Mount Kinabalu

Took a trip to Sabah around the turn of last year. Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Malaysia, was impressive: you can see the rocky top with two spurs sticking up like horns on a giant beast. The top of the mountain is above the tree line, and was glaciated long ago. It isn’t cold enough to get ice nowadays, although there are mountains with glaciers in the tropics even now, in nearby New Guinea. I didn’t realize how thin my blood had grown; I was shivering and blue on the trip into the mountains although the temperature was probably not much below 50F. We didn’t have time to go inside the park,

Medinilla sp

which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the hillside rest stop was nice, and I found this lovely Medinilla on the road to the park’s front gate.

We visited Tenom Agricultural Park, a well-maintained arboretum with a nice ornamental plant collection. The visit was part of a field trip from my workplace. Those are my plantation and nursery coworkers throughout the photos. It was my favorite part of the trip; in fact, I would have been happy to have spent the whole time there. Among the highlights were a large orchid area and a great fruit tree collection including a few non-commercial fruit trees I’d never seen before.

Near the orchid house
Pandan Laut, Pandanus tectorius
Tanduk Rusa, Antler fern
Rubber tapping
Orthosiphon, Misai Kuching, Cat’s Whiskers
At the Sabah Dairy
Giant Lilypads, Victoria sp
Forgot what this was
Nice Bark
Calliandra sp
Cannonball Tree! Fragrant flowers, terrifying fruit.

On the way down from Mount Kinabalu we stopped at a Kadazan-Dusun village that has developed a tourist attraction popular among locals: a fish spa. The river had a number of wading pools, each with schools of trained fish. Stick your foot in the river with a handful of fish food and the fish swarm around, nipping at your skin and brushing against you with their scaly selves. Sit down in a deeper pool and you get a full body massage of sorts. It was extremely ticklish, and there were constant shrieks and giggles in the air. Our guide was the head of the village and the developer of the water park, which is run as a village cooperative. He told us the fish were well trained – different schools keep to different pools and they never swim away down river.

Tagal Sg Moroli
Minnows nipped my flesh at the Tagal Sungai Moroli

This particular village was muslim, although the Kadazan-Dusun like the Melanau back in Sarawak are religiously mixed. The village surau was built up the hill adjacent to the park. It was a simple structure, with a large yard for community activities. Check out the rainwater-fed ablution area.

Kpg Luanti Baru
Outside the Kpg Luanti Baru Surau
Inside the Kpg Luanti Baru Surau
Kpg Luanti Baru Surau rain-fed ablutions area

There was a dusty wooden shack next to the bus stop, which I assumed was one of the ubiquitous little roadside stalls that sell snacks and produce. But looks can be deceiving. Here it is from the outside.

Roadside stall… or is it?


But on the inside?


Roadside Cybercafe

A cybercafe, with teenagers playing online shoot-em-up games for a ringgit or two an hour.

It was my first time in Sabah and far too short. I’d like to make a road trip through Sarawak to Brunei and on to Kota Kinabalu with the family, but at the moment my minivan isn’t big enough on its own and my old Proton isn’t roadworthy for such a trip. What I need is one of them church vans. One day…

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

Join the Conversation


  1. Asalaamu alaikum

    Fascinating and interesting. Dh and son went to Sepilok a few years back. That was his first time in Sabah. Apparently its even hotter there than the mainland. By the way we have one of those ‘church vans’. May Allah grant your family one too. Amin.

  2. Amin! I think it is inevitable at this point. We’ve fit the whole family in the Proton sedan, but with the kids growing so fast their backsides aren’t as narrow as they used to be.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply