Tomb of the Tallest Man: Gambaliu

Listening to the legend of Gambaliu
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The tallest man in Guinness World Records is Robert Pershing Wadlow, who is 2.72 Metres (8 feet 11.1 inches) tall. However, he would look like a Barbie doll to Gambaliu, a giant man who is 24 feet in height. Gambaliu is even taller than a giraffe (20 feet). Who is Gambaliu? Is he a monster that eats children, or a gentle giant that rescues kitten stuck on a tree (and eat it)?

Comparing the height of Gambaliu with others

Comparing the height of Gambaliu with others

Ok, no need to get too concern. Gambaliu is only a fictional character in Sabah legend. If he really exists, NBA would had made him a superstar basketball player.

Signage to the tombs of Gambaliu and Sigunting

Signage to the tombs of Gambaliu and Sigunting in Serinsim Park. Makam means grave

Today only his tomb is left, in an unexpected place, not in Frankenstein lab but inside Serinsim Park in Kota Marudu, about 130 KM away from Kota Kinabalu City.

Ready to visit the tombs of Gambaliu and Sigunting

Ready to visit the tombs of Gambaliu and Sigunting

Walking to the tombs of Gambaliu and Sigunting

Walking to the tombs of Gambaliu and Sigunting

To visit his grave, you need to walk 1.5 KM in the rainforest of Serinsim Park. The trail is not very challenging. It’s only a bit warm and humid, and a few leeches would present during wet season.

A junction on the way to the tomb of Gambaliu

A junction on the way to the tomb of Gambaliu. Just follow the direction to Makam Sigunting

Crossing the flooded ground

Crossing the flooded ground

According to Mr. Tambakau Bin Tunggal, presumably an elder from Kampung Serinsim Village, Gambaliu lived there about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

Listening to the legend of Gambaliu

Listening to the legend of Gambaliu

His body was so long that after he died, the people cut his body into half at knees, to make it easier to dig the grave. What this story tells me is that his people are lazy.

signage: Gambaliu is the tallest man

Gambaliu is the tallest man in Sabah legend

What left now is a grave encircled by rings of stones, there is no tombstone and marker.

The grave of Gambaliu

The grave of Gambaliu is about 2,000 to 3,000 years old

If I have a chance to talk to Gambaliu, I would like to ask him what to eat to grow tall, as every woman wants to date a tall guy. Even a 150cm girl prefers a 200cm boyfriend, so short guy like me has no market.

Tomb of Gambaliu the tallest man

Tomb of Gambaliu the tallest man

I wish to tell you more about Gambaliu, but that’s all I heard. The tomb has nothing exciting, unless they allow me to dig out the bones of Gambaliu.

Other Giants in Sabah Legend

Anyway, giant is quite common in Sabah legend. I list a few examples below, and each of them has different personality. From the description in stories, some could be taller than Gambaliu.

1. Gayo Nakan

In Kadazandusun folklore, there is a giant king named Gayo Nakan (Big Eater). His people were sick of satisfying his huge appetite. Hearing the complaint, Gayo Nakan decided to sacrifice himself by asking his people to bury him on top of Mt. Kinabalu. However, he cursed the people that they would face drought and famine for lack of caring.

2. Upai Semaring

Based on Lundayeh legend, Upai Semaring was a respectable giant who is a skillful hunter and fisherman. He also possess magical power to vanish himself. Today you still can see his huge footprint near Maga Falls in Long Pasia. He even used his forefinger to carve a rock (named Batu Narit) next to Matang River.

3. The Giant of Kinoringan

When villagers broke their promise, the outraged Kinoringan (God in Dusun’s belief) turned a baby into an one-eyed man-eater giant with teeth as big as elephant tusks. This giant can only be killed by seven arrows shot into its eye.

4. Bajau (or Lumanjau)

In Tambunan once lived a helpful and friendly giant called Bajau. He is so strong that he can carry a 10-feet-high stone under his arm, and he is so big that when he crossed the river, the villagers would follow behind to pick up the dead fishes trodden by him. He is also a hero who defends his village from invaders.

Graveyard of Sigunting

About 300 Metres away from the tomb of Gambaliu is the grave of Sigunting, a great man who challenged the imperialism. His story is real and recorded in history book.

tomb of Sigunting

Sigunting was born in 1859 and passed away in 1905

Tomb of Sigunting in Serinsim Park

Tomb of Sigunting is located inside Serinsim Park

Sigunting is a Dusun warrior born in Mumus (Serinsim) in 1859. When he was 35 years old, he led a 7-year guerrilla warfare against the British colonial government between 1894 and 1901 named Perang Sigunting.

tomb of Sigunting

Sigunting is a Dusun hero born in Serinsim

Biodata of Sigunting (in Malay language)

Biodata of Sigunting (in Malay language)

He destroyed the police station in Kg. Serinsim village. However, British force failed to annihilate Sigunting and his followers. Probably Serinsim Park is too beautiful, so the soldiers forgot their duty and went picnic and swimming.

Grave of Sigunting

Grave of Sigunting

Finally, both parties signed a peace treaty to end the fight, so everyone could go picnic and swimming. Sigunting might be the only Sabah hero who survives the baptism of fire by British force.

dragon on ceramic jar

The dragon on ceramic jar indicates that the jar is from China

In case you wonder why there is jar in his grave. It’s because in old day, Kadazan and Dusun people buried the deceased in a jar (usually ceramic jars from China). The corpse was first placed in big jar, after the body decomposed, the bones would be moved to smaller jar, and big jar will be recycled as it’s precious commodity in those days. I’m not sure if they had transferred the bones of Sigunting under the cement grave.

Fragments of ceramic jar in Sigunting grave

Fragments of ceramic jar in Sigunting grave

I admire Sigunting because he stood up against paying tax. Seeing that our lives are getting poorer and harder because of GST and various other taxes, I only can sigh (and wait for the next election).

Photos taken in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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