Monday, March 14, 2011

Nabalu Town: A gateway to the rest of Sabah

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

The town of Nabalu in Sabah, which is famous for being a central stop for travellers heading to Kundasang, Ranau, National Park or the east coast of Sabah, was established in the 1980s.

When making frequent trips to Sabah, it is wise to have a stop in Pekan Nabalu when on the way to the east coast.

The last two decades has seen many changes, especially in regard to economic and infrastructure developments on Mount Kinabalu.

When in KK, it would be best to venture out early, (around 7am) as the city becomes quite congested. The new town bus station situated in Inanam is about 10km from the city.

You could take a bus here, provided you make enquiries with the bus driver first, whether they go to Inanam. It is easier to take a taxi, but it may cost you a little bit more.

If you stay at a hotel that provides its own shuttle bus to the bus station, you can also use its services.

If you choose to pick a Mount Kinabalu climbing package from travel services, it is very likely that they will provide transportation.

Tourists get to meet the friendly people of the indigenous Dusun, Kadazan, Rungus and Lotud ethnic tribes.

Pekan Nabalu is well-known as a place for tourists interested in buying cheap souvenirs.

You can haggle as much as you want to but you need to learn tactics in regard to how you can bargain with the locals. If you purchase a lot, you can get a huge discount. In fact, suave customers will call it a 'steal'.

It makes one think of a mini yet well-organised market targeting both locals and more specifically, tourists from overseas.

Some of the souvenirs were genuinely crafted and weaved by the local ethnic tribes who live on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu.

There are also other items ranging from food and fruits to spices and handicrafts. Besides handicrafts, there are also stalls selling food and beverages.

There are spices and honey in bottles, as well as packets of local red and black rice packed by the locals, bearing no commercial labels.

Shifting cultivation covers most of the hills in the area and at Km 33, the roadside stalls of Pekan Nabalu are well stocked with local produce.

This is a regular tourist stop where good-quality handicrafts can be purchased as well as the deliciously nutty flavoured brown hill rice - a specialty of the area, mixed together with extra sweet pineapples.

The restaurants are clean and well-organised, even the wash room was cleaner than expected!

One of the young shop owners, a teenage girl treated us very nicely with discounts and free gifts!

It was also observed that the T-shirts purchased here were nowhere to be found in the city of Kota Kinabalu (not even at the famous Filipino Market or Sunday Market) and most importantly they were cheap.

Sitting amidst sheer tranquility and fresh air, the spick-and-span surroundings that characterise the town centre makes Nabalu the ideal stopover for local and foreign visitors who crave nothing but scenic nature.

The village is cradled in the mountains and agricultural activities abound in surrounding areas.

Tourists can handily stop at the handicraft stalls in Nabalu and buy fruits to bring back.

There are various types of craft sold in these outlets including key chains, bracelets, clothes, hats, traditional musical instruments, bags and local fruits such as durian type N24, mangosteen, rice and others.

Take nothing but photographs and fond memories, leave nothing but footprints and smiling faces.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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