If you’re looking for a holistic cultural experience in Sabah in conjunction with the Harvest Festival month of May, the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Cultural Village makes an ideal destination. Situated only 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city, a tour around this cultural village will give you an interesting overview of the ethnic groups in Sabah.

Led by knowledgeable guides, visitors will be brought into each house that is nestled in the cultural village and guided through the tour on the lifestyles of different ethnic groups in earlier years, as well as certain traditional customs that are still practiced today.

There are mainly four traditional houses in the KDCA Cultural Village, namely the Dusun Tindal Kota Belud house, the Papar house, the Rungus house, and the Murut house. Each house is meant to exhibit the unique and different traditions of the ethnic tribe it represents. The staffs of KDCA Cultural Village are dressed in traditional costumes and demonstrate some of the customary ways of living back in the day.

Starting off with a welcoming ritual by the performers dressed in traditional attire, visitors are greeted by two staff members dressed as bobohizan (high priestesses) conducting a mock blessing ritual before beginning their journey. Traditional musical instruments such as the bamboo are played to welcome visitors at the entrance.

Walking into the first home, the Dusun Tindal house, visitors are shown a demonstration on how paddy is processed using the lesung padi (traditional hand pounding), as well as on how this ethnic group uses bamboo as their pots and pans to cook their meals. Visitors also get to taste traditionally cooked food served in bamboo sticks.

As Sabah is popular for its rice wine (called tapai and lihing), visitors will get to see how it is processed and sample some lihing while visiting the second stop of the tour, the Papar house. Here, they will also learn how sago is processed into regular food, a process called Pinompoh. This is also where visitors get to try on the traditional Papar costume in full finery.

Bead-making is also one of Sabah’s specialty and at the next house, the Rungus longhouse, the staff will demonstrate how these beads are meticulously threaded and turned into jewellery, house decorations and other items.  Pinang (betel nut) and daun sirih (tobacco leaves) make up the indigenous ladies’ favourite past time of chewing these two ingredients together, which visitors are also given the chance to try. The indigenous people also believe that this is good for the teeth.

The last house in the tour is the Murut House, where you will find the lansaran (Borneo trampoline). Visitors are shown how the Murut men jump on this bouncy platform in order to get their reward, placed high on the ceilings. Visitors are then given the chance to try it themselves. Delicious local tapioca dipped in honey and sugar, as well as the famous Tenom coffee are  served as refreshments in this house, while the making of traditional cigarettes demonstrations allow visitors to try the sigup or kirai. Visitors will also see a demonstration of a skill synonymous to the Murut headhunter: using a blowpipe or monopuk.

The tour concludes with a series of traditional dance performances by the staff, including the sumazau and magunatip, which gives visitors the thrill of dancing between rhythmical clashing bamboo poles. The tour culminates with a lunch buffet featuring some of the local favourites of centuries old such as the bambangan (wild mango) and hinava (fermented mackerel in lime juice and shallots).

On the 30th and 31st of May each year, the KDCA Cultural Village will also be the main venue for the State-level Harvest Festival celebration. During this two-day celebration, a line-up of interesting activities will be held here, including traditional games, handicraft sales and exhibitions, and many others. Don’t miss a chance to be part of the fun!

KDCA Cultural Village is located at the KDCA Hongkod Koisaan, KM 8, Penampang Road, Penampang. Get in touch with us for a special day trip this Harvest Festival!

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