We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.Robert Louis Stevenson
It has been a while since I traveled back to my hometown in Sabah, Malaysia. Sabah is located in the northern part of Borneo Island. A state surrounded by islands off the coast, plenty of sandy beaches, coconut trees, lush rainforests, beautiful sunsets, amazing food, and friendly people. I grew up in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital which is located on the west coast of Sabah. I have been talking to my friends about climbing the highest mountain in Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu since we met maybe about twenty years ago. We were finally able to coordinate everyone schedules and made the trip together in February. We have gone on hikes and camping trips but this marked our first trip together for two weeks. The highlight of our trip was summiting Mount Kinabalu at 4095 meters (13435 ft.). It was a gruesome two-day hike/climb to reach the summit from 1866 meters (6122 ft.) but we made it despite the difficulty with minor altitude sickness and lack of sleep. With the beautiful islands nearby, we decided to try scuba diving and there’s definitely going to be an under the sea adventure in the future. We also spent our off days wandering around the streets of downtown Kota Kinabalu and trying out all the different street food and local delicacies. We had a blast and our final destination was Nexus Resort Karambunai which is a beachside resort about 30 km (18 miles) north of Kota Kinabalu. This was supposed to be the ‘relax by the pool’ part of our vacation, but there were so much to do at the resort. We spent time kayaking in the mangroves, watching the sunset and luring the fireflies to come out and play, learning to use a blowpipe, adventure fishing with interference from the monitor lizards that live on the grounds of the resort, cooking local food with the chef, yoga by the beach, a relaxing massage at the spa and a bonfire to top it all off. The staff at the resort was amazing and kept us entertained and happy for the duration of our stay.
I was proud to show off my hometown to my friends and happy to see the development and improvement done throughout the years. I love nature and outdoors the most and with the little time we had we were only able to experience a small part of the state and in the future I would like to experience the turtle island, hiking in the rainforest and searching for waterfalls, cave exploration, and many more. Good friends are hard to come by and good friends you can travel with and be crazy with are even harder to find. So go and have fun, and don’t be afraid to try out new things.
Throughout this trip, I think we learned something new about each other and that we have similar values in terms of traveling and immersing ourselves in the culture and mingle with the locals. Our priorities are different than a lot of the tourists who would just be there, took pictures and left. I hope you find some inspiration to go out there and create new experiences for yourselves.
I would like to take this opportunity to show my appreciations to the following people:
- Thank you to my friends who encouraged me along the way and carried my pack up the mountain when I was losing steam especially to Howard and Sam.
- Thank you, Howard, Kim, Trudy, Sam, Jessilyn, Richard, Carol, and my husband Danny for all the photo contributions and a grand old time.
- Thank you to my aunties, uncles, cousins, friends who met with me during this trip. I hope to see you all again soon.
- Thank you to our mountain guides, Lawrence and Bonny, our diving instructors Dixon Davies and Fai; and all the wonderful staff at Nexus Resort.