KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
In the interest of not having to type the description of the Cultural Village or to plagiarize what was written in the Lonely Planet, I will quote their entry verbatim:
The Mari Mari Cultural Village is the most interactive centre of its kind in all of Borneo. Visitors are taken on a three-hour show/tour, which winds through the jungle passing various tribal dwellings along the way. At each stop, tourists learn about the indigenous way of life, and can try their hand at a variety of interesting (and fun) activities, like traditional bamboo cooking, rice-wine making (and drinking!), fire starting, tattooing, blowpipe shooting etc.
But the most fascinating part of the tour is little tribal tidbits offered by your guide. For example, in the Dusun tribe, an immense stone would be placed at the entrance of a longhouse as a testament to the strength of warriors living inside. In the Lundaya tribe a knife must always be kept over the mouth of a rice wine bottle to ensure that no evil spirits mix with the wine. A short dance recital and follows a delicious meal.
We were delighted that the tour to the village included transportation to and from the village, and once we were picked up, we had a chance to talk with our driver, a young man who spoke excellent English. We picked up a few other travellers and then passed through many small neighbourhoods along the way in order to avoid the gridlock on the highways due to the impending rush hour.
When we arrived at the village we were greeted warmly and instructed to stay on the footpaths because we were entering the territory of notorious headhunting tribes and the guide would not be responsible for our safety. Just as we finishing laughing at his comment, a couple of warriors leaped out of the shrubbery on either side of the path and scared the daylights out of us.
We had a fabulous time tasting, sipping and even blowing ‘poisonous’ blow darts. The village consisted of a series of different tribal dwellings, decorated in a way consistent with the culture of various tribes of Sabah and the ‘villages’ were all dressed in distinctive tribal dress. The darkness lent a sense of impending danger to the experience and we enjoyed each and every minute of the evening.
The meal was delicious, there was a wide variety of meats and vegetables but it was the dance recital that really capped the tour. The dancing was colourful, spectacular, energetic and thoroughly entertaining. I would have to say it’s the best such cultural show we have ever seen. It was all over too soon, but it was getting late. We walked back through the complex with a young guide so as not to lose our way, and after we settled ourselves into the van, a number of young people piled in after us, dressed in t-shirts and blue jeans. As we set off, I looked at their faces and realized these were the very ‘headhunters’ who had shared aspects of their culture with us that evening.
As we drove back to the city, dropping off the young people in the residential districts along the way, we learned that they are all descended from the tribes they portray and seem exceedingly proud of the contribution they are making to keep their culture alive. Fine young men and women, all of them; but I have to say, I’m very glad they’re not into headhunting any longer.