|A typical homestay.|
If you’re looking for a pleasant and relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life, I would suggest taking a drive into the Crocker range to the sleepy valley of Tambunan and trying out a home stay with a local family.
Tambunan is a hidden gem of a valley in the interior division of Sabah and I think it’s the most picturesque of a set of three valleys namely, Tambunan, Keningau and Tenom that are found in the interior. It is located about 80km from Kota Kinabalu, along the road that leads to Tenom. The Tambunan valley is located at an altitude of 750m making it much cooler than the lowlands while the evenings and early mornings are pleasantly cool enough for a cardigan.
|Gifts from appreciative guest decorate the house.|
|A typical homestay.|
Due to the limited flat land available, the locals have built terraces along the sloping valley and lower hillsides where they have been planting their rice for centuries. It is the only area in Sabah that you will see such extensive terraced rice fields. Another feature of Tambunan is the tall feathery bamboos which grow everywhere and add to the green image of the valley. This is a result of an edict by the British Colonial government in the early days, where the locals had to plant 20 shoots of bamboo for every piece they cut. Due to the abundance of bamboo, it was the main material used in the building of houses and it also lent itself to a variety of household implements and handicrafts.
|Rice being fermented for Lihing.|
|Mahua Waterfall Tambunan.|
|The rice making factory across the river.|
western toilets and bathrooms and the rooms are usually twin bedded or 1 large single bed. Upon arrival at your designated home, you will be introduced to the host family and suggestions of the various activities that you can join in will be offered. Depending on the season, it could be helping out in the rice fields planting or harvesting, fishing at the family fish pond or picking jungle vegetables from the nearby forest for dinner .If it’s the fruiting season, then it could be harvesting and of course eating what ever is in season, from pineapples to durian.
|A typical lunch at a homestay.|
Interested to learn how rice is turned into local rice wine, and then pay a visit to the Lihing factory. This factory is famous for brewing very good quality rice wine. Buy a bottle or two, great to drink over ice or for stewing chicken. You could also visit the bamboo factory to see furniture and other crafts being made from bamboo and also the local cottage industry that produces various ginger products from locally grown ginger.
|Tereced rice fields.|
With so much to see and do, your overnight trip to Tambunan just might not be enough and you will have to return to enjoy more of the Tambunan Hospitality.
Text and photos by DAVID DE LA HARPE