Recipes from Sabah Travel to Malaysia Travel to other countries

View from the Chinese templeThe island of Borneo is shared by Sabah and Sarawak (parts of Malaysia), Kalimantan (part of Indonesia) and Brunei. Borneo is almost completely covered by thick rainforest and many part of the island are hard to reach. On the island live Chinese and Indian people, like in other parts of Malaysia, but also more than 30 indigenous ethnic groups. The largest group is the Kadazan Dusun. This group exists of two groups - obviously, Kadazan and Dusun. They share the same language, which is taught in school as second language, as they form almost 30% of the Sabah population. They are active in hill rice cultivation. The Bajau, the second largest group, also called sea-gypsies, were originally a seafaring crowd and therefore, not only do they live in Borneo, but also in other parts of Indonesia and the Philippines. They are Sunni Muslims and many of the now live in Kota Kinabalu.
Borneo is the third largest island of the world, between Greenland, New Guinea and Madagascar. That was a bit of a change, coming from the tiniest of tiny islands Lankayan! No walking around the island this time, not even in good body condition. But then - what is an island? Doesn't it totally depend on your definition? Why not call Australia an island, or Europe, for that matter?
Whatever the definition, after the island Lankayan we ended up on the island Borneo, more specifically in Sabah, the North-Eastern part, where we visited Sepilok, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu. Sabah belongs to Malaysia, but only since 1963. In and
before the 15th century, the kingdom of Brunei was the hierarchical and trade center of the island. From 1521, the Portuguese, and subsequently the Spanish and the Dutch tried to set foot on the island in more than one ways. From the middle of the 18th century, the British spread their influence through the British East India Company and their agreements with the Sultan of Sulu. In 1888, North Borneo, as it was called then, became a protectorate of Great Britain. Between 1942 and 1945, the relative peace was rudely disturbed by the invasion of the Japanese army, and in 1946, North Borneo became a crown colony of the British. In 1963, North Borneo became officially part of independent Malaysia and its name was changed to Sabah. It is also called Negeri di bawah bayu : land below the wind.
Not all inhabitants are happy being a part of the greater Malaysia: the government in Kuala Lumpur takes 95% of the earnings of natural resources and the development of Sabah is lacking behind, compared to the mainland. Sometimes, a call for secession emerges, but up to now, even though Sabah has been autonomous for a short time, the island remains part of Malaysia. The only difference is, that you have to get a special stamp in your passport upon arrival.
Sandakan ("the place that was pawned"), on the East Coast, was almost flattened during the Second World War. Now it is totally rebuilt and called "Little Hong Kong". There is a lot of Chinese trade going on and many of the shops have their names written in Chinese as well as in Malaysian. One of the attractions is the Puu Gih Jih Chinese Buddha Temple, overlooking the Sandakan bay. On the waterfront, many fishermen still live in houses on poles with their families.

Kota Kinabalu (the city of the Chinese widow, called just KK by the inhabitants of the island) is the capital of Sabah. That was not always the case; in the 1880s, under the British East India Company, it was Sandakan. KK is mainly a tourist resort and the most interesting part in the neighborhood is Mount Kinabalu, a mountain of more than 4,000 meters, which has hot sulfur springs. Unfortunately, we could not see them, as there was construction going on when we were there.
We made one river trip, to visit the proboscis monkey. Borneo is the only island where these monkeys can be found. We saw many of them, but unfortunately, it was already getting dark and we were hardly able to see their noses. Also, they kept showing us their backs, as if they were ashamed. The male proboscis monkey namely has an enormous red drooping nose! But other websites do have the pictures, if you are a nose-addict. We did see macaque monkeys close by, as they were waiting for the daily tourists boats full of people and watermelons.

Apart from the river trip, we mainly used our time for swimming, playing on the beach and rafting. Rafting was a little more difficult than expected, and the two boats we hired were upside down frequently. The boys got some more excitement form the KK Adventure park, where they rode buggies and climbed plastic mountains for an astronomic fee, while Teb and Anna were relaxing some more and Elodie and me performed a shopping hunt.