Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kinabalu Park - Chilling out in a tropical destination

Kinabalu National Park in Sabah (Malaysia Borneo) – a UNESCO “world heritage site” with over 4,500 types of flora and fauna, 326 birds and 100 mammalian species – also boasts Mount Kota Kinabalu, which at 4,095 meters above sea level, is Borneo Island’s highest mountain.

Both attractions are located a four-hour drive from Sabah’s capital city Kota Kinabalu and it’s where we truly enjoyed some much needed respite from the city hustle and bustle.

The main highlight, however, was visiting Masilau Nature Park, situated at 2,000 meters above sea level at the southwest corner of Kinabalu National Park. At the nature park, we’d experienced thick foggy weather condition and temperature that dropped to below 10 degrees Celsius.

Indeed, Masilau Nature Park – which is often exposed to erratic weather conditions – is known as the coldest part in the national park.

Before heading to the nature park, we had the opportunity to check out Kundasang Village, located six kilometres from Kinabalu Park.

The village’s close proximity to Mount Kinabalu also proffers panoramic views of the majestic peaks, valleys and quaint village settlements situated on mountain slopes. The picturesque village is ideal for taking lots of snapshots!

Also an “agricultural” hub, Kundasang has a thriving vegetable market which is open daily. With most of the vegetable stalls managed by locals, comprising mainly native Dusun and the minority Chinese community, look out for local specialities such as fresh cabbage, mushrooms (such as shitake and black mushroom varieties) and baby kai lan.

One of our tour guides had said that some of the varieties of greens are sold at the lowest prices available in Sabah!

For those who’d prefer to buy local handicrafts such as batik, among others, check out the many souvenir stores in the village.

Old-world kopitiams (coffee shops) also dot the village – and where you can enjoy an aromatic cuppa while immersing in the surrounding’s languid pace, before taking a 30-minute drive to the Masilau Nature Park where high-adrenaline activities, among others, are available.

At the foot of Mount Kinabalu, the Masilau Nature Park is where “mountainous” vegetation thrives, such as verdant ferns and other sorts of medium-height flora and fauna.

Before embarking on your trekking experience at the nature park, you must register and pay a fee at the park’s headquarters nearby the upscale Masilau Nature Resort, where chalet-type accommodations are available.

The “Masilau” moniker is derived from the small waterfall which locals claim was originally yellow in color (‘silou’ is yellow).

Having gone where most amateur trekkers have surely threaded in the past, the rather easy-to-trek Masilau Trail is equipped with proper plank walks and specially built wooden staircases along some sharp bends and steep slopes – all passing rocky terrain and other parts with lush greenery.


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