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I craved an adventure when I got a chance to go to Sabah, Malaysia. And it did not disappoint. Here are seven reasons why I suggest you go visit Sabah.
Would you relate if I say that the traveler in me loves to have ten different experiences at the same place only to plan ten different destinations for a month?
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely the kind. And thus, my recent trip to Malaysia, particularly, Sabah was a memorable one. Filled with some completely new yet interesting experiences, Sabah turned out to be the one-stop destination for all the travel cravings my heart had.
It was late evening when I was landed in Kuala Lumpur. Floating on the island blues, I spotted ferries that looked like tiny red dots from my airplane window. I couldn’t have been more fascinated.
As the plane came closer to the ground, I knew I would be among skyscrapers for the next week. I knew I would have the usual adventures that these travel portals give you hints of.
But Sabah surprised me in more ways than one. Here are seven of the reasons why you need to plan a trip there
Sabah is the largest of 13 states that make up Malaysia, and is situated north on the island of Borneo. What I liked the most about it was how it takes you down the history lane and also shows Malaysia with a certain rawness.
A culturally diverse state, it has more than 40 ethnic groups. I got a chance to visit the Mari Mari Culture Village. This showcases the five major tribes of Sabah- the Bajau, Kadazandusun, Lundayeh, Rungus and Murut headhunters.
I was amazed to see the nuances of tribal life placed in the raw setting of forests. From how bamboo served as stairs to how they ignite fire without a matchstick to how the shape of their food also has a meaning, you find a detailed showcase of it all.
As an evolved and technically advanced global community, we live with a similar set of facilities. Hence to trace back how different ethnic groups devised their own techniques to solve the real-world problems is actually relearning. And Mari Mari Culture village promises exactly that!
I know safety is one of the first boxes we need to tick before travelling. And trust me when I say, Sabah doesn’t put you at any risk there.
When I travelled, Coronavirus had just begun spreading and I was concerned too. Before leaving India, I took the preventive measures, but I was much more assured when I saw the Malaysian Airlines spraying disinfectant to prevent the disease.
More importantly, every place I went to at Kota Kinabalu, my temperature was checked. And if that speaks volumes of the responsible government that Sabah has. Even more impressive was the fact that, in all of Malaysia, Sabah has the lowest crime rate.
As a part of the media contingent of the MegaFam Malaysia, I had a chance to speak to Liow Cai Tung. She is the Johor State Executive Committee Chairman for Tourism, Women, Family and Community Development. Liow Cai Tung told me how they receive young women tourists from all over the world. She spoke of how the island was safe for these women and how they had served them time and again.
How often do you find a place that is as good for the family as it is for solo travel? Well once again, Sabah is that place!
On the fifth day of the trip, I went river rafting on the Kuilu River.
As someone who saw rafting only as a thrilling adventure, when I saw a couple with their four-year-old, I was a little confused. But as we started paddling our way through the gentle waters with scenic shades of green, my doubts were cleared.
If you’re rafting for the first time, or want a kid-friendly adventure or even a romantic getaway with your partner- Kuilu is the place for you!
I was a part of the PATA Adventure Travel Conference and Mart 2020. This let me speak to YB Datuk Christina Liew, the Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
I spoke to her about the travel experiences for women in the state, she said, “Sabah is a pretty friendly place perfect for holidays. You can do exciting adventure activities, and also do family activities. The tour guides are very helpful too. I see a lot of young women traveling from different countries enjoying their ice creams on the streets of Sabah.”
Are you someone who is close to wildlife too? If yes, then the wildlife at Sabah is something you HAVE TO experience.
Spotting the rare proboscis monkey, or the monitor lizard at sunset on the wetlands river in mangrove forests is not a farfetched dream in Sabah.
We went on a Klias River Cruise. And what made the trip better for me, was the night river cruise for fireflies. Under the starry skies (a privilege for us urban dwellers), I forgot the worries of tomorrow. And when I saw the fireflies on trees, looking like Christmas, I knew I had made a memory that was too beautiful to forget!
Dear seafood lovers, this place IS for you!
Grab the food at the market along the sea or visit the Tagal Tinopikon Park and treat your tastebuds with the local food. Cooked in a number of different styles, right from prawns to fish, every single craving will be saitated.
And while you do that, Sabah will call out to you to visit the handcrafts market full of jute and bamboo souvenirs.
People are an essential part of my travel. They carry so much of a place in themselves and their stories.
In Sabah, what caught my attention especially was listening to the story of these women who don various hats while also being a part of the culture.
At Tagal Tinopikon Park, I met an 88-year-old lady playing a drum while welcoming tourists into the community. At the same time, I also heard stories of a 44-year-old female tourist guide- she was as adventurous as her job and of photographers in headscarves.
Is any travel experience ever complete without finding time to roam around the streets?
Walk or drive by scenic landscapes of sea, spend some evenings sitting at Pillars of Sabah. Or simply admire the artistic beauty of street paintings right outside malls – you wouldn’t want to skip while in Sabah!
Watch more of my experience here.
And do let me know what you’d like to do when you travel to Sabah!
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