Tamu Kota Belud & Cowboys of the East


Kota Belud is approximately an hour’s drive from KK city and is home to the “Cowboy’s of the East”. They have a “Tamu” (market) every Sunday, and once a year it’s held in a larger scale. Having a free day which collided with the event -it seemed like the logical thing to do.

Kota Belud town itself is pretty small, and can be circled in a whopping 30 minutes or so. Now, the main reasons we came was because we were told, that there would be a show on  the day involving horses and a tug of war of sorts with a water buffalo!

Entering the market place

The marketplace itself, was packed with stalls selling everything from fruits, vegetables, hair accessories, varieties of “kuih” (local treats) and even a local medicine man peddling cures for everything from asthma to diabetes.  The few booths that I found rather amusing were :

  1. The booth demonstrating Basic Life Support by the Emergency Department of Hospital Kota Belud
  2. The police desk where you could check your summons
  3. The prize winning vegetables – why I found this so funny was beyond everyone else but it still gets me giggling till today.
  4. Local medicine man
Basic Life Support by Hospital Kota Belud
Medicine man selling everything from “meds” for hypertension to TB!
Just in case you needed a new pair of glasses.
Some prize winning fruit. I kept telling my better half that a gesture of true love meant getting me the prize winning long beans.

After wandering around, watching the beauty pageant, a couple of performances and  stuffing our faces, we realised that there was no space for any form of horse show here. We were then told by the officials that the event was in the main field in town and would only start at 2pm. We wandered around a little more before heading over.


The event started off with a horse show, where the horses and riders decked in colourful clothes were parading in front of judges. We didn’t really understand what exactly was going on, but it was interesting to watch anyway!

The fun really began when they started playing horse-netball (they did call it bola jaring which is netball – but on horses). As odd as this game sounds and although we had zero affinity for either team, it was fun to watch. And soon, together with the rest of the crowd, we cheered on the different teams and looked on in horror as the riders dipped low to pick the ball up off the ground while on their horses. Surely one of the major associated injuries is a couple of broken bones from being trampled on by horses!

We were midway through the game, when the gloomy dark cloud that had been mocking us from a distance decided to head on over and rained all over the rest of the event. So, while I did see the water buffalo – I don’t quite know exactly what role it had in the show and I was slightly disappointed that I did not get to watch the chicken catching event. Perhaps next year I will be a little luckier.

Bujang Jaya and his rider chilling out before the start of the event.

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