Kampung Bavanggazo is located 40 kilometres to the south of Kudat town. The village lies within the precinct of Pekan Baru Matunggong and there some signage along the main road linking Kota Kinabalu - Kudat that should point to the right exit. From the main junction, the Rungus longhouse is situated some 3 kilometres further down the road.
In general, Kudat is located some 3 hours to the north of Kota Kinabalu.
Unlike Sarawak, most ethnic tribes in Sabah do not live on longhouses. In fact, the mere mention of longhouse lifestyle often instantly conjures the images of Iban, Bidayuh, Penan, Orang Ulu and Melanau, which are the main ethnic tribes of Sarawak. It is almost safe to make such generalisation, until one comes across the unique Rungus tribe in Sabah which still reside in the unique communal-style longhouse.
Upon arrival, there is a reception hut at the entrance from which a minimal fee of RM2.00 is collected from each visitor. The architecture of the longhouse is quite unique, with towering poles rise some feet above the sloped ground surface, while the interior fittings are exquisitely furnished with locally-sourced materials like bamboo stems, rumbia leaves, etc. After taking off your shoes at the door entrance, you will walk into an elongated living hall that is embellished with traditional music instrument and other cultural items. There are a number of residents seen hanging out at the living hall, most seem friendly and ready to tell a story or two about the dying culture of communal living among the Rungus tribes.
The longhouse also organises homestay package for those wishing to experience this one-of-its-kind communal living in the interior of Sabah. The homestay package is generally very affordable and is inclusive of lodging and food, not to mention the unique rituals often performed by the resident Rungus tribes during non visiting hours.
There is a unique feature outside the longhouse which strike my attention. It is a life size fishing trap, locally known as bubu, which is a rather ancient fishing tool. Except that this bubu was not used for fishing per se. According to one lady at the longhouse, the fishing trap was used to put in two adults who were found guilty of fornication. Their punishment was by locking them up in the tight, confined space of the fishing trap before they were thrown out into the sea. A little story that is enough to send a cold blooded rush down my spine, but she assures me that such execution is no longer practiced in modern-day's Rungus tribes.
An exquisite cultural experience of the Rungus tribes. Not to mention the unique architecture of the longhouse.