Sabah Tea Garden

Sabah Tea GardenWith a name like Sabah Tea Garden, you’d probably imagine coming here to sip tea in a quaint English garden. Well, it’s actually less of a garden, and more of a tea plantation. Although sipping tea is probably what you’ll be doing sooner or later if you make your way here.

One of only two remaining areas in Malaysia that produces tea leaves (the other being Cameron Highlands, of course), Sabah Tea Plantation is located about 700m above sea level in Kampung Nalapak in Ranau. It’s location is just a bit too far away to be included in the popular Kinabalu Park-Poring Hot Springs day trip, and visitors will probably find that they are one of the few people who are there.

Started in 1978, the Sabah Tea Plantation is an organic tea farm right from its very beginning. With only one-fifth of its 6200 acre land being opened for planting tea trees and other tourism activities, the plantation is surrounded by tropical rainforest. As the insects prefer the surrounding forests, pest-control is easily done even without using pesticides.

Sabah Tea Garden

As its brochures proudly proclaim, “more than’ll see”, Sabah Tea Garden has come up with various tour packages for tourists, including the award-winning Sabah Tea Adventure, which is an obstacle-training, team-building kind of program. Those who want to spend a quiet night here can stay in its longhouse or villas. From what I read on the reviews on TripAdvisor, the sunrise and sunset here can be amazing.

Sabah Tea Garden

But what is there for the casual visitor on a day trip to Sabah Tea Garden? Well, apart from the nice view of the tea plantation, you can also take the interesting guided tour of the tea factory to learn a bit about the tea processing and how to differentiate real tea from imitation tea (yes, there is such a thing). A lovely lunch at its restaurant makes for a delicious end to your visit. And of course, you can’t come here and not drink tea.

Sabah Tea Garden

tea tasting

Sabah Tea Garden

Sabah Tea Garden

Tea-flavoured pancakes

For those who are looking to take back some souvenirs, its shop stocks some interesting tea-themed products. And while you can also get Sabah Tea in supermarkets in Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah Tea products here come in some very nice packaging that are only sold here.

Sabah Tea GardenSabah Tea Garden

Opening Hours:

daily 8am – 4.30pm

Factory visit: daily except major Public Holidays: 8am – 12pm

Entrance Fees:

There is no entrance fee to visit the plantation.

Guided tour of tea factory: RM 12 per person


 My Ratings: ** A good stopover if making the overland route between Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Or if you want some peace and quiet.






Tanjung Aru Perdana Park

Perdana Park - Tg Aru 20140107

Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru is slowly turning into one of my favourite parks in Kota Kinabalu (not that there are many). I came here yesterday after work for a run, and after that, headed to the nearby beach to relax. Beats getting stuck in traffic anytime.

Officially called Perdana Park at Hone Place, the park was opened in 2011, and was built and donated by Timatch Sdn Bhd (the company owned by the very charitable Datuk Victor Paul), as part of the Chief Minister’s efforts to turn Kota Kinabalu into a world-class city. Most importantly, the park is well-maintained. Even after four years, the facilities are still in good condition.

Perdana Park - Tg Aru 20110228 10

Basically, there is a jogging track surrounding a lake, with two playgrounds for children, and a reflexology path. Also, there are a few restaurants, including one which sells delicious cakes. (So you can pile on the calories after your run?).

Although the jogging track is not that long (It takes me 4 minutes to go one time around the lake), it is a good track. And when they start playing the music, it will just pump you up and make your tiredness disappear. I almost raised up my hands Rocky Balboa-style as I reached my targeted time. And the bonus is that after your run, you can head to Tanjung Aru beach to catch the sea breeze or to watch the sunset. No other park give you that!

Perdana Park - Tg Aru 20110228 01

The highlight of the park is of course the musical fountain in the lake. Starting every day at 7pm-ish for about 15 minutes and repeating every half an hour until 9pm, the fountain dances to the tune of music varying from local folk tunes to classical music to the very patriotic “1-Malaysia” song (The fountain shoots straight up like the number one!). The arrangement of the music is different at different times, and I find the last performance at 9 to be the best (that’s when they stop playing the Malaysian songs, and focus on the classic sentimental tunes). Not a bad spot to take your girlfriend to for a cheap date. (The park is free 🙂 )

Perdana Park - Tg Aru 20110228 02

Perhaps one thing that has not been highlighted too much is that the park is also good for a bit of bird-watching. Not just garden birds, but because of the lake in the middle, there are also egrets and little herons. I spotted 7 species yesterday evening. Come in the morning and you’ll get to see the striated heron baits its prey using bread crumbs.


Opening Hours:

Monday – Thursday : 6.00am – 10.00pm

Friday – Sunday : 6.00am – 10.30pm

Musical fountain: daily 7:00pm – 9:00pm (9:30pm on weekends)

Entrance: free. Parking costs RM 1


The barefoot ‘solar engineer’: An illiterate grandma’s journey to save her Sabah village

Sourced from Malay Mail online

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 4 — She may be illiterate, a grandmother of nine, and living in one of the most cut-off villages in Sabah, but 40-year-old Tarihing Masanim is on her way to becoming a “solar energy engineer”.

Living in a remote village of Kampung Sonsogon Magandai in northern Sabah, the Dusun rubber-tapper navigates herself around the village barefoot, having never owned a pair of shoes, nor been on an elevator, much less seen an airplane before.

read more

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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


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.

Fish in bottle

Saw this in Tuaran’s Sunday tamu (market)

Fish-flavoured drink?

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.

Kalampunian Beach

Location: Kudat, Sabah

Ratings *** Beautiful, deserted beach. Worth a visit if you are in Kudat.

Lost Ratings ***** If uncrowded beaches are what you are looking for, this is it.

Perhaps the most beautiful beach in mainland Sabah. Kalampunian Beach is located at the northern-most end of the island of Borneo and visitors to the Tip of Borneo tourist spot in Kudat will pass by this beach just before reaching the end of the road. It is best visited on a cloudless day as the brilliant deep blue of the sea contrasts nicely with the light blue of the sky. The white sandy beach is as soft as it looks and it is a pure joy to walk on the beach. Another reason to visit is for the remoteness as few tourists come here. If you happen to go on a weekday, you can probably have the whole beach to yourself. There are stalls selling beautiful sea shells by the roadside. Snorkelling gear and life jackets can be rented from these stores. This is a wonderful place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a relaxing day at the beach.

Getting there:

Kalampunian Beach is located about 3 hours drive north of Kota Kinabalu. Take the road to Kudat and follow the signboard to Tip of Borneo or Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. It is the beach on the left just before the drive up to the Tip of Borneo car park. Most tour operators conduct day trips to Kudat which include a stop at the Tip of Borneo. But considering the distance, it is better to spend one night here or in Kudat as a day-trip does not leave you much time to spend at the beach. The beach is at its best in the morning.

Take note:

There are no lifeguards on duty and you should be a good swimmer if you want to swim in the sea. Conditions can be rough at times.

Pros: One of the most beautiful beach in Sabah; deserted

Cons: Difficult to get to without your own transportation; 3 hours from Kota Kinabalu

Borneo sunsets

Click on photos for bigger size

Sunset at KK Waterfront 11.7.2010

Sunset at Shangrila Rasa Ria Resort

Sunset at Tanjung Aru beach

Sunset from Kinabalu Park

Sunset at Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort

Sunset from near Nabalu

Sunset at Pulau Tiga

Cemetery with a view

Nirvana Memorial Park, Kota Kinabalu

A place on a hill with sea-view and only 20 minutes from the city?

The dead has never had it better.

Welcome to Nirvana Memorial Park, the most beautiful (and expensive) cemetery in Sabah. Located in Telipok, about 20 minutes north of Kota Kinabalu, the burial plots range from a couple of thousands to half a million ringgit only (for a large plot for two dozen family members). If you can’t afford one, blackmail your children. According to Chinese customs, the feng shui of one’s ancestors burial plots affect the fortunes of their descendants.

Even if you are not nearing your death-bed yet, this is a good place to come for some peace and quiet and to maybe read a book or two? As long as you don’t mind the invisible eyes peering over your shoulder. :p

Who needs heaven when you have Nirvana?

Where is it? Telipok, Sabah

Should you go? * Not exactly a tourist attraction, but if you’ve never seen something like this before...

Lost ratings: **** all the peace and quiet that you could want, unless it happens to be All Souls Day

 Getting there: 15-20 minutes by taxi from KK

Water buffalo in high heels

Outside a restaurant in KK..

Restaurant in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Buffalo and pig fine for illicit sex

Sourced from The Star online

Sunday January 31, 2010

Buffalo and pig fine for couple who had illicit sex

KOTA KINABALU: Four buffaloes, a pig and RM2,000 – this was the fine a court imposed on a man and his wife’s colleague for having an illicit affair.

The two were convicted by the Penampang Native Court here on Friday under customary native laws, after the man’s wife filed a complaint against them last year.

During the hearing, the woman claimed her husband had become indifferent to her after he enrolled for a degree course at a university here in 2006. She claimed she later found him and her colleague living together in a house in the city, and that when she confronted them there, her husband was clad in shorts while his lover was in a sarong.

The court fined the man RM1,000 and ordered him to pay compensation of a buffalo or RM1,500 to his wife, a pig or RM500 to his two sons and another buffalo or RM1,500 to his Kampung Langkuas folks in Papar.

He was also ordered to pay RM200 in monthly expenses for his two sons by the three-man bench comprising Penampang district officer William Sampil, and native chiefs Johney Molijo and Adrian Sikawah.

The man’s lover was fined RM1,000 and ordered to compensate his wife with one buffalo and her village in Keningau district with another buffalo.

Sampil, in delivering the ruling, said although the man and his lover claimed they were “best friends” in their defence, the court found strong evidence of their intimate affair.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Proboscis Monkey - Labuk Bay 20081128 13 

Location: Sandakan, Sabah 

Ratings *** up-close of proboscis monkey and silver langur 

Lost Ratings *** 

Not enough of proboscis monkeys? Then go to Labuk Bay to satisfy your monkey-sighting cravings. 

The only proboscis monkey sanctuary in the world, Labuk Bay offers the proboscis fan or avid wildlife photographer the chance to see these monkeys up-close. With no tree branches or leaves blocking the monkeys, this is one place besides the zoo where you can see that all important nose of the male proboscis monkey. 

Located in the remaining parts of a mangrove forest turned oil palm plantation, the Labuk Bay sanctuary is the last remaining natural habitat for the primates in this area. There are currently about 400 proboscis monkeys left, although only about 70 monkeys come to the feeding platform regularly. 

Proboscis Monkeys 

Proboscis Monkey - Labuk Bay 20081128 06 

Proboscis Monkey - Labuk Bay 20081128 16 

Proboscis Monkey - Labuk Bay 20081128 09 

The sanctuary came about quite by accident. Due to the dwindling food supply when the mangrove forest was slowly converted into oil palm plantations, some monkeys made their way into the houses of the workers here and were seen nibbling on pancakes that were left out in the kitchen. Realizing their folly, the owner of the oil palm plantation decided to set aside some land for the wildlife instead of converting them all to oil palm plantations. 

Feedings are held twice a day and due to the intolerance of sugar in their diet, the proboscis monkeys are given cucumber, long beans and non-sweet pancakes. 

Labuk Bay - 20081128 06Labuk Bay - 20081128 05 

Besides the proboscis monkeys, the silver langurs also come during feeding time. The langurs have become so familiar with humans, that they are no longer afraid and would come right up to the viewing platform. 

Silver Langurs 

Silver Langur - Labuk Bay 20091021 01Silver Langur - Labuk Bay 20091021 02Silver Langurs at play - Labuk Bay 20091021 02 

River cruise or sanctuary? 

Some would argue that seeing the proboscis monkey on a river cruise is much better, and I don’t disagree with that. The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary should not be a replacement for a river cruise along the Kinabatangan River, but rather, it can be something extra. I recommend visiting the Kinabatangan River first before coming here. Otherwise, one can get monkey-fatigued. 

Feeding time: 

11:30am and 4.30pm at Platform B (recommended. Silver Langurs also come here) 

9.30am and 2.30pm at Platform A 


Getting there: 

Labuk Bay - 20081128 02

Labuk Bay proboscis monkey sanctuary is located near Samawang Village at Labuk Bay. It takes about 38km or one hour from the airport in Sandakan and is a bit further up the road to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. If you would like to visit both sanctuaries in one day, it is possible to catch the feeding first at Sepilok before heading to Labuk Bay. It takes less than 30 minute from Sepilok. 

The santuary is located 15 km from the main road, so without your personal transportation, it is not possible to get here on your own. Many tour companies offer tours to Labuk Bay or you can take the shuttle bus service offered by the sanctuary. 

The shuttle service is RM15 per way. 

Departure from Hotel Sandakan is at 9.30am and from Sepilok at 10.30am. 

The shuttle departs from Labuk Bay at 5.30pm 

Entrance fees: 

Malaysian Adult RM15, Child(6-12 years) RM5 

Foreigner Adult RM60, Child(6-12 years) RM30 

Camera fee RM10, Video fee RM20 

Labuk Bay - 20081128 03 





Sandakan (6)089-672177, 674880, 674133, 671745 

Kota Kinabalu (6) 088-317316 

Mobile: 019-8534098, 012-8188696

Cute kid in water village

Mengkabong - 20090923

Photo by Sato Atsuko

Mudmen of Pulau Tiga

New tribe found in Pulau Tiga in Sabah, Borneo. I don’t think they are dangerous. Crazy, maybe.

For more information:

Pulau Tiga

The Tambunan musclemen

Tambunan monument - Sabah, Borneo 20090905

Tambunan monument - Sabah, Borneo 20090905

Location: Tambunan, 80 km from Kota Kinabalu

Ratings *

Lost Ratings ****

Visitors who stop in the town centre of Tambunan would surely be intrigued by this monument. So who are these two Sabahan Stallone and Scharzenegger? A search on the Internet led me to this website.

It’s in Malay, so here’s the English translation, more or less.

Read the rest of this entry »

Water buffaloes swimming in Garama River

Garama River, Sabah, Borneo - 20090916

Garama River, Sabah, Borneo - 20090916

Jackie, the orang utan

Jackie, the orang utan at Poring Hot Springs

Jackie, the orang utan

Jackie is a 20-year old female orang utan living in one of the national parks in Sabah. Although she is allowed to roam free in the surrounding rainforest, Jackie prefers the comfort of her “house”. She no longer builds nests in trees to sleep like normal orangutans, but prefers to cover herself up with a black cloth bag at night. She loves pineapples, but is fed up of eating bananas all the time. Although many people know about Jackie, many more do not, and I prefer it that way so that Jackie won’t get “people-fatigued”.

Tawau Sunday Market

Location: Tawau, Sabah

Ratings **

Lost Ratings ****  mostly locals, not tourists

Tawau has its own version of KK’s Gaya Street Fair. It is located at the junction between Jalan Kuhara and Jalan Apas.

Compared to the one in KK, the Tawau Sunday Market is shorter, but has more variety of seafood. The market is like a mixture of a wet market and a pasar malam (night market) in KL. Food, fish, plants, flowers, toys, kites and a variety of things  are sold here. Some of the things found here that are not found in Gaya Street Fair (yet) are the cotton candy machines and kites.

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