Sabah consists of five divisions, namely, Tawau, Sandakan, Kudat, West Coast and Interior. The divisions are subdivided into administrative districts. There are a total of 23 districts in Sabah. The West Coast Division, stretching from north to Kota Belud, south to Kimanis and interior to Ranau regions, occupies a total of 7,588 Sq. km or 10.3% of Sabah territory.
Sabah West Coast Eco Cycling Tour started off by savouring traditional Sabah food at D’Soka Restaurant in Kinarut, a restaurant that serves authentic local Sabah food, about 20 kilometres south of the state capital, Kota Kinabalu. One of the must-try traditional Sabah dishes is the a. ambuyat.
The ambuyat did not look appetising and savoury at first sight. This gooey starch is made from sago palm derived from the trunk of a Rumbia tree. It is traditionally eaten using a pair of pronged bamboo chopsticks, as known as candas to scoop and roll around it. Ambuyat, on its own, is bland and odourless, which is why it is best to go together with a flavourful of dipping sauce and other local delicacies.
We headed approximately 85 kilometres via Jalan Papar to Klias Peninsula after lunch. Located in the district of Beaufort, it takes about an hour to travel from Kinarut to Klias. The Klias Peninsular is a large coastal wetland covering 130,000 hectares, which acts as a flood plain for the Padas River and possesses a network of river channels.
Our ride began at Kampung Limbawang, roughly 11.5 kilometres to the 1. Monkey Tops Safari Klias River Jetty. The country roads are not too wide and not too busy, hence a pleasant ride. The area is surrounded by mangroves and peat swamp forest and is protected as part of the Klias Forest Reserve.
The best way to enjoy the wetland is to hop on a 2. river cruise on the Klias River. Located by the Klias riverbank, the Monkey Tops Safari is famous for its river cruise, where visitors get to see wildlife such as the b. proboscis monkeys, long tail macaques, silver languor monkeys, crocodiles, fireflies, monitor lizards, and many species of birds.
When evening approaches, visitors can be indulged in scrumptious dinner, spectacular sunset, and not-to-be-missed fireflies watching, accompanied by the orchestrated sound of frogs, insects and birds. More than 1,000 local and foreign tourists visit here every year.
Forget about room service and bellboys. The wildlife experience and natural getaway can be just equivalent to your average five-star city travels. As the sky became darker slowly, we decided to drive to a nearby lodge after the magical and fascinating experience – fireflies watching.
Perched on the top of a small hill, the 3. Kampung Tempurong Kuala Penyu Lodge is a true hidden gem of Sabah. Sometimes the best thing you can do to improve your overall mood is to break out of the city’s hustle and bustle.
At Kampung Tempurong Kuala Penyu Lodge, you can have great vistas overlooking sand beach. You can find pleasure in the magnificent views of the South China Sea. You can wake up to the infinite sea right before your eyes at your doorsteps. You can enjoy sunbathing, mountain biking, kayaking or simply strolling around Tempurung Village.
With almost no distraction and absolute solitude here, we unhurriedly crashed out while listening to the sounds of ocean and cricket.
The following day after breakfast, we embarked on a 12.5 kilometre morning ride from Borneo Tempurung Seaside Lodge to the centre, 4. Kuala Penyu downtown. The coastal road filled our sight with kampung houses and lush green plantations. While cursing along the quiet but narrow roads, we constantly got attracted to the waves crashing on the beach. The ride didn’t seem to be too long with picturesque surrounding area.
Kuala Penyu is located on the Klias Peninsula, which was once originally covered with mangrove swamp forests. Much of these mangrove swamps were destroyed by land developers that later realised that the soils were much too acidic to support palm oil.
Sitompok is the old name of Kuala Penyu when the British was here in the early 1900s. Sitompok name was given because there was a huge lake here before Kuala Penyu was founded.
Sitompok was renamed to Kuala Penyu soon after the independence of Malaysia in 1957. There was a myth in the local community that a rock resembling a c. turtle would surface by the bank of Sungai Sitompok when low tide thus the name of Kuala Penyu became the new name of Sitompok.
One of the most unique islands in the district is the Pulau Tiga Marine Park. Pulau Tiga is unique for its natural volcanic mud, the only ones found in Malaysia. From Kuala Penyu, you can hop on a boat for about 20 minutes to the small uninhabited island.
We hopped on our bikes again and spun to our next destination – 5. Beaufort which was named after former British Governor Leicester Paul Beaufort. It is a small town in southwestern Sabah and offers many activities for visitors despite being in the interior division. One of the countless activities visitors can take part during their stay here include white-water rafting on the Padas River.
If you don’t fancy water activities, you can also catch the train that is managed by the Sabah State Railway Department to travel to/from Tanjung Aru and Tenom. Originally set up to help economic development of the interior of Sabah, Beaufort’s early prosperity was closely linked to rubber cultivation.
Today, its current prosperity depends on the booming palm oil industry, rubber, pineapple, mangoes, durian and livestock. The open-air market, locally known as tamu, is held weekly on from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon. Local produce such as fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and live poultry are sold.
After that, we travelled to Papar. When we reached this agriculture town, the real fun began. The town itself occupies the southern banks of the Papar River not far from the sea. From 6. Papar Waterfront, we pedalled towards Pusat Sejati Hutan Lipur Kawang. Along the way, we were completely mesmerised by farmers releasing water buffalos at paddy fields.
The Papar area is characterised by low-lying coastal areas which extend inland towards the Crocker Range. Such land was traditionally used for growing rice, and the flat paddy fields once common in the district may have given it its name. The district is still dominated by paddy fields, which are largely worked by natives, and fruit orchards.
More often than not, you now only catch sight of buffalos wandering around in the countryside highways. Buffalo tilling the paddy fields would be a rare treat you have once in a while. Combine harvesters are now slowly replacing the buffalo in the case of large scale rice farming.
Most of the buffalos in Sabah are domesticated animals. Ploughing paddy fields with d. water buffalos has been a traditional and agricultural practice in Sabah.
After cycling another 24 kilometre of ride, we made it to the final destination 7. Pusat Sejadi Hutan Lipur Kawang (Kawang Forest Reserve) is equipped with facilities such as an information centre, changing room, toilet, 10 units of camping site, and 3 units of chalet.
Adventurous nature lovers will revel in a jungle trekking expedition in the Kawang Forest Centre. If a day tour is not sufficient for you outdoor enthusiasts, the Kawang Forest Centre makes an excellent spot for camping and other recreational activities.
Dinner served was authentic Sabah cuisines. Although the dishes were not exactly comfort food for most people, these are staples in Sabah’s native villages and the tourist attraction at a restaurant here.
Apart from gaining an insight into the Kadazandusun culinary heritage, we were bewildered by e. butod. Known as butod locally, the sago worm is a delicacy for the locals and is best eaten raw. The “Fear Factor” food of Sabah is probably the most exotic of all. Despite it looks repulsive on the outside, it is protein rich and is a source of energy to the natives.
There’s no better way to end a long day than to check into the Toojou Kota Kinabalu. We will tell you why.
We woke up to the panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu city and delectable breakfast at the f. Toojou Kota Kinabalu. Located in the heart of Kota Kinabalu, Toojou is designed with colourful furniture, creative artworks and a giant slide as interiors. Toojou is the home away from home for nomads, wanderlusters, and socialites. From affordable cosy rooms to ergonomic work spaces to a funky rooftop bar, there is something for everyone here.
There are a total of 63 rooms – 45 studios as well as 18 shared rooms. More than just a hotel, Opis is a co-working space and offers perks such as high-speed wifi, complimentary coffee and snacks and 24 hour access for visitors who need to catch up with work. It is free for the houseguests and open to the public for only RM20 a day.
The Tamaha Cafe serves simple Asian delicacies and western comfort food that perfectly caters to both locals and foreign visitors that are looking for a place to dine and relax. There is also a rooftop bar called Tamu, overlooking the stunning view of Kota Kinabalu.
Before making our way to Tuaran, we took some photographs around 8. Kota Kinabalu city. The city’s new landmark “I LOVE KK” at Segama Waterfront here, overlooking the captivating views of the sea, will further accentuate the beauty of the state capital.
Often referred to as KK, it’s a coastal city partly surrounded by rainforest. It’s known for its bustling markets, modern boardwalk, beaches and waterfront Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. It is also a gateway to Kinabalu National Park, the home of 4,095m-high Mount Kinabalu.
A visit to the 9. Linangkit Cultural Village was one of the highlights. Located in Tuaran, it is a great place to personally get acquainted with the Lotud people which are one of the 32 ethnic groups in the land below the wind.
The cultural village is more precisely located at Kampung Selupoh. The journey from the city of Kota Kinabalu to Kampung Selupoh takes about an hour to reach. It is only at the Linangkit Cultural village that you will be able to view in detail the social life and culture of the Lotud people of Sabah.
When on a visit here, you will be given a guided tour around the village. There will be chances for visitors to try on the traditional costumes of the Lotud people. Visitors can also watch the handicraft-making demonstrations, traditional food preparations, traditional fish netting, river cruise, firefly watching, and tapioca plucking.
It was 11.30 in the morning, and we hopped on our bikes to start cycling along the Sulaman Bay. It is peaceful and inhabited only by quaint little water villages and its friendly people.
After 8 kilometres of riding, this cycling tour turned out to be not only a cultural expedition of the natural beauty of Sabah, but fuelled our taste buds with endless sampling of local food.
Upon arrival at the 10. Tembara River Cruise, we were captivated by the calm and clear river. After a welcome and safety briefing by the local guide, we hopped on the river cruise, took some much-needed rest, while enjoying some local home-cooked lunch.
As the cruise moved, the Tembara River flowed through a long stretch of serene mangrove forests. The Tembara River Cruise is an all-inclusive experience for not only adults but also kids, so it makes a great experience for the entire family!
We proceeded to the next stop, which was the 11. Tegudon Tourism Village. About 15 kilometres from Kota Belud Town, it started operating on 1 May 2017. The two year old village offers picturesque views of paddy fields with Wariou River flowing gently reflects the many faces of Mount Kinabalu in the distance.
At night time clear skies reveal millions of stars which is a delight of campers and stargazers. Basic amenities such as camping huts and washrooms are provided and visitors will be greeted by the villagers in their natural and warm hospitable way.
Interestingly, this place was developed after photographers capturing pictures of Tegudon Tourism Village and winning photography competitions. With the objectives of improving income of the villagers, it is targeted to set up more home stays built in 2020. Other activities include kayaking, bamboo rafting, river tubing, and jungle trekking.
We then travelled to our stay at 12. D’Villa Rina Ria Lodge, Kundasang. Situated 500 meters from Kinabalu Park – Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lodge allows us to enjoy cool climate of averagely 15 degree Celsius.
There’s no lavish facility, but friendly staffs and warm hospitality. There’s no words to completely describe how exhausted we were. We called it a day basking in a hot bath and scrumptious meals prepared by the owner of the lodge. This cycling tour left us with hundreds of pictures and they were all worth the ride.
This cycling tour package is provided by: Trek Finder Tours Sdn Bhd
Lot 42, 2nd Floor, Grand Millennium Plaza, Penampang Bypass, 88200, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Tel: 08-873 1480