Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dancing in Gaya Street?

It all started as a Facebook group with a dozen or so members. Justin, the founder, called this group North Borneo History Enthusiasts (NBHE). We are interested in discussing and learning about the history of Sabah as well as sharing what we know.

“We are not experts,” we tell our friends, “merely enthusiasts.”  Grab a few people off the street and they’d probably represent the members of our group… like ‘tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief'. Oh, maybe we should take out ‘thief’ and replace it with ‘farmer’.

Hardly anything happened the first three months. I didn’t even invite any of my friends to join for fear they’d be appalled at the inactivity! But things began to move three months after we started. As more and more Facebook friends were added to the group, we considered limiting the group to 250 members. (Members have now exceeded 300.)

Strangers meeting for the first time in October.

A few of us met for the first time in October. Paul invited us for tea at a hotel in town. We talked about fun group activities for members. A walkabout to rediscover Jalan Gaya? Yes! A great train ride to Tenom? Yes! Ideas for a community heritage project were tossed around. Should we? Could we? Participation was  meant to be on a voluntary basis. No pressure.

We went on the walkabout, slipping into shops that were opened and taking pictures like tourists do at the Sunday Fair. We pointed at things people walk past without looking. We watched with admiration as three in the group wrapped a python around their neck and had their pictures taken. “Taru di fesbuk! Taru di fesbuk!” the snake-keeper said. We took long breaks in coffee shops and met interesting people. That was one enjoyable Sunday!

Eleven members took part in the walkabout. (My foot is missng.)

Then in early December a bigger group went on the great train ride to Tenom. A few had come over from KL and Tony flew all the way from NZ! Again, most were strangers to each other and met for the first time on the train. That event was enjoyable too.

The group at Beaufort before boarding the railbus to Tenom.

But the Gaya Street Community Project is a serious affair. Dubbed Bonding with Gaya, a play on the word ‘bond’ because Jalan Gaya was formerly Bond St., this project has received the blessing of and is supported by City Hall. It’ll be part of a series of events for City Day celebrations which start on 2 February this year!

Although NBHE now has more than 300 members—some from as far away as the USA and Australia and Europe—the working committee for this project is only a handful. But what a fantastic handful it is!

There’re lots of activities spread over two days and all involve the community. We hope people will come, and invite their friends too, to join the fun! Read about it on Borneo Colours  or in NBHE’s first press release!

NBHE in the news.

Now you know why I have not been updating my blog regularly. :-(


  1. Hehehe. You must mention farmer huh? :P

  2. That 0 km Kota Kinabalu must be the centre of the city as someone mentioned not too long ago. Where is this spot located?

  3. The 0 km is outside the old post office (now Sabah Tourism Board).

  4. I am a North Borneo stamp collector originally from Sandakan. I have an attractive envelope which was sent by a Lim Keng Fatt of Bond Street to Sweden in 1919. I am trying to find some information on Mr Lim. I hope someone can help. Thanks.

    1. Hi NB stamp collector! Thanks for visiting my blog. I had a look at your beautiful envelope and the interesting old pix of Jesselton. You’ll find some info on Lim Keng Fatt in the link below. Read the last story… about the Kinabalu Guerillas.