In connection with the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in
Langkawi, Tourism Malaysia organized a post-forum tour for the media to Kota
Kinabalu, the State capital of Sabah, on January 29-31.
Sabah is situated at the northern promontory of the
island of Borneo (third largest island in the world) and was not affected by
the tidal waves around the Indian Ocean on December 26 triggered by the
devastating earthquake off the western coast of Sumatra. Sabah with its
population of slightly over 2.6 million faces the South China Sea on its
western side and the Sulu and Celebes Sea in the east.
Mount Kinabalu, the haunted mountain in Sabah/Malaysia.
“Eco-treasures from Mountain high to Ocean Deep” is
the new slogan of the Sabah Tourism Board as part of the Ministry of
Tourism, Culture and Environment in Malaysia. With 32 different indigenous
groups, Sabah has been an ethnic melting pot for as long as 5,000 years.
World renowned for its virgin rainforest and beautiful idyllic offshore
islands, there abounds countless nature and wildlife attractions.
marlin monument at the sea front in Kota Kinabalu.
Arriving from Kuala Lumpur after a two and half-hours
flight at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, there was a cultural
reception for our group by some fair maidens who handed out welcome beads.
The indigenous groups on the western side of Sabah include the
Kadazan/Dusun, who are the main rice farmers, and the Bajau, who are skilled
fishermen living in water villages along the coast. Interesting to note is
that the Bajau are also rearing ponies and buffaloes for rice cultivation.
The Murut, formerly being headhunters and residing in long houses, live
mostly in the interior towards the remote borders with Sarawak, the second
Malaysian State in Borneo, and Indonesia’s Kalimantan.
Kota Kinabalu has a population of 300,000 and is a
relatively new city, because the original town called “Jesselton” was
destroyed during the Second World War. The Chinese form the largest
non-indigenous group and are running the major shopping complexes, markets,
hotels and restaurants.
haven at Sutera Harbor Marina, Kota Kinabalu.
Fortunately, we were transferred to the centrally located
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu Hotel in the hub of the vibrant business and
entertainment district, from where it was only a short walk to the port and
the fish market. For the daily spectacular sunset over the South China Sea,
there was a specially arranged cruise tour to the emerald-green islands at
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a cluster of five islands which can easily
be reached by speed-boat from the Sutera (Silk) Harbor Marina. You find one
of the best coral reefs in the world and fish, some of which you may never
have seen before.
Back to the mainland, members of the Rolls-Royce
Enthusiasts’ Club paraded in an automobile convoy and brought us to the
Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, where we joined a sumptuous Garden Party
hosted by the Sabah Tourism Board. Stylish in design and setting, the
seaside resort is bordered by the tropical sea and the perfectly manicured
gardens provide a perfect sense of tranquility and relaxation.
the jetty and fish market of Kota Kinabalu.
The highlight of a visit to Sabah is without doubt an
excursion to Mount Kinabalu, which is with its 4,095 m the highest mountain
between the peaks of the Himalayas and New Guinea. Highways and sealed roads
have made it possible to reach the headquarters of Mount Kinabalu Park
within an easy two-hour scenic bus drive from Kota Kinabalu. In the market
place of Pekan Nabalu, there is a watchtower to see the vast jagged granite
massif with Low’s Peak surrounded by white clouds. It was only in 1851
that Sir Hugh Low led an expedition up the mountain. Thus, a compromise with
the locals was reached and a sacrifice to appease the sprits was made at the
halfway point. The guides sacrificed a white cockerel and seven eggs for the
sacred ancestral spirits. That ritual is performed annually to this day.
The 754 square km Kinabalu Park is Malaysia’s first
“World Heritage” designated by UNESCO in December 2000 for its role as
one of the world’s most important biological sites. Already established in
1964, the park features vegetation types ranging from lowland
“dipterocarp” through mountain oak and conifer forest to the alpine
meadow bushes, rhododendrons, orchids and pitcher plants. If you’re lucky,
you might even catch sight of a “Rafflesia” – the world’s largest
flower. Bird watching is recommended, but other animals are hard to meet. It
takes a minimum of two days to climb the 14.5km trail to the summit of Mount
Kinabalu – a rewarding experience.
Furthermore, Kota Kinabalu is less than an hour flight away from Sandakan
on Sabah’s eastern coast, where is the home of the famous Orang Utan. The
Kota Kinabalu International Airport has direct air links with
Cebu/Philippines, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung/Taiwan, Manado/Indonesia,
Manila, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Xiamen/China.
From Bangkok, there is a brand-new daily flight with Thai AirAsia to Kota
Kinabalu for 999 baht one way. For further information, please contact
Reinhard Hohler, GMS Media Consultant by email email@example.com.