The East Malaysian state of Sabah is a nature lover’s delight! Home to the highest mountain in Malaysia, the mighty Mt. Kinabalu (4,095m / 13,436ft), the surrounding Kinabalu Park is also the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
July 2012. We were in Kota Kinabalu (popularly known as KK), the capital of Sabah.
The urban sprawl of KK belies the fact that an ancient rainforest is just 90kms away. The Kinabalu Park is home to an astounding 6,000 species of plants, animals and birds including the endangered proboscis monkey and the rare parasitic plant, Rafflesia.
We rented a car from KK and drove to this enchanted rainforest.
The entrance of the park itself is at a height of 1,585m above sea level. The clean mountain air was so invigorating!
We watched in awe as the clouds did a merry dance around the peak of the imposing Mt. Kinabalu (Low’s Peak). So surreal!
The climb to Low’s Peak can be done in a day – IF you are super-fit. Else an overnight stay is recommended, where you reach the peak very early next morning for some spectacular sunrise views. The climb itself does not require any specialized training. However, weather does play spoilsport at times and the climb is best done via a registered agency.
I promised myself I’d be back to touch the clouds on Low’s Peak.
The next day’s itinerary included a drive to the stunning Tanjung Simpang Mengayu (the Tip of Borneo). This is the northernmost point on the island of Borneo – a rocky outcrop beyond which the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea.
Sabah is one of two Malaysian states located on the northern part of Borneo (Sarawak is the other). It is interesting to note that Borneo is the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea and is divided between three countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
Halfway into our drive to the Tip of Borneo, we were confronted by a rainstorm. The 3/3.5 hour drive from KK took us much longer than planned but we enjoyed the passing vistas, all green and radiant in the downpour.
The storm subsided just around the time we reached the Tip of Borneo and the sun began to peek through the dark clouds.
We just sat there, taking in the glorious sunset. It was a rather long drive for a romantic evening but completely worth it in the end.
The next day, it was time for some much needed R&R. The destination – Manukan island, one of the five islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP). Ferries from Jesselton Point take visitors to the various islands in TARP.
We spent the day snorkelling and watching the antics of a variety of colourful fish.
It was the end of our short stay in Sabah but it has so much to offer the nature / adventure buff.
There are pristine dive sites off the island of Sipadan. The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre does amazing work with rescued Orang Utans before releasing them into the wild. I’d need a very long vacation to explore all of Sabah’s natural splendour.
For now, thank you Sabah! I know we’ll be back for more.