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!