Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Labuan - Keningau - Kundasang

When I drafted this post I was in my daughter's place at Taman Amanputra, Puchong. Somehow the pictures were not properly re sized until I came back to Pasir Mas to complete the post. It is nice to be connected on the internet via Streamyx again. All these while my only connections was via the free wifi from the hotel I stayed in or from cafes when the hotel didn't have any. I will be posting the next part of my 730 km journey through Sabah. The next part will be as mentioned in the topic from Labuan to Keningau and on to Kundasang via Tambunan and Ranau.

Before we left home we playfully put Balkis in the car boot and she seemed to enjoy herself lying on the luggage.

Though we were at the Labuan Car Ferry terminal at 7.00 AM, the cars queuing up to board the ferry were long and there were many passengers queuing up to buy the boarding tickets. It was only by 8.30 AM that the ferry started to leave the pier. We reached Menumbuk Jetty at about 10.00 AM and we were soon on our way to Keningau passing by Kuala Penyu, Membakut and Papar. This was the first trip for my wife Fatthiyah but not for me, grand daughter Balkis and definitely not for our son in law Lokman who was driving. This trip was one of many for him.

Balkis was never stingy with her smiles and she always make every stranger around her reach for her.

We started to ride up to cross The Crocker Range, the highland dividing Sabah from the coastal region to the areas which the locals term as 'Pendalaman', the outback. We stopped at a small coffee shop as Lokman had to do a pee stop which was actually a ciggy stop for him. Most passenger vehicles and buses stopped here for the same purpose. The sight of many dirty stray dogs with serious skin diseases loitering around the toilet doors put me off and made me hold back whatever that was contained in my bladder to later. However, the sight of turtles and river terrapin being kept in a cut up plastic drum and a bus with a Kelantan license number caught my sight.

The river terrapin, tortoises and some kois were reared in a plastic tank as an attraction.

Further up we saw this sign indicating the misty zone.

True enough, we were soon shrouded in mist.

This slope once collapsed and a new road was carved at an even higher level.

Before cresting the Crocker Range I saw the sight of the sea separating the two islands of Labuan and and the bigger island of Borneo. I had to give this sight a miss as the road was too narrow to stop and take photograph. It was just too dangerous as most cars will be flooring their throttle to tackle the incline and those coming down will of course be cruising down at speed. On the way up we saw a coffee stop near the top of the range. I think it was within The Crocker Range Park whose park office was on the other side of the mountain.

When we reached 32 KM milestone Lokman slowed the car down to a stop. He then put the gear lever at neutral and released the handbrake. Though we were at a slight gradient sloping downward, we felt the car with the three of us moving backward. For our safety we couldn't have fun for too long due to the narrow road and speeding cars from behind. There was a dip behind us too making the cars coming from behind us to suddenly appear without us noticing it.

Lokman demonstrated the rolling motion of the water bottle. Is it an illusion?

The bottle did roll, but since this is a still picture, just imagine it rolling.

Parking the car on the road shoulder, we alighted and did the usual test of putting a bottle of drinking water on it's side, with a slight nudge the bottle full of water appeared to roll upward. I took some shots with my camera. With my mini DVD camera malfunctioning, I forgot to use my Olympus pocket camera or the handphone camera to record a video of it. While I was moving about taking photograph my foot hit a protruding stone on the road shoulder sending me sprawling on the roadside. Fearing for the safety of my camera, I held on tight to it and took the fall with my body. Lokman said I looked funny sprawling down on the roadside. The only damage was some scratches on my left hand knuckles, my left knee and a small patch of skin missing from my chin which bled. Hey a man love his toy so much that he would rather break a limb to save it.
We were in a hurry to pick up my daughter Azini whose last day at her teacher's college was yesterday and was now staying at a hotel in Keningau town. So we had to move on.

Keningau as seen from a hill before reaching it.

It was almost 1 PM when we reached Keningau town and after a few wrong turns we found Oriental Hotel where Azini was staying. Lunch was next on our agenda. Azini took us to a Malay food restaurant where we had sumptuous lunch.

Keningau town. This town is often saddled with water supply problem so most dwellings will have containers to collect water.

The folks of Keningau waiting for transport.

Azini had found out that the road to Kundasang our next destination via Tambunan and Ranau is passable and from previous experience Lokman remembered the scenic views we could have along the way. The route could save us a lot of distance as compared to having to go via the Kimanis, Kota Kinabalu way. Above all it would give us a glimpse of the other side of Sabah the other side of Crocker Range which I doubt I will have another chance again.

We left off Keningau immediately after Lunch. Since Lokman had been through this way before (He went to Tambunan) it was easy to get us on the correct road to our final destination of Kundasang. When we reached Tambunan we went into town to see how it looked. Being a Sunday, the town was eerily quiet unlike Keningau.

We looked for a restaurant called Ikmal. From previous trip to this town, Lokman came to know of the owner who was a Kelantanese who came here some 25 years ago. Most Kelantanese working around Tambunan will congregate here to be close to one another and feel at home away from home. Most Kelantanese feels meeting another fellow Kelantanese is like meeting a relative even though the feeling may not be the same when meeting the same person back home.

Somehow we thought the restaurant was closed so we proceeded on to Ranau. Only after we were on the way out of town that we realised that the restaurant was open.

Restoran Ikmal is operated by a man from Kelantan. Here is where the Kelantanese congregate in Tambunan.

Driving farther we came to a beautiful valley glowing with the golden colour of ripening padi. We stopped by the roadside because Balkis needed a change of diapers. Near to where we stopped we saw a lady doing the menial job of separating the padi from its stalks. The padi plants with the padi intact were cut at the base with a knife. I didn't check what sort of knife they were using. In our state of Kelantan we used the sickle or sabit. The serrated kind is the best as the serrated blade has a better grip when cutting the smooth surface of the padi stalks. The lady was helped by her son and another relative. I will not pass an opportunity to interact with the locals and such opportunity doesn't happen everyday.
The picturesque scene of a padi field full of ripening padi.

Crossing the low barb wire fencing, I went under the blue and orange plastic sheet used by the lady for shelter. The lady who was thrashing the padi to seperate it from its stalks was Julia Taraji. From her we came to know that the village was called Keranaan. She was a part time farmer as once a year she will be planting her plot of land with the crop for the family's consumption. Julia was a fulltime teacher at the local St. Teresa School. According to Julia, the padi variety known locally as Rayong is great to eat. Her 14 year old son Ronald was helping her with another relative by the name of Walter Minson. Julia was proud to tell us that Walter was the best student for the recent STPM trial exam at his school. Julia was teaching her children the art of planting and harvesting padi the way she was taught by her parents. How lucky her children and relatives could be as my own memory of doing the same menial job with my late parent is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The sight of ripening padi is a beautiful sight to me.

Julia watched her son seperate the padi from it's stalk by beating them on the wooden bench with spaced out wooden rafters as Lokman looked on.

A padi house made of split bamboo wall. I believe the flooring is made of the same material too. This is where they store the harvested padi. The good air flow kept the padi well throughout the year.

After leaving Julia and her helpers to carry on with her task of harvesting the padi, we continued on our journey. Then we saw this signboard of Makam Mat Salleh, the legendary warrior of Sabah who fought the colonists. Since we overshot the junction on our left, we had to make a U turn. I wouldn't miss this place if I were a visitor passing by the place.

If you cant read the above written words let me write it here for you to read;
This plaque marks the site of Mat Salleh's fort which was captured by the North Borneo Constabulary on the 1st February 1900. During this engagement, Mat Salleh, who for six years has led a rebellion against the Chartered Company Administration, met his death.

Yours truly signing the guest book. I left LAISI's address hoping that somebody will notice it.

The road ahead to Ranau was still far. In all we had to cover 114 km from Keningau to Ranau. Some parts of the road were still being repaired. The going through these parts were slow but we still managed to drive through without any mishaps.

A section that once collapsed is now rehabilitated and passable to all traffic.

This is part of Ranau town.

While we were at Jhan Restaurant this boy took a few picrures of Balkis in her bee suit and showed her the results. I don't know if Balkis appreciated the effort.

The Ranau Mosque where we stopped for our prayers.

We stopped at a restaurant by the name of Jhan to buy some fried rice to take away for our dinner at the hotel in Kundasang which was some 25 kms away.

While entering the lobby of Cottage Inn's lobby, Lokman met a fellow staff from PML who had no luck in trying to get a room for his family. He didn't book a room in advance because he was banking on staying with a relative whom he didn't inform in advance either. It so happened that his relative went for a holiday too. Later we found out that he found a nice homestay for his family. Sometimes luck tend to give a person the better choice of things. After having our packed dinner of fried rice, I went to the hotels Restaurant for my first peek at the blogs on my Acer Aspire One netbook borrowed from my son Azrin in KL. Lugging on the over 2 kg Twinhead notebook seems to be a big load compared to the 1 kg Acer. I was too tired after the first day of travel and went to sleep early at 9.30 PM despite the free internet access at the restaurant.


Pp said...

zawi :-) simply amazing!!

wish i was in the group with u....discovering places, noticing the unique and beautiful in the normal and plain.

glad to note that ur fall did not cause too much injury.

welcome back!!!


H J Angus said...

great travel article!
Glad you were able to spend time with your loved ones.
Suggest you include a small map of the journey.

Just a safety note for newbie car drivers - coasting downhill in neutral is not recommended as you do not have the engine to do the braking and need to use brakes more. Also switching off the engine is more dangerous - you lose your steering power and braking power.

kakchik said...

I just love the way you tell your story. So many details and one can really imagine of what happens throughout your journey.
Alhamdulillah, you're safe from the fall.

Gurindam Jiwa said...

That was a wonderful trip.

Pergi ke Sabah naik basikal,
    Naik basikal pergi ke Sabah;
Sungguh tidak masuk di akal,
    Naik basikal pergi ke Sabah.

Zawi said...

You will love to do the route that I did. You can start from KK and go to Labuan and do the return leg via Keningau and Kundasang. I promise you an adventure that your family will never forget. A week will be just nice. Above all it can be done by an ordinary SUV without the need of a four wheel drive.
The scars on my knuckles are healing but still fresh. It will reminds me of the trip.

louis said...

Hello Zawi,

I am getting to know Malaysia better and better, thanks to your travelogs.

Zawi said...

H J Angus,
I am glad you like it. The map will be a great idea. I will do that in my next post.
Another thing I forgot to mention was the number of churches we found along the way. Sabah is truly a Christian country and I guess as a Christian you will definitely enjoy stopping at some of them.
About the anti gravity experience, we were not free wheeling up and down a slope for long, just 10 feet perhaps. We had to switch off the engine to feel the effect. Anyway thanks for the reminders.

Zawi said...

The joy of writing anything is when someone else enjoy reading it. Having heard you said it, it gave me the motivation to write more for the next sectors of my travel in Sabah.
Alhamdulillah. I am most grateful for the Almighty for saving me from serious injury as it was all 85kg of me dropping on the hard surface trying to protect my camera.

Zawi said...

That was a beautiful pantun. I am sorry I couldn't find a time slot to visit you in Bangi which was just so near to either Amanputra or Enstek. I can't divulge the reason as it was a close family matter. I wish I could have done it as I wanted to visit Raden Galoh too.

Zawi said...

It will be a good introduction to those who intend to tour Sabah the way I did. Though I did Kundasang in my June trip to Sabah, I didn't blog about it as I did a lot about Labuan. Giving too much dose of travel could bore you to death. I will just round up my travelogs with the next post. Hope you will enjoy the next part just as much.

cappuccino said...

salam pak zawi..bestnye jalan2 sabah..amacam raya..berape ekor lembu tumbang tahun ne hehhehe..

Queen Of The House said...

I've enjoyed reading your Sabah stories, Pak Zawi. I had to go look at a map of Sabah in order to have an idea of where each place was. By the way, have you done any entries on KK?

Nak comment on the last entry ... hehe I like your wife's style (re the handbags). When you can't decide on which one to get, buy both!! I am guilty of that too, sometimes.

Zawi said...

Nak tahu berapa ekor lembu tumbang semasa di Sabah, tunggu next post mengenai Raya Idul Adha di Kundasang Sabah. Sabar ya.

Zawi said...

I will put a map of Sabah showing the route we took as suggested by H J Angus. I had it when I did for KB Kelantan.
The handbags? She bought another one at One Borneo in KK. When we reached KL, the children gave her another one for her coming birthday soon. Now she has 4 new handbags in a space of 2 weeks.
Well if you enjoy doing things and could afford it why not splurge?

Akmal said...

Welcome back to Pasir MMah :D
I see how much you love your camera sir! I'd do the same if I'm in your shoe you know? ;)
Glad though, it didn't cost you much injury.
I am an alien when it comes to Sabah. Never been there. But hey, I doubt these pictures posted here are the only ones you took. Please let me 'selongkar' your harddisk later ok? I want to see all the beauty you saw there :D

uncleawang said...

Habis saja baca..wah!!macam saya sendiri ada bersama rombongan Pak Zawi.Photos and the person behind both tell the story, how nice.
Btw Thanks for sharing and again I enjoy it.
Nasib baik camera tak jatuh!!!!!

Zawi said...

Bukan senag Mal nak dapat camera baru. Jenoh klentong bini.
When you reach my age or even earlier than that, you may travel the world. Who knows you maybe posted to Sabah after graduation?
Mal, selongkar la puas puas. What is mine is yours :)

Zawi said...

Now you can decide how you want to explore Sabah. I did the ride from Miri to Brunei when my son was based in Miri sometimes in 2002. Enjoyed the trip too. Unfortunately I was blogging yet then.
I made sure my camera is not damage since it cannot repair by itself like my body can hahahahahaha.

edelweiss said...

Pak Zawi..

rasa mcm i pulak yang travel...great travelogue!

krm salam your mrs. kat umah

Zawi said...

If you feel that way then I have done my job. The idea is to share my experience.
Dia senyum bila baca salam dari you :). Dah sampai ok?

edelweiss said...

Pak zawi,

hehehe...teringin pulak nok gi...
i am looking forward for your next travelogue :)

senyum sokmo...nampak manis ler mrs.u...heheheh


mdhafizi said...

Pak Zawi,

a very impressive travel blog...rasa macam pergi sekali dengan Pak Zawi sekeluarga menjelajah ke Sabah...

i pray to Allah that Pak Zawi and the family will have a safe journey ...anywhere you travel..

p.s. aren't you interested to publish your blog articles into a book one day? :-)

Zawi said...

I am working on the final part of my Sabah trip. Give me a few more days to complete it.

Zawi said...

We can do the next trip to Kudat or Tawau together and you can do the Keningau - Tambunan - Ranau - Kundasang on your own.
Publishing my travel has been suggested by somebody before but ho wants to buy something that they can get it for free on the internet? I will be too happy to compile them all and give it away for free if there is a request. Getting more friends is more precious than getting more money.
Lokman has managed to get two units of vacant places to stay in block M Taman Mutiara and I have given the contacts to Ed Bokhari to call. By Januari you will have a new friend in Taman Mutiara. If you need a bigger place to stay why not you look them up first? Both are ground floor units.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

what an experience!

i know sabah is a great place and all but never knew it was as stunning as seen in all the pictures! and congrats to you Pak Z, you have now officially experienced the odd gravity phenomenon albeit for a short while. i'd brag about it for years to come if i were you.

Zawi said...

Sabah has its beauty especially nature. There is still a vast area to cover, the Kudat area, The Tawau area which I don't know if I will be able to get the chance to visit. I would like very much to visit a real longhouse, not the kind they make for tourists to visit.
The anti gravity area must be proven to be true first. I still unsure if it is just an illusion. Somebody with surveying equipment must do it as the naked eye can be very deceiving. Whether it is an illusion or not, the relevant department must capitalize this phenomenon to draw tourists to it. Proper parking area and place to experience it must be provided before an accident occur when silly people like me stopped by to experiment it out. Signboard should be put up once the facilities are available. This should be an asset to remote towns like Keningau.

Puteri said...

So explain to me ... the bottle appeared to be rolling upwards instead of rolling downwards on the slope? Huh. That sounds interesting indeed!

The national park office should indeed provide an area where curious visitors can stop and can see for themselves the gravity phenomenon.

Yeah, a guy's toys are worth the bruises and the cuts! Haha.

Thoroughly enjoyed the post. Good job.

Zawi said...

Yes, the Park's Office should capitalize on the phenomenon available near their area.
Your remark about the bruises made me look at the scars on my hands. They will remain there for sometimes I guess.

Mat Salo said...

Bang, sorry not able to meet up. Kelam kabut boss suruh pi kerja awal. Already been here a week.

I too back before they 'nurap' jalan (still tanah merah) I drove to KK from Miri via Brunei, Limbang, Lawas, Beaufort etc. in my Land Cruiser. Sampai Api-Api Center jer teruih cari car wash. Number plate kete pun tak boleh baca...

I managed to do a reunion with my school's English teacher tapi tak sempat nak arrange ngan Cikgu Rahman pulak. Insya'Allah next time.

So many things to do, so little time to do them...

Zawi said...

Mat Salo,
Unfortunately I was busy myself with family matters and couldn't meet up with any blogger while I was in KL.
We did the Miri Brunei route with our son when he was based in Miri circa 2001. Really enjoyed that ride. The roads were all metaled then but there was a car ferry which we had to ride. Was it at Limbang?
Bought some crystal vases from Brunei and was pleasantly surprised when we returned to the Malaysian border, there was not a single custom officer manning the counter. They must have thought that there wont be anybody buying anything from expensive Brunei.

Mat Salo said...

Hmm.. when I passed there in early '96 masa tu ada two ferries. Tak ingat lak, after Lawas maybe. I think there's a bridge now. Yang kelakar tu one time penyelia BSN Lawas nak cuti bersalin, so my wife had to cover the branch for a while. Physically Lawas is very close to KK but under Sarawak (Kuching) jurisdiction. Tapi barang2 order from KK jugak. A lot of 'orang Malaya' do not appreciate how vast Sarawak is. Of course my wife had to fly over there naik Twin otter since technically there were no roads yet then.

The other 'kelakar' thing is if coming from Miri you actually pass Brunei 'twice'. First legally exiting Brunei thru' Limbang immigration and into M'sian territory. Then again 'tumpang lalu' kat Temburung which is Brunei's district sandwiched by Malaysia. I got confused when I thought I was somewhere in Malaysia when I passed this small kampong - Aikk - the policemen were wearing Brunei uniform! He he.. masa bila pulak tercilok masuk Brunei balik nih?

Pokku said...

Your post brought back memories of my own cross-country trip in Sabah during my last year in RTM. We had shows in many towns in Sabah.Most of the trip was by a chartered bus.
We did enjoy the ferry ride from Labuan to KK on a previous trip as guests of the old Air Asia and TDC (now MTPB).
I have missed meeting you face to face on several occasions much to the displeasure of Pak Idrus who spoke a lot about you. InsyaAllah, we will rectify that as soon as possible. I haven't been to Pasir Mas for a long time now even though my late father-in-law (En.Abdul Rahman Singer Mesen) did busines there.

Zawi said...

Mat Salo,
What not blog about your stint in Sarawak? Given your way of writing it will make a great read. I don't think you have done any post on your time in Labuan or Sarawak. What we have been reading are snippets that you made as comment in my blogs. Come on bro, we would like you to blog about them.

Zawi said...

Zaharan Razak Came A Calling which will be the title of my next blog. Zaharn has left for home a while ago. While he was here we talked about Pokku, about how great you are as a citizen writer. InsyaAllah we will get to meet soon. Allah will give an opportunity soon. I am eager to meet you too after Pak Idrus talked superlatives about you. Maybe it is time for the two of you to visit Pasir Mas to revisit your late father in law's former working place. I will be too happy to bring the two of you around.

Covert_Operations'78 said...

What a great travelogue! Balkis is a darling!

Zawi said...

To hear it coming from you is an honour indeed. Balkis is definitely a darling. I am following her daily progress online via YM all the way from Labuan. Latest antics from her is that she is mimicking the sound from the song Burung Kakak Tua whenever the song is aired on the children's channel on Astro. She loves to dance and gyrate her body to certain songs too. All that at 15 months old!

anasalwa said...

How could Balkis in a trunk. She will have plenty of material to write a memoir when she grows up. One of them was her Nana put her in a trunk :))

Zawi said...

She will definitely have alot to write about as she is the most photographed baby in the family. That trunk experience will be the most memorable hehehe.

Anonymous said...

Love it knowing that others enjoy the sight of our state. Sabah is truly a place to explore...

Pete said...

Hi! I am from Keningau and now studying in Kota Bharu Kelantan.. I enjoyed reading your post about my hometown... thank you for u good n sincere reviews... by the way, the man who is operating Restoran Ikmal in Tambunan was actaully my teacher when i was at school... :D