With its sandy beaches and gorgeous crystal blue seas, Sabah is an underrated Malaysian gem that both Semanjung locals and international students should visit. In order to determine the ‘authentically Sabah’ diverse activities to enjoy and unique places to explore, IGNITE enlists two proud Sabahans to share and suggest their favourite parts of home.
Jillian Simon – International Communication Studies Year 2
Fhyzzie Lee – English with Creative Writing Year 1*
What are some things that are uniquely ‘Sabah’?
Jillian Simon: Unlike the other states of Malaysia, Sabah has a very unique set of traditional cultures. One can argue that its quite similar to Sarawak’s, but I feel like Sabah has its own little twist. So, I recommend Mari Mari Cultural Village as a must-visit for travellers. This place will definitely show you our traditional cultures from dance to food and even history in the best way.
But if you want a better and hands-on experience, visit Sabah during the Harvest Festival. Held in May, this celebratory festival is known as Ka’amatan by the locals. In fact, travellers can head on over to Kadazandusun Cultural Association Sabah (KDCA) in Penampang to take part in a great time that also involves lots of local delicacies!
Fhyzzie Lee: The Desa dairy farm in Kundasang is a peculiar and refreshing sight. In comparison to Malaysia’s typical tropical and humid weather, the surroundings of the farm gives a picturesque view of green hills and cattle.
Moreover, to fully immerse yourself in nature, I highly recommend the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Sabah’s crocodile park. Other than that, more interesting places would be Bukit Tengkorak or Skull Island situated within Semporna and Bohey Dulang Island.
What are the best scenic things to do in Sabah?
Jillian Simon: I think every visitor should mainly do three things when visiting Sabah: island hoping, visit Kundasang, and the Poring Hot Springs in Kinabalu Park.
Fhyzzie Lee: Sabah comes with many interesting places to visit. For one, there is the picturesque views of the high mountains which can be seen from Kundasang. As such, a definite sight to behold would be the notorious Mount Kinabalu, known for being the highest mountain within Malaysia, sitting at 4,095 meters. Moreover, there are numerous tropical islands such as Pulau Sipadan, Pulau Mataking and Pulau Kapalai.
The state is absolutely beautiful with its incredible natural scenery. For example, the seas of Sabah showcase one of the most diverse marine displays in the world. These include coral reefs and a variety of fish like the clownfish, barracudas, Tiger fishes, turtles and jellyfish.
What are the top activities you would recommend for travellers?
Jillian Simon: If you love adventure and outdoor activities, then Sabah is perfect for you. Some activities I recommend are: climbing Mount Kinabalu or Bukit Botak, white water rafting at Sungai Padas or Sungai Kiulu, and snorkelling at any one of our beautiful islands.
Fhyzzie Lee: Given that Sabah is a treasure trove of many gorgeous islands, water sport activities are a must. These include parasailing, diving, snorkelling and kayaking. Additionally, a trip to any one of these islands would not be complete without indulging in the wide array of fresh seafood they have to offer.
What do you miss most about home?
Jillian Simon: Definitely the food! I could take forever to list down all my favourite dishes. However, two delicacies every visitor should try is our Fish Noodles and also Sang Nyuk Mee!
Fhyzzie Lee: Firstly, I mostly miss the fresh seafood at home. I feel that nowhere here can beat the delicious seafood offered in Sabah. Besides that, I also really long for the clean air and the smell of home. Additionally, the costs around the state is much cheaper in comparison, and the locals are friendly people.
Written by Aisyah Mohd Bahrin and Amirah Qistina Hazrin
*interviewees have chosen not to provide portraits.