Mt. Kinabalu and garden of Little Hut
Pic: the view of Mt. Kinabalu and Little Hut. Note the small farm in foreground.

little farm in Little Hut
Pic: The little farm + garden in Little Hut is planted with variety of vegetables and flowers such as roses and spring onions. Housewives find this farm intriguing and are excited to tell their children what are those plant.

door of Little Hut

flowers and 4-leg chair

Home Sweet Home

plant in boots

chairs at the door

Stop Watching Me signage

nostalgia feel

If I show the photos above to others without saying the location, most would think these are taken in countryside of European countries.

Pic: balcony of Hut Attack

farm and village view
Pic: village and farm view from the balcony

village view and signage

funny direction signages
Pic: funny direction signages just to make you smile.

flowers near the hut
Pic: backyard of Little Hut

cat of Little Hut
Hey, come and meet Miyao, the chubby and friendly 3-color cat of Little Hut. She acts like the owner of Little Hut and loves to hang out with people.

cat house
Pic: The Cat Residence. Miyao also has her own Little Hut, but she always looks for a chance to sneak into your hut, probably she enjoys the warm cuddling offered by the guests.

cat and Mt. Kinabalu
Pic: Miyao lazes around and as relax as the guests.

Mt. Kinabalu and Kg Mesilau village
Little Hut is in Kampung Mesilou Village and surrounded by village houses.

Kampung Mesilau
You can take a stroll around the village, a friendly neighbourhood where you can explore around and say Hi to the locals.

farm and banana trees
Pic: the plantation in village. The property of Sabah city is super expensive nowadays, so I’m kind of envious of the big land they have here. I believe that’s the concept of Little Hut, which allows city people to experience the peaceful rural life once in a while.

The Chalets

Little Hut has a total of 5 chalets, each with different size, theme and amenities, so it’s important that you select the right hut prior to booking. You can visit their website for more photos and details.

chalets of Little Hut
Pic: from left: Unbreak My Hut, Incredible Hut, Bizza Hut, Hut Attack. Not seen in this photo is Hut Leluyaa, which is behind Bizza Hut.

names of different chalets
Pic: Little Hut uses pun for naming their huts. The names are just for fun and don’t mean anything, so don’t be serious about them.

The following table is a summary of the chalets for your quick reference:

Hut Rate (per day per hut) Remarks
Incredible Hut Mon-Fri: RM150 (≈US$42)

Weekends, Holiday*: RM180 (≈US$50)

Accommodate up to 3 people, suitable for small group of friends and family. No kitchen
Bizza Hut Mon-Fri: RM250 (≈US$70)

Weekends, Holiday*: RM300 (≈US$83)

Accommodate up to 5 people, suitable for family and group of friends. Kitchen available. Good viewpoint for Mt. Kinabalu
Unbreak My Hut Mon-Fri: RM150 (≈US$42)

Weekends, Holiday*: RM180 (≈US$50)

Accommodate up to 2 to 3 people, suitable for couple. Blue & white Greece theme. Kitchen available.
Hut Attack Mon-Fri: RM280 (≈US$78)

Weekends, Holiday*: RM330 (≈US$92)

Accommodate up to 5 people. Kitchen available. View of Kg. Mesilou village and mountain range
Hut Leluyaa Mon-Fri: RM210 (≈US$58)

Weekends, Holiday*: RM250 (≈US$70)

Accommodate up to 2 to 3 people, suitable for couple. Kitchen available. Farm and village view

Rate as of Feb 2015. Please visit their website for latest rate and updated details.
*Public Holiday & School Holiday

Though Little Hut has no restaurant, most chalets have a kitchen with cooking utensils for you to cook, or you can rent BBQ rack and steamboat from them (food not provided).

Contact & Booking

You can book the accommodation with Little Hut up to 6 months in advance by e-mail or phone. You need to pay 50% deposit to secure your booking. The chalets could be full during peak season so it’s better to book earlier.

window of reception
Tel: +60 16-8601416 (9am-8pm)
E-mail: littlehutmesilou@gmail.com / shiaohan@hotmail.com
Website: littlehutmesilou.blogspot.com
Facebook: mesilou
GPS Coordinates: N 6.014536° E 116.599023° (see Location Map)

Getting there

Little Hut is in Kampung Mesilou Village, about 100 KM away from KK (see Location Map). There is no bus going directly to Little Hut, so you need to get there using your own car or hire a taxi at Kundasang town. Most of the time you will drive on paved asphalt road until you reach Kampung Mesilou. After the village, turn to the 3rd junction at the left (which has two tyres as marker), then you have to drive carefully on the narrow concrete road, which you will reach Little Hut near the end (estimated 600 Meters).

I strongly advise you to go there during daytime so you can see the small road or signages clearly. If your car has low body and you can’t see the road clearly in the dark, the bottom of your car would hit the big rocks. You can find detail picture guide and map in their website and Facebook.

Photos taken in Mesilau, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Sabah Longhouse and the Rungus

longhouse of Rungus

Sabah may not have a lot of tall building, but we have many long building (longhouse). Though other Sabah native tribes such as Murut and Dusun Lotud also build longhouse, larger number of Rungus people, a sub-ethnic of Kadazandusun (largest indigenous group of Sabah) with a population of 80,000*, still practise the traditional lifestyle of living in a longhouse today. In 1930s, there was a Rungus longhouse stretched as long as 5 Kilometers!**

traditional Rungus longhouse
Pic: a traditional Rungus longhouse

A Rungus longhouse (known as Vinataang in local language) is made up of 7 to 15 or more family apartments co-joined laterally. Most residents in a longhouse are relatives among themselves. If new family is added, the owner would extend the longhouse at one end. A Rungus village consists of 1 or more longhouses (usually 5 or 6). Longhouse is common in northern part of Sabah, from Matunggong, Kudat, Kota Marudu to Pitas.

longhouse of Rungus
Traditional longhouse is built from wood, bamboo and atap (palm leaves). To avoid flood and wildlife such as snake, the house is lift off the ground by stilts made of hard wood such as bogil, belian ironwood, mangrove wood and manzalangan**. In old day, they also raised pigs under the longhouse. The roof is dry palm leaves of sago or nipah, and needs to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.

entrance of longhouse
Pic: entry ladder to longhouse

There are many taboos about longhouse. For example, the site of a new longhouse is chosen based on signs such as dream, animals, weather and human behaviour. If a python (which symbolise death in local belief) appears at the construction site, they would not build the longhouse there. In contrast, tortoise is an auspicious sign. Guest who enters apartment under construction, or leaving the house without informing the host will bring bad luck. The wood of toodopon and puvok trees can’t be used in making house, as they will bring illness, disaster or bad luck. Nevertheless, after many Rungus converted to Christian, they may not strictly uphold these belief now.

corridor of longhouse
Pic: the long and wide corridor of longhouse. Rungus longhouse is divided into two distinct areas, the apad or common gallery (left), and Ongkob or compartment area (right). Apad is an open area for work and leisure activities such as rice pounding and celebration.

children in longhouse
The raised platform (tingkang) of apad is a general working area and sleeping area for older boys.

floor of longhouse
Pic: flooring made of split bamboo or nibung.

wall and door of longhouse
Pic: The wall is created from the bark of manzalangan. There are some holes on the wall if you want to peek what your neighbour is busy on lol.

bedroom of longhouse
Pic: I was staying in Maranjak Longhouse for a night and this is my bedroom in longhouse. They have electric bulb to light up the room and corridor. The mosquito net can keep hungry mosquito at bay. There were far fewer mosquitoes than I thought because the longhouse is near to the forest. The wall is so thin that I can hear clearly what the girls in next room talking. During bedtime, I can almost hear the girl breathing, as if she was sleeping on my bed. Luckily she didn’t snore (but I did, HAHAHA). The longhouse is a bit warm in daytime, but at night it is quite cooling. In my dream, I heard two geckos fighting near my bed.

longhouse of Kudat
During my stay in Maranjak Longhouse, I took a closer look at the Rungus longhouse.

rorizan of Rungus longhouse
Then I saw a tower at other end of the longhouse. At first I think it’s for the guard. Then they tell me that that tower is called Rorizan, the place to keep the most beautiful girl in the longhouse.

Rungus girl in traditional costume
In case you fall in love with the girl in Rorizan… FYI, to marry a Rungus lady, big muscle is not enough. You also need brain and patience.

Binsulong puzzle game
Because, you will be tested by Inuog Dazang (Teka Teki Puteri) puzzle, to free the rope from interlocked rattan knots, without cutting it. If you succeed, you can marry the girl without paying any bride price. You can try until you cry but not getting it. Don’t worry, I already have the formula for you. You can buy me some beers if you win a Rungus bride.

Rungus dancing Mongigol Sumandai
Pic: you may have seen the photo of Rungus people dancing Mongigol Sumandai (a welcoming dance mimic the movement of dragon and the male being the head of dragon) and think that Rungus man can have many wives. Rungus marriage is monogamy. Sex before marriage is strictly prohibited, as Rungus people believe this will bring sickness and death to their village. Besides, girls are kept separate from boys except at work. I’m talking about the old time.

Modern Longhouses

Nowadays each Rungus family prefers to have their own house. Also, it’s rare to see thatched-roof Rungus longhouse as corrugated zinc is preferred roofing material. If you see an authentic longhouse, very likely it is built for the tourists. 😀

modern longhouse
inside modern longhouse
Pic: photos of “modernised” longhouse, which is more durable and offers bigger space. More livable but lack of cultural identity.

longhouse with solar panels
Pic: longhouse with solar panels (certified low-energy green building). This longhouse in KDCA Penampang costs about half a million Ringgit (≈US$157,000) to construct!

The Rungus

Longhouse is not the only cool thing about Rungus. Rungus is renowned weaver. They produce finely woven textiles, handicraft and beadwork which incorporate intricate traditional motif.

beadwork of Rungus
The motif design of Rungus is inspired by animals, plant and other things in their environment. Each piece takes 1 to 7 days to make, depend on its complexity. Some motif carries meaning such as good health.

colorful Rungus necklace
The handmade beadwork of Rungus is so beautiful and colorful that it is one of the most popular souvenirs tourists bring home. It’s also nice as an exotic accessory for lady dress. With prices start from only a few dollars, it’s quite affordable.

handicraft for sale in longhouse
If you go to Kudat, I highly recommend you to buy some handicraft from the locals. In fact, most Rungus handicraft for sale in city shops are from them, but being priced higher by distributors.

Rungus woman making cloth made from cotton
Pic: Rungus woman is also skillful in producing homespun cloth made from cotton (kapok)

Rungus women in longhouse
The traditional costume of Rungus is truly unique. I haven’t seen other Borneo tribes that share the similar traits. The photo above is the “most traditional” custome of Rungus women, who wear Ganggalung, disc of brass coil necklace of 40cm in diameter, and Lungkaki, the tightly coiled ornament covering the lower leg. Ganggalung and Lungkaki are seldom worn today. They told me that the brass outfit is heavy and make them lazy to move.

Rungus man in traditional costume
Pic: A Rungus man wearing colorful sash and a sigal, the traditional embroidered headgear. He looks serious but he is very friendly.

Staying in Longhouse

If you would like to experience staying in longhouse, you may visit Kampung Bavanggazo or Maranjak Longhouse Lodge in Matunggong, about 150 KM north of Kota Kinabalu city and 40 KM south of Kudat town (see Location Map). Both longhouses are only a few KM away from each other and their owners are brothers.

Maranjak Longhouse Lodge in Kudat

Their longhouse can host about 30 to 40 guests at a time. The accommodation fee is about RM60 – RM80 per night (≈US$19 – 25) and Online Booking is available. You also can sign up for some activities such as fishing, crab catching, hiking and tour around in Kudat.

chicken in longhouse
Lastly, mind your head when you visit a longhouse. Incoming! LOL

*Census 2000
**source: Sabah Traditional Ethnic Houses, published by Department of Museums Malaysia (ISBN: 978-967-9935-81-3)

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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