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SABAH

-the land below the wind-

 

Sabah is one of Malaysia's finest adventure and naturdestinations.  It's famous for the warm and friendly people and popular for its wildlife and tropical beaches. 
Sabah is situated in the North of Borneo and it is a  paradise for scuba diving and snorkeling. 
The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu. Formerly the capital was known  as Jesselton before its name was changed in 1968 to Kota Kinabalu.
The state capital is also affectionately called KK by the local people. Nowadays it's a modern Asian city without many memories at the past. KK is built at the feet of Mount Kinabalu,. The name Kinabalu is a mystery and a myth. 
Some believe Kina-balu means "Chinese widow". Kina being a corruption of "China" and "Balu" a widespread native dialectical term for widow. 

The story: "
It's about a Chinese Prince seeking a huge pink pearl that exists at the very top of the mountain and guarded by a ferocious dragon. After a terrific battle  he slayed the dragon and took the pearl, whereon he married local Kadazan woman. He got homesick and deserted his wife to return to China and the heartbroken wife wandered to the mountain and was turned to stone." 

But the most plausible explanation is that the name is derived from Aki Nabalu - meaning 'The revered place of dead', in local Dusunic languages.


Kota Kinabalu

 
Scuba Diving.

The seas around SABAH  are acknowledged to have some of the best diving spots of the world . The waters are cool enough to support a prolific underwater ecosystem of magnificent coral reefs, alga beds, sea turtles, and giant clams. An equally impressive variety of bright fascinating tropical fishes give the underwater world a burst of rainbow colors.

Picture blue sunny skies, emerald green waters, and tiny coral islands dotting the distant horizon; enchanting blue lagoons, secluded bays and coves guarding secrets within their encircling fold; shimmering emerald waters gradually darkening to deeper blue depths that beckons the unsuspecting diver.

Just below the glassy surface, magnificent coral reefs fringe the shoreline in a seemingly unending line. Within these reefs, lie an exciting underwater world with some of the most delicate corals in various shades of pastel. The flower like Tubastrea and delicate sea fan are equally fascinating. There is also the alyconarian, a magnificent study in pink- like glass art of a tree in full bloom.

Further out in the deep blue depths are some of the larger species such as groupers, hammerhead sharks, Manta rays, and barracudas to name a few. If you are lucky, you may even chance upon the green and hawksbill turtle on their way to shore to nest amidst the soft warm sand.
 
Layang Layang  is an emerging surprise, a new name for an oceanic atoll once called "Swallow Reefs" which is about 300 kilometers northwest of its capital city, Kota Kinabalu. An unimportant atoll amongst a host of other atolls near the famous Spratly Group. Layang-Layang is making eyes turn, for divers and non-divers alike. Some rate is a 
"Big fish and Wall Diving Mecca of Southeast Asia", to which divers from all over the globe are attracted like pious pilgrims, with good reason. 
Layang-Layang is indeed for divers an island where dreams come true.


 
Sabah' s Mabul Island is a small oval shaped island surrounded by sandy beaches and
perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200-hectare reef. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25m-30m deep
Mabul is one of the richest single destinations for exotic small marine life anywhere in the world. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus and bobtail squids are just a few of the numerous types of cephalapods to be found on Mabul's reef.
The sight of harlequin shrimp feeding on sea stars and boxer crabs waving their tiny anemone porn-pours are lust a small example of the endless species of crustaceans. 
Many types of bodies can be found including the spike fin goby, black sail-fin goby and metallic shrimp gory. Frogfish are everywhere giant, painted and clown frogfish are all regularly seen Moray eels and snake eels of many types can be seen along with almost the whale scorpionfish family.

 


Sipadan



The sheer walls of Sipadan all around easily earns a rating in "one of the top five in the world" for wall diving.

Sea turtles are so prolific there that one actually gets "tired" of seeing the magnificent creature, he quips! Regular sights include large schools of barracuda, sharks, jacks, tuna, bump head wrasse.

Visibility is excellent, the waters warm and generally calm while the furthest dive site is only 10 minutes away.
There is even an underwater limestone cave 200ft deep, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, 63ft below the surface, where the skeletons of a Green Turtle, was discovered.

Dive Sabah
Dive Sabah

Pulau Sipadan  
Patriarch of the diving fraternity, Jacques Cousteau, got wind of what one American writer called "the last outpost of diving civilisation", visited Sipadan in 1988. After spending six weeks (the single longest at one site for his ship Calypso and crew) there, filming its inexhaustible beauty, he remarked: "I have seen other places like Sipadan - 45 years ago - but now, no more, now we have found again an untouched piece of art.


Cousteau was referring to the dramatic, oceanic island called Sipadan, perched like a towering mushroom in the Celebes deep, on the edge of the Borneo continental shelf, just about an hour of boat ride from a small town on Sabah's east coast - Semporna.

Sipadan has an interesting geological history. It all started millions of years ago with a volcanic eruption. Andesite lava piled up a volcanic cone about 2,600 ft. high from the bottom of the sea. Over the millennia, the ever active "master architects" of the sea (such a tiny coral polyps) colonised it and crowned the volcano tip with a coral reef which is now 160 hectares big and a 5.3km circumference. The sand fringed, lushly forested Sipadan Island sits on the northwestern end of the reef and takes only 15 minutes to walk one round.

Incredibly, just 15 feet from the beach at it northern tip, the water turns indigo blue as the sea drops abruptly to 2,800ft deep! This famous feature won it a " Best Beach Dive in the World " award in 1993, voted by the influential consumer based In-depth Magazine several years ago.


The Tropical Rainforest
.

Sabah's pristine tropical rainforests is home to many protected rare animals: the Orang Utan, Proboscis monkeys which are endemic to Borneo; elephants, the endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros and rich birdlife which include eight species of hornbills.


   
the hornbill

Sabah is one of the last places in the world where you can still find magnificent virgin rainforest. The largest virgin rainforest is in Danum Valley, which has now become a conservation area. It is home to many rare birds, monkeys, deer, insects and plants. Many visitors will remember it as a very beautiful place although it may be quite difficult to see some of the larger animals. There are only two places to stay, one is for scientists and the other one is for tourists.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
Nationale Parken
Orang-Utan (in malaysian "man of the forest") are protected under the Fauna Conservation Ordinance which, among other things, prohibits hunting, trading or keeping them as pets. 

The objectives of the project have expanded in recent years.  While Orangutan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, present aims include public education on consevation, research and assistance to other endangered species such as captive breeding of the rare and endangered rhinoceros.

This centre is now under the supervision of more than 37 staff, including a Wildlife Officer who is also officer-in-charge of the centre, a veterinary doctor, wildlife rangers and general workers. The centre has a reception centre, information centre, offices for wildlife staff, an animal clinic, quarantine area and enclosures for various animals such as the rhinoceros.

Sepilok, renowned for its orangutan rehabilitation project, has stimulated a greater local and 
international awareness of the protection laws for endangered species, and the Centre has 
resulted in an increase in detection and confiscation of illegally held captive animals.

Kinabalu Park 
Nationale Parken

Kinabalu Park, which covers an area 754 sq. kilometres, is one of the greatest attraction of Sabah. The Park is visited yearly by thousands of tourists who come to enjoy its climatic, scenic, floral and faunal splendours. 

Among other things, it also contains the granitic massif of Mt. Kinabalu. At 4,093 metres, it is South East Asia's greatest challenge for climbers. Mt. Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. It is part of Sabah's beautiful Crocker Range and the 2,572 metre Mt. Tambuyukon.
Having an altitude which varies from 152 metres to 3,952 metres above sea level, the vastness of the Park enables the preservation of tropical lowland forest and wildlife, as well as the alpine-like associations of the summit zone
Preserved for posterity, the Kinabalu Park is one of the world's  most unique ecological systems: having beauty, splendour and charm to delight any category of visitors. From the tired businessman in need of a rest to the restless mountaineer and the nature lover who is eager to study and enjoy its natural treasures
The park opens at all seasons. It is self-contained with all the facilities for the casual visitors as well as campers. Those who wish to have a 
longer stay, nearby hotel or park's chalets are available.

Population
Sabah has a population of 2.52 million; mainly concentrated in coastal areas.

Climate and Clothing
Sabah has an equatorial climate. Temperatures rarely rise above 32C (90F) except on exceptionally hot days, and along the coastal areas rarely drops below 20C (68F) at night. Although in the interior and at higher altitudes it can get quite cold at nights. Relative humidity is usually 85-95 per cent.

Electricity and Water
Electricity and piped water are available in urban areas and outlying towns. Other remote areas rely on kerosene lamps for lighting and stream or well water for drinking and washing. Electric current is on a 240 volts AC 50 Hz. cycle system using a square 3-pin plug. Visitors are advised against drinking unboiled water.

Currency
One Malaysian Ringgit (RM 1) is made up of 100 sen. Currency notes are issued in denominations of RM 100, RM 50, RM 20, RM 10, RM 5 and RM 2. Coins are in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 sen. One US dollar (US$ 1) is approximately RM 3.80.

Medical Services
Those intending to visit remote areas are advised to take anti-malaria medication. Clinics and dispensaries take care of non-major medical treatment while state-run hospitals are available in all major towns. The Sabah Medical Centre is a private hospital with good health services.

Shopping
Both Sabah and Sarawak are places to find tribal handicrafts. Many are on sale in the main towns, although smaller communities potentially offer the best buys.

 

 

 

 

   Ben van Wijnen

 

 

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