If you are wondering where else you can visit in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, other than Kota Kinabalu City Mosque aka ‘Sabah Floating Mosque’ and Rumah Terbalik, The Upside Down House of Borneo, you may want to consider getting to Tamparuli and revisit a landmark that is believe to be more than 60 years with its own history. 

Do you know that Tamparuli Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Tamparuli and Sabah? There are 2 bridges in Tamparuli. The bottom bridge which is a few meters right above the Kiulu River, was built by British Engineers back in the 1950s, are meant for vehicles to pass through. It has been around for more than 60 years and there are alot of stories connecting to it. Although there were a few big floods like those in the 1999 especially, this bottom bridge remained strong and whole despite being washed away many times.

History has it that this bridge also known as ‘Lover’s Bridge’ was built based on the sacrifice of a beautiful Sumandak woman named, ‘Solungkoi’ by her lover, a British Officer named Robinson in the 1950s during the British Colonial Rule in Sabah. Back then, Officer Robinson was in charge of building a bridge to allow vehicles to pass through so that the British and locals are able to connect with the outside world.

However, each time they built the bridge, it will be destroyed by the floods. So Robinson asked Intang, a local worker to find out why and what is going on. Intang, who believes in Tombuakar (water ghost) consults a Shaman who practiced mystical beliefs for advised. The Shaman then told Intang that the Tombuakar is mad for disturbing their home and she advised Intang to hold a ceremony as an apology. They did as told but still, they encounter problems as they built the bridge. Then, the Shaman told Intang that the Tombuakar actually wanted the life of a beautiful Sumandak woman as a sacrifice. There are no other woman as beautiful as Solungkoi. So Intang, who happens to also like Solungkoi, but whose love wasn’t reciprocate, decided that Solungkoi will be the best person to be sacrificed but the Shaman disapproves of it as she is innocent.

Filled with revenge, Intang went on to share the news to Robinson and he managed to incite Robinson who was torn between the choice of his career or the love of his life. After much thought, Robinson chose career over the life of his loved one. They held another ceremony to celebrate the Tamparuli bridge with an alibi of having the sacrificial ceremony without the knowledge of anyone. While everyone was drunk, including Solungkoi, Robinson tied her up and when she came around and realised that she was tied up, Solungkoi begged Robinson to let her go. But Robinson was adamant with his decision so Solungkoi stop begging and instead cursed at the bridge, saying that it will never be able to stand strong unless Robinson’s blood spilled the river.

Once the ceremony ended and Robinson was sober, he felt guilty and decided to take his own life. Before he drowned himself in the river, it was said that he carved Solungkoi’s name on a metal plate and had it placed near the very first pillar of the bridge where Solungkoi was submerged to her death as a sacrifice. Thus, the reason why this bridge remained strong to date. Some people believes that this is just a myth but some divers claimed that they were able to find the metal plate in the river.

This bridge was also known to have taken the lives of 2 British Soldiers who died while on the way to send an injured local woman to Jesselton in the 1960s. Private J.W.N. Hall, Royal Army Medical Corps, had to get out of the landrover to guide Driver D.C. Cooper, Royal Army Service Corps as the bridge was a little flooded by the river. However, due to strong currents, the landrover was swept away into the river and Pte. Hall dived in to try and save his colleague but to no avail. Both their bodies and landrover submerged about 3 days later and were rescued. Both Pte. Hall and Driver Cooper was buried at Camp Paradise as a memorial location to remember the tragedy. You may find it near the side bridge of Pekan Tamparuli which has been fenced up. You can read more about it here.

The suspension bridge which is built high above the Kiulu River was meant for pedestrians to cross over to the other side and this bridge was made famous by a local Dusun singer, Justin Lusah with the local song titled, ‘Jambatan Tamparuli’.

Lyrics:

“Pak pak kang ku doh
Sumunsui doh jambatan
Jambatan doh Tamparuli
Bakasut tinggi oku

Sumunsui doh jambatan
Jambatan doh Tamparuli
Pak pak kang ku doh
Bakasut tinggi oku

Silaka nodi kasutku
Naratu lo jambatan
Tinggal poh doh sutakin
Nowid ku di numuli

Ontok di hari 3
Tamu lo Tamparuli
Mingusuk poh hilo kadai
Mogihum doh kasut tinggi

Ulang (semua)”

Lirikami : http://www.liriklagumuzika.com/2008/08/lirik-lagu-rakyat-sabah-jambatan.html#ixzz5N2tbU5wx

 

Translation

“I make a “pak pak” sound
As I walk along the bridge
The Tamparuli bridge
In my high-heeled shoes

As I walk along the bridge
The Tamparuli bridge
I make a “pak pak” sound
In my high heeled shoes

But my damned shoes
Fell off the bridge
All that’s left are socks
Which I take home with me

Now it’s Wednesday
At the Tamparuli market
Walking through all the shops
Looking for a pair of high heeled shoes

Repeat (all)”

http://www.ortolanaclare.com/2017/06/jambatan-tamparuli-song-lyrics.html

Both bridges which is about 50m in length, are built above the famous Kiulu River where adventurous souls would go deeper inland to get their adrenaline rush through Kiulu water rafting. To be honest, I am afraid of heights. So I did not even had the guts to cross over to the other side but I brave myself to walk atleast a quarter of it and stay there to enjoy the view. Rudy shared with us about this bridge being built since the 1950s by British soldiers for vehicles used during the British Occupation and mentioned about it being a “Lovers Bridge”. Besides, while I was there, I felt a little different and somehow my heart was filled with sadness. It’s like I knew something is connected to this bridge. So back in the hostel, I google about it and when I learnt about the history, I realised it’s a no wonder I felt like there’s a story behind it.

As usual, boys will be boys. Knowing that I was afraid, they tried to rock the bridge but to no avail as the new suspension bridge is stronger than the previous. They tried to take a jumping photo while I squat down like a professional photographer.

This bridge may be just a bridge to some. But to me, the view was somewhat amazing. You get to see hills on the other side. The day we visit it, it was drizzling and there were clouds covering the hills, making it an even better view.

 

 

Here’s the location of the bridge;

Tamparuli Bridge Map
Tamparuli Bridge Map

I have always heard stories about humans being sacrificed to make a bridge strong. So, to me, the story of the lovers may be real. But what about you? What do you think about it? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!

Till then…

Xoxo;

Lia Schmolphin

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