The biggest + most famous weekly open air market in Sabah, is none other than the ‘Tamu Besar Kota Belud’, located at Kota Belud district, 78 km to the north east of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Tamu Besar Kota Belud is an annual event where the locals of Kota Belud will gather their hand-made products from various types of handicrafts, souvenirs, local foods and drinks offering for sale to the visitors.
This place was actually first open to the public on every weekend as a weekly tamu and known as Tamu Mingguan Pekan Kota Belud, later Kota Belud become an annual event of the grand Tamu Besar which held on every year by the month of October.
Hand-made ‘Parang Bajau’, a creative craftmanship of the Bajau and Iranun comunities.
Hand-made Rattan Basket or locally called Bakul Rotan by the Dusun.
Most of the locals are Muslims from the ethnic of Bajau and Iranun.
and majorities that offers their product for sale are from senior citizens.
Ikan masin.. dried fish.
Natural honey.. from RM5 to RM15 per bottle.
Traditional local delights from various types of kuih muih of Kota Belud such as kuih cincin, kuih penjaram and kuih gelang are mouth-watering foods which you should try one.
which will cost you as cheap as RM2 per packet.
The Bajau beauty.. or I love to call it the ‘Perawan Bajau’
The best time to visit Kota Belud is during the Grand Tamu Besar, it’s an annual event held on every October, for two days festivals usually on Saturday to Sunday. There are lots of interesting activities during the event which you will have the chance to get a closer look on the famous Bajau horsemen, cowboys of the East.
What makes the Bajau horsemen unique is the costume of the horse itself.
Usually the performance of the Bajau horsemen will took place in a school field nearby (about 10 minutes walk from the Tamu Kota Belud).
There, you’ll see about hundreds of Bajau horsemen wearing their traditional colourful Bajau costume with full of nice decorations on each of their horses.
Beside riding a horse, the Bajau community originally, they are the farmers and fishermen of Kota Belud.
The Bajau are also best known for their ‘Dastar’, a hand-made woven cloth for male to wear for covering their hair.
The Bajau male costume are formally consisit of a high collared long sleeve shirt call ‘baju sampit’ with gold buttons and this worn by a pants call ‘seluar sama’.
Beside a performance of the Bajau horsemen, during the event earlier, there is a Bajau female beauty pageant contest call ‘Ratu Serimpak’, which been held for the last 7 years until now. The unique of this beauty pageant beside their natural beauty was all contestant wearing a traditional Bajau female costume which consist of cultural sarimpak head dress, badu sipak, sarong olos berangkit and silver belt.
Below are some facts you might what to read about Tamu Besar Kota Belud:
How long is the journey from Kota Kinabalu?
- 1 hour to 1.5 hours drive (standard time) to reach at Kota Belud
- 45 minutes drive (off course if you drive your car like how I did)
How to get there?
- Public bus (will cost you around RM10) – Depart from the bus station near the Merdeka field.
- Public taxi (will cost you around RM50) – Depart from the bus station near the Merdeka field or Inanam bus station
What to expect at Kota Belud?
- as I wrote… Lots of hand-made handicrafts and souvenirs for you to bring home, mouth-watering local delights, good quality home-made products from various types of foods and drinks.
- taik karabau… LOL!
Did you know?
The only Malaysian professional football player whom managed to score 2 goals against a full England team while playing for Malaysia on 1991 was a Bajau from Kota Belud named Matlan Marjan. He is a professional football player for the state of Sabah until the year 1995.
My favorite shot of the day..
Those that interested, are higly recommended to visit the Tamu Besar Kota Belud… but you have to wait till next year October then..