Hanging with headhunters | Sabah, Borneo

From behind the door we could hear a tribe of men yelling – something like a war cry. The gate swung open, about 10 headhunters eyed us as they walked by, spears in hand. They spoke in some tribal language and even got in our face like a drill sergeant. Whose skull was going to end up in a longhouse rafter? My heart started to beat faster.  I had to tell myself it wasn’t real, that these guys were just actors. Still, I thought I was part of a national geographic documentary for an afternoon.

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is about 25 minutes outside of Kota Kinabalu, but it might as well be in the middle of the Bornean rainforest. It’s one of the few places you can see the traditional ways the many tribes of Borneo live. The best way to get there is join a tour from KK. Leave your spears at home.


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