Return to Sabah — Kundasang, Part 1: The Road There

Following our lunch at Tuaran, which we had after visiting the Kayu Madang Landfill in Telipok, we headed for our real destination for the day — Kundasang. Almost everyone who climbs Mount Kinabalu will stay at this town, which is less than 100km away from Kota Kinabalu. It is one of the loveliest places in Sabah to go to.

The main road that leads to Kundasang is Jalan Tamparuli-Ranau, which as the name suggests, is the road that links the towns of Tamparuli and Ranau. On this road, there are many interesting things to see, but we will share with you just three of them that we stopped the car to view.

Sinalau bakas

In for a real treat!

The first thing to note is that along this road, there are stalls selling fruits and vegetables, and cooked food. One of the best cooked food here is a group of stalls that sells smoked wild boar. Yes, there are places all over Sabah that sell wild boar, but we only ever ate it here. You can tell which stalls they are by the white smoke that comes from cooking the meat. Don’t stop at any stall that doesn’t have smoke.

Smoke gets in your eyes. Literally!

There used to be many more stalls along this road, but it looks like many of them depended on tourism, and all that’s left now are the abandoned wooden stalls. The particular set of stalls that we went to can be found on Google Maps, and is called “Sinalau Bakas (smoked wild boar) stalls”. It is located about 17.5km away from Tamparuli. Each stall here has a letter of the alphabet, and the one we bought the food from is Stall C.

This is Stall C.

We bought about 500g, which costs us RM16. You get to select the piece of wild boar meat that you want, so you can choose if you want more meat, or more fat, and then they will cook it for you there and then. The fat and skin is not going to be melt-in-your-mouth, but more like chewy. Once you get the idea that you’re supposed to chew it a lot before swallowing, you will start to enjoy it much more. It is absolutely worth the price, and we also see many locals come here to buy it.

Weighing our meat

Slicing our meat

Cooking our meat

They sell fermented meat here too.

Fermented rice with meat and vegetables

Our meat is ready!

Time for a taste test!

Pekan Nabulu

The second interesting place to visit is Pekan Nabulu, or Nabulu Town. It is a small town 22km away from the above-mentioned Sinalau Bakas stalls. You can’t miss it when you drive along this road. There will be many other vehicles that stop here as well. This place is called Gerai Pekan Nabulu.

There are many stalls like this on the way to Kundasang.

What you will see here are many stalls selling vegetables, fruits, snacks, and honey. In the middle of the buildings, there is a rectangular structure or building with many handicraft booths inside. When we first came 3 years ago, all the booths were open. But this time round, only the booths facing the outside was open, and all the stalls inside were closed, although there are goods displayed there in the dark.

At this place, you can choose to climb the 3-storey purple tower which can give you a nice view of the place. What we suggest instead is that you go to the back of the stalls. From there you will get an amazing view of Mount Kinabalu — provided it is not covered by clouds — and the surrounding mountains. You can also see two beautiful waterfalls that you’d wish you had a pair of binoculars with which to have a better look at.

View of Mount Kinabalu blocked by clouds. A raptor soars in the sky.

Lovely view from Pekan Nabulu

Waterfalls on Mount Kinabalu

Mountain Valley Resort

If your view of Mount Kinabalu from Pekan Nabulu was covered with clouds, fret not. You are in for a treat. Further down the road, there is a place called Mountain Valley Resort. It looks like a lovely wooden house set on the side of the mountain. When you drive along the road towards Kundasang, it will be on your right. On your left will be a big signboard for a Catholic church, one of the many you’ve probably already driven past. This signboard will read “Geraja Katolik St. Pius X Bundu Tuhan, Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre”. This will be the landmark to look out for.

The signboard is on the right in this video.

Just after this signboard, you will go over what looks like a bridge, but isn’t really one. You will want to park by the side of the road. From this bridge-like structure, look back towards the Mountain Valley Resort. If you’re lucky, you will see the clouds coming up from behind the Geraja Katolik signboard, and moving towards the wooden house. If the wind is strong, the clouds will float over the wooden house. If the wind is weak, the clouds will move up the side of the wooden house, never really going over it.

It’s mesmerising. You can stand there for a long time just watching the clouds move. Or you can make a time-lapse of it.

On a windy day

On a not so windy day

On a clear day

When you’re done admiring the view, it’s time to head for Kundasang, which we will write more about in the next post.

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