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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cuti-cuti Sabah: What's at the Tip? (Part I)

I never liked traveling on the roads of Sabah. The winding roads going up and down the slopes send chills to my spine. The long and bumpy journey interstate is sometimes challenged with the forces of nature- the monsoon rain that results to slippery roads and the fog that tests one's visiblity of the route.

I have often heard of fatal accidents occurred here. In fact, it is unfortunate to state here that the capricious roads of inner Sabah had claimed the lives of my hubby's beloved uncles, almost two decades ago. Imagine having two of your loved ones died at one go. It is just so sad.

We left Sandakan at approximately at 11:ooam, Danny, my brother in-law was in charge of the wheels, hubby still lacks the confidence to scale the challenging roads of Sabah. Though a junior to hubby, the 21 year old State rugger, is an experienced and reliable driver. At times he tend to challenge the speed limits and trespassed the double lines. But the guy has the spirit of a stallion (I hope hubby is not jealous with my frank observation here). I felt safe throughout the journey, for the 4WDs were in great shape.

The journey to Kudat was like riding a gigantic slide, due to the 200 degree curves and corners. Danny warned us of the sharp '52 curves' as we were approaching Bukit Pitas. It was a steady climb up, felt like riding on a roller coaster. A nephew who tagged along got sick and vomitted during the ordeal at the '52 curves'. I was singing to Mariah Carey's ballads, trying to cheer myself up. Luckily the small ones were sleeping and Sarah was travelling in another car with my parents in- law and two other relatives.

I was glad I did not sleep a wink at all throughout the journey. This is something that I cannot do whenever travelling on the road. I feel that I must keep the driver company by talking to him. I believe it is unfair to leave the burden to the driver alone. Besides, if I went to sleep, I fear that I might wake up somewhere underground, with a white sheet shrouding me! Takut bah...

We arrived Kudat at 5:30pm, there were no pitstops, for unlike in Semenanjung, it was rather tough to find a decent place to eat or ease yourself here in Sabah. The scenery was awesome, I can say, worth the trouble of enduring the bumpy and winding roads. I saw shabby houses in distanced hamlets. I wondered how do these native Sabahans survive in such underdeveloped areas. But to my surprise, shabby these houses might be, one can see ASTRO transmission dics perching proudly on the humbly thatchered roofs. The sign of technology advancement I presume. The tidal wave of reality shows like Akademi Fantasia, One in a Million and others have hit upon Sabah. No wonder Sabahans, from the youngest to the eldest are well-versed with the happenings in such shows. I, being an anti reality shows believer, is often lost in the serious or casual discourses, among my in laws. I am not bothered by that anyway.

Our stop at an eatery in Kudat was a wrong move as we have missed the spectacular sunset at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. Simpang Mengayau means 'lingering junction' as it is here that the South China Sea lingers and meets the Sulu Seas flowing from the east. It is told that the view of sunset is stunning there. I must admit, as we arrived at the spot, I was in my 'come-on-I-ain't-that-impressed' mode. I tend to get grumpy during long distance journeys, this is especially true when there is no clean toilets for me to use. In addition, the sunset we missed. How unfortunate.

The spot was dark as there was not even a single lamp post to lit it. I believe the development of the Tip of Borneo is hampered by some political interests of some dirty Sabahan politicans. Very unfortunate I should say, to let such a magnificient spot under the mercy of bad politicking. Tanjung Simpang Mengayau if properly developed can be few levels above Pulau Redang or even Pulau Kapas in Terengganu. In fact, I believe such good effort would benefit the natives who are living within the proximity of the place. Now, do not let me start talking about rotten policies here, I might get in trouble, especially with my moderate significant other!

I hated lingering around the dark hill of Simpang Mengayau, still hubby and the others were busy taking pictures. Since ours is no SLR Digital Camera, we did not get to capture anything interesting there because it was pitch dark. I knew it anyway, that was why I dragged the kids to the parking lot, the darkness was too depressing. Besides, we have not checked into any hotels yet. I was consumed with the fear of not being able to find a place to camp for a night. I had toddlers travelling with me, the supply of hot water had diminished. Plus, I needed to go to the toilet pretty badly.

Ria Hotel was the first hotel we bumped into. All rooms were occupied except for a suite with 2 en suite rooms and pantry at the price of RM268 per night, with no breakfast, no swimming pool but WIFI was available. Yes! To MY delight, the suite was in great shape, very nice and cosy, I was impressed. I slept like a baby that night. Thank God.

Next morning, such a glorious morning it was. After finishing breakfast of 2 pieces of Tosai and a Roti Canai (I know it was a bit too much for a woman whose metabolism is going at a snails' pace). Everything was set, packed up all the stuff, even took a few minutes to leave some comments on my FB..good to know that some friends were wondering of my whereabouts..:)

So at 10:15am, we were at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau again. Subhanallah, the clear blue ocean that greets upon the long stretch of white sandy beach was a sight to behold. There were only a handful visitors at that time, some set up camps near the beach. How I envied them, even though I was a fussy pot about latrine, I do not mind camping. The last time I spent a night in a tent was last Eid dul Fitri, in the comfort of my Uci's compound. That was also my very first time cuddling with hubby in a tent. He was Tarzan and I was Jane.

We have had a whale of a time at the Tip of Borneo, under the mercy of the scorching Sun. The breeze carressed my skin so gently, I wished I could spend a night there. Perhaps these photos below could tell a wonderful tale about our visit there.

We were told of a piece of land, about 2 acres in size that is on sale at a very reasonable price. The spot also includes a private beach and a lagoon. Wow, if only we were filthy rich, I would love to have Tanjung Simpang Mengayau as my family retreat. The one in Sandakan is threatened by oil spills, and I do not like Mangrove Swamps.

What did I buy there? Hmm..I bought some sea shells, they are simply exquisite. I knew I could get those shells FOC from my mom's shells collection, but we figured we ought to get these locals some business rolling. Poor fellas, living in shanty huts perhaps with little facillities, still they looked contented with life. I bet their minds are clear of problems caused by the rat race in the city. I bet their shoulders are not burdened by debts and morgages. Instead, they should be pitiful of us for being the slaves of materialism.

We left the Tip of Borneo about two hours after that. We had coconut juice to slate our thirsts, how wonderful. Sarah was sulking at that time because her wish to swim in the crystal clear ocean was denied. I had to disappoint her for we were not familiar with the place. Besides, we were told of a school of jelly fish spotted nearby yesterday. The kids built sand castles, but I did not even set foot on the powdery sand, now I regret for not taking the chance to at least stroll along the beach. Should have taken some photos there too. Maybe in my next visit, I know I will come back to claim my land there "veni, vidi, vici", I told my hubby, he said, "..typical Semenanjung, let Sabahan natives have their own land la...". That was a political statement he has made, an elaboration on it might cause us trouble, so let us leave it as it is.


Part II: The Visit to the Rungus Longhouse and the highland of Kudansang.