Sunday, July 06, 2014

Santubong - A haven for nature lovers


THE origin of one of Sarawak’s most popular tourist destinations, Mount Santubong, remains a mystery. The people here have many versions as to how Santubong got its name.

Located 35km from the capital city, Kuching, on the northwestern coast of Borneo, Mount Santubong and its surrounding rainforest, mangrove swamps, rivers and sandy beaches, have been home to the native Iban community since the seventh century.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Iban Studies, the natives refered to the place as “Si-antu-ubong”, which in the Iban language means “spirit boat”.

It was customary for the Iban people to place the dead in a boat-like coffin made from a single hollow log.

It is believed the vessel will take the dead to the world beyond.

Some people, however, believed that the name was introduced by the Hakka Chinese, who called it “San Chu Bong”, which means wild boar king.

Kampung Santubong chief Suhaili Kifli, 64, said many of the Malay villagers still held on to this legend.

“According to history, some of the first people who lived here claimed that they saw a huge wild boar as big as a human,” he said, adding that Santubong in Iban also means “collapse”.

Another interesting legend often associated to Santubong is that of two beautiful princesses from heaven, Santubong and Sejinjang.

According to the legend, the King of Heaven had sent the princesses to restore peace when war broke out between Kampung Pasir Puteh and Kampung Pasir Kuning.

The princesses brought peace to the villages and helped the villagers become prosperous.

Many princes asked for their hand in marriage. Both the princesses, however, fell in love with a prince and fought over him.

Angered by their behaviour, the King of Heaven cursed them and turned Santubong into Mount Santubong and Sejinjang into Mount Sejinjang.

Some people say the mountains resemble women lying on their back and a crack on the peak of Mount Santubong is the scar on Princess Santubong’s cheek, which she obtained during the fight with Princess Sejinjang.

“It is hard to believe such mythical tales. But people have shared these stories for a long time,” said Suhaili.

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