Tropical fruits of Borneo

Here’s a list of some of the fruits that you can find in Borneo. Some are common tropical fruits like the rambutan and mangosteen, while some are less commonly found like the tarap, bambangan and belunu.

Some fruits can be found the whole year round, but most are seasonal. Fruiting season is usually between July to September and December to January.

In Sabah, the best place to sample the local fruits is at Kundasang, near Kinabalu Park, and for those heading south, along the roadside from Papar to Beaufort. In Kota Kinabalu, the Filipino market and Central market are good places to satisfy your tropical fruit cravings.

Categories: Eating and Drinking | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Agop Batu Tulug

 What is it? Old coffins in a cave

Where is it? Batu Puteh, Kinabatangan, Sabah

Should you go? ** a bit out of the way, but if you are in the area, definitely.

Lost ratings: ****  probably gets less than 10 tourists a day.

agop-batu-tulug-20081210-01

Located just before Batu Puteh village and the only bridge that crosses Kinabatangan River, Agop Batu Tulug is famous for the wooden coffins that are found in the caves of the 39m-high hill. A beautiful example of these coffins can be found in the Sabah State Museum, but there is no denying the thrill of visiting the actual location where the coffins were found.

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The limestone hill is not difficult to find. It stands out prominently from the surrounding countryside. If you are heading towards Lahad Datu, the hill is on the left side of the road. From Kota Kinabalu, it is about 355km. From Kota Kinabatangan, it is only about 40km away. The two caves at the top of the hill that look like eyes are a recognizable feature of Batu Tulug. There are three main caves in Batu Tulug. Two are located near the top of the hill and can be reached via a steep and slippery staircase. Another one is at the foothill.

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Agop means “cave” in the local Orang Sungei language, and Tulug means “to sleep” in the Visayan language. I guess what they really meant was “to sleep for a very long time” since the caves were the final resting place for more than a hundred wooden coffins. The coffins were mostly made from Belian wood (Bornean Ironwood) and it shows just how long-lasting Belian wood can be because the coffins were between 200 to 250 years old. No one really knows who the coffins belong to, but it has been theorized that the coffins belonged to early Chinese traders who had traveled up Kinabatangan Rver and settled there. This is because similar coffins were found in China and Vietnam. Intermarriage between the Chinese and locals probably spread this culture throughout the Kinabatangan region. As to why the coffins were dragged all the way up to the caves at the top, the reason given was that the Kinabatangan River gets flooded regularly, and the Chinese believed that if the coffins were buried in flood-prone areas, their spiritual homes would also be flooded. Question is, how did they get it up the hill? Mind you, this was before they built the stairs.

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I had trouble enough climbing up the stairs without carrying a coffin on my back. The first cave we reached was Agop Lintanga. Entering the narrow passageway, we came face to face with a few dozen coffins. Some were quite small. Then we continued climbing to the peak of the hill where there was a resting area. Walking down to the other side of the hill was another cave called Agop Sawat. The coffins in this cave were even more beautifully carved than the ones in the earlier cave. One end of the coffin cover is carved into the shape of a buffalo head. The buffalo head is symbolic of bearing burdens of the dead, and easing their passage to the afterlife. Other coffins found elsewhere had animal shapes like crocodiles, snakes and lizards as well. If the cover is shaped like an animal, then the coffin houses the body of a man. If the cover has no particular shape, then the coffin houses the body of a woman.

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Categories: Historical, Sandakan and Kinabatangan river | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

NEWS: Archaeologists hit ‘gold’ at Mansuli

Sourced from The Star

KOTA KINABALU: The Mansuli Valley in Sabah’s east coast Lahad Datu district houses the oldest human settlement in east Malaysia, archaeologists claim.

Tucked inside a forest reserve and accessible only by a dirt road, researchers stumbled upon a treasure trove in 2003, finding more than 1,000 stone tools that are believed to date back 235,000 years.

The research was jointly carried out by Universiti Sains Malaysia and Sabah Museum, which are also currently looking at other potential sites in the state’s interior Apin-Apin district in Keningau.

USM Centre for Global Archaeological Research director Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin said the evidence showed people settled in Sabah during the Paleolithic period (also known as the Stone Age), 27,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Before this, it was claimed the oldest human settlement, dating back about 40,000 years, was in the Niah Caves, near Miri, Sarawak.

Dr Mokhtar said this in a talk to mark the launch of the Archaeology in Malaysia exhibition by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at Sabah Museum here yesterday.

The professor said the new evidence showed that humans from the South-East Asian mainland came to Borneo when the Sunda Plain still existed.

(Also known as the Sunda Shelf, it is geologically an extension of the continental shelf of South-East Asia with the major land masses being the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Madura, Bali and their surrounding smaller islands. It covers an area of approximately 1.85 million square kilometres.)

Dr Mokhtar said that when connected to other Paleolithic archaeological sites in Sabah, the Mansuli Valley site established that the early humans had consistently made this part of Borneo their home.

He said efforts were being made to put this information into school books.

USM lecturer Jeffery Abdullah, who is part of the archaeology team, said they found the site by chance while working on the Samang Buat cave, about a kilometre from the site.

“We were walking to the cave when we found stone tools scattered and hidden among small rocks,” said Jeffery, who is pursuing a doctorate in archeology at the university.

Masidi said more should be done to study and conserve the state’s historical heritage.

“While many archaeological sites concentrated in Sabah’s east coast, more studies need to be held in the west coast and interior areas so we can get a better understanding on Sabah’s history as a whole,” he said.

Categories: Historical, News, Tawau and Lahad Datu | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Sininggazanak

What is it? A statue in a field

Where is it? Kinarut, Sabah

Should you go? ** for something different and a chance to stretch your legs in a local town

Lost ratings: ***** Ask a local sitting next to you in a bar in KK, and you’ll probably get this response “A sinin what?”

I have always wanted to look for a sininggazanak ever since I first read about it in Rough Guides. While the name evokes images of a cheeky leprechaun-like spirit, it is actually just a wooden statue. A sininggazanak statue is carved by the blood relative of a Kadazan man or woman who has died without heirs. This is to commemorate the dead person as well as to stake a claim on his or her land. According to Kadazan tradition, land should be passed on to a person’s child, and if that person is childless, then it should be passed on to a blood relative. That is to say, a man’s land should be inherited by his brothers or sisters and not by his wife or wife’s family. Likewise, a dead woman’s husband does not inherit her land. A sininggazanak in the middle of a paddy field signifies that the field still belongs in name to the dead person. It is also believed that spirits inhabit the statue and is the guardian of the paddy field.


A tradition which is found only in the Penampang – Putatan – Kinarut area near Kota Kinabalu, sininggazanaks are difficult to find these days. The most famous one was at Kampung Tampasak in Kinarut. To preserve this heritage, the Sabah Museum authorities negotiated the purchase of the statue for the sum of one water buffalo, one pig, one chicken (RM230) and RM50 cash. A vital part of the agreement was for the authorities to carve a stone replica of the sininggazanak and put it at its original location. The original used to be displayed in Sabah State Museum, but is now kept in the storehouse instead. A replica of what the statue looks like can be seen on the pillars of the arch at the entrance to the museum.

Much better is the real stone replica at Kampung Tampasak. Tampasak is also another name for the Tembesu tree. This tree is a good timber tree and the heartwood is strong and durable. Sininggazanaks used to be carved from this wood. Not sure if the name of this village has anything to do with it though.

Getting there: This village is located about 30 minutes walk from Kinarut town. Between the 2 rows of shop houses, there is a road that crosses the railway track. Follow that road until you come to a T-junction. Turn left to get to the main road and then turn right. You will see a field down below. The stone replica can be seen beside a tree in the middle of the field. It can be difficult to find on your own and my directions are not that accurate, so ask around in town.

It’s an interesting piece of carving and makes a good photography subject. The statue is that of a female and the whole figure including the pedestal stands at 2.6m. The actual figure is 1m tall. The surrounding countryside is also a good place for a stroll on a cloudy day. But watch out for the numerous buffalo dung that dots the trails.


Further reading: Traditional Stone and Wood Monuments of Sabah by Peter R Phelan provides a detailed explanation of sininggazaks and other monuments.

Categories: Cultural, Kota Kinabalu and around | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

NEWS: Bull elephant kills Australian woman tourist in Borneo

Sourced from The Star

Published: Wednesday December 7, 2011 MYT 6:16:00 PM

Bull elephant kills Australian woman tourist in Borneo

By DURIE RAINER FONG

KOTA KINABALU: An Australian woman tourist taking pictures was gored to death by a bull elephant in Sabah’s east coast Tabin Wildlife Reserve.Jenna OGrady Donley, 26, a Sydney-based veterinarian, was attacked by the elephant, which was apparently startled by the sounds of the camera’s shutter and flash, in the 6.30am incident on Wednesday

Witnesses claimed that she could not flee in time as the elephant suddenly charged at her while her woman companion and guide escaped in the attack at this 123,00ha wildlife reserve about 100km from Lahad Datu town.

State Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said the women and their guide had gone to a nearby mud volcano and decided to take the wildlife trail on their way back to the resort.

Ambu said the group had gone off the trail to snap photographs of the wild elephant, which he suspected was a single bull.

Single bull elephants normally isolate themselves and their behaviour is difficult to predict and often dangerous, he said, adding people should keep their distance from such elephants or any wildlife for that matter.

Ambu learned that the women had stopped about 10m from the animal and started clicking away their cameras.

This might have provoked the elephant which suddenly turned around and charged at them, he said, adding the others escaped but the woman could not as she was the closest to the animal.

He said police are investigating the matter, adding the woman’s remains have been sent to the Lahad Datu hospital for an autopsy.

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NEWS: Granny fends off croc attack with a mean punch

Sourced from The Star online

Friday October 28, 2011  A 63-YEAR-OLD woman from a longhouse in Sibuti, near Miri, socked a crocodile in the eye and escaped being eaten alive by the reptile, Harian Metro reported. Lumeit Entabang was bathing by the banks of Sungai Bakas, not far from her home in Rumah Empading, when she felt a sharp bite on her left hand. She was then dragged into the water. “All I could do was scream,” she said. “The crocodile let go of my hand and then grabbed my left thigh. “Quickly and with all my might, I hit it right in the eye with my clenched fist,” she said, adding that the punch caused the reptile to loosen its grip and flee to the opposite bank. Following the incident, residents of the longhouse and nearby villa-ges held a miring ngampun ceremony, a traditional Iban ritual to pacify any spirit or jungle creature that the community may have offend-ed. Villager Jackson Gawing, 63, said the Ibans believed that the crocodile had a spiritual relationship with the community but some people might have offended the reptile by killing baby crocodiles that got stuck in their fishing nets. The injured Lumeit said that although her village had been supplied with piped water, she continued to bath and wash by the river as she had done for the past 60 years. “But I’m never going near the river again,” she said.

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Smallest frog in Asia

From a lost frog to a frog the size of a pea…
Sourced from MSNBC 25/8/2010
Image: The new species of a mini frog
Indraneil Das / IBEC via ReutersA specimen from a miniature frog species named Microhyla nepenthicola sits on a tip of a pencil. The frog was found on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo.
One of the tiniest frogs in the world, and the smallest ever seen outside of North and South America, has been discovered in the forests of the Southeast Asian island of Borneo.

The pea-sized amphibians (Microhyla nepenthicola) were found near a mountain in Kubah National Park.

Read more at MSNBC

More about frogs:

Top 10 most wanted frog rediscovered

First lungless frog discovered in Borneo

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Top 10 most wanted frog rediscovered

Doing some research on frogs to broaden my knowledge and what do you know, frogs are interesting! This is the first of my few frog discoveries.

Sourced from http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14151541 14 July 2011

Lost rainbow toad is rediscovered

Long-legged Borneo rainbow toad (Image: Indraneil Das)Prior to this sighting, the toad was last spotted in 1924

A colourful, spindly-legged toad that was believed to be extinct has been rediscovered in the forests of Borneo.

Scientists from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) found three of the missing long-legged Borneo rainbow toads up a tree during a night time search. The team had spent months scouring remote mountain forests for the species. Prior to these images, only illustrations of the toad had existed. These were drawn from specimens that were collected by European explorers in the 1920s.

Conservation International, which launched its Global Search for Lost Amphibians in 2010, had listed the toad as one of the “world’s top 10 most wanted frogs”.

Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14151541

More frog news

Smallest frog in Asia

First lungless frog discovered in Borneo

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Kudat Chinese Temple

A Chinese temple in Kudat town, the northernmost town in Borneo.

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Tabin Wildlife Reserve photos

Place: Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Things to do: Spot wildlife, bird-watching, walk in mud, stay in jungle lodge.

Why you should visit: Best place to see the smallest elephant in the world (Bornean Pygmy Elephant)

Ratings: **** If you love wildlife, this is one of the places you must visit in Borneo

Click on photos to enlarge

Photographers

Lipad Mud Volcano

More mud

Roads

Lodges

Tabin Riverside Lodges

Detailed information on everything you need to know can be found at Tabin Wildlife Reserve’s website

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Beautiful Caterpillar

Who needs to turn into a butterfly when the caterpillar is this beautiful?

Found near entrance to Kinabalu Botanical Garden in Kinabalu Park.

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First lungless frog discovered in Borneo

Here’s another animal to add to your must-see rare species in Borneo list

Name: Bornean Flat-headed Frog

Scientific name: Barbourula kalimantanensis

Found in: Kapuas River, Kalimantan

Why you want to see this: Only frog known to have no lungs

read more about it here

More about frogs:

Top 10 most wanted frog rediscovered

Smallest frog in Asia

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Photo: Dawn at Lake Sulaman

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Fish in bottle

Saw this in Tuaran’s Sunday tamu (market)

Fish-flavoured drink?

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Bajau girl in mangrove forest

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Mount Kinabalu panorama

 

Mount Kinabalu as seen from Nabalu village.

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Where to see orang utans in Sabah?

Just as the kangaroo and koala are symbols of Australia, the orang utan is the symbol of Borneo, and inevitably, everyone wants to see this red ape. Unfortunately, you won’t see them crossing the street next to you in Kota Kinabalu anytime soon. There are only a few places where the orang utan can be seen. In Sabah, the following places are where you can catch a glimpse of this adorable animal.

1. Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

The largest orang utan rehabilitation centre in the world, Sepilok is located about 30 minutes drive away from Sandakan and offers the visitor the best chance to see the orang utan in the wild. Feeding sessions are held twice a day, once in the morning at 10am, and once more in the evening at 2pm. Numbers vary from 20 to none at all, depending on whether the orang utan is able to find food on their own or whether it feels particularly lazy on that day and prefer a hand-out.

2.  Danum Valley

If you prefer totally wild orang utans rather than semi-wild ones, Danum Valley is one place where sightings are possible. Whether you are able to see the orang utan or not really depends on luck. I would say there is a 50-50 chance.

3. Kinabatangan River

Another place where wild orang utans can be sighted. Don’t get your hopes up though.

4. Shangri-la Rasa Ria’s Nature Interpretation Centre

There are a couple of juvenile orang utans being taken care of by the staff in this resort, located about 45 minutes from Kota Kinabalu. Feedings are also held twice daily, and sightings are almost guaranteed. However, priority is given to in-house guests and during the peak season, it can be quite difficult to get a booking. Entrance is RM50 for in-house guests and RM65 for outside guests.

5. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

“Orang utans in a zoo? We have that in our country too.”

I know, but if you really want to see the orang utan, this is one place where 100% sighting is guaranteed. They make an appearance at the animal show too, and despite the negative connotations of a zoo, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is actually not that bad.

And last, but not least

6. Near Roundabout outside Wisma Tun Mustapha

Really, no orangutans at all? No worries, you can always pretend to be one.

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Malaysian Desserts

ABC at Gayang Restaurant

 

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Sexy Lady orchid

one of the many (and definitely the best-named) tiny species of orchids found in the Botanical Garden in Kinabalu Park

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Local Fruits

Local/English name: Rambutan

“Rambut” means hair in Malay, and the name aptly describes this local seasonal fruit. The flesh inside is transparent white in colour and completely covers the wood-like seed. It is sometimes difficult to completely remove the flesh from the seed. Rambutans look and tastes like lychee, but is sweeter and very juicy.  Tastes even better when it is refrigerated.

Taste: 8 (out of 10)

 

Local/English name: langsat

A small oval-shaped fruit, about the size of the circle that you make with your thumb and index finger. A bit sourish, compared to the rambutan. The greenish seed is bitter, so be careful not to bite into it. The latex from the fruit leaves your hand sticky after eating it.

Taste: 6.5 (out of 10)

Bambangan

Local/English name: Bambangan

A mango disguised as a coconut. The skin colour is similar to a husked coconut, but one touch and you will know the difference. Peel it, and it is even more apparent. This mango-like fruit tastes like a very sour mango, and is therefore seldom eaten as a fruit, but rather it is used in cooking when you want to add a sour taste to your dish. Cut up and mixed with its grated seed to be sold in bottles in local markets in Borneo. A fruit very common in Borneo, but not found in Peninsular Malaysia.

Taste: 3 (out of 10)

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