Sabah History

Borneo History | Things You Don’t Know about Kota Kinabalu – Sabah

A must-visit in Kundasang is the Kundasang War Memorial located in kundasang village in Sabah that lies along the bank of Kundasang Valley. Famous with stalls selling local fruits and vegetables at a wholesale.

The Distant of 6 kilometres away from Kinabalu National Park and the the Majestic Mount Kinabalu. Major G. S. Carter, (Toby Carter) who served in the Royal Australian Engineers initiated the building of the Memorial in year 1962, this was one of the first memorials to commemorate the 2,428 brave Australian and British Prisoners of War who died in Sandakan death march WWII. The memorial also serves as a tribute to the many local people who risked their lives while aiding the prisoners of war. Only 6 Australians survived in this horrific tragedy to tell their story and there were no English soldier survivors.

The Memorial is made up of four beautiful gardens – the Australian Garden, the English Garden, the Borneo Garden and the Contemplation Garden and Pool, to represent the different nationalities. The scent of roses lingers in the air and the serene atmosphere makes the Kundasang War Memorial an ideal place to contemplate and remember the heroes of the war. Visitors can also opt to view a short brief video presentation on the history of the Sandakan Death March WWII.

ANZAC Memorial Services and private Memorial Services are welcomed with prior arrangements. The Memorial is open to visitors.






Click for Sipadan Diving Price !

Sipadan Island got it name from the word SIPARAN, which refer to a dead body of a person namely PARA (Si Paran) whom had been found restlessly on the beach of the island”

Sipadan Island is a tiny island is Malaysia’s only oceanic island, rising 700 metres from the ocean floor. The diversity of marine life here is apparent. There are many dive sites around the island which serve as home and transit points for a wide variety of marine life, including fish, turtles and sharks. It is no wonder that it continues to attract a growing number of underwater enthusiasts. Located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo, Sabah. Sipadan island formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop, for this Sipadan is one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.

Diving in Sipadan Island is for many, a once in a lifetime experience. Avid divers and snorkelers from all over the world are willing to spend precious time and money to immerse themselves in the waters off Sipadan Island.

With the remote location of the Sipadan Islands, the list of marine attractions here is quite impressive and fascinating as it gives every scuba diver a chance to come across bigger sized fish like a whole circulating large school of barracuda, containing so many fish in it that even the sunlight gets blocked out. Some divers claimed Sipadan it’s like a ‘Aquarium’….rare scuba diving scenes are frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan, schools of greenback turtles and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda & big-eye trevally in tornado like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks and more.


  • April through October is the best time to visit Sipadan Island. The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees (26C to 30C) year round.
  • Also a mysterious Sipadan Turtle Tomb lies underneath the column of the island











The hammerhead sharks are a group of sharks in the family Sphyrnidae, named for the unusual and distinctive structure of these shark heads, which are flattened and laterally extended into a “hammer” shape called a “cephalofoil”.

Hammerheads are found in warmer waters along coastlines and continental shelves. Unlike most sharks, hammerheads usually swim in schools. This schools can be found in Sipadan Island location dive site at South Point.

The hammerhead sharks size range from 0.9 to 6 m (3.0 to 20 ft) long and weigh from 500 to 1000 pounds. Their bellies are white which allows them to be close to the bottom of the ocean as camouflage and blend in to sneak up on their prey.

Research that the hammer-like shape of the head may have evolved to enhance the creature’s vision. The positioning of the eyes give the shark good binocular vision, as well as 360-degree vision in the vertical plane, meaning these shark can see from above and below them at all times also help the shark find food.

Hammerheads have strangely small mouths and seem to do a lot of bottom-hunting. They are also known to form schools during the day, sometimes in groups of over 100.

Hammerheads are one of the few creatures that acquire a tan from prolonged exposure to sunlight. Tanning occurs when a hammerhead is in shallow waters or close to the surface for long periods.

Reproduction only happen once a year for hammerhead sharks and usually occurs with the male shark biting the female shark violently until she agrees to mate with him.

Hammerhead sharks are known to eat large fish, squid, octopus, crustaceans, and even other hammerhead sharks. Stingrays are a particular favorite. These sharks are common found along the bottom of the deep ocean and stalk their prey. Their unique shape of the head is used as a weapon when hunting down prey.


  • April through October is the best time to visit Sipadan Island. The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees (26C to 30C) year round. 







Semporna Town

Semporna town (YouTube) is the gateway to Sipadan Island. There has been a growing interest in the dive sites in this region, including in the now-protected Tun Sakaran Marine Park which consists of eight islands and is the largest marine park in Sabah. All these dive sites have made Semporna more popular, and diversified the experience that one can gain while in Semporna. The name Semporna means place of rest and was given after the British quelled resistance from the local Bajaus in the mid-1880s, changing it from Tong Talun. Another story is that Semporna was called place to settle or meeting place. The majority of the population is Bajau, many of whom live in sprawling stilt villages over the water on the outskirts of town and is visited by tourists as a base for scuba diving or snorkeling trips to some of the country’s finest diving sites including the world knowned Sipadan Island and Mabul Island.

Semporna is also known for the Regatta Lepa traditional boat races which occur annually in April. Their unique Lepa Boat resembles the modern day’s catamaran vessels, with two adjoining legs for added stability when roughing the wild Celebes Sea.

Off the coast is a marine park called Tun Sakaran Marine Park also known as Semporna Islands Park. It was gazetted by Sabah Parks in 2004.

 Things you can find in Semporna

  • GIANT Hypermarket – Guardian Shop
  • Police Station  – Marine
  • WWF Office – Sabah Parks Office
  • Wet Market (Selling Fish, Vegetables.. etc)
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant
  • Bars – Pubs – Karaoke
  • Dives Shop – Private Clinics – Hospital
  • Hotel – Lodge – Backpackers – Water Village Resort
  • Proboscis Monkey River Cruise
  • Massage Shop – Seafood Restaurants –  Floating Seafoods Restaurant – Cyber Cafe
  • Long Distant Bus Terminal
  • Maybank Bank – BSN Bank – ATM Machine
  • Shell Gas Station
  • School – Post Office
  • Semporna Tourist Jetty
  • Church – Mosque

How to get to Semporna

  • You can either catch local coaches (BUS) from Kota Kinabalu or fly with Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines offers multiple flights daily to Tawau, where you’re just 1 hour (99km) drive away from Tawau Airport to Semporna
  • Buses leave daily for Semporna at 7.30am – 7.30pm from the Kota Kinabalu Bus Terminal (Inanam Terminal). It takes about 9 – 10 hours to reach Semporna by bus and cost approximately MYR 70.00 – MYR 85.00









Sipadan Package

Sipadan diving is famous for its population of both green turtles and the smaller hawksbill turtles.

Turtle Tomb is a special dive which every cave diver must see once in his life! Turtle Tomb is a cave system located after Turtle Cavern. There are several side tunnels and a small passage way near Barracuda Point.

Turtle tomb’s floor is about 8m wide and is covered with a thick layer of white sand and dust composed of numerous turtle skeletons.

The turtles couldn’t find their way out and died from asphyxia. This turtle tomb cave dive requires specialist equipment and an experienced local diver who knows the cave.

  • Depth: 17-23 metres
  • Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
  • Location: East of The Jetty


  • April through October is the best time to visit Sipadan Island.The rainy season is November to March. The water temperature ranges from 79 to 86 degrees (26C to 30C) year round







The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae.

The hawksbill’s appearance is similar to other marine turtles. It has a generally flattened body shape, a protective carapace, and flipper-like arms, adapted for swimming in the open ocean. Hawksbill shells slightly change colors, depending on water temperature. While this turtle lives part of its life in the open ocean, it spends more time in shallow lagoons and coral reefs.

In Sipadan Island, turtle easy to be spotted and the main attraction is the Sipadan Turtle Tomb. There are several side tunnels and a small passage way near dive site Barracuda Point. The turtles couldn’t find their way out and died from asphyxia (deficient supply of oxygen to the body). This turtle tomb cave dive requires specialist equipment and an experienced local scuba diver who knows the turtle tomb cave in and out.

Threatened by human fishing practices caused hawksbill sea turtle populations with extinction. The World Conservation Union classifies the Hawksbill as crtically endangered. Sadly the hawksbill shells are the primary source of tortoise shell material, used for decorative purposes.

Adult hawksbill sea turtles have been known to grow up to 1 metre (3 ft) in length, weighing around 80 kilograms on average. The turtle’s shell, or carapace, has an amber background patterned with an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominantly black and mottled brown colours radiating to the sides.

The hawksbill sea turtle has its own characteristics that distinguish it from other sea turtle species. Its elongated, tapered head ends in a beak-like mouth, and its beak is more sharply pronounced and hooked than others turtle. The hawksbill’s arms have two visible claws on each flipper.

Adult hawksbill sea turtles are primarily found in tropical coral reefs. They are usually spotted resting in caves and ledges in and around these reefs throughout the day. As a highly migratory species, they inhabit a wide range of habitats, from the open ocean to lagoons and even mangrove swamps.

Aside from sponges, hawksbills feed on algae and cnidarians comb jellies and other jellyfish and sea anemones. The hawksbill also eat dangerous jellyfish-like hydrozoan, the Portuguese Man o’ War (Physalia physalis). Uniquely hawksbill close their unprotected eyes when they feed on these cnidarians.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle are highly resilient and resistant to their prey.






In Sabah, Kimanis road to Beaufort road for destination Padas White Water Rafting with a strange gravity defying natural Phenomena witness by local and tourist.

Many local road user curious and heard about the natural phenomena, to the extend the local decided to try themselves and pulled over their vehicle on side of the Kimanis highway road to experience the strange gravity with a soda can, plastic bottle even to the extend switching off vehicle engine on the highway and the object simply move up hill

It is reported that at the gravity hill induced by optical illusion, there is a slope which appears as a downhill slope, but is actually an uphill slope the Kimanis highway road

Click this youtube link to see this strange gravity








One of the most enduring landmarks in Kota Kinabalu, it stands prominently on a bluff along Signal Hill Road adjacent to the old Police Station. Built in 1903, this all wood, no nails structure was built in memory of Francis George Atkinson – the popular first District Officer of Jesselton during the British North Borneo Chartered Company Administration, He died of ‘Borneo fever’ in 1902 at the young age of 28.

This Clock Tower has the distinction of being the oldest standing structure in the whole of Sabah that one of three buildings survived the destruction of Jesselton town during World War II.

Built with public donations and of merbau timber. The tower has been repair several times by the city council. It was refurbished in 1959 to celebrate the city’s diamond jubilee. It is said that the original clock, a double-face clock that was a gift from him mother to Atkinson, was replace in 1964.

The clock was originally lit up at night acted as a beacon for shipping. Over the year it has undergone renovations and repair but has managed to retain most of its original characteristics. Till today, it still serves to keep the city’s time.

The Atkinson Clock Tower is managed by the Sabah Museum under its Antiquity and History section.


Getting There

  • You can stroll there or take any taxi. From the bottom of Signal Hill Road at Padang Merdeka, turn left to get to the clock site. Or view it from the city
  • Prominently located on the opposite of Jalan Gaya (Gaya Street)
  • Distance and duration : 0.5Km – 5 Minutes

Photo credit to









Monsopiadis a Kadazandusun warrior who is well-known to be a headhunter.

Legend told that many centuries ago, a lady named Kizabon was pregnant. She lived in a house with her husband, Dunggou. On the roof of their house, a sacred Bugang bird made its nest and stayed there throughout Kizabon’s pregnancy.

When the child was due to be born, the Bugang birds hatched as well. The father of the child took the sign as a good omen and that this was a sign that his newborn son would have special powers. He named his son, Monsopiad. The father paid special care to the birds as well, and whenever his son took a bath, Dunggou would take the young birds down from their nest to have a bath with his son. When done, he later returned them to the safety of their nest. This was done diligently until the birds were strong enough to leave the nest.

The young boy grew up in the village Kuai (which is the grounds of the Village). His maternal grandfather was the headman of the village.

However, their village was often plundered and attacked by robbers and due to the lack of warriors in the village, the villagers had to retreat and hide while the robbers ransacked their homes.

But for Monsopiad, things were different. He was given special training and he turned out to be an excellent fighter and grew up to become a warrior. Well-equipped, he vowed to hunt down and fight off the warriors that had terrorized his village for so long. He will bring back their heads as trophies, he claimed, and hang them from the roof of his house!

All he wanted in return was a warrior’s welcome, where his success will be heralded by the blowing of bamboo trumpet. In order to prove that he really did as promised, three boys went with him as witnesses.

Just as he had promised, Monsopiad’s journey to rid his village of the robbers was a huge success and upon coming home, he was given a hero’s welcome. He was so honored by the welcome that he proclaimed he will destroy all enemies to his village.

Over the years, Monsopiad soon attained a reputation and there were no robbers or evil warriors who dared to challenge him. However, the urge to kill had gotten into Monsopiad’s head and he simply could not stop himself from beheading more people. Very soon, he started provoking other men into fighting him so that he would have an excuse to kill and behead them.

With his changed attitude, all the villagers and his friends became afraid of him. Left with no choice, the village got a group of brave warriors together and they plan to eliminate Monsopiad. Much as they respected Monospiad for his heroic deeds, yet they had no choice for he had slowly turned into a threat.

One night as planned, the warriors moved in for the kill as Monsopiad was resting in his house. As they attacked him, he fought back fiercely but realized that he had lost his special powers that were bestowed upon him by the Bugang bird. By abusing his gift, he was left powerless and it was that very night that Monsopiad’s life ended.

Despite his downfall, the villagers still loved Monsopiad for all that he had done for them. All in all, he collected 42 heads and a great feat that was! In honor and memory of a once great warrior, a monument was erected and the village was renamed after him.











The buds of the Rafflesia, one of the largest flower in the world, are as large as the dinner plate while the bloom could be the size of a car tyre. Dr Chua Ee Kiam and his friends brave the arduous trails of Sabah’s forest reserves in search of this magnificient bloom, first discovered by Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, hence its name.

The Rafflesia flower is unique because it is parasitic and therefore has no stem, leaves or roots. This is also why it appears to grow up from the forest floor. The Tetrastigma vine is its host and the parasitic flower derives its nourishment by sending thread-like filaments into it. The Rafflesia is found in Southeast Asia where 14 species are known to exist. But these specimens are found only in a few localised habitats. Three species are found in Sabah while two species have been seen in Peninsular Malaysia; they are the Rafflesia cantleyi and R. kerrii.

Rafflesia flowers are one of the largest in the world. One can imagine how surprised and delighted the first discoverers of this unique bloom must have been when they came across it, “sitting” on the forest floor like some gigantic red-spotted mushroom. It was the founder of Singapore , Sir Stamford Raffles, who first chanced on this fabulous flower. At the time Sir Stamford was the Governor of Sumatra. He was riding on horseback, crossing jungle-clad mountainous Sumatra, accompanied by one Dr Joseph Arnold, when the pair came across the bloom. A born naturalist Raffles immediately took note of the flower which came to be named Rafflesia arnoldi (after the two intrepid explorers). The size of Rafflesia flowers, more than anything else, distinguishes them. The largest, Rafflesia keithii, (named after its founder, H G Keith, former Conservator of Forests in Sabah), grows up to 80 cm (about 2 1/2 feet) in diameter and can weigh up to 9 kilos (20 lbs). Rafflesia pricei (named after William Price, an amateur botanist) grows up to a diameter of 30 cm (about 12 ins, a ruler’s length.) Despite its size, the Rafflesia flower appears fragile but its petal-like lobes are surprisingly fleshy and firm. However, it does deteriorate after three days, turning from red and cream to dark brown and black before collapsing into a black slimy mass. Some say it has a repulsive smell but when I sniffed it I could not detect any odour – perhaps it wa stoo early to tell. It seems easier to encounter the Rafflesia buds than the blooms. These buds are spherical and cabbage-like and can grow up to 10 cm (Rafflesia pricei) and 16 cm (Rafflesia keithii) before it finally blooms.

Just Like a Human Baby!

  • From seed to bud, it takes no less than about one and a half years while from bud to full bloom takes another nine months just like a human baby! The seeds germinate and spread fine threads inside the vine. But alas, there is a high rate of bud abortion; as high as 75 percent has been reported. This is due mainly to natural causes. Heavy rains cause the buds to rot while too little rain shrivels them up. Small mammals may also have a go at them and visitors, in moments of inquisitiveness or insanity, may sever the bud from the vine. As Sabah’s forests are home to three known Rafflesia, this was where 1 went in search of this giant bloom. The R. pricei 1 found at altitudes of between 1200 and 1400 metres. If you are lucky you may spot it at Tenompok Pass on the slopes of Mt. Kinabalu and also at the Rafflesia Sanctuary Forest Reserve at Tambunan. Rafflesia keithii, grows at a lower elevation, about 400 metres, and is found on the eastern part of the Kinabalu Park near the Poring Hot Springs. The third species, R tengku-adlinii (named after its discoverer, Tenku Adlin) is found only on the Trus Madi Range. I have seen the first two species but this one has still eluded me and, with logging at the Range, the chances of my seeing it is getting slimmer by the day

The Rafflesia Forest Reserve

  • To get a reasonably good chance of seeing the Rafflesia, the first time visitor should head for the Rafflesia Forest Reserve at Tambunan. The entrance to this Reserve lies on the Kota KinabaluTambunan main road at 58km, about two hours drive from the city Just adjacent to the Crocker Range National Park, the Reserve encompasses an area of 356 hectares of highland dipterocarp and oak/ chestnut forest. Gazetted since 1984, this Reserve is an important tourist attraction. It has an information centre and also exhibits replicas of this magnificent flower. One of the richest sites for the Rafflesia pricei in this Reserve occurs at an elevation of 1,400 metres. A number of plots have been identified and marked trails lead one to the massive blooms. It may be a few minutes walk or a few hours, it all depends on your luck. But be prepared for steep descents and an arduous return journey. Not forgetting the blood-sucking leeches, if it is wet. About one kilometre before the Poring Hot Spring is an important site for the R. keithii. Look out for a junction there. A pondok or small hut will be opened for business if blooms are discovered. The villagers charge M$5/- for each tourist. This area is outside the Park’s jurisdiction. But you may encounter this bloom within the park, at the lowland rainforest of Poring, while on the uphill trail to the Laganan waterfalls.

Medicinal Uses

  • The bud was once sought after as a traditional medicine. The buds were boiled in water and the decoction given to recuperating new mothers, to help them regain their strength. It is not known if some tribal elders still revere the bud for this purpose, but like many of the other plants in the rain forest, the Rafflesia’s true value may take a long time to be realised.

Habitats under threat

  • The conservation of this unique parasite is dependent on the presence of the Tetrastigma vine. And, with logging of forests going on unabated in Southeast Asia, much of the Tetrastigma and hence Rafflesia habitats are being lost. Fortunately the Sabah government has gazetted the forest reserve at Tambunan specially for the protection of this flower. However, there is a tragic twist to these protection efforts. When the villagers heard that the government would gazette and take over their land, should Rafflesia blooms be found on it, they deliberately removed the buds and destroyed the habitats.
  • So, like all other precious wild plants and wildlife, it will take increasing effort to search out this beautiful bloom. But right now the Rafflesia forest reserve at Tambunan is a good and popular place to see the blooms. But again this flower’s beauty is so transient that only a few will be fortunate enough to catch it in full glorious bloom.










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Borneo Climb & Dive Sdn. Bhd. specializes in nature based tours with packages. As a Mount Kinabalu Agency and Dive operator, we places a special focus on diving tours both the east and west coast of Sabah.

We offer both local and foreign tourists a wide range of things to do while in Sabah, (such a city tours, mount climbing & wildlife observation), to sea-based activities (diving and snorkeling).

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