Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens

Located on a hill at the town center Kundasang, Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens is one of the famous landmarks of the area near Kinabalu Park. This memorial park means a lot to many people who were affected by World War II. It carries the historical significance of remembering those who served in Borneo during WW2 and suffered from war crimes as prisoners of war.

Despite located in a small town, Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens is not a simple rough monument. It was designed with elaborate fine details and space. In a late afternoon, my son and I strolled the four separate gardens that representing the countries of those who died in Sandakan POW camp and during the 3 Sandakan Death Marches. There are Australian Garden, English Garden, Borneo Garden and 'Contemplation Garden' with a reflection pool and pergola. We read the words, stories and names on the walls and monuments and understood the horrific past for the first time.

It is a place worth going and it is very accessible.

A beautifully decorated and well maintained Australian Garden.

The Contemplation Garden.

The establishment of Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens was initiated by Major Gordon Senior 'Toby' Carter DSO and was restored in 2005 by Mr Sevee Charuruks with his own personal funds. Australian government's grants came years later.

Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, Kundasang

When you and your family travel to the area around Kinabalu Park, the one place that you should not miss is Desa Cattle Dairy Farm at Kundasang. There are reasons why this place is one of the tourists' favorites. It is not just because it looks like those farms in New Zealand. Located at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, the scenery around this farm is simply stunning. Inside the farm, you can find interesting activities for young children.

Heavy clouds cover the mountain behind the farm in most hours of the day except early morning.
With luck, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the mountain as backdrop view of the farm.

We caught a glimpse of cattle roaming at wild.

Location of the Farm...

Training (for Busy People) to Climb Mount Kinabalu

I write this training guide for person like me, a busy-9-to-5-office-worker. We probably sit too long during office hours and have too little exercise after office hours. We want to spend minimum time in training but yet we want to reach the summit of Mount Kinabalu.

It is a big slanting plateau at the summit of Mount Kinabalu. After the last checkpoint, Sayat Sayat, you will be walking, with only 62% of oxygen of sea level,  for about 1.75KM to reach Low's Peak. The elevation of this 1.75KM is 442Meters (from 3,653M at Sayat Sayat to 4,095M at Low's Peak.)

Bare Minimum Training Objectives

  • Get your body to get use to walk on jungle trail and uneven hiking terrain
  • Prepare for reasonable fitness, especially for exercise-lacking-middle-age-office-workers. First, you can't reach Laban Rata too late in the evening because you need to sleep and wake up in the mid night for the climb to summit. Second, you need to cross Sayat Sayat checkpoint before 5am
  • Get use to walk in the dark with headlamp
  • Get use to your gear and shoes, i.e. headlamp and climbing shoes

These are the minimum objectives of training in order for a person to reach the summit of Mount Kinabalu and descend safely.

View of a farming village at Kundasang

Kundasang is a beautiful town. It is full of visual surprises. It is a place you must stay for a few nights in your plan of climbing Mount Kinabalu.

The first evening at Kinabalu Pine Resort. I sit on the balcony and took this photo with my iPhone 4's HDR Pro app.

Sitting at the balcony of my room, I could see this view of a farming village. Weather at highland changes quickly and the same view look so different under different shades of sunlight.

Kundasang situated at about 1500 meters - 1800 meters above sea level. It is cold at night.

The Hidden Garden Park of Pekan Nabalu

Along the way from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park you will pass through this little town called Pekan Nabalu or Nabalu Town. There is this beautiful garden park in this little town hidden away from the main road.

Garden Park of Pekan Nabalu (Nabalu Town) Mount Kinabalu
The secret garden park of Pekan Nabalu. We were on the way back from Kinabalu Park to Kota Kinabalu.

Mt Kinabalu at Pekan Nabalu (Nabalu Town)
The magnificent Mt Kinabalu.

This secret garden is located behind a row of building and market place on the main road from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park. You turn in to the left when you see a purple tower at Nabalu. Once you drive near the souvenir stores you can see this small park that gives a beautiful view of Mount Kinabalu.

I read about this town and the beautiful lookout place from internet but I simply could not find it on our way to Kinabalu Park. But when we returned, by sheer luck (wanting to buy some souvenirs), we turned in to this place and saw the beautiful garden park and this view. I am absolutely happy to be rewarded heftily for just a little generosity to buy things from the locals. :-)

Turn to the side road when you see this purple tower. You should be able to find
the secret garden park right after the souvenir stores.

I am keen to find out what is the name of the little town at the hill top of the smaller mountain.
(bottom left of this photo). It is a blank on Google Maps but you can see the town clearly in the satellite view.

Pekan Nabalu lookout garden park is not marked on Google Maps. You need to see it on satellite view.

To see the exact location, try this Kinabalu Park and Surrounding Areas map.

The exact spot.

Good Morning Kundasang!

It was a very beautiful and cool morning at Kundasang, Sabah. I woke up early taking photographs of the mountain. I saw the sunlight painted the mountain red for just a few precious minutes.

Morning sun brighten up the mountain while keeping Kundasang Valley under the shadow of mountain. It was just over 6.10 am.

I tried another shot. Both photos are taken with my iPhone 4's HDR Pro app.

Most time of the day Mount Kinabalu is covered in the clouds, just like the photograph below. Morning before 8.30am is usually the best time you can catch a glimpse of the full view of Mount Kinabalu.

The clouds cover Mount Kinabalu most time of the day except early morning.

With a little bit of luck, you may see such view below.

The clouds started to gathered after 7am. If you see such mountain view after 9.00 am, you can consider yourself lucky.

Two photographs below were taken at about 5.30am. We can see the morning stars. I made a few serious mistakes taking both photographs.

Morning stars above the peak of Mount Kinabalu.

Mountain peak at dawn.

I went back to Sabah and Kinabalu Park again. This round I brought my family along and did not attempt climbing. We stayed at Kundasang in a resort and got a room with stupendous view. With this I will start a series of blog posts on visiting Kinabalu Park and its nearby places like Kundasang and Ranau. I hope you will enjoy the photographs and the writing.

I am now back from the trip to Kundasang. My family have a good time visiting this peaceful and beautiful place. It has been an unforgettable trip.

Visiting Kundasang

I am bringing my family to stay a few nights at Kundasang, Sabah. We are not climbing Mount Kinabalu this time. Instead we plan to explore the area around Kundasang. We have 3 nights and 2 days exclude the days we arrive and depart.

I am really excited about it and now I am doing research on where to go and what to do in this area.

In my past travelling to Kundasang I had only stayed at Kinabalu Park to climb the mountain. The only place outside Kinabalu Park that I had been to in Ranau District is Poring Canopy Walkway and its nearby hot spring pools that looks more like a few children swimming pools.

Walking on the canopy walkway.

Looking up to the canopy walkway. This is the lower part of the walkway.

Initial Thoughts For the Plan

We have booked our accommodation, rented a car and ready to explore Kundasang and the places nearby. The first few tourist areas come to mind. We must visit the famous cattle farm which many say it looks like farm in New Zealand. A search on the net returned the farm name Desa Cattle Dairy Farm. I hope my son will like it. The Kundasang War Memorial seems prominent in the Google map. I would like to go Mesilau Nature Resort to explore for my next climbing trip.

Of course we must spend at least half a day at Kinabalu Park. But first I have to find out where in the park that we can explore and do we need park guide like we climb Mt Kinabalu. And yes, I found from the net that there is a daily guided walk in Kinabalu Park. Here are the daily schedule of Kinabalu Park's activities.We should go. From the map, it seems there is a tea garden nearby, called Sabah Tea Garden.

We must visit the vegetable wholesale stalls and local market place. This will require further research.

For food, we will try Liwagu Restaurent. Maybe I should bring my family to Balsam too. Not that it is great but to let my family to experience my experience as a climber. I had tried and was not particular fond of the mee noodles at Tuaran. But I will definitely try to bring my family there since it is famous.

A few more hours should be spent to produce a more concrete travelling plan. But for now, this should be okay for a start.

Are you familiar with Kundasang? Will appreciate if you can recommend some nice places at Kundasang for a family to visit. You are welcome to comment. :-)

Islands Hopping in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

What to do in Kota Kinabalu when you are not climbing the mountain?

If you have a day in Kota Kinabalu you may want to try out islands hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The national marine park consists of 5 beautiful islands located at South China Sea not far away from Kota Kinabalu. It takes less than 20 minutes boat ride to reach the islands from Kota Kinabalu city.

Looking at Pulau Gaya (Island Gaya) from Pulau Sapi (Island Sapi).
I love the crystal clear ocean water and relaxing white sandy beach of Pulau Sapi.

Tunku Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park located at the West Coast of Sabah state. IT consists of 5 islands:
  1. Pulau Sapi (Sapi Island)
  2. Pulau Manukan (Manukan Island)
  3. Pulau Mamutik (Mamutik Island)
  4. Pulau Gaya (Gaya Island)
  5. Pulau Sulug(Sulug Island)

Let's put it this way, these islands provide little marine wildlife experience to begin with. These are popular tourists locations. But these are relaxing places to go with comfortable (and short distance) boat rides, beautiful beaches, well maintained facilities, food stalls on the islands, clear ocean water, etc. The islands hopping activity is perfectly suitable for people who loves and enjoys nature yet desirous of conveniences provided by our "over-civilized world". ;-)

Boat ride to the islands.

In September 2011, we spent a day in Kota Kinabalu after our Mount Kinabalu climb. We made the booking for islands hopping just one day before the trip. We started the trip next morning at probably 9.00 am and reaching the first island, Pulau Sapi, within 20 minutes. Later, we had our lunch at Pulau Manukan. We finished our island hopping trip at Pulau Mamutik before reaching Kota Kinabalu city by 4.00 pm.

Whether it is a half day trip or one day trip depends on the number of islands you want to go and how long you spend in each island.

Sapi Island

We spent long hours at Sapi Island to swim and snorkel. There were fishes in the water. The beach at Sapi Island is beautiful, especially you can over see the other island beach, i.e. Gaya Island. But for lunch, we need to move to another island.

Beach of Sapi Island. Gaya Island in sight.

Looking at Gaya Island from Sapi Island.

Manukan Island

Manukan Island has the most beautiful park and chalets among the islands at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. I am guessing that this island is being maintained by Sutera Sanctury Lodges (the same company that operates Kinabalu Park) since these chalets are managed by them.

Clean and beautiful park on Manukan Island.

Crystal clear water at Manukan Island.

Mamutik Island

This island has less to offer other than Malaysian food. You can find many food stalls operate by different people. It is still a nice island, but with too many uncoordinated design of food stalls.

Mamutik Island.

Here are a few really useful websites:

The entire climb of Mount Kinabalu in 4 minutes

This is one of the best video made on climbing Mt Kinabalu. The entire climb in 4 minutes. It is comprehensive, covering all important aspects of the terrain and timing. It is produced by a reputable tour agency, Amazing Borneo. Their setting in youtube allowed me to embed and share the video here. I link this post to their website since they produced such a good video.

Quite amazing, indeed. This is exactly how we climbed Mt Kinabalu, i.e. the timing and the terrain.

Below is another good video on climbing the rope-holding zone.

  I added some of my climbing photos to this post as below.
Going down hill.

Standing at the highest point of the peak. Other climbers waiting for us to step down. The background is South Peak and St John peak.

Clear sky beneath our feet. We can see the villages like looking into a crystal clear lake water. It was a truly amazing experience.

Highest Point of Low's Peak, Mt Kinabalu

Low's Peak is the highest point of Mount Kinabalu. The tip or the highest point of Low's Peak is a very small standing area with three little signboards.

Low's Peak is a very busy place at dawn. You can see many climbers standing at the top of the peak.
You can see climbers queuing to have their turn to stand at the highest point of the peak.

Low's Peak can be quite congested with climbers at dawn.

The highest point of the peak is a very small standing area that allows for, maybe, less than 5 people standing together at any one time. From the photo above you can see climbers climbed up to the tip point of the peak from one side of the slope (gradual slope at the left side of photo). The other side of the peak is a very steep granite slope. It is fenced with safety railing to prevent people to walk or stand too near to the edge.

Climbers have to wait in a queue for their turn to step up to this small tip area of Low's Peak to take a few photo and feel their moment of "reaching-the-peak" achievement. And they step down in a timely manner for other climbers to have their moments. It is a busy area at dawn or before dawn when all climbers try to stay there as long as possible to take a few more photos or to see the sunrise.

Low's Peak, Climbers stand here to take photo and celebrate their achievement in reaching the peak. (2011 photo)

Climbers will stand behind or beside these three signboards above to take their photographs. Do you notice the safety railing at the left side of the photo? It prevents the climbers to stand too near to the edge.

Below are a few photos of the surrounding taken at the highest point of the peak.

The safety railing and the area behind the Low's Peak signboard.

The area crossed over the safety railing/ fence. This photo was taken within the fenced area.

It is dangerous to cross over the safety railing. The fence is meant to protect the climbers. For our own safety we should not take risk.

Turn around. Looking at South Peak from the top of Low's Peak. Safety railing or the fence is at your left hand side now.

At Low's Peak looking South toward South Peak. (2010 photo)

Other climbers were waiting for you to step down so that they can have their turn to stand at the peak.

Just follow the rope to get down to Laban Rata.

Step-by-Step Terrain of Mount Kinabalu:

Waves at Karambunai: North of Kota Kinabalu

I brought my family to Karambunai 3 months after I climbed Mount Kinabalu for the first time. We stayed at Nexus Resort. It was my second time to Sabah.

It is worth mentioning because the ocean waves of Karambunai are big and powerful, yet warm, friendly and safe (pushing us toward the shore). I was trying to find appropriate words to describe the experience playing with the waves at Karambunai beach. And I think I would say "this warm, powerful, sloshing continuous waves of Karambunai is a warm and gentle giant."

These photos at the beach of Nexus resort at Karambunai, Sabah, should give you a feel of how big the waves are. Click the photos to see full screen.

It should be approximately 3 meter to 4 meter height.

But the powerful waves seem to be safe as it kept pushing us toward a specific place of the beach.Click the photos to see them in full screen (or full size photo) in order to have a feel of the magnificent ocean waves.

Warm ocean waves in the morning.

Strong wind in the morning.

The warm and gentle giant. It was in December 2010.

Catching a stranger family on the waves' photograph.

Click the photo, see it in full size and you will be in awe.

Children and people looking at waves in the morning. Remember, click the photo to see the full sized photo.

Nexus Resort at Karambunai

Beside the waves and the beach at Karambunai, the resort, Nexus Resort, is decent although the price is a bit expensive.

The garden. 

Breezy lounge.

The room at Nexus Resort.

One of the restaurants.

Swimming pool.

More photo of waves at Karambunai and Karambunai's Nexus Resort & Spa.