Sweet Mem­o­ries in Sabah

Ex­otic nat­u­ral his­tory, amaz­ing ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties, a trop­i­cal par­adise of soft sand and crys­tal-clear waters make Sabah so spe­cial.

Maxx-M - - FRONT PAGE - Text by Grace So­larbe­sain | Pho­tos cour­tesy of Sabah Tourism

Many peo­ple wish to es­cape the rat race and look for a dif­fer­ent, beau­ti­ful and unique lo­ca­tion to spend a few days en­joy­ing their hob­bies or just re­lax­ing. I think Sabah is just the place to sat­isfy that wish. Sabah is blessed with a di­verse land­scape of trop­i­cal forests, rugged moun­tains, green flat­lands and pris­tine seas team­ing with indige­nous flora and fauna, some of which can only be found in this part of the world, and fan­tas­tic cui­sine for those with ad­ven­tur­ous taste buds. Sabah is the sec­ond-largest state in Malaysia af­ter Sarawak, and is lo­cated on the north­ern por­tion of the is­land of Bor­neo. It also shares a bor­der with the In­done­sian prov­ince of North Kal­i­man­tan in the south. The state is known as the “Land be­low the wind” be­cause it is sit­u­ated be­low the ty­phoon and mon­soon belt, which ren­ders it free from cli­matic dis­tur­bances. Kota Kin­a­balu was the first place to ex­plore when I landed in Sabah. Kota Kin­a­balu is the cap­i­tal city, for­merly known as Jes­sel­ton. It is sit­u­ated on the north­west coast of Bor­neo is­land, fac­ing the South China Sea and Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Park on one side, and set against the back­drop of Mount Kin­a­balu. The city is one of the ma­jor tourist at­trac­tions of Malaysia, and is of­ten used as a base for ex­plor­ing the nu­mer­ous nat­u­ral at­trac­tions, and is the best city for an­i­mal lovers. My plan was to en­joy the ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties that the town has to of­fer. The first was a visit to Sabah cul­tural vil­lage.The vil­lage is one of the charm­ing at­trac­tions of Kota Kin­a­balu. While some may think that a cul­tural trip is bor­ing, for me, it was quite the op­po­site. Mon­sopiad and Mari-Mari cul­tural vil­lages were my tar­get. It took about 25 min­utes to drive from Kota Kin­a­balu to Mon­sopiad cul­tural vil­lage. This is a his­tor­i­cal site in the heart­land of the Kadazan­dusun peo­ple and is the only cul­tural vil­lage in Sabah built to com­mem­o­rate the life and times of the leg­endary Kadazan and head­hunter war­rior, Mon­sopiad. I could see tra­di­tional things here like homes, com­mon food­stuffs, in­stru­ments played, etc. There was also a mu­seum called the House of Skulls where all 42 ‘ tro­phies’ of Mon­sopiad hang from the rafters. There was also time to watch a live cul­tural show and dance. I spent about two to three hours here but I think it was well worth it to ex­plore a lit­tle of Kadazan­dusun tra­di­tion and his­tory. The other cul­tural vil­lage that I loved to see was Mari Mari. This is lo­cated about 40 min­utes from the city. Sur­rounded by lush green­ery in Kian­som, Inanam, this place show­cased the colour of cul­tural di­ver­sity of Sabah. When I ar­rived here I was wel­comed by the undis­turbed beauty of the for­est. A va­ri­ety of tra­di­tional homes of Saba­han eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties, the Ba­jau, Lun­dayeh, Mu­rut, Run­gus and Dusun, were built by tribal de­scen­dants. I also saw unique demon­stra­tion huts along the main line of houses in which the daily ac­tiv­i­ties of times gone by were brought to life. For ex­am­ple, mak­ing a blow­pipe, start­ing a fire (from bam­boo), tat­too-mak­ing, and its sym­bol­ism. Shop­ping at the hand­i­craft mar­ket was next on the list. The cen­tre is lo­cated along Jl. Tun Fuad Stephens. This is a favoured shop­ping place for lo­cals and tourists alike. The best thing about the hand­i­craft mar­ket is that you never know what piece of trea­sure you might un­veil dur­ing your visit. Some guests have re­turned home

with an au­then­tic som­po­ton (tra­di­tional wind in­stru­ment), a Mu­rut head­hunter’s blow­pipe, a coconut-shaped hand­bag and a wooden frog that ‘sings’ when you stroke its back with a wooden stick. An­other fa­mous shop­ping place to buy lo­cal sou­venirs is Gaya sou­venir cen­tre, the largest shop at Jl. Gaya also open on week­ends. Be­cause of its strate­gic lo­ca­tion in the mid­dle of city, you will see a lot of tourists in this area. There is much to dis­cover here: shirts, pearl jew­ellery, cof­fee, food, silk, medicine made from an­i­mals, chicken meat, fish sold as pets, dogs, cats, amulets etc. Be­sides the city tour I also en­joyed is­land-hop­ping. It was about a 20 minute cruise from Kota Kin­a­balu to Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Park by speed­boat. This park is a clus­ter of is­lands; Pu­lau Gaya, Pu­lau Sapi, Pu­lau Manukan, Pu­lau Ma­mu­tik and Pu­lau Su­lug. Pu­lau Gaya hosts the Gayana Eco Re­sort, Bunga Raya Re­sort and Gaya

Is­land re­sort by YTL. In Pu­lau Sapi, Manukan and Ma­mu­tik, you can en­joy snorkelling, div­ing and pic­nick­ing. Is­land tours can be booked on the spot at Jes­sel- ton Jetty ex­cept for div­ing, which re­quires a prior ar­range­ment with a dive cen­tre. If you en­joy ad­ven­ture on land rather than in the sea, Pu­lau Gaya and Pu­lau Sapi are the best so­lu­tion. They have hik­ing trails through their pris­tine jun­gles. Home to a va­ri­ety of ex­otic flora and fauna, one is likely to catch a glimpse of rare species such as the in­trigu­ing Me­gapode or Bu­rung Tam­bun, a chicken look-alike bird with large feet that makes a me­ow­ing sound like a cat. Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Park is open daily from 8.30am to 5pm. Sabah is also fa­mous for eco­tourism, like Sepi­lok Orang­utan Sanc­tu­ary, Kin­a­balu Park and The Danum Val­ley. Sepi­lok is one of the largest and most well-known orang­utan sanc­tu­ar­ies in Malaysia. I could see orangutans up close in their nat­u­ral habi­tat. The best times to visit are at 10 am and 3 pm be­cause that is when the orangutans are fed milk and bananas by a ranger. In ad­di­tion, there are over 200 species of birds and a va­ri­ety of wild plants to be found within the 5.7ha sanc­tu­ary. Kin­a­balu Park is well worth vis­it­ing too. It is Malaysia’s first World Her­itage Site. Also the Cen­tre of Plant Di­ver­sity for South­east Asia, the park boasts more than 5,000 vas­cu­lar plant species and has no short­age of fauna ei­ther, be­ing home to some 90 low­land mam­mal species and many oth­ers. The main at­trac­tion at the Park is none other than ma­jes­tic Mount Kin­a­balu, one of the high­est moun­tains in all of South­east Asia. Sur­round­ing the Kin­a­balu Park is a mul­ti­tude of nat­u­ral at­trac­tions and en­joy­able ac­tiv­i­ties. A va­ri­ety of accommodation is avail­able within the Park and in its sur­round­ing ar­eas, rang­ing from ba­sic hos­tels to lux­ury chalets. The Danum Val­ley Con­ser­va­tion Area is blessed with a star­tling di­ver­sity of trop­i­cal flora and fauna. This vast Eden-like basin is home to the rare Su­ma­tran rhi­noc­eros, orangutans, gib­bons, mousedeer and the beau­ti­ful clouded leop­ard. Some 270 species of birds have been recorded in the area. The Danum Field Re­search Cen­tre is lo­cated within the con­fines of the 440sq km for­est re­serve. It also boasts one of the first eco-re­sorts in Sabah, known as the Bor­neo Rain­for­est Lodge. This com­fort­able re­sort has a restau­rant, bar and

many peo­ple wish to es­cape the rat race and look for a dif­fer­ent, beau­ti­ful and unique lo­ca­tion to spend a few days en­joy­ing their hob­bies or just re­lax­ing. I think Sabah is just the place to sat­isfy that wish. Sabah is blessed with a di­verse land­scape of trop­i­cal forests, rugged moun­tains, green flat­lands and pris­tine seas team­ing with indige­nous flora and fauna, some of which can only be found in this part of the world, and fan­tas­tic cui­sine for those with ad­ven­tur­ous taste buds.

For Food Lovers

Kota Kin­a­balu is very well-known for it food. I tried the dessert, the touch-me-not cake. The cake was made at a bak­ery at Kota Kin­a­balu but as it gained pop­u­lar­ity, it was made and served com­mer­cially. Its in­gre­di­ents are sim­ple, yet the dish is so de­li­cious. The cake is made of cus­tard, cream and flour and is quite pop­u­lar with tourists. An­other dessert that I en­joyed was Da­mai Roti Kah­win – a dish that lo­cals love. It was made at a ko­pi­tiam (cafe) in Kota Kin­a­balu. It is made of bread, cold but­ter and kaya. The bev­er­age teh tarik is made of con­densed milk, evap­o­rated milk and black tea leaves, a very mor­eish drink. If you are a noo­dle lover and visit Sabah, you will en­joy beef brisket noo­dles, which in­clude a tasty broth. En­joy the ten­der­ness of the beef and the three in­gre­di­ents in com­bi­na­tion. Mildy spicy Tom Yam noo­dles are also a must-try dish. Coconut milk is used to make the broth for the soup. The dish will also use the noo­dles of your choice. Fi­nally, it is topped off with prawns and other seafood. I think spicy chicken wings are worth try­ing. They are mar­i­nated in a sauce (no one knows the recipe as it is still a se­cret) and then bar­be­cued over a grill. Some lime juice is used to add to the flavour of the dish, too. I think I loved all my ex­pe­ri­ences in this Land be­low the wind, Sabah, and hop­ing to come again to ex­plore other ad­ven­ture. If you are ad­ven­tur­ous, Sabah is your best place to sat­isfy your hob­bies. There are many amaz­ing things you can ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing your stay like Si­padan and Mabul are the best dive spot, Padas or Ki­ulu are the best river to raft, maliau Basin, Danum Val­ley, Tabis and Kin­a­balu Na­tional Park are the best wildlife re­gions.

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