Thanks to the her eclectic melting pot of culture, Sabah is as much a food haven as it is a nature haven! If this is your first time coming to Sabah, check out this list of some of the food to try out while you’re here! Ngiu Chap Be sure to try the famous ngiu […]
Thanks to the her eclectic melting pot of culture, Sabah is as much a food haven as it is a nature haven! If this is your first time coming to Sabah, check out this list of some of the food to try out while you’re here!
Be sure to try the famous ngiu chap, which means ‘mixed beef’. Consisting a combination of minced beef balls, beef slices, tripe, tendon, tongue and other parts of the cow (or buffalo), this signature Sabah dish is usually served with noodles in a delicious beef broth.
Soto is a Javanese / Indonesian-style beef soup served with noodles. Like ngiu chap, the beef broth is strong and flavourful and you can have your noodles with a combination of chicken, beef, tripe or tendon. To truly enjoy the tender and juicy meat of this Javanese dish, try Sup Tulang (which literally means ‘bone soup’) or Sup Ekor (oxtail soup). Some say this is the perfect hangover cure!
Rojak is a noodle dish served with hearty peanut sauce, beef slices and boiled egg. Like soto, this is a popular Javanese / Indonesian dish eaten by all communities in Sabah. In Peninsular Malaysia, Rojak is a vegetable and fruit salad served with peanut sauce. Soto and Rojak are available at most Malay coffee shops – see ‘Malay Food’ section below.
Beaufort mee is Chinese-style fried home-made local yellow noodles from the district of Beaufort, served with your choice of meat or seafood and a generous amount of crunchy and fresh choy-sim (Chinese greens).
A real Malaysian favourite and great snack or a hearty meal. Popular choices are beef and chicken, and they are enjoyed fresh off the flame and dipped in a delicious peanut sauce. For a more fulfilling meal, ask for a serving of ketupat (pulut rice cooked with coconut milk) to go with it.
Available at most Malay / Muslim coffee shops or food stalls, nasi campur (mixed rice) is a favourite Malaysian lunch that is cheap, fast and convenient. Diners pick and choose from a variety of dishes – anything from ikan assam pedas (sour and spicy fish), stir-fried pakis (local ferns) with dried shrimps, soya sauce beef to hinava – to go with their steamed white rice.
A typical meal with three different types of dishes usually costs around RM5.00-7.00 but prices vary according to the type (of meat or vegetable) and amount of food taken. To be sure, ask the restaurant staff before making your dish selection. Useful tip: Turn up around 11-11.30 am to avoid the lunchtime crowd and to enjoy steaming hot freshly-cooked food!
Traditional Kadazandusun Delights – Seen above are three different kinds of popular Kadazandusun pickled dishes which are normally eaten as a side dish or accompaniment in a main meal:
Hinava – raw fish dressed in lime juice, shallots and ginger;
Tuhau – young shoots of a kind of ginger, mixed with lime juice, onions and chillies &
Bambangan – sour, mango-like fruit served together with its seed called badu.
To sample all these and more in a day, sign up for our KK City Food Tour!
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Every once in a while, everyone needs to break away from civilization and delve into the thrilling world of magnificent trees, majestic mountains and sometimes, creepy crawlies for a refreshing jungle trekking expedition. Luckily for us, Sabah is blessed with an abundance of trekking playgrounds to get down and dirty in—just be sure to have your […]
Every once in a while, everyone needs to break away from civilization and delve into the thrilling world of magnificent trees, majestic mountains and sometimes, creepy crawlies for a refreshing jungle trekking expedition. Luckily for us, Sabah is blessed with an abundance of trekking playgrounds to get down and dirty in—just be sure to have your leech socks ready.
Here are six places to tick off in your adventure:
1. Miki Survival Camp
This so-called survival boot camp is situated in Mohan Tuhan, Ranau—at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu. Surrounded by primary forest, Mohan Tuhan is protected mainly because it serves as the source of food and water to the nearby villages.
Miki Survival Camp is ideal for light-trekkers as the journey to the campsite only takes circa one-and-a-half to two hours. The friendly guides will teach you basic jungle survival skills, such as making hunting traps, identifying edible plants and making delicious meals from scratch. You will also get the opportunity to see rare flora and fauna during the most-anticipated night walk.
2. Maliau Basin
One of the best-known trekking destinations in Sabah, the ‘Lost World of Sabah’ is famous for its unique basin-like shape, which is almost the size of Singapore. It is reported that less than 50 per cent of the basin has been discovered since its discovery in 1947.
Aside from being rich in biodiversity, Maliau Basin also has the largest number of waterfalls in Malaysia; which include the spectacular seven-tier Maliau Falls and the serenely secluded Giluk Falls. A word of caution, trekking in Maliau Basin can take up to five days and it clearly isn’t for those with shabby fitness.
The view from Mount Trus Madi
Bordered by the districts of Ranau, Tambunan and Keningau, Trus Madi is the ideal place for adventure travelers who are looking for a taste of hardcore trekking. Mount Trus Madi, which is situated within the forest reserve, is the second highest peak in Sabah and Malaysia—standing at 2,642 meters above sea level.
Trekking to the top of the Trus Madi peak requires a great deal of physical and mental tenacity as you will be facing obstacles in the form of muddy and slippery slopes. The ultimate Spartan test would be bunking at the notoriously anti-luxurious canvas covered makeshift campsite.
4. Long Pasia
Located at the far end of the Sipitang district and straddling on the Sabah-Sarawak-Kalimantan borders is the idyllic Long Pasia village. Nestled in a remote part of Sabah, Long Pasia is exquisitely unique due to its rawness.
Here, the villagers are mostly self-subsisting farmers and electricity is mainly solar powered. It is a picture of Sabahan utopia, therefore, makes it an excellent place to experience village homestay. The pristine rainforest of Long Pasia is home to impressive waterfalls, various species of plants and wildlife, and it is also protected under the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Heart of Borneo (HoB) project.
The gorgeous green playground of the Danum Valley Conservation Area
One of the richest conservation sites in the world, the Danum Valley Conservation Area reportedly has 200 species of trees thriving on each hectare square of its land on average. This vast nature treasure, which lies in Lahad Datu, is home to a large number of endangered species such as the Sumatran rhino, pygmy elephant, clouded leopard and banteng.
Adding to its verdant wonders and spectacular waterfalls, some interesting historical relics have also been found here. Several wooden coffins and ancient artifacts that were found here suggested that the valley had once upon a time been a Kadazandusun burial site.
6. Tawau Hills Park
One of Tawau’s most popular destinations, Tawau Hills Park offers an easy trekking route for those who are looking for a leisurely stroll, while getting up-close and personal with nature.
Apart from light trekking, this park also makes a great spot for family picnics and outdoor camping activities. Not big on camping? There are comfortable basic chalets available too. There are plenty of interesting nature trails in the park, some of which will lead you to hot springs and scenic waterfalls. Also, don’t forget to see the tallest tropical tree in the world that stands at 88.32 meters tall here.
Get in touch with us to book your trekking tour!
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While Sabah is well known for her spectacular sights and wonders of nature, there is also something else that makes Sabah a destination to-die-for: glorious food! The city capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is teeming with places to eat as well as large varieties of cuisines to sample – ranging from local favourites to international […]
While Sabah is well known for her spectacular sights and wonders of nature, there is also something else that makes Sabah a destination to-die-for: glorious food!
The city capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is teeming with places to eat as well as large varieties of cuisines to sample – ranging from local favourites to international delights. Enjoy as we take you for a spin along the gastronomically enticing KK food trail.
Sang Nyuk Mien (pork noodle soup) (non-halal)
Ask the average Sabahan abroad of what makes them dream of home the most and chances are, you will hear these three words. Essentially a dish of stewed pork meat (with the option of including organ meat) served with noodles, sang nyuk mien is the ultimate Sabahan comfort food – topped with sinfully luscious lard-ladden broth and zhu you zha (pork cracklings which is made into a paste). It is even better when teamed up with sprinklings of homemade chili!
Where to indulge?
Kedai Kopi Jia Siang, Lintas Plaza (tel: 016-8303435) and Kedai Kopi Melanian, Gaya Street (tel: 012-8382888).
Ngiu Chap (beef noodle soup)
The iconic ngiu chap is Sabah’s answer to the universal beef stew dish. A dish almost identical to the Vietnamese pho, the ngiu chap consists of sliced beef and meatballs, with the option of adding organ meat such as tripe, tendon and liver. It is normally served with noodles, although you can also have it with rice if you like.
Where to indulge?
Kedai Kopi Lee Sheng, Hilltop (tel: 019-8100698) and Kedai Kopi Loi Hin, Donggongon (tel: 088-712136). Both establishments serve no pork.
Beaufort mee (non-halal)
Sabah offers a lot of micro-diversity even when it comes to food, all thanks to its melting pot of ethnic groups and cultural background. One of the lovely byproduct of diversity is the Beaufort mee, a dish invented by the Hakka community in the Interior Division of Sabah. In appearance, the Beaufort mee looks somewhat similar to the wattan hor (wet fried noodle), except that its thick gravy doesn’t contain egg white and it is usually topped with a generous amount of veggie. The Beaufort mee is usually served with slices of pork meat or char siew (barbecued pork).
Where to indulge?
Kedai Kopi New Man T ai, Jalan Bundusan (tel: 088-717930) and Kedai Kopi Yu Hing, City Mall (tel: 088-484747).
Sabah-style Tom yum noodle
If you’re used to having the traditional Thai-style tom yum noodle, trying the Sabah-style tom yum noodle will surprise you! Unlike the traditional tom yum, Sabahan tom yum generally has thicker broth, which is added with either evaporated milk or santan (coconut milk). The result is a richer and more filling broth that is simply delicious! Sabahan tom yum is mainly served with seafood such as fish slices and fresh prawn. It is a wonderful bowl of spicy, tangy and creaminess all rolled into one.
Where to indulge?
Kedai Kopi Seng Hing, Sinsuran (tel: 088-211594) and Kedai Kopi Janggut, Hilltop (tel: 016-8413849)
Coffee, tea and pastries
For teatime fancies and delectable cakes and scones over a cuppa, KK offers some of the coziest venues for a daytime soiree. Swing by popular hang out spots like Lady BonBon Patisserie, Lintas Plaza (tel: 013-8861368) and Café De Vie, Metro Town Kolombong (tel: 088-393863). Both establishments serve no pork.
Late night makan spots
Having trouble sleeping off the late night munchies? Have no fear because KK just also happens to be the city that never stops eating. You can get your supper fix at the Lido night market Food Court (open until 4am) that offers the famous luk luk (mobile steamboat) favourites, or you can explore the Sinsuran Pasar Malam (night market), which is open till midnight for a variety of fresh grilled seafood and other hawker-style gastronomic delights.
For an exclusive and customised food tour around KK City, sign up for our KK City & Food Tour!
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Less than one hour away from Kampung Gombizau is the Sumangkap village (92 kilometers and 2 hours drive away from Kota Kinabalu) which is famous for its gong-making cottage industry. The gong is the most important Rungus musical instrument which is played during festivities and grand occasions such as weddings. The gongs that are sold […]
Less than one hour away from Kampung Gombizau is the Sumangkap village (92 kilometers and 2 hours drive away from Kota Kinabalu) which is famous for its gong-making cottage industry.
The gong is the most important Rungus musical instrument which is played during festivities and grand occasions such as weddings. The gongs that are sold in Kampung Sumangkap vary in sizes—visitors can expect to find tiny souvenirs ones with different shapes and unique designs (price ranging from RM30 to RM40) as well as large ones that can reach up to 2 meters wide in diameter.
For large groups of visitors, the villagers of Kampung Sumangkap will often hold cultural performances in the Kampung Sumangkap Community Hall where the kulintangan (a set of different sized gongs producing different sounds) is to be played.
Here, visitors will also have the opportunity to witness the method of gong making by the professional gong makers in the village. The gong factory is open daily including public holidays from 8.30am to 5.30pm. A visit to Kg. Sumangkap is included in our Northern Tip of Borneo – Kudat day tour package.
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There are a total of 878 islands in Malaysia and Sabah records the most number of islands with 394 — among these islands, about 182 are still unnamed — which only means that there still more for us to discover! With its beautiful white sandy beaches and azure blue waters, the islands in Sabah are […]
There are a total of 878 islands in Malaysia and Sabah records the most number of islands with 394 — among these islands, about 182 are still unnamed — which only means that there still more for us to discover! With its beautiful white sandy beaches and azure blue waters, the islands in Sabah are part of the reason why many flock to Sabah for holidays. Check out the top 10 islands in Sabah, in no particular order:
1. Kapalai Island
45 minutes speedboat ride away from Semporna lays the breathtaking island of Kapalai—one of the heavenliest resorts around Semporna with an excellent diving spot, surrounded by crystal clear waters. Not quite an island by qualification, Kapalai is built on high wooden stilts in the middle of the ocean where visitors can drink in the superb ambience of its surroundings.
2. Sipadan Island
An oceanic island with rich underwater biodiversity, and known as one of the best diving destinations in the world, Sipadan is definitely Sabah’s well-preserved assets. Nominated as one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Sipadan Island is a must-see once you’ve swung by Semporna.
3. Mabul Island
Mabul Island is a small oval shaped island fringed with while white sandy beaches, with coconut trees dancing to the breeze beckoning you to come for a visit. Besides being one of the best muck-diving spots in the world, Mabul also offers plenty of fun times for non-divers—try the spa or cycling around the beach, for instance.
4. Mataking Island
Hopeless romantics take heed! Mataking Island is one of the best romantic getaways you can escape to in your lifetime. Perfect for new couples scouring for a fantastic honeymoon destination, old couples looking to rekindle romance, or just simply people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for sanity’s sake.
5. Pom Pom Island
An island with a laid back and casual ambience—as the name alludes—Pom Pom is situated circa 45 minutes away from Semporna. Apart from the gorgeous glittering white sandy beach that surrounds it, Pom Pom Island is also filled with lush green mangroves that keeps it shady and cool.
6. Lankayan Island
Lankayan, a tiny jewel-shaped island located on the northeastern coast of Sabah, is part of the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA) and is surrounded blue-green waters and coral reefs. One of Sabah’s top diving spots, Lankayan Island has 14 dive spots including the Lankayan Wreck only minutes away from the island.
7. Mantanani Island
The demure island of Mantanani lies off the beaten tracks of other mainstream tourism destinations. The journey to the island begins with a two-hour drive to Kampung Kuala Abai jetty in Kota Belud, followed by another hour of riding on a speedboat. Each dive site in Mantanani offers something unique. Other than sporadic encounters with dolphins, divers have also encountered some of the rarer underwater species such as the bumphead parrotfish, moray eel, sting ray, eagle ray, and several turtles.
8. Manukan Island
This 51-acre boomerang-shaped island is the second largest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Equipped with 20 units of chalets, a clubhouse, restaurant, souvenir shop, diving centre, and recreational facilities; Manukan Island is considered the most mainstream and popular island of the five. With amazing stretches of beaches along the southern coastline, it’s almost a cardinal sin to not lay back on your beach towel sipping piña colada. Craving for some wet and wild adventure? Opt to go scuba diving, parasailing, jet-skiing, wakeboarding or even seawalking.
9. Sapi Island
Deemed as one of the nicest and cleanest islands in the Park, Sapi is a small 25-acre island adorned with soft golden sand, crystal clear azure water and coral reefs fringing the shoreline. It has a way of enticing water lovers to just jump in and frolic in the sea. Want to go underwater sans briny wet hair? Sign up for a seawalking adventure instead. Picnic shelters, barbecue pits and changing rooms and toilet facilities are available here.
10. Pulau Tiga ‘Survivor Island’
Renowned for its therapeutic volcanic mud, Pulau Tiga is a secluded island located in the offshore of Kuala Penyu. From Kota Kinabalu, you will be required to take a two-hour drive to Kuala Penyu and hop on a boat for a 20-minute boat cruise to Kuala Penyu. Pulau Tiga is also known as ‘Survivor Island’, due to its claim to fame being the location for the first ‘Survivor’ reality series. Apart from the its great stretch of beach, Pulau Tiga is also a famed diving spot.
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As a melting pot of more than 37 ethnic races throughout the state, Sabah has people of various different religions living together in perfect harmony. The majority of people in Sabah are Muslims (approximately 66 per cent), followed by the Christian community which represents more than 26 per cent and the rest being Buddhists and […]
As a melting pot of more than 37 ethnic races throughout the state, Sabah has people of various different religions living together in perfect harmony.
The majority of people in Sabah are Muslims (approximately 66 per cent), followed by the Christian community which represents more than 26 per cent and the rest being Buddhists and people of other religions. Religion, no doubt, has played a big role in shaping the community and its socio-cultural aspect.
Having the second largest number of followers in Sabah, the arrival of Islam dated way back to the Brunei Sultanate era in the 15th century when Brunei extended its reign to Sabah. The first indigenous Sabahan people to embrace Islam were the Bajau people. Today, the Muslim community mainly comprises of the Bajau, Bisaya, Brunei, Cocos, Iranun and Orang Sungai ethnics.
The influence of Islam in Sabah is most visible in the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha, which also leads to the culture of visiting homes to strengthen friendship and relations among relatives. Apart from that, the arrival of Islam has also imparted Sabah with important and unique artifacts such as the ‘Tepak Sireh / Celapa’ Betel nut Container Box, Rehal (Qur’an stand) and ceramic decoration with Qur’an writing.
If you’re looking for a holistic cultural experience in Sabah in conjunction with the Harvest Festival month of May, the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Cultural Village makes an ideal destination. Situated only 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city, a tour around this cultural village will give you an interesting overview of the ethnic groups […]
If you’re looking for a holistic cultural experience in Sabah in conjunction with the Harvest Festival month of May, the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Cultural Village makes an ideal destination. Situated only 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city, a tour around this cultural village will give you an interesting overview of the ethnic groups in Sabah.
Led by knowledgeable guides, visitors will be brought into each house that is nestled in the cultural village and guided through the tour on the lifestyles of different ethnic groups in earlier years, as well as certain traditional customs that are still practiced today.
There are mainly four traditional houses in the KDCA Cultural Village, namely the Dusun Tindal Kota Belud house, the Papar house, the Rungus house, and the Murut house. Each house is meant to exhibit the unique and different traditions of the ethnic tribe it represents. The staffs of KDCA Cultural Village are dressed in traditional costumes and demonstrate some of the customary ways of living back in the day.
Starting off with a welcoming ritual by the performers dressed in traditional attire, visitors are greeted by two staff members dressed as bobohizan (high priestesses) conducting a mock blessing ritual before beginning their journey. Traditional musical instruments such as the bamboo are played to welcome visitors at the entrance.
Walking into the first home, the Dusun Tindal house, visitors are shown a demonstration on how paddy is processed using the lesung padi (traditional hand pounding), as well as on how this ethnic group uses bamboo as their pots and pans to cook their meals. Visitors also get to taste traditionally cooked food served in bamboo sticks.
As Sabah is popular for its rice wine (called tapai and lihing), visitors will get to see how it is processed and sample some lihing while visiting the second stop of the tour, the Papar house. Here, they will also learn how sago is processed into regular food, a process called Pinompoh. This is also where visitors get to try on the traditional Papar costume in full finery.
Bead-making is also one of Sabah’s specialty and at the next house, the Rungus longhouse, the staff will demonstrate how these beads are meticulously threaded and turned into jewellery, house decorations and other items. Pinang (betel nut) and daun sirih (tobacco leaves) make up the indigenous ladies’ favourite past time of chewing these two ingredients together, which visitors are also given the chance to try. The indigenous people also believe that this is good for the teeth.
The last house in the tour is the Murut House, where you will find the lansaran (Borneo trampoline). Visitors are shown how the Murut men jump on this bouncy platform in order to get their reward, placed high on the ceilings. Visitors are then given the chance to try it themselves. Delicious local tapioca dipped in honey and sugar, as well as the famous Tenom coffee are served as refreshments in this house, while the making of traditional cigarettes demonstrations allow visitors to try the sigup or kirai. Visitors will also see a demonstration of a skill synonymous to the Murut headhunter: using a blowpipe or monopuk.
The tour concludes with a series of traditional dance performances by the staff, including the sumazau and magunatip, which gives visitors the thrill of dancing between rhythmical clashing bamboo poles. The tour culminates with a lunch buffet featuring some of the local favourites of centuries old such as the bambangan (wild mango) and hinava (fermented mackerel in lime juice and shallots).
On the 30th and 31st of May each year, the KDCA Cultural Village will also be the main venue for the State-level Harvest Festival celebration. During this two-day celebration, a line-up of interesting activities will be held here, including traditional games, handicraft sales and exhibitions, and many others. Don’t miss a chance to be part of the fun!
KDCA Cultural Village is located at the KDCA Hongkod Koisaan, KM 8, Penampang Road, Penampang. Get in touch with us for a special day trip this Harvest Festival!
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Looking for an interesting place to sight-see and do your shopping? Head down to Tamu Donggongon and experience a culturally-imbued open air marketplace that is unlike any other! The tamu, which is a local term for open air market, is usually a weekly happening for every district in Sabah. In Donggongon township, the tamu takes […]
Looking for an interesting place to sight-see and do your shopping? Head down to Tamu Donggongon and experience a culturally-imbued open air marketplace that is unlike any other!
The tamu, which is a local term for open air market, is usually a weekly happening for every district in Sabah. In Donggongon township, the tamu takes place every Thursday and Friday at the tamu ground from as early as 6am to around 6pm.
Located circa 15 – 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city centre, Tamu Donggongon is a little treasure waiting to be explored. Offering a whole lot of merchandise, ranging from local delicacies and handicrafts to fresh vegetable produces and livestock, the Tamu Donggongon is a trade centre that is unique to the Penampang district.
Enjoy a colourful sight and sound of people going about their buying and selling activities. Get to know a local vendor and try something exotic for a change – like eating a live butod (sago worm), which is considered to be a highly prized local delicacy. Love wine? Take a sip of the lihing (local rice wine) or the montoku (distilled rice wine). Just make sure you’re not driving afterwards.
Mingle with the friendly locals and learn more about the local Penampang dialect, Sabah is unique like that. In the meantime, brush up on your haggling skills in getting the best bargains in rare merchandise, such as the gong and other traditional musical instruments. Also, check out the traditional herbs which the locals use in cooking. Do try some local cuisines like the bambangan (pickled wild mango) and nonsom sada (pickled fish) too!
Other than being a local trade centre, the Tamu Donggongon has long become a sociocultural icon throughout generations – connecting people as a social marketplace as well as being a cultural hub. If you’re looking for a place to get good bargains, meet new local friends and learn more about the Penampang Kadazan culture; there’s no better place to start than the Tamu Donggongon.
You can experience Tamu Donggongon when you sign up for our Kota Kinabalu Food & City tour (Thursday & Friday tours only).
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Established in 1896, the North Borneo Railway – NBR in short – is one of the main valuable artefacts in Sabah following the British Colonial era. History has it that the railway was built by an English engineer with the help of his assistant who is a Murut man. The North Borneo Railway features a […]
Established in 1896, the North Borneo Railway – NBR in short – is one of the main valuable artefacts in Sabah following the British Colonial era. History has it that the railway was built by an English engineer with the help of his assistant who is a Murut man. The North Borneo Railway features a vintage British Vulcan steam locomotive which was designed and built by the Vulcan Foundry in England as part of the last order before the factory converted to diesel and electric locomotive construction.
As the rest of the world switches to bullet trains and Mass Rapid Transits (MRT), Sabah is lucky to still have a functioning ‘choo choo’ train that runs on steam. Nonetheless, it was not all roses and sunshine for the North Borneo Railway. Almost two decades back, when Sabah’s roads are almost fully paved, the authorities almost shut down its operation thinking that the railway tracks will soon be obsolete following the use of automobiles. Thankfully, certain concerned parties have raised a petition, hence, keeping the North Borneo Railway alive for the new generation and tourists alike.
Under the management of Sutera Harbour Resort and the Sabah State Railway Department, the newly refurbished North Borneo Railway now operates twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The train departs from the Tanjung Aru station at 9.00am, heading towards Papar and making several pit stops in between. From Papar, the train will make a turn back for the Tanjung Aru station and scheduled to reach it at circa 2.00pm.
In the age of speed and hectic lifestyles, where one practically rushes from one destination to another, sitting back and relaxing is considered a rare luxury. One of these days, why not reward your hard work by allowing yourself the luxury of sitting back and relaxing in a vintage Vulcan steam train? A ride on the North Borneo Railway offers passengers a deeply nostalgic and romantic experience of a bygone era.
Chug, chug, chugging along…
From the Tanjung Aru Station, the North Borneo Railway train will chug along the small towns of Putatan, Kinarut and Kawang before reaching its terminus in Papar.
In addition to its nostalgic and romantic novelty, the best thing about the train ride are the ranges of sceneries you’ll encounter along the way – from rustic countryside and bucolic old towns to verdant hillside forests and places of cultural interest.
In Putatan, you will be able to see small shop houses that look like those from 10 years back. Slowly, the development of Kota Kinabalu city begins to slip away as the train rolls into the countryside. One of the best views along the route between Putatan to Kinarut is the Lok Kawi Bay with offers a serenely picturesque view of the South China Sea.
Aside from a luxurious view outside the window, you will also be served with a sumptuous breakfast consisting of coffee or tea and a basketful of fresh Danish pastries!
In Kinarut, the train will make a 30-minute pit stop, allowing passengers to disembark and take the chance to visit the Tsim Shen Tsui Temple – a Buddhist temple which features 18 statues of Buddhist monks, a 20-foot monolithic smiling Buddha and a lotus pond dedicated to Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. One of the largest Buddhist temples in Sabah, the Tsim Shen Tsui Temple boasts an intricate architectural design and a setting that displays the amalgamation of local culture and Buddhism.
Passing through Kawang, you will be able to drink in an abundance of greens in the vast mangrove jungles, fruit orchards and paddy fields. According to Gayle Lambert, an Australian lady whom I had the opportunity of meeting and chatting with on the train, the abundance of greens and the quaint countryside are the most anticipated parts of the train ride.
“You’ll be surprised at how much we look forward to seeing what you consider as common as your backyard,” said Gayle, chuckling.
For those who are keen to go shopping, the Papar Tamu (open air market) welcomes you with wide open arms as the train makes another 30-minute stop in Papar before turning back. In addition to offering a myriad of souvenirs, food and other precious trinkets, the Papar Tamu is where you can meet the locals and absorb bits and pieces of their culture. The merchandize sold at the Tamu are also often cheap to a fault.
The journey home
As the train rolls back to where it came from, we were served with the Tiffin Set Lunch – consisting delectable servings of chicken satay, fried spiced mackerel fillet, cucumber and pineapple salad, mixed vegetables and prawns, chicken biryani rice and a fruit platter. A ride on the North Borneo Railway turned out to be pleasing to more senses than one.
As for Gayle Lambert, she was excited to show off the pictures she took of our Sabahan backyard – as well as the colourful purses she had gotten on a crazy bargain from the Papar Tamu.
Book your North Borneo Railway tour here.
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Before Tenom was famous for the aromatic Tenom coffee, it was primarily known as home to the most fearsome warrior tribe Borneo has ever seen: the Timugon Murut people. The Murut were the last of Sabah’s ethnic groups to renounce headhunting, with Antenom (1885-1915) being their most influential and renowned warrior. The Timugon Murut people reside […]
Before Tenom was famous for the aromatic Tenom coffee, it was primarily known as home to the most fearsome warrior tribe Borneo has ever seen: the Timugon Murut people. The Murut were the last of Sabah’s ethnic groups to renounce headhunting, with Antenom (1885-1915) being their most influential and renowned warrior.
The Timugon Murut people reside in a small, well-defined area in the Tenom Valley. Spanning about 20 miles from north to south, over half of the Timugon villages are situated on the western side of the Pegalan River, which runs south in the valley and some villages on its eastern banks. The remaining population live on the eastern side of the Padas River, which flows from the south.
The Timugon’s linguistic and ethnic links with other related groups spread southwest and south, to the neighbouring Malaysian state of Sarawak and over to Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo.
The origin of this tribe has been linked to the legend of a man who was the sole survivor of a dreadful flood. A supernatural creature from the cosmic regions then approached him. She was a horrendous-looking woman covered in ringworm. She asked the man to marry her as there were no other survivors.
Naturally, the man was repulsed by her appearance and refused. Instead, he decided to make a woman out of clay. The clay figurine came to life after he spat betel nut juice on it. They married and it is believed their descendants inhabited the river valley of Tenom, becoming the ancestors of the present people have to die; it is because their female ancestor was made of earth.
Like many other ethnic groups, the Timugon Murut community has special religious and spiritual ceremonies. The magilong is a diagnostic ritual performed to determine the cause of a minor illness or misfortune, such as theft. Another interesting ritual is the barasik ceremony. As gong music is played, the pries or priestess chants and use magic stones called putia to ‘see’ the cause of troubles.
Reference: “Some Aspects of Timugon Worldview’, by Kelo Brewis
Sabah Society Journal (1993)