In A Place Like Sabah Smiles Go Miles

A place is only as great as its people. Everything in life boils down to the interactions you have with the people around you. When you travel it’s ever so important to have the right people around to have fun and make the most of your holiday. People come in different shapes and characteristics, but that’s what set them apart from each other. With heritage being a massive part of Sabah’s history – people constitute more than half the experience you have here. Your holiday begins from when you disembark the flight at Kota Kinabalu (KK).  From the security guard to the immigration officers, they have a smile that actually welcomes you (in comparison you meet people at the airport in some countries who are so irritated with more people entering the country – you feel unwelcome).

After a long flight into KK, you might be tired and sleepy, but the moment you step out of the doors of the airport – you have a smile that covers your entire face. For some people it could be because of the sun hitting your face or it could just be your face – but for me it was seeing people greet you with a big smile. Indians have a problem smiling, they cannot smile until they know someone (god knows is it to do with genes or the fact that we have a billion people) in contrast to going to a new country and being greeted by absolute strangers with a smile that lights up your day. Our tour guide Hazel from Borneo Trails & Tours had captured our attention the moment we met her (I don’t know if grumpy us deserved it, but we got a lovely welcome). The best way to look at a new place is through the eyes of the locals and that’s exactly how the events transpired.

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#Why. Such an important word that literally encapsulated everything as tourists we were seeing. Hazel gave us the basic breakdown – there are about 42 different ethnic groups. That’s a lot of different kind of people. With 42 diverse groups of people living in Sabah – they might have different languages, traditions and even regions they come from but the one thing they have in common is a smile. As you read this I don’t want to think of this as a creepy place, considering a constant smile or stare can be misconstrued as that – and I understand why. But the simplicity of a person greeting you can go a long way. The characteristic of going beyond the normal to help you out – lets you figure a place out much easier than usual. As a tourist you want to interact with people in Sabah as they really make feel at home. Your holiday instantly turns into something you never expected because of the hospitality.

It felt like we were in some game that really didn’t need saving at all – from the bus driver to the people in the market, everyone was overly sweet and nice. There wasn’t a flaw in the design when god made them – he decided that these people need to relax and be happy in this beautiful place called Sabah.



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