Words by Mohd Fadzrin
Photos by Yeong Hui Min, Yeo Li-Sha & Hamza Delbar
Sabah contains many different cities, towns, and villages; each of them with their own unique history and culture. Today, we had a small tour around the village of Kiau, located near Mount Kinabalu. One of our tour guides for today have made time for us to see for ourselves the realities of this small community, in the cold weather of Sabah’s highlands.
Kiau village is located 1,600 feet above sea level, with a population of about 800 people. Majority of them are Christians, with a small number of animists. These people live in 90 houses scattered across the area. A majority of them are Dusun. Most of them are farmers, though there are those who work in private and governmental sectors. In 2015, the village was hit with an earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Malaysia, that had damaged the area and taken 18 lives in total.
There is an uneasy feeling that comes from the fact that the village I stood in was hit with an earthquake recently, and there was a small part of my brain that wondered if it would occur again while I was going about the place. However, once there, I found it reassuring that everyone there lived with such calm collectedness, an enduring perseverance that each day will come as good as the last. Dogs also frequent the village, barking and howling as we pass by them.
The journey begins
As we walked through the village, toured by Sintiah, we were following the road that curved around the side of the mountain. Little did we know that we were not going to follow the road all the way to the top, but there was a detour which led us to the side of a small section of the mountain, with small indentations that seemed to have been done by human feet. Yes, we had to climb the side of the mountain all the way to the top. At the time I was only wearing my sad looking flip-flops, but surprisingly I could walk up the arbitrary steps all the way to the top, albeit it being wet from rain the previous day.
Before long, everyone in the trip made it to the top; the view was gorgeous. All of us took out our phones and cameras to snap all sorts of pics, selfies, and portraits because the view was so inviting. Shortly after that, Sintiah was interviewed by Norman to explain about Kiau itself. He mentioned of the culture and tradition of the people in Kiau slowly being forgotten, and how many organisational bodies are working hard to maintain the identity of their community.
The view at the top
We started our descent with a small path etched on the side of the hill. That was all that is left of hiking we had to do before we had to traverse through muddy grounds which was also where we took a group photo. Along the way, we passed by Sintiah’s house, a nicely built home with red roofing and a perfect view. It looked really nice from the outside, but unfortunately time did not permit us to see how it looks like on the inside.
Near the end, we were shown the baskets the farmer used to collect harvested pineapples, and some of us got the chance to wear them. We even decided to make a video of them dancing with it on. As they danced, we seemed to have caught the attention of an old man, looking simultaneously confused and amused at the scene before him.
Look at how cute they are
That concludes it. We returned to our hostel, feeling a bit tired from the initial climb, but enjoyed what we experienced.
Whatever happens in between life and death only matters in the fleeting existence of mankind.