Like most cultures in this world, the local people
of Borneo have found ways of transforming their staple-food into alcohol, and
none of the worst!
In the making of
lihing (Kadazan-Penampang for Rice Wine), nothing but ‘pulut’,
glutinous rice rich in sugar, and natural yeast, called ‘sasad’ and also
made from rice, enter the preparations. Sometimes, lihing is referred to as
hiing (certain Dusun languages), and others call it kinomol, segantang,
kinarung, kinopi, linahas, and even tapai. They are all different
(but always fermented, rice-based) beverages. Tapai proper is actually wine made
from the tuber of the cassava plant, the preferred party drink of the Murut. To
add to the confusion, the Iban of Sarawak call their rice wine tuak,
which must not be confused with Sabahan talak, which is rice-alcohol (and
arak in Malay just means 'alcohol'...).
Rice wine accompanies all
Kadazandusun celebrations and rites, and at a Murut party there will be rows
upon rows of jars with fermented cassava tapai. It is an integral part of the
lives of Sabah's ethnic groups, and depending on where you are there are various
ways of enjoying this drink: from bamboo or, more contemporary, plastic cups, or
through a bamboo straw - and even that one comes in a modern version: a thin
If you visit a local home you
will most probably get a taste of rice wine. Refusing the first cup is not
polite, but subsequent rounds can be skipped. Simply enjoy the round with the
locals, sit back and let yourself be entertained...
The Flying Dusun's exclusive
Headhunters' Lihing is sold in a select few boutiques in Sabah,
such as the
Borneo Trading Post and
in some major hotels. Take a "Taste of Sabah" home with you!
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Dusun bottle format
Ka'amatan 2007 promotions
"Kampung bottle"... aramai-tii!
Flying Dusun's exclusive Headhunters'
drinking from 'suki' - bamboo cups