He’s imagined in the mind, he’s a hope in the heart, he’s searched in the soul…He dwells in the mountains, the forests and the seas of Sabah…. He’s Borneo Bob…. The Spirit of Adventure!

The legend arose in Sabah in the late 18th century. The great warrior Monsopiad, who was famous for his cunning, daring, strength and speed was walking through the rainforest and was about to be attacked by a criminal hiding in the trees intending to ambush him. Suddenly, the tall ficus tree he was passing shook as if in rage, and lifted one of its branches like an arm. Out of the tree, dropped the assassin and as Monsopiad began to draw his bush sword, the coward ran away in fear. Looking up at the tree, the brave warrior swore it seemed to wink at him!

The high priestesses spoke of the nature spirit, Bobozamajai, but no one really believed in him as he had never before been seen. But thereafter, the spirit appeared in various disguises to adventurers who also showed respect for their natural surroundings – whether forest, mountain or sea.

He was brought to the attention of foreigners by Sir Hugh Low in the mid-nineteenth century. Sir Hugh was the first foreigner who attempted to climb Mount Kinabalu, and he was desperately lost in the clouds while making his way to the peak along the edge of the cliff that falls into the daunting gorge that now bears his name, “Low’s Gully”. Completely lost and cut off from his companions, Low caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure, dressed like an Englishman on safari! The phantom appeared to be beckoning him while parting the fog and pointing out a safe path.

Upon returning from his successful ascent to the upper plateau of the sacred Borneo mountain, Low described his vision to the local tribesmen who informed him that like his other courageous predecessors, he had come under the protection of Bobozamajai. But Low had great difficulty pronouncing the word, so he just called him “Borneo Bob”. And the name stuck!

Borneo Bob is not always recognized as a kind spirit. He has been known to create mischief and even act comical sometimes but only to get people to “chill out” when they take things too seriously or get too worried. And one should avoid his favourite tree, (name?) which often seems to spit at people who stand under it for long. More ominously, there are stories of his fury at cowards who inflicted damage, caused destruction or showed disrespect to the entities within his domain – animal, vegetable or mineral! Stories abound of shameless loggers and hunters who have had branches or rocks hurled from nowhere at them. And hence, upon embarking on a particular adventure, although one is encouraged to seek his blessings, locals also warn against incurring the wrath of Borneo Bob!

Many have tried to describe their glimpses of Bob, but strangely, none of their descriptions seem to match. He seems to fit the character and imagination of the person who sees him. However, he is commonly described as tall, lithe and strong without being muscular. His attire is always casual- neither sloppy nor particularly elegant and seems to fit the times – what people would nowadays describe as “cool!” His expression appears impish, implying that though the going may be tough, hey! It’s not that serious and whatever the task, let’s make it fun!

Borneo Trading Post

Borneo Trading Post has created an image of Bob as we envisage him to be in the modern era and have incorporated this icon into the logo of our brand and products. Following Bob’s precepts, we have created an outlet to celebrate the nature, adventure, art and craft of Borneo and, by incorporating his image into our products, have created a talisman to invoke the blessings and guidance of Borneo Bob to all our customers.

In addition to the line of adventure gear and garb inspired by our mascot, we seek to expound the products, wares, arts, crafts, myths and beliefs of the tribes of Borneo. Following the precepts of Borneo Bob, we have created an outlet whereby the peoples of Borneo have an opportunity to trade and showcase their wares. On our part, we comb the countryside in search of quality products that integrate and highlight Borneo’s resources while maintaining the deep respect for nature of the indigenous people. At the same time, occasionally, we modify those products to suit the tastes of our discerning customers.

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