Monday, November 10, 2008

Bundu Tuhan – A Sacred Place

The last time I step my foot in Bundu Tuhan was in 1992. I was 14 year old, a young boy sent there to attend a religious retreat. Since then, this place never had been so important or significant to me until I was there recently.

Bundu Tuhan is located about 35-40 km from Ranau or 60-70 km from the city of Kota Kinabalu depending which road one’s heading from. It is valley in between the mountain and hill ranges of the Crocker Range where the Kinabalu Park is majestically standing, the icon of Sabah’s tourism destination and a world heritage site. The close-knit population of Bundu Tuhan and its traditionally way of life coupled with lack of major development makes Bundu Tuhan an area ideal for countryside tourism. Here you can relax, enjoy the mild climate and venture into the rich cultural potpourri of the Dusunic ethnic group that make up most of Bundu Tuhanites.

View of Bundu Tuhan from Kg. Gondohon

The environmental setting of the 3 major villages, i.e. Sokid, Siba and Gondohon provides the alpine outlook of Bundu Tuhan, similar to those alpine villages found in Switzerland and Germany at the foot of the Alps in continental Europe. Houses are built on slopes along the road and scattered through out to the heart of Bundu Tuhan, and up on the slopes again to Gondohon and gateway to other remote villages (Terolobou, Piasau, Karanaan, Himbaan, Toboh) farther in the Crocker Range. It’s amazing that most Sabahan never reached this part of the planet in their lifetime or ever hear of these places throughout their life. I for one is fortunate enough to ever step on these villages!

Historically and culturally speaking, Bundu Tuhan has it own myriad of myths and folklore during the olden days. The Japanese were once here during the 2nd World War where the war tracks are still visible to this day. Imagine how hard it was then during the war, where cannibalism had also occurred. During this period and probably in the earlier 20th Century, head hunting was heavily practised. One was a hero then if a few beheaded heads can be found in one’s ceiling balcony. These beheaded heads were then sacrificed to a cluster of bamboo trees near to a river known as sagindai. Once these heads turn into skulls, these were then tied together with a rattan string (known as bangkavan) and hang at the balcony.

Sagindai - a cluster of bamboo used for ritual (good harvest) and scarification of heads


Human skulls - Warriors in the olden days had been symbolised and iconised

as strong and paramount by the number of heads/skulls he owned.


The House of Skulls - In the olden days these skulls are tied by a rattan

string andplaced on the veranda's ceiling.


The population of Bundu Tuhan are pheasant farmers. They tend their farms everyday and hunt wildlife from the thick forest around the village. The fertility of the soil and to ensure good harvest year after year a sacrifice known as labok is performed. A chicken will be presented to a cluster of bamboo trees as sacrifice to the Almighty God by a bobohizan follow with chanting and blessing of water obtained from a nearby river. Other villages will join in the ceremony also to make peace among villages and ensure good harvest and prosperity among them.

Kg. Toboh - the last destination, a very isolated village further in of Bundu Tuhan.


As we enter into the world of super highway (Internet), modernity, cultural transformation and religious advancement, all these ancient traditional ceremonials are no longer practised. What left is just ‘knowledge’ – traditional knowledge. This is why I am here.

One of the many ways to remember these almost forgotten cultural and traditional richness is through tourism - promoting them as assets, resources and products of tourism. Once these are all pursued I am sure I shall be back again in Bundu Tuhan, or maybe I don’t have to wait at all. Bundu Tuhan is a beautiful and amazing place to visit!


At 1:22 PM, Blogger alvez said...

hallo there...
is there any rest house around there?

At 10:55 AM, Blogger jasonjay said...

There is a village stay (kinna like homestay but just a single house with a couple of room) at Kg. Sokid. That's the 1st village as you descending down to the valley.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Mrs. Ezman said...

hey, thats my mom's village. am loving to stay there :)


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