I see more culture at award-winning Mari Mari Cultural village near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah – locals had all recommended I go, telling me to ‘go to the dinner show at night’. Moving through the village in small groups five local tribes introduce us to their way of life including fire-making, blowpipes, tattoos, whisky, and food, In the famously feared headhunting tribes (Murut) longhouse is an amazing indoor trampoline, the lansaran. After a demonstration on the trampoline like floor our group jump to reach for the ‘prize’ – I didn’t try. Other tribes are the rice farming Kadazan-Dusun, the longhouse Rungus, the hunters and fisherman Lundayeh, the cowboy and sea gypsy Bajau.
The tour culminated in a great concert and buffet style dinner and, in good ecotourism style, every dollar spent here stays here, helping the local native people keep their ancestor’s traditions.
Many cultural shows (around the word) can be superficial, staged authenticity, designed to entertain rather than enlighten, but this is locally driven, and it’s the locals who always need to decide what they want to share with the world and how to present it.