(Article contributed to the Inner Circle of Shangri-La Group)
It has always been my dream to be able to get back home in my own hometown, Tamparuli. I have been living outside Sabah for quite a long time. I came home finally and immediately took the chance to get back home and see the progress of my Village. There are 2 unique bridges in Tamparuli Town itself. First is the Suspension Bridge which is meant for pedestrians. The second one is the bridge that was built by the British in the 1950’s and that bridge alone has its own legend, a forgotten love story that involved a British Officer, a local girl and a local man. Tragic ending that is, so to say.
Tamparuli is a small town located about 30 Kilometers from Kota Kinabalu City. It is a transit point for visitors heading for the Mount Kinabalu area or further east of the Sabah state. Locals here are still sticking to the traditional beliefs and lifestyle. Most young people here managed to achieve at least a completion in first degree in Universities but drastic development as in big cities failed to make an impact here. Locals love the simplicity in their daily life. Those migrated to big cities will surely come home for a visit, with big pride in their soul, feeling proud to be Tamparulian.
3 months ago, I was back in Tamparuli. Although the suspension bridge is known to me ever since I was a kid, it never bored me. I still find that the walk from the starting point to the other side is a ‘journey’ of my own culture and experiences. I remember when I was a kid, I will jump and jump with my friends on that bridge until it became so shaky for the elders to walk on it. How naughty we were. I remember challenging friends to run as fast as we can to the other side until the Chief of The Village came to my house and gave me ‘lectures’. That was a golden moment for us, being naughty kids and kept the elders in chaos. My friends and I grown up and became successful person despite our over the top attitude in our younger years.
The promenade on the shaky bridge took me less than 3 minutes. Those 3 minutes was actually a ‘journey’, looking back to the sweet memories 29 years ago, the journey to ‘the other side’ of my past years. Will I be back? Oh yes, definitely. This is my hometown, a place with two bridges that reconnects its people between the future and the past. Remember what I told you about the other bridge meant for vehicles? If you care enough going under that bridge and do a bit searching, you will find a name ‘SULONGKOI’ written somewhere on the metal. It was written by a British Officer, Robinson in the 1950’s right before he committed suicide-jumping to the river to his death. Sulongkoi and Robinson was a couple. They loved each other until a local man; Intang meddled in as he adores SULONGKOI as well.
Robinson was in charge of building the bridge but every time he built one, it will be destroyed by the river strong current. He consulted Intang and Intang met a local SHAMAN, Odu. Odu said the spirit of the river ‘TAMBUAKAR‘ demanded a sacrifice, a girl. Desperate to have stronger bridge, Robinson believed the ‘verdict’. Solungkoi was chosen and made to drunk intentionally in a big vase, alive and later woke up and cried, pleading for release. She was buried alive under the very first pillar of the bridge. Before that, she swore that the bridge will never withstand the current unless Robinson blood spilled to the river. Later, Robinson felt guilty and killed himself. The bridge is still there until now, no matter how strong the current is, it will still be there.
Geographically speaking, Tamparuli Town is just 16.8 Kilometers from the Tuaran Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. Guests at this hotel may take this opportunity to visit this small but interesting town that offers the experience and history of its 2 bridges. It is best to come here on Wednesdays as the locals set up their local market that sells all sorts of interesting local products. This weekly held local market is famously known as TAMU in local language. Come and walk on the ‘shaky promenade’, indulge in the local experience and traditional way of life.
Note by curios traveller:
@joehairie is an avid traveller and he loves writing articles as much as photography. He is the official photopgrapher for curiostraveller.com . Follow his work in Instagram @joehairie