Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tamu is Borneo's grassroots mall


By Rahmat bin Hj Abdul Rahman

Tamu or Open market on Sundays that made its debut about four decades ago in the old oil town of Seria are a common feature in many parts of Borneo today.

Besides the variety of fare offered by small time vendors the Tamu provides an ideal opportunity for people to converge and meet up with friends and relatives who are doing their Sunday shopping.

The tamu lets small time traders to bring their produce from rural to the urban areas besides exchanging goods and reasonable prices.

Some of the popular items that are hawked in abundance, vegetables, groceries, textiles, cottage products and other agricultural produce.

Kota Kinabalu City is famous for its' Tamu or Sunday Market at Gaya Street that opens from early in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Kota Belud is also known for its Sunday Tamu and the Big Tamu. Sipitang's Tamu is on every Wednesday that runs early in the afternoon up to Thursday evening.

Lawas Tamu is on every Thursday morning to Fridays at 6 o'clock in the evening.

Meanwhile, in Limbang across the Brunei border the tamu is held every Thursday from 6 o'clock in the morning till 6 o'clock in the evening and is located near the public Wet Market in Limbang town. But on Friday, the tamu starts at 6 o'clock in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Some of the agricultural produce sold here come from Sabah. Fruits like avocado, watermelon and pineapples are available around March. Fruits like Rambutan, durian, pulasan, langsat, mangosteen and others were hardly seen at Limbang tamu. These tropical fruits are only available during their season between September to December.

The harvesting of the tropical fruits in Tenom, Sipitang in Sabah, in Merapok and Trusan, Lawas and Limbang varies from a location to another.

Meanwhile, the multi-racial ethnic communities in Sarawak trade in the tamus in harmony.

The ethnic Melayu Brunei, Kedayan, Lundayeh or Lunbawang, Bisaya, Iban and Chinese sit together to sell their goods.

One of the vendors was seen using timber trunks to improvise kitchen utensils like the "gagawi" and "sasaban" and "hulu parang". He made these utensils from the abandoned tree trunks instead of leaving them to simply rot away.

What impressed us mostly was the cottage industrial products made with traditional items like the "utau", "barut", "bantal guling or bantal paluk", pillows made from cotton by local woman for babies and post-natal mothers

Jangan, an officer from Limbang Municipal said, "The tamu operates fairly on a ' first come first served basis'. No booking can be made by prospective vendors leaving their goods during the day and night. The fee for a small plot is only about RM2.00.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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