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