Focus on culture: the Sabah museum

Maybe April isn’t the best time to be on Borneo. It is bloody hot in the city of Kota Kinabalu. It is so hot that every person I meet feels the urge to make a remark about it. It is the perfect day to go to a museum. Too bad I planned on walking to it. Walking to the Sabah museum turns out not to be a great idea. I walk along a busy road, cars chasing past me. There is not much to admire so keep your eyes on the ground, otherwise you might just drop into one of the holes in the pavement.

The Sabah museum is on the edge of the center. It is focused on the history and culture of Sabah. Everything is explained clearly if you’re prepared to read the information signs. There is an exhibition about the head hunters. The head hunting traditions came from Kalimantan to Sarawak. It all started with one action of revenge and grew into a big ritual. Can you imagine your partner coming home with a head to prove his love for you? Anyway, the head was treated with more respect than it was when it was attached to a body. The headhunters believed that the spirits of the heads would protect their village.

If cut off heads are not really your thing, you can go to the more peaceful exhibition about clothing and weddings. No white here. Women and men were dressed up in colourful costumes and jewelry, including a quirky hat. Or you can go to the zoology department to see if you can spot all the dangerous animals in the forest. Still want to do that jungle trekking? The museum extends its exhibitions to a big outside village. You can enter several traditional houses. The interiors are very minimalistic, but it gives you an idea of how people live and used to live. Don’t worry, the constructions could hold me, so even if you are slightly wary about its strenght, you’ll be fine.



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