November 1985
Part II

Kota Kinabalu

Before I was going to embark on a new adventure I was strolling around in the middle of the city. Also the people and their life around here are very versatile, taking all the different races into account. One race was especially prevalent: the urbanite Chinese. Most of the people I met and talked to up to now were Chinese. And they are very versatile in their own right, also more affluent than the average. How did they get here? Yes, the English brought them in as hard workers long time ago (like in Singapore, which population is now around 80 % Chinese).

So the Chinese population is also a very important customer group to be catered for, especially with Chinese medicine and potency remedies as offered by the street vendor below. Also provided are Chinese T'ai Chi and Peking duck courses. And if you think you have too much cholesterol then there is a Chinese nurse to check your blood pressure for free during the promotional health week.

Remark: The photos on the right side may not be correctly adjusted if you use Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. I propose to use the Explorer of Microsoft instead.

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Need any aphrodisiac? Maybe a dried tiger dick? There is no need to dope this T'ai Chi kid
This is a last chance to eat a Peking duck Better have checked the pressure of your blood

Visiting the last headhunters

After my blood pressure was checked okay, I was ready to visit the headhunters (and not getting a heart attack before my head was cut off). I trusted Mister Chew who recommended to visit them, because he was a commissioner for tribal affairs in that area once some years ago. I rebooked my departure flight for one week later and off I went together with the Australian guy by bus first to Keningau and then changing to a Toyota Landcruiser until there was no road no more, only a few houses. The name of that small village was Sepulut.
Here was the end of the road Then we had to take the boat
Also, there was no man by the name of Lantir we were supposed to find here as our future guide in this small settlement. We were told by some people that he went that very same morning to his home village, but may be back tomorrow.

There was no guesthouse around, so we were happy to be offered the house of Lantir to stay and wait there until he turns up. Fortunately we had a lot of provisions like cans of sardines and chips with us to secure our dinner, actually thought to be presents for our headhunters.

And really, next morning, after a hard night's sleep on a wooden floor he came through the door (the bush drums may have told him that we are here). Then we were ready to leave, but before, Lantir asked us to pay for the gasoline. We negotiated the price for his service and all and came up with 100 ringgits each.
The man from Tasmania and our boatman and with his little brother going along the river bank
To get around the rapids stay at the side My first encounter with a headhunter tribe
I was wrong when I mentioned before that there are no roads going any further. There must have been a very dirt road hidden in the forest for the big trucks carrying the timber cut down in the forest. It's a pity and even worse because it was not illegal but done with government approval (it may be illegal now by the time of writing this, for whatever is left).

It was and probably still is like everywhere: Big profits (several billions of dollars each year) for the logging companies and politicians in far away Kuala Lumpur but not for the people living here. Even worse: depleting natural resources necessary for the survival of the indigenous people, and also for the survival of the rest of the world (climate change).

There are very few Malay (20% maximum) living either in Sabah or Sarawak. And only because of policies to settle more Malay here after these provinces have been taken over from the British after Malaysia became independent (like what belonged to Britain belongs to us now).
I did not expect a bridge here made of wood also the forest we pass doesn't look good
After a couple of hours we finally reached a village where a festival just happened to be in full swing. Hope that we will not become their special feast. The reception was already overwhelming: Everybody lined up to greet us with a handshake and then have us sit down at the long wooden table laden with a lot of strange dishes.
Here we have been received and invited right away to eat
We dared to eat the food offered otherwise we might have insulted our host. We would have rather eaten our sardine cans but these were our only presents together with some other stuff.
They showed us how to drink and to get drunk like him?
But then there was another challenge: Drinking their tapioca wine from big jars, and just not one sip but a whole suck through the bamboo stick until the level reached the next gauge marked off on another stick. The taste? Undescribable. The next pictures will describe themselves.
And then kill us when we are in a trance or make a fun of us and let us dance
But where is music and rhythm there cannot be any canni-balism
No birth control, no contra-ception The one kid family is still the exception
Kids are the social security supporting some day the elderly
Women are getting babies during all their fertile ages
A tropical rain already started after we arrived Here we slept all the same all night
After the many drinks last night I slept very well on the planks at the side in the same longhouse where the party took place. Only when I got up I felt the headache. Some other guests left by boat to their villages around. We stayed for another day to inspect the village and the area around and intermingle with the village people.
Next morning some guests have a boat to fetch But we are not, we are rather watching a soccer match
The boys are like everywhere. They wanted us to play with them, knowing that I came from the land of Rummenigge (yes, Bundesliga and soccer worldcup news made it to the last outposts here). But we declined and rather watched the muddy match.
All boys looked shabby but still very happy
After the game the boys were all real muddy no problem to wash off the dirt from the body
The girls are like girls everywhere too but they have no equal rights as the boys. Always already learning household chores, like carrying fresh water in a bucket, etc. while the boys have to learn to hunt a boar (see later on). If this is the only way a tribe survives there will be no change.
These girls were carrying water and now need a pause These soccer boys present themselves in the right pose
But what about hunting men to cut off their heads (and also eating their enemies). I was told that we will encounter the last headhunters here. However, it was meant that they gave up headhunting as the last tribe around here. And that was already hundred years ago. Well, also no leftovers like old human bones and a skull have been found anymore. So we did get to eat for dinner again rather boar. And then the bear was loose. Everybody had fun again.
Dinner time again but no alcohol is served today The Australian and the kids have a good day
What are the girls waiting for What are the boys looking for
And this time a special treat for us special guests: A folklore traditional costumes show. Unfortunately the men didn't wear their traditional headhunter outfit with gear.
A festival traditional costume show Just put on for us foreigners now
But then they look serious as you can see because they had to pose with me?
Next day early in the morning we were ready for an adventure in the jungle. We were already told by mister Chew that there is a fantastic monolith right in the middle of it, with caves around. And it was true. Who has placed that big steep rock here? But at least I was told the name of that place: Batu Panggul.

But I didn't feel well enough and it looked too strenuous for me to climb up with the guys. Another reason was that I had another urge to follow nature and had to drop my pants for that. During the process I had some fans creeping up my legs but didn't notice them until I jumped back into the boat again while rolling up my pant legs: leeches. You can't feel them, the skin gets anesthetized before they bite and suck. They were four and already soaked up with my blood, so our guide could just flick them off. No problem: band-aids and antiseptic ointment avoided an infection.
Next day easy cave exploring and dangerous rock climbing
It looks too dangerous for me and I had to make shit urgently
The other folks from the village had hunted some boars with spears in the meantime. They knew that they could not use us as prey, and also we would have been in their way.
Then "we" hunted the boars with spears But let our guide cut out its entrails
More guys coming back from the hunt "We" will cook the boars in this "restaurant"
Then we were invited to join the boar feast in the house of Lantir's parents. The whole procedure, from taking out the guts to finally cooking the meat took not too much time, while working hand in hand. Everbody had their assignment. I supervised the whole thing.
That's really enough meat Now for the fire wood you need
The pot on the fire is alright? And here the meat is already being fried
And then we all settled down on the floor for lunch. Now we know that it also was boar the nights before and not any strange animal. And it was delicious, not so much the tasteless tapioca pudding.
Hey lady, don't burn your feet Lunch is ready now to eat
Hey wait, no feast yet for the dogs The kids want to eat first the meat from the hogs
There must also have been buffalos around here. A beef steak would have been another good treat. But that may come true if we get back to mister Chew. First we say thanks to Lantir and his family for all the hospitality. Soon we are on our boat and then shooting down the little rapids (not the boar and not the little rabbits) until we reach the river/road junction again.
No human skulls to be seen from the headhunters But only some old photographs of the ancestors
Another and last hard overnight's stay in Lantir's hut (with bats flying around inside) and then next morning again riding the Toyota Cruiser and bus all the way back to Kota Kinabalu to stay another last night with Chew's family, before I flew to Manila for my next adventure.
What reminds me of my plane: a bat Leaving Kota Kinabalu, makes me sad
Ok, that was Sabah, though still only a small part of it. There could have been seen and done a lot more. Also I could have written more. If you want to know more all about the places I have visited, then just look up any of the many guidebooks or in the internet.

© WEW Tours