Around Mt Kinabalu

I spent a few days in the almost literal shadow of Mt Kinabalu, the highest peak in Borneo. A highlight was staying at a home stay in Tanak Nabula, a small Dusun village of around 200 people who survive off agriculture and tourism.

Our homestay had been welcoming guests (mainly Aussies and Brits judging by the guest book) for twelve years so they were well organised. There was plenty of tasty food for lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and breakfast. In the afternoon we went for a walk in the forest near the village, unexpectedly home to pineapples, one of their main sources of income, and rubber trees.

The village had an eclectic range of architecture, with buildings in different styles and colours.

In the evening we were treated to a cultural performance, gentle dancing accompanied by hypnotic if one tone music played on various sized gongs.

For most of our stay Mt Kinabula was shrouded in cloud, but in the morning it cleared to reveal its jagged glory.

Heading from the village to Mt Kinabula National Park were a couple of lookouts with clear views of the mountain, not that common after mid-morning. Two days later I would be on the summit of the 4,095m high mountain…

Mt Kinabula Botanical Gardens are close to the start of the track. They’re a tranquil place, home to a few colourful plants, though most is rainforest.

The moving Kundasang War Memorial commemorates the Sandakan Death Marches which took place in the dying days of WW2. The Japanese force marched 2,500 Australian and British POWs 265km from Sandakan to Ranau. Only six survived by successfully escaping.

After watching an informative video there were three memorial gardens to explore, dedicated to the Australians, the British, and the locals (Sabah lost 16% of its population during the Japanese occupation).

Where the march finished at Ranau there is a small memorial. The Kundasang War Memorial was built in 1962, before there was road access to Ranau.

To end on a lighter note with the pleasant Poring Hot Water Springs. I’m not a hot springs person but did enjoy the rather wobbly 160m long, 41m high canopy walkway, and the butterfly garden.

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