Jesselton City: Immersed with the Locals

Super duper hyper excited on the last few days before we depart for Jesselton City (formerly known as Jesselton before the name changed to Kota Kinabalu). Packed and re-packed my stuff. Evan and I both agreed that this trip has to be one of the toughest ones to pack clothes for. We have to bring lightweight clothes for sightseeing, swimwear and water resistant clothing for the day at the beach, durable hiking set and finally (but seriously not the least), winter clothing - long johns, sweatshirts, thermal socks - for the cold hike up to the peak of Kinabalu. Major headache I tell you.

Ironically the start of a post has to be a picture of food.

Note: the DLSR-ish quality pictures are not taken by me, but stolen from TY's shots.

Joshua and I were the only ones from KL to meet up with the group in Penang (they touched down a day earlier due to changes in time by the trusty Air Assia). Both of us were also the final additions to the group, only arriving KK at 4:45pm.

When Jojo and I reached the KK airport, it started raining cats and dogs. Bad news. Anyway the others (TY, Evan, Zi Xiang, Soon Jiun, Wei Inn, Ruo-Wen, Ying Qi, Jo Lynn and the other Joshua) were seated comfortably on this minibus that our guide, Wilson has prepared for us. It's cool! 11 of us can sit anywhere and hop from seat to seat :)

Wilson, our guide.

First stop is off to Mari-Mari Cultural Village where we will learn and experience the local Bajau, Dusun, Rungus way of living.

Now my information from here onwards may not be very accurate as I wasn't in a classroom mode when all I wanted was to poke fun and be playful :p

First we were brought into a longhouse where our Mari-Mari guide, Nadia showed us where the locals eat, sleep and store their food and beer. Interestingly, the daughter of the family sleeps on an elevated floor about 1 storey up. Sometimes the parents will remove the ladder leading to her bedroom during the night. So if the daughter need to go to the loo in the middle of the night but her calls are not heard by her parents then she will either pee in her pants or wait till the next morning.

The locals store their liquor (tapai, lihing and mentoku) in huge vases.

Later we were brought out where this lady seems to be busying herself in a makeshift kitchen in a little hut. Nadia tells us to pick two cooks who will choose ingredients and then the lady will cook our dinner as prepared by the two in our group lol. Wei Inn and Jo Lynn were the lucky ones lol.

Got chicken, cubed potatoes, chilis, lemongrass, onions, ginger, salt and sugar for them to play with. Then the local lady stuff the mixture into this bamboo and propped them on a fire to cook.

We were also brought to test the local mentoku - which has the alcohol content equivalent to our hard liquor - Black Label, Chivas, you name it. According to Wilson, there are a few other types of local rice wine. Tapai has the least amount of alcohol percentage, similar to beer whereas lihing is similar to red wine. All these drinks are made from rice wine, distilled at different levels to produce several types of liquor. The mentoku reminds me strongly of the Peninsular tuak (fermented coconut drink) lol.

Minum minum already hallucinate see two hunks. Soon after, we got outside where the next exhibition: treebark vest awaits. I'm not entirely sure of what wood they use but the material is so soft. Again, don't quote me but I recall that the locals soften the wood bark with water, sort of mash it and hang it to dry and cute the bark into shapes.

We then entered another wooden hut labeled Rungus, where a fire-making demonstration is being held. The locals run wood on bamboo to create enough friction to make fire. On a more interesting note, this bloody manja chicken keeps on flying on top of people's backs/shoulders/heads for no apparent reason other than to get some attention. It's cute though lol.

A nice shot that TY took.

The manja adolescent chicken found its next victim.

Next station is rope making/binding. I didn's listen intently as usual so I only recall the process of rubbing and turning the long strands of rope to give them a strong hold. The entire process is performed on thighs ensuring a smooth skin lol.

By this time, it was already past 7:30pm and all of us were getting hungry. It didn't help matters with the sun setting earlier than what we were used to back in peninsular because the East Malaysia is actually ahead an hour (though the time difference is not recognized so time is still maintained as Peninsular. Bit dumb really, when the US is all for day saving and here we are wasting precious energy and not utilising sunlight when we have them).

Good thing is the next station provides us with something to munch and drink. Kuih jala. Unlike the roti jala we are so used to (yellow-colored netted thingy usually eaten with chicken curry) this is about the same concept, netted also but deep fried.

Quite delicious really :)

Then pandan juice to wash the oil down! Love them... I think Ah Ma used to make these at one time or another. Supposed to counter heaty.

Getting close to the end of the cultural village stations, we were then brought to this larger rumah papan where a set up for a wedding is displayed. There is also a kitchen attached around the house. Wilson made fun of the girls saying that this is where the ladies cook and gossip lol.

Blowpipes time! A few of the guys attempted with only ZX I think successfully hitting the bullseye. Then we were brought into the largest rumah I think. Where the floor is built in such a way that it is able to spring up and down on each sides so that one person on a side can jump up high enough based on momentum to slap/touch/hit this wood piece hanging from the roof.

Oh! Also got to try this tembakau smoking. It's similar to the type of that Ah Kong used to smoke :)

The tobacco stick I was holding here I still keep with me since it reminds me of Ah Kong. Gives the most delicious aroma.

Next is a temp tattoo drawing station. I got one myself on my calf. The local who did it for me said that it symbolizes water and nature or leaves.

Finally the very last and final station, (stomachs already rumbling) we got to see the local Sabahan dance and also the skipping on bamboo poles (rofl... I know I have pretty bad descriptions).

Put this up where Evan looked like he's falling :p

A group picture. The front native looks so cute! He stole the hat and sunglasses from Jojo lol)

Finally the moment we have all been waiting for... buffet dinner! But I must say this.... Sabah food doesn't impress me :( Not spicy, not salty not whatsoever. I guess Sabahans just weren't big fans of taste?

We also got to try WI and JL's final product of chicken in bamboo! No surprise who the winner is lol. Wei Inn has always been the housewifey material.

Boring dinner: hard-fleshed fish, pumpkin and onions, some ulam and sambal (not spicy oso) and curry chicken. I loaded up on fibre so that pangsai next morning will be smooth ;)

Inn Jie's creation.

The various stations that we have gone around.

Shall end this post with a few pictures after we'd gone back to our service apartment. Evan stepped up to take the role of Nigella the celebrity chef hahahha whipping up some instant Milo Fuze and 'home baked' chocolate Oreo cookies.

Me being the 'lovely' assistant lol. There is indeed an overwhelming use of the word 'lovely' during the next few days following this episode of Nigel Quah.

Final product. What better way to enjoy the first night of our Jesselton trip with a cup of warm chocolate and more hot gossips ;)

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