Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Malaysia Homestay Experience at Kota Belud

We travelled 70 kms northeast from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah to Kota Belud, then another 16 kms from Kota Belud to Taginambur, a settlement at the foot of Mount Kinabalu. We left our car at Taginambur and hopped onto a 4WD prepared by Mr. Sarun. It was another 20 minutes bumping on mud infested gravel road before we stopped at the rest point of Wasai Waterfall. Sarun, our driver, tourguide, and also the owner of Nopungguk Homestay led us through another 200 meters of muddy path downhill to reach the swimming area of the waterfall. The surrounding was green, the air was cold and dense. We were back to nature in our first homestay trip.

Located in between Kampung Gansurai, Kampung Tinata, and Kampung Podos, Nopungguk Homestay takes the name of nearby Nopungguk Hill. Sarun, a local teacher, started the homestay as a community project. The homestay currently consists of 10 local houses scatter around the peaceful villages far away from city. Surround by nature beauty patched by local orchards, it is a great place to experience the village life in the heart of Borneo Island.

To enjoy the village life in a relaxing way, Sarun had personalized our itinerary- Wasai Waterfall, fruit buffet, and dinner for the first day (we arrived in the afternoon). For the second day, we had fish spa at 'tagal' area after our breakfast, durian hunting, and shopping for local souvenir. We went back to Kota Kinabalu at around 2:30 pm after our lunch.

The gravel road connects the villages to the outside world (upper left). "Selamat Datang" or "Welcome" to the waterfall of Podos Village marks the point where we need to stop our car and continue our journey by foot (upper left). Bamboo handrail is really helpful when we walk through a 45 degree slope (lower right). After 15 minutes of adventurous jungle walk, we finally reached the beautiful waterfall in the middle of jungle. 

The deepest part of the pool was about 5 feet. The water is clean and clear. We were surprised that the place was actually free of mosquito.

 The waterfall is around 60 m high, pouring down natural cold water from the hill.

One of the villagers gave us two tarap (a kind of local fruit) on our way down to waterfall. So we decided to make them our afternoon snack.

The flowing stream cutting through the natural jungle, while forming bathing areas with cold crystal clear water. Bathrooms are prepared at the waterfall area. However, we decided to take bath at our homestay, which was 20 minutes away from the waterfall.

Nice green view along the hilly road.

The homestay is 20 minutes away from Wasai Waterfall (upper left), ready with a living area (upper right), three rooms (lower right), and a kitchen.

 The balcony of the homestay is a great place to have our afternoon tea.

Electronic keyboard was never in our expectation list for a homestay (upper left). So, we decided to make good use of it. The photo of the activities, certificates (upper right) and decorations (lower right) in the homestay. Free flow drinks and beverages are prepared for us.

Meals were nicely prepared by Sarun's family. Besides some common Malaysian dishes, we were served with traditional food like tuhau (Coccinea)- a kind of ginger herb found only in Borneo (lower right). We were provided with one dinner, one breakfast, one lunch, free flow of local fruits, and different types of beverages in our trip.

What did we have in our "local fruit buffet" at Sarun's house? Durian (upper right), rambutan (lower left), and manggis were some of them. We were lucky, it was the season for the fruits.

Our first day programs started at Wasai Waterfall, followed by a "local fruit buffet", and ended with our dinner. Second day, we woke up early for another day packed with fish spa at Kampung Melangkap Tiong, durian hunting, and shopping for local handicrafts. 

Kampung Melangkap Tiong was our third 'tagal' area visited in Sabah, where the environment around the 'tagal' river was protected by local laws. Compared to the tagal area at Luanti Baru, the fish at Kampung Melangkap Tiong  provided a better spa service to the visitor. They were more gentle, plus, the stones were arranged along the river allowed the visitors to sit comfortably while dipping their feet into the stream. The fee was very cheap- RM3 for adult and RM1 for child for every 30 minutes! Fish food was sold with RM1 per package. The entrance fee and the fish food were included in our homestay package.

Mount Kinabalu can be seen on our way to 'tagal' area at Kampung Melangkap Tiong.

The entrance to the 'tagal' area is marked by a wooden hut (upper left). The area was quiet in the morning (upper right). Stones are well arranged along the river so the visitors can have a nice place to sit and enjoy the spa (lower right). We spent one hour to enjoy the fish spa before we moved on for our durian hunting.

Searching for durian in the orchard was a new experience for us (upper left). Guided by Sarun, we were lucky to get some durian freshly dropped from the tree (upper right). Then, we decided to eat the fruits fresh on the spot (lower right). Beside durian tree, we found other fruit trees around the area as well.

Shopping from house to house along the kampung road was another new experience for us. The rattan-ware is produced as cottage industry, thus different family produces different types of rattan-ware with their unique designs. The price, much cheaper than we could get from the market. After lunch, we continued to visit several more houses for rattan baskets before we departed back to Taginambur.

Our photo with Sarun's family.

Nopungguk Homestay is a relatively new community homestay in Sabah. It offers various local activities, such as traditional dance, music, handicraft making, rice production, rubber tapping, fish spa, river bathing, fish trapping, Rafflesia hunting, fruit picking, jungle tracking, and mountain climbing for the visitors to experience with. Good experience for us? Definitely. The homestay has successfully provided an excellent blend into the village's life. More information about the homestay is available at Nopungguk Homestay Blogspot

Other experiences in Sabah are available at:

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