Malaysia is a wildly popular tourist destination for Indians. This might be due to the fact that it is only a hop, skip and a jump away, a 4-hour flight, to be specific. However when the average traveller thinks of Malaysia, what comes to mind is the shiny tall skyscrapers. Many travellers seldom know about the hidden wonders of the country. One such example is the Malaysian state of Sabah. It is nestled on the northern portion of the Borneo Island and shares its border with Indonesia and Brunei.
If I was asked to administer a new name for the region, I would say Emerald State, because, a staggering 55% of the region’s total area is carpeted with lush green tropical rain-forests. These rain-forests are home to innumerable species of stunning flora and fauna.
The region is one of two places on Earth where elephants, tigers, rhinos, and orangutans live together. The forests are also home to other marvellous creatures like the sun bear, flying fox bat, proboscis monkey, and clouded leopard, and endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino, and pygmy elephant. The locals like to say that, Sabah was made by God, and it doesn’t seem hard to believe it.
Sabah is an ecological marvel; it has the ocean, forests, and mountains in extremely close proximity. The ocean around Sabah is the cradle of coral reef evolution. The coral reefs are home to one of the most diverse collections of marine life. You can expect to see over 3000 species of marine life, including turtles and soulfully coloured fish. Sabah’s Tourism board organizes activities for tourists to explore the turquoise waters and the life beneath it.
Sabah’s capital city Kota Kinabalu is the portal to the Kinabalu national park. The park, well deserving, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park surrounds the highest peak in Malaysia, Mt Kinabalu standing at 4095.2m in height and being one of the most prominent Eco-tourist attractions in the region. The park is a birdwatcher’s delight; it has more than 622 species of birds out of which 34 species are endemic to Sabah.
Sabah is a huge arena for adventure sports. It offers activities like mountain climbing, paragliding, rappelling, zip lining, parasailing and the like. Sabah is considered ecstasy for diving and marine enthusiasts around the region. The sandy beaches of Sabah are dotted with world-class resorts that offer the perfect mix of nature and luxury.
Sabah is a cultural potluck of kinds; it consists of over 30 different ethnicities and races and over 80 different languages and dialects are spoken. A celebration of Sabah’s cultural heritage is held every year and is very simply named ‘Sabah Fest’.
Sabah’s economy thrives on oil, gas and most importantly tourism. Sabah also exports a significant volume of rubber, cocoa and palm oil. The number of tourists visiting Sabah is growing rapidly year after year. The solution is to find the perfect balance between the development of infrastructure and conservation of nature.
Prof.Dr.David Bellamy, a world-renowned Ecologist, exclaims saying,” we don’t need Disneyland, This is the best amusement park in the world, and it’s solar powered”. Sabah indeed is a natural amusement park of sorts. It is a marvellous amalgamation of the human race, the animal kingdom, marine life and flora.
Take a deep breath and dive into a world of endless enchantment and fascination.