Every place has its tale. For Sebauh, a small town of over 20,000 people, it is the tale behind the floating temple.
The temple, known as Natok Kon Sebauh, sits on an island directly opposite the town and is the only temple of its kind in Sarawak. It houses three deities who are believed to possess immense powers and will come to the aid of anyone in need.
You can get to Natok Kon Sebauh by boat from the town jetty to the island where the temple is for a small price. Once you arrive at the temple, you will see that it is completely separated from land and is surrounded on all sides by water. So how did the island on which the temple stand come into being?
The fish and the gecko
Local legend, told to us by Penghulu Lee Lei Seng of Sebauh, has it that there were once three fishermen who went fishing at Kuala Sebauh. Their names were Haji Salleh, Tuanku Silai and Mohammad Su.
While eating on their boat, a couple of fish jumped out of the water and landed on Haji Salleh’s plate. This amusing incident had Tuanku Silai and Mohammad Su bursting into laughter. Moments later, a gecko landed on the same plate. Seeing this, the two laughed even harder. Haji Salleh told them to stop laughing but they just couldn’t help themselves. They laughed so hard that the boat eventually sank.
About six months later, an island appeared where the boat with Haji Salleh, Tuanku Silai and Mohammad Su inside sank. It is said that after the small island appeared, the townspeople began to see three deities there on moonlit nights. They were believed to be the three fishermen.
Following the sightings, the Natok Kon Sebauh temple was built on the island for the deities. Interestingly, the island is said to have floated from its original location along the Kemena River to its current place. Even more interesting is the fact that the island is in alignment with a small mound just across the river at the town.
See it for yourself
Today, Natok Kon Sebauh has become one of the major attractions for the small town of Sebauh. A 50-kilometre drive here from Bintulu Town is also more worthwhile if you stop by an old coffee shop at the end of a row of shophouses facing the river in Sebauh town. It is famous for its Mi Udang (braised yellow noodle with udang galah (giant freshwater prawns) and braised Tapah fish noodle soup with preserved vegetable.
Check out www.bintulu.sarawak.gov.my for more information.