Tag Archives: legend

Sunsuron Homestay in Tambunan, the Valley of Bamboo

cultural performance of Sunsuron Homestay

Tourism is defined [1] as “…the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment…” Oh yea, travelling should be an extraordinary experience. If we go sightseeing like a typical tourist, everyone would see the same thing and go home telling the same story. Probably the only interaction between most tourists and the locals is waving hands to each other to and from a tourist bus.

Group photo with Tambunan Valley in the background

Group photo with Tambunan Valley in the background

Therefore, instead of staying in a hotel that looks no different to other hotels in your hometown, you may consider homestay. In hotel you are just a guest, in homestay you are a friend. Don’t just leave your footprint on a foreign land, leave a wonderful memory between you and the local people.

Sumazau dance by Dusun Tambunan people

Sumazau dance by Dusun Tambunan youth

Last month I decided to live like a local in homestay of Kampung Sunsuron (“Kampung” is Village in Malay word) in Tambunan, a remote town 80 Kilometers away from Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital city of Sabah. The mountainous landscape, cooling climate and scenic greenery earns Tambunan the nickname Switzerland of the East.

Sunsuron Village & Homestay

Tambunan is on a highland with average altitude of 750 Meters, so it is refreshing and can be quite chilling at night. Besides, it’s a land uninvaded by McDonald’s and Starbucks, where you can appreciate more authentic cultural experience and village lifestyle.

One of the houses of Sunsuron Homestay

One of the houses of Sunsuron Homestay

More than 130 years ago, the Sunsuron area was uninhabited, because it was a hot zone of headhunting and tribe wars. In 1885, British North Borneo Chartered Company established police base in Sunsuron to end the unrest.

Bamboo trees and shrubs in Tambunan

Bamboo is everywhere in Tambunan, and this is not by accident.

Thanks to Taliban and the bygone British colonial government, Tambunan is also known as the Valley of Bamboo. When peace was restored in 1930s, flourishing agriculture and development created huge demand for bamboo, which caused over-harvesting and led to more shortage of bamboo.

Guests enjoying the traditional dance performance

Welcoming traditional dance for the guests of homestay

Therefore, OKK Taliban, the first Native Chief of Tambunan, worked with Peter Lupang Tingkalus from Tambunan Forestry Department, to implement a policy requiring everyone to plant ten bamboo for every bamboo cut [2]. This worked so well that thriving bamboo has became an icon of Tambunan.

Welcoming gong by villagers

Welcoming gong by villagers

The name Sunsuron is the slip of the tongue over time from the Kadazan Dusun word “Sunsuyon”, which means bridge. There was a bamboo bridge for the villagers to cross the Sunsuron River at that time. The host of our homestay is Mr. Peter Gatulik and his wife. Peter is a retired police officer and his children had grown up and live somewhere else, leaving some empty rooms that he is happy to offer to traveller who wants a home away from hometown.

Gastronomic Adventure

Homestay in Sabah means more than cheap accommodation. You live like part of their family. It’s not a hotel where you can find bellboy or your favorite sweet-and-sour food.

traditional food as dinner

“We have everything except pizza and muffin. Please make yourself at home.”

You eat what they eat. No salad but tuhau; No salmon but basung; No red wine but lihing. None of our exotic food tastes like chicken. Enjoy the acquired taste!

Traditional appetizer (from left): Serunding Tuhau, Tuhau and Bambangan

Traditional appetizer (from left): Serunding Tuhau, Tuhau and Bambangan

In Sabah culture, food is important for building friendship, so your host will make sure that you are well-fed. For traditional appetizers, you would be given hinava (fish slices marinated in lime juice), tuhau (a type of wild ginger) and bambangan (pickled mango-like fruit).

Feast on local food

Feast on local food

Hinava is a “safe choice”. For first timers, tuhau can either taste like stink bug or food from heaven to them. No matter what, Tambunan is famous for Tuhau, so at least take a bite, or you can try Serunding (Deep-fried) Tuhau, a less potent version of tuhau.

Meat soup with banana trunks

Broth with wild banana stems (umbut pisang)

You are lucky if it is the season for getting Borot (a type of small freshwater fish) and Birid (horn shell) from local river. Both are delicacy only available in rural area. Our traditional dish could be a bit of culture shock to you, but just be open-minded. You don’t travel a long way to Sabah just to eat hotel food right.

Linopot: rice and food wrapped in tarap leaf

Linopot: rice and food wrapped in leaf

Just for fun, they also serve linopot, which is rice wrapped in big leaf. In the past, farmers and hunters brought linopot with them to the field and used the leaf as a plate.

Steamed Tilapia fishes

Steamed Tilapia fishes

Tambunan is an agricultural district, so the meals of homestay usually comprise fresh and organic vegetables from local plantation. You would find that almost every house in village has a mini-farm and fish pond besides garden.

Lihing (left) and Tapai (right), rice wines of Sabah

Lihing (left) and Tapai (right) are rice wines of Sabah

The villagers are very friendly, so it’s quite likely you would be offered a couple of drink. You may love the idea of warming up your body with locally brewed liquor in the cool evening, or you can politely decline if you don’t drink, no problem at all.

Beer and banana fritters

Beer and banana fritters as our breakfast lol

Normally beer and wine are not included in homestay unless you request. Anyway, you would be invited to wedding or festival celebrations if there is any nearby, so be prepared.

Turtle Rocks

Village is an excellent source of folk stories about strange things, but I was surprised that there is a weird “treasure” in the front yard of my host. Interestingly enough, it’s a rock, not gold or gem.

A pair of turtle rocks that look like carapace

A pair of “turtle” rocks that look like carapace. It’s Ms Bibiana beside them.

More than two decades ago, Peter was on duty and patrolled around Pamol, Sandakan. A contractor was digging the ground to build a house near to a river, and pair of strange rocks were unearthed. Peter found the rocks very beautiful because they looked like the carapace of a turtle. Since nobody wanted them, he took them back home and left them at the staircase.

The turtle rock is quite heavy

The turtle rock is quite heavy

The amazing rocks generated a lot of curiosity and the news spread. The rocks were even featured in Mystic magazine. Then a Chinese from Peninsular Malaysia offered RM30,000 (≈USD$7,300) to buy the turtle rocks. Even though the offer was irresistible, Peter cherished such serendipity and decided to keep them.

Turtle Rocks

The value of these rocks is almost worth a car!

Before leaving, this buyer was kind to advise Peter that it’s more auspicious to place these rocks near the water. Probably this has something to do with Feng Shui, as tortoise or turtle is a sign of longevity and water symbolizes wealth.

Bottom of the Turtle Rock

Bottom of the Turtle Rock

Therefore, Peter put these rocks at the fish pond in his front yard. OMG I can’t believe he just leaves the RM30,000 rocks laying around like that. The whole village knows about these rocks, but for 20 years nobody steals them. Btw, Peter also welcomes anyone to study these rocks and tell him why they are so special.

Anyway, Bibiana, the daughter of Peter showed me more unbelievable things in Kampung Sunsuron, when we toured around the village later.

House of Skulls

In the past, the people of Sunsuron practised head-hunting to defend their territory. The skull was kept as a war trophy which locals believe was endowed with supernatural power and would protect the owner. Some said whenever their enemies approached their village, these skulls would shout to warn the people.

Checking out the House of Skulls

Checking out the House of Skulls

Most of the 35 skulls were the followers of Mat Salleh and collected during his last battle with British at Tambunan plain in 1900. These skulls were used to be hanged or placed in a wooden hut that didn’t last and always required repair, so a concrete head house was built, next to Spiritu Tobitua Church and a burial ground, in June 1959 by Y.N. Gampin to house the skulls.

Head House next to Spiritu Tobitua Church of Kampung Sunsuron

The Head House is next to Spiritu Tobitua Church of Kampung Sunsuron

The locals call this head house Sunsuron Guritom. Guritom means black people in Kadazan Dusun language, because Mat Salleh’s followers had darker skin than Sunsuron people. One of the skulls belong to Sambatangan, the most-wanted hero of the enemy, whose head is said as big as a bucket. The head house is still standing today (GPS Location: 5.742147, 116.377498, see Location Map or Street View), but the skulls are gone (a local says some of them are buried under the head house) because somebody stole them for use in black or white magic.

photo next to head house of skulls

The plan of head house is almost square (about 1 Meter in width and height), and the roof is in the form of pyramid, with an apex surmounted with a concrete image of a skull.

According to a research [3], at least half of the skulls were female, the majority being either young or very old, while some 10 percent of the remainder are adolescent boys.

An old skull belongs to a headhunter (now kept by Sabah Museum)

An old skull belongs to a headhunter (now kept by Sabah Museum)

In early days, you must ask head-house keeper to take you to visit the head house. If you go alone you must pay 2 dollars sogit (fine) to the village. People who disturb the skull would become sick, insane, or worst, die.

Inscription on the Head House of Kampung Sunsuron

Inscription on the Head House

The elder villagers would tell you that the village used to perform ritual to feed and appease these skulls annually. Villagers were required to contribute some money to share the cost of buying food such as buffalo. If the ritual was postponed, people would hear the noise of chattering teeth from the skulls, it was freaking scary when there was no lamppost at night that time. However, villagers were too poor to feed them, so the last ritual was performed in 1970s, with Bobolian (native priest) declared to the skulls that there would be no more feeding.

Watu Tinuridung the Bulletproof Stone

Just a stone’s throw away from the Head House is the historical Watu Tinuridung Stone (GPS Location: 5.742725, 116.378539. See Location Map). According to oral tradition of Kampung Sunsuron, this stone was found in late 19th century, the time Mat Salleh revolted against the British ruling.

Watu Tinuridung stone was used as bullet shield by the rebels in old days

This menhir is 2.13 Meters high with an average thickness of 23 cm.

In 1898, Mat Salleh agreed to ceasefire (Palatan Peace Pact) with British North Borneo and stayed in Tambunan. However, Mat Salleh was hostile to Kampung Sunsuron, and he raided the village. Mat Salleh was more well-equipped with weapons such as cannon, so Kampung Sunsuron was asking for help from British government.

Watu Tinuridung stone

This Watu Tinuridung stone was part of a 40-Meter circular defensive site. I found no bullet mark on the stone though.

The men of Sunsuron also prepared to defend themselves by digging a circular hollowed-out area, which has a circumference of 40 Meters, and used the earth to erect ramparts around it [4]. The excavated area was deep enough to hide standing men behind the wall. While digging they saw this large and flat stone and thought it’s an excellent shield for firearm. They erected the stone to make it stood.

Mat Salleh was killed by the British in 1900

Mat Salleh was defeated by the British force in 1900 with the help of Sunsuron warriors (Actually he was shot by a Maxim machine gun)

In local dialect, the action of erecting something is called monuridung hence this stone was named Tinuridung. Then two priestesses (bobolian) performed a ceremony to invite the spirit to reside in this stone as a guardian to keep the village away from any sickness and harm.

A car shields itself from sunlight with Watu Tinuridung stone

A car uses Watu Tinuridung stone as a shield to sunlight haha

Until today, some villagers believe a friendly spirit is still living inside Watu Tinuridung. Probably for this reason they don’t remove the stone, and it also becomes a memorial to commemorate the brave Sunsuron warriors who perished in the war.

Traditional Tambunan House

There is a traditional Tambunan house beside Watu Tinuridung Stone (GPS Location: 5.742818, 116.378591. See Location Map). This house was a real residence but now vacant after it was gazetted by Sabah Museum as a heritage house.

A traditional Tambunan house in Sunsuron Village

A traditional Tambunan house in Sunsuron Village

The bamboo house is raised on hardwood stilts, sometimes large river stones are used instead. Though the window is small, the translucent quality of bamboo allows enough light to get inside the house.

Photo behind the Tambunan traditional house

The double pitched roof made entirely of interlocking bamboo shingles is the main characteristic of Tambunan bamboo house [5]

The beauty of this house is it was first constructed without using any nail. The wood, bamboo and poles are lashed together with rattan strips. However, after the ongoing maintenance, some nails are added to the structure.

Explore inside the Tambunan house

Sirang is main part of the house, where residents eat and entertain the guests

This is a 100% wooden house, and most of the floor and wall are made of bamboo. There were many taboos in house building. For example, bamboo should not be taken during the time of full moon, and it’s bad luck to orientate the house entrance to the path of the setting sun, which is associated with death.

Chamber for young girls

The top is where the girls sleep, or is used as a storeroom (dumpang)

For safety reason, young girls overnight in an attic (Linimput), a small platform built above the house’s main cross-lintel, and parents would remove the ladder that accesses their room. The rattan knots that bind the wood together are already an art. I wonder how many people can tie these knots nowadays.

Wood and poles bind by rattan ropes

Wood tied by rattan. Note how they join two poles together in photo at the left.

Sunsuron is awesome huh? Currently, there are 18 families participated in Sunsuron Homestay (Muslim host available). The standard rate of accommodation (with 2 meals) in homestay is RM85 per day (≈US$21/day). You can request your host to organize more activities (additional fees applied) such as visiting Mahua Waterfall, Mt. Trus Madi, Mt. Wakid, Batu Gong Rock and Rafflesia Information Center, biking, birding, fishing and hiking.

The following is the contact of Sunsuron Homestay. You are advised to book the tour earlier instead of walking in:
Facebook: ValleyOfSwitzerland
E-mail: sunsuronstay@yahoo.com
Sunsuron Homestay’s Coordinator: Ms Bibiana P. Gatulik (Cellphone: +60 14-6792148)

References

  1. Definition by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
  2. Source: Bamboo Planting in Tambunan, by Rahim Sulaiman
  3. For further reading: Head-hunting and the Magang Ceremony in Sabah, by Peter R. Phelan, published by Natural History Publications (Borneo), ISBN-13: 978-9839638158
  4. See Traditional stone and wood monuments of Sabah, by Peter R. Phelan, ISBN-13: 978-9839722031
  5. More Info: The Tambunan Bamboo House in Local and national History, by Richard Nelson Sokial, Vol 23 – The Sabah Society Journal – (2006)

Photos taken in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Result: Unduk Ngadau 2016 (Miss Harvest Festival, Sabah)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

A new queen was born on 31 May 2016, after 44 contestants from different Sabah and Malaysia districts competed for the State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2016* title (Miss Harvest Festival of Sabah), which marks the end of month-long Kaamatan celebration (Harvest Festival). The photos below are clickable to zoom in.

Group photo of Top 7 Winners of Unduk Ngadau 2016. From left to right: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley), Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong), Claryssa Henry (Kudat), Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi), Christine Joan Charles (Papar), Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

Top 7 Winners of Unduk Ngadau 2016. From left to right: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley), Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong), Claryssa Henry (Kudat), Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi), Christine Joan Charles (Papar), Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

Result: Unduk Ngadau 2016

The following is the result:
Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)
1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)
2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)
3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)
4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)
5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley)
6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

Unduk Ngadau Beauty Pageant has been around since 1940s, but it only becomes an official annual competition in 1960. It is the highlight of the Kaamatan, and in the video below, you can see the crowd went crazy when the top 7 finalists were “unveiled”.

Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)

Sherry is simply gorgeous. Her skin is so “radiant” that it almost makes my photos overexposed, no kidding. She has the look of a queen. However, she was extremely nervous during the contest. Her elder sister, Samantha Sharon C.E. Launjang, is the 4th runner-up of State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2012.

Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)

Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)

Most guys would agree with me that many beautiful Kadazan sumandak (girls) are concentrated in Penampang area. Out of 56 State-Level Unduk Ngadau contests in the past, Penampang won the title 25 times (now 26)!

Sherry Ann Laujang in traditional Kadazan costume

Sherry Ann Laujang in traditional Kadazan costume

Sherry is 21-year-old, and she is from Kampung Ramayah. She is a Kadazandusun with 25% British blood (her great-grandfather was a Briton), and she just earned her accounting diploma from UiTM Sabah.

Sherry Ann Laujang in evening gown

Sherry Ann Laujang in evening gown

1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)

Claryssa was the strongest rival of Sherry. Her name was heard everywhere in the beginning, and she has a lot of supporters.

1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)

1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)

Claryssa Henry in traditional Rungus costume

Claryssa Henry was wearing a traditional Rungus costume called sukolop. Many people didn’t think that it’s a good idea because sukolop is a thinner clothing Rungus women wear at home and farm, and too simple for formal events. She proceeded anyway to create more awareness about this dress.

After the competition, there is a hot debate which says Kudat should have won the first place, because most people think Claryssa was doing better than Sherry in Q&A session.

Claryssa Henry in evening gown

Claryssa Henry in evening gown

I don’t understand Kadazandusun language, so I don’t know who is right. Anyway, the judges had mentioned that 40% of the score is based on beauty, 30% on traditional costume, 20% on presentation and 10% on attitude.

Therefore, Q&A is not the sole factor for winning, though it’s important. No matter what, hopefully everyone will stop quarrelling about this during festive time. Both of them are fabulous girls.

2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

Fenny Ester Joslin in traditional Rungus costume

Fenny Ester Joslin in a traditional Rungus costume called tapi

Fenny Ester Joslin in evening gown

Fenny Ester Joslin in evening gown

3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Vinny is my favorite candidate actually. She is picture perfect. She will definitely win the Miss Photogenic title if there is one. She is awarded the subsidiary title of Miss Natural Beauty.

3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Vinny Alvionitta Sasising in traditional Rungus costume

Vinny Alvionitta Sasising in traditional Rungus costume

4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

Whenever Christine showed up, the people went gaga, and their scream almost broke my eardrums. There must be something special about her. Can anyone tell me please?

4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

She is also the winner of Miss Conservation WWF Subsidiary Title. She will be attached to Sabah WWF to raise awareness on the conservation and wildlife issues from 1 Jun 2016 to 31 May 2017.

Christine Joan Charles in traditional Kadazan Papar costume

Christine Joan Charles in traditional Kadazan Papar costume

5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley)

Besides contestants from Sabah, we also have participants from Klang Valley, Labuan and Johor.

5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley). She is wearing traditional Dusun Tindal costume

5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley). She is wearing traditional Dusun Tindal costume

Patriciaelsa Jimy in evening gown

Patriciaelsa Jimy in evening gown

6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

The Crowning

As there are over 40 Unduk Ngadau, so the competition took a long time and finished at 7:40pm.

Ryannie Neils Yong, the Reigning Queen (Unduk Ngadau 2015)

Ryannie Neils Yong, the Reigning Queen (Unduk Ngadau 2015), came to say Hi Hi and Bye Bye. You know the drill.

In first round, 15 contestants were selected, then shortlisted to top 7 in second round, and at last the Q&A round to decide the winners.

The moment of the final announcement

The moment of the final announcement

The Rungus ladies from northern district rocked the stage this year, when contestants from Kudat, Banggi and Matunggong won 1st, 2nd and 3rd runner-up (plus Miss Natural Beauty) respectively. Besides, Unduk Ngadau of Pitas also won the Most Creative Evening Gown (with Rungus motif as theme).

Yay! A new queen is born!

Yay! A new queen is born!

Kudat district is used to be famous for three things, i.e. longhouse, coconut and peanut. Now I guess it is famous for pretty girls too lol.

Crowning of Unduk Ngadau 2016

Crowning of Unduk Ngadau 2016

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang) is named the State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2016

Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang) is named the State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2016

Subsidiary Titles

There are three Subsidiary Titles being awarded during Sodop Unduk Ngadau Charity Dinner on 29 May 2016. Below is the result:
Miss Conservation WWF: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)
Miss Friendly (Tati Tosuau): Dorizah Noh Tongod (Tongod) (Can I add her in Facebook?)
Miss Natural Beauty (Tati Topiodo): Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Unduk Ngadau Charity Dinner on 29 May 2016

Unduk Ngadau Charity Dinner on 29 May 2016

Winners of Subsidiary Titles

Winners of Subsidiary Titles

Miss Natural Beauty: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Miss Natural Beauty (Tati Topiodo): Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Miss Conservation: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

Miss Conservation WWF: Christine Joan Charles (Papar). Ok, please scream.

Miss Friendship: Dorizah Noh Tongod (Tongod)

Miss Friendly (Tati Tosuau): Dorizah Noh Tongod (Tongod)

Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown

That evening every Unduk Ngadau was wearing evening gown designed with Sabah ethnic theme. Top 7 best designs were selected, and the dress (designed by Petrus Boyd Pensin) of Treacy Chee from Pitas won the Most Creative Evening Gown award.

Most Creative Evening Gown by Treacy Chee from Pitas

Most Creative Evening Gown designed by Petrus Boyd Pensin, and presented by Treacy Chee from Pitas

This colorful theme is inspired by Rungus motif. I saw patterns that symbolize flower, lizard and people.

Most Creative Evening Gown by Treacy Chee from Pitas

Most Creative Evening Gown presented by Treacy Chee from Pitas

This gala night is a good time to see the youthful side of Unduk Ngadau. You can check out my Facebook album for more photos.

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Hyellene Danius, Unduk Ngadau of Tuaran )

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Hyellene Danius, Unduk Ngadau of Tuaran )

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Sharon Joseph, Unduk Ngadau of Libaran)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Sharon Joseph, Unduk Ngadau of Libaran)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Norfainie Binti Diwalang, Unduk Ngadau of Pagalungan)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Norfainie Binti Diwalang, Unduk Ngadau of Pagalungan)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Muntel Binti Santangan, Unduk Ngadau of Lahad Datu)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Muntel Binti Santangan, Unduk Ngadau of Lahad Datu)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Laura Simon, Unduk Ngadau of Likas)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Laura Simon, Unduk Ngadau of Likas)

Congratulations to all the Winners!

Bare feet beauty pageant

Bare feet beauty pageant

You may notice this beauty pageant is very different. First, everyone is on bare feet. Second, “Gong Hair” is the standard hairstyle for the contestants. If you like their hair, watch the video by Beverley Shim to make one:

In fact, Unduk Ngadau Contest is a tradition to commemorate Huminodun, a maiden who sacrificed herself to save the starving people. You can read the very interesting and informative article titled Not just a beauty pageant, written by Melissa Leong, to understand the true meaning of this event.

“Kaamatan without Unduk Ngadau is not kaamatan. It will be like a song without rhythm.” -Joanna Kitingan (Chairperson of Sabah state-level Unduk Ngadau)

*”Unduk” literally means the shoot of a plant, signifying youth and progressiveness, and “Ngadau” means sun, connoting the beauty of the heart, mind and body of an ideal Kadazan­dusun woman.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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