“What a memory before the Covid-19 pandemic!”
Chanteek Borneo Indigenous Museum has been one of Sabah’s tourists’ honey spot since 2014. They have been in the tourism industry for 6 years. What is more astounding about Chanteek Borneo is this place, has been listed in The Malaysia Book of Records for The First Miniature Indigenous Costume Museum in 2018.
During the COVID-19 pandemic which saw worldwide tourism industry become halted especially in Sabah, we decided to interview Chanteek Borneo’s staffs while we did our internship there. We were there for our internship since June 2020 and expected to end our practical by early of February 2021.
Let’s hear some sharings from the Chanteek Borneo’s staffs regarding their daily experiences in facing their visitors before the COVID-19.
How do you assist tourists whenever they come to Chanteek Borneo? Do you have any welcoming tradition for the visitors?
Tiffany: If there is any booking made beforehand, we will prepare and plan to greet them with a ‘Welcoming Gong’. There will be 7 people who will play the traditional instruments upon the tourists’ arrival. As for the walk-in, we will just simply greet them with a warm welcome that goes with saying “Kopisanangan kinorikatan hiti Chanteek Borneo”.
In your opinion, is it important to have a professional or a friendly approach with the visitors?
Florence: Personally, I preferred to have a friendly approach with the visitors since they are more comfortable and feel more pleasant by the atmosphere in being friendly. Rather than the professional approach, they will tend to feel reluctant to have an engaging conversation with us.
Riddick: As for me, both are important while approaching the visitors or clients. We could be friendly and still maintain the professionalism in engaging with them.
How does the team handle for more than 15 people who suddenly come to visit Chanteek Borneo?
Florence: When this happened, we would prepare 4 to 6 staffs depending on the crowd. We will divide them into two or more groups. The first group will tour the museum and the other group will wait outside while the first group complete their tour. This will ease the flow of our tour guiding and all the visitors will have fair equal learning session.
Have you experienced any challenging demands from the visitors?
Tiffany: As far as I can remember, I have never met any visitor or customer that requested anything that is out of our profession range. All is good.
Finenna: As a designer, there are several times whereby some clients requested certain designs for their custom order and ended up at bay. But I don’t take it at heart. In fact, I take it as a learning experience to improve myself in my work of art.
Do you have any visitor that has any preferable or favourite traditional folklore?
Ms. Rostinah: Most of the tourists really paid attention from the first section of KadazanDusun, the Nunuk Ragang folklore, which connects the story of our interesting culture.
Riddick: Mostly overseas and as well as handful of our local tourists were really amused with our origins of Kadazandusun ethnics. Other than that, they also admired the legend of the Tamparuli Bridge. Perhaps, they love the storylines of how the Tamparuli bridge was built.
Myrna: There were some visitors that were interested to know why the KadazanDusun used the colour black for their traditional costumes which symbolizes spiritual strength as well as to guard from evil spirit and misfortune.
Are there any visitors or clients that are still in contact with you?
Myrna: Yes. There are visitors, mostly students that who frequently contact us (other than the oversea visitors) regardless of what schools or universities they came from. They would ask for academic trips to Chanteek Borneo. We constantly contacted by the clients to purchase our textile collections from Kain Chanteek Borneo.
Which products from Chanteek Borneo are popular for visitors or clients to purchase?
Clera: They are mostly from our textile collections of Kain Chanteek specifically, the design from Rungus ethnic.
Do you have any fond memories from the visitors?
Lesa: There are a lot of fond memories that we created together and are valuable to us. This is from dancing together with the visitors, doing the craftwork such as crafting the beads.
Lo: For me, it was playing traditional games, and taking pictures while wearing traditional costumes. What a memory before the Pandemic of Covid-19!
BONUS QUESTION! What would you recommend to bring the tourism back to Sabah?
Tiffany: We will focus to give a tourist spot for them to visit mainly on Tuaran-Tamparuli such as Taman Buaya, Rumah Terbalik, and Muzium Lotud. We want the tourism activities in Tuaran district to become more active, recognised and appreciated.
Chanteek Borneo accept tourism students from local universities and colleges to undergo their industrial training before their graduation. Unfortunately in 2020, our trainees do not have the chance to meet tourist during their terms here. Therefore they were given other tourism related assignment that would help them experience the real working world. I wished them best of luck in their future tourism career. This article is part of their many assignment and they manage to complete the task within 3 weeks. – Anne Antah, Director of Chanteek Borneo Gallery