Return to Sabah — Telipok

Most people don’t spend much time in Kota Kinabalu, unless they live or work there. The city is a gateway to other parts of Sabah. It was highly unusual for us to have spent 3 whole days there, but now, it was time for us to venture to other places.

The scenic route goes by the sea

Our first destination was to Telipok. There was something here that Baby Tilapia wanted to see. As we were driving north, we took the scenic route which had the view of the sea. We passed by the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu). We didn’t stop by to see it because we’ve been there before in our previous trip to Sabah.


Instead, we stopped by the 122-metre, 30-storey glass Tun Mustapha Tower to take a photo with it. This tower, named after a former chief minister, is the fifth tallest building in Borneo. Want to know what is the tallest?

Tun Mustapha Tower, the 5th tallest building in Borneo.

It’s right next to it — the massive Kinabalu Tower, previously know as Sabah State Administrative Centre. It is a government office complex building.

Kinabalu Tower, the tallest building in Borneo.

Traffic was heavy on the main road. We passed by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), which has one of the most beautiful campuses in Southeast Asia, because it has Mount Kinabalu and the South China Sea as its background.


Further on, we passed by a curious looking hill. While other hills are covered with trees, this one has mostly grass, leading to the impression that it is bald. Indeed the hill is commonly called Bukit Botak, or Bukit Bonduk (‘humpback’) as it’s other name.

To hike this hill, you need to park by the roadside and ascend the 1.5km trail. As the hill is botak, there are no trees to shelter you from the overhead sun, so it is not recommended to hike it in the afternoon. The top of the 185-metre hill is known to have a splendid view of the sea, and is one of our ‘Want to Go’ places that we will eventually visit in the future.


Moving further north, we reached our first destination. While preparing for this trip, Baby Tilapia read an article about the Kayu Madang Landfill in Telipok, and he wanted to go see it. Landfills are interesting, because Singapore no longer has such a landfill. In Singapore, all our trash is incinerated and the ash is dumped into a manmade offshore landfill.

However, in places with a lot of land, such as Malaysia, the trash is collected and dumped into landfills which are basically mountains of trash, like this one. Borneo Waste Industries Sdn. Bhd. manages the Kayu Madang Landfill, which is the central deposit site for trash collected from Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud, Penampang, Putatan, and Tuaran. This is a fairly large area, which means there’s a lot of trash that goes here.

Baby Tilapia’s attraction to landfills started when we once saw a massive landfill beside West Malaysia’s North-South Expressway somewhere in Perak. So when we got the chance to visit a landfill during this road trip, Baby Tilapia wanted to go have a look.

The entrance to the landfill requires authorisation. However, we knew that there were people who make their way into the landfill to collect recyclable and reusable items to exchange for money. It’s more profitable than rubber tapping. Actually we did not have to go inside the grounds to see the large hill full of plastic bottles and plastic bags. There were also many birds flying around the area, some of which started feeding on the trash at the landfill. It’s quite a sight to behold, and we highly recommend you visit it the next time you’re in the area.

Entrance of Kayu Madang Landfill


By now, we were all feeling a little hungry. We had some lousy dim sum before leaving Kota Kinabalu, but we didn’t finish eating it because the quality was quite bad. We decided to make our way to Telipok to see if we could get some food. If not, we all needed to use the toilet.

We stopped by Bandar Sierra, a residential area in Telipok. There were some coffee shops there, and we approached one of them to use their toilet. They told us that they didn’t have a toilet there. Okay. So we went to a KFC outlet that was in the area, but we found it closed, because they didn’t have any water. That was surprising. Beside the area was a Grand Merdeka Mall, a 3-storey shopping centre, but to our great surprise, the entire mall was also closed. Weird.

With our bladder getting the better of our curiosity, we continued down the road to the nearest Petronas petrol station, and asked if we could use their toilet. They told us that we could not, because they had no water supply. When we asked what happened to their water, they told us that the whole area did not have any water, because there was something wrong with the water pipes.

Since there would be no water in the area, we decided to continue north and stop by any coffee shop area we might find. We’re not entirely certain where it was that we eventually found a toilet, but we did. We also bought a roti cobra from here, which is basically roti kosong that has been soaked with curry, and eaten with chicken, and a hard boiled egg. Supposedly the roti kosong is cooked with the curry inside it, so that when you bite into it, the curry sprays out like a cobra’s venom. Supposedly.

While driving back out to the main road, we noticed that there was no shortage of water in this part of Telipok, and there was, in fact, a lot of water on the ground. Probably from a burst pipe, which prevented the supply of water to the rest of the area.

We learned today that in Sabah, sometimes whole towns do not have water.

Welcome to Sabah!

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