God, the Mountain, Sunsets, Stars and other Signs

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar, Jasbir Singh, Chrishandra Sebastiampillai and Tan Meng Yoe

One of the first things you will notice about Sabah is the many signboards that announced the names of churches along the road. The further you go out from Kota Kinabalu, the more churches there are. For a lifelong Catholic used to seeing fewer churches in Semenanjung, the experience was all the more gratifying. Sabah is the site of a thriving Christian community that is unique. As a child, I was privileged to briefly be part of this community in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, KK. In this article, I will explore my memories of church experiences in Sabah over the years and some of my encounters with Catholic Sabahans in Petaling Jaya. Continue reading “God, the Mountain, Sunsets, Stars and other Signs”


Takkan Lari Gunung Dikejar, Hilang Kabut Nampaklah Dia

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Chrishandra Sebastiampillai

*Malay proverb: A mountain that is chased won’t run, when the fog clears it will be seen. Don’t rush to chase a certainty.

It all started in Kampung Kiau in 1851 when two local Kadazan-Dusun men, Gunting Lagadan of Bundu Tuhan and Lemaing of Kg. Kiau, led Sir Hugh Low on a nine-day trek up Gunung Kinabalu. Years later, the summit of the mountain would be named for the colonial administrator and an industry of climbers would follow; providing a livelihood for generations of Kadazan-Dusun men and women, working as mountain guides and porters. The sight of tiny women skipping agilely along the trail, in rain or shine, with gas tanks strapped to their backs and wearing cheap rubber slippers are a common and mind-boggling sight to the struggling climber. As a child, I lived briefly and happily in Sabah for a time while my father was posted to a government department in Kota Kinabalu. And even in the short time I was in Kundasang, I experienced a minor earthquake while staying in Kinabalu Park.

Continue reading “Takkan Lari Gunung Dikejar, Hilang Kabut Nampaklah Dia”

Food, Festivities And Warm Hospitality At Kampung Kiau’s Kaamatan

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Tan Meng Yoe

Like some of the best things in life, we ended up at the Kaamatan festival of Kampung Kiau Nuluh earlier today by accident. Our guide Sintiah told us that his village would be holding their celebration of the harvest festival on the 30th of June when he first picked us up at the airport. It was particularly interesting to be able to attend a festival we had read about in our school textbooks for years, and so the entire group was excited to be there. Our first taste of the festival came the night before when we arrived at Kg. Kiau and heard the sounds of the gongs drifting down the hills as the musicians practised for the big day. Revelry for the event was already taking place, with several villagers in high spirits and drinking tapai or lihing, the traditional rice wine.

Kids at playChildren at play during the festival. Some are wearing their costumes for their performance

Continue reading “Food, Festivities And Warm Hospitality At Kampung Kiau’s Kaamatan”