Monday, July 10, 2017

Tambunan – the Switzerland in our midst


TAMBUNAN: Tambunan these days is synonymous with deputy chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and the stop-over for motorists plying the old Kota Kinabalu-Keningau Road.

To some, Tambunan is associated with the tales of Mat Salleh, the man who fought the British colonialists. Photographers can never get enough of the rustic panoramic view of paddy fields when viewed from a vantage point as one approaches Tambunan from Kota Kinabalu.

But there are actually 15 good reasons why visitors should make Tambunan their next getaway, according to the Tambunan District Office which has been promoting Visit Tambunan Year 2017. It even dubbed the land-locked district 80 km from Kota Kinabalu as ‘Switzerland of the East’.

In1985, Tambunan was thrust into the political limelight when its famous son and now deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan was sacked from the then ruling Berjaya party and the district was ostracized, abrogated and isolated. What happened next has been described as the emergence of Kadazandusun nationalism driven by the so-called ‘Tambunan Spirit’, concluding with the shocking defeat of Berjaya. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s more than three decades since Tambunan became famous but the district of about 25,000 people retains its easy, rustic village ambience with no major industry to speak of. There have been some attempts at developing industries using the bamboo found widely in Tambunan. But with no commercial planting, an ambitious chopsticks factory quickly ran out of supply. There was also an attempt at producing tapai (a homemade alcoholic brew made from rice) but that too fizzled out though Tambunan remains an important paddy growing district.

It is no surprise therefore that when it comes to attracting visitors, the district covering 134,540 hectares (almost twice the size of Singapore at 71,910 ha) is counting on most things natural.

Under the Visit Tambunan 2017 initiative launched by Chief Minister Datuk Musa Haji Aman in November 2016, the Tambunan District’s tourism action council identified 15 attractions.

Located in a valley west of the Crocker Range and with most economic activities being agricultural, words such as ‘emerald’, ‘green haven’, and ‘sanctuary’ have been used to describe Tambunan. A 90-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu on the old winding road with numerous severe bends is a daunting challenge to faint-hearted drivers, what with the many heavy duty trucks that once plied the route. Many trucks have since chosen the straighter though no less hilly Kimanis Road to transport goods to and from Keningau.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Tambunan – the Switzerland in our midst
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