Wednesday, 13 March 2013

mount kinabalu...we're on our way to meet you...


We've really enjoyed our short stint in Tamparuli. The rain has stopped and the sun comes out again. It's bright and sunny. Hope afterwards the weather symphatise with us. According to Dr. Sab, normally after 10am and 4-5pm, clouds are unruly and we won't have the chance of a glimpse on the beauty of Mount Kinabalu's peak. 

From Tamparuli we headed towards the main road to Kundasang. Passing the roundabout of Tamparuli-Tuaran, we turned right and off we go for another journey. I knew it's going to be a great day onwards. This road is quite busy. This is the only access corridor to the eastern parts of Sabah. If you're heading towards Sandakan, the second biggest town in Sabah, or Tawau, Samporna etc. you can't skip this beautiful scenic drive on the eastern parts of Crocker Range

Actually, if my guess is right, Crocker Range is the backbone of Borneo island. It encompases areas in Sabah, Sarawak, part of Brunei and Kalimantan, Indonesia. It's equivalent to the Main Range (Banjaran Titiwangsa) in Peninsular Malaysia.

Today Dr. Sab is my tour guide. The Myvi, although it's only 1300cc, it seems enjoys the ride too. Dr. Sab is very kind to this car. Never on any instance, he troubles this cute little car. Everything is in perfect condition, the weather is fine, it's getting cooler as we started climbing. I noticed whenever on a steep gradient, the road is bigger with two lanes for overtaking. 

The road planner has done a thorough study on this kind of terrain. Since heavy vehicles like trucks, lorries, coaches, buses frequently commuting on this road, having the overtaking lanes will ease the traffic flow.

I wind down the window screen. Everything outside is full of green, interspersed with varying colours of rooftops and walls of houses together with flowers in the courtyards. Stunningly beautiful. As usual I took out my very faithful friend, a Nikon camera for some lens opening. Without fail, it's hungrily clicking tirelessly and asking for more as if very much enjoying the whole scene. How much shutter count has been used I really can't tell.

As usual, after rain stops, nature is back to normal. Trees are dancing, birds are singing, everything is so fresh and life began again. I don't want to disturb Dr. Sab, let him do all the manouvering, cornering, negotiating corners and bends and makes him at ease pampering the cute little Myvi. There's no sign of fatique for both of them.

When I spotted these ducks, I can't resist not to capture few shots. This really brings back all the nostalgic childhood memories when I was staying at kampung in a remote interior in Kelantan

My kampung has no electricity, no water supply and other amenities available at that point of time. People was relying on kerosene lamps and underground water source. But life was beautiful then. We reared ducks and chickens as food source while buffaloes and cows as partners in the padi fields. All the animals in my house compounds were very close to me. Before leaving for school in the morning, they came running at my feet asking for breakfast and in the evening before their bedtime, I fed them with cereals. 

Whenever we're going for a family feast, one or two of my "friends" will have to sacrifice their life. The closeness of ties and bonding with my  "friends" make me very angry with my family members whenever this thing happen. I don't have that kind of strong will to see my friends sacrificing life on the expense of the feast. Well, that's life after all. Sacrifices are part and parcel of what we call "life". 

Dr. Sab suddenly pulls to a roadside table. Now I remember we never had any drinks at Tamparuli. The last  time we wet our throats were while having our lunch at Jetty point in KK. That was few hours back. While he's happily gulping the mineral water, I was busy taking photographs. After all you can't get the same scene again, with all the natures beauty right in front of your eyes. How can I miss all these wonderful creatures that's waiting for my lenses.

Actually we are no difference with animal. All are God's creations come with brain, sexual desire, sight, sound with the exceptions of emotion. Man is the animal of emotion, that's what the speciality of man is. Sometimes in actual life animal is much and far away better than man. Life discontentment happens everywhere, everyday regardless of who and where you are on this planet. 

Crime is borderless, it goes hand in hand with today's high tech. borderless world. Cases of abandoned sinful babies, adultery among family members, human and child trafficking and all sorts of human illness and unimaginable sicknesses are the norm of today's civilisation. How uncivilised actually we are comparing to other God's creations. If it's happening in animal kingdom that's acceptable because emotion is not in their dictionary. How virtual it is, we cannot escape reality world.

Dr. Sab is on his cell phone talking to somebody. I just ignored his conversation. In life, mind your own business is the right thing to do unless he's in need of help then you can lend a helping hand. Otherwise don't disturb or cross into others boundary. Dr. Sab gave a signal for us to continue with our journey. 

I don't have many friends. The one that I have are normally close to me and Dr. Sab is one of them. Although he's almost 10 years younger, we seem to fit well in our friendship. In life age is not a determining factor of closeness. Sometimes good friends understand you better compare to your love ones or family members. People clique well due to mutual interest in food, dressing, hobbies etc. Our interest in painting or anything in creative pursuits actually bind us together. All along in my life I don't know what a brother's love is.

My sister and me is 10 years difference in age. I can't lodge any complaint on anything to my sister due to age differences and we're not mutually "elastic" due to gender problem. During semester break when I was studying in the University, I seldom go back home but rather spending time with friends doing some part time business. My parents were sporting, they just let me roaming free as long as I know how to take care of myself, don't get involve in unlawful activities like do drugging , stealing, fighting and so forth.

How long can a butterfly survives? Perhaps may be weeks or few months. Why am I asking this question? A butterfly is million times worth than unfaithful man. How much benefit being contributed by a butterfly in its short lifetime? Willing to face and go through all the obstacles and challenges and sometimes risking own life in carrying out the mission  without asking any perks in return. Carrying out the duty sincerely, and taking the responsibility as an "amanah" instead of a burden, then that's where the enjoyment of working comes in. 

Hopping from one flower to another doing pollination, rain or shine without fail. Bees will follow up for the nectar which later on benefit man. Man lives on others hard works and sufferings. What's the point of living for 60-70 years but living a life of evil. Just close the eyes and give a deep thought, imagine why can't we be like those insects. Any God's creations must be for a reason. 

Dr. Sab slowing down and signal to the left. I saw lots of cars, buses, coaches parked along the roadside. Dr. Sab confidently squeezing through spaces in between vehicles looking for a parking space. Luckily Myvi is a small car, we're able to find a space for a breather. Dr. Sab told me that it's better to have a rest for a while in order to cool down the temperature of the car since we are  going to climb all along afterwards. 

This is a stop over town. Busy with tourist either from Sandakan, Ranau or Kundasang to KK and vice versa. What does this place has to offer? According to Dr. Sab this is one of few stop over or something like R&R accomodating tourist along this route. There are many things that contribute to the popularity of this place. The beautiful nature, the weather, wonderful people and a shopping haven for local merchandise, souvenirs, food and plenty of other kampung produce. It's no wonder why Dr. Sab brought me here. The Local Authority has done an excellent job in providing space and creating an environment that entices tourist and locals alike.

This is Nabalu. Sabah is famous for Pasar Tamu, something like 
Sunday Market, and Nabalu is one of them. The weather is a compliment, people can spend time hours and hours while doing shopping and enjoying the majestic Mount Kinabalu

For nature lovers, you can spend as much time without getting bored of the amazing bio diversity of the tropical rainforest. This is a Flea market equivalent to other places like Chattuchark in Bangkok, Mont Marte in Paris, of course on smaller scale comparatively but the activity is very much similar. A town needs this kind of catalyst in order to grow flourishly in business.

From town planning point of view, I regard this as a RGC (Rural Growth Centre). Lately the Prime Minister is announcing the RTC (Rural Transformation Centre). To me RGC, RTC or whatever name, is nothing much different, it's some kind like a same body with a new dress. Every town or kampung has its own uniqueness. 

The government nowadays is actively promoting the concept of "one kampung one product" to exemplify the local identity. As for Nabalu itself is tailor made as a tourist product. We can notice there's a few rows of shophouses, mostly turn into storage with the exception of few shops as Restaurants and Grocery Shops. The most active are bazaars with hundreds of stalls selling everything from food, kampung/jungle produce to souvenir items. Additional facilities are a 15 metre Look Out Tower, a satisfactory clean toilets, flower garden and a viewing deck facing Mount Kinabalu. What's lacking here to my observation are the Petrol Station, stand alone fast food outlet to cater for tourist. 

The layout of this township to me is not that user friendly. It might be better if structuredly plan in such a way to benefit the tourist and make more spaces for pedestrian, landscape garden showcasing the highland plants natives of the area, more colourful with water features. Instead of allowing cars coming inside it's rather beneficial to take advantage of the cool weather by turning the area into an interactive centre courtyard. The frontage will be better and less chaotic if provision of proper parking is look into. As in the traditional Malaysian town, a far sighted planning in business premise along busy road is not a due concerns by many and resulting in a natural piecemeal and adhoc kind of growth.

Chattuchark is hot with high humidity while Mont Marte is reversed with a temperate kind of weather allows people to freely enjoying, relaxing or having a tour with comfort. Nabalu can be one of this due to its cool and fresh air all day. If to compare with any towns in the lowland areas, with high humidity, dusty and hot weather where people refuse to get out of the car, hence lots of landscaping initiative is a must. 

It's a kind of an effort to act as a method of toning down the noise decibals, dust screens as well as  providing shades, breeze and balance of the thermal effect contributing by glass and concrete jungles. It's a reverse scenario here where people are eagerly to get out of the car, to feel the freshness of the air while enjoying the green lushness and  the surrounding wonderful nature. 

As a "thinking" designer we must fully utilise the gift of nature. The concept of planning and building design may have to highly differ in character, form and functions. This can be a showcase of an iconic vernacular architecture resembling the local culture and traditional values. With this cool weather and serene environment it ought to be more sustainable, environmental friendly. Buildings should allow for lots of opening on natural ventilation, lighting, with lots of corridors and balconies for the connection between man and nature. A concept of building in landscape and landscape in building. 

Gone are all the unsightly views of air conditioning compressors, while at the same time lowering down the cfc's effects. This can be a wonderful setting if plan nicely taking into account on the varied speciality this place can offer. I remember Mont Marte back in 90's, was a place enticing me with the cool and friendly atmosphere especially street artists that really creating wonderful memories for me as a tourist.

The so called souvenir bazaar is made of forest products available locally. The roof is made up of attap from sago tree, the wall from bamboo while the floor and dispaly racks are made of local timber. Very rustic in looks but to me it comprehends the local atmosphere. It seems sustainability exists long time ago. 

While enjoying the bazaar tour, I purposely stop and have a chat with a stall operator, he told me that, all operators  at this premise are all locals of multi ethnicity, and  majority is of Kadazan decendant. There's one old lady, very neat in kebaya and sarong, and a basket full of fruits jokingly asking me RM5 for a photo shoot. She's willing to pose but of course not for free. 

Come to think of it, I think this lady is a creative lot, earning money as a professional model in her own way. Well, I salute her courage, determination and visions. This is also can be a unique tourist product. Earning a living professionally, in whatever way, rather than begging, is actually commands respect from others.

It's so many choices available, from t-shirts to local crafts, hand made beads and traditional musical instruments and the list goes on. If you're good in bargaining , this place is yours. I find all the traders here are friendly. They never disturb the customers but rather ever willing to help explaining on their merchandise. It's a far different scenario compared to  big cities where you are sometimes fed up on the tactics of alluring customers, make you feel uneasy and sometimes become a nuisance. Not only they are aggressive but rather rude.

I love this cute little bike. It's hardly found nowadays, still in good running condition despite the age. It's well kept and I think the owner must have treasured this more than the wife. It belongs to the one of stall operator who's helping his mother selling souvenir items. He's the one who keeps the toilet clean. For 50 cents it's worth a penny.

While busy snapping photos, I saw Dr. Sab rushing to the toilet, must be for the call of nature I guess. He must have been unable to contain anymore after two bottles of mineral water just now. It's getting colder as time approaching evening . That could be one of the reasons why Dr. Sab is  "attacking" the toilet. 

I love the whole scenario. All were busy with their own chores. I proceed to the backyard garden. I guess the soil is fertile looking at the flowers healthily grown with full bloom. Crowds of tourist happily snapping photos  with Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop. I can't resist to record one. Who can help me? Dr. Sab is still in his own fantasy wonderland at the restroom. 

The clouds are starting to move slowly towards the peak. I'm afraid I can't have this moment for myself. Normally, according to the motorbike owner, the clouds will have no mercy on the photographers especially after 4-5pm. I saw the swirling clouds started invading every corner of Mount Kinabalu mercilessly.

Dr. Sab please, where are you? I saw a group of tourist started to leave the board walk after a plentiful of photo shoots, now it's the best time for me to rush in . Luckily I saw Dr. Sab with full of smile approaching me. I gave him the camera and started looking for best angle to have a phenomemal view of Mount Kinabalu

Thank God I still can catch a nice glimpse of the peak although not in full. If not for Dr. Sab's call of nature I can have a much better frame. It's alright, thank you Dr. Sab. His "attacks" on the restroom was more crucial than my photo session. People infected with kidney stone is normally due to attitudes of not making the restroom as an essential place of de-toxicating. Dr. Sab, as usual with his casual manner, talking to a lady selling forest product. Never in my life I saw a Red Durian.

Normal flesh of highly sought after breeds like D24 is golden yellow, very fleshy with a tiny seed. I never fancy durian because I'm not one of those durian hunters. I don't take durian for some reasons. Dr. Sab was weighing with his right hand a kind of funny fruit alien to me, smells like jack fruit but smaller in size with short and soft thorns. Dr. Sab gave a try, it's sweet and husky. That's a Tarap fruit, very popular in Borneo Island. I dare not give a try because I'm afraid of stomach sickness. Nabalu, a small town with a difference. (to be continued...)