Photo: Mantanani light.


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Kota Belud, known locally as KB, is barely a city as the name suggests—Kota means city in Malay—but rather a busy small town, which most of the week is off the radar for the majority tourists.

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All the same, it makes a handy stop between Kota Kinabalu and Kudat, and is the jumping-off point to visit Mantanani Islands. Kota Belud really comes to life on Sundays when the weekly market, or Tamu, gets into full swing, a social occasion for the local Bajau, Rungus, Dusun and Iranun folk as much as a chance to buy the groceries.

Meet Kota Belud. Photo taken in or around Kota Belud, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Meet Kota Belud. Photo: Sally Arnold

Once a year in October the town bursts at the seams when the crowds converge on the famous Tamu Besar (big market), one of Sabah’s largest and most colourful cultural events. Highlights of the two-day festival include a parade of Bajau horsemen and their charges adorned in a kaleidoscope of bejewelled and patchwork garb; lively buffalo races and the crowning of the Ratu (beauty queen).

At other times, when Kota Belud is more sedate, you can enjoy views of Mount Kinabalu looming over the town or simply soak up the bucolic scenes as livestock wander the dusty streets. Kota Belud is the heartland of the Bajau people, who were originally seafaring but have now settled as farmers in the area. The populace also includes a large percentage of Dusun and a substantial Chinese minority. The town’s multicultural presence can be seen with the golden-topped mosque on a hill to the east of the town centre and a Chinese temple to ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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