I went to Kota Kinabalu two weeks ago on a personal mission to discover what it means being Malaysians in East Malaysia. I don’t know how successful the project was because I didn’t talk to as many strangers as I’d like given that I was only there for a week. I also realized it wasn’t easy to just suddenly ask someone about how they feel about being Malaysians without them thinking that I was some crazy girl..

Despite all that, I think this trip did open my eyes to a multitude of things and although this might potentially sound cliched and corny, it also made me feel somewhat more connected to people from east malaysia whom I formerly knew nothing about. I’ll elaborate more on that later in this post!

First day and I already love this place!

After spending some time in KK, we went to Tenom to visit Dom’s sister who owns a farm! This is the view of the farm 😀

It’s actually a cow farm, moooo

Dom and his super cute nephew 🙂

Tenom is actually famous for its coffee so we went to a coffee factory to try it out! We also had a very enjoyable talk with the owner’s mother where I exhausted my entire library of Mandarin words wtf

We spent the rest of our time in Tenom talking to Dom’s uncle in law who was once involved in politics. That thirty-minute talk taught me so much about the plights of Sabahans and Sabah, but I’ll refrain from touching on that so as to not appear more ignorant than I already am.

Stopped by the seaside on the way back

On the way to Kundasang! I love this view ♥

Amazing view from our hotel.

A very pretty Dusun girl. I absolutely love this picture!

We walked to the nearest town which was about 1.5km away and didn’t have the energy to walk back (which is uphill) so I tried to stop a car….but to no avail. Drivers saw me with my thumb, gave me a big friendly smile and drove away ;___;

I finally tried the more Asian way of hitch hiking – I stood in the middle and waved frantically like a monkey wtf. The first car stopped for me and told us to jump in!

So we jumped into the back with the kids! Highlight of my day 😀

Hahah so cute!!

Rainbow after the rain. Am I the best photographer in the world or what???! WORD. wtf

The view in the morning. EXACTLY like the movie The Fog whoaaa

Androo took a picture of my butt cause he’s very fascinated by how the design sort of spells SHUANG in chinese hahaha which is very apt (shuang means double? in chinese)

We went to the Kinabalu reserve forest next!

Where I met my new friend Spiky. OHAI IZ ME, he says

Last day in KK, went island hopping!

Dom and I on the boat

KK from afar

Wunmin, Androo, Yangli, Andrew and Yung Terd!

Amazing beach! Just like Perhentian/Redang

Chilling at the beach, too lazy to snorkel!

Last picture: le sandman chillin’ at the beach too

All in all, Sabah was an amazing place for me. I’m a very nature-loving kinda tourist so I really enjoyed it especially when I had the best host ever! Thanks Dom for showing us a piece of Malaysia which I’ve never seen before!

Lessons from Sabah:

1. People there are WAYYYY friendlier than people in KL that’s for sure. Extremely easy-going most of the time and very nice to strangers 😀

2. I was very interested in the general way of life there since i always feel east malaysia seems so separate and different from west malaysia. So I got to see how it’s like there and to be honest, it’s pretty similar in certain ways (language, food (not exactly),  lifestyle) but also very distinct in other ways (culture, perceptions towards issues like politics).

3. I think like many others, I’ve never really thought about east malaysians before. I mean yeah I study about them in sejarah, vaguely remember them whenever I see the different price tags for east/west msia in magazines, but I’ve never really sat down and thought, “hmm, how are they really like there? do they feel excluded/alienated by us? do they care/ not care?”

From talking to some people, the sense of frustration seems so prevalent. Frustrated at the lack of opportunity, the lack of better leaders, the lack of attention. But of course, different people feel differently towards the same issues. The kak I talked to in a small town said she’s happy and contented, and that she feels ambivalent (bordering on almost no resentment at all) towards her peninsular counterparts. The more educated youth I talked to in the city said he’s getting increasingly disheartened and appears to harbor some minor animosity to us who get a bigger slice of the cake.

But who wouldn’t when all this talk on 1malaysia and equality centers so much on west malaysia. The people of Sabah (and maybe Sarawak?) are already united but the disparity in resources alone hinders so much of their development. Basic needs like education opportunities and infrastructure etc are not even fulfilled yet, what more anything remotely close to what we’re fighting for. Sabah used to be richest state and was abundant in resources but they’re now sucked dry and is left as the poorest state in Msia.

I’m not saying that we should not fight for equality when east msia has it worse, I’m saying we should not be ignorant to their plight too. But then again, I was only there for a week and only talked to a handful of people. I’m not from there nor have I lived there, so perhaps I should be enlightened further?

I had a great time there and I’d love to go back again next time! I have a secret dream of joining Andrew and PACOS to perhaps build schools in the rural areas (wah like so noble wtf but it’s actually a selfish dream of wanting to help others so I can feel better about myself for being so ignorant before).

Sorry if I addressed the wrong issues/totally got everything about east malaysians wrong but this is solely based on my own perceptions so feel free to correct me!

p.s: i realized there are no food pictures at all. that’s a whole different story for another day cause the food there is so awesome i have a separate album for it!


  1. ..*AnNiE*.. says:

    I love the “Last day in KK, went island hopping!” pic the most!The sky is just awesome!You make me wanna visit Sabah.Hee.

    Between,I’m from Kuching.Yes,many East Malaysians do feel disheartened sometimes.(From what I observe and the best example is the older generation like my DAD.)He feels unfair as Sarawak’s resources go to the west but the development here is far more behind if compared to the west.So yes,maybe something needs to be done to realize the 1 Malaysia concept.And every one of us play a part.=)

  2. amelia says:

    The picture of you at the beach, was it at Manukan island? I went to both Sabah and Sarawak before and I love both of them!! Both are just beautiful 🙂
    The pace of life there is more relax than in KL, and yes I do agree that people there are generally friendlier than KL’s, and the traffic is definitely WAYYY better than KL! hahahaha. And my friends always asked me when I told them I went to Sabah/Kuching, “huh? why did you go there? what to see there? blablabla”. They just haven’t known the beauty yet 🙂

    oh, btw I am an Indonesian but I stayed in KL for 3 years before. Just realized that I kinda sounded like Malaysian in this comment :p

  3. booo says:

    I’m from sarawak and you should totally pay sarawak a visit as well. And not just kuching, come and see some other cities (i.e Miri!!!).
    And as an east malaysian, i must say that most of us (us being the twenty somethings) pretty much feel that we drew the short end of the stick. I mean like sabah, sarawak is RICH in natural resources or i guess i should say WAS? and it sucks that most of the revenue from our resources gets siphoned to West malaysia.
    but oh well. that’s life eh.

  4. the real strawberry says:

    the cow picture broke my heart. their living conditions are so bad and dirty =(

    anyway what camera model are you using ar? the picture quality is pretty good!

  5. Erlinda says:

    the real strawberry, why would a picture of a cow break yr heart? it doesn’t spell ‘poverty’ but simple life. 🙂

    Sabah is super awesome, especially the people, very friendly. super friendly! 🙂

  6. viviee says:

    hi suet, glad you’ve enjoyed your trip in kk. i’ve been studying in kl for 3 years…and then 2 years after that i came back to kl to work because there wasn’t that much good design jobs that can be found in kk but nevertheless, everytime i come home to kk…it is still the best place to be 😀

  7. nurul says:

    Hey there suet! Glad you love KK. You should go to Sandakan as well! Thats my home town by the way… and even up until now, am still proud to be Sabahan. Iv never bother to learn how to speak Semenanjung! iv still have my ‘bah bah’ in every single words that came out from my big mouth!

    Anyways, loves you and your blog!
    pwetty blog and pwetty owner! love you to bits lah!

  8. okei says:

    you’re right! i was from sarawak and there are a lot of things that the east malaysians lack there. but what’s enlightening is how 1malaysia really exists in east malaysia. having lived in both sarawak and kl, i feel thankful that i’m in kl and there are so many opportunities for me here. but on the other hand i feel like i’m missing out a lot of the things there are in sarawak – the distinct sense of togetherness and the rich culture.

  9. kehrol says:

    do you feel like you understand me more now wtf.

    omg suet i miss sabah, sarawak and malaysia in general so much… sabah has the most awesome beaches and islands.. i love it to death. i used to tell friends if i were to live in sabah.. and like one weekend you cannot contact me, it’s because i turned off my phone and hopped into a boat to go to a random island wtf and don’t bug me unless it’s a matter of life and death wtf.

    did dom take you to eat seafood at SALUT?!!??!?!?!?!

    so glad you loved sabah… now can you please visit sarawak…


  10. may says:

    I agree with donna. The living expenses in Sabah is very expensive but one thing that never increases is the salary. A person with a degree will get paid like a person with a diploma in west malaysia’s standard. And a person with a diploma gets paid about RM500/mth only. I really hate how most employers here thinks their employees are stupid by giving low salaries.

  11. sweatlee says:

    annie, u should visit! it’s quite awesome. yeah a lot of the older and newer generations think that way, it’s kinda sad sigh

    amelia, it was at mamutik actually! yeah people are more chill there definitely! yeah we should definitely work harder to promote our own country 🙂 oh wait oops u’re not msian! haha yeah u do sound msian!

    chocalita, yeah it’s sooo pretty!

    booo, yeah sarawak is definitely next on my list! yeah it’s really sad but i’m glad i now know about all that, hope more people will realize that too 🙂

    strawberry, that’s how cows live wtf. i was using canon g10!

    hayley, definitely! visit it!

    ky, yes i did!!! awesomeeeeee

    erlinda, yeah veryyy friendly 😀

    viviee, home is always the best =)

    nurul, yeah but it was too far away so we didnt get to go! maybe next time 🙂 haha the bahs are veryyy cute! thanks for reading 🙂

    okei, yeah i do see the unity there, and it’s something we should all take notes of. sigh

    kehrol, hahha i do wtf. please come back soon so i can see u again?? we had seafood near the phillipine market or something, not sure if it’s the same place but it’s sooo yummyyyy. i wanna visit sarawak too!

    donna, true wei food there is surprisingly almost if not more expensive than peninsular!!

    may, yeah i know it’s really bad 🙁

    tanyeewei, hahah sorry didnt realize! no more edi now

  12. lv says:

    glad u love ur trip 🙂 i’m from sawarak but love sabah to bits too. ur next trip to sarawak, dont forget to come to miri as well. i agree with booo and *AnNiE* on the disheartening situation over here. especially us who work in the oil and gas industry. u’ll listen to all the uncle2 rant about how unfair it is that we worked so hard (in the oil rig/platform) for all the resources just to be sucked up for with less than 10% left for E.M. really lor…. if u work in a stinky coverall like us u’ll know…. look at how many skycrapers in KL and to compare it to miri…. *heartbroken* but then again it’s life and always be gratefull, yes?!! 🙂 glad that u’ve understand. u are a bright and kind young woman.

    alamak, my comment so long d.

    have a blessed day, you..!!

  13. kimchee says:

    i signed up for the us application workshop thingy but couldn’t go at the last minute 🙁 and yeah i agree KK is awesome but i do hate how west malaysians always think that we are still living in trees wtf -.-

  14. hannah says:

    My mum’s from sabah, she’s a kadazan-chinese.. I go there to visit my grandparents usually, and my relatives there do feel the lack. But I never bothered, now I feel bad too..

  15. patrick says:

    I m sarawakian,i met some ignorant west malaysian before.He thought that i m still living in the trees.So,i just joked yes…we sarawakian still living in the trees with private lift in each tree.So that we can go up and down easily.And d fuking ignorant W.Malaysian bElIEVED it.JOker la weh…….dont laugh …serious…Or maybe he just wants to discriminate we from the east??looking down on us?

  16. jennifer says:

    erm, no, i disagree with sabah having high costs of living? i used to live in sabah when i was young. houses there are extremely cheap compared to petaling jaya (this i know because i’ve bought and sold houses in both petaling jaya and sabah), generally food used to be cheap but the prices may have increased but yes imported goods such as yogurt and food that need to be flown in because they have fast expiry dates are expensive and living in sabah, we had more disposable income compared to living in petaling jaya although yes, salaries in sabah are generally lower than salaries in petaling jaya.

    • donna says:

      I don’t know what is petaling jaya’s houses rate, but I don’t think Sabah, especially KK’s houses are cheap..

      Double storey terrace houses is around RM 350k now..
      Double storey semi-D, is RM 600k-RM 700k already.. the prices are insanely expensive.

      standard “chap fan” is around RM 5 (very expensive ok! while i eat in Johor only need about RM 3.50 =.=)

      For other places like Sandakan or Tawau might be cheaper though.

      p/s: i keep coming back coz I wanted to read suet’s or barry’s reply to the (fake or real) Huai bin above wtf

      • jennifer says:

        my dear, my house in petaling jaya who’s only a standard terrace is priced around RM 800k, whereas my house in kk which was also a standard terrace was priced around RM300k. And the terrace in kk was much bigger with a bigger land compared to the house in pj. Oh, if you’re comparing johor and kk it may be cheaper (in terms of food), but food in pj is definitely much more expensive.. and i suppose it depends on where you eat as well. if you’re eating in the city area of kk, it might be more expensive than say places in klang compared to places like damansara. but seafood is definitely cheaper in kk.

  17. Cecilia says:

    THx for posting this^^. I’m a Sabahan studying in KL now. There are lot’s more in East Malaysia, you should definely go around is you enjoy nature and adventure.

  18. Dom says:

    real strawberry, why so sad for the cows? they need to have a place to pass motion, suet just happened to take pics in that area haha. there’s a grazing area with green green grass, hope that makes you feel better 😛

    and hello veronica!

  19. ain says:

    hi suet…love ur blog. im from sabah too..glad that u like sabah n automatically introduced sabah to people out there, coz u know..when im still in school, 1 of my teacher moved here in sabah and she said that she wnt to bring her car here all the way from kl but canceled it coz she think dat we in sabah dont have roads n live on pokok..wtf, how annoying is that??

  20. Kimberly says:

    A Sabahan here. I’m really glad that you enjoyed Sabah. Yes, we used to be the richest state of Malaysia. Many things happened and we turned up to be the poorest. Why? Political ppl of Malaysia will know and I do not want to touch on that. But yeah, I love my hometown forever. Despite staying in UK for 3 years, I always pledge to settle in KK – get married, have kids and retire. x

  21. jassy says:

    and i thought malaysia is really united…we have the same issue here in the philippines, like luzon gets the bigger budget as compared to mindanao that is why there is always some battles over there that some of the groups there want to build their own country.

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