Banggi Simply Paradise Island Cycling Eco Camp

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799

 

State: Sabah

3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS – from RM999/pax {min. 4 pax}

It was a journey rather unforgettable for Cycling Malaysia as we took a completely different route for this adventure, travelling far away from the city to live it simply in an eco-camp in Banggi Island (also known as Bonggi Island), ripped of the glamour of the city.

Imagine life in the absence of electricity, not to mention living without phone coverage. It sounds unnatural, doesn’t it? No more Instagramming those beach views. No more selfies with a beautiful sunset for backdrop. No more telling the world in one upload where we had been. But hey, we didn’t simply imagine, we lived it.

Blessed with headlights, mosquito tents and canvas bags for beds, we cut off from the buzz of the world, found meaning and enjoyment with nature. Lying on our leaf filled beds, wide awake, ears alert for wild insects, we realized that simple living was an adventure of its own.

We felt as though we were in one of Mark Twain’s adventures—very watchful and fast on the draw. Oh, those all-overs. Where else did we find security but with never-failing Mother Nature? How the waves crashing on the shore soothed the pins and needles! But this is only the beginning for this extraordinary cycling adventure, and we are sparing no details.

Our cycling escapade started at 5.30am from Promenade Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. On our way, we had the opportunity to see the sun rising from majestic Mount Kinabalu, a truly warm welcome.

It took us 2 hours to reach the a main jetti of Kudat, just in time for the 9am ferry ride to Banggi Island. We boarded the Banggi Express for a journey that lasted an hour and a half. The moment we reached the

1 Kerakit jetty, it felt like we were transported to another world, as we were greeted by clear blue waters and the people graciously smiling at each other.

The sun was already blinding, but we hopped on our mountain bikes and pedaled through our adventure. A little over 11kms after, we reached our first stop for our first hurrah—lunch!

After devouring on our tasty dish, we geared up from 2 Sri Daggang Limbuak Darat Restaurant. The ride consisted of a straight road with simple elevations and windy downhills. When we reached Jalan Maliyu, the real fun began. The off terrain gravel slowly picked up in elevation. At this point, some of us were already pushing our bikes up. As we went uphill, we saw the great Sulu Sea waving at a distance. We then prepared ourselves for the exciting downhill. Swoosh! We went pedaling down! Our fingers were always on the brakes slowly bringing down the speed as there were many holes on the ground. But the adrenaline was at pace, keeping us alert.

That first big downhill of the ride already put a big smile on our faces and we knew that there was more to come.

As we cycled on, picturesque views curtained out—the roots of the mangrove trees peeped through the still blue waters. It was hard to keep our eyes on the road as we were distracted by the view. We passed by Kampung Padang where the 3 wooden houses were carved in heart shapes and each house was brightly painted in colourful shades. These villagers are expert boat makers and other villagers usually seek their expertise to build boats. We cycled a few more kilometers and our last stop was at a fishermen’s jetty where we had a chance to see all their golden catch!

When we finally reached the shoreline, we felt overwhelmed by the view before us. The sun was slowly setting and due to the rising tide, we took another boat ride. Twenty minutes later, we arrived at our destination, 4Banggi Island eco camp, and the sun slowly fell behind the hills. Banggi Island is the only island where you’ll find yourself interacting with the Banggi tribe, so consider yourself lucky!

As we entered an area of heavily shaded trees, there were two 5Banggi huts called the Yul Hut (tall one) and the Wangah Hut (short one). These huts have a lower deck, an upper deck, and can accommodate up to 10 people. The names of these huts are retrieved from the name of the plant species that is used to build the roof. The Yul plant and Wangah plant have 4 to 5 years and 2 to 3 years of lifespan respectively. That’s not all; Bonggians have 10 types of plant that they can use to build their huts including rattan. The eco camp was equipped with a dining hut, a kitchen hut and basic toilet facilities. For a quick yet refreshing shower, we walked 150 meters into the jungle to a clear stream of fresh water. It was pitch dark and our only guide was our headlight. Imagine taking a cold bath in the jungle with the men standing guard (backs turned, of course!) as the women bathed in sarongs. What an experience!

For dinner, we feasted on an array of seafood delicacies such as squid, stingrays and Trevally fish, which were cooked on wood and fire, and served with tapioca leaves and rice.

Our last activity for the night was watching the fireflies, and as we walked out to the beach, we were taken aback by the stars that grandly lit the sky. In the middle, a dust of stars stretched from one end to the other, it was the Milky Way! We were completely stoked observing the stars and pointing out excitedly every time we catch a falling star.

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