I have made it! Yes, I have made it to the most celestially beautiful point of Malaysia. No jet lag, thanks to the direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah’s main city). If adventurous runs in your veins, you can get here via train or bus. Needless to say, the journey will not be as straightforward as a direct flight. The place has much to offer to any traveller. So, I am here to capture the most exciting things to do in Sabah, Malaysia.
Sabah is filled with innumerable shades of sunset, lush green forest covering 53 per cent of the land mass, and topped with chirping and growling animal life. All of this was enough to lead me to this celestial place on Borneo Island.
It was almost as if all the initial hesitancy for a vacation faded out of memory. Sabah is the second largest state in Malaysia and combines centuries-old cultures and tradition, delectable delicacies, blissful beaches and diverse wildlife. On the first day of my trip, I set off with my camera to click the scenic beauty of the state’s visual offerings, and the place is left me dazed!
Capture the sun’s most pleasing dips
I heard a lot of talk about the “sun dip”. Never had I waited for evening as eagerly as I did at the graceful Sunset Bar. As I sat there with a couple of my friends to capture the glorious sun setting in the sky, the waiter served us drinks. I was on the verge of losing words to describe the magnificence in front of my eyes.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? This one may be worth a few more! With every passing minute, the sun changed its shade while dipping into the sky. Sunset bar isn’t the only sun-dip point in Sabah. You can hop to other places like The Waterfront, Sabah Tea Resort, Kudat and many others. The number of shades seen will marvel you for time to come.
Touch your wild side
Sabah, a small dot on the map packs a colourful punch when it comes to wildlife. The world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area and Tabin (the city’s largest wildlife reserve) are just a few of its natural treasures. As the tour guide recited the stories around this spectacle, my camera seemed impatient to capture my wild side.
The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary houses a unique species of monkeys that the world knows little about. What’s unique about them is their long wobbly nose. These monkeys are exclusively found in Sabah. Spot the large crocodiles along the river cruise. If you are lucky enough, a python will not be far away. With 53% of land mass covered with forests, it is hard to spot wild animals in Sabah. You just need the ‘eye.’ For me, I got my camera shuttering along.
Indulge in a one-of-a-kind delicacy
Many locals cherish the taste of Bambangan. It is a kind of wild mango, which comes with a distinct sharp smell accompanied by its thick brown skin. This kind of mango is used to make delicious pickles using salt and slices of chilli.
From the land of the scenic beauty, comes another delicacy called the Kazdan cuisine- Hinava, which is available in most restaurants. Hinava is made of fresh raw mackerel, filleted and mixed with chilli, ginger, onions and Bambangan seed.
I was also advised by my friend not to complete my gastronomic journey without tasting the delicious Ngiu Chap (beef noodles) and so I obeyed. These Chinese influenced noodles are made of a tasty beef broth with flavorful-tender beef. But while you’re there, try some other famous dishes like Nonsom, Dim-sum, and more. After all, you wouldn’t want to leave the place without trying as many dishes as you can, right?
Be alive in the darkest hours of the city
Wake up, wake up! The city is bright and alive. If you love nightlife, there is no other spot than Sabah. Located along the waterside, Bed is arguably the most popular nightspot to kick off the party. It is sometimes referred to by the locals as, “The Fulcrum of Kinabalu’s nightlife.”
From here, jump to Cocoon Restaurant & Bar just around the corner from the Hyatt Regency Hotel. This contemporary-themed bar is only a few years old and features a decent selection of slightly-overpriced drinks. Try to go during the happy hours between 5 PM to 9 PM, and you’re in for a great time.
Hunter’s, again a favourite tourist party spot, is located within Kinabalu Daya Hotel and the balmy outdoor bar has a plasma TV to screen sports matches. The bar also hosts karaoke nights.
Just as the last day dawned and I was thinking of leaving the place, a thought flashed past me. Can I stay here for a while longer? A place that housed the world’s largest flower – the Rafflesia – orangutans, delicious food, mountains, and innumerable birds. To top that, Sabah also hosts some of the top diving sites in the world. You might be as sad as I am to leave the place. But, you will only know this on the last day of your trip. The place has left me in a daze!
Where the world’s most beautiful birds reside,
Where the heritage remains to be ageless,
Where the art of the state sits by my side,
And when the finger touches the shutter key,
It’s pictured ‘the priceless.’
A delicacy dwells to tingle the taste buds,
And whether you choose a lazy stroll or a shaky party,
You will relish the best of both worlds far cry from the rest.