Sabah Road Trip Day 2 – Kundasang

We officially started driving off today. Yesterday was more a familiarisation with the car and exploring Kota Kinabalu.We set off at 9.30am as we didn’t have far to go, only nearby to Kundasang. So we went to a petrol station to fill the tank first.

The Porsche used Petron 97, the highest grade of petrol available. That’s gonna drive up our petrol costs.

A full tank is 85 litres, and this car gives us about 100km every 9 litres or so. I’m gonna discount some because the roads we’re gonna take include mountainous roads which use up more petrol.After the fill-up, we headed to a couple of convenience stores to look for a P plate, or probation plate. That’s because Baby Tilapia just passed his driving test only 2 months ago. This is his first time driving in the mountains, second time driving in Malaysia, and second time driving a car since he got his licence.But there was no P plate to be found.Baby Crab secretly thinks the Porsche is wasted on Baby Tilapia if he’s not gonna go above 100km/h.

Speaking of which, something funny happened today. You see, Baby Tilapia was watching the analog speedometer on the right side of his dashboard and wondering if something was wrong. He felt like he was going pretty fast, but the analog speedometer kept showing 40-50. It was only after Baby Crab told him to slow down that he realised that the dang analog speedometer was in mph, and that the kph speedometer was digital.

Yeah, he still didn’t cross 100km/h though.

Our first stop was at a row of shops selling snacks and fruits. There we came to know of two fruits found in Sabah. One is called buah tampoi and the other is called buah bambangan. The word buah means fruit.

Tampoi is something like a rambutan, but much easier to open.

Bambangan was listed as a forbidden fruit to bring back to Stanton Hotel on the first day, if we didn’t want to lose our RM300 deposit, so we reckoned it’s gotta smell.It smells kind of like jackfruit, but tastes like a sour mango. I googled it and found that it’s a wild jungle mango!

Tampoi are the smaller ones on the left, while bambangan is the large one on the right. The pink object is Baby Tilapia’s money pouch.

This is the tampoi that tastes like rambutan.

And this is the bambangan that smells like jackfruit but tastes like sour mango.

We also picked up some keropok that was made from bayam, which is a kind of spinach that Bangladeshis like to eat. At least this is what Baby Tilapia learned from going on some food rescues back home.

It does not taste good.

After that it was back to the road.

Not sure if that’s clouds or rain approaching.

As it turns out, it can be both on the road to Kundasang.

We reached Kundasang around 1pm. It’s supposed to be much earlier, but we had a lot of time, which is why we made a couple of stops along the way.

Kundasang is the highest town in all of Malaysia. Its altitude is 1,900m above sea level, and is dwarfed by the towering Mt Kinabalu, standing at 4,000m above sea level, the tallest mountain in all of Malaysia.

People come to Kundasang because they want to climb Mount Kinabalu. It takes 2 days to reach the summit. You climb to the base camp on the first day, and on the second day, at 2am in the morning, you wake up at near freezing temperatures to attempt to reach the summit by 5am, so that you can see the glory of the morning sunrise.

Baby Crab did this a couple of years ago. Her mountain guide was Joseph, who we came to meet today.

Joseph is a Sabahan. He used to work in Singapore for 5 years before he got married. The Singapore authorities didn’t grant his wife permission to stay with him, so he decided to return to Kundasang and take people up Mount Kinabalu. He has reached the summit over 1,000 times.

Lunch with Joseph was at this quaint little cafe where women with hijabs cook and serve you meals with pork. It’s a strange experience.

We’re not entirely sure what went into this dish. Joseph said that there was all kinds of meat in it — beef, chicken, mutton, pork. We just know it was delicious.

We also ate a fried chicken which was way better than last night’s Borenos. Boreno is just an anagram of Borneo.

After lunch, we visited a cow farm. It’s one of touristy things to do. Pay a RM5 entrance fee per person, buy some milk and grass to feed cows and goats, then go buy the milk, yoghurt, gelato, cheese made from the milk… er…. milked from the cows on the farm.

The Camembert cheese was good though. So was the yoghurt.

The drive up to the farm was a bit challenging. The road had a number of potholes and parts were so steep that the auto transmission couldn’t handle it, so we switched to manual for that part.

Oh, and it was pretty muddy too. We’re gonna have to give the car a good clean before we return it.We returned to town just in time to see Mount Kinabalu poke its peak through the clouds that it had been hiding behind all day.

After that it was off to check out the market.

We got ourselves some avocado cheese, or bush lemak manis, which means sweet milk fruit. When cut up, it looks and tastes like cooked pumpkin or sweet potato, which is to say, delicious!

Looks and tastes like cooked pumpkin.

We also got our hands on a couple of buah cinta, or love fruit. Tastes a bit like tomato, although the skin and seeds are bitter.The night approached with us resting at Zen Garden Resort, part of the OYO chain of hotels around Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu stands in the background. We hope to wake up early the next morning to catch the morning sun reflecting off its peak.