Thursday, December 01, 2016

Tip of Borneo - Feeling on top of the world


THE road to Kudat was bumpy. The six of us in the eight-seater van were tired after three hours of travelling on Sabah’s inland road from Kota Kinabalu.

My bottom was bruised from all the bumping. I was so relieved when we reached our destination — the very tip of Borneo, the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea.

Its northern-most tip is the meeting point of two big seas, the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.

My heart pounded hard as I walked the tiled road on a small shrubby hill fronting the coast.

The wind whipped past as I reached the top and touched a bronze globe that had a map telling me exactly where I was.

The spot where I planted my feet was Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, famously known as The Tip Of Borneo.

Standing next to the globe was a tall pole bearing the Malaysian flag. It fluttered in the wind, reaching for the blue sky.

I gingerly made my way to the edge of the headland, rising from the sea like a rocky loaf. Below, the waves pounded mercilessly.

The churning waters and the strong winds over the ages had left natural patterns on the slope of the cliff face.

The patterns looked like sea waves, tinted with pastel shades of light brown and off-white against the rugged greyish-black rocky headland.

The Tip of Borneo is one of the most stunning spots I have ever come across in our country.

And being there felt as awesome as being at the southernmost tip of mainland Asia at Tanjung Piai in south-west Johor.

Standing at both tips made me feel like a tiny pinhead on the world map.

But I must say that the view at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau is far more spell-binding than at marshy Tanjung Piai.

The coastline in this part of Sabah is treacherous. Ships had sunk in the area.

A lighthouse on Pulau Kalampunian, visible from the headland, is a reminder of past shipwrecks. The cape was also a battleground in the old days.

It was originally called Tanjung (cape) Sampang (junction) Mangazou (battle) in the language of the Rungus, the natives of Kudat.

Their forefathers had fought fierce battles to defend Rungus territory against invading enemies, including the Moro pirates who terrorised the Sulu Sea.

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