A brief sojourn at Kg. Sunsuron, Tambunan

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Joye (2nd left) with Bibiana (right) with fellow homestay participants

Kampung Sunsuron Homestay is one of the best places to stay when visiting Tambunan. The people are friendly and gracious. The atmosphere in the village is cool and refreshing. The homes are tidy and neat.

The bamboo house and the stone shield

For the uninitiated; homestay is always recommended for guests who wish to live with local hosts or families during their stay in another country. Those who do this are usually those who wish to know more about the people in the host country.

Homestays usually require people to live with the participants, that is to say, complete interaction with the family; eating and at times preparing food together, and going with them on their daily task which can include farm work among others.

For visitors to Sabah, who wish to experience the homestay, they can choose to live with any of the various ethnic groups in the State. Those who wish to sample the village life in Tambunan, the home of the Native Paramount Leader, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Sunsuron Homestay is highly recommended.

The living situation there might not reflect too much of the people’s way of living as they are now living in concrete houses, but their way of life is the same. This is where visitors can savour rural lifestyle and sample traditional food.

Spokesperson for the Sunsuron Homestay Programme, Joye Juhile Ebit shared that there are 10 participating houses in the village.

Although there are thousands of residents there not all are involved in the programme, he said, adding that in time they might get interested and join in the group.

Mat Salleh monument

Sited six kilometres from the town centre, the village can accommodate about 70 people at any one time.

Besides the fresh air and the friendly people as well as their interesting lifestyle and food, guests can also go sightseeing around Tambunan. There are several interesting sites to visit. These sites are of tremendous importance to the people there where history is concerned. Guests will be able to know a little bit of local history.

There is the Mat Salleh monument dedicated to the rebel who fought against the British in 1894 until his death in Tambunan in 1900. Information about this part of history can be viewed at the Museum.

There is the traditional bamboo house believed to be over 100 years old in a small village around the area. It is made entirely of split bamboo and was initially built without using nails. The frame was tied together with tough rattan. In front of this old house is  the ‘watu tinuridong’ (shield stone) .

This shield stone was once very high and wide, shared Sunsuron Homestay Programme, Chairperson Bibiana Peter Gatulik and managed to shield hundreds of men, women and children during a war.

Time and silting has taken its toll on the stone and only the top part is now seen from the ground. Be as it may, it is still an impressive monolith.

There is even a pair of stones at her house, which look like a pair of fossilised turtles. She said her father acquired it from Beluran a long time ago. It was a curiosity for her father who brought it home.

Fossilised turtles

According to her father, some people wanted to buy it once but he refused. He had also tried to separate them but he got an awful dream about it and decided to keep the two stones together.

Actually there is more to the homestay besides sightseeing. They can carry out mock weddings for guests upon request. They also introduce herbs found in the jungle and around the village. These herbs are processed according to the ailment’s treatment.

Besides that they also teach youngsters to play the gong, according to tradition. They are taught the rhythms well. This is to ensure that they can perform for their visitors as well as festivals or events such as weddings or visits by celebrities.

“Our guests are mostly domestic but recent years, we have entertained guests from United States, Japan and Germany,” Bibiana disclosed.

The village can be chilly at night. A jacket or cardigan is always recommended. The villagers have an interesting way of keeping their body warm. They drink tapai (rice wine) which is a popular homemade beverage among the locals. According to the tapai maker she shows her visitors how to make the drink; and this is one of the tourism products they promote.

Actually they have a lot of sites to see, and sights to marvel at. There is the Mahua Waterfall, Mt. Trus Madi, Mt. Wakid, Batu Gong Rock and Rafflesia Information Center to visit and for leisure exercise guests can watch birds, go fishing and jungle trekking.

Briefly, Tambunan lies in the Interior Division of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo  some 80 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, the State Capitol. Its main township is also called Tambunan and quite well known for its rustic atmosphere.

Sited on a valley, over the Crocker Range it is surrounded by terraced paddy fields, clusters of villages and forests of bamboos. The rural atmosphere with the green hills and mountains are soothing sights that makes for relaxation.

Because it’s a valley and there is very little hill cutting and deforestation around, Tambunan has a mild tropical weather all year long. In the evenings the temperature can go down to a comfortable 19 degrees celcus.

More information can be acquired from Bibiana at 0146792148.-ce/BNN.