Wandering Away From Kota Kinabalu.

Our Kota Kinabalu road trip in Sabah started with a tiny disaster when the car rental guy did not turn up with our car in the morning. After waiting for an hour, we managed to confirm our ride, a Peugeot 207 and we headed off immediately, stopping at the Sabah Tourism Centre for a few minutes to ask for directions. The staff were very friendly and gave us very clear instructions on how to get to Kundasang, “Turn back to 1Borneo Mall, keep right, then turn left into the Tamparuli-Ranau Highway.”

It was definitely easy especially when the signboards were easy to read. We arrived at our first town, Tuaran where the hills were exceptionally green and where lies the famous Tamparuli bridge, a well known legend for Malaysians. Close to two hours later, we arrived in Kundasang which is located in a town called Ranau. As we passed by the town, we took a photo of the clearest view of Mount Kinabalu on this day. It was just so beautiful!

Desa Cattle Farm

My cousin had previously mentioned about a farm in Kundasang which looked like a New Zealand postcard and this was where we went. Thanks to the directions given by the friendly local, we drove uphill where the trees were swept to one side, due to the strong breeze. We arrived at the gate, paid RM4 per person at the entrance and drove a few more minutes until we reached the farm. Milking starts at 3pm daily so we were just in time to walk into the viewing area, where visitors were able to look through the glass window to observe the milking process. The black and white spotted cows were exactly like the ones in New Zealand and they were all lined up in an orderly manner. Pumps were placed on the cows’ udder while staff poured food into the feeding bins. The cows were milked using the pumps which automatically goes into a huge transparent jar, flushing all the milk into it. A cafe is available near the entrance of the farm where visitors could purchase the Desa Cattle Farm fresh milk or chocolate milk. We chose both to drink during break of fast! After taking a few more photos of the lushious rolling, green hills, we walked behind the farm where the calves and baby goats were placed. The entire area was well maintained and so very clean. I’m happy to see businesses such as these providing income to the locals. Our trips here was a refreshing experience.

The moo moo in the Desa Cattle Farm are so fat and huge!

The moo moo in the Desa Cattle Farm are so fat and huge!

Desa Cattle Farm looked like a scene from New Zealand especially with the black and white cows roaming the green field.

Desa Cattle Farm looked like a scene from New Zealand especially with the black and white cows roaming the green field.


Kundasang War Memorial.

I’ve never heard of the Death March before and learning about it from the Kundasang War Memorial proved to be a heartwrenching one especially when it involves a lot of lost lives who came here to protect our country. This memorial was conceived by Major G.S. Carter, who initiated the building of the memorial in 1962, in commemoration of the 2,428 Australian and British prisoners of war (POW) and local people who died in Sabah during World War. The POWs worked under extremely harsh conditions to build the airstrip in Sandakan for the Japanese army towards the end of the war were marched to Ranau in the interior of Sabah. Many were killed en-route, while those that managed to reach the camp at Ranau were subjected to even harsh conditions and systematically murdered. Only six Australian POWs managed to escape into the nearby jungles and were rescued and cared for by the local villagers under great danger to their own lives. The memorial was a pleasant place to walk through as it had a very well kept garden that led us to two rows of memorial plaques on the wall. Some of these POWs were brothers, father and son, twins and friends. I am just glad that this is over and noone has to go through such suffering again.

In lasting memory of those members of the Royal Regiment Artillery and Attached Arms and Services who suffered and died at Sandakan on the Death Marches and at Ranau 1943 - 1945.

In lasting memory of those members of the Royal Regiment Artillery and Attached Arms and Services who suffered and died at Sandakan on the Death Marches and at Ranau 1943 – 1945.


Ranau Bazaar Ramadan

 After visiting the Kundasang War Memorial, we drove towards Ranau town and discovered an area with colourful tents. “Eh bazaar!” I exclaimed to my partner, and we quickly parked near the bazaar to get a look at the busy place. As we were travelling during Ramadan month, it is normal to find such bazaars set up at 4pm for break of fast. I was quite surprised at how neat, clean and organized the bazaar was as most of the food were displayed and wrapped in plastic foil. We were undecided because of the colourful and many types of local food which were familiar but was actually different than the ones in Kuala Lumpur. The price was really good too as most of it started from RM1 even for the drinks. We settled on a few items such as nasi ayam penyet, curry puffs, cendol and the famous pulut udang that got the customers crazy. Apparently it was the best in town hence the long queue. I would look out for the night markets too if time permitted.

Most of the food here are good and cheap!

Most of the food here are good and cheap!


Mount Kinabalu Park

Since we were in the Mount Kinabalu area, we made this park one of our pit stop of our road trip.  The Kinabalu Park, a sprawling 75,400 hectares area, was declared as Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its’ biological habitats and residents. The main attraction of the park is none other than the Mount Kinabalu, one of the highest mountains in South East Asia standing at 4,095.2 metres tall which is popular amongst many hikers. Both my sisters had conquered this majestic mountain and I too, have placed this as one of the things to do on my bucket list. There are a few trails to follow if you prefer to talk a long leisurely walk amongst mother nature and to absorb all of that clean oxygen. It can get cold here so prepare a jacket with you when you head to Pondok Timpohon to view Mount Kinabalu. Too bad it was misty and cloudy when we were there and we had to skip taking a shot of the mountain. For more info on climbing Mount Kinabalu, read here for more info.

I should climb this mountain before I'm 40.

I should climb this mountain before I’m 40.


Quaisley Hill

If you happen to visit Ranau town and stop by the Sabah Tea Plantation be sure to take a walk to Quaisley Hill which housed a memorial to the late Australian soldier who died on site during one of the Sanadakan-Ranau Death Marches, 1942-1945. Mr. Allan Quaisley was walking along with other soldiers in poor condition, in the jungle and fell ill after eating the food given by villagers. With his current state, he couldn’t move on as his condition became worse the next day. He finally succumbed to his death, at this site which was proclaimed a memorial place for the hero. I love how they ensure that the place is filled with flowers and a garden to keep it looking pleasant despite the real story behind it. A lot of personal respect goes out to all the soldiers who have fought in the war to keep our country free.

Quailey's Hill Memorial.

Quailey’s Hill Memorial.


 Sabah Tea Garden

Located in Ranau town, I was surprised at the warmth of the Sabah Tea Garden area compared to the cool highlands of Boh Tea Plantations. The tea plantation which houses a factory, a restaurant , an event hall and a souvenir shop seemed quiet during the weekend despite having a few recreational activities for its’ visitors. There’s also a 2-day 1-night Sabah Tea Adventure package which consists of a tea factory and plantation tour, a course on basic jungle survival skills, understanding rivers as well as obstacle training. The menu at the Tea House includes freshly-made tea pancakes and Sabah Tea Pandan teh tarik which are popular among the visitors. Besides this, we could also opt to stay in a traditional long house, a cosy bungalow or under the stars via the campsite. If the weather was colder, I wouldn’t mind sipping tea under the stars. The Sabah Tea Garden opens daily from 8:00am to 4:30pm but the tea tour factory is not available during Public Holidays. The best time to visit the Tea Garden is between 8:00am to 12:00pm.

The green tea garden.

The green tea garden.


The Upside Down House

We had to do one tourist attraction pit stop on our way back to Kota Kinabalu and we chose the ‘Rumah Terbalik’ or Upside Down house in Tuaran town which is the first of its’ kind in South East Asia.  I was curious and had read about this unique house in the newspapers last year. Entrance fee for the house is RM10 and you get to walk around the compound before a guide brings you into the house for a tour. A bronze ‘gong’ sits outside of the house and a visitor in front of me struck it three times before we entered. We also knocked on the door before another guide opened it from inside. There were no photography allowed in the Upside Down House therefore I’ll do my best to describe how it looked like inside. The first segment was the living room area where all the furniture such as the sofa was glued to the ceiling while the fan and lights were on the floor. From there we walked into the kitchen area and the dining area where a refridgerator, washing machine and sewing machine (the heaviest amongst all the things) were seen hanging from the ceiling. Everything in the bedrooms were upside down with the bed together with the wardrobe above us. The tour takes about 30 minutes or less depending on how many people are in the group. There’s also a souvenir shop, a restaurant, an upside down garden and an upside down toilet for photography opportunities. The house opens from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm daily. More info on the location can be found here.

The 'Rumah Terbalik' and us being 'Terbalik' (upside down)

The ‘Rumah Terbalik’ and us being ‘Terbalik’ (upside down)


About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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