Ascending into mystical Tambunan

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Patrisha Kitingan, the President of Tambunan Tourism Association (2nd back) with Linus (right) commemorating the visit at the Jar, with colleagues and the young dancers
Linus (right) showing the jar with dancers from a nearby school

The Dusun people are well known for their ancient beliefs which are still interwoven into their life even in this days and age. There are times when in moments of silence and a pause from modern life, in thoughts or actions, that something of the past seems to seep in and once again, we can almost hear the chants of the bobolians (shamans) or calls of the bugang (man eating bird) during dark nights.

As fanciful as that may sound, I had a similar experience when I visited Kg Widu in Tambunan recently.

Kg Widu is sited at the border of Tambunan and Ranau; on a mountain side, reachable through a dirt winding road. The road meander through the jungle, where branches and other vegetation brush the four wheel vehicle as we travel.

The sound of birds and insects fill the air, lulling one into thinking that one is travelling in time instead of to a destination. The jungle on each side is thick and at times brooding.

Upon reaching the village, I immediately felt at home as it is reminiscent of homes in the olden days, perched on the hillside, overlooking the valleys and the mountains beyond. In the distance the blue tip of Mount Kinabalu, the mystical mountain can be seen. The homes are of course all modern with amenities such as electricity and running water. In fact there is a school nearby.

Misty mountain high, Kg Widu

In the midst of the village though, there is an item that dates back hundreds of years, when the folktales of today were being lived out. In fact, this item has something to do with stories that I have heard in my childhood, and recently from a friend who compiles tales of yore.

The item is a huge jar, the type that is used by the people in the olden days as burial jars.

Linus Gonsilou, a resident and the owner of a resort there called ‘Widu Resort’ has this to tell about the jar.

“A long time ago, there was a man who loved fishing in the river. One day he went to cast his net at the river, walking further and further away up stream, until he grew so tired that he decided to take a nap.”

The dancers depicting the folktale

It seemed the man was woken up by otherworldly beings that were big and strong. They looked at the man who had wrapped himself up in his net for warmth. They thought he was dead so they decided to bury him in a jar.

The man heard it and every time they put him in a jar, he would subtly shift his body so that they could not fit him in.  After changing jars from average to the biggest, they decided to bring out the largest they could find to fit the man in. Unfortunately it dawn had crept up, so the beings that slept during daylight had to turn in, leaving the man still in the jar.

The man then got up in a hurry and the jar was duly brought back to the village and kept there for generations. It still stands there today.

Linus shared that there are many mysterious happenings concerning the jar, including some people taking pieces of it for some medicinal values. Whether it works or not, is not known. But it makes for great story telling. A dance troupe from the school nearby even choreographed a dance about it.

Kg Widu is not only known for its mystical jar, but also for the mud geyser in the river which is believed to be good for the skin. Guests who visit Kg Widu, must visit the river, too.

The resort in the village is very well presented, with comfortable accommodation. Those who wish to stay there overnight must bring with them cardigans and warm clothes as it can get quite chilly at night. The area can look otherworldly when the mists descend.

Dinner at the resort café is awesome. They serve good food, mostly local dishes which can be a pleasant experience for visitors. Any visit there is a wonderful experience and worth several returns visits.

For those who have never been to Tambunan; this District lies in the Interior Division of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Sited some 80 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, the State Capitol, its main township is also called Tambunan.

More information can be acquired from Linus Gonsilou at 019 8831568.-ce/BNN