Sabah Fest 2016-Part 1 (Handicraft Showcase/Traditional Food)

(Photos by @joehairie)

JKKN Sabah-The Venue For Sabah Fest 2016 (April 29-30 to May 1,2016)

(May 1, 2016)

(This Part 1 of 3 features the Handicraft Showcase & Traditional Food- Sabah Fest 2016)

Sabah Fest is a celebration of Sabah’s rich and diverse cultures through musical theater and exhibitions under one roof. For the recently held 2016 event, Sabah Fest took audiences back in time with the staging of Gulu Gulu– a tribute to the past. Gulu Gulu (a Kadazan Dusun term which means ‘a long time ago’) focuses on the adventure, trials and tribulations of legendary Sabah warrior, Mat Salleh.

Mat Salleh was particularly known for his courage and loyalty, leading his fellow countrymen during the resistance  to colonial powers. The recent theatrical performances took audiences on an expedition across Sabah, showcasing places and timeless of historical significance for Mat Salleh. The 2016 event featured ethnic groups such as Kadazan and Dusun Liwan of Ranau, Suluk Sandakan and Dusun Tambunan.

The 3 days event highlighted Sabah’s rich cultural heritage through a handicraft and traditional food showcase from 5.00 P.M to 10.00 P.M at the venue grounds. Visitors had the chance to sample the authentic flavors of Sabah and witnessed local craftspeople weave , carve and stitch using age-old techniques. Before the stage performance started, visitors were treated to traditional dance Pocket Shows at the Mini Amphitheater, performed by dancers of JKKN Sabah.

We both arrived around 4 PM, quite early, that’s because we’re super excited to see the side events right before the main performance. There were few stalls showcasing some Traditional Food, Handicrafts and many more. The Pocket Shows will start around 7 PM so we took time to visit each stall and we did have some fun as well as learning new things that we didn’t know about.


The first thing that we saw was this big kind of Shield for the Murut Warriors long time ago. This turned out to be a ‘battle field’ for the visitors. I am kidding. There’s this Traditional Game held here where visitors can join one fun competition called “Menyumpit” using the Murut’s blow pipe. All that the competitors need to do was to hit the black logo and upon a successful attempt, cool prizes will be given. Let’s have a look at how @joehairie participated in this fun Murut Blow Pipe competition.

@joehairie aiming for the center of the black ‘spider’ logo
Yup, he won.
His winning. At least he went home with something cool!!

More and more people trying to get the prizes

Let’s move to another section of the exhibition. Below are some images showing the ladies finishing up their lovely traditional products from making Bamboo Basket to drawing pattern using wax. The showcase by Kraftangan Malaysia (Cawangan Sabah) was really educational as we did learn something new here.

Next, the booth by Kadaiku (Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd). Kadaiku captures the essence of Sabah’s natural beauty and rich ethnic heritage with it’s selection of authentic handicrafts and souvenirs. Many of the products here are handcrafted by local artisans and the Kadaiku proudly showcase their craft. Kadaiku in English means ‘My Shop’. Let’s have a look at the Kadaiku showcase. For more information about Kadaiku, visit their website by clicking HERE.


The Chantek Borneo Gallery had these interesting Diorama(s) that portrayed the Mat Salleh story. Mat Salleh story was the main idea for the Cultural Stage Performance in Sabah Fest 2016.

Diorama 1
Diorama 2

Here’s the short story:

Datu Muhammad Salleh or better known as Mat Salleh, took on the task of his father, Datu Balu, as the Village Chief in the area of Lingkabo and Sungai Sugut in 1884. As the new chief, Mat Salleh imposed taxes to the traders along the Sungai Sugut for his administrative expenses purpose. However, the British was not happy with Mat Salleh, therefore they attacked him in Jambongan and destroyed the Sungai Sugut Villages in 1896.

Mat Salleh struggle against aggresion and violence by the North Borneo Chartered Company in July 1897. During that year, Mat Salleh and his followers attacked and destroyed the Company’s administration office in Pulau Gaya as depicted in Diorama 1. Mat Salleh, who was then the King Of Sungai Sugut, met and fall in love with Dayang Bandung, the Princess Of Sulu Sultanate. Mat  Salleh and Dayang Bandung got married and reside in Sungai Sugut before they fled to Ranau with their children and followers.

As a Sulu Princess, Dayang Bandung was not allowed to step on the ground as it’s meant as a bad luck or bad omen for her (Refer to Diorama 3). On January 31, 1900, the British ambushed Mat Salleh fortress in Tambunan endlessly. Mat Salleh was shot dead during the attack. It was said that during the time, he was not wearing his armor as he was about to take ablutions water before a prayer. There’s another version saying that he did not died that day but instead escape from the attack. 

Diorama 3
Diorama 4

On the other side, there’s a stall by Kumpulan Budaya Maju showcasing Traditional Kadazan Dusun Delicacies. Let’s have a look at their stall.


Hinava is a traditional native dish of Kadazan-dusun people in the states of Sabah. It’s made from fish and mixed with lime juice, bird’s-eye chili, slice shallots and grated ginger.

Tinotok Mangga-Mango with shallot, chili and dried anchovies with a dash of lime
Napo do Pakis (Vegetable Fern with dried Shrimp)
Kadazan Dusun Mix Vegetables

The amazing people at the Kadazan-Dusun stall…


They are all @curiostraveller relatives! Awesome!

Next to the Kadazan-Dusun stall was the stall by Persatuan Kebudayaan KEMAGI SAMA Tuaran, showcasing Traditional Food of Bajau SAMA Tuaran. We bought some lovely and delicious Tapai and Kuih Pinjaram at this stall. Let me introduce the awesome girls manning the stall. They’re representing the culture of Bajau SAMA Tuaran.



Tapai-Fermented Rice

Tapai is a traditional fermented food and is an alcoholic paste and has a sweet and sour taste. Tapai can be made from a variety of carbohydrate sources, but typically from cassava, white rice or glutinous rice. Fermentation is performed by a variety of moulds including Aspergillus oryzae, Rhizopus Oryzae, Amylomyces rouxii or Mucor species and yeasts including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomycopsis fibuliger, Endomycopsis burtooni and others, along with bacteria.

Kuih penjaram
Kuih Pinjaram Gula Melaka-The Bajau People Snack/Delicacies

Pinjaram, penyaram or kuih UFO as some would call it, is a type of local cake that is popularized by the Bajau people. This Mexican hat-shaped cake has a nice, chewy texture with a tantalizing pandan aroma. We opted for the Pinjaram that had Gula Melaka in it. It was a lovely snack. Here’s a demo on how this snack was made at the stall.





Not far from the Persatuan Kebudayaan KEMAGI SAMA Tuaran, there’s a stall showcasing some traditional handicrafts, costumes and musical instruments. Here are some of the interesting showcase.

Bead Accesories of Rungus ethnic (Kudat) by Inontaya Umboboh
Ribu-Ribu (Rinago) & Rattan Products of Bajau Kota Belud by Mohd Alfrerhami Nuid
Traditional Music Instruments (Gong)-of Rungus ethnic (Kudat) by Dimmy Bahal
Traditional Costumes of Sabah by Angela Chin

Local Handicrafts of Bajau Ethnic (Kota Belud) by Jamawid Soh

Traditional Costumes Of Bajau and Iranun by Abdul Kalam Mukim

Right before we decided to have our early dinner, we found a booth in the Main Hall Lobby. That booth meant for those who wanted to take selfies or wefies with all the Hashtags /signs provided. We did not want to be miss out, so here are our selfies!

@curiostraveller-Lan Ining

End of part 1.


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