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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Mari Mari Cultural Village

I'll start by saying this is not the kind of thing I normally do. I mean, I like to watch local traditions, but I prefer the traditions they do for themselves and not these staged tourist presentations. Regardless, this is what I did on this day on the island of Borneo. I went to Mari Mari village to join the tourist attraction of local traditions from their past.


The village is located on the northern part of the island on the Malaysian side. Borneo island contains three countries, Malaysia to the north, Indonesia to the south, and the small nation of Brunei tucked in on the Malaysian side of the island. Mari Mari is in the Sabah region of the island.



There is an entrance fee of just over $20 per person. Again, normally I would never go to these tourist areas, but I was there for a couple weeks and had ample time to visit everything in the area, so I did a few things I wouldn't normally do. This was outside the norm for me as well as this Borneo excursion:


The cultural village host's houses are made from the 5 main ethnic groups of the region. It's cool they were actually built by the descendants of the tribe they were in.


The people are dressed in tribal garb from days gone past. I don't believe anyone there dresses like that today,


Bamboo is still a big part of the cultures there today. Bamboo is a very sturdy wood (technically, bamboo is classified as a grass) that is used to build homes, walkways, platforms, and whatever else is required. It is surprisingly strong, especially since it's a grass. The baby bamboo is often eaten or made into curry.


Traditional cooking methods.


It's a curious thing to me, but cooking outdoors is still quite popular in areas of Asia. Many, if not most, homes still have their kitchen outside the home and still cook with wood or charcoal.


Farmer's market anyone? Locally grown foods.


Doesn't every culture have their own type of musical instruments? This is one thing the entire world has in common, a love for music and dance.


A display of locally grown goods such as sugar, rice, and tobacco.


Local spices. The spices of the island were not hot, but rather flavorful instead. Personally, I prefer the hotter spices of Thailand.





The cultural experience consists of a lot of demonstrations of local foods, dress, and traditional activities from their past. It's not that I don't enjoy these learning opportunities, it's more I don't care for the staged presentations for tourists.


I much prefer to see people enjoying their culture for themselves, and not performing on a stage. I prefer the cultural experiences as documented here:


Most bloggers who write reviews of places like this will use words like "amazing", or "incredible ". I don't know if they believe that or are just selling ad space. But my honest opinion of this is it's not worth the. 20 dollars nor the several hours invested. It is just such a contrived experience where I prefer the more natural. This is not a knock on others who enjoy this type of presentation. Everyone has different tastes. I'm just saying this one is not mine.


But I will leave you with one cool part of the excursion. This video of a tribal dance. Not that I'm into these dance performances, but more because of how high that guy could jump! I accidentally filmed in slo-mo, but that just allows more appreciation for how high he jumped. It's a minute long so you can fast forward to the end if you like.



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