Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sandakan History

During the early 1870s, the east coast of Sabah was under control of the Sultan of Sulu, who also ruled what is now the southern Philippines. The first European settlement in the area was founded by William Clarke Cowie, a Scottish gun smuggler from Glasgow, who received permission from the Sultan to establish a small trading base. Cowie called his settlement Sandakan, which in Tausug (Sulu) means "the place that was pawned", but it soon came to be known as "Kampung German" after the large number of Germans who also set up posts there. The settlement was part of the lease Austro-Hungarian consul Baron von Overbeck acquired from the Sultan of Sulu in 1878. After the lease was purchased by von Overbeck's British partner Alfred Dent, Kampong German was accidentally razed to the ground on 15 June 1879. The new British Resident, William Burges Pryer, decided not to rebuild the village but to move to (what is now called) Buli Sim Sim on 21 June 1879[1]. He named his new settlement Elopura, which means Beautiful City. A few years later, the name reverted back to Sandakan. The name Elopura still refers to a region of Sandakan.

In 1883, the capital of the British North Borneo Company was moved from Kudat to Sandakan. In the mid-1930s, Sandakan's timber export reached the record figure of 180,000 cubic meters, making it the largest timber-exporting port of tropical wood in the world. At the height of the timber boom, Sandakan boasted that it had the highest concentration of millionaires anywhere on Earth.

The Japanese occupation of Sandakan during World War II began on 19 January 1942 and lasted until a brigade of the Australian 9th Division liberated it on 19 October 1945. The Japanese administration restored the name Elopura for the town. One of the atrocities of World War II was the Sandakan Death Marches, when Japanese soldiers decided to move about 2,400 prisoners of war in Sandakan 260 km (160 miles) inland to the town of Ranau. The prisoners who did not die en route to Ranau were crammed into unsanitary huts; most of those survivors either died from dysentery or were killed by prison guards. When the war ended, Sandakan was totally destroyed, partly from the Allied bombings and partly by the Japanese. As a result, when North Borneo became a British Crown Colony in 1946, the capital was shifted to Jesselton, now known as Kota Kinabalu, (often just called 'KK' locally).

Sandakan remains Sabah's second most important port, after Kota Kinabalu. The port is important for palm oil, tobacco, cocoa, coffee, manila hemp and sago exports. Sandakan is also one of the most bustling towns in East Malaysia. The once dominant timber industry is now relatively small. It is likely tourism will become increasingly important to the town's future.
Sandakan Town Centre

In recent years, businesses have shifted their operations away from the town centre to the suburbs due to the presence of illegal immigrants in the town centre. In January 2003, the Sandakan Harbour Square, an urban renewal project, was launched in an attempt to revive the town centre as the commercial hub in Sandakan. It will feature a new central market and fish market, a shopping mall, and hotels. It is to be built in three separate phases and is due for completion in 2010.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The people of Sabah

Many of these traditional costumes are of black material, and one of the reasons for using such a sombre color is that in the past, the people could rely on a few types of vegetables and plants from which to extract dye to color the cloth. If they needed to add color to the black, beads of red, orange, white and green were sewn on.

Traditional costumes also included antique bead necklaces and belts, antique hand-engraved silver jewellery, and belts of old silver dollar coins. Most of these accessories have been handed down from generation to generation. All are very valuable and priceless.

The Kadazandusun

This is the largest ethnic category in Sabah and is predominantly wet rice and hill rice cultivators. Their language belongs to the Dusunic family and shares a common animistic belief system with various customs and practices. Their ancient beliefs on the verity that everything has life - the rocks, trees, and rivers are all living things.

They have souls and spirits that must be appeased from time to time through specific rituals. In these modern times, some of the rituals are less performed accept during certain festivities.

Customs & Beliefs

Pesta Kaamatan or Harvest Festival is a unique celebration of Kadazandusun society. It's a celebration to honour the Rice Spirit - Bambaazon or Bambarayon and giving thanks for yet another bountiful year. The festival begins on the first of May at many district levels. The rites and customs of the Pesta Kaamatan is a tribal practice of Kadazandusun and also Murut peoples. The Bobohizan or Bobolian who are the High Priests or Priestesses (depending on the district/area undertaking the preservation) will conduct the ritual. In different districts, the priests or priestesses may be addressed to differently, for instance in Tambunan district they are known as Bobolian, in Tuaran as Tantagas and in Penampang as Bobohizan.

It is believed that rice in whatever form embodies Bambaazon that must be protected from harm. The homecoming of Babaazon is an integral part of the Harvest Festival. Ancient folklore tells of the ultimate deed of Kinoingan or Minamagun - The Almighty God or Creator, who sacrificed his only beloved daughter, Huminodun so that his people would have food. Various parts of her body were planted from which plants grew. During the Magavau ceremony, the Bobohizan will select some stalks of rice that are left undistributed until the harvest is over. In some districts, the chosen stalks are cut before the field is harvested and are then brought into the owner's house. The task of Bobohizan is to search and salvage the lost Bambaazon who are hurt or separated from the main mystical body. In the old days, this ceremony was often performed in freshly harvested fields during the first full moon after the harvest to invoke the rice spirit.

The language used by Bobohizan is archaic whose meanings have been buried in time and known only to the few remaining Bobohizan these days. The vital aspect of Magavau is the paraphernalia used to summon Bambaazon. The sacrament of Magavau may vary according to district practices but the ceremony always ends with food offerings to Bambaazon and merry making for the village folks.

The highlight of Pesta Kaamatan is the selection of the pageant queen or "Unduk Ngadau" which can be literally translated as "Zenith of the Sun". It conceptually derives from the sacrifice of Huminodun. The maiden who has the honour of being selected should bear semblance to Huminodun and will represent all that is virtuous in the revered Huminodun.

The Murut

Being one of the largest indigenous groups in Sabah, Murut comprise of subgroups such as Baukan, Gana', Kalabakan, Okolod, Paluan, Sulangai, Serudung, Tagal, Timugon and the Beaufort and Keningau Murut. Literally "Murut" means "hill people". They inhibit the interior and southeastern parts of Sabah and the territory straddling the Kalimantan and Sarawak borders. They are mostly shifting cultivators and hunters with some riverine fishing. Those of Murut origin speak 15 languages and 21 dialects. The language commonly used and understood by the large majority is Tanggal. Their language is also related to the Kadazandusun languages.

Once feared as fearless headhunters and longhouse dwellers, the Murut these days have abandoned much of their age-old traditions especially headhunting. They are also very skilled in hunting with blowpipe.

Customs & Beliefs

In the by-gone era, collecting heads of enemies served a very precise function in Murut society. A man can only get married after he has presented at least one head that he has hunted to the family of the desired girl. Heads also play a very important role in spiritual beliefs.

The essence of Murut tradition of feasts is distinctive. No merrymaking will end at least until sunrise and can last up to seven days later. This is especially the case with weddings or funerals. Through modernization, no more heads must be furnished for weddings but jars along with cloth, beads, gold and ivory bracelets have taken its place. All these dowry items will be proudly displayed at the ceremony. Jars or "sampa" holds a prominent status in their customs. The Murut know the age of sampa and treat them will due respect. Jars are also a place of spirits. Beads play an integral role in Murut life. Wedding beads must be presented in the form of belts, necklaces, headgear and decoration. The wedding ceremony must be held in the bride's longhouse, tapai or rice wine must be served and all the meat has to be pickled.

The Murut keep the bodies of their deceased in a jar and place them in colourful and elaborately decorated grave-huts along with the deceased's belongings. The body will be placed in the foetal position inside the jar and a gong will be placed over the mouth of the jar to close it. However this custom of burial is becoming rare with the availability of wooden coffins.

The Rungus

The Rungus living in the Kudat district are known to have maintained their ancient traditions to this day. Even the traditional ladies costume has not many changes made to it. Some of the women still wear costumes made from cloth processed form hand-grown and hand-spun cotton.

The design of the Rungus costume is simple. A black cloth with little hand-stitched patterns worn from the chest to the waist becomes the blouse ( banat tondu ) and the skirt is a knee-length sarong (tapi rinugading) of the same material. Another length of black cloth, about 28-30 cms. Wide is slipped over the head and it rests on the shoulders draped over the arms like sleeves.

What makes this outfit very interesting is the belts and necklaces that go with it. Little brass rings and antique beads looped through thin strands of stripped bark ( togung ) becomes a wide and colourful hipband called orot. To wear this, the orot is slowly and carefully coiled around the hip. Then a last string of beads ( lobokon ) is hung loosely from the coil. The orot is hand made by the Rungus men as the technique is known only to them.

The Rungus are also well-known for their beadwork and the costume shows off some of their finest. Two shoulders bands ( pinakol ), about 6 to 8 cms wide are aworn diagonally over each shoulder and cross over in front. The bead-work often tell a story and this one in particular tells of a man going spear-hunting for a riverine creature. Usually the pattern must follow ancient designs when worn with this costume.

Long antique bed necklace ( sandang ) are also worn diagonally over the shoulders. These necklaces often include ivory-white discs, obtained from the shell of the kima ( tridachna gigas ) as well as animal bones.

Several necklaces of reddish-brown glass beads and the chocker-like suldau with the white kima as the centre-piece further adorn this costume. The large burambun and the smaller giring are antique brass bells that sound with the slightest movement.

The Rungus lady's hair is combed into a bun and a multi-coloured floral head-piece ( titimbok ) is worn. A thin band of beads strung together ( sisingal ) is tied around the forehead and then pieces of cloth sewn together in rows to form colorful pigtails ( rampai ) are tided at the nape.

This costume, with all the beads and belts, is worn during festivals. Rungus ritual specialist also wear the complete outfit when conducting rituals.

The Bajau

With around 32 indigenous groups in Sabah, one can expect to see tribal dresses of various styles. Most of these have retained much of their original design and color.

The Kota Belud Bajau Horseman are the famous Cowboys of the East. During special occasions, the Bajau Horseman wears a black, sometimes white, long-sleeved shirt called badu sampit . Smart, gold buttons betawi run down the front opening and the shirt is also decorated with silver flowers called intiras .

The trousers are more tight-fitting than the bajau bridegroom's seluar sama . The horseman's seluar sampit is balck, and both the shirt and trousers have gold lace trimmings sewn on. He also wears a headpiece podong similar to the Bajau bridegroom's.

The Bajau horseman wears a silver-hilted dagger karis at his side. The sheath is made of wood and silver. He also carries a spear bujak and a shipping crop pasut .

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Bajau horseman is his horse, or rather pony. It has its own costume and is more gaily dressed than the rider. The ourfit kain kuda almost completely covers the pony except for holes for the eyes and nose. This cloth is tied around the pony's legs to keep it in place.

The saddle sila-sila is not like the cowboy saddles of the West but rather a smaller piece of buffalo hide so shaped to fit the pony's back. A thick piece of cloth lapik is placed under the sila-sila .

Antique brass bells seriau , colourful reins tingalu and bridle kakang all make for a very festive pony costume. In all their finery, both ride and pony become quite an attraction.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sabah Festival

Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival)

Unduk Ngadau'

The Tadau Kaamatan or Harvest Festival in Malaysia kicks off in May. Held for two days only, the festival offers a brief glimpse into the arts and culture of Sabah. Celebrated by Sabah’s largest ethnic group, the festival begins with the high priestess of the Kadazan Dusun tribe offering heartiest thanks to the spirit of paddy.

The Tadau Kaamatan festival in Malaysia is the time when people get to taste the authentic cuisine of Sabah. A wide variety of foods with lip smacking taste, the rice wine or tuak form a major part of the festival. Recreational activities such as buffalo racing and other sports, the local dance all are part of these festivities.

Another popular aspect of the festival is the crowning of the 'Unduk Ngadau' or Harvest Queen which is carried out amongst much pampering and ceremony.

or Harvest Queen

Traditional Cuisine

The peoples of Sabah are blessed with an abundance of seafood, their rivers providing freshwater fish and prawn, with deer, wild board and other game, plus innumerable wild plants, herbs and luscious fruits there for the taking in the forest. The traditional foods of Sabah’s more than thirty ethnic groups vary, and depend on available resources. Naturally, the diet of coastal peoples was- and still is- dominated by all types of seafood, while those living far inland relied on freshwater fish and wild game. Although both hill rice and padi ( rice planted in irrigated fields ) have been grown in Sabah for generations, this is not always the staple food, and in the far north, corn and cassava ( tapioca ) are often eaten. In many swampy areas, the wild sago palm flourishes. Just how long ago man discovered that it was possible to extract starch from the grated interior of the sago tree is unknown, but the pre- western name for all of Borneo, Kalimantan, comes from the word ‘lamanta’, meaning sago starch. The Bisaya people of the klias Peninsula, near Brunei, still make a gluey ‘porridge’ with sago starch, ‘ambuyat’, using a pair of chopsticks cut from the rib of the palm to twirl it up into a sticky mass for dunking in a tasty sauce.

The Muruts or ‘Hill People’ living in Sabah’s interior make a substance similar to ambuyat, grating and washing the starch out of tapioca roots rather than the sago palm. Both boiled tapioca and sago starch are enjoyed on occasion by various Kadazan Dusun peoples, although rice- particularly hill rice grown on the slopes of the Crocker Range- remains the number one favourite.

In the days before refrigeration and packaged foodstuffs, the peoples of the interior developed ways of preserving game, fish and various wild roots and leaves. Cleverly utilizing the preservative ability of a number of fruits and seeds, together with salt, the Kadazan Dusun and the Muruts created many types of pickles and preserves.

The Muruts are famous for their jaruk, made by packing chunks of uncooked wild boar or river fish into a wide bamboo tube together with salt and cooked rice. The bamboo is stoppered with leaves and the contents left to ferment for several weeks or even months, finally being eaten in small portions with rice or tapioca starch.

TuhauThere are a number of ‘fresh’ pickles where lime juice is the curing agent, and which can be eaten immediately or stored for a few days. Most famous of these is the Kadazan Dusun hinava tongii or pickled Spanish mackerel (ikan tenggiri). This is an absolutely delicious combination of spanking fresh fish, red chillies, shredded ginger and sliced shallots, the whole lot drenched with lime juice which 'cooks’ the fish. The secret ingredient of this dish is the grated seed of a variety of mango found only in Sabah, The bambangan.

An unusual hinava is made from a ginger- like plant known as tuhau. The pounded lower stem of the tuhau is mixed with limejuice, onions and chillies, with the optional additional of dried shrimp paste to make a wonderfully fragrant, slightly astringent pickle redolent of the jungle.

Another unique flavour is found in the bambangan, type of wild mango with brown skin and a somewhat pungent smell. This is not eaten fresh as a fruit, but made into a pickle or cooked with fish for a distinctive flavour. Such is the love of Kadazan Dusun peoples for a sour tang to their food that a number of fruits are used to provide this accent. Apart from limes and the pungent sour bambangan, the small carambola or belimbing assam, unripe mangoes, and the skin of a small wild red fruit which dries to a brown colour (takob-bakob) are flavored for an acidic touch to dishes.

les of Sabah are blessed with an abundance of seafood, their rivers providing freshwater fish and prawn, with deer, wild board and other game, plus innumerable wild plants, herbs and luscious fruits there for the taking in the forest. The traditional foods of Sabah’s more than thirty ethnic groups vary, and depend on available resources. Naturally, the diet of coastal peoples was- and still is- dominated by all types of seafood, while those living far inland relied on freshwater fish and wild game. Although both hill rice and padi ( rice planted in irrigated fields ) have been grown in Sabah for generations, this is not always the staple food, and in the far north, corn and cassava ( tapioca ) are often eaten. In many swampy areas, the wild sago palm flourishes. Just how long ago man discovered that it was possible to extract starch from the grated interior of the sago tree is unknown, but the pre- western name for all of Borneo, Kalimantan, comes from the word ‘lamanta’, meaning sago starch. The Bisaya people of the klias Peninsula, near Brunei, still make a gluey ‘porridge’ with sago starch, ‘ambuyat’, using a pair of chopsticks cut from the rib of the palm to twirl it up into a sticky mass for dunking in a tasty sauce.

Cooks from inland Sabah also add flavour to various simmered foods with dried shrimp paste, dried prawn, tiny dried fish (ikan bilis), ginger, chillies, fresh turmeric root and its fragrant leaves, and fresh galingale or lengkuas root. In the days before cultivated vegetables were widely available in local markets, and even today in more remote regions, Sabahans made used of an enormous number of wild plants, including the tips of wild ferns. The tender interior of various types of palm, as well as tubers such as cassava (tapioca), yams and sweet potato are all eaten.

Sayur ManisOne of the most popular leafy vegetables is sayur manis, which grows wild in many parts of Southeast Asia. It was in the Sabah town of Lahad Datu that a vegetable grower accidentally discovered a way to make the sayur manis grow so that the stems were deliciously crunchy rather than inedibly woody, and the leaves meltingly tender. As a result, the refined version of this vegetable is known in Sabah as Lahad Datu sayur manis.

A huge vegetable- growing area on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu produces a wide range of superb temperate climate vegetables, including asparagus and sweet green pea pods. The fresh brown mushroom, usually known by its Japanese name, shiitake, is also grown in Sabah, along with oyster and abalone mushrooms.

All of Sabah’s non- Muslim groups make various types of rice wine from steamed glutinous rice and dried yeast. Perhaps the most delicious of all is lihing, a golden brew is believed to be particularly good as pick-me-up for mothers after childbirth, although you don’t need this type of excuse to enjoy the Kadazan favourite, chicken soup with rice wine and fresh ginger.

Karuk The arrival of Muslim groups from what is now the southern Philippines over the past couple of centuries has influenced the food found along Sabah’s coast. As one might expect, the food of these peoples is dominated by the enormous variety of seafood available. All kinds of fish, including sharks and stingray, squid, prawn, lobster, crabs, oysters and many other edible shells found in the estuaries make the question of what to cook today easily answered.

The food of Sabah’s coastal Muslim is similar to Malay cuisine, and although dry spices are rarely used, chillies, and plenty of fragrant roots and leaves more than make up for their absence. Food is often wrapped in banana leaf after a liberal coating of pounded ingredients and a soak in sour tamarind liquid- and barbecued over a fire.

Cooks on Sabah’s east coast often find an edible seaweed, which resembles bunches of minute green grapes, in their markets, although it is rare on the west coast. This seaweed is eaten raw, combined with shredded ginger, chopped tomato and a dash of limejuice or coconut vinegar for a gourmet treat.

All the favourite tropical fruits are found in Sabah, which also has a number of specials found nowhere else. There are at least 14 varieties of local mango, including the popular bambangan. Another unique wild fruit is the tarap, about the sized of breadfruit (sukun) with a brownish-green skin. This breaks open to reveal clusters of sweet flesh clinging to shiny black seeds. The flavour is vaguely reminiscent of ripe jackfruit, but somewhat more astringent.

Durian The ‘king of fruits’, the durian, flourishes in Sabah, which has 15 wild varieties. One unique variety has red flesh, and lacks the distinctive fragrance of the durian. This red durian is – sacrilege to durian lovers elsewhere- fried with onions and chilli and served as a side dish or sambal.

Another fruit found in Sabah is the yellow-skinned passion fruit, packed full of tiny black seeds swimming in a very fragrant, slightly sharp juice. Known in Sabah by its Indonesian name, markisa, this fruit is usually made into juice sold in bottles or packets.

Most traditional Sabahan food is today available in private homes or at festival, although visitors may be lucky to find certain dishes at market stalls or small stalls within a coffee shop or simple restaurant. Hotel buffets often serve the popular Kadazan raw fish or hinava. Sabah has such an exciting variety of both people and produce that the food lover can be sure of delicious new experience, just one of the many charms of this “Land Below the wind”.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This place where I live, Sandakan...

Sandakan is located on the eastern seaboard of Sabah; it is a city which is steeped in history. Its character is shaped by the hinterland that embodies Sabah’s rich and diverse biodiversity in all its glory. Sandakan has a mixture of people, lifestyles, cultures, and faiths.

It’s a microcosm of modern day Sabah. With little more than an hour’s journey outside this bustling port city, visitors will discover forest reserves rich in wildlife such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, brilliantly hued birds, crocodiles and elephants.

Offshore from the city are the famous Turtle Islands where visitors are able to view rare endangered marine turtles, or scuba dive to indulge in the beauty of the underwater world.

Just nearby, visitors can explore the fascinating jungle-clad limestone outcrops with numerous caves from which birds’ nests have been collected for centuries.

Getting There
From Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan is accessible both via air and land transportations.

AirAsia and MAS flights to Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu are available at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminals 1&2. Flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan takes approximately 40 minutes.

Transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan is also available via air-conditioned coach and cozy air-conditioned mini bus. Journey on land lasts circa 8 hours.

Beautiful Places In Sabah

they are a lot of beautiful places in sabah.

Sipadan island

Mount Kinabalu

Orchids in Sabah

Please visit to Sabah and see the colourful of Sabah.