is one of Malaysia's finest adventure and naturdestinations. It's famous for the warm and friendly people and popular
for its wildlife and tropical beaches.
Sabah is situated in the North of
Borneo and it is a paradise for scuba diving and snorkeling.
The capital of Sabah is Kota
Kinabalu. Formerly the capital was known as Jesselton before its name was changed in 1968 to Kota
The state capital is also affectionately called KK by
the local people. Nowadays it's a modern Asian city without many memories
at the past. KK is built at the feet of Mount Kinabalu,. The name
Kinabalu is a mystery and a myth.
Some believe Kina-balu
means "Chinese widow". Kina being a corruption of
"China" and "Balu"
a widespread native dialectical term for widow.
The story: "It's
about a Chinese Prince seeking a huge pink pearl that
exists at the very top of the mountain and guarded by a ferocious
dragon. After a terrific battle he slayed the dragon and took the pearl, whereon he
married local Kadazan woman. He got homesick and deserted his wife to
return to China and the heartbroken wife wandered to the mountain and was turned to stone."
the most plausible explanation is that the name is derived
from Aki Nabalu - meaning 'The revered place of dead', in
local Dusunic languages.
The seas around
are acknowledged to have some of the
best diving spots of the world . The waters are cool enough to
support a prolific underwater ecosystem of magnificent coral reefs,
alga beds, sea turtles, and giant clams. An equally impressive
variety of bright fascinating tropical fishes give the underwater
world a burst of rainbow colors.
Picture blue sunny skies, emerald green waters, and tiny coral
islands dotting the distant horizon; enchanting blue lagoons,
secluded bays and coves guarding secrets within their encircling
fold; shimmering emerald waters gradually darkening to deeper blue
depths that beckons the unsuspecting diver.
Just below the glassy
surface, magnificent coral reefs fringe the shoreline in a seemingly
unending line. Within these reefs, lie an exciting underwater world
with some of the most delicate corals in various shades of pastel.
The flower like Tubastrea and delicate sea fan are equally
fascinating. There is also the alyconarian, a magnificent study in
pink- like glass art of a tree in full bloom.
Further out in the
deep blue depths are some of the larger species such as groupers,
hammerhead sharks, Manta rays, and barracudas to name a few. If you
are lucky, you may even chance upon the green and hawksbill turtle
on their way to shore to nest amidst the soft warm sand.
surprise, a new name for an oceanic atoll once called "Swallow
Reefs" which is about 300 kilometers northwest of its capital
city, Kota Kinabalu. An unimportant atoll amongst a host of other
atolls near the famous Spratly Group. Layang-Layang is making eyes
turn, for divers and non-divers alike. Some rate is a
"Big fish and Wall Diving Mecca of Southeast Asia", to
which divers from all over the globe are attracted like pious
pilgrims, with good reason.
Layang-Layang is indeed for divers an island where dreams come true.
Sabah' s Mabul Island is a small oval shaped island surrounded by sandy beaches and
perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200-hectare reef. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed
surrounding the reef slopes out to 25m-30m deep
Mabul is one of the richest single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world. Flamboyant cuttlefish,
blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus and bobtail squids are just a few
of the numerous types of cephalapods to be found on Mabul's reef.
The sight of harlequin shrimp feeding on sea stars and boxer crabs waving their tiny anemone porn-pours are lust a small example of the
endless species of crustaceans.
Many types of bodies can be found including the spike fin goby, black sail-fin goby and metallic
shrimp gory. Frogfish are everywhere giant, painted and clown frogfish are all regularly seen Moray eels and snake eels of many
types can be seen along with almost the whale scorpionfish family.
sheer walls of Sipadan all around easily earns a rating in
"one of the top five in the world" for wall diving. Sea
turtles are so prolific there that one actually gets
"tired" of seeing the magnificent creature, he quips!
Regular sights include large schools of barracuda, sharks, jacks,
tuna, bump head wrasse.
is excellent, the waters warm and generally calm while the furthest
dive site is only 10 minutes away. There
is even an underwater limestone cave 200ft deep, complete with
stalactites and stalagmites, 63ft below the surface, where the
skeletons of a Green Turtle, was discovered.
Patriarch of the diving fraternity, Jacques Cousteau, got wind
of what one American writer called "the last outpost of
diving civilisation", visited Sipadan in 1988. After
spending six weeks (the single longest at one site for his ship
Calypso and crew) there, filming its inexhaustible beauty, he
remarked: " I have seen other places like Sipadan - 45
years ago - but now, no more, now we have found again an
untouched piece of art.”
was referring to the dramatic, oceanic island called Sipadan,
perched like a towering mushroom in the Celebes deep, on the
edge of the Borneo continental shelf, just about an hour of boat
ride from a small town on Sabah's east coast - Semporna.
has an interesting geological history. It all started millions
of years ago with a volcanic eruption. Andesite lava piled up a
volcanic cone about 2,600 ft. high from the bottom of the sea.
Over the millennia, the ever active "master
architects" of the sea (such a tiny coral polyps) colonised
it and crowned the volcano tip with a coral reef which is now
160 hectares big and a 5.3km circumference. The sand fringed,
lushly forested Sipadan Island sits on the northwestern end of
the reef and takes only 15 minutes to walk one round.
just 15 feet from the beach at it northern tip, the water turns
indigo blue as the sea drops abruptly to 2,800ft deep! This
famous feature won it a " Best Beach Dive in the World
" award in 1993, voted by the influential consumer based
In-depth Magazine several years ago.
Sabah's pristine tropical rainforests is home to many protected
rare animals: the Orang Utan, Proboscis monkeys which are endemic to Borneo; elephants, the
endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros and rich birdlife which include eight species of hornbills.
one of the last places in the world where you can still find
magnificent virgin rainforest. The
largest virgin rainforest is in Danum Valley, which has
now become a conservation area. It is home to many rare birds, monkeys, deer, insects and
plants. Many visitors will remember it as a very beautiful place although it may be quite difficult to
see some of the larger animals. There are only two places to stay, one is for scientists and the
other one is for tourists.
Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
Orang-Utan (in malaysian "man of the
forest") are protected under the Fauna Conservation
Ordinance which, among other things, prohibits hunting, trading
or keeping them as pets.
The objectives of the project
have expanded in recent years. While Orangutan
rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, present
aims include public education on consevation, research and
assistance to other endangered species such as captive breeding
of the rare and endangered rhinoceros.
This centre is now under the
supervision of more than 37 staff, including a Wildlife Officer
who is also officer-in-charge of the centre, a veterinary
doctor, wildlife rangers and general workers.
centre has a reception centre, information centre, offices for
wildlife staff, an animal clinic, quarantine area and enclosures
for various animals such as the rhinoceros.
Sepilok, renowned for its
orangutan rehabilitation project, has stimulated a greater local
international awareness of the protection laws for endangered
species, and the Centre has
resulted in an increase in detection and confiscation of
illegally held captive animals.
Kinabalu Park, which covers an
area 754 sq. kilometres, is one of the greatest attraction of
Sabah. The Park is visited yearly by thousands of tourists who
come to enjoy its climatic, scenic, floral and faunal
Among other things, it also
contains the granitic massif of Mt. Kinabalu. At 4,093 metres,
it is South East Asia's greatest challenge for climbers. Mt.
Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. It is part
of Sabah's beautiful Crocker Range and the 2,572 metre Mt.
Having an altitude which varies from 152 metres to 3,952 metres
above sea level, the vastness of the Park enables the
preservation of tropical lowland forest and wildlife, as well as
the alpine-like associations of the summit zone
Preserved for posterity, the Kinabalu Park is one of the
world's most unique ecological systems: having beauty,
splendour and charm to delight any category of visitors. From
the tired businessman in need of a rest to the restless
mountaineer and the nature lover who is eager to study and enjoy
its natural treasures
The park opens at all
seasons. It is self-contained with all the facilities for the
casual visitors as well as campers. Those who wish to have
longer stay, nearby hotel or park's chalets are available.
Population Sabah has a population of 2.52 million; mainly concentrated in coastal
Climate and Clothing Sabah has an equatorial climate.
Temperatures rarely rise above 32°C (90°F) except on exceptionally hot
days, and along the coastal areas rarely drops below 20°C (68°F) at
night. Although in the interior and at higher altitudes it can get quite cold at
nights. Relative humidity is usually 85-95 per cent.
Electricity and Water Electricity and piped water
are available in urban areas and outlying towns. Other remote areas
rely on kerosene lamps for lighting and stream or well water for
drinking and washing. Electric current is on a 240 volts AC 50 Hz.
cycle system using a square 3-pin plug. Visitors are advised against
drinking unboiled water.
Currency One Malaysian Ringgit (RM 1)
is made up of 100 sen. Currency notes are issued in denominations of
RM 100, RM 50, RM 20, RM 10, RM 5 and RM 2. Coins are in
denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 sen. One US dollar (US$ 1)
is approximately RM 3.80.
Medical Services Those intending to visit
remote areas are advised to take anti-malaria medication. Clinics
and dispensaries take care of non-major medical treatment while
state-run hospitals are available in all major towns. The Sabah
Medical Centre is a private hospital with good health services.
Shopping Both Sabah and Sarawak are
places to find tribal handicrafts. Many are on sale in the main
towns, although smaller communities potentially offer the best buys.