Sabah - the land beneath the windSir Douglas Hawthorne ▼ |
Sabah shares the island of Borneo with Sarawak, Brunei, and Indonesian Kalimantan. It is blessed with rich nature, nature diversity, unique cultures, fun adventure, beautiful beaches, and fantastic cuisines for the adventurous taste buds. Name an activity you love and we'll answer: Sabah is the place to go. From mountain climbing and scuba diving to wildlife spotting or just simply relaxing at the beach, Sabah is your destination. From the world's largest flower - the Rafflesia - to the highest mountain is South East Asia - Mount Kinabalu - to one of the world's best dive sites - Sipadan Island.
There are 32 indigenous groups in Sabah, so you can expect to see tribal dresses of various styles. Most of these have retained much of their ancient and original design and color. Many of these traditional costumes are of black material, and one of the reasons for using such a sombre color is that in the past, the people could rely on a few types of vegetables and plants from which to extract dye to color the cloth.
If they needed to add color to the black, beads of red, orange, white and green were sewn on. Traditional costumes also included antique bead necklaces and belts, antique hand-engraved silver jewellery, and belts of old silver dollar coins. Most of these accessories have been handed down from generation to generation and they are all very valuable and priceless.
The destination you simply must visit is the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, set up in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned baby orang-utan. It is situated in the lush 4,300-hectare Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve attracting both, tourists and researchers to watch the orang-utan up close in their natural habitat. Touching orang-utans is strongly discouraged because some adventurous ape may try to grab your camera in which case you should call for a ranger trying to wrestle the 200 pound ape. Not a good idea.
For the more adventurous, there is trekking through mangrove forest. As this is under the Forestry Department, you will have to get a permit from them before trekking the five kilometres trail which runs through Sepilok Laut. You can also arrange for a boat return or accommodation in chalets in the forest.
The Tip of Borneo - Tanjung Simpang Mengayau - is a dramatic headland situated in the northern-most tip of Borneo, in the Kudat Peninsula, about three and a half hours drive from Kota Kinabalu City. Simpang Mengayau means "lingering junction" as it is here that the South China Sea lingers and meets the Sulu Seas flowing from the east. The sunsets and full moons are just beautiful here, among the best in the world.
Gaya Street located in the city of Kota Kinabalu has been the centre of business for more than one hundred years. The wooden shops with nipah roofs are long gone but here is where generations-old family businesses are still thriving passed down from father to son. Every Sunday morning Gaya Street is closed for traffic to make way for the Fair. Shop for anything under shady trees and over-sized umbrellas, like batik sarongs, fruits and flowers, arts and craft, footwear, antiques and souvenirs, cakes, even pets and herbs!
If you plan to come to Borneo, we strongly recommend that you forget the civilization and set your foot in the nature. Discover the myths of the mountain at a Dusun village homestay, see sunrise from the Mt Kinabalu summit, soak in the Poring Hot Springs, make friends with mischievous orang-utans, witness the birth of baby sea turtles... After that you can only say "the life IS beautiful!" ■