collection of 7 of the 8 Giant Clams of the world. Instead of extinction, under our Giant Clam Restocking Programme, these endangered shell creatures are well on their way to further reproduction. If luck permits, watch them spawn a great multitude. Excite your day with a visit to our maternity tank where pregnant seahorses rest beside mothering bamboo sharks. And if a feast for the eyes ignites you further, take a reach into our "touch" tank where starfish amid other sea creatures await your caresses. For the true marine lover, we welcome you to our Reef Regeneration Programme. In this nautical highlight, chanced guests are given the honour of replanting replenished corals back into the reef.
We look forward to presenting you with our authentic simulated habitats of eccentric fish species, our very own laboratory, coral and clam holding tanks and our edifying auditorium. We hope to give back to society as our center invites scholars of all calibers to partake in our Marine Environment Education Programme
We had a fantastic time, we stayed at the Bilit village homestay in the jungle by the Kinabatangan - actually in one of the village family's home. Zul is the village co-rdinator (+60138913078) and he picked us up at the junction to Sukau on the main road to Sandakan.
Staying with the River People was great: food was traditional and delicious, they took us on plenty of treks and river cruises where we saw elephants, crocodile, hornbills and plenty of monkeys; it felt like individual treatment and we were helping to keep their village going. They also charge a lot less (360RM for 2 nights with all food, treks, etc) than any of the lodges. No aircon and basic toilet/washing, but it is designed not to get too hot and we had no mosquito trouble!
Sabah is basically still depend on agriculture for own use and export. some vegetables are exported to the neighbouring countries and state like brunei and sarawak. for those who are in the agriculture line, a visit to kundasang is most remembered if you visited some farms and some nursery. you can even buy some pretty flowers home but make sure you check with your authorities regarding bringing in some plant material and check with the quarantine section of the sabah agriculture department of the list of forbidden plants to bring in our out from the state.
From Kinabatangan Riverside lodge, it is possible to take a small boat up the Menanggul River. This area is supposed to be the best place in the world to see proboscis monkeys. We saw lots of troupes hanging around in the trees and watched their death defying leaps across the river from branch to branch. It is most exciting to spot the males with the big noses. The bigger your nose the more desirable you are apparently!
It was a great experience floating down the river. The boats are equipped with engines, but they are turned off as much as possible in order not to disturb the wildlife.
From Sandakan we too a boat up the Kinabatangan River on the look out for wildlife. We didn't know how lucky we would be! Despite their relative rarity, we saw 6 wild orangutans, including one baby and the big male shown in the picture. He was really close to the riverbank, and as we got closer, he got down from the tree and walked in to the forest. Our guide told us that this was a very unusual thing to see and we were very lucky. Now I know where the bigfoot legends came from!
By the end of our three hour trip we started to wonder whether the orangutans were actually endangered at all! We also saw quite a few proboscis monkeys; better sightings were to follow.
Our final destination was the Kinabatangan Riverside lodge. (See accommodation tips).
It's so enjoyable to be on this boat ride ust to clear your mind and hear nature sounds instead of rushing fro point A to B catching your connections. Just sit still and enojoy the breeze as you spot exotic birds and treat your aural senses to a first!
Bring Binos and a hat/cap.
And your camera :)
besides doing the touristy thing and watching the orang utans, do spend some time listening to the conservation efforts by the UK NGO that is directly putting in lots for the reserve and rehabilitation of wild orang utans who have been caught, kept as pets etc...
There are video shows at the Sepilok National Park Centre and there are staff there to talk to, if you'd like to be involved or contribute in any way.
During a visit to the State of Sabah you should of course visit all the major attraction that the state has to offer. But isn't it also great to visit areas where hardly any tourist goes to? If you like that idea you should go to the great little village of Kampung Pimping. It's a part of the bigger community of Membakut, between Kota Kinabalu and Beaufort.
What are the biggest attractions in Kampung Pimping? What do you think about a small suspension bridge over the river, a completely quiet beach, a private concert with traditional instruments, or traditionally prepared food? Kampung Pimping might not be in any travel guides, but it's really worth the effort of driving there!
For more information about Kampung Pimping, check out my Pimp my Kampung-page.
If you want to see how the people in the countryside of Sabah get their fresh fish, you should go to the little town of Papar. This town is located at about 20 minutes driving towards the west from Kota Kinabalu.
If you enter the town you can't miss a big, concrete, blue building. This is the Fish Market (Pasar Ikan). If you can stand the enormous smell inside the hall you will see an enormous amount of fish, in all colours, sizes and shapes. All the salesmen are willing to show you their biggest fish for the picture.
And just outside the hall, you will see the fisherman carrying their freshly caught fish into the market. Right from the river into the market. You wouldn't tell it from the smell, but it's really fresh!
Having hired a dubious car off a dubious man (both playing/singing oldschool Scorpions songs), I set off west along the coast off Sandakan hoping to find good photo opportunities. Just outside of the main part of Sandakan town was a small port where fishing boats (most larger than the vessel pictured here) were preparing to head off for a day's fishing.
The fisherman were very shy about having their photos taken, but were very interested in the digital camera. It was an entertaining morning for all of us, I'm sure.
The MESCOT homestays are in Kampung Batiu Puteh. This is an approx 5 hrs drive from Poring hot springs. This is another oppertunity to staywith local people. Their house basically have no furniture, although most have TVs! They are known as river people. When you stay with a local family you will be invited to take a shower. Out of respectyou should not refuse, plus its so humid you probrablywill want to butyoushould use their traditional way. Women should wear a sown up sarong, men may just wear shorts. You should have 2 sarongs, one for bathing/showering and one for drying. In some of the houses they have bathrooms, over houses they have buckets by the river,
While staying at the homestay we were also invited to a party were we were given traditional clothes to wear. So much food, the sweets are really sweet. You are expected to use your hand to eat and sit on the floor. itcanbe messy.
If you go to far away places like Borneo its worth while spending time with the local people. Kiau is a villiage not far from Mount Kinnabalu, infact it was from here that we saw our first real look of the mountain. Most of the men in the villiage are porters and guides to the mountain. The other main source of income/food is from their farms. the local Dusan people showed us round their farm and invited out group for a meal and rice wine. In the Dusan culture its traditional to introduce yourself by downing a whole glass of rice wine and then holding the empty glass over your head. If you do not drink it in one go you get given another glass. The whole villiage gets drunk, the idea being to forget about the huge task of climbing the mountain.
Selingan Turtle Island is approx 15min boat ride from Sandakan. The accomodation on the island is basic, most of the rooms are in dorm like accomodations ie you share with everyone. The day that I arrived, there was no electricity and no water. At this stage it was that hot, that I was dying for a shower and aircon. The only slight relief that I got was from going for a swim, however the water wasnt that clear and couldnt see much whilst snorkeling. I spent most of the afternoon sitting on the balcony with the rest of the guests drinking beer and telling travelling stories, basically making good of a bad situation.
The food on the island was relatively good, basic but appetising. It is a good idea to take a book or perhaps a deck of cards as the time between dinner and when the turtles arrive on the beach can be a couple of hours. We were lucky as there were enough of us to have a few games of Charades.
The highlight of course was watching the mother turtles lay their eggs, and then have the opportunity to hold a baby turtle in my hand before releasing it to the sea. These little buggers are quite strong, but like being petted on the head, seems to calm them down
En route to Mt Kinabalu we came to a village where there is the first suspension bridge built in Borneo, it was built by the British army
It doesnt seem to have had much maintenance since it was built but we walked across it striding over the gaps in the boards
Gomantaong Caves, a birdnest cave near the district of Sandakan, Sabah. It is famous for its bird nest. To the chinese, bird nest is a valuable and nutricious food. It is said it helps prevent aging. To the westerner, they may not heard about it, in another word, bird nest is swallow's saliva. There are remarkable limestones in both caves. However you could not walk into Simud Putih as it is extremely dangerous (just imagine it is con shape). While you are in Simud Hitam, make sure you asked the guide about the story and other stuff, you will find out interesting info from them.
There are two caves: Simud Hitam that produces lower quality of bird nest. Whereas Simud Putih that produces better quality of bird nest.
We were happy to see our hotel pick up waiting at the airport for us on arrival. 45 minutes later we...more
I stayed in this hotel for 2 nights for work. It is a 4-star hotel with nice swimming pool. When I...more
Fell in love with this place especially my water bungalow. It's huge with comfy beds, big bathroom...more