“Explore a mystical land of headhunters and wildlife on our journey into Sabah, a place teeming with natural beauty. With its collection of exotic animals and ancient traditions, hot springs, tribal villages, loveable orangutans and incredible views, Sabah has something for everyone. Whether you stand tall as we climb Mt Kinabalu or feel your heart wrench as we watch sea turtles lay their eggs, you'll remember every minute of this unforgettable adventure.”
Lured by the promises printed on the travel brochure, we flew to Sabah, located at the northeast corner of Borneo one December. Known in ancient times as the "Land Below The Wind" because it lies below the typhoon belt, Sabah boasts of a rugged terrain with Mt. Kinabalu, at 4,101 metres, dominating the surrounding landscape as well as a wide diversity of flora and fauna, and of the world's largest rainforests.
Nope, we didn’t manage to meet any headhunters and orangutans or witness the researchers release protected turtle hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean.... yet we had a wonderful time.
Nestled between the jungle and the sea, Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu is a vibrant city with great shopping and food. Soon after arriving, we traveled from the busy city of KK to the quietness of Kinabalu National Park. Fuelled by fresh mountain air and stunning views, we managed to ascend Mt Kinabalu mid-way. The ascent is a demanding 6km trek which normally takes 4 to 7 hours to reach the peak. We took the well-trodden trails through forests, valleys and ridges, which led to scenic viewpoints and clear mountain streams.
Sabah is also famous for its crystal clear waters and secluded beaches. During our day trip to Gaya Island, we were rewarded with the most colourful display of the rich marine life while snorkeling in the open sea. Even the shallow waters were teeming with marine fishes that ventured ashore to mingle with the beach goers.
One evening, we went to the exotic fishing village of Sukau, to take a river cruise in search of the elusive proboscis monkey. We cruised along the river to the sounds of birds squalling and primates hooting. Groups of proboscis monkeys swinging on the treetop provided such an amusing sight. As night fell, the jungle became eerily quiet, save for the sound of our boat engine.
As we cruised in pitch darkness, the trees along the riverbank began to twinkle magically like Christmas lights. It was the scintillating display of fireflies. The synchronized, rhythmic flashing produced by the thousand of fireflies in the mangrove swamp was a most enchanting sight.
We were mesmerised.