Mari Mari Cultural Village by Rustic Borneo’s intern, Amelia Robert Jenet. As part of her internetship at Rustic Borneo HQ, Amelia, a student at University Malaysia Sabah, is gaining experience of Sabah’s travel industry and, of course, the tourism products on offer here. To that end, she visited the Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village […]

Mari Mari Cultural Village by Rustic Borneo’s intern, Amelia Robert Jenet.

As part of her internetship at Rustic Borneo HQ, Amelia, a student at University Malaysia Sabah, is gaining experience of Sabah’s travel industry and, of course, the tourism products on offer here. To that end, she visited the Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village and submitted this report on her experience.

Mari Mari Cultural Village is about 20 to 30 minutes from Kota Kinabalu city’s centre via tour van provided as part of the tour.

There are 3 tour sessions throughout the day, and mine was in the morning. It was just perfect, because the view along the road was amazingly refreshing and beautiful.

A warm welcome from the Mari Mari Cultural Village staff greeted us upon arrival, before the tour started with our guide, Mr. Adi, briefly explaining the do’s and don’ts during the tour into the village.

Mari Mari Cultural Village Guide explaining a traditional contraption in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Mari Mari Cultural Village offers insight into the largest tribes in Sabah with a 3-hour show-tour perfectly detailed by our group’s guide. The tour winds through the jungle, passing various tribal dwellings along the way where we learn about the Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau and Murut tribes.

Descendants from each tribe built the homes, which offer a truly genuine experience and insight into the tribe’s folkways, their food and customs, such as a replica of a coffin which a particular tribe ‘buries’ in trees. Now that is some scary yet intriguing history.

We also got to try bamboo-cooking, rice-wine making (and later, of course, rice wine tasting), fire starting using bamboo, blowpipe shooting, local honey tasting with harmless bees roaming around.

The tour culminates in a cultural dance recital and photo session with the locals in traditional attire, and a sumptuous local buffet lunch.

Mari Mari Cultural Village turns local, ethnic culture into a living museum, exhibiting traditional ways of life, and attire you are unlikely to come across anymore, except maybe in the very remote interior.

By the end of the journey into the past decades, I felt lucky to be experiencing a setting where I could see, hear, taste and feel the awesomeness of what Sabah culture contributes to the world.

Mari Mari Cultural Village’s tagline is just so spot on: As it is… As it was…

Kawa Kawa River Cruise Experience by Rustic Borneo’s intern, Amelia Robert Jenet. As part of her internetship at Rustic Borneo HQ, Amelia Robert Jenet,  from University Malaysia Sabah, is gaining experience of Sabah’s travel industry and, of course, the tourism products on offer here. To that end, she went on the Kawa Kawa River Cruise […]

Kawa Kawa River Cruise Experience by Rustic Borneo’s intern, Amelia Robert Jenet.

As part of her internetship at Rustic Borneo HQ, Amelia Robert Jenet,  from University Malaysia Sabah, is gaining experience of Sabah’s travel industry and, of course, the tourism products on offer here. To that end, she went on the Kawa Kawa River Cruise recently and submitted this report on her experience.

Kawa Kawa is a new mangrove destination located at Kota Belud, Sabah, offering an alternative to the Klias Wetlands.

In this tour we hoped to witness proboscis monkeys in the evening and, later at night,  fireflies.

If you have no idea of what fireflies are, they are a kind of harmless, flying beetle species that emit blinking light from their abdomen. To witness this, one has to travel far away from bustling cities and people to an unpolluted and undisturbed habitat.

We began our journey at 2:30 in the afternoon, heading towards our destination near Kota Belud, where we eventually arrived at around 4:30.

amelia-robert-jenet-kawa-kawa-rustic-borneo-3

Before boarding the boat for the river cruise along the Kawa Kawa river, we enjoyed light refreshments, including the famous, local Penjaram pastries, or pancake as the tourists call them, and coffee.

Inspite of rainy-looking weather our boat ride was smooth, and we cruised along at a slow speed to not scare away wildlife with the boat engine.

Kawa Kawa river is surrounded by mostly untouched mangrove forest and not long after we set off, it was probably after 2 minutes, we already witnessed a family of otters near the river, looking at us as we looked at them.

The tour guide whistled to attract the attention of the otters who replied with their own whistle. That was really an amazing experience. I tried whistling but it didn’t attract the otters at all. A boy named Hayden tried whistling too, but couldn’t do it, although an otter came out anyways.

We also got a glimpse of the well-known Proboscis Monkey from quite a distance, leaping from one tree to another, searching for young leaves and fruits. We saw baby Macaques playing around along the Kawa Kawa riverbank, as well as Egret, or was it Herron, flying over our boat.

After the river cruise, it was about 5:30 in the evening, we were a little disappointed as dark clouds started pouring rain. It meant we might not be able to see the fireflies.  There was not much we could do, so we continued with dinner, buffet style, of local traditional foods including rice, ayam masak kicap, sweet and sour fish and chicken soup, with hot and cold beverages.

During dinner it was raining cats and dogs and the wind was so strong we were sure to miss out on the fireflies.  Then the weather took a turn, the rain slowed down and after 10 minutes the tour guide said it was OK to proceed to the fireflies.

Rustic Borneo Intern, Amelia Robert Jenet's report on the Kawa Kawa River Cruise

A 20-minute bus ride later we arrived at another jetty. This time around our river cruise was covered in darkness, with only a little moonlight not drowned out by the clouds. It was blessing in disguise as darkness is needed to see the fireflies in action.

At first, there was nothing, only pure darkness and the roaring of our speed boat engine, but 5 minutes into our journey we started to see blinking lights among the dark mangrove trees.

The further down the river we travelled, the more we saw. Eventually we stopped where there was the most fireflies gathering at one place.

It was a fascinating sight, similar to watching shining stars in the sky, except that these were so near to us. And then, the boat guide used his flashlight, emitting yellow light, in a special way to attract the fireflies toward our boat.

He told us not turn on any kind of white light or flashes, because it can harm the fireflies or blind them.

We were overwhelmed by the sight of fireflies surrounding our boat, as if the spirit of Kawa Kawa river was welcoming us. I caught one and managed to study its body, but it flew away the moment I touched it.

A Norwegian guest that sat next to me was mesmerized by the fireflies as it was his first time too.  Fun fact was the Norwegian guy booked his this tour through Rustic Borneo Travel. He was a solo traveller and as awkward as it sounds, I too went on this tour alone without knowing anybody.

After about 30 minutes of fireflies, we headed back to the jetty and onto our transport, heading towards the bustling city of Kota Kinabalu.

I sat next to the Norwegian guy and we talked during the long ride back to the city. I asked him why he was travelling solo and he gave the best answer: “it is the best way to get to know the world, travel alone”.

I have never encountered fireflies, until I had an opportunity to join Kawa Kawa River Cruise. Thank you Rustic Borneo Travel for giving me such an experience of a lifetime.

The Fish Market is located right on the water’s edge, directly behind the main building visible from the street, called Pasar Besar Kota Kinabalu – Kota Kinabalu’s Grand Market, also known as the Central Market. Sabah is known throughout Malaysia as having some of the best and cheapest seafood and its all on display at […]

The Fish Market is located right on the water’s edge, directly behind the main building visible from the street, called Pasar Besar Kota Kinabalu – Kota Kinabalu’s Grand Market, also known as the Central Market.

Kota Kinabalu's Pasar Besar or Grand Market, Sabah

Sabah is known throughout Malaysia as having some of the best and cheapest seafood and its all on display at Kota Kinabalu’s Fish Mark.

Not exactly geared for tourism, the Fish Market is where most of the seafood you will eat around Kota Kinabalu is sold and bought, and seafood eating is undenyably a big tourism activity, facilitated by a large number of seafood restaurants, so experience the seafood market culture offers many levels of interest.

The fishermen land their first catches early in the morning, which is a great time to be at the market if you’re a buyer. You have the greatest variety on offer then and can choose the best. Later on in the day the variety fluctuates depending on what is brought back, so pickings might be slim.

Kota Kinabalu's Pasar Besar or Grand Market, Sabah

 

As a tourist to the Fish Market you can witness the fishermen busy themselves with sorting their catch and stacking it for sale, and experience the buzz of the market at sellers eye buyers, waiting for the best moment to pitch for and close a sale.

If you’re living in self-catering accommodation you can become part of the scene and buy your own.

As the day drags on the clientelle transition from restauranteurs to stall owners, who do their shopping in preparation for the bevy of night markets that will sprout all over the city as sunset approaches.

Kota Kinabalu's Pasar Besar or Grand Market, Sabah

 

Flanking the Fish Market on either side, the Philippino Market on the left and an informal parkinglot market on the right, offers the closest venues to the Fish Market where you can get the delicious seafood prepared on the spot.

Simply point at your dinner and, if you know a particular one, request your cooking style. Then sit back while your dinner is prepared from fresh onto your plate.

 

The Kota Kinabalu Fish Market is on our Free City Map in Grid K8, same as the Grand / Central Market.

Contact us, or drop by our Traveller Service Centre just of Gaya Street in the centre of Kota Kinabalu for your copy of our Free City Map and while you’re there chat to us about our holiday packages or how we can customise the perfect Borneo Holiday for you.

 


 

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The Chinese  Year of the Horse draws to a close tonight as the new Year of the Goat is heralded and celebrated when the  calender flips to 19 February at midnight. Welcome the Year of the Wooden Goat The goat is the 8th sign in the Chinese Zodiac, a sign that can also be interpreted […]

The Chinese  Year of the Horse draws to a close tonight as the new Year of the Goat is heralded and celebrated when the  calender flips to 19 February at midnight.

Welcome the Year of the Wooden Goat

The goat is the 8th sign in the Chinese Zodiac, a sign that can also be interpreted as sheep or ram, thanks to the Chinese character, which can be used to describe any of these animals.

More specifically it’s the year of Green Wooden Goat, which has connotations of creativity, stability and improvement, characteristics that will hopefully manifest during the year.

Chinese New Year in Sabah

Sabah, as is much of Malaysia, is home to a diverse people of which a substantial portion will celebrate at least the official 2 days of Chinese New Year on Thursday, 19 February and Friday, 20 February.

Aside from the obvious businesses closed on public holidays like banks and government offices, many Chinese owned business that on other public holidays might have been open, will certainly be closed, and many will also take off the entire following week.

Chinese restaurants will probably be the most obvious to tourists, as most other tourist-related businesses and non-Chinese restaurants will operate as usual.

The Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday on the Chinese calendar and is the one time per year that the hardworking community sets aside for time off to be with family and to obverse important cultural rituals.

Many Chinese-owned businesses will also utilise this time of year for spring cleaning, part of the tradition that accompanies the start of a new year.

Chinese New Year Tourism

Thanks to it beign the cultural diverse destination that it is, most business and tourist activities & attractions throughout Sabah will operate as usual.

There will also be Chinese cultural shows to enjoy in shopping centres and streets of bigger towns and cities, with troupes of Lion Dancers cruising the streets in the coming days looking for outlets wanting auspicious lion dances to attract good luck and fortune to their business.

On behalf of everyone at Rustic Borneo, may you have a blessed and prosperous Happy New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Chai! Happy Chinese New Year!

The KK Waterfront is, as you walk down from Oceanus Mall, the next stop on our Free Kota Kinabalu City Map and is arguably the heartbeat of Kota Kinabalu’s nightlife. Find it on our map grid at P9. During the day The KK Waterfront is hot and relatively quiet, but towards later afternoon, as the […]

The KK Waterfront is, as you walk down from Oceanus Mall, the next stop on our Free Kota Kinabalu City Map and is arguably the heartbeat of Kota Kinabalu’s nightlife. Find it on our map grid at P9.

During the day The KK Waterfront is hot and relatively quiet, but towards later afternoon, as the heat of the day dies down, it comes to life as business open, umbrellas unfold, tourists start to flock and locals arrive for afterwork drinks.

The KK Waterfront lies in front of Warisan Square near Le Meridien Hotel and is nestled between the Filipino Market on the one side and Oceanus Mall on the other. It’s home to various restaurants, small eateries and a couple of fringe businesses, tightly clustered together with a plethora of bars and clubs.

Here’s a brief summary of businesses and tenants currently at The KK Waterfront:

 

Buga Korean Restaurant

Tucked away in the corner closest to Oceanus Waterfront Mall is Buga Korean Restaurant. Nicely decorated the restaurant has a bar for beers and a Korean food menu.

BED - Best Entertainment Destination - in The KK Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

BED (Best Entertainment Destination)

Probably Kota Kinabalu’s biggest nightlife venue and as close as you’ll come to the western concept of a club here in KK, Best Entertainment Destination, or just BED for short, is where many a night in Kota Kinabalu ends.

A central bar serves the huge interior, which is designed to focus on the stage from where the in-house live band and DJ take turns to entertain a usually good-sized crowd, who don’t care what day of the week it is. BED stays open till well after most other places in KK have shut for the night.

Mynt Club

A fairly new edition to the KK Waterfront lineup, Mynt Club offers a live, in-house band, DJ and alcoholic beverages.

Spinoza - in The KK Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Spinoza

A restaurant and bar with western food items on the menu.

The Cock & Bull

One of the mainstays of the KK Waterfront, The Cock & Bull has been around for years and have a loyal following of regulars who enjoy the variety of beverages on offer, the live bands, a pool table, big screen for sports and especially the friendly staff.

Kohinoor North Indian

A fine dining Indian restaurant, Kohinoor is a one of Kota Kinabalu’s popular north Indian food choices. A tenant of The KK Waterfront for many years, it has built up a reputation for good food and service.

Shamrock Irish Bar

One of the most popular venues on The KK Waterfront, Shamrock Irish Bar draws a regular crowd of people looking for a familiar atmosphere, quick service and a reliable venue where to watch all the big sporting events in Kota Kinabalu, from football to rugby.

A live band and DJ regularly entertains the crowd, there’s a pool table in the back and the food menu has some awesome choices too.

Aussie Bar & Grill

The Aussie Bar & Grill serves a selection of Australia-inspired cuisine and is known for being one of few places where to enjoy Aussie Rules Football in Kota Kinabalu.

Wave Karaoke

If you want to get your Karoake on in The KK Waterfront, look no further than Wave Karaoke bar.

Lush - in The KK Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Lush

Lush occupies a corner of the second stretch of The KK Waterfront, which has a rather colourful history. Recently rebuilt after a fire gutted the previous business, Lush is a nicely decorated bar downstairs, and – when renovations are complete – will be a club and dance bar upstairs.

The Loft

Another of the popular venues on The KK Waterfront, The Loft has been around for as long as the waterfront itself. After taking off for a couple of years due to fire damage, The Loft relaunched at the end of 2014 with premises that is literally and figuratively bigger and better.

Occupying 2 big levels, The Loft offers live entertainment, big screens for sports, a spacious balcony from where to enjoy Sabah’s numerous and spectacular sunsets, a pool table and casual seating from where to while away the evening or party it up, whatever mood you happen to be in.

The Loft - in The KK Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Mai Yai Thai Orchid Restaurant

The KK Waterfront’s Thai food go-to restaurant, Mai Yai Thai is run by chefs from Thailand, which means the Thai food is as authentic as local ingredients and the absence of pork allow. All the popular Thai food choices are available from their extensive menu and the service is fast and friendly.

Toscani’s Italian Restaurant

Speaking about fast and friendly, Toscani’s Italian Restaurant specialises in that type of service, offering Italian favourites. Pizzas, pastas, meat and fish dishes and a variety of starters and desserts are all good choices. Paired with a reasonable wine selection, Toscani’s is a great dinner choice.

Beernest Mixo

Beer and mixology meet at Beernest Mixo, a watering hole on The KK Waterfront run by a champion mixologist. Also famed for its wide selection of beers on tap and bottle, Beernest Mixo attracts the young and happening for a lively, entertaining environment filled with music and flaming, flying cocktails.

Gusto Italian Food & Wine

In a kiosk outside their small shop, which is part of the main block, is where Gusto’s magic is made. Small in size but not in offerings, Gusto is another delectable option for Italian food or a magnificent glass of wine on The KK Waterfront.

Welcome Seafood Restaurant

You can’t visit Kota Kinabalu without a taste of fresh seafood and it doesn’t come much fresher than Welcome Seafood Restaurant on The KK Waterfront. Visit your seafood in the the tank-bank before making your selection for a customised, KK-style seafood feast.

Beernest Mixo - in The KK Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Other Smaller Business and Eateries

Inbetween the main and obvious businesses on The KK Waterfront, you will also find smaller businesses dotted amongst the rest including a massage area where you can get foot and leg reflexology, various smaller kiosk restaurants that sell anything from “pusas” (local snacks), to fruit shakes and local dishes. The Borneo Outpost also offers local trinkets, souvenirs and nicely labeled rice wine to take back as presents for those back home.

Find The KK Waterfront on Rustic Borneo’s Free KK City Map, which is available from our Traveller Service Centre just off Gaya Street. While you’re there, feel free to chat to us about tour, travel and accommodation options available to you in the rest of Sabah, Borneo and beyond.

In the meantime, visit our Holiday Package Creator for a customised itinerary, or see what we already have planned for you in our selection of Package Holidays. Contact us for advice or to book your dream Borneo holiday.

Oceanus Waterfront Mall Kota Kinabalu quietly opened December 2014. It lies on a prime piece of waterfront realestate fronting the city, with Gaya Island and the marine park greeting visitors to this centre. Immediately adjacent Anjung Senja that we wrote about previously, Oceanus Waterfront Mall is to be found on our Free Map of Kota […]

Oceanus Waterfront Mall Kota Kinabalu quietly opened December 2014. It lies on a prime piece of waterfront realestate fronting the city, with Gaya Island and the marine park greeting visitors to this centre.

Immediately adjacent Anjung Senja that we wrote about previously, Oceanus Waterfront Mall is to be found on our Free Map of Kota Kinabalu, reference grid R9. It is part of the KK Waterfront Development that aims to front the entire central city area.

Public transport buses from Penampang & Donggong and Beverly Hills stop rigth in front of Oceanus and buses from Putatan / Kinarut / Lok Kawi also stop nearby.

Oceanus Waterfront Mall

Oceanus adds new brands to Kota Kinabalu’s shopping scene, most notably a Hard Rock Cafe, which will open shortly, and a second Nando’s, putting flame-grilled chicken within reach of the city’s visitors, much closer than the 1st branch in 1 Borneo.

The waterfront mall boasts 200 outlets in total, which spans 4 levels, and although not fully opened yet, many of the eateries are functional while the retail outlets are opening one by one. There is still substantial construction going on in parts of the mall. Upmarket hotels are destined for the upper floors above the shopping area, but it might be a while before it is complete.

In the meantime Oceanus Waterfront Mall is an increasingly interesting shopping destination worth a stop. Several cafes and eateries line the water-facing part of the mall, providing a scenic area where to while away a morning or an afternoon and to enjoy the view.

Explore Kota Kinabalu with Rustic Borneo

Stop by Rustic Borneo’s Traveller Service Centre just off Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu for a free copy of our city map and while you’re there, chat with our friendly and helpful staff about everything there is to do in the rest of Kota Kinabalu and also Sabah. Have a look at our Holiday Packages or try our Custom Package Creator to get going now, or contact us with your requirement and allow us to tailor-make your dream Borneo holiday.

Anjung Senja is on the Kota Kinabalu waterfront promenade, tucked away in a corner to the south of the city’s waterfront area, which on Rustic Borneo’s Free City Map is to the far right of Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen. Originally established to accommodate displaced vendors from the nearby bus terminal some 4-or-so years ago when […]

Anjung Senja is on the Kota Kinabalu waterfront promenade, tucked away in a corner to the south of the city’s waterfront area, which on Rustic Borneo’s Free City Map is to the far right of Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen.

Originally established to accommodate displaced vendors from the nearby bus terminal some 4-or-so years ago when renovations started, Anjung Senja is on a scenic part of the waterfront popular for its cluster of local food restaurants.

Although it might not look like much from the road (the “back of house” faces towards the road) the front part of Anjung Senja that faces the sea is scenic, beautified during the day with blooming flowers and at dusk by Sabah’s famous, colourful sunsets.

For the inquisitive foodie and adventurous visitor to Kota Kinabalu, Anjung Senja offers a host of opportunities to experience a variety of different food as enjoyed by locals, at local prices.

Anjung Senja, local food court on the waterfront promenade in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo

The many eateries at Anjung Senja open in the afternoon from about 4pm and stays open till late.

There’s a host of local-style food on offer like seafood dishes – specifically prawns, squid or stingray, and chicken dishes with either a rice or a noodle base. The style of cooking varies from stall to stall. The aroma of ever-popular chicken wings will entice you from far away.

For dessert you can find treasures like Pisang Goreng, a banana fritter that is sweet and tasty. Traditionally it’s banana in a sweet batter, which is deep fried, but at Anjung Senja you can find exotic twists (even for this part of the world) like Pisang Goreng with cheese, chocolate or even both.

Anjung Senja can be found on Rustic Borneo’s Free City Map in grid-section V9, the most southern point of Kota Kinabalu waterfront. It’s near the Promenade Hotel and next the newly opened Oceanus Waterfront Mall.

Visit Rustic Borneo’s Travel Centre for a copy of our free map and chat about the exciting Borneo holiday packages we have on offer, or how we can tailor-make your dream holiday.

Even though the locals in Kota Kinabalu are exceptionally friendly and anyone you pass on the street is usually happy to help with directions, it’s always handy to have some local knowledge in the form a free Kota Kinabalu City Map. Rustic Borneo, as your experts on the ground here in Sabah, Borneo have packaged all you need to know […]

Even though the locals in Kota Kinabalu are exceptionally friendly and anyone you pass on the street is usually happy to help with directions, it’s always handy to have some local knowledge in the form a free Kota Kinabalu City Map.

Rustic Borneo, as your experts on the ground here in Sabah, Borneo have packaged all you need to know in a handy-to-use, perfectly sized free map of Kota Kinabalu.

 

The free Rustic Borneo Tour Info & Street Map is the only tool you need to guide you through the city of Kota Kinabalu.

It features a detailed, to-scale (roughly) map of the Kota Kinabalu city centre that highlights – amongst other things – shopping centres, major hotels, interesting sights around town, the ferry and bus terminals, major roads and places where to exchange and draw money from, to name but a few.

The free Kota Kinabalu city map also shows the CBD in relation to the greater Kota Kinabalu, including what’s hot outside of Kota Kinabalu’s central business district.

A Frequently Asked Questions section on the flip-side will answer all those, well, frequently asked questions, and the map of Sabah will help orientate yourself as to where you are in the big scheme of things. In between the detailed map segments are the most popular attractions, activities in tours that can get involved in in either Kota Kinabalu or the rest of Sabah, all of which Rustic Borneo can help arrange for you.

Get a free and very handy Kota Kinabalu City Map from Rustic Borneo

The free Kota Kinabalu city map is available from Rustic Borneo’s Traveller Service Centre, which is conveniently located in the centre of town, just off Gaya Street.

Over the coming weeks we will be highlighting what we’ve marked as Interesting on the free Kota Kinabalu city map, explaining why the particular sights are interesting, giving a bit of history and images and further help you explore and understand the history of Kota Kinabalu even better.

When you arrive in Kota Kinabalu, head straight to Rustic Borneo and come in for a chat when you grab your copy of the free Kota Kinabalu city map.

 

Rustic Borneo’s Dutch intern, Esther Schotanus, have been hard at work getting to know her temporary new home, Sabah.  Recently she took to the rural areas outside of Kota Kinabalu, called Donggongon in Penampang, for her first unadulterated experience of local life. Here’s what she had to say: “The thing that makes my stay here Borneo so […]

Rustic Borneo’s Dutch intern, Esther Schotanus, have been hard at work getting to know her temporary new home, Sabah.  Recently she took to the rural areas outside of Kota Kinabalu, called Donggongon in Penampang, for her first unadulterated experience of local life. Here’s what she had to say:

“The thing that makes my stay here Borneo so special is meeting all the amazing people of Sabah. People here are caring, giving and generous and always welcome me with a very big smile.

It makes me want to get to know them better, learn from them and see how they live. I got the perfect opportunity recently to do just that through Tinopikan Village tour.

The Tinopikan Village is located about 40 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu on the banks of the Moyong River.

Upon arrival at the parking area above the village I was greeted by a local villager, my guide for the day, and followed her down the steps to the river bank. To enter the village we had to cross the river by wooden hanging bridge. While we crossed the sound of traditional gong instruments filled the air as locals played to welcome us to their village.

From the bridge I saw what looked like hundreds of fish in the river. This is something special because, due to over-fishing, rivers teeming with fish are rare. Here in Tinopikan Village they work hard to protect the river, keep it clean and prohibit fishing, except for once a year when fishing is allowed for a limited time.

The welcome area for visitors feature a makeshift showcase area for cultural performances, tables and seats for meals and an outside kitchen area.

In the kitchen, mothers of the village were already busy preparing a traditional home made lunch for us. We left them to it for a walk through the village.

Our guide took us to visit one of the houses to get a closer look at local life. Entering the house of the oldest women in the village, I was overwhelmed with serenity and peace.

The people live simple lives and don’t have a lot of material possessions, but the pictures of her children and grandchildren, prominently displayed, shows there is no shortage of love and pride.

Continuing from the house we went on a short hike through the jungle to discover different types of trees, plants and flowers, some of which are economically valuable, like the rubber tree from which latex is harvested, or the pineapple trees that grow fruit for the villagers.

At the end of the trail, which took us along a small tributary, we discovered a picturesque waterfall.

Although the jungle is significantly cooler than the sweltering heat you will experience in the open areas of Sabah, we nevertheless took a cooling dip in the cold waters of the waterfall’s pool.

On the return journey the smell of lunch reached us well before we arrived at the village.

A variety of locally sourced products made for the perfect, traditional lunch, which is customary light on meat, but includes a chicken broth, small fried fish, a variety of vegetable dishes cooked in different styles and a base of rice that brings it all together.

Well fed ourselves, we were handed packages of fish food and headed down the river bank.

Within seconds of the first few beads of fish food hitting the water, fish started swarming so densely it turned the water dark.

We were invited to wade into the shallows and put our feet in the middle of this feeding frenzy.

It felt a little weird at first, because the brushing of the fish against your feet is an odd, tickling sensation, but after getting over that initial feeling we started feeding the fish little by little from our clenched fists.

The fish would rain kisses upon our hands in their quest to get to the fish food beads, all the while brush our arms and feet for an authentic, sustainable fish massage.

After our fishy spa action, we ended the day with cultural show. We were drawn in to participate in the dancing, playing traditional music and just talking to the villagers.

Everybody in the village pitches in to play a part in this local culture tour, providing a great experience for visitors, while providing a livelihood to the people of the village.

During the rest of my stay here in Sabah, I will definitely go back to spend more time with the amazing people of Tinopikan Village.”

The colourful Gaya Street Sunday Market is a once-a-week must-visit for anybody who finds themselves in Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday morning. From long before sunrise, traders gather along Kota Kinabalu’s historic Gaya Street to set up their stalls for the day’s market, which is one of Kota Kinabalu’s busiest Sunday attractions. When trading officially […]

The colourful Gaya Street Sunday Market is a once-a-week must-visit for anybody who finds themselves in Kota Kinabalu on a Sunday morning.

From long before sunrise, traders gather along Kota Kinabalu’s historic Gaya Street to set up their stalls for the day’s market, which is one of Kota Kinabalu’s busiest Sunday attractions.

When trading officially starts at 6am, it comes alive with hawkers and visitors roaming the sprawling market in search of something delicious, thirst quenching, useful, beautiful or interesting.

 

Stretching along Gaya Street from in front of the Jesselton Hotel on the one end down to the DBKK – Kota Kinabalu’s Municipal Building on the other, the Gaya Street Sunday Market is packed with a large collection of almost anything that you might find elsewhere in Sabah.

From the everyday clothing and accessories to freshly ground Borneo coffee, cages filled with poultry to mini nurseries with plants, from freshly baked Sarawakian cakes to delicious Sabah snacks, the Gaya Street Sunday Market will occupy you for as long as you’re willing to look.

Looking for something to wear? A multitude of stalls are ready to meet your needs, from souvenir t-shirts to fisherman’s pants, skirts, tank tops and short and various creative hats.

 

What about a souvenir for friends and family back home? Hand-carved wooden statues, Sabah fridge magnets, photo frames with seashells, creative notepads, photos, and more – nobody has to return home with an ordinary gift.

As the morning grows brighter and the day becomes hotter, visitors to the market inevitably look for something with which to quench the thirst. For that too the Gaya Street Sunday Market has plenty to offer. What about a purple dragon-fruit smoothy, or some fresh bubble tea? A cup of freshly ground Borneo coffee, or just some local soft drinks.

Long before lunch you are sure to have discovered and tasted some of the many local fruits and snacks hidden around the market, but for a proper sit down meal there are plenty of restaurants hidden behind the informal traders. They are hard to ignore, because on Gaya Street Sunday Market they are usually filled to capacity with eager shoppers chattering away over a noodle brunch.

At about 1 o’ clock the traders start to pack up and the market slowly quiets down until the last trader leaving returns the street normal once more. That is, until next week when it once against turns into the Gaya Street Sunday Market.

Don’t forget Rustic Borneo’s own Traveller Service Centre which also features a host of local handicraft and souvenirs – we’re just off Gaya Street and we’re open on a Sunday, so do drop by for shopping or to book your Sabah tours and activities.

Variety of things available at the Gaya Street Sunday Market