Sarawakians for the most part have heard of how the legend of Mount Santubong is one of jealousy and rage between two celestial princesses Puteri Santubong and her sister Puteri Sejinjang.

However, there is another legend that circles around Mount Santubong in which many may have never heard of. The best part is, this legend is a love story.

A Haji and his moonshine

The first Ranee of Sarawak, Ranee Margaret published her bibliography entitled “My Life in Sarawak” in 1913.

In the book, she gave glimpses of her life as the consort to the second White Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Brooke.

The Ranee also shared stories and daily conversations she had with her local friends.

The Brookes had a bungalow at the foot of Mount Santubong to stay when they needed a change of air.

During one of her stays at Santubong, a Malay friend told the Ranee a love story of a Haji and the spirit of Santubong which she penned down in her book.

Legend has it there was a man named Hassan who lived in a house at the foot of Mount Santubong.

He was a religious man; he read the Quran daily, never missed his prayers and had done his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Occasionally, Hassan visited his siblings who were living in Kuching. Little that he knew, the Spirit of Santubong and also the daughter of the moon was watching him with admiration the whole time.

One day, the spirit flew down to Hassan’s house and they became friends. They eventually fell in love and married.

The spirit brought her husband to live with her in the other realm. They were living the happy-ending fairy tale life until the husband started to miss his family in Kuching.

This was what the man said to his wife in the Ranee’s account, “Delight of my life and light of my eyes, forgive me for what I am about to say. I want to go to Kuching to see my brothers and sisters, and to stay with them for a while.”

Reluctantly, the wife agreed. She sent her servants to send Hassan to Kuching but asking him to return in a month’s time.

Mount Santubong jungle.

The husband that had too much fun

When her husband was away, the spirit of Santubong sat on top of the mountain missing her husband.

Meanwhile, the Haji was happy reuniting with his family in Kuching. They had a feast for him and he was enjoying himself.

He was enjoying it too much that he forgot his wife for months (an action that would grant him a divorce in this modern day).

One morning after he was taking his bath at the riverbank, Hassan saw a great black cloud forming over the peak of the mountain.

He rushed to call his servant and made his way back home, only to find it empty and desolate.

Crushed and devastated, Hassan went back to Kuching longing for his wife. One evening, a man on a sampan passed Hassan while he was sitting by the river.

The man told him that his wife was seen on the top of Mount Sipang. Hassan then quickly climbed to the mountain peak only to find she was not there.

After that, he heard another rumour that his wife was seen on Mount Serapi, the highest peak of Matang range.

Again, the Spirit of Santubong was not there.

From there, Hassan sought his wife all over Borneo but he never saw her again. He returned to Kuching and died of a broken heart.

The view that greets you from the top of Mount Santubong.

The secrets of the Earth

The Ranee’s friend (whose name was not recorded) also said this to her, “If you like to go out by yourself, Rajah Ranee, and stand under those trees at midnight, you will hear voices of unknown people telling you the secrets of the earth.”

Margaret of course did not go out to do that but she did regret it. She wrote,

“I wish now I had gone out and listened, for I am foolish enough to believe the secrets told by those musical branches might have been worth listening to, but afraid of the night, of the solitude, and above all, of the criticisms of my European friends, I refrained. I have since come to the conclusion that I have lost a wonderful and beautiful experience which may never occur again.”

Perhaps it was the voices of unknown people who told the Ranee’s friend the story of Hassan and his wife-spirit.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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