I am spontaneous person. I always do things on impulse. It is essential for me to stay true to my heart and do what I want to do. So, on last Thursday 15th December 2016, I flew to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah – a decision I made with ticket I bought on Wednesday itself! With Air Asia, it costed around RM800 but yeah, what the heck, right?
Hanging out at Upperstar IMAGO. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah – I was here! (,”). After all these years (my Doncha buddy and lass keep asking me to fly to Borneo! Sorry people, I took a long time. Next trip, Kuching, yeah?).
The journey took around 2 hours and a half and since that was my virgin experience to Borneo, I freaked out a bit when I saw immigration counter at the exit. I recollected my knowledge on history syllabus back in school that years ago, to enter Borneo required passports but then they abolished the system after that. So, I just gave my I/C and was given the pass ala entrance in Europe countries (travelling abroad does help me with this). My Doncha buddy, Efesius Abu Constantine a.k.a. Efy welcomed me at Kota Kinabalu International Airport with his 4 Wheel Drive Hilux (no less! Haha!) and we went to IMAGO Shopping Mall for teatime. We went to Upperstar, a restaurant with cool Victorian ambiance to catch up. Well, we were there for almost 2 hours (Well, we haven’t seen each other for 3 years; so Efy was filling me with a lot of his stories! Haha!) and then went to Suria Sabah (another shopping mall). We called it a day at Efy’s apartment at Menggatal and we slept quite late due to late night endless stories! Haha!
The Upside Down (Rumah Terbalik) at Tamparuli, Sabah. Not that far from Efy’s crib at Menggatal. So, I now have a legit knowledge to tell my Year 5 pupils on this building (Year 5 English Language syllabus on “Unique Buildings”).
On the next day, Friday 16th December 2016 – we pushed off from Menggatal towards The Upside Down House (Rumah Terbalik) at Tamparuli which is not far from Efy’s place. I simply had to visit this because it is mentioned in the Year 5 English Text Book and it would be a surplus in the future for me to explain the experiences to my pupils during the lessons, no? We were whisked into the house within groups (waiting for the previous groups took around 20 minutes – depending on the number of visitors of that day!). We were not allowed to take pictures inside the house. On whole, it was creative building and there was a mirror placed on the floor so that we could identify the “normal position” from the reflection of these topsy-turvy arrangement of the furniture in the house! For further details, you guys can check the website at http://www.upsidedownhouse.com.my/.
The famous Tamparuli Bridge (Jambatan Tamparuli). At that side is the small town of Tamparuli.
We then proceeded to Tuaran as I planned to perform Friday Prayer before pushing off to Kundasang. On the way, we passed by the famous Tamparuli Bridge. Efy, being the loquacious tour-guide without hesitation explained to me that it is famous because years ago, this was among the first bridges that was built as linkage between the lands there. And of course as the famous Kadazan folklore song “Jambatan Tamparuli” (Tamparuli Bridge) immortalizing the bridge, the popularity is inevitable! We passed the sleepy hollow township of Tamparuli and proceeded to Tuaran.
Masjid An-Nur, The Tuaran District Mosque.
We had lunch at this Malay stall nearby Tuaran Fire Station and around 12 o’clock, Efy sent me to the Masjid Daerah Tuaran (The Tuaran District Mosque) which is affectionately known as Masjid An-Nur. It is a spacious double-storey mosque with glass-windows at its dome. I have read in Wikipedia that apparently, that mosque is the biggest one in Sabah!! Check this Malay-Language Wikipedia at https://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masjid_Daerah_Tuaran. We then headed straight towards Kundasang. The first township we encountered was Nabalu, a small town town which provided scenic lookout point of beautiful mountainous canvas of the Borneo’s Crocker Range. More or less like a place for you to stretch your ligaments and sinew before you proceed to Kundasang! Haha! For a light reading on Nabalu, click this simple article by Murphy of Sabah.com at http://www.mysabah.com/wordpress/nabalu-the-mid-way-stop-to-kinabalu-park/.
Nabalu, a small town which you will not miss once you are heading towards Kundasang from Kota Kinabalu! A strategic lookout point.
Like I said, I instantaneously had that mental image of Shaolin monastery the moment I saw the exotic name “Bundu Tuhan”! Haha!
Efy and I. Can you see the fog? It was cold and cool!
As we heading up towards the peak area, I encountered exotic names of places such as Bundu Tuhan (I immediately had this mental image of monks monastery ala Shaolin Temples! lol!) and Efy being the effortless loquacious tour-guide told me that Bundu is a local fruit ala mango. Amazing! It was really foggy and misty and the weather was starting to be cool. We arrived at our lodging called Mile 36 Lodge. It was cute English cottage-like place with scenic landscape and Efy did great job at selecting this as we did this last-minute (in fact, Efy called the person in charge at Tuaran while I was performing my Friday Prayer!) and we managed to get it for affordable RM160! We rested and cleaned ourselves before resuming journey to the famous Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, dubbed as Little Malaysian New Zealand.
Our lodge at Kundasang, Mile 36 Lodge. Amazing place ala English cottages with scenic view as well as friendly staffs. Highly-recommended with economical pricing! We stayed at Chin’s Bungalow with RM 160. Like Kat put it, the biggest aircond in Malaysia : the night was freezing cold!
Unfortunately when we arrived there at 4.30 p.m., it was already closed for visitors so we decided to relax for a while at the front gate (with spectacular green pasture landscape, no less!) and then went to Kundasang township to have a bite. We found this stall called “Dapur Tasha” which was a strategic by-the-hill-terrain stall and customers could play golf at the side of the stall (hit the ball from the stall which is located at upper part of terrain to the vast landscape of green pasture at the under part of terrain out there). Our initial idea was to have a simple teatime and fried bananas at Kundasang and then have dinner at Ranau (a bigger town at the valley) BUT you know when you are in cold places, you tend to get hungry! Right after we feasted on the “teatime delicacies”, the smell of delicious meals filled our nostrils – we instantaneously ordered the heavy meals, right away! The “Nasi Goreng Ikan Masin” and “Char Kuey Teow” never tasted better (perhaps psychology; or perhaps the weather? Haha!). We were there for almost 2 hours, chatting and chatting and chatting. Haha!
Breathtaking Kundasang, our Little New Zealand. I have been to both New Zealand and Switzerland and of course, the experiences are not that similar BUT to have a local alternative like this; well, you could never ask for more but being bedazzled by our beautiful tropical Malaysia!
I had the opportunity to perform prayer at Kundasang Jamek Mosque which was situated at a higher part of Kundasang, looking very majestic. I like the feeling of able to visit mosques during this Borneo vacation. It makes me feel connected with something I am familiar with and it grounded me to know that no matter where I go, my faith is not be shackled. But what I would always remember was the SUPER COLD water when I was taking my ablution! Haha! What did I expect, no? I was at the zenith of Kundasang which is a township on the Borneo’s Crocker Range!! LOL! After that, we went down to Ranau because Efy wanted to show me the town and we had drink at a restaurant called Muslim Restaurant (Mamak style) as it was raining. By that time, both of us were quite tired and sleepy – so to keep Efy awaken, we endlessly goofed around in the car, singing to the Xmas songs he played or experimenting with weird voice range. Haha!
Kundasang Jamek Mosque.
Mile 36 Lodge was a pleasant place for natural lover and all you could hear were the sounds of nocturnal insects with cold atmosphere. Efy dozed off instantaneously while I was battling to sleep! I have trouble sleeping at new places and also sensitive towards weather. Luckily, Efy told me to buy socks at Ranau. It was cold – I think what my friend, Kathleen Nandong said in Facebook was the best summary to describe night atmosphere in Kundasang – the biggest aircond in Malaysia! If I am not mistaken, it was around 3 – 4 a.m. that I finally managed to get some sleep.
View from our balcony at 36 Mile Lodge. Isn’t that awesome? Some of my friends told me I was lucky because usually, our Mother Mount Kinabalu always plays ‘peekaboo’ under the white fleece sheet of clouds blanket! Sitting majestically there; I love hearing the mythical tales of Mount Kinabalu. Check this site for more reading : http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/mount-kinabalu-legends.html.
A view from gazebo at Mile 36 Lodge. Subhanallah, beautiful Mother Nature. Gaia has been gracious. (,”).
English breakfast ambiance at the Old Longhouse verandah of Mile 36 Lodge. The food are Halal, of course as Efy verified with them and I also checked in the website. I am quite particular with the food I consume – I have no comments on other Moslems who are “layback” on that, it is personal choice and of course, even if the food is Halal but if you don’t feel convince, that you are not bound to eat that. But either way, it is my personal choice which I can’t compromise. Thanks to Efy for being understanding. Friendship is all about respecting each others, no? (,”)
Saturday morning, 17th December 2016 – the morning view from our Mile 36 Lodge balcony was amazing. We could view Mount Kinabalu directly from our balcony! Efy was glad with himself for selecting this lodge and I agreed that it was a great place. Well, when you visit Sabah, obviously Mount Kinabalu IS the icon and you would want to immortalize your memory with that, no? We had breakfast at Old Longhouse verandah. With the morning sunlight beginning to penetrate through windows and beautiful varicoloured mountain wild flowers planted at the sides of verandah, our breakfast felt so simplistic English! Amazing! On whole, we really enjoyed our stay at Mile 36 Lodge and Efy is thinking of revisiting the place as he is a frequent traveller from Tongod (where he teaches now) to Kota Kinabalu and he always pass by Kundasang. You guys can check the website at this link (we stayed at Chin’s Bungalow) : http://www.mile36lodge.com/!
Woohoo. No climbing for me this time as this is a spontaneous trip AND I haven’t done any prior exercize! Perhaps in the upcoming trip – climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of my wishlists!
At Kinabalu Park, one of the World Heritage Sites.
We then headed to Kinabalu Park. No, I did not climb Mount Kinabalu as you couldn’t do it on impulse. I had to do physical exercise prior to this because it demands stamina, of course! Perhaps in my upcoming next visit! Haha! From there, we went straight to Desa Dairy Cattle Farm to witness the Holstein Friesian cattle reared in Malaysia. Immense crowds were thronging the place and luckily we didn’t get ourselves into the parking lot frenzy (we parked at somewhere considerably far) as vehicles were lining up for the limited parking lot spaces! I had the chance to taste the dairy ice cream (which Efy had been emphasizing that I MUST TRY) but not the milk as people were thronging the counter and the queue was so long! And I also bumped into one of my Facebook friends, Deryk Chew who is a soldier and he told me that he is based at Sandakan. Haha! Unexpected!
Feel so New Zealander? Haha!
The Holstein Freisian cows are placed at special barns with air-conditioners. I guess it is to stimulate the cold temperate weather abroad as this species originates from Netherlands. Y’all can always read it in Wikipedia for background reading.
Beautiful green pasture of Desa Dairy Cattle Farm at Kundasang, Sabah.
The Dairy Farm’s ice cream. Efy insisted I tried this – it was nice. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our hands to the milk due to the extra long queue.
Selfie is a must!(,”). Well, Deryk Chew who is a Facebook friend actually saw me while I was busy taking Selfies. Awkward but it was cool. Haha! Damn!
Little New Zealand in Malaysia.
Next, we went to Kundasang World War 2 Memorial. It was built by the Australian government to pay tribute to the demised soldiers who were involved in the Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp. There were few segments in the memorial – The Australian garden, the English garden and then an elongated fountain with placards of the demised soldiers on the wall. It was a very tragic history. Being a historical freak, I was both bedazzled and saddened by the memorial. As it was already noon, we decided to buy lunch at a mini Tamu at Kundasang township. I bought Nasi Ayam while Efy bought Nasi Linopot, rice wrapped with leave. Apparently, this is a poplar local dish in Ranau, Sabah! We ate in the car while witnessing the Kundasang green pasture at a lookout point.
The Gateway to the Kundasang War Memorial.
An ode to the demised Australian soldiers.
I love history. I can be in museums for hours. Some people may find history mundane – but I enjoyed it. I did one time in my life aspired to be an archaeologist! Haha!
The placards emblazoning the names of the demised soldiers in Sandakan Prisoner of War camp.
Fancy yourself being a Grecian? There is an elongated fountain here. And a whole range of gardens in the memorial.
A graffiti at an alley of Kundasang township. Creative!
The famous Nasi Linopot, a rice wrapped with leave – a famous cuisine at Ranau.
Performed prayer at a mosque in Ranau and then through the Borneo’s Crocker Range, we headed to Mahua Waterfall at Tambunan. Along the way, we could see a lot of villages at the side of the hills. I couldn’t help feeling bedazzled with the olden days. They had unique and creative ways to built settlements in accordance to the geography they dwelt, no? Who would have thought that terrains at mountains could be turned into human settlements?! Splendid! Mahua Waterfall was idyllic place. The cascading water was ethereal. At first glance, it seemed as if the place is an unknown secluded place but people gradually coming in and you could also see a few people with nice bodies enjoying the water (lol).
The gateway to Mahua Waterfall. It is a waterfall at the Borneo’s Crocker Range!
Beautiful waterfall cascading. The first time I saw the name “Mahua”, I had mental reminiscence of an old 90s rock Malay song called “Mei Hua” (about a love affair between Malay guy and Chinese woman. LOL!) and also a Chinese classic song sung by Celine Dion called “Mo Li Hua”!! Haha, you know me; very photographic minded!
Not far from there is Efy’s village, Kampung Tibabar. The Mat Salleh Memorial was erected at the very heart of the village. The memorial stone is located at the centre of the park. According to Efy, the park used to be planted with flowers and a roofed arch was built (the images can be traced in Wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat_Salleh_Rebellion) but now the park is significantly empty. I wonder what happened. For some people, this place could be quite mundane and perhaps as unworthy to be visited as it is located miles from Kota Kinabalu but as a historical aficionado, I am always excited with historical artifacts; so I was happy to see the place where our hero, Mat Salleh was killed by the British who labelled him as terrorists – we must never echo the English historians; they just see the world with their own colonial lenses!
The historical memorial of Mat Salleh at Kampung Tibabar, Tambunan; which happened to be Efy’s village.
We then made way back to Kota Kinabalu via Penampang. From Tambunan, we crossed the Borneo’s Crocker range and at the midway of the high altitude, there is a place called Mount Alab Resort which was more like a motel and a few stalls to quench the thirst. It was undeniable a cool spot and by the time we were about to resume our journey at 5.30 p.m., it was already misty and foggy. You guys can have glimpse of it at this site http://beautifulkk.com/articles/2011/09/05/gunung-alab-resort. So, Efy drove away and we passed by another resting spot called “Gunung Emas” which is now a dilapidated and deserted spot – Efy told me it used to be quite an attractive spot there. Goodness knows what happened?!
The Alab Mountain resting spot. Quite a tranquil and secluded place and obviously the only place that commuters can rest before resuming their long winding road towards Kota Kinabalu. Situated virtually at the heart of Penampang-Tambunan road. You guys can check the map if you are curious about the road.
After circa 35-40 minutes, we arrived at Dongongan and then towards Penampang and straight into Kota Kinabalu. As usual, a spontaneous idea flickered and we headed to GSC Sabah Suria for “Rogue One”, the latest Star Wars installment albeit we were already sleepy and tired. Surprisingly with caffeine and lots of goofy movie reviews throughout the 2 hours and half duration, we managed to watch it without dozing off! Haha!
Apparently, this spot is called ODEC (Outdoor Development Centre) in Universiti Malaysia Sabah @ UMS. Look at the sea; so crystal-clear.
So, the last day at Sabah dated 18th December 2016 on Sunday; Efy went out for his Church prayer and circa 11.00 a.m. we pushed off from Menggatal towards Kota Kinabalu. Our first stop was at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) where Efy and my Next-Next Cousin Darweena Al-Idrus studied (and is studying) for Master’s Degree. At last, I have stepped my footsteps there. We went to the aquatic centre and we encountered this opening beach spot inside UMS itself! Teacher Qamarina in my Facebook told me that it is called ODEC (Outdoor Development Centre). Seriously with its crystal clear ocean, it was a pure therapeutic feeling. I was starting to imagining myself working in UMS! lol! For information, maybe you guys can check this link at http://www.ums.edu.my/pkppv2/index.php/en/facilities/outdoor-development-centre-odec.
Majestic view of Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.
A view from Signal Hill. Bird’s point of view. Imagining years ago when British colonists used this spot to monitor the ships at Jesselton port? So much like Penang Hill in my birthplace, Penang. I love historical facts and love imagining that era.
Tanjung Aru, a beach that is popular in Kota Kinabalu.
Next, we had lunch at Nasi Ayam Penyet at Alamesra. The Indonesian restaurant provided delicious finger-licking chicken. We chatted there for almost an hour and then to Kota Kinabalu City Mosque to pray. It was a big mosque facing South China Sea. I always feel at ease visiting mosque at new places. After that, had a quick tour at Signal Hill Observatory Tower which is ala Penang Hill – a spot where English colonists used to observe the movements of ships coming in and out from Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu’s former name). You guys can have a bird’s point of view of Kota Kinabalu up here. From there, we dashed to the nearby Tanjung Aru, a popular beach spot at Kota Kinabalu. Nevertheless, due to drizzle and time-constraint, we didn’t explore the beach that much. By that time, it was already 5.00 p.m. and my boarding time was supposed to be circa 5.55 p.m.
The Kota Kinabalu International Airport! Wow, I’ve made it to Sabah! LMAO! Unplanned, unexpected and purely spontaneous. Haha!
Thanks Efy for your gracious hospitality and being such a spot-on tourist guide! So much to talk and catch up after the 3 years (last time we gathered, he came to stay at my rent house in Serendah. He is yet to stay at Batang Kali! Haha!). I had enjoyable 3 days and 3 nights stay. Although it was a spontaneous and abrupt decision, Efy was willing to spare time accompanying me. Thanks, buddy!
On whole, I had great time at Sabah despite a few flaws but yeah, I am glad I did this spontaneous trip. Initially, I plan to reserve Sabah for my own quality time with you-know-who but with all the endless dramas and baseless provocations, I decide to do this myself. In addition, doing a solo trip is quite therapeutic as you cut yourself from unworthy negative aura! Immersing with positive energy is one of the best way to rejuvenate your youth and I don’t wanna get old so fast! LMAO!
The Masakob Waterfall was an unexpected waterfall we saw at Tambunan on the way back to Kota Kinabalu via Mount Alab. Apparently one of my Facebook friends, Abang Teaddy Maideh, a Sabahan also happened to be there (Haha, I thought it was a secluded waterfall!). The other picture was at Kinabalu Park as we strolled along the pavement savouring the beauty of Mother Nature. Thanks, amigo!
Thanks to my Doncha buddy, Efesius Abu Constantine for your gracious hospitality throughout my 3 days 3 nights stay at Sabah. I appreciate the efforts of wanting me to experience most of the Sabah’s tourist spots there. I am bedazzled with Sabah’s natural beauty and honestly, Sabahans are quite eye candies – irresistible seeing the hotties walking around every now and then while catching their eyes playing “seductive eye glances”. Haha! Who knows, I may return to Sabah discreetly for rendezvous? LMAO!! On a serious note, Sabah is a great place. Will be back again, Insya ALLAH – God bless!
I managed to take this picture of “Padi Huma” or mountain paddy on the way to Tambunan. Ethereal scenic view of secluded village. Imagining leading simple life here. Tranquil.
On the way back to Kota Kinabalu via Penampang-Tambunan Road. From the point of Borneo’s Crocker Range; witnessing the sunset. And at the yonder, you could see villages at the mountain terrains. I am very amazed by that, still. Beautiful Sabah with beautiful nature and people! (,”).
Considered as an iconic Kadazan song, the song “Jambatan Tamparuli” or Tamparuli Bridge is the song that would reminds the Sabahan abroad of their beloved state, I am sure. Efy told me that Kadazan language usually has all the “z”s alphabets whereas Dusun usually possess more “o”s.