Surviving Sabah Series III: A Taste of being Headhunters at Mari Mari Village!

Mari Mari, it simply means “Come, Come!” Situated approximately 25 minutes away from the Kota Kinabalu city centre is the Mari Mari Cultural Village. After our white water rafting adventure, we booked a tour! As one of the Sabah Tourism Board officials highly recom’d this one to me personally, I was expecting this to be more on the “staged” aspect. Apparently, the young actors (local Malays) gave us a comfortable outlook and my impression of “looking into an aquarium” type of doing this kind of tour was suddenly washed away.

Mari Mari Cultural Village is a 3-hour tour  situated amidst a remote forest setting in Kionsom, Inanam; 25 minutes away from the hustling and bustling KK city. Its surrounding atmosphere faintly reminded me of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’, only  in the Sabahan sense.  Aside from getting tribal titbits, we were able not just to see but actually feel the tribal dwellings ourselves. The only thing that’s lacking? For us to wear those tribal costumes! As usual there was a heavy downpour of rain when we came, but it did not dampen our vibes to enjoy what this village has to offer. It’s about experiencing the indigenous culture with hands on activities. In short we’re going’ to be head hunters ourselves!


We were given a brolly each then after slathering ourselves with mosquito repellent; we walked across a rope bridge over a foaming river set within the forest to reach the village site.  It was right smack in the middle of a rainforest.  Once we reached we were given traditional greetings and fun begins!


I cannot count how many times they asked us to drink..from whiskey to wine, name it! They’re brilliant in making them! I thought we would all get woozy after the tour haha. They also let us sample and cook their dishes, which are the Sabahan traditional delicacies from each ethnic group. It was like a fear factor moment, eating those strange looking cultivated food! I did not bother to ask anymore what exactly they were made of,  we all had too much fun that all of them tasted good and went well with the liquour! I loved their rice wine the best.

Bamboo cooking and Montoku (distilled rice wine) processing.

Rungus Longhouse. Here, we learned how to start a fire without lighters or matches then schmoke afterwards, woots!

Bajau House. We watch the locals prepare Jala (local cake) and Pandan juice. Inside, we saw a myriad of colourful materials of antique ancestral objects. At one corner, there is a decorative parlor for some photo-taking pleasure. The Jala cake tastes like coconut crackers, it’s really crunchy!

Murut Longhouse. This is the most exciting of all the tribal houses as there is a built-in Lansaran (traditional trampoline-like floor) which we dance on after they show us how to jump and reach for the roof.  At another corner, I got a henna tattoo in which these beasty boys used the ancient way in applying ’em 🙂

Last treat was the cultural dance performed by locals themselves! They also have this bamboo pole dancing aka tinikling and we were able to show off our dancing prowess with those poles too haha!

What’s a better way to finish off this tour? A buffet spread from the locals of course! Then we bid our farewell to the lovely tribe and departed once again to return to the 21st century.

Up next? One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life. Clue? It’s a border where two seas meet….that’s a “tip” for you!:)

Mari Mari Village

For info:

(taken from the Sabah Tourism website)

Traverse Tours Sdn Bhd (KKKP: 3505)
Lot 227-229,
2nd Floor, Wisma Sabah,
88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Tel: 088-260501/2
Fax: 088-261503
HOTLINE: 019-8204921 / 016-8321509