Mari Mari Cultural Village located in Kionsom, Inanam, Sabah, about 25 minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu city centre, is actually not a real tribal village but a commercial setup depicting the lifestyles of the five major ethnic tribes in the state, namely Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau and Murut, the headhunters. For each tribe, there is a miniature longhouse together with ‘actors and actresses’ dressed in costumes of that particular tribe. These people would demonstrate the crafts of their tribe, from cooking to rice wine making, vest making and fire-starting, just to name a few.
At the end of the tour, guests are entertained with a lengthy cultural dance performance. The audience are also urged to try the dances. At the end of the show, they are invited to take photographs with the dancers, dressed in their traditional costumes. There are three scheduled tours daily, at 10am, 2pm and 6pm. Each tour, which takes some two to three hours, comes with a meal; lunch, tea and dinner respectively.
According to a friend, who previously visited a similar cultural village, this one is better as it is more interactive. Visitors are encouraged to involve themselves in the activities, instead of just observing. I felt that our guide, Melvin, did a fine job in explaining the different lifestyles of the five tribes in Sabah. He also mentioned the strengths of each tribe, like the skills of the Lundayeh warriors in making ropes and vests from tree barks, and the Bajaus who were excellent trades people. The superstitious beliefs of each tribe were also explained.
Our tour of the Mari Mari Cultural Village was definitely a huge eye-opener. Within that short period of time, I felt that I had learned a lot about the tribes, and why they led life the way they did. Everything had a reason.
If you are in Sabah, visit Mari Mari Cultural Village for a crash course on the different ethnic groups, all in one place: Mari Mari, or Come Come, as the cultural village is named. Walk-in guests are also welcomed; minimum two to go. The restaurant at Mari Mari is also open for booking for themed dinners and other corporate or social functions.
TURN NEXT PAGE FOR PHOTOS OF THE DUSUN TRIBE…