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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Land below the wind

Sabah is so-called the 'land below the wind' because it just misses the seasonal typhoon south of Philippines. If you climb Mt Kinabalu, you will get to enjoy the aerial view of different parts of Sabah. That is, if you get a good weather and there are no clouds beneath you.

Indeed, I love to promote Sabah and its beautiful, natural places. It is a very easy subject to talk about because Sabah has everything to offer. Every year, Malaysian Airlines (seems like there are other organizers now) organizes the Mt Kinabalu climbathon, which attracts international participants from all over the world.

I have not tried the climbathon - those guys finish in 2-3 hours whereas normal people like me would need two days to complete. For the record, I have climbed to the summit for four times already. That's not enough since some locals I know have done that 10 times. I think you qualify for a guide certificate when you achieve this feat.

Another favorite destination for mountain climbing is the Gunung Trusmadi. I have not tried this myself but I think the climbing experience is something like the Gunung Tahan version, with more jungle trekking and less amenities along the way. There is no restaurant up there, unlike Mt Kinabalu. My mother's friend, a very active schoolteacher, once shared her experience with us. During her time, they hitch-hiked a timber trailer and walked across some river to get to where they were going. So it seems to me it is more rugged compared to Mt Kinabalu expedition.

While Mt Kinabalu is designated as a World Heritage Site, Sabah's famed Sipadan Island is designated as one of the top 5 dive destinations in the world. It is described as an "untouched piece of art" by the world-renowned oceanographer, Jacques Costeau. My brother in-law has been there seven times, I think. Well, I haven't gone there yet but would love to go there one day. So I cannot tell you much about the place. I can only show you the youtube video.

If you love beaches, one of the places that I highly recommend is near a place now named as the 'Tip of Borneo', which is considered as the northernmost point of Sabah. It is located in Kudat, which reminds me of the report of a mysterious island that surfaced for a while only to vanish again. If you go there, there is a coffee shop, just before entering the town, that is famous for its yong taufoo(soybean curd) -fish cake noodle - you should not miss it. One of the beaches that I have been to is at Simpang Mengayau. I remember the place for its white and fine sand and the crystal clear water. As usual, be careful when you are swimming in the sea. Some locals told me that there had been a drowning incident.

Sabah is also one of the few places which provides shelter to the Orangutan (one of three major primates, as far as I know, the others being chimpanzees and gorillas). Having being away from Sabah for half my life, I am also sad to announce that I haven't been there as well. If it is any consolation, my sister has been there. I think you can spend half a day at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. In addition, you can also see other exotic creatures like the hornbills, snakes, lizards, tortoises, spiders, and many interesting bugs.

One of the highlights in the capital city, Kota Kinabalu, is the 'tamu', held every Sunday morning along the Gaya Street. Actually, the "Pasar Tamu" is also held at every other town including Tuaran, Kota Belud, Ranau etc.

Sabah is also well-known for its seafood. Some of the places to go are Gayang and Salut (Gee, must ask my parents the names of those places). These are prawn-farm-cum-restaurants. If you like Chinese noodles, you can try the Beaufort noodle and Tuaran noodle, original and made in Sabah only. These pictures are making me hungry already.

Beaufort Mee and Tuaran Mee

Like I said, Sabah is a beautiful place and if you don't believe it, you can see it from the top of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia (technically, that is). With so many places to go to and plenty of good food around, it is almost like a paradise on earth.

On a cloudy day, it is a different story. I'll save this story for another time.


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

hi! good post n i like the pic of those colorful hats.

Susu Kacang said...

hey terri, thanks for visiting! you have a great blog there yourself.

wish it was me taking those pics....too bad i'm so far away from home.