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Sabahan comfort food to try on your next trip

Sabahan comfort food to try on your next trip

Sabahan comfort food to try

on your next trip


June, 2018

It’s not easy to forget the type of comfort food whenever I am away from my hometown, Sabah Borneo. The delicate taste of Sabah food is different than other countries. Not only it is so delicious, one serving of the food is never enough to meet their cravings! I remember last time I can eat 2 bowls of Ngiu Chap (beef mix noodles) at one my favorite local cafe, Loi Hin Coffee Shop. Just the taste of beef slices and meatballs cooked in yummy beef broth can please my appetite for a day. *tummy-rumbling*

But, nothing can beats when you get to try the local’s comfort food in Sabah Borneo. Though it has never gained popularity around the globe, Sabah Borneo food reigns as one of the glorious food that captures the local’s heart. No wonder Sabahan loves their food so much, right? It may due to the authentic taste of the food that is unique to many people. Sabah Borneo is the place to be when the weather is bad and all you can think of is a warm hug in the form of a meal.

So, if you are planning or already been to Sabah Borneo, you should give it a try to these comfort food of Sabahan for your next trip in Sabah Borneo.

1) Bambangan

Sabahan comfort food

Aaahh…it is just by saying the name of it, I can already feel the taste of the sweetness (or sour) on my tongue. Bambangan or wild mango is in a spherically-shaped. Its fruit is in yellow color that covered with brown skin. We don’t actually eat it straightaway raw like a mango fruit. Bambangan is usually cooked with fish soup or pickled it. Pickled Bambangan goes well with a plain rice and deep-fried fish or meat. But, my choice will be to eat the pickled Bambangan with sauteed pork meat with soy sauce whenever I am at home.

You can find the Bambangan in local market or Tamu. If you want to try the Bambangan, you can taste it at D’Place Kinabalu or Borneo Momogun Spice. Both outlets served traditional food of Sabah Borneo that you should try it when you are here. Yet, it’s better to taste it at the local’s home and nothing can beat fresh home-cooked food!

2) Steamed Tapioca

Sabahan comfort food

It may not as your usual snack but this is common in Sabah Borneo! I used to eat this as an afternoon snack during my childhood days. Grandma will steam the tapioca first and served it with a jug of black coffee from Tenom. Best to eat the tapioca with sugar as the tapioca itself is tasteless.

3) Sinalau Bakas

Sabahan comfort food

The Sinalau Bakas is the most popular native dish in Sabah Borneo. An iconic food for the locals of Sabah Borneo, especially to its major tribe – Kadazandusun people. Sinalau Bakas means smoked wild boar, sold mostly at the roadside stalls along the road from Tamparuli to Kundasang. You can find Sinalau Bakas at the interior districts of Sabah Borneo such as Kota Belud, Ranau, Tambunan, Keningau, and Telupid. A smell of the smoked wild boar is enough to make you crazy. Wait until you’ve tasted the meat, it is so juicy, tender and it will make you crave for more. I bet you’ll going to miss this food once you’ve tried this during your holiday here in Sabah Borneo.

Oh, did you know Sinalau Bakas was featured in the latest episode of Derek Eats That! And much to my surprise, Derek loves it and he even commented the taste of Sinalau Bakas on his youtube video. You can watch it below:

4) Ambuyat and Pinasakan

Sabahan comfort food

This is one the authentic dishes that you might go to miss when you are back to your hometown. Ambuyat is made from sago starch and it is one of the authentic local dishes in Sabah Borneo. Most Sabahan love to eat this exotic food and it is a kind of food that will always make us feel home. We usually eat the ambuyat by using a bamboo fork, rolled it and dip it into a sauce. Believe it or not, ambuyat is actually tasteless! So, we always have our own customized dipping sauce, such as:

  • spicy belacan chili dip
  • curry chicken/fish,
  • fried ‘basungan’ fish
  • Canned sardine with tomato sauce
  • Pinasakan (braised fish mix with wild takob akob, turmeric and salt)

But, the best dipping for ambuyat is pinasakan. It gives every scoop a superb spicy taste with a little extra of flavors from the fish.

5) Ngiu Chap

Sabahan comfort food

As I mentioned before, Ngiu Chap is definitely crossed my mind whenever I am away from home. It is also one dish that you must try it for your gastronomic journey here in Sabah Borneo. Ngiu Chap is a mixed beef noodle. It contains stew meat, meatballs, tendon, tripe, liver, heart, and other parts of cow/buffalo. Moreover, it usually cooked in delicious beef broth (Yummy!). There are several outlets that served the best Ngiu Chap noodles in Kota Kinabalu, you can read the article by SabahEats.

6) Tuaran Noodle

Sabahan comfort food

Who can resist the delicious egg noodle and you can only get this in Sabah Borneo? Mee Tuaran is a traditional handmade egg noodles which originated from Tuaran Town itself. Similar to Laksa representing Penang state and Kolo Mee for Sarawak Borneo state, Tuaran Noodle is representing Sabah Borneo. The tastes of Tuaran Noodle is different than any other noodle.It is best when it is fried, served hot with egg roll slices, roasted pork slices and local green vegetable.

7) Hinava

Sabahan comfort food

Hinava is one of the key parts in Sabah Borneo cuisine and it is the most popular dish among the Sabahan. Whenever the hinava dish is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind will be the delectable taste and homely comfort food. Without any doubt, hinava is a must to try for your trip here in Sabah Borneo. Hinava is a pickled raw river fish. It will freshly cut into small slices, then mix together with several ingredients, such as:

  • Red onion (diced)
  • Ginger
  • Red Chili
  • Bitter gourd
  • Grated bambangan seeds
  • Lime juice.

Just talking about it, it makes me salivate and I might need to go find the dish later. (hihihi)

There you go, these are some of the Sabahan comfort food that you should try for your trip in Sabah Borneo. Apart from that, you can also try the must-eat food in Sabah Borneo that we have listed out for you. Click here to read.

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A true Hidden Gem of Sabah Borneo – Batu Luang Beach

A true Hidden Gem of Sabah Borneo – Batu Luang Beach

A true Hidden Gem of Sabah Borneo – Batu Luang Beach, Kuala Penyu

An unplanned trip is often the best one! Why would I say this? It happened to me last weekend. I was excited to go to a festival that I’ve never been before, which is Odou Bakanjar that was held in Kuala Penyu, Sabah. Kuala Penyu is in the interior division of Sabah Borneo, a 2-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu City. It is home to one of the indigenous tribe of Sabah Borneo – Dusun Tatana. Odou Bakanjar Festival is always celebrated on the 15th day of Chinese New Year. Everyone can see the culture of Dusun Tatana with its dance, traditional food, and games. 

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

Poster of Odou Bakanjar Festival 2018

As excited as a dog taken for a walk, I went there with two of my friends last Sunday. Upon arrival, I sensed something was wrong. There was no people! We got to know the festival ended a day before we got there. It was my mistake for not checking on the date of the festival before going to Kuala Penyu. What’s more, Kuala Penyu is a dead town during the weekend, so we didn’t have many things to do while being there.

So, not wanting to spoil our Sunday, we’ve decided to check out the legendary Batu Luang Beach, which was not far from the Tempurung Seaside Lodge and it only took us about 15-20 minutes to reach from the town itself ( Thank you Google Maps!).

I knew about the Batu Luang Beach back when I saw someone posted a photo of it on Instagram. It was so beautiful! I thought the photos are from a foreign destination, but it was actually in Kuala Penyu. Wow! Now, Batu Luang Beach is one of the popular spots for photography. Avid photographers will come here to take photos of the sunsets and Batu Luang rock. The Batu Luang rock surrounding is full of mossy green rocks during low tide. Here are some of the photos of Batu Luang Beach which was captured by some amazing photographers:

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

Amazing photo taken of the Luang Rock and the mossy green stones. Photo by Sazali

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

This photo resembles a movie scene in The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian. Photo by Adam Lai

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

Capturing sunset in Batu Luang Beach is the best! Photo by Asmar Abdul Hamid

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

Does this feels like you are in heaven? Photo by Nik Najmuddin Nik Ariff

Apart from that, Batu Luang is also an Instagram worthy destination in Sabah Borneo. There is actually a story about the Batu Luang, and the story goes like this:

A wedding celebration held at the bride’s home. After few days celebration, the couple and their families walked to the house of the groom on one fine morning. Once they arrived at Batu Luang Beach, there was a sudden wind, dark clouds, and even heavy rain. They ran to seek shelter in one of the many caves at the base of the huge rocks along the beach. When the storm was over, the group then moved out from the cave and the couple was the last one to exit. Unfortunately, before the bride could step out from the cave, it collapsed. The groom, who had stepped out moments earlier, grabbed her hand to pull her out. Much as he tried to pull her out, he failed and her hands slipped from his grip. Leaving behind her wedding ring which fell into his palm. Then, the bride was gone, sealed in the cave forever.

As tragic as story the story goes, this destination is a place that anyone should come to see the uniqueness of the area. Apart from that, Batu Luang Beach is like a secret hideaway for a unique photography spot.

Back to my story, we finally reached at the Batu Luang Beach. But, we would need to park the car uphill and walk for a few meters down to the beach area. Once we reach down, we can see there are two hills side by side as if like a giant gate welcoming us.

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

Two hills welcoming us like a gate arch

We were in awe to see the beautiful scenery in front of us. There were so many pebblestones at the beach and smaller caves at the base of the hill. Apart from that, we can also see many mossy green stones surrounded the Batu Luang rock. Thus, we took the chance to capture as many photos and selfies in the area.

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

Loving the pebble stones below our feet.

Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu
Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu
Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu
Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu
Batu Luang Beach Kuala Penyu

I found out that January until June is the best time to see the mossy green pebbles and rocks at Batu Luang Beach. As the monsoon season changes, the waves will wash away the sand and cover the rocks. There is not much we can do there except be mesmerized by the scenic view and take more photos.

Finally, it’s time to head back home. Though we did not get to see Odou Bakanjar festival, we manage to witness the legendary Batu Luang beach. It is one of the hidden gems in Sabah Borneo that any travelers should come here for Borneo Holidays!

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Linangkit, Sabah Borneo traditional embroidery

Linangkit, Sabah Borneo traditional embroidery

Linangkit, Sabah Borneo

traditional embroidery

Most people know Sabah Borneo as “Land Below the Wind” due to its geographical location. But Sabah Borneo is also known for its richness in culture, tradition, and heritage. Sabah Borneo has more than 32 ethnic tribes, with each of the tribes having their own cultural heritage. Apart from that, the tribes also have their own traditional costumes. These traditional costumes are handmade with needle-stitch, beaded embroideries, sequins, and other ornaments.



Woman enjoying making Linangkit. Photo: Jesse

“Linangkit” is a form of embroidery made by women from several native tribes in Sabah Borneo. In the olden days, the cloth was woven by hands-on back-strap looms and has a limit to certain dimensions. Thus, traditional skirts are usually extended using two pieces of cloth. The purpose of “Linangkit” embroidery is to add decorative features of the costume. While at the same time hiding the seams of the fabrics joining together.

The “Linangkit” embroidery is like the European technique of tatting or frivolity. It is an intricate form of embroidery as you will need to use a needle. From a thin thread, you will need to loop it into many interconnecting of identical knots. Continue to weave the identical knots until it produces a strong, long and thick fabric. The knee-length skirt, circular sash and men’s trousers are all decorated with “Linangkit”.

In Sabah Borneo, several tribes create the “Linangkit” with different pattern and color. To which the pattern and color are portraying their own cultural identity. “Linangkit” is not just a piece of fabric or clothing. It represents the ancient heritage, knowledge, and tradition that was pass down by their ancestors.


Colourful and intircate designs of Linangkit on the dress


The design of Dusun Lotud’s traditional costume

You can find the “Linangkit” embroidery in the northern and west-coast part of Sabah Borneo. The Dusun Lotud people from Tuaran district is well-known for being a skillful weaver. Their traditional costume is one of the most elegant costumes in Sabah Borneo.  

Apart from that, there are other terms of “Linangkit”. For Rungus people of Kudat, they called it Rinangkit. They usually design the pattern of Rinangkit based on the elements of their daily lives. Such as:

  • Butterflies
  • People
  • Pythons
  • Leaves
  • Stars
  • Shells and more

Linangkit on Rungus costume


Linangkit design on Bajau costume

For Bajau people of Kota Belud, they called it berangkit. It is a long and wide band of berangkit that is in front of a long black matrimonial skirt. Bajau people prefer to create the berangkit with nature that represents a new life. The berangkit on the bridal costume is designed with cotton flower and bamboo shoot motifs.


The design of Kadazan Papar traditional costume

For Kadazan people from Papar, they called it langkit. They decorate the langkit embroidery on the knee-length part of the black skirts. But, the origin of the “Linangkit” embroidery is from the Maranao and Magindanao people of Mindanao Island in the Philippines. They too refer the needlecraft as langkit and it also bears the same purpose – decorates and joining two seams.

If you are interested to learn more on “Linangkit” embroidery, there is cultural village which is located in Tuaran, roughly one hour drive from the Kota Kinabalu City. Apart from learning more on the “Linangkit” embroidery, you can get personally acquainted with the Lotud people at the “Linangkit” Cultural Village, where you can experience their daily activities and taste the local delicacies. There are several cultural villages that you should visit when you are in Sabah Borneo, feel free to read our choices of cultural villages tour in Sabah Borneo.

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A surviving tradition in Sabah Borneo

A surviving tradition in Sabah Borneo

A surviving tradition in Sabah Borneo


April, 2018

I still remember when I saw my grandmother’s red teeth for the first time! It was so terrifying because I thought her gums were bleeding. But, my grandmother told me that she was chewing on betel-nut which causes her teeth to turn red (phew!). Old habits die hard. Chewing the betel-nut plays a big role in the social customs of Kadazandusun people. Especially among the elders of Sabah Borneo.


Betel Nut Chewing Tradition

Ingredients for Betel-Nut chewing

When chewing betel-nut, you will need to combine many ingredients together before chewing. The ingredients that you need to combine are:

  • Fruits from Pinang Palm tree (Areca catechu)
  • Sirih (Piper betel) leaves
  • The white slaked lime paste obtained from sea-shells

Sometimes, you’ll add other ingredients such as:

  • Gambier resin (made from the leaves of the climbing vine Uncaria Gambir),
  • Tobacco
  • Cinnamon spices

Then, you wrapped these ingredients together forming a quid, before chewing it. In the olden days, the ingredients and equipment are kept in a small brass container. The equipment consists of betel-nut crackers and a small knife. Apart from that, you can find them in a rattan basket. Today, many replaced the brass containers or rattan basket with a small pouch. That way it is easier to carry anywhere.


Betel Nut Chewing Tradition
Betel Nut Chewing Tradition

The betel-nut chewing is a fascinating tradition. The Kadazandusun elder women practice the habit, especially during the social activities. It’s not surprising to see older women selling betel-nut and other ingredients at “Tamu” (local market). Whenever I go with my grandmother to “Tamu”, she always stops by a stall to chit-chat and chew the betel-nut.

Betel Nut Chewing Tradition
Betel Nut Chewing Tradition

Besides, betel-nut chewing offers some health benefit to those who eat it. Such as:

  • Overcoming digestion problem
  • Comforts the brain
  • Strengthen the teeth
  • Relieves fatigue and stress

Not only that, it could suppress the appetite, enhances energy, and heightens the senses. This is important for rural area people to keep them energetic while doing the village work. It’s not all fun and games though. If you take it in high doses or for long periods of time, betel-nut chewing is considered unsafe. Some of the chemicals in betel nut is poisonous and can cause cancers.

Other side effects may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gum problems
  • Increased saliva
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal heartbeats
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing

Although betel-nut chewing is likely to have negative effects, it is not addictive. In comparison, you’re more likely to get addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine or other drugs than betel-nut. Even so, betel-nut chewing is a social activity that can tear down cultural barriers. You’ll strike up conversations and create friendships along the way.

Betel Nut Chewing Tradition

A group of women enjoying their betel-nut chewing while talking

Apart from that, betel-nut chewing plays an important role among the Kadazandusun people. “Bobohizan”, a shaman woman, conducts a ceremonial ritual with tobacco, rice, a jar of alcoholic drinks, chicken, pigs, and other things.

Betel Nut Chewing Tradition

Betel-nut as ritual offering. Photo by Murphy Ng

In short, Betel-nut chewing is a common social practice in Sabah Borneo. Offering betel-nut to visitors is an important gesture to make them feel welcome. It is their way of accepting the visitors into the family or community. So, when an elder people in the rural area offers you betel-nut, it shows that you are being accepted as part of the community.

Feel free to read our articles on cultural villages in Sabah Borneo that you should visit for your holiday in Sabah Borneo, click here.

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Learn the Kadazan Language for your visit to Sabah Borneo

Learn the Kadazan Language for your visit to Sabah Borneo

Learn the Kadazan Language for your visit to Sabah Borneo


January, 2018

Learn Kadazan language for your visit to Sabah Borneo

Now that you’re all set and ready to come to Sabah Borneo, let’s learn some easy and basic Kadazan dialect! It may be useful for you when you are visiting Sabah Borneo.



Greetings! Kopivosian!
What is your name? Isai ngaan nu?
Where are you from? Mantad ko nombo?
Why? Nokuo?
What are you doing? Nunu maan nu?
How much is it? Songkuo iti?
My name is (insert name) Ngaan ku nopo nga ih (insert name)
Thank you Kotohuadan
How are you? Onu abal nu?
I am fine. Thank you Avasi boh. Kotohuadan
Let’s eat. Kanou makan.
I am not hungry Au’ zou houson
What is this? Nunu iti?
What is that? Nunu ino?
Good Bye! Tumoodo no!

Fun isn’t it learning a new dialect when coming to Sabah Borneo? There are many more different dialects here in Sabah. Try speaking to the locals here their mother tongue, you might actually learn a thing or two that you can’t find in travel books or magazines. Learn more about the people of Sabah Borneo – Kadazan Tribe.


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New Year Countdown Tradition in Sabah Borneo

New Year Countdown Tradition in Sabah Borneo

New Year Countdown Tradition

in Sabah Borneo


December, 2017

Our Sabah Borneo Tour!

Trekking in Sabah Borneo Rainforest


new year countdown tradition in Sabah Borneo

Few more days for us to say goodbye to the year of 2017 and say hello to 2018! Countdown to the New Year is kind of a yearly tradition in my family, we will always celebrate it together to mark the last day of the year. Living in a modern Kadazan family in Sabah Borneo, here is how we celebrate the countdown of New Year.

Since my grandmother is living with us, our house became the “main” house for any celebrations. My uncles and aunties who are living far will come to my house to celebrate the New Year’s Eve celebration together.

During New Year’s Eve, one can hear the sound of meat being fried, vegetables being chopped on the cutting board, dishes being washed, cats playing around, people talking and laughing in the kitchen while soft music is being played in the background, which I know, not everyone bothers to listen to the music because we are being so loud…hahaha

new year countdown tradition in Sabah Borneo

As usual, the women will always be in the kitchen for food preparation for the party at night, while the men will be outside preparing the barbecue pit and cleaning up, the kids will be playing outside with each other or watching their favorite cartoon shows on the television. As for myself with my cousins, we will be busy filling up the balloons with water and the foldable swimming pool for New Year.

When the night comes and a variety of delicious home-cooked meal has been prepared, as well as the barbecue food are being served on the table, it is time to dig in! There is also a karaoke session, which the kids will always control the microphone; while the adults will be sitting together to chat, eat, and drink. Drinking booze during the party is a must not only for my family but also for other families who are living in Sabah Borneo.

new year countdown tradition in Sabah Borneo

As the clock shows 10 minutes before midnight, this is the part where we enjoy the most, as we will be outside by the poolside to standby for our “water-balloon fight”. Surprisingly, I can see the excitement coming not only from the kids’ face but from adults too, as they patiently wait for the clock to strike midnight. Tick Tock…Tick Tock.. the clock strikes midnight and the water-balloon fight begin! All of us will start to throw the water balloons at each other, laughing and shouting towards each other, while getting ourselves wet. Splashing water to each other for New Year to “wash” away the bad luck and as a celebration of a new beginning.

To sum up, that is how we celebrate our New Year countdown party and it is kind of a yearly tradition for my family celebrating together. So, what is your tradition for New Year countdown celebration? Apart from that, if you get a chance to spend your Borneo Holidays in Sabah Borneo for New Year, be sure to celebrate it with any local Kadazan family. I can assure you, you will be amazed by the warm welcome you will get and the enjoyable experience with them.

Related Article: ” New Year, New You!Creating your best Borneo Holidays for 2018.

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