HOW I SPENT MY CHRISTMAS IN SABAH

Last Christmas, I visited my Sabahan boyfriend in his hometown. It was my second visit to the land below the wind and my first time writin...


Last Christmas, I visited my Sabahan boyfriend in his hometown. It was my second visit to the land below the wind and my first time writing about it. Sabah has always been my most favourite local vacation spot, not only because it holds a special place in my heart, but it has everything I need for a perfect getaway from the bustling city life. You may take up the challenge to climb the tallest peak in Malaysia, none other than Mount Kinabalu, enjoy the fresh crisp air in Kundasang, take a dive into waters of Sapi and Manukan Islands, or watch sunsets at Tanjung Aru beach.  Mountains, Sea, Beach. Just what I need for a complete holiday package.


My stay in Sabah was not adventurous, but rather laid back. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is definitely in my bucket list but not in the near future as I am not physically prepped for this challenge. I did not go to the islands this time because I had enough of them during my previous visit.

Christmas in Sabah was entirely a whole new experience for me. Growing up in the peninsular region of Malaysia, I had never seen so many Christmas tree decors on Malaysian streets. There were myriad Christmas trees decorating the streets of Kota Kinabalu, including the Sabah Tourism Board at Gaya Street, as well as many huge billboards showing Christ is the reason for this season. With many diverse ethnic groups living together, the people of Sabah truly display the spirit of unity, racial harmony, and respect for each other’s culture and beliefs, which are rarely seen in the Semenanjung counterpart of Malaysia.





As seen on my Instagram updates about my Christmas vacation, this blog post tells a story behind each photo. Here are the highlights of my 5 day trip to Sabah:



1.       WATCHED AMAZING SUNSET AT TANJUNG ARU BEACH

Sabah is, hands down, one of the best places to watch beautiful sunsets in Malaysia. Proudly achieved the world-class sunset status, Sabah appeared in the top 8 list of beautiful sunsets in the world, as published in the Huffington Post



There are many great places to catch a sunset in Sabah and Tanjung Aru remains one of the most popular, tourist concentrated, as well as locals’ favourite spot. Just a 15 minutes’ drive from downtown KK, you will get to experience the typical beach life. I did not get to watch sunsets during my previous visit as there were thunderstorms almost every evening and cloudy skies. It was a miracle to be able to watch the sunset at this time of the year, as December is known to be a rainy season.


Loving the sunkissed complexion of my skin



The sunset was amazing. The skies were splashed with vibrant shades of orange and yellow across the skies. There were minimal clouds obscuring the view. I can feel the golden touch of the sun literally. Golden hour started at around 5pm. Sunset in Sabah was around 6pm.

Pineapple & beach. How Hawaiian.


Address: Tanjung Aru, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah



 2.       ATE SINALAU BAKAS

I have been looking forward to Sinalau Bakas way before I plan this trip. This smoked wild boar meat is on the “must-try” list of exotic Kadazandusun food that I have always wanted to experience.


On the way from Kota Kinabalu to Kundasang, you may want to keep an eye on the roadside stalls with handwritten signboards or printed banners, saying ‘SINALAU BAKAS” followed by a cautionary sentence, “TIDAK HALAL/FOR NON-MUSLIMS ONLY”(I’m not kidding!).



When we arrived, stall owners were busy smoking the succulent chunks of wild boar meat. The meat was lightly seasoned with salt, vinegar, and garlic and is served with lime and chilli. The seasoning of the meat was simple, yet great. The meat was tasty at first bite, although a tad dry and chewy, maybe because wild boar meat is leaner. I actually had a horrible sore throat and a loss of voice after that, but the experience was paid off.







3.       SIPPED TEA AT SABAH TEA GARDEN

If you’re from Ipoh, you may think Sabah Tea Garden is STG Tea House Café, a bungalow restaurant in Château garden. Sounds fancy, I know. But this is the original Sabah Tea Garden in Ranau we’re talking about. They are somehow related to each other anyway.


The café overlooked the vast field of tea plantations. It’s a relaxing way to spend your morning sipping tea while watching the mesmerizing luscious greenery with majestic view of Mt Kinabalu in the background. Unfortunately, it was a misty morning, and the peaks were veiled by clouds. I have to admit, Cameron Highlands has a better designed café overlooking larger valleys of plantation but Sabah Tea Garden has Mount Kinabalu as the major attraction.

While you’re at the cafe, you should try their signature pancakes, scones, and waffles made from tea leaves! These tea infused delicacies has the right level of sweetness without compromising the strong and bold flavours of the tea.


Address: KM17, Jalan Ranau / Sandakan, Kg. Nalapak, 89309, Ranau.

 

4.       VISITED COWS AT DESA CATTLE DAIRY FARM

I had been to the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm twice. Dubbed as the “New Zealand of Malaysia”, it is a local tourist hotspot for the local farm experience. And also, because it has one of the most popular scenic landscapes and people come here just for the gram. Well, the black and white dairy cow breeds are rare in Malaysia!
Despite the massive crowds and the smelly cow dung filled the cool air, the gelato from Desa kept me contented. I’m a happy girl.
Though it was a long wait to get your hands on gelato and milk, it’s worth the wait.

Get directions here




5.       WALKED ALONG THE COASTAL HIGHWAY @ TANJUNG LIPAT

It is a jogging track for fitness enthusiasts but for me, I came here to walk along the Tanjung Lipat coastal line. And also to take some photos of course. The tracks are made suitable and designated for jogging. It stretched as along as 4km leading to Tun Mustapha building.
 

My friend told me the Tanjung Lipat beach was dirty, but I guess initiatives had been taken because workers from DBKK, the city council were seen cleaning up the place.

Address: Jalan Tanjung Lipat, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah





 6.       ADMIRED ARTWORK @ PILLARS OF SABAH

If you visited Sabah a few years back, you would not believe how the remnants of the old building opposite Suria Sabah looks like in the present day.

 The pillars belonged to the old Land & Survey building that was burnt down and left abandoned in the 90s, was served as a graffiti canvas for random street artists until last year where Red Hongyi and her team gave the pillars a fresh, new look.


Each pillar was allocated to one artist to create a portrait of someone who’s inspiring and contributed or related to Sabah. It is a great project to showcase local talents besides turning it into a tourist’s attraction in the city.

Address: Lorong Bank 3, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah



 7.       INDULGED WITH LOCAL DAIRY PRODUCTS

Sabah boasts their local dairy products- cow’s milk, goat’s milk, ice cream, gelato. I definitely won’t miss a chance of trying them while I was at KK. There are many homegrown brands found only in Borneo and one of them was Borneo Fresh, launched by the Koperasi Pembangunan Desa that produces goat’s milk and ice-cream. 

 I used to drink goat’s milk when I was young and drinking it now reminded me of my childhood. The milk was fresh and tasty. I am very impressed with the ice cream. It is comparable to premium ice cream as the richness in consistency and flavor is remarkable. It is not too sweet too!






8. TOOK A STROLL AT SUTERA HARBOUR

Unlike the hotels and resorts in West Malaysia, Sabahan hospitality is at its finest when you can just waltz into their establishments without being a guest. Consisted of two hotels- Magellan Sutera, The Pacific Sutera, marina and golf club, Sutera Harbour offers a scenic view of the ocean.





It is another option for sunset watching besides Tg. Aru. Taking a stroll around the marina while watching the sunset is totally relaxing and a great way to spend an evening.

Address: Jalan Utama Sutera Harbour, Sutera Harbour Boulevard, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah







Till next time, Sabah.


Their town bus is so adorable!











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