Sunday, 14 July 2013

kundasang ...the valley of life (5)

By 8am the clouds have fully covered the whole mountain leaving nothing to be seen except the foothills. We headed for breakfast. Nobody seems to favour breakfast at the hotel but instead looking for local delicacies at the outside restaurant. Sadly there was not much of a choice of restaurants nearby. We managed to find one at the 'town square'. Alas, it's again a mamak restaurant selling roti canai. Ironically, there were lots of flies around, I think it must be due to the vegetable farms at the surrounding areas. I noticed the flies were attracted to the fertilizers especially the organics from the animal waste. 

The shops, I think were designed in such way to take advantage of the weather. A common courtyard is placed at the centre and all shops are fronting the courtyard. There's no backlane and five foot way as in the traditional gridiron layout. Some shops have double frontage although by design it was not meant to be so, it's more on after thought kind of applications.

This is the only structured commercial centre in Kundasang while the rest of business premises scattered all over. Even the petrol pump was hidden and located down the valley. This commercial centre is not flourishing compare to other stand alone business premises nearby.

The whole idea of courtyard system is actually an ideal concept in line with the weather so that it encourages people to mingle and socialise at the centre courtyard. Sadly landscaping was not given a priority  as part of the total package to enliven the square. It's all bare without a single tree but all are of hard surfaces. It fails to attract customers, I think due to the fact that not many passer-by knows the existence of the shops and the design does not enticing customers. Should it had been fronting the main road I think it can pull crowds due to the visibility. The whole building is in poor condition, looks very old and unattended, white washed and weathered.

Actually it's a challenge to be given the chance to design a building of different characteristic comparative to the normal lowland area setting. With the weather as an added advantage, the building can be streamlined into the whole environment that take full advantage of the scenario with benign climate and natural beauty. The building should potray an authentic character to resemble a resort/tourist town.

The whole scenario should bring an attractive effect, made still more pleasing when observed reflected in the placid reflections of silhoutte in the surrounding hills and valleys in marked contrast to the existing sleepy township. This is not changing the whole natural landscape in total but more on enhancement with the injection of cosmetic surgery to the existing enchanting environment.

In some ways, as the gateway of a tourist destination, building should be uniformly modern, classic in tandem with local culture and tradition. The norm and values of the local standi must be incorporated in an orderly fashion. The creation/design has to be most attractive to reflect on the special charms and venerability, strangely surreal in looks and interpretation in an admirably leisurely fashion. 

A statement of entrance and the sense of recall are the norms in touristic township. So revolutionary was its concept, the courtyard/plazas /POIs (places of interest) are 'tend' to be impressive with heavy illustrative landscape garden that will soon be an icon of a resort township with a special stature. Some design was a complete failure or success, it all depends on the interpretations on the need statements of a tourist town/resort setting.

Every year there's an event known as 'Pesta Kubis Kundasang'. The idea of the event was first mooted by the then/ex-Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Yong Teck Lee and was first held on 2nd October 1997.

The biggest 'cabbage replica' in Malaysia was built at the courtyard of the commercial centre  as part of the stage and venue of the event. The idea of having the replica was actually came from YB Datuk Mynoor Ginggor and the actual construction of the structure was carried out by Mr. Eddy Muhartono and friends.

Exhibits on farm products were displayed. The height of the event was the singing competition. Some famous singers/artists from reality program such as Linda Nanuwil, Adira, Emma of AF/Akademi Fantasia were actually came from this kind of event. It's understandable that, there's not much events or any other forms of entertainment around, so such events of this sorts will of course able to attract crowds.

After breakfast we drop by at the 'kundasang war memorial' just meters away from the shops. It's situated on a hill overlooking the town and the surrounding valleys in the vicinity. Since this is my second time here, I was not that excited compare to my first visit.

The 'memorial garden' was built in conjunction with the Sandakan Death March with 2400+ POWs during the Japanese insurgency in Second World War. This memorial was first established by a New Zealander in 1962. The building is still funded by the 'Office of Australian War Grave-OAWG'. From the accents, I saw lots of foreigners mainly British and Australian visited this park. The 'connected' garden was based on different themes namely English, Australian and Borneo garden. There's also a 'contemplation garden' with a long 'reflection pool'.

Lots of roses were planted resembling the Australian and English gardens while the Borneo garden was landscaped with tropical plants like hibiscus, bougainvillaeas, bananas etc.

Hibiscus is our pride,
it's our beloved county's symbol. During colonialism, petals of hibiscus were used as the extracts for shoeshine.
That shows how closed and attached is the flower to our culture and tradition, that's why in some places the flower is known as 'kembang sepatu'/flower shoes. It carries different names in different countries.

In Hawaii, the name is 'hula girl', usually wear by hula dancers. Hibiscus is a family of 'malvaceae' which has over 200 species. The most popular is 'hibiscus rosa sinensis' and the colours vary from white, yellow, orange and red to pink.

After much of photographing and touring around the park, we headed to 'cattle diary farm' located somewhere in the Cinta Mata village. Lots of cars were queuing at the entrance gate. What a bad luck, it was closed, don't know due to what reasons. May be it's the time  for barn cleaning or the periodical medical inspections on the cattles.

This is part of the 'diary cattle farm'. I was made to understand that, the company running the diary business belong to the Rural Development Corporation/Koperasi Pembangunan Desa, a subsidiary of the state government. This company produces all products related to diary such as ice cream, yogurt, jellies, pasteurised drinks, and fresh milk are supplied to all schools in Sabah.

The whole scene of the farm looks like in a postcard resembling areas in New Zealand. We can see the Friesian cattles at the grazing ground with Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop. It's so peaceful and mind relaxing.

This is somewhere in Kampung Cinta Mata. Land prices are now getting pricier compare to the last five years when I first visited this place. Some of the 'well to do' individuals from Semenanjung/Brunei/Sarawak and some from overseas started to buy lands for personal retreat hideout. Last year I went to check out some land of resort development potentials but sadly it lacks basic infrastrucure like road, electricity and water supply. The land is quite reasonable in price but too remote in the valley without having good picturesque view of Mount Kinabalu. People buying property because of view and the cool weather for a resort purpose.

According to my friend/ex-classmate, Dr.Adrian Chong, an ex-chief State Town Planner, the areas in Kundasang are mostly/largely classified under tourism zone. That's according to the 'zoning plan' that has been drafted and referred as a guideline for future development in Kundasang. Prior to purchasing any land, the first thing to do is to check on the landuse zoning and the land status. There's two types of land title in Sabah. One is known as CL/country lease, it's a kind of leasehold for 999 years and is available to be purchased by non-Sabahan. While another form of title is the NT/native title which is applied to the local/native of Sabah only. Normally property falls under CL category will fetch higher prices compare to NT. 

The above picture is a typical scene of a vegetable farming areas spreading across vast areas of valleys and rolling hills. Some of the small holders are doing the farming in the backyard or around the house compound, while the contract farming is done on bigger plots and mostly are carried out by outsiders with big capital and are meant for export. It's the same scenario of all the highland farmings like Lojing in Kelantan or Cameron Higlands in Pahang and anywhere else nation wide. 

From Cinta Mata we are ascending up hills towards Mesilau Golf Resort. The view is constantly awe-inspiring. One of the beautiful scenic hill has been landscaped into a challenging 18 hole private golf course with hills and valleys and mist occasionally testing the golfers patient. For golf lovers this is one of the best highland golfing in the country. Along the way to the course, we can see few small resorts in the form of chalets and lodges. It was nicely landscape with flowers at their blooming best at this time of the year and other plants are healthily grown, perhaps due to the weather that suits the kind of vegetation.

There are also private homes found leading to the  golf club. This area is still remote and very quiet with the exception of the frequent golfers. There's no facilities such as shops/commercial area around except the Golf Club. I think this area will  become an exclusive precint in due course.

I  saw an evening crowds of golfers gather at the course, simply chat with each other as the setting sun illuminates those still figures. A wonderful sight to behold.

Mesilau Golf Club seen from the public car park. It seems this golf course is one of the most popular golf course in the state. The weather is fine and the place is quiet, serene and so peaceful. No wonder golfers prefer this place whenever they're in Sabah. This area has a very good commanding view  directly facing  the areas of Heritage Resort. The two spots are actually complimenting each other view wise. This golf course is located just directly at the foot of Mount Kinabalu. From here we can enjoy the valley of Kundasang. Awesome view all round plus the backdrop of the mountain. 

What I like most about the design of the club house, architecturally, it adopts the vernacular concept with pitch roof as the main theme, hence very suitable for our kind of tropical climate. A study shows that building with pitch roof of pyramidal forms has lots of significance to the living things underneath. It's some kind of 'magnetic waves' influence that helps developing the cells of the concern living things. Trees grow faster and more healthy compare to other forms of roofing. Is it a coincidence or the truth in cosmic formations in the living things associated with those kind of structure?

Heritage Resort viewed from Mesilau Golf Club. As I mentioned earlier on, the two spots really compliment each other. Both are located on a higher strategic location with beautiful rolling hills and valleys in between. According to the folklore, Mesilau derives from the small stream of yellow waterfall, silou is yellow for Dusun.

On a clear day like this, we can full zoom the whole frame of the Heritage Resort. Nothing can match the splendid view and whenever I visited Kundasang I never miss visiting these two picturesque sites. Sometimes I can spend hours admiring the beauty of this area. With the cool breeze all over the body, I was so tempted and feeling like in a heavenly space that only me knows what is the meaning of peace, serenity that words cannot explain.

This is the training centre for the government servants (BTN). It's one of the best and biggest if not the biggest training centre in the country. Located just slightly on the higher ground sharing  the same hill with Heritage Resort. This is another 24x full zoom shot from Mesilau Golf Club. The training centre is actually part of the program of the Federal Government to instill good values in administration, office management, human resource, spiritual values and the whole practice of good governance.

We have another destination to head to. It's the base camp for the climbers of Mount Kinabalu. The starting point for climbers will be one from Timpohon which is located at the Kinabalu Park Complex and another one is the Mesilau Nature Resort, was first constructed in 1998, a government owned and run by Sutera Harbour Gruop, situated about few km from the golf club. Now we'll be ascending upwards to the camp. Along the way, we can see the river up stream flowing down perpendicular with the road leading to the camp. No air condition is needed in the car as the weather is so cooling and the water is ice cold. The sounds of the running water and the chirping of birds are so melodious. 

This is a tranquil retreat amongst the natural terrain of Mount Kinabalu. Located on 2000 meter above sea level, with dense jungle and cool climate, and further more this is the home of exotic species of flora and fauna like the famous pitcher plant, the Nepenthes. 

This is the info centre of the Mesilau Nature Resort. The climbers have to report and be given the briefing on the rules and regulations before starting the journey. This place is not as crowded as Timpohon gate. Some climbers prefer this base trail as the route is more challenging and full of adventure. The distance from Mesilau base to Layang2 Hut is 5.7km while from Timpohon gate to Layang2 Hut is 4km.

Here the visitors who are not going for the climbing can spend time having lunch or dinner at the coffee house just opposite the info centre.

Accomodations at the Sutera Sanctuary Lodge,  in the forms  of 'luxury chalets' are also provided. On the low end accomodation, Witti's Range Lodge is the cheapest, it's RM859 nett per night, while St.John's Peak Lodge and Low's Peak Lodge is RM929 nett respectively. However, on the high end, with bigger spaces and more luxurious facilities and furnishings, the rate for the three types of lodges namely King Edward's Lodge, Donkey's Ear Lodge and Ugly Sister's Lodge is RM2599 nett respectively. All the chalets/lodges are built following the contours and of local  contents from the site, such as logs, wooden shingles/berlian, wooden structures for rafters, flooring to walls and to other decorative panellings. No form of cutting the slopes is seen in the construction of the buildings. The chalets are creatively set in natural vegetation. The ambience is so peaceful, romantic and serene. It's an ideal place for a family retreat or a romantic escape especially for honey mooners. This is a real luxury vacation retreat more than one can imagine unless to be here to experience the whole things.

This area is not overly accessible, not part of the normal tourist track and it's not popularly known to time tight/budget travellers. That's why I think due to it's isolation, this place is well off the normal tourist itinerary. If we're not desperate/pressed for time, it's best to avoid day tripping to this area. It's a wonderful place of much to see, little to do.

This is the statement of entrance to the staff quarters and the nearby area of jungle trekking. From here we can visit the museum and the tropical garden that were built as part of the whole resort complex. All the staff are locals with fluent english and most of them are Kadazan Dusun. The weather here is soothingly comfortable with the temperature of 10-14 deg. celcius even at noon. It's so cold that most people or even the staff at this resort are with traditional heavy clothing to avoid chilled and cold breeze. This is among the most comfortable retreats of forested foothills of mighty mountains far from blazing heat.

The food at the restaurant is a value for money. I love the keledek/sweet potato and pisang/banana goreng very much. It is serves with pure honey. Being here, it recollects some memories when I was in Scotland back in the 90s.

Actually we still haven't explore much on the beautiful places at our own backyard. Not many people knows the existence of this place even some local friends never been to this place. How lucky we are to be in the tropical belt. We have almost everything from beautiful islands to beaches to cool highland resorts. What we don't have is just the snow, but is that a pity not to feel the snow? Well it all depends on individual, those are personal preferences. For me I don't really fancy the 'snowy' things. I love the sun shine more than the snow.

An evening in the jungle which is truly enjoyable and unforgettable.

berakhirlah sudah buat kali ini cerita tentang kundasang...memori indah yang terpahat sudah cukup membahagiakan. pengalaman menjadikan kita lebih dewasa dan matang.